20 Years of Kuch Nahin Hota Hai

October 1998. I saw Kuch Kuch Hota Hai on one of our rare trips to the cinema hall in Ahmedabad. Two families together – My parents and me, with my best friend at school and her parents. I still remember how my mum rolled her eyes at us after the movie saying this ‘friendship’ nonsense in the film will soon have us kids going mad about these new-age ‘rakhis’… and how right she was. For no less than 2-3 years thereafter, the craze for those rakhis refused to fade – Pyaar Dosti hai… We were teens at the time and the film struck us down. We were quick to ignore the sanskari ways in the film, of the newcomer Rani Mukerji urf Tina – she had become an instant sensation. Every guy wanted to be Rahul, seen sporting a tacky chain around his neck with letters COOL hanging from it.  KJo wanted us to know this was Cool Dude. Cool dude makes best friends with tomboy. Tomboy is in love with Cool Dude, although it’s never clear what makes him so cool. Cool Dudes Dig Gorgeous Sanskaari chicks, apparently. Sanskaari knows tomboy loves cool dude and sanskaari is besties with tomboy. But, cool dude charms sanskaari who falls in love with him. So of course, cool dude gets sanskaari after only two songs and dance. She is also the daughter of the principal of the very same college where they all study – All the world is one small Undergraduate Classroom. The only realistic thing about this film is that none of the college birds ever discuss academics or careers – neither profs nor the principal. But, I have full faith in their commitment to the all-round development of their students because cool and tomboy play basketball quite competitively and they do have college cultural festivals that may be considered pretty hep even by today’s standards. Go extracurriculars! KJo never wasted any time bumping off Sanskaari – maternal mortality sub-plot. Rahul is single again. Single father to a cute daughter, let’s name her Anjali, thought the great story-teller – this is Sanskaari’s last sanskaari act as a tribute to her bestie that was the tomboy with the same name. Tomboy had disappeared from their lives when the Sanskaari & Cool M&A began. Both missed tomboy sorely it seems, ‘coz sanskari left a bunch of letters – YES, 20 YEARS AGO LETTERS WAS THE COOL SANSKAARI THING TO DO!!! – for her young daughter to read each birthday. So definitely, Sanskaari had had notice even as a pregnant mom to exercise her penmanship. And execute her strategy to unite Tomboy with her Rahul. Anyway. Memorable moments include little Anjali calling her grandmother ‘sexy’. I believe she might have picked it up from that ‘sexy sexy sexy…’ song from Khuddar that released in 1994, given that Anjali’s only passion was to become a VJ on MTV. Whatever be the case, my mother was shocked even four years on. She gave me a look full of warning if I ever used that word anywhere at all… I didn’t. Until I picked up the lyrics to the song ‘Sexy eyes’ by Whigfield. And even then it was  – “Hey, I’m just singing a song!!” Another one was HOW Cool Dude, now cool dad, stares at tomboy turned sanskaari (Saari & all, there’s nothing understated nor left to be understood) Anjali at little Anjali’s summer camp. The look he gives her could bore holes into a dam. Well, such is the pull – pyaar dosti hai… and now it’s time to turn that around as well. Then of course, the Cool Sanskaari M&A has to happen all over again. There was yet another memorable moment though – rather two. Kajol shows off her Urmila Matondkar moves in an enactment of Rangeela Re song, after which Cool Dude makes a move on her. Thanks to which, she has a stinging realisation: Oops, she’s engaged to Aman and is very soon to be married to him. After a fair share of drama, chest-beating, waterworks and song & dance, Cool Dude once again Dilwale Sanskaari Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, while Sanskaari boy Aman steps back before having to meet the same fate as the sanskaari babe. Anjali adopts Anjali – which works both ways – and KKHH grossed ₹80.12 crore in India, ₹26.61 cr in other countries, for a worldwide total of ₹1.06 billion, against its ₹10 crore budget, as per Wikipedia. To think that among contenders such as Ghulam and Satya, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai picked up the Filmfare award for the Best film… kinda explains why Bollywood mein ‘Kuch Nahin Hota Hai‘.

