So I made my contribution of 150 rupees and watched Hindi cinema’s latest blockbuster movie – the Salman Khan starring Bajrangi Bhaijaan (also introducing the little girl driving the world crazy with her cuteness). It’s incredible that my little cousins, aged 8 and 11 years, were insistent on watching this movie in the theatre. It will be out on tv in a month, I argued. But no, they had to see it the opening weekend. Kids these days, I tell you. And it wasn’t even marketed as a children’s movie (the way that Hrithik Roshan’s Krish series are – did you catch that sound in the background? That was my heart breaking all over again at the remembrance of the recent Krish movie).
Another 500 rupees spent as the kids need to eat cheese popcorn and drink water (mixed with coke). Multiplex culture has really caused us to lose the value of hard-earned money.
I am aware of the introductory song – presenting the hero in all his glory, mostly physical. All those hours spent in the gym have been finally brought to fruition. Roll camera, hoots and whistles. I do realise some of the elements of this so-called formula when I watch these movies on tv but there’s the magic of the big screen. It reinforces the cult of the ordinary man/superhero – he is broader (Ajay Devgn's Singham reportedly had a “solah ka dola, chavalis ki chaati” – 16 inches of biceps and chest measuring 44 inches!) but is simple as a lamb with a heart of gold.
As Bhai’s character unfolded, I recalled him in recent (similar?) roles. A pehelwaan with the perfect blend of simplicity and wit, who has an incredible talent to beat up people, but you know what? He only beats up the wrong people – because in his heart, he is really a good guy, so good that sometimes no one even knows about this secret goodness. It is revealed to both heroine and audience much later to make us guilt-trip for the audacity to doubt such a man (Ref: Dabangg series and Wanted). And even if he does display the occasional blemish in character, like say hitting on the heroine, he is only being human, no? Even then, he is better than most of us, and larger than life itself (Ref: Kick). Such characters do not really require Bhai to act, because, hello, isn’t he the exact guy in real life? Strong and six-packed (or is it eight these days?), helpful and generous, but so misunderstood, papam. It’s unfair, really.
I refrain from saying much about the movie itself – there was sometimes a little too much of it, whether it was comic relief or the feelings. It just gave me a headache. I’m not downing this kind of mass movie – why it is made or why it is popular – it is made because it will be popular and it becomes popular because it is made. That’s just how it is. Because really, we are all equal even if we are different in class, caste, creed, or nationality *.
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