Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Khans and Mediocrity in Bollywood

It has been two decades that the three Khans - ShahRukh, Aamir and Salman have been calling the shots at Bollywood. I remember reading an article few years back, which said 1990s belonged to three Khans and Kajol. And, there is no denying this. The three Khans not only provided vibrance to the hindi movies, which failed miserably to produce superstar when Amitabh Bacchhan was not actually young to play the angry young man.
Not only that, the music of their movies was undoubetdly fresh! Remember the 1980s music, when audience used to move out of hall to smoke a cig, grab a cold drink, and returned to the hall only when the song got over. In fact, it was the feeling of 'something new and unseen' which gave SRK his first few hits like Baazigar, Darr, where the villian was bigger than the hero or the hero had villanious touch.
Towards, the end of 1990s, it seemed that it dawned upon Khans that their time was running out and they have to step up their efforts to compete with the young brigade. I remember reading an article wherein SRK had said that he was afraid of his fans forgeting him in his old age. And, there was a precedent to it as well. The 'Jubilee Kumar', Rajendra Kumar used to get so many letters from his fans that he had to appoint a secretary just to read and reply to them. Years later, when Jubilee Kumar was old, he said he was craving for even one letter from a fan. No one had written to him in ages.
It seemed to me that the three Khans knew that post they cross their mid thirties, they have to be extremely careful of their image, the kind of movies they do, the kind of directors they work with. However, all three of them gave more importance to have a certain image in audience's eyes. They even tried to expand their fan club. Take SRK for instance, the youth icon of 90s who had girls drooling over him and who once did bold film like Maya Memsaab, he said he will not kiss the heroine. If this was not for making sure that old ladies treat him like their son, then what was this for? SRK knew it that he was famous only among young people, which he did not afford with his age meter reading one more every year. SRK also made sure that he does movies with same directors like Farah Khan, Karan Johar. All his experiments like Maya Memsaab, Oh Darling Yeh Hai India, Darr, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman belonged to 1990s. In the current decade, he has done just three different movies - Swades, Chak De. It is strange to know that Swades and Veer Zaara were released at that same time, still SRK went on to win the awards for Veer Zaara.
Aamir Khan, known also as 'The Perfectionist', has done few experiments. There is no denying that Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai, Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameein Par were experiments considering the kind of repetition prevailing in Hindi Cinema. But, to label Aamir as an actor who does take huge challenges would be over-rating him. If we compare these movies, with the real experimental stuff which happens in other parts of India, we would realise that actors like Kamal Hassan, MohanKumar are far superior than Aamir in acting department and they have done such varying roles that with Aamir's pace, he might end up spending his life and still would not be able to do half as those experiments.
As far as Salman Khan is concerned, the last time he did a serious role, which the audience could digest was Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam in 1999. Post that, it has been an endless series of comedies, which are often cheap comedies, double meaning in nature, which are not even a surrogate for the kind of comedy, the world has seen.
I think the kind of cinema SRK, Aamir and Salman belong to definitely discourages the new breed of film makers, who see their experiments tanking badly because the distributors think the audience can watch Billu Barber, but not movies like Dev D.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Few of us love being non-conformist, don't we. Bombay has been a non-conformist city, where women wear clothes of their choice and not dictated by the whims and fancies of the other sex. Kids don’t return to their homes at 10 pm, the deadline in rest of the India, else your dad might well be found waiting for you in front of your colony. Well, this is the social and cultural non-conformism. There are different aspects to this side of human nature. Most often, you would find non-conformism breeding due to reinforcement of its opposite by the majority. In case such happens, the non-conformist must be prepared to be at the receiving end. The existence of God, for instance, has often led to the conflict. Majority of us believe in God, which leaves a small fraction of us non-believers. Those great men, who invented words, called them atheist, am sure this word is a creation of a believer. Isn’t it too striking that the English language does not have an equally well sounding opposite to atheist. Well, the obvious opposite is a 'believer', but the word does not carry the weight, which 'atheist' carries. Am also sure that if you call a non-believer an atheist, he might deny to accept it, which shows that it might not be the case of him not believing in the God, its just that he/she does not even care thinking about it. For a non-believer, the time, which others spend in going to temple, or making rounds around a peepal is better, spent in pursuing a hobby or just doing nothing.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Why I am sad for Federer!

Well, yesterday was again a sad day for me. Federer lost to Nadal in a Aus Open Final in five setter. In the last one and half years, Nadal has gone on to win grand slams on grass and hard courts. With yesterday's win, he also stopped Federer from equalling Pete Sampras's record of 14 grand slams. I have never come across such battles on a tennis court in almost two decades of watching this game. Well, you can always compare Sampras and Becker matches or Sampras and Agassi matches with Fed vs Rafa, but the difference is while the odds were 50-50 for great players in 1990, the odds for Federer against Rafa is 0 today. Rafa has beaten Federer on clay in French Open, which made Federer and his fans say that Rafa is the King of Clay and Fed is King of All but Clay. That was certainly not arrogance from Fed, he is far too superior to show such kind of emotions, it was sheer belief in his game which made him pass that remark.

Yesterday, the belief was broken. For Fed, who stood through that gruelling Wimbeldon Final for five sets after having dropped first two and then trying to maintain the calm for the next six months enroute which, he lost to many unknown players, while doing the important thing of not shying away from loss, there was no surprise that he broke down during the presentation ceremony. It was clear in fifth set, that he had either run out of options against Rafa or run out of energy. The world had started regarding Federer as the greatest player ever on Earth. Even other legends like McEnroe had said that, Fed contemporaries said even if the match is on ice, this man would win it. From those heights, his stature is relegated to a great player who could not pass through the possible greatest players ever. I dont think it would be possible for Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver or John McEnroe to understand what is going on in Fed'd head. Because to understand that Sampras should have played an equally great player like Borg or Laver in his prime. I feel that the world has never seen two players of this class to come and play in the same era and with little age difference. This is evident as the two players have met each other seven times in a grand slam final more than any other pair of legends in their era. Though, an age difference of five is not insignifcant, still Federer is 27 and he started playing Nadal when he was possibly 23. In no way, can anyone say that Federer was too old to face Nadal, the excuse which Sampras could give when he was beaten by Federer.

Though, am sure that such matches are good for the game of tennis, still they leave an incomprehensible feeling with every match Federer loses to Rafa. Perhaps, this shows that am still a Federer fan and shall remain so. Not that I dont like Rafa, he is simply unstoppable. Sometimes, you like what is not the best at that moment and in this case it is Federer.