Monthly Archives: June 2016

sallu bhai

Why are we pissed off with Salman Khan’s statement?

Why does Salman Khan’s statement piss us off?

More than the statement, I am surprised that people are outraging over the man. I mean, he’s uneducated, has killed people, is known to have a violent streak, and destroy people who don’t lick his ass. For decades now, the guy has been getting away with actual crimes – killing animals, threatening them, beating up people – and we are shocked that he made a stray comment about feeling like a rape victim.

What did you expect anyway? A lecture on the Palestinian crisis? A detail thesis to deal with the Venezuelan agricultural crisis? A three-part treatise on the Bhagwad Gita? He’s Salman Khan, for fuck’s sake. The guy would flunk the 7th standard exam if he sat for them!

I don’t mean to sound pompous, but I have never dated a Salman Khan fan. Of course, it’s no sign of greatness, nor am I Ali Zafar. It probably doesn’t make any difference to the eternal bachelor. A bhai who is so bhai that he can’t find a behen to get married to. I’ve always nurtured a rather terrible opinion of Salman Khan and his films. And most Salman Khan fans are like the man himself – slightly less educated, crude, morons who wouldn’t be on Twitter if there was an eligibility test.

And why should Salman give a shit? Honestly, the man has spent his entire life in an industry that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about women. Go through the history of Hindi films, and you’ll find a handful of filmmakers who actually write meaningful roles for women. So gender-skewed are our films, that actresses who have equal dialogues as the heroes in a film are labelled ‘Intelligent’/parallel/arthouse actors.

If Salman Khan’s statement shocked you, I daresay Balakrishna’s statement a few months back wouldn’t make you bat an eyelid. Balakrishna is a bull who has confused screaming and slapping his thighs as acting for more than two decades now.

balakrishna-o

 

Or the statement by Mulayalam Singh Yadav. Or by any other religious guru, be it Hindu or Muslim, when he talks about women. Asaram Bapu, the pedophile Baba wanted women to call their rapists ‘Bhaiyya’. And if it’s insensitive statements that we are worried about, we need to look no further than our Prime Minister. The shining beacon of light and hope and energy and goodness and everything soft and fluffy in the world. Not too long ago, he called out to Sunanda Pushkar, a businesswoman in her own right, as a ‘50 crore ki girlfriend’.

The fact is, we as a nation have a long history of rape culture. Look at our mythology – most of our leading women in mythological stories are either suspected of adultery, or banished, or stripped, or their noses chopped off for expressing love. Gomata has more of our trust that Sita mata ever did.

We are a nation where politicians openly condone rapes as ‘mistakes boys commit’. Every political party fields candidates who have a history of crimes against women. On Twitter, fans of our Prime Minister openly challenge women journalists to statements, followed by threats to rape them.

Those with good hearts use women as shields in an argument. ‘How would you feel if it were your mother and sister?’. That one statement knocks sense into all our heads because, let’s face it, how else can one explain an analogy without bringing in imaginary mothers and sisters? We have sexualised every single woman in mainstream consciousness.

Sportswomen, IAS Officers, police officers, politicians, just about anybody. Search Sania Mirza on the web and you’ll find a genius who records her videos, converts them into 3X slow-motion so he can see her boobs jiggle. Saina Nehwal? Her too. In fact, on the day Tendulkar retired, I remember going to a cafe nearby to rewatch his video, and the first comment that popped up was this – His daughter is hot. She was barely a teenager back then.

The fact is that we have been objectifying women for a long time in our country. And don’t forget, a few years ago, Aamir Khan, our beacon of wisdom, featured an extended balaatkaar joke. Everybody laughed, and went back home happy.

We need to stop expecting our film stars to refrain from making sensible statements. Most of them haven’t really gone to college, read books, participated in discussions. Some of them are certified criminals too.

Arnab Goswami will scream about it tonight. A few articles will feature on PoopScoop, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, we’ll be fussing over Princess Charlotte’s upskirt pictures.

Go home, folks! We live in the age of one-day outrage.

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A lazy, laidback review of ‘Udta Punjab’

In my earlier post, I explained my problem with instant movie reviews. There is no time to think and analyse, and the entire exercise feels like a Social Studies exam where you try to write a certain length (with a handwriting for some grace marks!). Having decided to refrain from the rat race, here’s my opinion of Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab.

