Alia Bhatt in the seventh season of Koffee with Karan (KWK) was heard expressing her apprehension about the show returning. When asked why she thought so, the actress, trolled earlier for being ignorant about India’s President in the previous season, referred to ‘everything’ that Bollywood went through in the past two years. While she didn’t come clean on the topic, she probably wanted to highlight the flak Bollywood celebrities faced after the controversial death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput which opened up a can of worms in the Hindi film industry. With allegations of drug nexuses and nepotism ruling the roost in Mumbai’s tinsel town, clearly, the death and the expose hit them.
What Alia perhaps didn’t want to acknowledge was that the show had to end its run on national television and make do with an OTT platform. As superficial as this whole exchange sounded with the host Karan Johar, what Ranveer Singh, her co-guest, said immediately after should make fans of these celebrities realise the kind of people they are. They have been showering their attention on some extremely hypocritical people who have made their mark doing substandard films that have led to the growth of mediocrity in the realm of art and cinema.
Amused by her show of ‘concern’, Singh opined that the audience is so brainwashed that Bollywood celebrities can get away with anything. They might cry hoarse at some untoward incident (like death of Rajput) but ultimately they will crawl back to the cinema to watch the stars on screen. So, no matter what they dish out, the gullible mainstream Indian audience will consistently lap it up. Meaning, that despite all the accusations of nepotism and the barbs thrown at the industry these two years, KWK’s seventh season is up and running proving that the crowd has no other option.
Bollywood’s Cloud of Delusion
While we reserve any acerbic criticism about the elitist comments of the actor who recently went full monty for a fashion glossy in a desperate attempt to grab attention after his film Jayeshbhai Jordaar failed to set the cash registers ringing, we wonder what it would take for these valueless individuals to step down from their high horses! Thinking how delusional they continue to be despite their films biting the dust as against the multi crore blockbusters from the South would lead to an interesting study in human behaviour. Alia Bhatt might be feeling overjoyed that she starred in RRR (though Gangubai Kathiawadi, made on a budget of Rs 180 crore wasn’t even able to eke out a profit at the box office), one of the most successful and acclaimed films from our country in many years, but can she deny that her microscopic role before NTR Junior and Ramcharan could have been played by just about anyone from the Telugu industry? Rather, many viewers grudged her presence in the film, citing that there was better talent than her to fit into Sita’s shoes. So, it just might be the beginning of the end for her, considering even Gangubai Kathiawadi faced enough criticism for glorifying prostitution even as the facts depicted in the film (based on Husain Zaidi’s book, whose works are known to glorify the dark underworld of Mumbai) were said to be massively distorted. Will she grow a humble heart and accept the favour by S S Rajamouli? Well, you know the answer. Meanwhile with her next outing, Darlings, all set to release on Netflix, it only is a matter of days before we find out whether this Bollywood celebrity has enough steam in her to deliver a hit like her Southern counterparts.
Thanks to OTT platforms that offer all films in the comforts of one’s home, well-put-together subtitles and better awareness due to a well-connected network of pan-India distribution, discerning moviegoers are now watching the firsts instead of waiting for duplicates
Anti-India and Anti-Hindu Agenda
Not that there is any more affirmation needed on the anti-Hindu diatribe in films Bollywood churns out but one sequence in the Kartik Aaryan starring Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is just too obvious. The angry Thakur Saab of an old haveli in a Rajasthani village hollers to a tensed Ruhaan (Aaryan) that if it is proved that he has lied to the family about the death of their daughter Reet (Kiara Advani) then he will decapitate him for the mistake committed. In a script fraught with random mockery of Hindu religious practices and a general depiction of how regressive is the family’s way of life, this aberration seems to stand out even though a jocular ambience is created around the harsh announcement. Why? Because for any sane mind well versed with dharmic traditions, it’s not easy to digest that the film would show beheading someone as something that Sanatan dharma propagates.
The narrative though downplays the whole inaccuracy and thrusts the lie amidst an audience who probably wouldn’t realise that the director Anees Bazmee and his scriptwriter wife, Fatima, harboured an agenda here. A brutal punishment that Sharia law unleashes is shown to be a generic Hindu norm. Just like how the Aghori tradition is shown as a dark, occult practice in the film through problematic, ill-researched scenes. Discrediting Hinduism has interestingly been a very Bollywood thing for many, many years. So, even though Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 did fairly well commercially, it does not take away from the insinuations the films cast on the Sanatan faith just like the Bhool Bhulaiyaa, starring Akshay Kumar, had. The funny thing is, going by how Kumar’s films have been faring, there is doubt that the audience would tolerate him anymore for the anti-Hindu agenda he drums up always through his movies. One of the biggest reasons for the failure of Atrangi Re is the erroneous way Hindus were depicted.
