Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Post: Go away, John Abraham.

How important are movies in society? As important as the author writing about them needs them to be. See, this is where I wish people would stop trying to use the glitter of Film City to justify whatever social point it is they are trying to make, especially when it's clear that they really do not watch Bollywood films.

For their part, Bollywood films have changed somewhat in recent years to depict the woman as more of an equal to her male counterpart and less of an object; their roles are more career-driven and less subservient. Women are standing up to society and their families where injustices such as forced marriages exist.

These trends are not enough. Bollywood can become more progressive on women's issues by portraying lives of ordinary women living in South Asia, and the challenges they have to face on a daily basis. Behind the opulence that is often portrayed in Bollywood films, the troubling reality of Indian and Pakistani societies is that the injustices against the women of the top 1% most often do not reflect the same gender discriminations of the vast majority of women within society. After all, the wealthiest individuals are not the ones who ride the bus every day.

Obviously I feel a deep empathy for the point human rights activist Humira Noorestani is trying to make - that the plight of ordinary women is pretty terrible in parts of South Asia. However, I don't think it helps anything to make sweeping judgements about films that she clearly doesn't watch. Referencing the gritty Water as a "Bollywood" film in one paragraph and then decrying the "opulence" of Bollywood films in another. Which is it? Is Deepa Mehta Bollywood or is Rascals Bollywood?

Not to mention that Bollywood, as such, gets more play in places like London and Toronto than Chennai and Hyderabad - let alone in Bangalore where Malashri will dishoom you in the face as soon as look at you. Plus, consider the television serial. Ekta Kapoor's empire surely has as much or even more influence as the Bollywood studios. Not one mention of something like Jhansi Ki Rani or Hitler Didi? And what about Satyamev Jayate?

Confused essays jumbling psycho-sociological analysis, a Film Studies 101 understanding of art, and heavily stereotyped ideas of an entire region's film industries do nothing but take up space on the Internet and give reactionary idiots a straw man to fight against.

Should Bollywood be more socially aware? And whose social values should Bollywood be projecting? The independent career woman who likes to drink and carouse like a man in London? The community-minded woman who gives up a teenaged romance to complete her education? The woman who fights? Who joins the police force? Who supports her family at home? Who wears a bikini in defiance of patriarchal taboos or who finds the bikini body itself a type of patriarchal tyranny?

Undoubtedly we would all like to see more women in bigger roles in front of and behind the scenes and this is slowly happening - and faster than in Hollywood, one could argue. You just have to know where to look. Like at the movies themselves.


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And as if to prove my point, an interview with Riya Vij, star of upcoming Gippi. The interview is in the TOI and we know I don't want to give them page hits but… I'll make an exception here because she's adorable.

In the film, Gippy, an awkward teenager, gets bullied because of her weight and her lack of 'coolth'. But in real life Riya is in a happier space. "I don't get bullied because of my weight, thankfully. I really think the problem with adolescents is that they are too conscious about themselves and feel inferior to others. They try to ape the cooler kids."

Which, being the TOI, is followed by this:

Aware that she may have to conform to a certain Bollywood prototype if she considers a career in the industry, Riya says calmly, "If I have to lose weight, I will. Only when I grow up. . ." Attagirl!

Because nothing is better than interviewing a healthy-sized girl about being bullied for her weight by bullying her with a question about losing weight if she wants to be a "real" actress. Thanks, TOI.

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God, just SHUT UP JOHN ABRAHAM! a) Bollywood is not the "Indian" film industry (shout out to my peeps in CHENNAI! SAY HEY! HO! What up Hyderabad! Kolkata! Karnataka! Kerala! And… THE PUNJAB! Balle! Balle!) and b) ticket prices are too low to generate the kind of money you need for your super films? Try telling that to the aam aadmi queuing up to see your latest… oh wait, you can't because they didn't.

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Salman Khan's Being Human Productions is producing a film in Canada called Dr. Cabbie.

Dr. Cabbie revolves around a young Indian immigrant -- an unemployed doctor-turned-cab driver -- who becomes a local hero when he converts his taxi into a mobile clinic. The principal cast includesVinay Virmani (Breakaway), Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), Kunal Nayyar (Big Bang Theory), Lillete Dubey (Monsoon Wedding), Mircea Monroe (Change Up),Rizwan Manji (Outsourced), Chris Diamantopoulos (The Three Stooges) and will also launch newcomer Isabelle.

Very good cast! Two of whom I've interviewed before…

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ADORABLE song from Gippi!

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You know I have just one thing to say about this: Let the slow motion walking… BEGIN! Shootout at Wadala is going to be one hot mess.

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2 comments:

thoughtsamok said...

Jesus!! You know about Malashri!!! From Washington to Bangalore..My God!! I would LOVEEEE to watch a no-holds barred masala movie with you..You might teach me something about my own country's film industries!!

No honestly, do you do 'group sessions' of movie watching?? Please do invite me if you do!!

Filmi Girl said...

Hi! Yes, of COURSE I know about Malashi! *dishoom dishoom*

Group session? Like watch-alongs? I'm not usually that organized, alas... my real dream is to rent out a screening room or theater or something and see some of these films the way they were went to be seen. On a BIG screen, with a crowd.

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