The film starts off like most of Chaubey’s work – two minutes and you know you’re in safe hands. While the opening scene evoked a gasp from the audience, if you’re acquainted with Chaubey’s work, you’ll find it is typical Chaubey. His films contain maverick plots, run by hedonistic characters, where the dialogue is heavy and the lives cheap.

Even as the promos came out, I was a little sceptical about the film. The plot of the angry, angsty singer is not new to Bollywood. Whether it is Amitabh Bachchan and his wife crooning songs for, and directed at each other. Or Mithunda’s iconic Jimmy shimmying on the dance floor. Or Aashiqui where Kumar Sanu tried to find his way to your heart, through his nose. Or the second installment of the franchise which made absolutely no sense to me at all. Or the poster-boy of ‘singer movies’ – Rockstar – which I always felt was a mediocre film that began the hype of Imtiaz Ali.

It's been 5 years. And nobody knows why he was angry in the film!

It’s been 5 years. And nobody knows why he was angry in the film!

Bollywood has a knack of portraying singers in a particular fashion – they are all either troubled/crazy/emotional wrecks. We want Kishore Kumars and Michael Jacksons. There’s no place for Mohd. Rafi, who records his songs, buys vegetables for the family, and goes home.

And yet, Chaubey manages to keep Tommy/Gabru fresh. There is a certain craziness that he brings into the role, and yet it is not awe that we feel. It’s a bit of pity, mixed with sadness. Shahid Kapoor’s Tommy is a mix of the craziness of Christian Bale, combined with the cockiness of Zlatan Abramovic, and the IQ of Honey Singh.

And yet, he’s not the most interesting subject of the film. Carefully avoiding yet another spiral down a failed rockstar’s abyss, Udta Punjab sets a veritable trampoline, frequently jumping out of contrived situations with stellar effect.

With all the pre-release hype of the drug problem, I was curious about its depiction in the film. Watching the film after going through the suggested cuts gives you an actual idea about what a gigantic douchebag Pahlaj Nihalani really is. The scenes/lines that were suggested had nothing to do really with drugs, but with swear-words. Because honestly, who uses swear words in really life, behenchod!

The depiction of drugs in Bollywood isn’t new either, and each depiction makes me want to snort a line of coke and go on a rampage. Drugs are always shown as an ambiguous white line, a nameless syringe that infuses crazed emotions in the actor. Or makes them stoop down to unearthly lows. Like Priyanka Chopra in Fashion, who is happily leading a hippie lifestyle, and finds transformation after sleeping with a black man after a drug-filled frenzy. Trust Madhur Bhandarkar to offend both Blacks and Drugs with one scene!

The drugs in Udta Punjab are not a rich man’s pleasure, they are the routine of every strata of society. If there are dudes sniffing before a concert, there are kids looking for a fix while bunking school. Combining the tropes of Punjab with the ease of a master storyteller, Abhishek Chaubey manages to depict the drug problem for what it is – a truly grassroots movement in a state blessed with five rivers, fertile land, loads of money, and a crazy neighbour in Pakistan.

Another Thumbs Up to the lowly, unpaid intern who did the subtitling of the film. Most films spend crores in production, and yet skimp money on subtitles. Subtitles in most Indian films range from the

brutally honest…

Courtesy the hilarious Tumblr page - http://paagalsubtitle.tumblr.com/

Courtesy the hilarious Tumblr page – http://paagalsubtitle.tumblr.com/

to the absurd…

Picture Courtesy

                                                          Picture Courtesy

to silli spelling mistakes…

to hirsute imaginations!

The subtitles in Udta Punjab are smartly done, and I even found a Lucy in the Sky reference. Whoever you are, dear unpaid intern, keep smoking them joints, and please show Kashyap this blog and ask for a raise!

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The characters of Udta Punjab stand out from the clutter of drug-ridden films, simply because of the life pumped into them by the writers. Irrespective of who they were essayed by, each character possessed character.

Kareena Kapoor’s Preet is probably the worst-written character in the film, and yet she puts in all her experience to play. For brief moments, her eyes light up like they did in Jab We Met, but we’re cruelly brought back to the grim reality of our subject matter, and her eyes sink back into emptiness.

Diljit Dosanjh as the cop does away with regular Punjabi histrionics, and is clearly the one person set to benefit the most from this venture. Shahid Kapoor as Gabru must have had a tough time after playing Hamlet in Haider, incidentally the only Vishal Bharadwaj film that Abhishek Chaubey didn’t assist for.

