A few days ago, I came across a young girl, no more than fourteen
years old, with a piece of paper in her hand. I took a closer look,
only to find that it was an appeal for help - she was from a village
that had run out of all resources and all its people had been
displaced and looking for help, just like this little girl who held
this piece of paper before me.
There were a few signatures below, with names of people and amounts of money they had ostensibly donated. The girl wouldn't speak, for some reason, and wouldn't answer any questions, and for some reason, the premise looked really fake, and I wasn't willing to fall for the ruse, if there was one. Now, I wouldn't buy into an appeal written in bad
English, with no basis, no strength of purpose, and not even an
attempt to be grammatically accurate enough to communicate with the
reader with any degree of credibility, and maybe there was my problem.
I couldn't buy into this at any level.
My mind moved back to a movie called "Water" which made a similar
appeal to me some time ago, The posters boasted of "critical
acclaim", and some reviews used words generally associated with good
storytelling on the screen. I was willing to fall for it, so I bought
myself a ticket to watch WATER. I like good stories, and sometimes I
expect the movie to live up to the hype atleast to some extent.
For most part I wondered why the film was called "Water". It could
have been called "Drain", for it drained a number of things like my
patience and time. I couldn't escape the feeling of watching
something really fake and contrived, and the longer I endured the
torture of Water dripping all over me, the stronger this feeling
became. Still, I sat through it, watching for some redeeming twist.
It never came.
The one disbelief I wanted to suspend was how I had been suckered into
watching this movie. And then, there was this pesky issue of
believability - if widows could sneak out to whore themselves with
older men living a fair distance away, surely, they could escape just
as easily!? And if they could come back unnoticed to the squalor of
their "normal" lives, and chose to do so, what exactly is the problem?
Lisa Ray was eye candy - but seriously, she didn't look one bit like
an Indian widow in a life of depression. Who are the morons who
couldn't see the stark difference between Lisa Ray and the others she
is living with? They were on different planets - different
everything! Lisa Ray looks like a goddess and the rest look like
women who have had a hard life.
When the lovers were finally united on the banks of the river, just
before their big getaway to a new life - they came together like two
dead bodies accidentally brought together by the current they were
drifting on! And they looked about as ready to run away together as a
mouse would want to run into a snake's open mouth! Lousy film making!
Unentertaining, devoid of all cinematic logic, stripped of every ounce
of believability, but expected to appeal to my sensitivity to the
"issue"? My only issue is that I came to a movie and there was no
bloody movie! Why the ^%$#! should a movie have an issue to deal
with? Oh, let us not even get into discussions on what a good movie
should or shouldn't have. A movie has to have some amount of honesty
before it is even worthy of that discussion.
India's famous flick chicks have a trait - they always need an issue
for their movies so that they can hide their bad art behind it. It is
like an ugly, ignored woman begging to be praised for her virtuous
character. Art really should never need to make excuses, and it
definitely should not need a sympathetic audience or shenanigans in
the media who are too bloody politically correct to give us a whiff of
honesty in their reviews of lousy films made on supposedly serious
Are we to believe then that the film makers really care about the
issues they base their movies on? If they did, they would be at the
forefront of social movements, not sucking up to studios to fund their
next issue based lousy movie!
Our flick chicks have another grouse - since they never get
appreciated by Indian audiences, they do their best to get Whitey's
accolades, as if to say - "Look, you guys don't have the taste for
what I produce"! I certainly don't have taste for bland, unartistic
shit, and god bless the white man for choosing to watch a lousy movie
instead of bombing another country!
Here is where Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par scores! Good story, great
acting, wonderful cast, and we cared about what was going on on the
screen. It was fun, and it was well made, and dealt with an issue
without crutching on it. Bottomline - people go to the movies to be
entertained, not to be hit with issues. I for one, cannot sit through
a lousy movie if it was made with the most burning issue at its core.
Both the issue and the movie become hard to put up with!
There are some commonalities you can find among artists that seek to
put their energies and efforts into the issues and controversies
surrounding the "attention" their work gets from the world at large,
and focus very little on their glaring weakness - the inability to
tell a story to save their miserable lives. One of the most common
ailments of these artists is to open the "whiner's window" - the big
cause that a lot of people will definitely find something to whine
about, leading the discussions on the work beyond the merit of the
work itself and take it to planes that are politically unfashionable
to argue against. The movie is just an attachment to the issue that
gets some traction!
Take M F Hussain's depiction of Goddess Saraswathi as a nude female
art figure. If he had called that woman "My Neighbour Nasreen", his
future would have become instantly bleak (and indeed in my opinion,
deservingly, much shorter).
