An open letter to Abhijeet Bhattacharya: How about calming down a bit, sir?
Dear Abhijeet Bhattacharya,
Greetings from a fan who once cherished your voice and now feels bad about it. Now that you’ve vented so much of nationalism on social media, hope you’re feeling better about it.
I remember watching a singing reality show on television show during my school days, where you’d appear as one of the judges. We would laugh over how you relentlessly fought with your fellow judge, another renowned female playback singer from Bollywood. But you know? Those days were better. Like many, I also believed your anger and aggression were scripted, fabricated; something that is reality shows are said to have done. But well!
Remember the day Salman Khan was set free from all allegations of the 2002 Hit-n-run case? You took to Twitter and wrote, ‘kutta Road pe soyega, kutte ki maut marega, roads garib ke baap ki nahi hai.” Irrespective of whether you supported the verdict or not (which is entirely your choice), you effortlessly referred to few dead souls as dogs. You justified that being poor is a crime. Being homeless is a crime. And if one shelter-less person sleeps on the road, he deserves to be smashed by a car and die. Your compassion towards Salman Khan did not shock us, your insensitivity did.
Oh wait, if only this compassion lasted forever! Khan recently opened up on banning Pakistani artistes and stated that banning could be no solution for dealing with terrorism. This really pissed you, right? You suddenly realized that Salman was ‘promoting’ terrorism and still roaming free. Ever heard of anything called ‘personal opinion’, sir?
Okay, let us shift our attention to your remarks on Karan Johar and Fawad Khan. Do not like Fawad Khan? Great. Do not want to watch ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’? Great. Do not even want it to release? Not great, but okay. Instead of engaging in a discussion or putting across your stand in a healthy manner, you chose to take dig on his sexuality indirectly. Know what, sir? Standing in 2016, being one of the world’s fastest developing nations, we are NOT supposed to be wondering about one’s sexuality. If you think you dodged us, you’re wrong. Your statement ‘Bollywood is frustrated with frustrated gays’ was clearly directed at Johar and everybody got it. How uglier could it get?
We wish you stopped there, but you did not. You kept exceeding every limit of decency and wrote, “Another #lovejihad .. Mehbooba #KaranJohar is in depression ..pak lover fawad ditched bechari Mrs @karanjohar khan.”
This was not only a desperate slap on one’s dignity, but also a dig on Karan’s recent revelation where he said he dealt with depression. We wouldn’t even try to explain to you, that depression is not something to be made of. Millions of people across the globe suffer from it and if there’s a bigger problem than the disorder itself, then it is insensitive antipathetic minds like you who find it a rejoicing act to make fun of people’s sufferings. And we don’t even want to look twice on that tweet where you wrote, “Fawad left and said talaq talaq talaq to #KaranJohar”.
Leave decency and sensitivity. If not for you, we would never believe an artist could (or would) refer to the population of an entire country as ‘bastards’. This comes at a time, when the laymen of both countries are sick of being fed all the hatred.
Here’s a free tip, sir. Calm down. The entire country condemns Uri attack and mourns the death of brave soldiers. We want this to stop. We want a world where peaceful co-existence is not an utopia. And! We expect our artists to be kind in attitude, controlled in their expression and respectful to other individuals. Why not identify the real problems, real culprits? All the hatred is going to bring you more hatred.
If the letter doesn’t make sense to you, ignore like you’ve ignored all trolls, always.
A hopelessly hopeful fan.
Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable
Kapoor & Sons – Since 1921. The house proudly flaunted that to the world, nestled in the greens of Coonoor. No one knew the darkness that was inside, the demons that were individually dealt with. But then, isn’t every family like that?
Two years have passed by since this Shakun Batra-directorial, story of a dysfunctional family had come to our lives. However, amongst the various themes that tore apart the family and eventually brought it together, one that truly had the power to transform, was that of homosexuality.
Not many know, that the role played by Fawad Khan, that of family’s elder son, a successful author, was actually offered to many A-listers, who turned it down, eventually leading him to step into the shoes of Rahul. And it was, indeed, a very big step on his part. He was venturing out of his territory, a man who has such a huge female-fan following, and comes from a country with religion as its main running philosophy. He did the role and brought such conviction to it that we were forced to stand up and applaud, his courage, and the beauty with which his character was carved.
Since times immemorial, all our memories of gay characters on screen have been that of carelessly effeminate and unimportant roles, which are just there to add a comic element. The stereotype has been high to an extent that often the champions of the same channelise it and promote it, for it is wrapped in the shiny paper of presentation. The biggest example of this was ‘Dostana’, which was an amazing story of friendship, still used homosexuality as humour, as its backdrop. Ironically, it came from the same production house, though nearly eight years before that.
