There was a time when I would wait for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films.
I loved getting transported into those timeless, geography-less lands that he created. I loved the drama, the colour, the painful soundtracks. It was just what my teenage heart needed.
Unfortunately, while my taste in cinema has grown, Bhansali’s endeavors seem increasingly tiring by the day. I am sure in his nightmares, Maps and Calendars come walking towards Bhansali, their hands outstretched, making whooshing noises.
If you strip them down to their basics, Bhansali’s films have always centred around a handicap (Khamoshi, Black, Guzarish), or unrequited love (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Sawariya). While enough has been said about his knack for creating these other-worldly worlds, the colours and the drums seem unnecessary in this film.
Playing to the galleries, Ram Leela is an average story, and all the peacocks and the statues and the colours cannot change that fact. And by the time the three hour colourfest has ended, you’re sincerely wishing the two of them die already. Since it’s inspired by Romeo and Juliet, don’t we all know how it’s going to end?
At the end of the day, Ram Leela is like Gordon Ramsay cooking pani puri. A good cook stirring up an everyday dish. So whether you like Ram Leela or not, depends on what you feel about Gordon Ramsay preparing Pani Puri.
But what’s more interesting than the film itself, is the controversy surrounding the film.
You see, some groups were offended by the film’s content.
The film hurt their religious sentiments. Even before the bloody film released!
Absurd, you say?
I don’t think so. Even before Lord Krishna was born, Kamsa had known that the boy would offend his sensibilities (by killing him). So it’s not all that a novel idea to get offended by things we haven’t even seen yet.
I did a bit of research on who were these sensitive people who got offended, and who should I find, but my old friends?
The Bajrang Dal.
For years now, the Bajrang Dal has magnanimously taken up the daunting task of handling our sentiments. And that is a Herculean task.
Because as a nation, we love taking offence. It’s what we do.
I read in the news that Bajrang Dal had taken offence to the film because it was called Ram Leela. Very, very, valid point.
It’s such an overarching point that it negates the need for other banalities, like actually watching the film to find out what it is about. Ever the logical diplomats, this is the reason that was given – “The title has the name Ram, and Leela is associated with Lord Krishna, so people would mistake it for a mythological film, but it is a film steeped in sex, violence, and vulgarity.”
Don’t you feel like standing up and saluting? I know!
Because we live in dark ages, where we walk into a film having knowledge only of its name. Trailers, teasers, and promotions are for Martians, in case they want to enjoy some of our films.
But this is not new at all. We have been banning films for a few years now. And while you’d expect that with time, societies around the world would loosen up their iron grip on culture, in India we keep going a step backwards every year. Let’s have a look at the list.
Fanaa: The film was banned in Gujarat because Aamir Khan had spoken out against the Narmada Dam project. Personal opinion, you say? Haha, you little fool, you.
Billoo Barber: The film was based on Billoo, who’s a barber. Apparently, barbers took offence to a barber being called a barber. Dignity of labour, you say? Haha.
Black Friday: Unlike other films, this film did not malign anybody’s name or character. In fact, it is among the rare films that uses real names, real locations, real incidents. But how can something that really happened, be offensive? Haha.
The best part is, these films were banned before they were released. Before anybody had an inkling as to what the film could have contained. Talk about a seventh sense.
And as if the petitions aren’t intellectually stimulating enough, Indian courts entertain these people and pass those laws. Raasleela has been banned in the UP, as were the earlier films mentioned in the list.
Now, isn’t it the work of courts to uphold someone’s legal right to release a film? For all their erudition and experience, shouldn’t lawyers and courts be looking at larger issues? Aren’t we heading towards a Banana Republic, if any Tom, Dick, and Hairy can walk up to a court with a piece of paper and stall the release of a film?
But you shouldn’t get depressed. No, no.
Apart from upholding our culture as a nation, religious groups also take on the side job of entertaining us once in a while.
The second reason for banning the film was this – How can a character named ‘Ram’, be involved in violence and killing?
Because you know, Lord Ram vanquished Raavan by sending him a bouquet of roses. After which Raavan wiped his tears with the words, “Ab bas kar. Rulaayega kya?”
The petition goes on to say that the character named Ram is also involved in other trades, like selling of vulgar CDs, and is a general Casanova.
Very very valid point.
I am sure I couldn’t get through the Bajrang Dal because my CAT score was only 18%. After all, how else could one come up with points like this, you tell me?
Talking of which, let’s look at some other people who dared to act against their names.
Govinda: Even though he is named after Lord Krishna, he had the audacity to romance Raveena Tandon. He also shamed the nation, Lord Krishna, and the entire cosmos (because the entire cosmos was inside Krishna’s mouth!), by wearing yellow pants, and crooning ‘Meri pant bhi sexy’. He should have instead crooned ‘Mama Pitambaram Ati Madhuram’. Burn his house and blacken his face, I say.
Ram Jethmalani: Mr. Jethmalani has two wives. In
one stroke a few strokes, he has shamed the name of Lord Ram, who was faithful to Mother Sita all through his life, never looking at any other woman, us nazar se.
But this shameless Jethmalani fellow goes on to live his life without his face being blackened.
Shakti Kapoor: Even though he’s named after Shakti, Mr. Kapoor has less than religious feelings towards women. In an interview, he told a girl that she has to ‘fuck’ to get ahead in her career.
Apart from this sacrilegious act, his career has spanned a wide vista of characters – ranging from the friendly neighbourhood sex offender, to a vicious rapist. How about we blacken his face?
Oh wait, we already have!
Bala Krishna: Named after Child Krishna, this actor has done things that can neither be counted as Krishna-like, nor childlike. Apart from being accused in a shooting incident, he has also done things that little Krishna would never have imagined. Even though he had the whole cosmos in his mouth.
How dare these people do anything vulgar, when they have been blessed with names of Gods?
How can they dare do their own thing, even though this is a free country?
How can they offend my sensibilities?
Blacken their bloody faces!!