Dear Salman, Rape, Depression and what not. Please try and end your callous ignorance
I was nearly ten when I saw you in ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’. I saw you growing up in those three odd hours. From a pure-hearted yet frivolous brat, you grew up into a man who fought hard for his love and did so without disrespecting your parents. I was in love with you, and it only intensified when I saw you in ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun’ soon after. The ideal Prem, the adorable one who could sacrifice the world to make his folks smile. In real life too, I guess you are the same, for the Bhai of Bollywood indeed loves his family to moon and back, that is a well-established fact.
However, as charted out beautifully in the 1971 movie ‘Guddi’, real and reel are exceptionally contrasting from each other, aren’t they?
Slowly, whispers of your arrogance started floating around, and the blots that were created on your life and love, emerged. But you were young and high, we all go a little overboard then, and no one has to judge you for that, especially if you make an effort to grow out of it. And that you did, by being a person who helps one and all, and creating Being Human, which is making a difference in the lives of so many.
Yes, there was the Blackbuck case. But I never held that against you because in a country where the law takes years to reprimand a man who kills and rapes another human, you had just, in a high, hunted, which is also a sport, only that it became a murder because of your high profile. The thing that hit me hard was your involvement in the Hit & Run case and made me always wonder what was the reality of the night. But I think that after so many trials, versions and your acquittal, this is a moot point.
However, this is not what I want to write you the letter about.
It is your incautious denial of using your popularity in a responsible way, that has forced me to pen this letter to you. I am not sure if it will reach you, but if it does, I hope it finds you in good faith.
Some time back, five years to be precise, a girl was brutally gang-raped, and brought the whole country to its knees as the youth came on roads, holding the capital still for nearly a fortnight. Few years later, in 2016, while promoting your movie ‘Sultan’, you made a highly careless remark of going on to say how you felt like a ‘raped woman’, so hard was the work you had to put in for your character. Do you really think you could feel that, to put it forward so callously? Did you really feel the pain, the humiliation and the psychological breakdown of a rape survivor while shooting a movie in which you are a star? Sorry, I didn’t understand that at all. No one did, and you were under the scanner, to which you again came up with the jest that anything you say becomes a news for us to report, giving us the much-needed attention that we need to keep our site/print active.
A simple sorry would have done a better job, and an acknowledgment that you would try to not use your words out of context. But, I guess, fame does bring some arrogance, inadvertently, preventing the person from bowing down in the slightest.
But not even this, comes close to the fact that two years later, you have again used your words callously.
Moving forward to 2018, you again put your foot in the mouth by saying that you could not afford the ‘luxury’ of being depressed, after stating that you do not have the luxury of going on a vacation. To be accurate, here’s what you said, during an interview.
I see a lot of people going on vacations, but I cannot afford that luxury of taking a vacation. I see a lot of people getting depressed and emotional, but I can’t afford that luxury of being depressed or sad or emotional because no matter what I am going through, it works against me.(Source: Koimoi)
And trust me when I say that, even though you may have used the word as an adjective, I have so many problems with what you stated.
You called depression a luxury. Do you have any inkling of how many people suffer from clinical depression and how many take their lives due to it, because it is not even considered a disorder? Let me enlighten you. As per last year’s statistics of World Health Organisation, nearly one out of every twenty people in the world suffer from depression, and that even makes approximately 8,00,000 people commit suicide because it goes untreated.
That, Mr Khan, is the extent of the disruption that the D word brings into the lives of a person and his or her family. The fact that you threw it around so casually, even to the extent of equating it with a vacation, proves the fact how less you, as a celebrity and a person of mass reverence, care about the impact your words make.
Consciously or unconsciously, you took a jest at your co-stars who came out in the open to talk freely about depression, bringing it the much-needed limelight. These are the young stars half your age, but double your wisdom, and yet, you belittled their efforts even though you have double, triple the audience that awaits you in cinema halls. Yes, cinema does not have the responsibility of educating anyone, but, as a person, a human being, is it not your responsibility to do what is right, to say what is right, knowing that how many people it is reaching? If no one in the industry dares contradict you, does that give you the right to say or do anything, without the slightest care?
There is a humble human inside you, Salman, the one that loves his family, the one who does whatever he can to make some lives better. Yes there is a person inside you who holds grudges but then every human is like that and we cannot hold that against you. But words, my sir, are something that have the power to influence a whole generation, something that comes naturally to the biggest star and biggest pauper alike. Your audience, comprising of various age groups, are yours to command. They are the ones who dance to your tunes in cinema halls, and can die for their Bhai.
‘With great fame comes great responsibility,’ quoted someone once, and it stands true. Despite repeated hiccups on the front, I still hope that some day you’ll redeem yourself enough to understand the importance of words, and how they affect the ears and mentality of those fans of yours who hang on to every word you say.
A well-wishing cinemaholic
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.