Dear Chetan Bhagat, don’t ‘KICK’ logic out when you talk about cracker ban
My first brush with you was back in school, when I picked up a certain ‘Five Point Someone’, a simple story of a few engineers with differing perspectives on life, love and career. The next few books of yours saw me through college, and then I outgrew you.
My second encounter with you came in the form of your screenwriting for the movie ‘Kai Po Che!’, which was one of your mistakes *oops* books, that was adapted into a movie, and turned out to be surprisingly good. However, whatever pattern your books may follow, one has to admit that the movie adaptations have so far been good, with significant changes in the script and story to make it more appealing, making you as the writer of the masses, someone who can turn their thoughts around with his pen.
You grew in life as a writer, a perfect model for those dreams that were crushed under the never-ending pressure IIT-IIM, something that you mentioned in ‘Five Point Someone’, and was later brought on our screens in a more empathetic manner in ‘3 Idiots’. You won an IIFA for ‘Kai Po Che!’, penned another blockbuster starring Salman Khan, ‘Kick’, and no matter how nonsensical it may have been, it was still a mighty success, adding one more feather to your cap. With ‘2 States’, you echoed the sentiments of couples struggling for a love marriage across the country, due to cultural and religious differences, and ‘Half Girlfriend’ was yet another icing on the cake. You were a perfect youth icon, one of the masses, understanding their heart like no one else.
Penning down masala-entertainers, outcome of a genre exclusively invented by and for Bollywood, is no easy feat, and not a bad thing either. After all, it is a tough task to chart out a through and through entertainer. But then, when you start applying the same logic in real life, in the form of the tweets that you put forward claiming as your brain-child, on the most sensitive of topics, then it becomes an issue.
On account of the recent issue of cracker-ban in the NCR, you were quick to paint it in a communal colour, asking the honourable Supreme Court to interfere in the religious matters of other communities, as you brought about the decision as an attack on Hindus. You conveniently forgot *coughs* triple talaq *coughs* verdict, and also how people like you lauded the SC for bringing about a change, asking all to respect the supreme law authority in the country. You talk of selective decision, how about selective appreciation and observation on decisions of the law and reports of the media, on your part?
Our world is burdening under the pressure of inhuman atrocities that we put it through every single day. NCR and Delhi Alone has become a hub of smoke that envelopes it every day, for every person of every community. It is a noted fact that the day post Diwali has been marked by nil visibility and various lung-ailments attacking people across ages. Had this been a religious matter, the SC would have implemented the same across the nation, and just for the time of Diwali. However, they are doing it only for a particular state, to prevent it from deteriorating even further.
Also, to emphasise the point further, since you are so engrossed in kicking out logic while creating perceptions, I don’t recollect any of the ‘other’ religions celebrating a festival in a manner that is deteriorating to the environment. You talk of religion; wasn’t Diwali the ‘festival of lights’? When did it become a festival of pomp and show with the loudest and smokiest of bombs? Your whiny complaints on not being fair with one religion does not come out as something that should come from the writer of a movie like ‘Kai Po Che!’, which beautifully charted out religious harmony amongst the murkiest lanes of riots and hatred. What caused the change of heart, CB?
Chetan, writers, be of screen or book, irrespective of the audience they cater to, are known to be intellectuals who speak less, but say the right thing when they do. And even if they are not right, they are humble enough to acknowledge the same. You may have penned a ‘Half Girlfriend’, but don’t apply ‘half knowledge’ to come up with ‘half baked’ conclusions. You have followers, please comment sensibly.
Save yourself, Chetan. It does not do well to become a Rahul Gandhi in the world of literature and cinema, both of which influence respective strata and have the power to change the mindset of many.
As Boyzone said in their song“It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away”. Yes, that’s the power of words. Choose them carefully.
A used-to-be 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.