Bling, Boom, and The Grandeur of Festivals in Bollywood
Bollywood has always been a source of inspiration for the real lives of us mere mortals. Be it the weddings, or even occasions as simple as birthday parties, things have always been a teensy tiny over the top (coughs*Big B’s birthday party in K3G*coughs). So, of course, even festivals are not yet untouched from the grandeur. From Diwali to Holi, to even Durga Puja, Bollywood has never failed to unleash traditions in the most glorious format.
Take for instance, Diwali function in the Raichand family. Who, you ask? Well, the Raichands of Karan Johar’s ‘It’s all about loving your parents’ ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’. Hundreds of guests, with ladies all decked up in tonnes of gold, and a son returning home by his private jet. Cut to another function just days after probably spending lakhs on this one, and we have Yashvardhan Raichand’s (Amitabh Bachchan) birthday, which is celebrated with, if possible, even more fanfare. Seriously, money raining.
Another festival which is celebrated with an all-white theme, is Holi, and well, it is not the same dirty or even black-faced one which we have in real life, it is the one where heroines are running away in crisp and pretty white suits, with pink and red colours flying all over, resting carefully on their cheeks and forming gorgeous patterns on their outfits. Sigh, if only, life was that much fair to us. Heck, these beauties have greater chances of finding love for they don’t even put tonnes of oil in their hair to survive the wreck of artificial colours. Be it the ‘Soni Soni’ of ‘Mohabbatein’, or even ‘Balam Pichkari’ of ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’, it is an unsolved mystery as to why does the colour always settle on the prettiest parts of the face, not becoming a messy affair ever.
But that one festival that takes away the cake in our list, is Karwa Chauth. A seemingly simple affair has faced the wrath of creativity, expanding the celebrations to infinite limits, with even Kitty parties being thrown on the day so several ladies can chit chat and break the fast together. Remember the ‘Bole Choodiyan’ party of ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’? Well, yeah, you get the gist. Come to think of it, the movie covered almost all possible occasions; Diwali, a wedding, a birthday party, Karwa Chauth, and even a funeral, with everyone suddenly dressed in all white (guess they always have a spare for you never know when you might need it. Duh, the rich Raichands).
However, not all the times Bollywood has been all pomp and show, as far as festivals are concerned. There have been subtle and more realistic performances too. Take for instance the Ram Leela sequence/song of ‘Swades’ which is absolutely beautiful in the simple way it has been portrayed, and even conveys the message clearly, without any ambiguity, that of win of good vs evil, a constant fight amongst our own conscience. Back in the golden era of Bollywood, songs like ‘Aaj Na Chodenge’ from ‘Kati Patang’ and ‘Holi Ke Din’ from ‘Sholay’ had more rustic and realistic vibes of festive season. Who can forget ‘Ang Se Ang Lagana’ from the movie ‘Darr’ with its intoxicating music and sultry lyrics?
All in all, yes, we do admit that Bollywood takes reasonable amount of liberty with the festivals, giving them the grandeur which probably, at times, takes away the essence, and becomes all show.
However, pragmatic or not, we still simply love the hope that the colourful and grand depiction of festivals in Bollywood, imparts. These might be larger than life, not an ordinary person’s cup of tea, but whenever you see these on the big screen, or croon to those songs that have featured these festivals, one can’t help but fall in love with this beautiful mesh of art and culture, with appropriate amounts of bling and fanfare added.
Bollywood, keep adding charm to the festivals.
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.