Wednesday, February 2, 2011


At one of the countless award functions, when Vidya Balan was asked the classic question of television, “Aapko kaisa lag raha hai. How are you feeling?” she gushed, “If I knew that sleeping with two men, drinking and using expletives would win me the ‘Best Actress’ award, I would have done it much earlier.”

What set my mind ticking was the fact that the trophy was for the leading lady, the heroine, and not for essaying a ‘negative role’. Undeniably, a decade ago the same award would have gone to a vamp – the evil woman.
Playing Bad is looking Good on the big screen.

No wonder then that vying for the ‘Best Actor’ award was Salman, who featured as a corrupt cop, blurting flatulent jokes about stink making. Yes, the saving grace was that a la Robin Hood, he was fighting the larger evil, hmm...oops sorry the largest evil, the local goon/politician.

The biggest hit film this year, Dabangg, depicts Salman, asking his gang of grubby cops in to narrate jokes to make his beloved smile. The crass bunch bursts into vulgar gags, finally managing to amuse the lone girl in the police station. The audience is in splits, cheering for an encore. Robin Hood’s mother, Dimple protects her son’s ill–gotten wealth till her last breath. A complete antithesis of the erstwhile Nirupa Roy, who refused to support her loving but corrupt son.

The loathing for the corrupt politician has created such bitterness that perhaps the audience applauded the ‘politician bashing’ by the two brothers. Whatever be the case, the stereotypical honest cop has paved way for an abusive cop with doubtful morals. And he is the new hero…the one with bangla, gaadi and paisa. Not the one with ‘Ma’.

How silly of me. I thought ‘Peepli Live’ was an exaggeration, until the ‘Banda Rape’ case happened. Both were shamelessly politicized. In reel, it was ‘farmer’s suicide’ whereas in real Banda, it was ‘rape’. The victim was a Dalit and a minor to boot. What better stick to thrash BSP and fish in troubled waters? Policemen were squatting near the victim’s hut on charpoys and every political party worth its salt went there to extract a pound of flesh. Real transformed into reel. The victim being a prized catch, just as Natha was in ‘Peepli Live’. The girl will either be forgotten, or will stand for the forth-coming elections and win with a huge majority.

As corruption scandals bounce off the television screens and scream out of newspaper headlines, they find an echo on the big screen. Movies are celebrating nuances of corruption and we seem to be enjoying.

In ‘Do Dooni Char’, Mr Duggal, a teacher was offered thousand bucks for every mark that he gives to his dumb yet resourceful student. The honest teacher is tempted but refuses. The audience at some level is thinking, “Man why doesn’t he bite the bait? If he is so cash-strapped, why can’t he jump the gun and move from his rusty scooter to his new car? What's the big deal?”

I am all for moving with the times. The point really is that moving with the times comes with a caveat. Be cautious while celebrating the nuances of the C- word. At some level this celebration has all the chances of becoming acceptable and tolerable. While politicians have become poster boys for the C- word, there has been a somersault of morals in the society. How else can we explain the pouring of kerosene and burning of another human alive?

‘Sin is King’ for the ‘Kamineys’, ‘Dabaangs’, and the ‘Tees Maar Khans’. All tinged with subtle shades of the C -word. While the news is that the Dabangg of 2G has been arrested, the Dabangg of movies is having a jolly good time, contemplating on making a Dabangg 2 which promises more. More of what, is your guess.

And the award goes to the eponymous villain who is the new hero. So what if he cons loots or bribes? He does it in style. And he doesn’t get caught. If at all he does, he brazens it out. He does not resign on moral grounds – for there are no such grounds anymore.

The news is that Jennifer Lopez’s sister Catrina Lopez will be gyrating to an item number, in a forthcoming Hindi movie. She does not understand the lyrics but says she loves the song. The lyrics go, ‘Taan ke seena…ho ja kamina’. I guess that says it all.


  1. wooo!! Lopez in Bollywood!! I must say Bollywood is grooving with these goras these days!!

    From decades politics have embedded in Indian blood such that v fail to have the REAL hero!! And thus, the villain with little good deeds have proven to be Heroes these days!1

  2. Morlocks are coming! Morlocks are coming!!

  3. hey.. u always have an awesome perspective to share. Though i feel that we are slowly but surely bridging the gap..

    Loved the analogy... Lovely! :)

  4. So true! Looks like the awards are fixed, but then it's also true that Dabangg is a box office his....

  5. I wonder why they had to look for a foreign beauty to do the honours, when our Indian dames do not shy away from the lowest of tracks?
    Perhaps, the Master Ji should loose some moral grounds, and let pillar of nation crumble, who cares about nation, when the pocket can be warmed and the coin pillar (stack) is rising in the vault.
    Maybe, we all should go berserk, but then, where will the already corrupt people hide. They thrive as in monopoly, when every one is as low as them, then its competition. What say?

