First published in Scroll.in on 29 November 2014.
Like most Bollywood films, Dilwale Dhulania Le Jayenge ends unrealistically. The film ends with the girl’s father letting her go with her suitor, after having forever decided how she will live her life and who she will marry. “Ja Simran ja,” he says at the railway station, “jee le apni zindagi.” Go live your life. She runs as the train had begun leaving, catches Shah Rukh Khan’s hand and we get one of the most iconic Bollywood scenes.
While the happy ending makes the viewer happy, the overwhelming message of the film is inescapable: if your parents don’t let you marry who you want, don’t run away. Convince them. The obvious implication is that if they are not convinced, eloping against their wishes is not an option. Continue reading
For Scroll.in on 3 October 2014
Patriotic Indian Twitter users are asking people to not see Haider. I wonder if they saw the same film as I did. The Tweeple who made #BoycottHaider trend all Friday on Twitter say the film shows the Indian army in a bad light. On the contrary, the film is a tribute to the masterful way in which the Indian army (and other security forces) suppressed a popular rebellion against India. Continue reading
For The Express Tribune, 1 July 2014
I recently saw two Bollywood films, both very different and yet very similar. Mohit Suri’s Ek Villain is more like a standard Bollywood film, with good-looking people, a lot of romance, music you’d love to play in your car, and dishoom-dishoom from the first to the last scene. Hansal Mehta’s City Lights is, by Bollywood standards, serious cinema. The real difference between the two is about the budgets, I suppose. Yet, the two films are very similar. Both are set in Mumbai and are about men who are transformed by circumstances — birth, upbringing, migration, love, luck and urban life — into bad men doing bad things to innocent people. The women are passive victims of this violence. Continue reading