Redefining disabilities in Bollywood; Hrithik and Yami break stereotypes & smile away to life
We had been awaiting the trailer of ‘Kaabil’ since a long time. Reason one being, it marked the return of Rakesh Roshan and Hrithik Roshan‘s team, after a long time, and secondly, there were so many fresh things to look forward to. Fresh pairing of Hrithik and Yami, the music of Rajesh Roshan, Sanjay Gupta’s tight and crisp direction, and a storyline that was a breath of fresh air amongst a mass of stereotypical noisy action. And boy, we were stumped. The trailer promised romance, melody, and thrill. Hrithik’s transition from a man in love to the man who sought revenge looked amazing enough to induce goose bumps.
But there was yet another stereotype that Hrithik and Yami were going to break with ‘Kaabil‘, and that was the portrayal of being a disabled person. Both the protagonists in the movie are visually impaired. Yet, the scenes before your eyes are colourful, full of joy, and never soppy. The zeal of life portrayed by these two makes you forget that they cannot see, and what they feel for each other is the only truth.
Remember the good old Golden years? That was the time when melodrama was at its peak, and being blind sought sympathy for the character, maybe in the form of a mother, sister, or father, who is compelled to resort to humiliating means to justify the disability.
Just when we thought it could not get better, the title track of the movie, ‘Kaabil Hoon’ was released today. Peppy and vivacious, it just croons its way into your heart. Everything, from the expressions of Hrithik and Yami, to their body language, is perfect for a visually impaired person, but not for a moment do you see it affecting them. In fact, they are like any two people who date, and slowly, fall madly and deeply in love.
There are so many sequences in this one song that make you smile. Be it when these two endearingly keep touching each other’s faces to feel the one they love, or when they try and see the unseen dreams in oblivion, it is just so beautiful. Another very encouraging thing that we see in the song is the way Hrithik uses his sense of hearing to counter the impairment of not being able to see.
They fall, they laugh, they get up, and just carry on. Not for a moment do you see a helping hand around reminding them of the fact that they are sightless. Even the proposal scene is so endearing, that you feel a sting in your eyes, and you feel like clapping like the rest of the people who witness Hrithik getting down on his knees for Yami.
In fact, if we might take the liberty of saying so, the last time we so such a beautiful and endearing chemistry around a couple that suffered from a particular disability, it was Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri in the movie ‘Koshish’, where they played a mute and deaf couple. Hrithik and Yami’s chemistry reminds us of the same.
They sought comfort in each other, and the light from their hearts dimmed the darkness around them. Welcome this new change in Bollywood, and welcome it with open arms. We don’t know how the movie will be, but one thing is for sure from the trailer, and from this first song. We know that this is indeed one better step towards changing cinema in Bollywood.
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.