Jab Rahul-ne Hug Diya

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So… Bhookamp came and went down with a Hug at this No Confidence Motion. The government had the support of 325 members while 126 voted against it. Which means that even as Shiv Sena sat it out, the fence-sitters and not just NDA allies, voted for the government, meaning that BJP continues to provide the country with stable leadership. Hardly a compliment when a once so-called “progressive” leader N Chandrababu Naidu, calls for a No Confidence Vote against a former ally and a Grand old party pitches in with apt buffoonery. It was a circus that Indian people like you and me pay for with our taxes. The exhibit was cheap, distasteful, and not the least because of the Congress scion’s wink, which was discussed more than how much the content of his speech was lacking in facts. The biggest problem though? Media. A bunch of dipshits that feast on cheap thrills not only rejecting all standards of civility and decorum for their own work and lives but also condemning a society to their utter lack of these. Speaking of Rahul’s craptastic speech: at one point he asked Narendra Modi to literally PUT his eye INTO his own (yes, Rahul’s Hindi is that bad, his manners are even worse. He could have got this one right simply by watching 3 Bollywood movies). Well, it was described by BS thus: “The Congress chief delivered a stinging speech that riled BJP members and concluded it by walking across the well of the House to startle the PM with a hug” [ LINK Here ] Rahul’s speech was responded to in typical NaMo fashion, the highlights of which are captured well in this piece here by DNA. But, was it needed? This edit piece here by Bikram Vohra on FirstPost is totally on point. He too blames the media with words: If only the media were to treat this as the non-event that it was, the whole exercise would have been a lot more edifying. But ballooned into a sort of second coming, the country was held at intellectual ransom, with only the issue of Andhra Pradesh being given the chance of making some sense. Cannot but agree. Shockingly enough, Rahul has cheerleaders. Like all cheap Kanti Shah movie villains have sidekicks. The only problem is, this is 2018. Kanti Shah era is over. Media likes to pretend that Sacred Games doesn’t exist. The same FirstPost has this feature here that calls this fool’s speech “brilliant and revelatory”. And that’s only the beginning. It calls out Nirmala Sitharaman’s anger and mocks at her for seething at the lies RaGa peddled re: Rafale deal. In fact, it mocks the BJP for claiming to consider Rahul a joke and then taking his speech on the floor of the House too seriously. Well Ajaz Ashraf, Rahul stopped being a joke and morphed into a dangerous liar when he took his lies to the well of the House. If you felt any responsibility, you’d feel a little consternation maybe. Like I did when Modi made a show of puppet hands in his jibe against Rahul’s wink and the stupid “eye into my eye” comment. That kind of crap has no place in the affairs of governing a country. But I guess people like you enjoy operating your discourse at this level. That said, it is the media’s job to question and lampoon and eventually reject every piece of rhetoric they find that originates from a lie or seeks to divide people based on malicious intent. In a civilized democracy, that is. Clearly, you guys are not ready for that. Finally, the hug. Please watch it here again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6YhpRJkXUQ It’s not endearing. Nor dignified. Nor respectful. What I truly do not see here is a hug that could even be acceptable. It being invited or reciprocated is far out. I cannot believe that an adult would go inflict a hug on someone in this manner. You don’t just go out collapsing on people’s shoulders in what could be more plausibly some drug-addled bravado. You see he did it only because he knew he would be able to make a statement and that no one would stop him. Finally, he did it quite simply because he can. You know who else behaves so despicably? Roadside romeos. This is not a joke. I’m glad Madam Speaker Sumitra Mahajan scolded him but as a citizen, I’d like to see action taken against him as well as those members of the House who did disrupt the proceedings in any manner at all. Finally, unrivalled is this piece published by The Hindu here that says “The Opposition always knew what the outcome of the no-confidence vote would be, but it did not want to lose an opportunity to make a few political points against the BJP and the Modi government.” It quotes Randeep Surjewala and Shashi Tharoor calling Rahul’s speech a “game-changer”. I’m surprised that Tharoor passed up a golden opportunity to add to the collective vocabulary of us Indians. As for the statement at hand, that the opposition always knew what the outcome would be, it is horribly callous on the part of India’s longest ruling party to support this vote that disrupted the normal functioning of the House, created chaos, and cost taxpayer money. The chief freeloader used the time & money to exhibit third class buffoonery that had to be rubbished by a foreign head of state’s office. Never before – with the exception of the Emergency – has the Indian democracy looked so helplessly spaced out. But. There’s a theory that requires no positing. The Opposition didn’t do this only to show off Rahul’s coming of age – for that is something he’s been busy doing as long as anyone can remember. Besides, Rahul has no choice but to come of age and for his leaders to stand erect and salute him for it: kind of like their ‘Emergency’. The opposition led this charade to map out the actual strength in their favour from 2019 point of view. It’s irresponsible. It’s sinister. It’s dirty. And it shows the depths to which these people are willing to stoop.

