Hey disappointed fans of ‘JHMS’, there’s another film that deserves your attention
Bollywood is fast becoming an industry which churns out maximum movies a year. With each passing year, the number of Hindi films has increased tremendously. This year itself, we witnessed several movies clashing at the box office. Except for movies like ‘Baahubali 2′ and ‘Tubelight’, practically every Friday was flooded with more than one release, in fact, taking the count to almost 4 movies on a single Friday. This is really not helping the industry if you consider it from a larger perspective. Especially small-budget movies, high on content, have to make do with little or almost negligible screen space when clashing with a biggie particularly.
Let’s take the example of last Friday’s releases, Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma-starrer ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ and Pankaj Tripathi, Akshay Oberoi, Ragini Khanna-starrer ‘Gurgaon’. Two contrasting movies with drastically different concepts, story-line and budgets clashed at the box office. One, which boasted of a filmmaker synonymous for making beautiful romantic movies, spearheaded by one of the biggest superstars of the country and an A-list actress, while the other movie, boasted of a cinematographer-turned-director, with an ensemble cast comprising of stellar performers, recognised more for their supporting yet strong characters in movies. So, when these two movies clashed, none considered it to be a clash because none really considered the latter one to be in the race, so the only name on almost every moviegoer’s mind was ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’.
Mounted on a lavish budget, the movie’s marketing strategy was one-of-its-kind and it created an immense buzz for the audiences to book advance tickets in abundance. I remember having checked on BookMyShow 3 days ago and the Friday bookings were almost Housefull. Imagine, a Friday showing housefull 3 days before the release date! This is the level of mass hysteria the movie created on the viewers’ mind. But, when the movie finally released, all hopes were crashed. Because people went with extremely high expectations and the movie couldn’t quite qualify to be the kind of romantic film you would expect from a filmmaker like Imtiaz Ali. Then, the negative word-of-mouth publicity began and all that I could see around me were people discussing about the pros and cons of the movie, where the latter clearly overpowered over the former.
So, as people are busy discussing how the movie hasn’t quite met their expectations, it’s saddening to see nobody discuss or pay any heed whatsoever to the other quiet release ‘Gurgaon’. Made with a very small budget by a debutant director named Shankar Raman, the story of the film is set in the infamous city of Gurgaon, and explores the dark relationships between a family which results in bloodshed and murders. When you have a concept as gory as this, you know for a fact that your viewer-base is going to drop because the larger chunk of the audience prefers masala entertainers and not gory subjects to watch inside a cinema hall. But, this is still a smaller issue. The larger issue we are facing is how big movies are completely overshadowing smaller movies.
Despite the fact that ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ earned poor critical reviews and ‘Gurgaon’ earned better critical reviews, people are still mulling over their disappointments with the Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma-starrer. Instead, why not give ‘Gurgaon’ a chance? It may have almost quarter the number of screens as ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’, but it would benefit the industry and the small-budget films too at large, if people start giving them the respect they deserve.
Citing the examples of some releases like ‘Hindi Medium’ and ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, high on content, these movies grew on the audiences slowly and steadily, and emerged to be successful at the box office. While, both of these films had known actors, ‘Gurgaon’ doesn’t even have that factor to rely upon. So, it’s purely content here that needs to do the talking. However, the sad part is nobody is even talking or considering the movie on their watch list. How are relatively new filmmakers with no financial assistance supposed to make movies then, if their movies are not going to be even acknowledged? It’s indeed shameful that the industry has only been functioning on the shoulders of the biggies while the real small-town heroes are only left with dreams in their eyes.
It’s high time we, the audiences, start giving a chance to the lesser-known movies to grow and relish on good quality content and stellar performances in the comfort of a good cinema hall.
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.