The role demands not a spectacular performance, but a jittery fidgetiness of a racoon. Shahid Kapoor is predictable in a few scenes, but it is when the scenes are tightly written that he truly shines. Over the years, Chaubey has specialised in creating moments where you’re laughing along, and suddenly feel like a pig for laughing. Like Saurav Ganguly in his final years, Shahid Kapoor waits for these moments, smashing them out of the park.

Rising beyond the film, and the rest of the cast, is Alia Bhat. For someone who began with a prudent film like Prudent of The Year, she has shown great courage in her choice of roles. Udta Punjab does for Alia what Highway couldn’t. As the Bihari migrant, she holds an iron grip over her scenes, not once can you take your eyes off her.

You’ve seen the cast in similar fashion earlier. Kareena’s character looks and talks like she did in Dev, Shahid Kapoor in his Ishq Vishk – Fida days. Alia Bhat looks like she’s still in a hangover from Highway. And yet, the fact that they make the film work is testimony to razor-sharp writing.

The biggest hero of the film, however, is Abhishek Chaubey. Having followed his career for years now, it was sad to see his overshadowed by his mentor Vishal Bharadwaj at every step. Even his two earlier films, the spectacular Ishqiya and Dedh Ishqiya are often wrongly credited to Bharadwaj. With Udta Punjab, he is no more playing under the shadow of Bharadwaj and Gulzar, and truly shines on his own merit.

Udta Punjab is engaging. Is it worth going to a cinema hall when you could download all of it for free on the Internet? That’s a choice you’ll have to make, my friend!

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A More Sober Take on ‘Sairat’

 

2016 marks the tenth year of me reviewing movies, and I realize in hindsight the transient nature of film reviews. Most often, the reviews are written in haste, having to ward off competition from other reviewers, and thus emotions are running high. At times, I’m still dazed by the film, and the dark hall, the music, the visuals – they leave a buzz not completely different to a weekend party where you consider a stranger as your closest friend.

As a result, I have decided to review films after a few days of watching the film. It’s my own Litmus Test, to see if the film still resonates with me after a few days. Fan, for example, got near universal good reviews, is really an aging star masturbating furiously for attention. And Housefull 3 which got panned, isn’t very different from the loony films that Salman Khan churns out. And so, like Rahul Dravid in his final years, I have decided to pull out from the quicker format, choosing instead to take some time off to analyse my feelings about a film, and only then pen them down.

The other peeve against film reviews in India, is that most of them are outright dumb. Very rarely will you find a review that doesn’t mention spoilers. Some of Sairat’s reviews contained the headline – ‘A tragic love story’. You moron, the director worked his ass off for three years to make the movie, and it took all of three words and a pea-brained critic to give it all away. I have consistently worked on reviewing films without spoiling them, though I don’t know how good I’ve gotten at that.

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I had written a passionate review of Sairat, the film of the year for me so far. And yet, I fell into the trap of a conventional review – Introduction, Main Body, Performances, Final verdict. But it’s to the film’s credit that I still watch a few clips from the film, and play the songs after a good joint. And here are a few thoughts that stayed with me.

Kindly tread into the rest of the review carefully. There are spoilers, but the film has been playing for two months now, and I assume you’ve made your decision about whether to watch it or not. If you still nurture any desire to watch it, it’s still playing in theatres.

 

What do we find funny?

Sairat got the ‘look and feel’ spot-on. Most big-budget commercial films resort to cheap imitations of villages. Most times, you can see that the entire set up is merely a set, and it gets rather difficult to believe the film from there on.

Sairat also got the casting spot on. So good, in fact, that is makes Omkara seem like a cheap, high-school play. While the leads are very efficient in their task, I am surprised nobody is talking about the hero’s two friends – Tanaji Galgunde as Pradeep and Arbaj Shaikh as Salya. While Hindi films usually use disability to squeeze out cheap emotions to hide bad writing (Bhansali) or for cheap laughs (Sajid Khan), for the first time, there was an actual fletched out character with a disability.

It is difficult to view a character without the prism of disability, since we in India ensure that the person’s entire persona revolves around it. The actor was terrific and the scenes well-written, and yet the audience laughed every time he walked, every time he was called Langda.