What Shekhar Gupta has in common with the oppressive British Raj

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A lot. Am reading I am Divine by Devdutt Pattanaik (edited by Jerry Johnson) and is a laudable work on the history of LGBTIQ within the Indian ‘Hindu’ society. To me, Hindu is a geographical identity whose one of the aspects is the legacy of Dharmic religions. But all that later. The book has sharp insights on the issue of ‘caste’, for which Hindus have been flogged over and over for centuries. It is particularly valuable in the current climate of creating divisions within our society (SC/ST Act issue, Lingayats, etc.)… all because Congress wants a few votes in order to remain relevant. Their cronies are helping them further their divisive agenda. And Shekhar Gupta is leading the pack, how? ‘I Am Divine’ offers a perspective. Before I present the relevant excerpt, here’s a background of the issue, taken from the same book: A hymn from the Rig Veda described society as an organism whose body parts are made up of 4 Varnas, Brahmins (learned ones, religious scholars) on top, Kshatriyas, ruling class and landowners come next, trading community or Vaishyas come third, and last come the Shudras, the service providers.  This 4th group split later, with untouchables and tribals, who were pushed out of the social system. While many sages and philosophers spoke against this social structure, most rulers of the land respected Jati as it helped legitimise their rule, enabled them to collect taxes with relative ease from communities, rather than individuals, who controlled the lands and the markets. Many used Brahmins to establish new villages, and collect taxes on their behalf, thus making them God-kings. Muslim rulers too, in order to ensure stability, used Brahmins as bureaucrats and tax collectors, and so effectively let the 4-tiered social model persist.  Here is the excerpt from ‘I am Divine’ that throws light on how this caste conundrum became so pervasive as to be thoroughly institutionalised: When the Portuguese came to India, they used the word ‘Caste’ for Jati.  The British eventually documented castes for administrative convenience, and converted this rather fluid social system into a rigid and documented categorisation, even giving castes to people who really had no castes, and giving them social status in a standardised national hierarchy, ignoring the fact that the hierarchies of the Jati system functioned locally with numerous regional variations. Based on caste, the British assigned jobs in the military, they divided cities. Later, they switched from caste to religion, ignoring the caste divides in Indian Christians and Muslims, and amplifying the divide in Hindus, insisting that caste was an essential condition of all Hindus, based on books such as Manusmriti, which had originally only documented caste as social practice, not recommended or prescribed it. Hindus who moved to the Caribbean Islands as indentured labour in the 19th century, after slavery was abolished in Europe and America, retained their Hindu identity, but not any caste identity, as the socio-economic conditions there did not have NEED for caste. British administration did not bother to document the caste of labourers or classify them as such. But in India, where caste was strongly mapped to socio-economic realities, and where British administrators documented caste and made it essential category while recruiting for the army (only military castes were allowed) and for the bureaucracy (Brahmin and the landed gentry were preferred), caste not only thrived but was institutionalised.  The documentation process also created the religion we now call Hinduism. So, when Shekhar Gupta propagates writings like: https://twitter.com/shekhargupta/status/976380884902338560?lang=en and makes comments like this: https://twitter.com/shekhargupta/status/944432538499530752?lang=en But, in no way has a response to this: https://twitter.com/rishibagree/status/985158383333392385 Because there are… https://twitter.com/OpIndia_com/status/985181379926331392 a body that he is now the President of, he is culpable of furthering the noxious legacy of the British Raj. He is no intellectual. His attitude is a vestige of the British system of divide and rule, which works very well in the present context as it did in those times. How long are we going to keep falling victim to this? Finally, for those who might have questions about Manusmriti, often blamed for all the major social ills in the Hindu society, please read this: Manusmriti & Caste System by Acharya Harikrushna Farashuram. Read, and liberate yourself from centuries-old burden of hate and disgust heaped upon our civilisation by people who pillaged, marauded, and oppressed entire civilisations around the world with complete lack of compunction and are now giving others certificates for human rights while fomenting violence in the Middle East. People like Mr. Gupta, instead of participating in the progress of our society by furthering a constructive agenda, happen to spread hatred because it helps them so. They have created a different class system of ‘intellectuals’ who act as if they walk on water, but won’t even acknowledge it. This should be our fight.

