Posts Tagged ‘Charles Dickens’

Bhai verdict: The day Bollywood lost its marbles

May 8, 2015

Bollywood is fond of justifying the, ahem, quality of its mass market films with the pompous “We know what the people (as opposed to pretentious critics, ostensibly) want and we give it to them” line.  But the reactions to the verdict in the 2002 hit-and-run case involving Salman Khan suggest they know very little, if anything, about “the people”.

A sessions court finally pronounced its verdict in the aforesaid case and found Salman Khan guilty of culpable homicide.  Farah Khan, wife of Zayed Khan (and not the Farah Khan you’re probably thinking of), compared the verdict to holding a train driver guilty for running over people who were illegally crossing the tracks.  Singer Abhijeet pretty much condemned ‘illegal’ pavement and road dwellers to a dog’s death and said he used to sleep on the platforms of railway stations when he was homeless.  First off, you are not supposed to squat on railway stations either.  Secondly, while sleeping on the pavement may be illegal, driving over the pavement is, too, if one follows his argument.  Lastly, a word about the legality or otherwise of some of the activities of some members of the Bollywood fraternity might be pertinent here?

In their outpouring of support for Salman Khan (understandable in a realpolitik sense, perhaps, even if cringeworthy) and the utter condescension they expressed to their victims, Bollywood unwittingly unmasked itself.  Behind the curtain of entertainment with its adorable performers was ugly, stinking elitism of the worst kind.  Even if some Bollywood biggies originally hailed from backgrounds not dissimilar to that of the victims in the Bhai case, they made it clear on Wednesday that they had long since forgotten (perhaps forsaken) their roots and staunchly identified themselves with the upper crust of society.

What might be the repercussions of this?  Bollywood has had a bad time lately, salvaged only by the stupendous success of PK.   Maybe their reactions to the Bhai verdict offer a clue as to why.  Those who are completely out of touch with the masses and indeed deride the same ‘unwashed’ folk that flock to cinema halls cannot understand what it takes to entertain them.    No, reacting in a despicable way to justice being served on one of their fraternity won’t lose Bollywood all its patrons.  But it may just add a fresh layer of cynicism to the star-fan relationship.  Is it really worth idolizing an entitled douchebag just because he/she is attractive?   Whereas stars considered advertisements beneath their dignity in the 70s, today they use every trick in the book, every possible channel, be it internet, social media or the traditional media like TV/press, to remain in the limelight 24/7.  Again, perhaps, the above is part of the reason why this has become necessary.

What of the masses themselves?   It would appear that Bhai-_____s have yet to give up the faith.  Be that as it may, cinema lovers may not easily repose so much faith in a movie star in the foreseeable future.  Is this perhaps a “best of times and worst of times” moment for India?  This is, as  I said, a moment where the Indian elite stands ruthlessly unmasked and exposed, their disdain for the have nots never more plainly evident.

Is India still gonna be turning right? Your guess is as good as mine.


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