    I want to breathe a guilt free air, that's all.

    Nice post.

    Blasphemous Aesthete

  6. @pripat...Its Jlos younger sis.the line between hero and anti hero has blurred.

  7. Like always, a treat reading your posts. And, neither I liked the Dabaang nor the No One KJ.

  8. @Umashankar...Only Morlocks were fictional whereas our heroes are becoming true to real life. Well said.

    @Psyche Bubbles...Appreciate the fact that you read the post and not merely commented for the sake of commenting.It means a lot.

  9. now no one goes for movies portraying an ideal nice guy- Did any one other than few watch Do Dooni Chaar. Rascals get the applause.

  10. @Giribala...Its not about the merits of the movie. I was referring to the somersault of morals and reel imitating real and vice verse.

    @BA..Thanks for reading the post and commenting on what I was trying to say.Its about change of moral standards.

  11. @Rachit..Thanks. I guess we are in a minority. The nation is gyrating suggestively to Munni and the vulgar dialogues.
    The subtle change of morals is going unnoticed.

  12. @Harish...Thanks for spending time on reading the post entirely. Am glad that there are saner voices which echo the same thoughts.

    Yes rascals are ruling in both movies and government.

  13. Oh that's a news! Lopez sister in Bollywood! That will add a nasty tinge to more butt and bo*b shaking songs! Now Munni and Sheila - better be aware of this…else you will lose your market share; )
    Dabangg was a massive hit just because of this uber-sexy song! But no single soul accepts this to jeopardise the moral character of these heros and heroines!

  14. Lopez coming to Bollywood! :P That wud be interesting to see....and Dabangg getting awards is so so stupid!! I mean is this the kinda movies we want to see in future!? Definitely not me!

  15. more the contacts and social networking more chances one gets awards

  16. Is this the beginning of coming of age of India cinema? I think so. The characters are more real and have shades of grey. The Mum is fiery, has a mind of her own,instead of the done to death weepy, ever sacrificing weepy persona.

    Big budget movies with hackneyed plots are given the boot and an Udaan/ Phaas Gaye Re Obamaa/LSD gets an overwhelming response.

  17. I think the world over we have started to celebrate the negative traits... I wont single out Indian Cinema, when he have western examples in Dark Knight

    It's no longer taboo for an established star to play the bad man! But cinema is a reflection of the society
    You'll have to remember there is a sizeable population opposing any kind of censorships!!

    The funny thing is we are hoping the kids are going to make choices of right and wrong at an age when they can't differentiate b/w the two

    But as for Dabang...I am a Salman fan, but giving him the award, showcases our star politics!! It's shameful I would say

  18. @SM, Ria, Vaish.....Its not about winning awards. They are rigged and bought anyways. My point is that while we are celebrating the nuances of corruption by the hero, very soon it will become acceptable.

  19. @Purba...Playing Bad is looking Good on Screen. Yes, the good news is that small budget films are finding audiences.

  20. @Jon..Appreciate your spending time. Agree that playing bad is looking good on screen, world wide. Its challenging to play a negative role.

    I was referring to Dabangg because our sense of right and wrong has blurred. It is good to be bad.When I am myself confused, what do I tell my kids? I don't care about the awards. Most are bought and rigged anyways. Peepli, Phans gaye re Obama and others deserved more than Dabangg or Band baaza Baarat.

    My point is while celebrating the nuances of corruption we are blurring the thin line between right and wrong even more.

  21. another lucid and perfect post. You are right about the morals being non-existent and who cares anymore? IF a Laloo could become a hero, why not a corrupt cop? It is all about reality, not reelity to tell the truth. But what is worrying is the glorification of the corrupt.

  22. And hey Alka, why don't you link this post to the tag? It will go perfectly.

  23. @Zephyr...And you are one of the few who read the post and understood what I was trying to say here. Most think I am taking about awards being fair or unfair,or about Jlo, or insulting Salman.It is about change in morals. About glorification of the corrupt.You nailed it.

  24. Being Bad is the in thing these days... Can't say more about it...
    Jloo in Bollywood.... Now this is some news... :D :D

  25. are we all not a bit bad, we all ahve bad traits in us as well as good .. what we do good may be bad for some ..

    these days i feel the awards and all are sort of manipulated , I ahve seen some very lovely pics, portraying the REAL in the REEL and no one mentions them tooo .. its all about MONEY what earns more and so on

    I could not understand why DABANG was such a hit...

    Values we lost them ages ago.. I liked the ROBIN HOOD pic u put there , but then he too was BAD for someone the RICH..


  26. @Tanishka...Its not JLo...her sis.

    @Bikram...Sure, we all have grey side. The point is that lately movies are glorifying the bad with tag lines as 'Its is good to be Bad'.

    Playing a bad character sure is challenging. Only we should be careful in celebrating bad. The line is becoming even more blurred.

