I think it started in a big way with Anarkali of Aarah, where the heroine is a dancer in the village of Aarah; that kind of dancer and in that kind of space, yes. She is being threatened and being sexually abused by a politician who wields power in her motley village. She doesn’t have many options in the manner of fighting back.
So she uses the only one available to her. A camera embedded in a smartphone. She records the act of her abuse by the man in question and exposes him by playing it during a performance, where he’s present in official capacity, accompanied by his wife, as well as attended by his minions and maybe also bureaucrats from the government. Arrah erupts. Anarkali is powerful once again. The man abusing his power goes back slinking away to his vicious den having lost face.
That’s the power of social media. It puts the spotlight on people’s conduct and zooms in on their hypocrisy, cures the public memory of its being short.
It also gives the kind of unprecedented reach to all the Anarkalis of Aarahs that was once subject to approval, support, and patronising pity of some babu, news editor, bureaucrat, cop somewhere. And even that could be subject to granting of certain favours. #Socialmedia has created the right platform for all of us Anarkalis.
Today I saw one more film of this kind. This Anarkali is already an ace vlogger with millions of fans and a powerful politician for a BF. He, of course, is thoroughly abusive. She is confused. And they’re on a break.
It was Pal Pal Dil ke Paas, a film that introduces Karan Deol of the daddy’s Dhai Kilo Ka Haath fame. DKKH is busy holding the camera this time as Sunny’s the director of the film. Saher Bamba plays the celebrity vlogger.
Bollywood critics have been overzealous in panning the film, particularly KD. But trust me, if you’re a trekking fan, you’ll love the locales and the photography. Half the film is all about KD and SB on a trek. The shots are absolutely real and the two have done a great job getting at least a few of the trekking fundas right. The Himalayas are soh magical and beautiful! I love my country : )
I want to write this note to Sehar though – Nobody on a trek screams as much as you’ve done. Your voice is also grating probably because the chopper budget ate into the budget for sound editing. But the fact is, nobody screams as much as you’ve done. The same scream, whether you’re happy or frightened, over and over again made me really thank you for fainting out of altitude sickness. It gave my ears some time to buck up for the next round. And you didn’t disappoint. You’ve sung really well though. As for the Sehar of PPDKP, you’re modelling your character on Kareena’s poo – what with all that walking around with soft toys. Millennials don’t do that, sweety. Gen Z, definitely not.
Anyway, coming back to Social media and its impact. So, Saher breaks up with Viren and love blooms between her and the Manali boy KD. Viren is the jealous kid who can’t take it that “his woman” chose KD over him. The poor Viren who’s only dirt rich, powerful, owns a racing track, and loves to womanise. Like, what ever can please a woman, huff!
KD, on the other hand, is the verray parfit gentil knyght we all dream about. Romantic when his woman needs it and super protective when she’s hurt. Post-interval it’s like watching Sunny Paaji fight the villain vicariously. You get your money’s worth of tables breaking, glasses crashing, skulls being crushed, and Sunny Paaji’s trademark… The raging scream. KD really is his son. His dialogues may be all monosyllabic words but his rage speaks volumes.
In all of this, Saher takes to social media to expose Viren’s misdeeds, his threats, his abuse of power. Which again, is pretty cool. Like the #Metoo movement did in real life. So, it’s nice to see that what was once a social only power of “log kya kahenge” is becoming apparent in a digital avatar when the word media is added to it. It acquires the power of posterity. Of never getting lost. Of always being found. By someone somewhere.
Social disapproval has historically been more powerful in shaping and controlling human behaviours than penal action under the law. As humans, we absolutely hate being publicly humiliated, exposed, laughed at. Maybe that’s the reason why #Metoo became a powerful movement. After all, we have known for ages that women are sexually harassed and abused all over the world. Now that we can name and shame people, we are finding our strength and power back with Social media, a weapon today where earlier there was none.
Ask a certain Sukanya Devi and her family.
Note to critics: Yes, the film is slow. The pace is missing. And the angles are funny at times. But you need to back off of KD. He does kind of grow on you a little. Very little. But do watch out. The Karan Johar bunch from the nepotism school of acting ain’t much great. Finally, do a favour to your craft by not making things personal, ugly, and petty. Maintain a decorum and dignity to the job of reviewing films.