Thursday, December 2, 2010
A new front in the constant Battle of the Camps in Bollywood has opened. Veteran gossip watchers know that the 2000s were defined by the War of Everybody vs. Vivek Oberoi (2003-2010) along with a rotating game of figuring out which two of the Three Khans were united against the other one. Bollywood is a tight-knit community. People aren’t just colleagues but family. And in this khandan, offering a favor to a second cousin’s daughter could set her up with a very lucrative career where in other families she might end up working the counter at the family store. But the flip side of this is that a spat between two cousins can sever a business relationship worth lakhs of rupees, not just personal ties.
There are three words behind why I am bringing this up: Kofee. With. Karan. Karan Johar, the dapper, glass-closeted director-cum-chat show host has been stirring up trouble on the latest season of the show. Karan Johar’s success as a chat show host comes from his ability to use his personal relationship with guests to draw out interesting tidbits during interviews. It’s not as easy as it looks. (Farhan Akhtar’s short-lived chat show had half of that. He used his personal relationships with people to get the on the show but was unable to get comfortable in front of the camera and the whole exercise was a stiff affair.) Celebrities rarely give good interviews. They are understandably wary of revealing too much about their personal lives and true feelings about producers and directors whom they may hope to work with. Karan Johar has the magical ability to punch past those defenses, which is what makes his show worth watching.
Recently, however, Karan lead two of his guests a bit too far for the comfort of the industry. Starlets Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor vented their feelings about their co-stars and competition.
One target was the Fair and Lovely Katrina Kaif (in full disclosure, she is a personal favorite of mine). Deepika commented that she wanted to see Katrina’s passport to verify her age (there is speculation that Ms. Kaif is older than she claims) or possibly to see if Kat went to visit Ranbir in New York City during the shooting of Anjaana Anjaani as was rumored. Now, either way it wasn’t exactly a gracious remark and either way you interpret it, Deepika sounded like a bratty girl lashing out at a convenient target and certainly didn’t put foster any good will even if it did grab her headlines. (Katrina herself responded to the accusations with icy finesse.)
And if that had been the end of it, I think things would have settled fairly quickly. So, maybe Ranbir and Katrina had a fling while he was “officially” with Deepika... Katrina may have more cachet in Bollywood currently but she is no longer attached (as far as we know) to the powerful Salman Khan Camp and chances of retaliation except through soundbite were slim. Plus, it’s not like Deepika and Katrina would be starring together any time soon and they compete for the same roles anyway.
But the girls were not content to leave well enough alone and went after Deepika’s ex-boyfriend, too: Ranbir Kapoor, son of the esteemed and powerful Rishi Kapoor of the Kapoors; cousin to the divine Miss Kareena; and with the exception of Anjaana Anjaani, one of the few young Heroes able to get the box offices jangling. Yes, that would be THE Ranbir Kapoor who is anchoring the upcoming Bollywood world tour - a potentially very lucrative Bollywood world tour.
Deepika and Sonam basically called Ranbir an under endowed man-whore and suggested that he could benefit from a packet of condoms. And that he was unfashionable.
While Ranbir has smartly remained silent, his Papa spoke up and said: "Well to put things in the right perspective, all I can say is that with both the girls it is a case of sour grapes. I have known Sonam's father Anil for years. All I will say to the girls is: instead of doing all this concentrate on your careers... I don't think you should encourage people to wash dirty linen in public. You will never see Ranbir running anyone down."
Well said, Rishi-ji.
And as if to prove his power and influence, Rishi has had both Deepika and Sonam dropped from the upcoming world tour. An over-reaction? Probably, but I don’t blame him. Would you want to be helping people who had been mocking your son on television? Nope.
Here’s the thing: If Deepika and Sonam were going to make them money, they wouldn’t have been dropped. Deepika and Sonam may be the current favorites for fashion magazine covers but between the two of them, they don’t have the drawing power of a Katrina Kaif. And certainly, Ranbir can pull better heroines from the pool of star daughters just waiting to debut. (I hear Narmada Ahuja is cheap and available.) Whether we like it or not, popular Indian films are still Hero-driven. Heroines - especially when they aren’t great actresses or sex bombs - are replaceable.
Deepika comes across as a naive young woman who mistakenly thought she could date an actor and have him be faithful to her. Instead of venting to Twinkle Khanna or Susanne Roshan or the other ladies of the Wives Club, Deepika decided to go public with her vitriol. And unlike Twinkle Khanna or Susanne Roshan, she doesn’t have a family to back her up.
Getting a tattoo of your boyfriend’s initials on your neck when you are all of 23 years old? Naive. Doing the same when you are an actress and hope to trade on your looks? Really stupid.
At least Deepika shows signs of developing into a fine talent. Sonam, on the other hand, has all the skill of an Esha Deol (i.e. not much.) And if she wants to cash in on her connections for roles, that is completely within her right (just as it’s within mine to refuse to watch her films). But if she is counting on connections to get roles, she can’t be going around dishing on her co-stars. (If I was Ranbir, instead of choosing Sonam, I would be like “Hello, Narmaada? Are you available for a masala film?”)
Rishi is also allegedly forcing Wake Up Sid director Ayan Mukerji to choose between Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Team Ranbir Kapoor. AND backed out of Karan Johar’s Agneepath. An over-reaction? Definitely. But in this family business, personal connections are a big part of doing business. And if you are Rishi Kapoor, Dharma productions needs you more than you need it - especially with their track record recently. What has remained unspoken through all the fuss is that Dharma isn’t doing so hot these days. While I Hate Luv Storys and My Name Is Khan were hits, they weren’t blockbusters. (MNIK was very expensive.) And We Are Family and Kurbaan were expensive duds. Dostana in 2008 was Dharma’s last real big hit.
Ranbir, on the other hand, is riding high. And Rishi is doing steady work playing father figures and doesn’t need anybody’s good will. He’s RISHI F’ING KAPOOR! Monty Sharma! The AKBHAR! If Rishi Kapoor wants to make a film, it gets made... while Ayan shouldn’t have to choose, life isn’t fair. I shouldn’t have to choose between two dresses to purchase but if I can only afford one, what can I do? Ayan will just have to decide if alienating Camp Karan Johar is worth directing the Kapoor khandan. (And based only on how much I loved Wake Up Sid, I would encourage him to choose Team Kapoor.)
And let’s just talk about Ranbir for a second. Is he a douche for cheating on Deepika? Honestly, I don’t think so. And I don’t think any Bollywood actors or actresses are douches for sleeping around. Monogamy is hard and it’s even harder when there are literally thousands of beautiful people throwing themselves at you. It would take superhuman resistance to resist that and most of us struggle with plain old human resistance. Life isn’t a fairytale and no Bollywood actor (or actress) is going to be a prince (or princess) charming.
(I hope it was worth it, girls!)
Is Deepika bitter because her airy-fairy romance was crushed? Yes, and I sympathize.
Is it Ranbir’s fault? No.
Should she have kept her mouth shut on Koffee with Karan? Definitely.
The real moral of the story is... Bollywood is clannish. It’s hard to break into and even harder to stick around, especially if you aren’t a star child. Bollywood is a business and nobody is owed roles and success. And in the end, a name and one giant hit will only get you so far. It all comes down to money.
Note from Filmi Girl:
I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.
If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.
xoxo Filmi Girl