‘Chef’: Will this Saif-starrer break the bust of stale Bollywood stereotypes?

For long, Bollywood’s success formula has been trapped in certain sexist, unrealistic, and misogynistic boundaries. Don’t get me wrong here. Masala entertainers, the genre that we Alone can be credited for, are as essential to the critically acclaimed ventures. For the past few years, however, the movies of the same genre have been gaining prominence to an extent that those are the only ones minting humongous amount of money, exceptions excluded. But, the ingredients that make a movie hit, superhit, or even a blockbuster, are sometimes painful, and it is even more hurting to know that most of the 100-crore earners are brainless movies that expect you to exercise no part of your mind while watching them.

Is that what we are? Because popularity is marked by the bucks earned at the box office. And most of the movies that have done so suffer from all the cliches that make one cringe, if you belong to the class audience, or even the mass audience, with a sense.

Amongst all this, we have a breezy movie, hitting the screens, this Friday. It is Saif Ali Khan-starrer ‘Chef’, which is a remake of the Hollywood movie of the same name, with considerable revisions done by the makers to give it a delicious Indian twist.


However, what has impressed us even before the release of the movie is that none of the usual stereotypes have been included in it. There is no ‘fair and lovely’ actress who serves as an arm-candy, the star in his late forties is not romancing a woman half his age, and there is no item song or sleaziness inserted just to have that oomph factor. And last, but not the least, it has an actor playing his age, acting his age, and going through all the demons of his age, that plague a normal, ambitious person’s life.

Till now, we have witnessed the heartwarming trailer which tells us that this is going to be a stirring tale of a chef, who leaves his high-profile job abroad, to come back and open a food truck, all the while striving to rebuild his relationship with his inching-towards-teens son (Svar Kamble) and his beautiful estranged wife Radha (Padmapriya Janakiraman). It is the story of a man coming back to mend his heart. If that is what not the audience will connect to; replete with feelings and genuine emotions, what will?

The music of Raghu Dixit may not be something catering to the taste of everyone, but it grows on one after a point, in sync with the theme of the movie. The music, the soothing locales, serve as another point, as these have been created to bring the story alive, unlike cases where locations are forced to fool the aesthetic sense of audience, instead of good content doing its job.

We may not know what the audiences’ verdict on ‘Chef’ may be, but we know for sure that this is one movie which will bring a fresh change in the otherwise sleaze-fest scenario which is accepted in the name of being a ‘family entertainer’. We hope ‘Chef’ turns out to be a game-changer here, breaking the stereotypes, as it has promised to.

Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable

Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable
Image Source - YouTube

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?

'Chef': Will this Saif-starrer break the bust of stale Bollywood stereotypes?

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.

'Chef': Will this Saif-starrer break the bust of stale Bollywood stereotypes?

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.

'Chef': Will this Saif-starrer break the bust of stale Bollywood stereotypes?

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.

'Chef': Will this Saif-starrer break the bust of stale Bollywood stereotypes?

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.

'Chef': Will this Saif-starrer break the bust of stale Bollywood stereotypes?

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.

'Chef': Will this Saif-starrer break the bust of stale Bollywood stereotypes?

An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream

An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream
Image Source - Pinterest

“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”.

'Chef': Will this Saif-starrer break the bust of stale Bollywood stereotypes?
Image Source - India Forums

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.

'Chef': Will this Saif-starrer break the bust of stale Bollywood stereotypes?
Image Source - Pinterest

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.


'Chef': Will this Saif-starrer break the bust of stale Bollywood stereotypes?
Image Source - giphy.com

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.