There’s a stirring scene in which Pradeep believes a girl has thrown him a letter, only to break down later – the audience was laughing throughout. Another beautiful scene is the one where Archie asks them to call him by his name – Pradeep – whose face lights up.

I was filled with shame and embarrassment, of sitting in a dark room with hundreds of people whose idea of humour is a man limping, of him being called Langda. Which took me back to Omkara and Saif Ali Khan’s depiction of a limp man. Nobody laughed at Saif Ali Khan, for we all knew he wasn’t really disabled. When Saif Ali Khan essayed the role, people went Wah! Kya acting hai. But here, when the director chose to cast a disabled person, we realized it’s OK to laugh at him.

I thought it was the initial shock value, and yet, the audience continued to laugh. The final shot of the amazing actor is when he’s getting beaten up by the goons – the audience continued to laugh, right till the very end.

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WHO KILLED ARCHIE?

While I was expecting a tragic ending, thanks to the brilliance of our moronic film critics, when it came, it hit me hard.

The audience that had been giggling all along sat in stunned silence, unable to comprehend what had just happened. How could a director do this to them? A film that had small smiles and little tears, with the occasional lame joke thrown in, how could it take such a savage turn? And yet, I could imagine the director smiling in joy. It is that one scene that encapsulates the movie more than anything else. The director was not here to entertain you. He’s here to cajole and coax you into a joyful ride, much like a pedophile, only to deliver the slap right at the end.

And yet, the film left so many delectable loose threads that I have been thinking about it for weeks now. Who really killed Archie? The obvious finger points to her father and the goons. But is it really that simple?

Could it have been her own mother? We haven’t been shown much of the mother. She’s shown toeing the line, petrified of the patriarch, never once voicing an opinion of her own. Once Archie has run away, she’s shown as a shadow of her earlier ghost-self. Was she so ashamed of her daughter that she gave her away?

Or was it the Panchayat? When Parshya’s father requests them to ‘do anything’ that could make them atone for their sins, the elderly members of the Panchayat nod. Was it them that sent the killers to locate them?

Or perhaps it was Archie’s idea of a perfect home that took her life. The hope that her parents would turn a new leaf and accept them with love and joy. And that’s perhaps the mistake we all make.

We have been taught that our parents are amazing people. That they are good, noble, will stand up for you when the time comes. Which is not necessarily true. This unnecessary worshipping of parents in Hindu culture is responsible for half the problems in the first place. Issues like caste are carried over by families, not through friends. Most of our parents believe in caste, and yet think they’re harmless.

The fact is Indian parents are not the greatest set of parents in the world. Constantly straddling the two worlds of tradition and modernity, they finally resort to what THEIR parents would have done.

Matru Moron Bhava. Pitru Petty Bhava.

And that is what killed Archie.

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(Featured Image courtesy: Arbaj Shaikh’s Facebook page).

PC: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2014/09/13/05/11/sleepy-443606_960_720.jpg

The Ideal Life 2.0

I remember a teacher in school asking us what we wanted to be when we grew up.

It wasn’t serious, or meant to inspire; we were too old for that – 12th standard. It was a free period and the teacher was doing whatever she could to stop us from stabbing each other. When it was my turn, I stood up and said, ‘Ma’am, I want to be a House-husband’.

You know, the kind of thing you do to sound funny in class so that the pretty girl acknowledges your existence. And yet, after all these years, I suspect there was a pinch of truth in the statement.

I hate jobs. I hate the timings, the commuting, the rushing in the morning, the sleepiness in the afternoon. I hate having to describe every minute detail to a person who’s not necessarily smarter or wiser, just senior in age. I hate wearing boring shades of clothes that are forced to look formal; a tuck here, a nip there. I hate having to deal with morons on the road, more so since my motorcycle is actually the ghost of an old grumpy horse that has possessed a seemingly harmless vehicle. I have been done so many shitty jobs since my teen years that a few years ago, I put my foot down.

Perhaps a few of us aren’t meant for the race, you know. If the entire world became successful and drove in snazzy cars, who’s to write disgruntled blogs about them? It’s been more than two years now, and I haven’t done a single job. How do I make do?