Richa, that’s a bit rich…

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So ‘The Print’ has found its cause celebre – free speech. And has mounted this initiative in collaboration with the legend… wait for it… dary ‘Facebook’, which itself is mired in controversy over #Fakenews, along with BITS Hyderabad. I am sure The Print and FB have India’s best interests at heart. There can be no doubt. The fiery Richa Chadha, whose fame came riding on the back of some very interesting roles in Gangs of Wasseypur, a grimy epic saga of mindless violence and toxic masculinity, Fukrey, a crazy comedy, and Masaan, a tragic love story of blackmail and emotional survival, is known for her feminist stance. And may her tribe increase. So, when she appears at #DemocracyWall, it is newsworthy, at least for The Print anyway. https://twitter.com/ThePrintIndia/status/987637568136073217 And this is what she said at the event, among other things. Richa is right that movies are blamed for rising crime. And she’s quick to dismiss the role that films might play in impacting the psyche of its audience. She calls it simplistic to draw that connection. This is where I have a problem. I hope Richa has conducted a study to prove that audiences are not impacted by the content they consume. She will be surprised, to say the least.  Whatever Richa might say, there is ample evidence otherwise: If the movies had no impact on the audiences, why would the government mandate the insertion of anti-smoking advisory? Going by Richa’s logic, the advisory can be removed because the public is discerning enough to know that showing SRK smoking and looking cool doesn’t mean they can start radiating SRK vibes just by smoking. You see, the movies are just mirroring the society. Okay, let’s take another matter: family values.  You know the Sooraj Barjatya kind of movies? That’s mirror too. In our Sanskari society therefore, there should be no rapes. Bah, you’ll say. Finally, advertisements. If movies or advertisements did not have any impact in creating a desire or aspiration, where is the point in those millions of product placements and those glamorous ads that market everything from a sports car to a ceramic tile with the image of a scantily clad woman?  Is this also a case of mirroring? So my ultimate question is, Richa, where do you get off? Where does Bollywood get off? Why do you think Pink, English Vinglish, Drishyam… and movies of this kind, even your own Masaan, make such an impact on the audience? And was it because you were just holding a mirror to us? Who draws the line between “hey, this is to cause an impact”, “this scene to mirror the society”, and “this is just for a lark!”? Who? You? You, who thinks Bollywood is the one that spoke up against #KathuaRapeCase, finally pressuring the PM to make a statement? When do you speak up against the rampant sexual abuse of women and men in the industry you so coldly defend? When you say movies get blamed, aren’t you just defending your cronies who insert titillating scenes of violence and abuse just to provoke people? What do you think Gangs of Wasseypur was all about? I admire you for what you have said (Link here ) on Section 375 and your comments on rape culture are truly commendable. But, that does not take away from the fact that movie makers have a responsibility to the society. It doesn’t serve any purpose to hide behind this mask of “Oh, I’m only showing what’s happening, not contributing to it”. Just like you and your industry shows that great deal of restraint in criticising certain religions, and it really really shows restraint in doing so to ensure the safety of its members, that same degree of concern for responsible filmmaking is absolutely essential. Just watch any of Kanti Shah’s films and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Here’s a link  to the report of a student that committed suicide after watching 3 idiots, and a cluster of suicides were reported as a result. Here’s a link to the report of another such incident. Now, let me give you a short list of what your movies do not mirror: Ramanujan, the Indian mathematical genius. Shakuntala Devi, the human computer. Abbakka Chowta, the first Tulvuva Queen of Ullal who fought the Portuguese in the latter half of the 16th Century Jhansi Ki Rani, Indian women scientists who took India to space and many, many more such stories. If you really think movies mirror our society, I hope you guys get waaaayyyyyy better at your jobs because this argument will not fly until we hear the likes of you coming out against the abuse going on within the industry… we know it’s there, under the carpet.

Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety is the tale of the eternal bromance