But ‘Kapoor & Sons’ begged to differ here. The character here was real, someone who was hiding himself, for the society, his family. There was surreality to the theme of homosexuality here, which had the power to jar us inside out; and that, it did.
Two scenes from the movie specifically hit me. First one is when Sunita (Ratna Patak Shah) finds out that her ideal elder son, whom she adores and is proud of, is not straight. The aftereffects of the same jolt you, because the reaction is just what an Indian mother gives, in any situation that is beyond her control; uncontrollable anger at the offspring, and then uncontrollable guilt, of blaming herself and her upbringing. The scene is filmed so beautifully, that your eyes sting. The way Fawad’s facade falls and his fear is marked across his face, which is then replaced by the anger of hiding himself for all those years, and mother’s dilemma and hurt, it all comes out in a naked and real manner.
Another sequence is when Rahul (Fawad Khan) comes back home after the showdown with his mother and the death of his father totally uproots whatever sanity his family possessed. He sits with his mother, with whom his last encounter was one of his coming out, and she asks, hesitatingly, about his partner. A subtle way of expressing acceptance, the way they hold hands, without saying anything, it stays with you.
It may not be one masterpiece, but ‘Kapoor & Sons’ will forever remain a favourite for finally breaking the mainstream stereotype of a gay man, in Bollywood. And for that, no matter how many bans, I will forever be waiting for Fawad Khan to come back, and give us more performances; with dare and conviction.
An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream
“I am a kid from the 90s but still can’t forget those days when, me-myself was not out and proud about my preferences. And inside my own sweet world would dance in front of the mirror on many songs, but majorly on ‘Hawa Hawai’ and ‘Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera’. These songs were just not tunes for me, it made me feel exactly what I was; a QUEERby birth”.
The news of the legendary diva Sridevi being no more with us is still hard to believe, as she was part of my and every queer’s childhood memories. While in the late 90s my bunch of friends would idolise a star from the West as their gay icon, me being a full-fledged Bollywood fanatic was in love with Sridevi and she was a diva I used to worship (and will forever). Her golden costume and perfectly done makeup in ‘Hawa Hawai’ made me feel, “Yes! There is someone like me out there who loves bling and all things loud.” Her feather headgear in one of the songs from ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’, touched my drag Queen‘s soul. One of the lines from her song ‘Hawa Hawai’ which is ‘Soorat Hi Maine Aisi Paayi’ transported me into a world where I thought that there is someone narcissist just like me. Sridevi’s charm was on my mind and the feminine side in me just wanted to be a replica of her.
The gone actress has not only given a lot to the Indian cinema, but her sass and talent of naturally moulding herself into any character gave her an upper hand in whatever she used to do. When many gay men were struggling and were confused about their sexual orientation they found a connection to their on-going pain in Sridevi’s roles. Whether it was Sridevi as a meek Anju and ferocious Manju fighting for everything wrong in ‘ChaalBaaz’ (1989), Pooja’s mutiny against the everlasting societal conditions in ‘Lamhe’ (1991), Seema’s confidence-filled and fearless dance in the ‘Mr. India’ (1987) song ‘Hawa Hawaai’ or her role of a naagin (snake) coming out to the world about her dual identity in ‘Nagina’ (1986), Sri’s roles had a deep connection and were etched in every GAY man’s mind.
And how can one miss ‘Kate Nahin Kat Te’ song of Sridevi from ‘Mr. India’, where she owned the song and made every gay guy’s dream to dance on it once with his man. This particular song was wild, seductive and equal parts bold. Sridevi draped in a sky-blue coloured saree with a matching bindi and of course adding fuel to the fire was her dancing moves. Even at the end of the song, a fully wet in rainwater, Sridevi stretching herself on a pile of hay – ‘Tumne jo li angdayi hai’ – where the diva nibbles on straws with a drenched fire in her eyes, leaving Mr. Kapoor to chivalrously lie on a distant haystack.
While mostly when the film fraternity was in a zone where feminine men were used as a tool to add fun elements on the silver screen, Sridevi was a ray of hope for the LGBTQ community. She was like a powerful symbol for the QUEERS. Her role resonated each and every gays struggle, and also echoed their dysphoria into her characters. And with her, all the queer children surpassed the narrow-minded stereotypes which they were labelled with. Lastly, she might be gone, but the colourful rainbow universe she opened for all the fellow LGBTQ people remains there intact..
Hail the QUEEN! RIP Sridevi.