Dear Sanjay Leela Bhansali, no more clarifications PLEASE!
Dear Sanjay Leela Bhansali,
In the last two decades you devoted to the Indian film industry, you have made some outstanding films with concepts many filmmakers would not even like to touch. You made ‘Khamoshi: The Musical’ in which two prominent characters of the film were deaf and mute. The way you showed their journey, it turned our eyes moist. Then came ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, a love-triangle that stole our hearts. We still cry while watching the song ‘Tadap Tadap’.
After two successful ventures, you opted to make a film on a grand scale. We are talking about ‘Devdas’ that once again touched the right chords of our hearts. With ‘Black’ came a strong message that you dream it and you achieve it. Though ‘Saawariya’ didn’t do well, you gave Bollywood two most talented actors.
In ‘Guzaarish’, you introduced us to the term ‘euthanasia’, and with ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela’ , the eternal love story of Romeo-Juliet was brilliantly Indianised. Your last outing as a director gave us ‘Bajirao Mastani’ in which you brought the love story of a warrior king alive on the big screen.
The day you announced ‘Padmavati’, we knew only you could do justice to history and the vision needed for this massive project had only Bhansali written all over it.
As the shoot of this magnum opus began, we waited for one leaked image or a video from the sets but got harsh reality instead. It made us feel miserable about what happened with you. It wasn’t just a slap on your face, it was a slap on each one of us who assumed that we are secure while doing our jobs the way we want to. I still remember discussing with my colleague what you must be going through. It really shattered us and our anger driven hearts further pained to see such an event unfolding in front of us .
I salute you for not letting this be a hurdle in making a film you believed in. You went on to make ‘Padmavati’ and did not bow down to these fringe groups who chose to take law into their hands and restore to violence. It was almost 6 months plus of silence until ‘Padmavati’ trailer hit us and we were left speechless. Those who remained silent all this while rose again from their wonderland to protest against the release of the film.
Now with only 20 days left for the film to release, there have already been numerous threats to PIL’s filed to letters written to the PM and what not. Why is this protest taking place? Just because a rumour about a romantic scene between Rani Padmavati and Sultan Alauddin Khilji was doing the rounds. Because in real life Deepika and Ranveer are rumoured to be dating hence the assumption that in reel too there will be a romantic scene between the two? After the first attack itself your team had officially released a statement that there’s no such scene or a dream sequence in the film whatsoever. Even, the CEO of your production house, Shobha Sant, had clarified that no such scene existed in the film. From Ranveer to Deepika to other people who are associated with the movie, each and every individual has clearly stated innumerable times that Deepika and Ranveer have no scene in the film at all.
It has been a field day for all the political parties ever since. Some say that you are distorting history; some say that they want the scene between Rani Padmavati and Sultan Alauddin Khilji to be deleted, and some just want to ban the film because it might hurt their religious sentiments. My question to these people is, have you seen the movie? How can you be so sure that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has distorted the facts? How can you say with surety that there is a scene between Rani Padmavati and Sultan Alauddin Khilji? I am not advocating that the film will be outstanding because we haven’t seen it yet, but how can those protesting not understand and trust the makers even after number of assurances given?
Then came your video statement that just left us heartbroken. A filmmaker of your stature was forced to justify his work and request people to trust him. You stated, “I’ve made this film ‘Padmavati’ with a lot of sincerity, responsibility and hard work.” We hoped that this video will suffice and put the entire case to rest.
But, it looks like no matter what the protestors won’t give up. Even after your video, the controversy doesn’t seem to die down.
Mr Bhansali, after all this brouhaha, I want to make just one humble request, and that is, no more clarifications PLEASE. It’s high time that the political forces stop targeting Bollywood. We are with you and your film, and believe us, even the audience is. Once the film releases, it will surely squash all the assumptions.
A journalist, a fan, and the guy who will watch ‘Padmavati’ without any fear, first day first show
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.