Monday, May 31, 2010

Hirsute men and hormones - Bollywood ishstyle

I watched 'Brick Lane' at a multiplex last night and was happy to see at least fifty people in the same theatre in which there were precisely two (besides my family of four) last week for 'Kites'. Since I do have an eccentric taste in movies, no prizes for guessing I loved 'Brick Lane'. No point comparing it to the book ( I loved that , too). But as cinema, it was moving and lyrical with superlative performances from the ensemble cast - Satish Kaushik was outstanding. As was Tanishtaa, who played the long suffering Naazneen, seething and smouldering within, till she discovers her own identity and asserts herself - gradually and gracefully.
As a jury member for Sushmita Sen's Miss Universe ( India) contest, I was hugely impressed by the confidence level of the contestants - most of them were not 'lookers'. But they weren't - sorry to say this - hookers, either. Two finalists had flown in from America and Canada, and were highly educated, top ranking professionals. The other 30 on the short list were equally accomplished with interesting day jobs in various fields ranging from dentistry to chartered accountancy. One called herself a 'Prosperity Manager' ( now that's a new job description!) Refreshingly, there were no giggly bimbettes in this beauty pageant. Sushmita herself, made a stirring speech after a dramatic entree in a harness suspended from the high rafters of the NCPA stage. She lip- synched her anthem ( 'I am'), and set the tone for a slick ( but way too long) show that featured Saif Ali Khan ( energetic and surprise surprise -no left feet), Kareena Kapoor ( listless, lifeless and bored) and Shah Rukh Khan , who effortlessly stole the show with his charm and wit as he interviewed the five finalists in his usual breezy, irreverent style. But for me, the two really special people that loooooooong, interminable night were Farah ( Triplets) Khan and Malini ( Free Spirit ) Ramani. It was such a pleasure interacting with these two very spontaneous, very intelligent and very down to earth women. How 'I am' !!
This column appeared in Bombay Times today....
Let’s start with Bollywood stereotypes . In the good old days when Dharmendra ruled, and even an eccentric like Raaj Kumar had a following, there was no ambiguity, no debate – Garam Dharam was a full- on macho man and everybody could see what Hema Malini saw in him ( definitely not his brains). He still projects the same image and there is no mistaking his alpha male status. Rajesh Khanna was dubbed The Phenomenon ( guess who pleads guilty?), but was never in the hard core ‘mard’ category.
Vinod Khanna would have made the cut, but he was way too laid back and waltzed away from movies at the peak of his career. There the list ended.
The scenario as it stands today is pretty bleak. The ‘Mard’ stakes have hit an all-time low and just one name pops up instantly – Akshay Kumar’s. It has nothing to do with being an action hero. It is his pure , unadulterated testosterone that does it. And that can only be compared to the high octane petrol pumped into Formula 1 cars. Both deliver results. Talking about his incredible male energy to young girls recently, I was amused by a remark passed by one of them who said Akshay is the only Bollywood hero who makes her feel shy!! She has never met the guy, has no desire to, either. This is her raw reaction to his screen presence alone. I asked this small group why they couldn’t come up with more names ( the most obvious one would be Salman’s!) for the ‘Mard Maharaja’ title. Their sharp and shrewd analysis deserves a more detailed thesis, but let me give you a jhalak. According to them, Salman looks ‘unstable’ and therefore, that makes him ‘undependable’ in the eyes of women. SRK and Saif fall into the old and overdone ‘Metro Sexual’ mould …. despite the six pack (SRK’s) and the newly acquired biceps ( Saif’s) women think of them as best buddies or casual lovers. Not future husbands ( Kareena to note). As for John and Arjun , their sex appeal works for their countless gay fans – but they make good looking women feel competitive and disadvantaged! Especially since both guys project a high level of vanity (“ I’m too sexy for my body’’). Ranbir is cute. Period. That leaves Aamir who is too cerebral to be considered seriously sexy. And sweet Abhishek Bachchan ( my personal favourite ), who is seen as being a bit too ‘shareef’ and good- natured…. in need of protection himself ( he brings out the mother in every woman). We have their equivalents in Hollywood – let me stop at Russell Crowe – almost alarmingly all-male. But a bit too volatile for any woman’s comfort. Brad Pitt has been reduced to acting like Angelina’s pet poodle. Besides, she is the more overtly macho of the two.
Our Bollywood ladies are less interesting and if one were to identify Akshay’s female counterpart, it would probably be Katrina Kaif– deliriously feminine and appealing – in an environment which encourages heroines to turn into unattractive , aggressive Amazonian creatures, more muscled than Dara Singh in his prime. It’s that, or starved and pinched leading ladies with the tight, narrow, boobless, hipless bodies of fourteen- year- old boys. Katrina should hang on to those curves and keep smiling. Young men want to date ( and preferably bed!) Cuddly Katrina. They fantasise about her in the clean way even their ‘naanis’ would approve of. She projects warmth, dresses like a regular girl ( looks great in tees and jeans), wears minimal make- up,handles herself very well ( no attitude, no tantrums ) and works her natural charm on one and all, right across the board.
Since I have exceeded my word limit ( if not your patience!), I’ll have to sign off.
But not before I leave you with an interesting thought : What’s the bet you’ll look at Abhishek differently after his performance as a ‘dus sar walla’? He is one of our best actors. About time he got his due.


goodluck said...

