One needs to be deeply rooted in reality to create fiction and fantasy. It is not possible to strike the right chord otherwise. It seems that Bollywood has lost its touch in this regard and is struggling to connect with its audience. Instead of producing quality content, it is succeeding only in creating one unseemly controversy after another. At one time, it was bogged down almost entirely in ‘Shringar Ras’, producing movies focused almost solely on wedding dances. It was rescued somewhat by Salman Khan, who reintroduced ‘Veer Ras’ with ‘Dabangg’ and ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’.
Now it seems to have hit rock bottom with ‘Vibhats Ras’, which is what the latest offering from Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone – the ‘Pathan’ trailer – can be best described as. This can only be ascribed to disconnect from reality brought about from years of living in a ‘manufactured’ environment. They seem to have surrendered whatever originality they had to the spin generated by their image-managers for public consumption. There can be no other explanation for it. It cannot be because they are hard up for money and need to do whatever it takes to make a living.
The objection to Deepika Padukone’s gyrations in the trailer as a ‘betrayal of sanskars’ may or may not have merit – that is for each individual to decide. The more serious issue is that there is neither class nor quality in the performance, most unfitting of an actor who has delivered some excellent performances in the past. Merely exposing skin and gyrating is not ‘dancing’. One needs only see the innocent grace in the video of a Pakistani girl dancing at a wedding, currently viral on social media, to understand the difference.
It is this fall from grace that evokes doubts in the minds of conspiracy theorists that there is more to such depictions than is being portrayed. And while the ones producing such junk will remain largely unaffected, the entire pyramid that subsists on the making of movies will be adversely affected. Empty movie halls do not bode well for the entire Hindi film industry. There is only so much the Hollywood and South Indian movies can do to pack the stands. Quite obviously, monopolistic practices have rendered Bollywood hostage to a few producers; fresh talent and originality have been shown the door. While a plus-thirty actress feels pressured to challenge the ‘sex appeal’ of newcomers, leading men nearing sixty are compelled to exhibit their ‘prowess’. They can’t expect the viewers to be impressed.