I write. Not books, as I had foolishly ventured out to do a few years ago. But articles, and some blogs. Some content for Social Media, a little Copywriting here, a little market analysis there. When there are stand-up shows, or calligraphy workshops, I make a little extra money. I had set out to write books, but I couldn’t. And yet, like Konkona Sen Sharma in Luck By Chance, I’m happy doing whatever writing I do. I wear clean clothes once a week and go to the Advertising Agency I deal with, and have bath in the evenings and attend Open Mics or Comedy shows. I’m not saying all this to ask for some donations (though those are more than welcome, please ask for my Bank details by writing to Hriday @ writetohriday@gmail.com). The thing is, my hatred for jobs has grown manifold.

It has reached a stage where I feel claustrophobic when I enter a corporate office. I feel like punching the clean-shaven faces and smashing the perfectly aligned glass cabinets. I don’t, because I’m mostly there for a Corporate Show and those guys have something I don’t – PAISA. But the hatred, the absolute unadulterated disgust still boils like froth in my heart.

I have to take a few deep breaths, remind myself of my unwashed clothes, and silently make it out of the place without harming man, woman or machine.

 

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The last month or so has been quite the revelation.

After dealing with the hustle-bustle of the city, and the trippy, Yo! Let’s-Change-the-World naivety of University Idealism, I have found my peace in a tiny hamlet far away from Cyberabad and its Cyber-bullshit.

‘Sitaphalmandi’ literally means a market for Sitaphal (wrongly misconstrued as Sita’s fruits, which, well, let’s not get there). The area is closer to Charminar than Cyber Towers, and the difference is starkly visible.

Temples and mosques jostle for space on the roads; and for frequency in the airwaves early morning. Surrounded by three universities, the place is a hub for foreign students, not from the Americas or Europe, but from Libya, Iran and Nigeria. The older houses belong to families whose children have chosen to settle in the snazzier part of the city. There is a local train station right next to my house, with a strange maroon train marked ‘Maula Ali’ permanently parked on the Narrow Gauge tracks.

This is how I spend my days.

I wake up to the sound of trains rushing in with sleepy drivers and passengers in a mild hurry. I prepare breakfast for Her (not every single day, but pretty regularly), and then drop her off at the station as she leaves for Cyber-land.

The walk back to my place is joyous and cheerful, as I walk with a spring hydraulic mono-shock absorber in my step. The day is all mine, and I finish the basic requirements first – food, a joint, and masturbation (I know, I’m not proud of it!). After that, I have the day all to myself.

I play my Cajon to some of the greatest voices in rock and roll history. I whip myself up a salad, or cook an omelet (my only culinary skill). I clean the house, do the dishes, and if the load gets too much, I pull the curtains and plunge into a glorious afternoon nap.

It’s evening by the time I wake up, and the sun is smiling gently. The school in front of my window has shut down for the day, and different cricket leagues are competing with each other for the ground, while shooing away goats. I feed the turtles, have a bath, and sit down to finish the writing scheduled for the day. I then pick Her up from the station, before leaving for a show/Open Mic, if I happen to have one that day.

There are a few exceptions here and there, but this is more or less my schedule on weekdays.

This is great. In a way, this is all I had imagined for myself years ago. This is exactly how I’d wanted to live my life.

BUT…

 

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…the human mind knows no end to desire.

It has been said by Buddha (I think), that when man achieves one desire, another quickly takes its place. Now, who am I to refute the wisdom of The Buddha?

And it’s true. I should have been satisfied, should have thanked the heavens and one of the many gods who claim to control the collective destinies of the world. But god can kiss my ass. I have brand new desires now.

It might sound hypocritical, and completely loony, but it is what my heart feels.

 

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I want a job.

Not a serious job, or a high-paying one either. A regular government job in a regular government department. Nothing essential, like Power or Water Supply. I want a job in a department that could be immediately dispensed with in case of an alien attack. Like the Archaeological Survey of India, or the Department of Culture. A job where nothing really hinges on my shoulders, and yet I’m a cog in the wheel churning on and on.

I want a job with lots of Optional Holidays, the ones marked in orange on official government calendars. An office that has no corruption, not because the people are honest and sincere, but because nobody gives a flying fuck. A job that deposits a fixed amount of money in my bank, one where I could come back home for lunch and sleep for two hours, before rushing back at 4 PM over a cup of chai.

I want a job where there is no need to think. One where I have to make some entries on an old register, with those dual-coloured pens on each side. A job with dusty yellow walls and paan-stains on the sides of the older walls (preferably away from my personal desk). I want a government job where even the peon is called ‘Ram Babu’. A job that gives me Railway tickets for free every year, and access to Govt. Circuit Houses in every tourist destination in the country.