The shutters came down heavily on Yash Raj Film’s Shamshera, directed by Karan Malhotra, for portraying an upper caste Hindu soldier as cruel and vicious. At the same time, the hero (Ranbir Kapoor) shuns ‘dharma’ to save the oppressed from not the British, but from a tilak and Shikha-dhari Shuddh Singh (Sanjay Dutt). In fact, the audience was not kind to Prithviraj, too. An insipid narrative and flawed casting are what the film was crippled by. But are those the only reasons for the tanking of a historical drama? With Baahubali, Pushpa, KGF and RRR stealing a gargantuan march over Hindi releases time and after, it looks like the audience has made their choice known when it comes to avenues of entertainment. Yes, Satyadev, the Telugu actor, has been roped in for Ram Setu (Akshay Kumar is the lead) as a piece of appeasement, but it only proves how jittery Bollywood big guns are right now.
Game for Originals
Gone are the days when the audience was not aware of original works. With Bollywood rampantly making copies of regional works for many years now, it is well known that many popular Hindi movies were direct rip-offs from the south. Thanks to OTT platforms that offer all films in the comforts of one’s home, well-put-together subtitles and better awareness due to a well-connected network of pan-India distribution, discerning moviegoers are now watching the firsts instead of waiting for duplicates. So, while Kabir Singh, despite being a rip-off of Arjun Reddy, was successful, Shahid Kapoor didn’t have the power to draw the audience to the movie theatre to watch his Jersey, again a remake of Nani’s National Award-winning Telugu film, also called Jersey, which was a resounding success. With India having thronged the plex to enjoy RRR, Pushpa, KGF and Baahubali no matter where they were situated, our take is that they would any day prefer an original Manachitrathazhu over a Bhool Bhulaiyaa. With cleaner scripts and narratives that don’t pull down Hindus or Bharat as a whole, the country’s cinema lovers are slowly embracing the concept of pan-India movies. The numbers achieved by the Adivi Sesh starring Major and R Madhavan’s directorial debut Rocketry: The Nambi Effect prove so. Tired of stories that have no relation with reality or don’t depict real India, Bollywood’s gap with the audience’s mind is yawning. The recent jibes directed at Zoya Akhtar’s Archies series on Netflix are a reckoner of the ire the masses harbour for this nepotistic industry.
South doesn’t need Hindi connect anymore. Rather, the Mumbai film industry requires the South crutch to regain its lost glory. Now, it is really going to be interesting to see whether the bigger giants fall for the fake narratives or discard the extras and swoosh towards bigger glories!
Should South Detach Itself From Bollywood?
Let’s not even get into the overload of illicit sex, nudity, crassness and drugs shown in films dished out by the Hindi movie industry over the years but that the recent ones not doing well have proved that the audience is seriously tired of being fed with work that has zero connect with real life or with how people live in India. With the dirty agenda to ruin the fabric of society and send wrong messages to youngsters, the fan base of Bollywood is shrinking. It is here that the south filmmakers should think twice before tying up with Mumbai’s film world if they do not want their image to be tarnished. With business and only business in his scheme of things, Karan Johar has been sneaking into the Telugu industry knowing full well that projects showing nationalistic fervour would definitely do well. He made plenty of money when Baahubali 2 became a thundering success. His Brahmastra will feature Telugu superstar Nagarjuna, too. But, given the track record of bad cinema Mumbai makes, shouldn’t stars like Prabhas, Vijay Deverakonda, Adivi Sesh and Nagarjuna steer clear of the sticky web Bollywood spreads? After all, there is something called bad company! Why let the noxious Dawood-run industry ruin the goodwill made all through the years with well-researched and Hindu proud films. Why can’t they go the Mahesh Babu way to show the Bollywood representatives their real place? After all, films from the South do business far bigger than the Hindi film clan can ever imagine. And as far as reach goes, recent films have shown how the fanfare is spreading all across the globe. The South doesn’t need Hindi connect anymore. Rather, the Mumbai film industry requires the South crutch to regain its lost glory. Now, it is really going to be interesting to see whether the bigger giants fall for the fake narratives or discard the extras and swoosh towards bigger glories!