  27. a perfect narration of how there is just 'a' hairline difference between reel and real!

  28. @magic eye...You are one of the few who read the post and understood what I was trying to say here. Most think I am taking about awards being fair or unfair,or about Jlo, or insulting Salman.It is about change in morals. About glorification of the corrupt.

  29. I commented. :(
    check the spam comments. I remember to have commented here. Sigh.
    I haven't seen dabangg- it has that salman type khan.
    And for the thing you stressed upon. Yes real and reel has become one nowadays. I heard a rumour that madhvan and kangana were getting married in real? Lol. Is it another publicity stunt to publicize the new movie! Thats what the value of morals is left in that creepy industry.

  30. A nice commentary on the changing trends in Bollywood and on the state of politics and our country in general. There has always been a nexus between Bollywood, Underworld and politics and so the discussion of any one often entails the remaining two.

    PS: Could you please change the text from bold to normal. It'd be more pleasant to the eye. :)

  31. @Deepika....Reel portrays Real and vice verse. Thanks for reading,dear.

    @Ajay...Point taken. Does it look any better?

  32. Alka, wonderful post! Today we are becoming more and more tolerant to corruption and all other social evils and media is only adding oil to the fire. Now the trendsetter statement is Bad is good! Practically if you see even today girls prefer bad guys to nice ones, sigh!

  33. @Anto...Welcome here, Anto. Yes, while we are applauding the negative, I hope our children keep in mind that applause does not mean approval.

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  35. Hi Alka,

    I don't think that there is a loss of moral values today. Infact moral values are subjective and reflect the current times. For e.g. live in was a morally incorrect to do let us say 25 years back, not so much anymore.
    Harassing businessmen with license raj was morally right in those years while it will have a back lash today.
    What I don't like is the way, lack of morality is depicted in the current bollywood movies. It is fashionable even to have heroes and heroines to be corrupt and smart. What we need is more inspiring movies which promotes character and honesty but then most of the public would not watch such movies.
    Hence the problem is with the masses who blindly watch such movies and sometimes ape them without any thought.
    If you have seen 'Natural born killers' , even though it is all about protraying negative but not celebrating it at all. Watch that movie if you have not. And you could see protagonists repenting for sins sometimes too.
    Let us however laugh off the ridiculous attempts to make negative as the role model and keep breaking the myths as you have done here.
    Thanks and regards,

  36. @Raj..Will do.

    @Ashwini...Will watch the movie.Sounds interesting. Playing negative shades is challenging and different. Which is fine. The glorification of shades of grey is worrisome.

    While we are applauding the current con-men on Screen, conning and cheating should not gradually become acceptable one day.You know how impressionable Hindi Cinema is. Young minds think if Salman can do it, so can I.
    Times have changed. Sooraj Barjatyas sugary sweet movies cause diabetes. Spice sells.That's the way it is.

    thanks for reading.

  37. I guess today we don't have any idols or ideals except what pays and what gets seen and noticed.So people prefer honest badness rather than a dishonest goody-goody image.

  38. with time our values have changed...

    things which used to be wrong are good to do now a days....

    we are very much influenced by western culture, leaving our own...

    TV reality shows have left nothing to add into it....

    very good take on the subject,

  39. @Varsha...Welcome here, Varsha. What you say is so true.

    @Irfanuddin...Thanks Irfanuddin. TV Reality is shocking me these days. Either I am growing old or we do not care about ethics and morals.

  40. Hey Alka, when are you linking the post? You can even link the comedy circus one. how about both :)

  41. Indian cinema has become a lot more for the western beauties entering bollywood...even I despise that fact

  42. @Duchess...I do not particularly despise foreign was the lyrics I was referring to.
    What you say is so true.

  43. Hey Alka!

    u presented it very nicely. very well woven together.

    It worries me too, that the perception of a common man about the goodness or the badness is changing very fast. Being bad is cool in real and reel life.

    Congrats for being crowned as the queen - reg anti corruption!! ( by Zephyr ie) Just kidding!!



  44. Bad is looking good...and in real sense its been made to look good...which is not so good

    and the last para is superb...That really says it all ;)

  45. @Restless...Zephyr is such a sweet heart. Appreciate your spending time.

    @Poonam...Thank u dear.

  46. Awards? They are all fixed. You get paid a bit, you perform, you get an award and the organisers get a sponsor.
    That is it

  47. great post again alka...wonder where u get the ideas from...and how the perfect expressions snap in...
    and how in the end u make so much sense of all the nonsense that's going on...

    three cheers to u:-)

  48. //At some level this celebration has all the chances of becoming acceptable and tolerable// and that's my fear too... even Amitabh as Don was accepted but today this chalta hai attitute will only lead to doom - making a total jackass of morality.
    brilliant post.
    Lopez in bollywood// Indian audience is indeed having a line up of feast for the eyes.