Life, then, would truly be magical. But till then, we make do with what we have. I wonder what Buddha would have said about IT jobs and flexible work hour options.

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Sairat-Aattach-Baya-Ka-Baavarala-Song-Promo

Sairat – A completely hungover review

I have generally been wary of regional cinema for a variety of reasons.

Most regional films have subtitles that give you existential doubts, the nuances and references are lost in translation, and you end up experiencing a truncated version of the original work.

Sairat has been running in exactly one cinema hall in Hyderabad for the last two months. One show in one cinema hall, and yet, booking a ticket has proven a Herculean task. After a series of futile attempts, we managed to book tickets to the film.

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It didn’t help that Lady Luck had plans to sabotage the entire exercise. It happened to be Telangana formation day, and the entire city was decked up to celebrate their surprise independence. Traffic was diverted from normal roads to AnuragKashyapish lanes, and the mall we went to happened to be the worst mall in the history of human civilisation. A series of lifts with minds of their own, and a Tolkienish adventure later, we found ourselves 20 minutes late into the movie. Being a finicky cinema-goer, I usually resort to skipping the entire movie and stuffing my stomach instead.

But a voice told me that I must go watch the movie. And dragged me by the arm into a dark hall filled with giggling people. As I snuggled into my seat, it was as if I’d been present right from the beginning.

Director Nagraj Manjule takes his own sweet time establishing his characters, like a confident paan-wallah adding layers of delicacies for an indulgent customer. It’s a refreshing change from the usual tripe of Hindi cinema, where character is established with the help of an item number. He teases and reveals, and restricts and reveals even more, and before I knew it, I had begun caring for the leads. Even the interval in the film is strategically placed so as to retain the director’s iron grip over the audience’s attention.

Manjule gives a wonderful spin to the classic rural love story, flipping it on its head. Starring lead pair that seems born to do the film, Sairat benefits from the painstaking efforts the director takes to make you feel for the character. So they end up not mere characters, but breathing-walking people you’ve have met at some point in your life. When they smile, you smile with them. When they dance, you want to dance with them (but can’t, thanks to the fat uncle next to you who can’t stop being Louis CK for his family!).

Neither dumbing itself down for regional audiences, nor biting off more than it can eschew like Bengali art-house cinema, Sairat begins on solid footing and soars from there on. Within minutes, I sat back in my seat. This was pure, old-fashioned storytelling. No frills, no bullshit.

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There are a number of reasons why Sairat works, but none as important as the casting of the film. In the performance of the year, Rinku Rajguru is a debutant with the swagger of a Meryl Streep. She straddles every scene and grabs it by the horns, making you want to scream, hoot and whistle for her. And yet, it is not ‘in-your-face’. She conveys more by her silences, a cocking of the head, a lilt in her voice. Such is her brilliance that she overshadows, nay completely eclipses an otherwise solid performance by the lead Akash Thosar.

To add to the glitz of the proceedings are Ajay-Atul the sibling duo who stir up a stunning soundtrack for the film. At once rousing and riveting and randy, the soundtrack acts like the nervous system of the film, infusing life, joy and drama into a glorious film by itself.

And yet, above all, Sairat is a gigantic bitch-slap to the face of our nation. A nation that believes it possesses ‘the greatest culture in the world’ even though nobody except ourselves told us so. A nation so blinded by imaginary fables that it refuses to notice that it follows the most regressive discriminatory system in the entire world. A society so caught up sucking up to their parents and living their lives through borrowed ideals, that we never stop to think that we are the only country that follows a system as cruel and outrageously horrifying as the Caste system.

Please watch Sairat. Brave the rains if you have to, brave the tyrannical distance of the only cinema hall that’s screening the film. It’s well worth it. Very rarely does a film thrill you, and shake you up at the same time.

Sairat is a story waiting to be heard.

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Why Arijit Singh needs to apologise to Salman Khan

While Tanmay was becoming the Bhat of all jokes, another incident stuck its head out of the muck yesterday. Turns out Salman Khan hasn’t allowed Arijit Singh’s song in the soundtrack for Sultan.

In case you don’t follow the Times of India, or have a life in general, you should have heard of the news. Turns out Salman Khan was at an awards show three years ago, and someone said something and Bhai wasn’t pleased, so he banned the singer from singing songs for himself.

