Ruchira journeys through the masala Bollywood movies and tells us, tongue-in-cheek, with oodles of humour, who gains from it. Read more in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
For B-town filmmakers, each film is a vast, unlimited canvas upon which they can pour out their hearts’ fondest desires and longings, pet fantasies, and oodles of wild imagination. Never mind, if the end product, bears no resemblance with familiar surroundings!
More often than not the heroes and heroines are sole offspring of multi-millionaire parents – utterly spoilt brats owing to the overdose of affection and pampering. Again, Autumn’s children born after decades of marriage are nearly always boys, seldom girls. The protagonists commute to college in swanky cars or expensive motor bikes; academically they are either brilliant or rock bottom. There is no middle path.
In most mansions, the quarter’s watchmen and old faithful retainers, are choc a bloc with good furniture and utensils – far removed from the dingy surroundings where they reside in real life.
The rich man’s son heads to the countryside on an assignment or vacation and encounters an accident/roadblock/ landslide or at least a flat tyre. An ethnically clad (mostly designer lehengas and backless cholis) but gaudily ornamented village belle (heroine) arrives on the scene – jumping off a tree, or a bullock cart, chewing a piece of sugar cane or a blade of grass. An altercation ensues, though sometimes, it is love at first sight. The youth takes up lodgings in the dame’s house, later elopes with her without papa’s blessings; alternatively, he ditches the naïve belle for his sweetheart in the city.
There are identical or fraternal twins galore – separated at birth or in infancy. Reasons are varied – wicked nurses swapping new-borns in hospital wards, families hit by natural calamities, moms /guardians losing their wards in crowded local fairs, et al. Upon growing up they find themselves on opposite sides: one good and law abiding, the other invariably smuggler goon or vamp. As climax nears they interact and recognise each other. After a melodramatic reconciliation, they join forces to combat evil. Whether it is Dilip Kumar in Ram or Shyam, Hema Malini in Seeta Aur Geeta, Rakhee in Sharmilee or Salman Khan in Judwaa, the end is predictable.
The Christian/Anglo-Indian community is painted in rather poor light in Bollywood masala movies. They are either fisherfolk inhabiting tiny hamlets in the coastal areas or are brazen smugglers and Desperados, goons/Dons inhabiting the underground world. Pran as Michael in the Big B starrer Majboor is a classic example. The characters commonly bear names e.g. Mona, Tony, Raabart, Peter, Jacky, Johnny; surnames like Braganza and D’Souza are commonplace. The Christian families are depicted as loosely knit or disintegrated – divorces are common, girls go astray or get raped, young lovers live-in, illegitimate children grow up in orphanages and what have you. The interiors of their home reek with the odour of fish meat and alcohol. Young females wear garish makeup, western attires with high hemlines, much to the delight of the viewers, who can ogle at their bare legs! If you are looking for instances think of films like Julie, Bobby, Sagar, among others.
Coming to the action sequences, you watch handicapped/disabled heroes battling villains and annihilating them, a la Sanjeev Kumar in Sholay or Amitabh Bachchan Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, riding a motorbike (one arm amputated) through the skies to descend on his enemies. Whenever a skirmish between heroes and villains nears a crescendo, the police arrive on the spot just in time to nab the baddies. It’s a mystery how they learn about the conflict. While escaping the clutches of the enemies, the hero (0r heroine) miraculously soft-lands on a pile of hay atop a bullock cart or into speeding cars bang next to the driver, who plays the Good Samaritan, escorting him/her to safety. Lead characters recover from terminal diseases; survive air crashes or road accidents, shipwrecks or infernos to ultimately reunite with their moms and long time girlfriends.
In nine films out of ten, Nirupa Roy is the eternal mother who has sacrificed all to bring up her sons (always named Vijay & Ravi); she burns the midnight oil, using her sewing machines to stitch clothes – for that’s her livelihood. There are miracles a plenty – in Amar Akbar Anthony, the moment Nirupa Roy crawls into Sai Baba’s temple, her eyesight is restored (profuse apologies to the Saint)! In another Big B-starrer (Mard or Coolie, I forget which) a docile tiger escorts visually impaired Nirupa Roy through a forest, to the ferry boat station from where she takes a boat to her destination!
The elite and discerning viewers may find such films run-of- the-mill cliché and irksome. But for Aam Janata such movie are perfect for time pass and paisa vasool!
©Ruchira Adhikari Ghosh
Photos from the Internet
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Born in Guwahati Assam, Ruchira grew up in Delhi and Punjab. A product of Sacred Heart Convent, Ludhiana, she holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh. Armed with a P.G diploma in journalism in Journalism, she has been a pen-pusher for nearly 25 years. Her chequered career encompasses print, web, as well as television. She has metamorphosed as a feature writer, her forte being women’s issues, food, travel and literature.