Amidst the melodramatic movies that continue to take over the Bollywood, here comes a movie that dares to raise the moot issue of the sexuality of a disabled.
A movie so delightfully and breezily delivered that it never seems like a work-out in politically correct awareness-raising. The central romance of the movie blossoms naturally and the movie’s protagonist matures in many ways, not just as a woman dealing with cerebral palsy. From New Delhi to New York and back, she explores her sexual urges and grows emotionally, from a rugged teenager surrounded by parents at home to an uninhibited, happy, independent woman, who is much content to hit a bar by herself and ask for Margarita, With A Straw.
No, Margarita, With A Strawdoes not need an applause because of director Shonali Bose’s courage to make an exceptional movie on a specially-abled teenager, who is inquisitive about her sexual desires, but for the way Bose communicates protagonist’s journey to self-discovery.
The movie, which releases in Indian theaters tomorrow, April 17th, 2015, has not only managed to garner enough eye balls from all over the world, but has also earned huge accolades at international film festivals. The movie bravely shows the everyday tussle of the protagonist, Laila (played by Kalki Koechlin), and how she embarks her journey to seek love and acceptance.
However, the question is why the debate over a specially-abled person only starts in India after a subject-centric movie releases or an incident happens? Remember, how Taare Zameen Par had put forward the issue of a dyslexic child in India? Be it on news channels or the regular chit-chats between friends, dyslexia was the burning topic that ignited a fire in our hearts for a number of months. But, what happened after that? The topic was queerly packed and stuffed back in our subconscious minds. I am afraid that the same might happen with Margarita, With A Straw, or the ‘issue’ of the specially-abled people, to be precise.
The resident of East Delhi’s I.P. Extension, a mother of a beautiful autistic daughter tells NewsGram how the Indian society is biased towards the specially-abled people.
She says, “My daughter only knows a few basic words to communicate her few basic needs. She is a hyper active kid. She tells me stories about her school friends and the girly talks they discuss. It’s so normal. Like any other teenager, she also has a few desires, both psychological and physical. After all, she is also growing just like any other girl.”
Her pain was completely evident when she expressed, “I am constantly scared, not that my daughter is autistic and I worry for her future. I am scared for the way the society treats her, the way men gaze at her, the way she is treated when we go to a restaurant. I keep telling everyone that she is perfectly normal. She is not a character, but a free and absolutely normal individual.”
Margarita, With A Straw, no doubt, has created ripples about the treatment of specially-abled people in the society even before its release. Yes, the specially-abled can be bisexual too, they can also have crushes, they too can dream to be a DJ or a doctor. The issue is not with them. The issue is with us, the so called ‘normal’ people. It’s us who need to cut down on our biased behaviors and ideologies that stay somewhere deep down within us.
One wonders why some crowd-pleasing film-makers feed their audience with trash. Nothing could be disgusting than the fact that we are being served with visual feasts that only hurt our hearts. Yes, why do a certain kind film stars and producers always see certain communities and races with the eyes of hatred? Without a sense of guilt, they cook up a series of cinematic theaters in the name of creativity and put those communities down, hurting their collective sentiment and pride. Are entertainment celebrities of modern times synonymous with sadism?
Most of the outrageous narratives and stereotyping are coming about from a “certain group” of showbiz actors and producers. Sadly, despite this, we naïve audiences heap our praises upon them. We waste our precious time watching their sleazes and load of prejudices. If one takes a close look at the proclivities and activities of those filmmakers, they have at times not only hurt the people’s sentiment but they have also “punctured” the very fabric of basic human values.
Well, very recently one such instance has made the news. A Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma, who has produced a web series Patal Lok, streaming from Amazon Prime, has earned the anger of most of the Nepali speaking Gorkha communities in India. What was very offensive to the Gorkha people of Northeast India is that one female character in that series has been demeaned and hurled at obscene terms in Nepali. Many organizations immediately went up in arms against this sexually racial slur. Not just that, one lawyers’ guild from West Bengal (India) immediately filed a suit against the producer. The situation has already got very charged up. Two Members of Parliament (MP) from West Bengal and Sikkim have shot letters to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, New Delhi expressing a deep sense of displeasure and condemning the particular scene in the series. Another Congress MP from Assam – Mr. Gaurav Gogoi in his letter to the Minister vociferously berated the show and demanded that take the prompt action. The Assam MP has aptly underlined the unmatched contribution of the Gorkha communities to the country, particularly in nation-building. It seems the actress who only basks in the glamour world must be either not “aware” of the glorious history of Gorkhas or she has no sense of human sensitivity and compassion towards fellow citizens.
One scholar defense officer from Haryana says – “Prior to India’s independence the Gorkhas were the most trusted warriors to fight for the country besides their predominant presence now in every segment of defense service in the country. Their sacrifices while protecting the nation, particularly in India-Pakistan borders…, and also while fighting various wars, are far beyond imagination. Is it the price of being loyal and heroic fighters for the nation?” It appears the producer of the series is unable think beyond the immoral and hurtful obscenity? Why do they only carry racial prejudices against the people bearing the chinky/mongoloid feature, particularly from Northeast India. Is taking delight in hurting other communities and also tarnishing the image of the country before the global audience, not a perverse propensity?
This apart, the film series has come as a shocker to the Sikh and Brahmin communities as well. “Manjinder Singh Sirsa”, the former Akali Dal political leader and Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak have also sent the legal notice to AMAZON Prime objecting to the contents and “idea behind this distasteful show”.
