Evil Rocks In Bollywood!
Have goodness and virtue been hijacked?
|Mention Ranbir, Shahid and Abhishek to Bollywood-junkies and what are the immediate reactions? “Youthful. Romantic. Naughty. Fun. Sexy. Cool!” — right? Wrong, dude. Just check Raajneeti, Kaminey and Raavan, to see how totally off-center these guys are. In recent times, these solidly “respectable” stars took a dramatic u-turn to play vicious baddies.
Relax. They are in great and esteemed company. Who can forget King Khan’s first “devastating” impact on popular psyche with his chilling portrayal of the neurotic, obsessed lover in Darr? Remember Saif Ali Khan’s foray into this terrain with Ek Hasina Thi, Omkara, Race and the recent Kurbaan? Aamir Khan in Fanaa? What about the Big B in Sarkar? Others to join this (in) famous gang include John Abraham, Abhay Deol, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Nasir Shah and Arshad Warsi …. Emraan Hashmi of course seems to have specialized this line of action right through from Murder to Crook and Shah Rukh Khan has publicly stated that he is very excited to play an “inglorious bastard” in Don 2.
In the eighties, Michael Jackson’s iconic anthem “I am bad, bad, bad” was a seductive number that set a zillion young hearts on fire. Today, in B-town, it seems to hold a mesmerizing allure for stars, determined to re-invent themselves and embrace roles and characters that are layered, grey and blatantly challenge conventional stereotypes.
Producer and media personality Pritish Nandy believes that this tectonic shift is a product of the times: “We live in complex times where concepts of virtue, truth, justice and morality are under siege. What was right, just and correct yesterday may not work today, because of the new-age environment and shift in the very perception of those revered values. Cinema’s job is to primarily exaggerate, dramatize and hype life in an entertaining and engaging way. The very fact that films like Raajneeti and Once Upon A Time In Mumbai worked, (despite being grey in tone and tenor) indicates the recognition, acceptance and approval of this change by the audience.”
Nandy is right. The critics and audience loved chocolate-boy Ranbir for his college-to-ruthless killer turn in Raajneeti and in Once Upon A Time. Both Ajay Devgun and Emraan Hashmi, (playing thinly disguised versions of Haji Mastaan and Dawood Abraham])emerged with flying colors.
So, what’s going on? Has the Bad Man replaced Mr. Nice Guy and has good been hopelessly outvoted by evil in these troubled times?
Well, it’s a little complicated actually. Since movies attempt to reflect the times we live in and are influenced by seductive narratives that surround us, this transition is an indicator of how life is panning out today. The traditional “good guy” hero and “bad guy” villain is dead and gone, both in Bollywood and its baap, Hollywood. It is deemed boring, one-dimensional, corny and predictable by new-age audiences. It needs a spin — like Bunty or Chulbul Pandey — spice and juice to ignite the persona … and to hell with political correctness or morality as taught by our gyani elders.
In a nano-second world where life is being revised, reviewed and redefined every moment, where reality shows throw up amazing insights, where corruption is rampant across every section of society, where honor-killings are a daily occurrence, where “street-smart” rather than virtuous, idealistic or moral is the required attribute of the day, where examples of devious manipulations in the guise of fair business deals define the orbit of trade and commerce, where appearance is reality and price overshadows value, where the world is a glam ramp and the real players are the colorful, edgy, attractive characters who sashay across the stage, striking poses that are as
artificial and ludicrous as their clothes, yet managing to attract thunderous applause from a gullible, glam-starved, star-struck audience … why cast aspersions on the movies for wooing, romancing and cozying up with the bad, naughty, wicked, evil?
The takeout is simple. The day solid goodness is demonstrated in the public domain in a way that captures popular imagination by a charismatic figure — Rahul Gandhi? — our B-Town sharpies will immediately zoom into action and chronicle a new, inspiring narrative that upholds the finest of truth, integrity and justice. Until then, alas, Kaminey will rock!