Of course it should come as no surprise, as we are used to film industries where the actor is bigger than the writer, the director, the script, the film, even the sun; if he eats a lot of biriyani on that day. It baffles me how a star can take creative decisions on a film, when he’s not involved in the production in any way.

But that’s India, and that’s how things have run for the longest time. When actors have temples built for them, a singer is but a twig. However, this isn’t the first time Bhai chose to do what he wants. There have been the minor incidents of him shooting animals because he took his role in Suryavanshi – a desi Kannan the Barbarian – too seriously. He has also driven over people on footpaths – Being Drunk.

But among the biggest victories of Bhai, is the single-handed destruction of a certain Vivek Oberoi. Sometime in the mid-2000s, Vivek Oberoi must have woken up everyday feeling like the middle of an LSD trip. A relative newcomer, he had chalked up a body of work that included Ram Gopal Verma, Vishal Bharadwaj, Mani Ratnam, and Subhash Ghai. He was also endorsing Coca-Cola, and happened to date Aishwarya Rai. Which didn’t go down too well with Bhai.

Today, Vivek Oberoi endorses Babool Toothpaste, Kayam Churan and Polio drops. His co-stars are Aftab Shivdasani, his films have the budget of Bhai’s underwears. Every time he appears in an award function, he grovels and bows down to Bhai like we are in the 1780s and Zamindari is the prevalent system. Even today, under a song from Saathiya, you’ll find a comment – ‘He was a nice guy, shouldn’t have messed with Bhai’.

vivek

Of course, Bhai does what he wants. People who are close to him, irrespective of IQ or talent will be promoted. Like one-time National Pain in the Ass Himesh Reshammiya, and Sooraj Pancholi. Bhai will do what he wants, because fuck the world!

It’s strange how someone with neither talent nor goodwill, has risen to become the biggest star in the country. The common logic provided is ‘Bhai dil ka achha hai’. Which, if you think about it, is the logic used to justify chutiyas. If someone is nice, they’re nice. Yeh dil ka achha hona kya hota hai?

 

hitler dil ka achha heartranjan

 

I am perennially baffled by the fact that he’s today’s biggest superstar. Our parents had Amitabh Bachchan as their icon. For most of the 90s, your social standing could be decided on your preference between Shah Rukh Khan and Govinda. But what sort of a coked-up nation do we have to be, that Bhai is our biggest star. At most, I’d assumed Salman Khan would be Dharmender of our generation – beefed up, refusing to act his age, and generally off-kilter in the head.

But the answer isn’t too far away. Salman Khan today is a classic case of tremendous PR work. There have been enfante-terribles in Bollywood earlier. There were also actors who went to jail and got embroiled in legal battles. And yet, the metamorphosis of Bhai has been breathtaking. A few ramp-shows, a line of unusually tight T-shirts in malls, and suddenly Bhai has transformed into a ‘Dil ka achha Bhai’.

Maine Pyar Kiya Heartranjan final

It’s no wonder that Hindi films have generally begun to suck donkey balls. Look at the biggest hits of the last few years, and you’ll find at least two films a year that make you want to slit your wrist and spray the blood over the audience’s faces. With Bhai in both of them. Today, Bhai does Dholi Taro Dhol Baaje with Prime Minster Modi and speaks to reporters about eradicating illiteracy in the nation.

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And yet, I wonder why Arijit Singh has to apologise to Salman Khan? How honest-to-its-efforts can a film be, if your actor can take calls based on grudges from years back. It’s like the teacher failing you in 10th standard because you peed in the class in 3rd Standard.

And yet, it will happen. The comments have already begun to flow in – Aye, don’t mess with Bhai. Bhai is the greatest <3 <3 <3 Love from Syria.

Arijit Singh, a singer who worked his way to the top by hard work and credible hits, has to plead with Bhai to include a song in the soundtrack. I sometimes wonder if Malayalam and Tamil directors are reading such tripe and laughing at us. Or may be they aren’t, because they have work to do, like writing scripts and dialogues.

So, of course Arijit Singh needs to apologise to Bhai! How else will he get to sing in Housefull 27, and other path-breaking cinematic ventures like Saawan – The Mating Season. 

If anything, I fail to understand why Arijit Singh needs to write a letter of apology to Salman Khan. It is futile.

Cos Bhai dil ka achha hai. But I doubt he knows how to read.