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‘When I see a fool, I want to make him part with his money,’ said a really shrewd guy once. It could very well have been Luv Ranjan. Coming from this paragon of warriors for male justice, whose Pyar ka Punchnama part 1 & 2 addressed the evil that is the modern, independent woman, Luv’s latest is the second film of the year to cross Rs.100 crore in box office collections, after Padmavat. Congratulations are due. A cool 400 bucks of that 100 crore is mine; not counting the junk I had to eat to feel alive. I feel like a fool, but I had to find out what was making this film tick. And this is what I found. With Luv Ranjan’s SKTKS, He’s taken the Indian male’s fight to the home turf. No more girlfriends, no more bitches. For Luv if ‘Pyaar ka Punchnama‘ was about ‘bros before Hoes’, Sonu-Titu is about ‘bros before bhabhis‘. So just for fun, I’m gonna call this atrocity of a film ‘Titu’s Balls’ because well, my blog, my rules! And besides, balls is what Titu truly lacks here even though it may not seem so. The fun part is I’m spared the trouble of going through the details of this film since all you suckers must have seen it already. If any of you do claim to ‘get it’, please help me understand what exactly was wrong with Sweety. The mystery actually boggles my mind and I reckon Titu’s Balls Returns is inevitable. Strangely enough, the misogyny in this film creeps up on you, quietly, from amidst all the Panju glitter and show-shaa and swanky cars & modern interiors. It isn’t easily detectable. You see, Sonu wants to save his bro Titu, a man-child, no better term for him, from this woman called Piu. It’s another matter that he lets her ‘control’ him. Clearly, Titu has issues with setting boundaries. But Luv Ranjan, instead of showing that, decides that it’s better for Titu to be controlled by his bro rather than his girlfriend. And bro is such a gyaani who says breakup ko sex karke overcome karte hain rebound mein shaadi karke nahin. Clearly, bro is in control. So, imagine bro’s plight when Titu falls for his arranged match Sweety. Bro scuttles her plans to get close to her marital family, bro character assassinates her, bro investigates her… basically, anything to save a bro from the greasy, hairy arms of a mal-intentioned female who’s pretty, charming, works for an NGO, and wants to make a good wife. Bro hates it when Sweety decides that Titu, her would-be hubby, and she should start their new life by buying their own apartment in the name of both her MIL and grand MIL. Bro sees through the part where Sweety gets her house-help to work at Sonu-Titu’s place – bro’s hates eating healthy, clean surroundings, a neat closet. It’s clear, she’s plotting to gain control of their lives. But most of all, bro hates it when he can’t screw his weekend gals on the couch in his living room anymore. For bro, this is proof that Sweety is a bitch & he must save his bro from her. When nothing works to pull his bro away from Sweety, bro plans a bachelor’s party in Amsterdam and gets his bro away finally. Into the arms of none other than Piu. He flies her to Amsterdam and all three hang out together. Piu is no longer the monster who was eating his bro alive. He promises Piu that bro still has feelings for her and that he can see his bro marrying none but her. Bro thinks – better a stupid friend than a smart enemy. And bro’s right. In Luv Ranjan’s world, bro’s always right. Because, what’s a bro that takes out time for his woman, and family, instead of hanging out with his bro? What’s a bro that gets ‘serious’ about life and wants to ‘settle down’? What’s a bro that respects a woman’s feelings and loves them! What’s a bro that doesn’t party hard and fuck around? A freaking boring husband, that’s what he is. And when a bro becomes a freaking boring husband, bro will be left to pick up chicks at dance bars all alone. That can’t be fair. All for a woman! That seems too much freedom to sign away. Now, for bro, a woman who wants to look after her family after marriage is just a Ho. If she’s marrying a bro as rich as his bro, she’s a Ho. If she wants to host a religious ceremony before wedding, she’s a Ho. If she wants to send his bro a tiffin full of home-cooked meals to his work, she’s a Ho. If she welcomes bro’s ex-GF to her wedding, she’s a Ho. If she broke off her engagement with a bro because he tried to abuse her she’s a Ho. If she’s not a weekend ****sucker in scanty clothes and instead seeks to marry & settle down, she’s a Ho. And that’s the feeling that propelled this under 20-cr film to touch 100cr+ heights. Luv Ranjan is milking this formula and good luck to him. As for Hoes, you’re going to dance to the film’s amazing chart-busting numbers at the next shaadi you attend. comic relief >> Hypothetically speaking, a friend asked me, “what kind of people would enjoy watching this crap?” I hypothetically replied, “it’s your husband, honey”. Oh, and the ending? Sonu emotionally blackmails Titu. Titu leaves Sweety standing under the wedding mandap. Alone & crying. Sonu gets his revenge. Titu goes back to his bro. The exorcism comes through. Luv Ranjan makes crores. Because the Sonu’s n Titu’s of the world find this film almost cathartic. After all, there are Sweeties in everybody’s life and all these men wish they had a Sonu in their lives, who would have come riding a steed in shining armour, and swooped them away to live (&screw around) happily ever after in this eternal bromance that is life.