Nandkishore Gurjar, BJP MLA from Loni (Assembly constituency) of Uttar Pradesh, has as well formally lodged a complaint against Anushka Sharma for using his photo in the portion web-series without a prior permission. The MLA has taken exception to the fact that the AMAZON series depicts Gurjar community as criminals. He further pointed out that the series attempts to bring division and conflict among various castes in the country, such as the Jats of Punjab, Brahmins and Tyagis. BJP leaders also added that the usage of casteist slurs in the series are highly objectionable. Nandkishore concludes that the series is apparently intended to show the Bhartiya Janata Party, and the country as a whole, in the poor light while showing a terror-free posture of Pakistan.
Incidentally, do we know how many films that have been produced in the past 10 years have directly or indirectly hurt the sentiment of a number of communities or their culture in India? Of course, there are lots. Their cinematic themes and contents are intended to shown the cultural ethos of certain communities in a bad light. Yes, such theatrical entertainment often pointedly aimed at belittling the social norms and morals as well, which is very paradoxical. How come those actors and actresses lost in the wilderness of “debauchery” and a cheap kind of entertainment can dictate terms of morality to the society? There are a set of movies, including small screen serials, that have blatantly denigrated the “religious norms and moral practices” which are in existence since time immemorial.
But unfortunately, in most of the cases, the audiences get easily carried away by those filmmakers without knowing the ulterior motive behind their projects. Usually, all such sinister passion and intention of the showbiz industries soon get buried in the thick cover of “forgetfulness” and people again start to praise and idolize the same bunch of actors and actresses. Is it not awfully bizarre? Look at the production of the high-voltage film — “Padmavati” in 2018. The movie triggered unprecedented uprising and vandalism across the country for hurting the Rajput Communities. Very logically speaking, do any of our film stars like to be “reminded” about anything “ugly and hurtful” incidents concerning their own “parents” or ones they hold in high esteem? How could the Rajput community tolerate their “idol and motherly figure”PADMAVATI being projected as an object of lust who was shown being chased after by the despotic foreign invader Alauddin Khilji?
Similarly, films like SlumdogMillionaire, Inshallah Football, India’s Daughter… were produced only to put the country to shame, or to question the sovereignty of the nation bringing division among the different communities. How surprising, the elite people can stoop to look for ways to malign the country of their births!
More shocking — just a week back a comedian Surleen Kaur has demonstrate her unashamed indecency. In one of her shows, she linked the much-respected spiritual organization – ISKCON with pornography. The religious organization has already filed the suit against the comedian. Just think seriously what kind of future do we expect if such things are allowed and we continue to “clap and giggle” to their tune. Of course, it is difficult to watch films/shows these days together with family members.
True, showbiz prospers and thrives on the support of millions of audiences. But phew, we get in return, if not only nauseating sleazes and profanity to mislead our youths, all toxicity that only goes to corrode the sanctity of our society and its treasured values.
Lastly, the fun and entrainment at the cost of social humiliation, and disrespect to any community should not be tolerated at any cost. People are not a dead log to consume whatever put forth for commercial gains; they are human beings. They have enough good senses of differentiating between love and hatred, and good and bad. So, no film producer/director should serve the outrageous entrainment on their platters and thus mislead the society and “contaminate” the sanctity of Indian households and the mindset of our youths. The vulgar ambition of Indian showbiz is only posing a serious threat to the nation and its culture.
A Shillong-based writer and researcher, Salil Gewali is best known for his research-based work entitled ‘Great Minds on India’ which has earned worldwide appreciations. Translated into Twelve languages, his book has been prefaced by a world-acclaimed NASA Chief scientist – Dr. Kamlesh Lulla of Houston, USA.
[ Disclaimer: The pictures used in the article are supplied by the author, NewsGram has no intention of infringing copyrights. ]
Veteran filmmaker Subhash Ghai feels that the nationwide lockdown in the country was a “major setback” for the Indian film industry. “Like any other industry, Bollywood will also have to face challenges as far as producing films is concerned,” he tells IANSlife.
Adding, “Like other industries, the film industry will also face challenges with new changes in producing films for big and small screen. The situation is still wait n watch post the lockdown. It was a major setback for us, but we will fight this out together. We are waiting for the cinemas to re-open; we will release the films again.” However, the ‘Karz’ director believes that post this phase of fighting the global pandemic, the world will emerge to be a better version of what was before.
“Trust me, it will be a better world with better wisdom, discipline, creative, innovative in socio political and economic platforms latest by post 2024. Changes in between may create chaos conflict and confusions in the world with new debatable decisions. But finally it will settle for better world. It will be ‘yuga parivartan’ period,” says the ‘showman of India’.
Ghai, who is the Chairman of Media & Entertainment Skills Council (MESC), is hosting a webinar on Vidyadaan, an initiative by MESC, which aims to provide informal vocational education and skill development. “It’s all for people and students who are eager to know about our first time initiative of Vidyadaan — a unique platform for informal education online and physical by connecting masters gurus and experts from various arts and crafts and professionals,” he says.
During the webinar to be held in the coming week, Ghai will answer students’ queries as a Chairman of MESC. “Our key objective is to create a robust and vibrant eco-system for quality vocational education and skill development in Media & Entertainment Space in the country. I will emphasis on skill-based education rather than only imparting academic education.” (IANS)
Bollywood actor Vidyut Jammwal has started an initiative to support ideas from different parts of India.
Vidyut has been helping and motivating fans to stay physically and mentally fit since the beginning of the lockdown in March, and now he wants to help people stay financially fit too.
Talking about the initiative, Vidyut said: “I am what I am today because of the love and support I have received over the years. GoodwillforGood is an initiative that is very close to my heart and it is my way of giving it back to society. I have come across many ideas that have the power to make a difference but what they lack is a platform to showcase it. Through this initiative, I will promote these brilliant minds and their unconventional proposals.”