I didn't see Saraswathi anywhere in his stupid depiction. And I don't
think he saw much Lakshmi through the experience either. But sure
enough, I saw Hussain - a load of it. This is an artist who once had
some artistic merit, but now has either run out of ideas, or has come
up with notoriously bad ones. His choice of subjects would suggest he
has nothing original to come up with any more than the next
controversy - again pouring his energy into the "attention" for his
work rather than paying attention to his work.
Then the Danish cartoonist who drew Prophet Mohammed like a bomb
waiting to explode - that was so crass that it couldn't have won
anything for artistic merit in any mix of talent. The idiotic
pretender even went on to include holy inscriptions in his "cartoon".
Now, that is asking for trouble, and I am thrilled to see the fatwa on
that moron's head. Bad artists need to be punished as much as good
ones need to be appreciated!
Usually, when there is an uproar against needlessly controversial
works of art, it is fashionable for most people and for the media to
talk about freedom of expression. Expressions are not only for
artists, so how about giving the same freedom to the expression of the
people who are subjected to art they don't quite react favourably to?
I am not in favour of killing everybody I disagree with, art or no
art, but I am certainly in favour of protecting the freedom of those
who feel enraged enough to want to kill someone for slander. (If in
the name of art, someone has the right to attack something that is
dear to me, then in the name of being enraged, I reserve my right to
defend myself. If art is the method chosen to attack me, I reserve my
freedom to choose whatever means I may have at my disposal for
I have some lousy memories of watching "Salaam Bombay", way back in
the 80s, wasting precious pocket money while in college. What a
bloody piece of depressing #@&^ that was! And where do these clowns
come from, who judge films like this and nominate them for big awards
like the Oscars, when a host of great movies have been around, and
have enthralled, captivated and thrilled audiences? Pure cinema for
cinema, "Apoorva Sagodharargal" was ten times the movie Salaam Bombay
will ever be.
The pattern is simple - make a depressing movie about your own
culture. Be sure to include an "issue" that is easily bigger than the
movie you can get yourself to make. Call in the white man's press and
be sure to talk about all things other than the lousy story you are
about to inflict people with. Do not put any statutory warnings in
the promos that the reviews were written by idiots from countries
where lynching based on race was legal not too long ago, and
governments have foreign policies that support the worst kinds of
oppression on mankind!
Do not mention that the rave reviews you received were also from
magazines that chose Hitler as "Man of the Year". Do not mention that
despite several boring sequences, we should listen to whitey who is
really sensitive about the kids in his country carrying guns to school
and shoot fellow students, but has no problem bombing other
civilizations to the stone age. Do not mention that the people who
found your "issue" very important also come from places where priests
are pedophiles and people keep their own children as sex slaves.
Our fake artists would love to get these fine folks to endorse a
"work" based on the condemning of a social wrong, that we are already
aware of and collectively discourage. It is easy to get very precise
and predictable reactions to "causes" that threaten to impinge on
freedom of expression, and a plethora of issues that have become very
easy to get subscriptions to and a lot of animated inaction from the
So, our flick chicks find it easy to sell their lousy art in much the
same way as a postcard painted by a handicapped child that promises to
donate a portion of the profit to the upliftment of the
underprivileged. They make movies that fall in line with whitey's
imagined view of himself in paradise and the rest in hell, and focus
on creating a world view that India is indeed a backward country,
where we do all the things that whitey believes are wrong! This is a
sure way to sell lousy movies and indeed if there is an Indian
reaction against it, our flick chicks can claim persecution!!! What
can be better than a lousy movie that gets traction based on the
persecution of lousy artists?! Easy notoriety!
By now, I suppose I must have become a candidate for "anti-feminism"
or "male chauvinism". Maybe I am both, but male storytellers all over
the world are telling far better stories than women, particularly in
cinema. That shouldn't give the women a backdoor entry with issues
bigger than their storytelling talents. I would love to see the
"female" viewpoint. Especially one that is powerful and fun, and not
needing an outer spine called an "issue". As long as women focus on
the periphery, they will remain peripheral. It is time women
directors told stories that are universal, fun and easy to relate to.
It is time they sharpened their craft and did some good work.
No sword is too sharp to shred to pieces a piece of garbage toted as
art. Pretenders there are many, and supporters to the pretenders come
in all shapes and sizes, colours and skins!
We have this term called "socially responsible cinema"! You've got to
be kidding me. Socially responsible cinema? What kind of society is
responsible for creating lousy film makers in the first place?! Why
would cinema ever be answerable to those very societies that make
cinema unwatchable, unenjoyable, and twist the mindsets of audiences
and artists to the extent where nobody has a good time at the movies