Let’s tackle it one by one.
So the film has finally released all over India except Uttar Pradesh. Most critics have rated it between 1.5 to 2.5 stars ( Rediff 1st review- 1.5, Rediff 2nd Review – 2, NDTV – 2.5, Indian Express – 2, CNN IBN – 2, Hindustan Times – 2, Mid-Day – 2.5) with the few exceptions (Mumbai Mirror – 3.5 + the usual suspects). I still haven’t seen the film. But looking at the trailers of the film, it seems loud and very tacky, and can be best described as “from the makers of Raajneeti”. Or as Jayhind tweeted earlier, Prakash Jha is Madhur Bhandarkar with a JNU degree. That’s the best and the apt description of the filmmaker if you look at his last two films. Hilarious trivialisation of serious issues with stars masquerading in unintentionally funny characters. what a fall!
The film still hasn’t released in UP. And with a Dalit Behenji at the helm of the state, this might just be a power trip for her. Plus, the votebank. But don’t be surprised if it gets a release soon there as well. Though at this point Prakash Jha admits that he is not even getting a window to start the talks – what do they actually want? No communication. Behenji ne bola, toh darwaza bandh. But a photo-op and some chai-paani can make things move at any political quarter.
Whats more weird is the points raised by the Punjab Government’s 7-Member Committee who saw the film and asked for the following changes –
1. In the dialogue “humne aapki tatti bhi uthai hai“, it was felt that the “mull” can be substituted for the word “tatti”.
2. In one of the scenes, “hans chuggega dana tinka, kauwa moti khayega” is there in the background. The couplet should be removed.
3. In the credit roll of the film, a palm drenched in blood appears when the movie title appears. This needs to be removed.
WTF can be a mild reaction if you ponder over the cuts asked by the Committee. With our over zealous conspiracy theorist mind at work, many insinuated that it was all orchestrated. A tracking agency did confirm that the film’s buzz went up in the last week because of the controversies. But inviting ban? Three states, loss of revenue, fear factor. Some gyaan gurus on twitter also suggested that with its banning in three states, the revenue will increase multiple times in other places. Looking at the first day’s collection, that surely didn’t happen.
My theory is the makers were smartly playing around the issue till the last week. Like all filmmakers do these days. Plant stories, theories, counter it, deny, get space for more stories. When the matter went to court, the reply from the makers spilled out the truth – it’s more about commercialization of education and less about reservation. But with a title called Aarakshan, who would believe it. By that time, P L Punia, Chairman of National Commission for SC, had made enough noise. And bollywood has always been a soft target. People came, shouted, made their voices heard, grabbed headlines and the film got some more buzz. With both the parties benefiting and without spending any single penny, its a win-win situation for both. It all went of hands in the last week. Nobody expected such extreme reactions and the ban. If the film had released without any political party making any noise against it, most of them would have been disappointed after watching the film. A friend who went for the special screening of the film, realised that most RPI party members who had come to watch the film, they never came back to their seats after the interval. Like the rest, they might have got bored.
Though Amitabh Bachchan poured his heart out in this post but Javed Akhtar made a very valid point in an interview – where were these sentiments when Fanna got banned or there were protests against Water? They are paying a price for being silent then. On Fanna’s release, I remember his stand clearly – What Aamir is doing is right, what the others are doing, they are also guided by similar principles. On asked to take a stand and criticise the ban, he said he needs to acclimatised himself with the situation as he is not completely aware of it. I guess it’s a complete circle now with Aarakshan. But you can’t blame him either. That’s the industry stand – don’t look around, don’t speak up till I’ m not hurt. Not sure what those Power Lists of bollywood means when some of the biggest stars of the industry can get together and take some concrete action against nonsensical hullabaloo. Or blame it all on their need for some more buzz.
Not very long ago filmmaker Hansal Mehta wrote a post on PFC about what he had to face during the release of Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar. Since the post is not online now, posting it here again. Do read.
Raj Thackeray – Get Well Soon
A few months ago Shiney Ahuja was arrested for allegedly raping his maid. Yesterday Karan Johar apologized for being raped. His rapists have emerged triumphant. In our law books there is punishment for physical rape. There is no law for raping our freedom of expression. There is only triumph for the rapists. Bravo, Raj Thackeray. You are a master rapist.
Nine years ago after the release of Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar, I was subjected to humiliation by moral police from some wing of the Shiv Sena, headed by ‘youth leader’ Raj Thackeray. His touts(a few thousand) vandalized my office. They thrashed me. They colored my face black. They threatened to burn down the home of Kishore Kadam, a wonderful actor and even more wonderful friend. I was summoned to Khar Danda and made to apologize in front of over 20,000 people and 10 MPs, MLAs and local politicians. I was made to touch the feet of a lady in the village to make amends for my mistake. My mistake? An innocuous line of dialogue from my film, misinterpreted, misunderstood and twisted to suit the publicity hungry touts hired by Mr. Thackeray. Touts who had not even seen the film save a couple of them who viewed a pirated VCD and smelt a great opportunity for titillation. Some called me a coward. Some called me spineless.
The truth is that I was a film-maker who was coping with the box-office failure of his film. I was a father who feared for the safety of his young children. I was a son who feared for the well being of his parents. I was a friend who feared for the security of his actor’s home. They threatened to burn down Kishore Kadam’s house if I did not show up at the village. They refused to stop thrashing me and painting me black until I agreed. The police did not want me to visit Danda village and apologize. They feared that they would be unable to grant me protection. But I wanted to move on. I wanted to erase all memories of this dastardly attack, this blatant violation of my human rights. I thought I had moved on.
The latest threat to Karan Johar about similar innocuous references to Mumbai as Bombay reminded me that whatever happens, the scars of that shameful week will never be erased. The wounds will never heal. It was a similar situation then. There was a Congress government in the state and the Shiv Sena needed to make it’s ‘marathi’ presence felt. Today the situation is doubly dangerous. A bigger film-maker. Not one but two cancerous organizations – the Shiv Sena and MNS. The jihadis have Osama. Gujarat has Modi. Maharashtra has the Thackerays.
I spent last night reliving the horror of nine years ago. I spent a sleepless night. I was tormented by visions of my cowardice. I awoke to find my being filled with anger. Once again, the blood suckers have succeeded. One more film-maker bites the dust. The vicious, self proclaimed messiahs of the marathi manoos have triumphed. They persecuted me. I apologized. They harassed the Bachchans. They apologized. They threatened Karan Johar. He apologized.
Today, I apologize. I apologize for being a selfish, cowardly citizen of an impotent country. I apologize for pretending to express through cinema. Who said cinema is a powerful medium of expression? Who said that it reflects society? The only cinema in our country is the political drama that unfolds every day. The only real protagonists are the goondas who portray such convincing politicians. And the antagonists are all of us who retreat into their supposedly secure lives, happy to carry on living as persecuted citizens of Bombay. Sorry Mumbai.
Dear Sirs, where were you then ? Dil Pe Nahi Liya?