Bachchan beats all of them older, middler and younger stars. His appeal is ageless. The older he is, the better he is looking. In front of him Abhishek looks like a 4 year old bachcha. Katrina looks delicious. How about a film with Bachchan and Katrina?

A. K. said...

It feels great to be here after such a long time. Hope you had a great weekend

Vaudeville of exhilaration said...

Sorry to say I do not like Kathrina coz she does not stand apt to my definition of being beautiful(Actually dese days I am all gaga about mexican and Indian beauty)

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Anonymous said...

I'll take your word for Bricklane now :) it better be good. As for the actors today..Abhishek has to much of a goody goody image for his own good !!

Scarlett said...

"And sweet Abhishek need of protection himself"

Did no one say he needs to be protected from his own wife? Hahaha!

And you're right about Katrina Kaif. She's the favorite of ALL the guys that I know, and most of them harbor very gentlemanly feelings towards her. They all find her sweet, innocent & someone they would like to marry, rather than only "hot" or someone they can bed!

Anonymous said...

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Shivalik said...

Dear Shobha,

I wanted to meet up with yourself. Not sure if you have a secretary or can i send you an email.


shivalik [at] gmail [dot] com

Harsha said...

Hello...:) I like reading your blogs. I am commenting for the first time on your I disagree with your choice of abhishek as the best of the lot. Had it not been for his Daddy Dearest, he would be no where, although I am a great fan of Amitabh Bachchan.Actors like Irfan Khan and Om puri are in true sense great actors according to me.

Shantanu said...


Evdha sagla tumhi swataha type karta..??

Shantanu Datar.

sherlin said...

dear Ms.Shobha
im a pg student currently working on my dissertation(on socialite evenings).im desperately hunting for ur mail id(with no luck).would you be so kind to let me know the same?

ms said...

hey, mz de! in your "mard" countdown of the yesteryears, you have not mentioned the greatest "mard" of all times: amrita singh. but never mind, if akki is the only representative of macho mards on our screen, it is a sad state of affairs indeed. i suggest you head south - plenty macho men there, what with their curly locks, rippling triple abdomenal muscles, bloodshot eyes and thundering voices -dai!!! well, gone are the days of buxom belles and virile chest-hair-twirling men. we are left with nerdy, squinty, spitty, ape-like male icons who will continue to regale us with their clumsy onscreen antics.

krutika said...

I heard that katrina is not a kasmiri and white mix..she is actually a morrocan and was spotted by some Indian director...while she was doing her job in the red light districts of London. hahah and you know what the best part is...she claims to be english and Stupid unexposed media cant tell that she fakes an American and not an english accent. hahah..hey but with all sincerity most of the Indian actresses are whores too. I mean dignified whores.
Abhiskeh Bachan has been over shadowed by his wife and wont change forever until they spliy. I swear you'll see his popularity peak when he dumps her. same for saif. I mean i strated finding shahid attractive after his split with kareena, she was almost like his mom bossing him around.If katrina were shahids gf, her popularity will go down. i dont know thts just a theory.

krutika said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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*Aham* said...

satish kaushik is great, even in his scatter brainy movies, where the plot is hijacked from south, and the stars are from chembur and virar (govinda/karisma).

have to watch this fillum

Khalid Mohammad's "Mast Maahol" girl is an inspiration to many. So what if she has more tyres in her tummy and long long X files than the list of films (HITS??? and FroM SUSH??? Are you doing Mazaaak! )

Actually her-larger-than-life, sometimes-bigdi-hui Mother Teresa image makes her viewers difficult to believe that she could play plain jane or gharelu aurat or any of the roles that require her to be normal and not princess maafik.

may be thats why, her role as the Sexy Chemistry teacher and "mast mahoool" worked. these roles were holier-than-thou , in sync with what she is in real.


More than Sush wala I AM i am also looking forward to Onir's Film "I AM". A creative ensemble of 4 films on social issues, like Homosexuality, Child Sexual Abuse, Sperm Donation and the Kashmiri Pandit issue. I AM abhimanyu is inspired by my life .


"mard tange wala"Deol and Dhanno (malini sounds like dhanno na.. nahiiiii nahii nahiiiiii )created quite a flutter in the gossip mags during their times, afterall, this damsel, a raj kapoor find had chosen the married deol over the very-single-happy-to-mingle sanjeev kumar. It would have been fun if sanjeev kumar married malini... the headlines would have been "Thakur Marries Basanti" (oops Dhanno).
Sallu mia is always M.I.A. when it comes to sensible films. But worry not, he is always the best buddy of every climber starlet. From some Sonu walia to flop sangeeta bijlani to slappy aishwarya to multinational katrina... wallah, he has lost his hair, but not his flair.

SRK might have 6 packs, but it is the crack that he is that makes him believable and earthy. Man, he has some enigma. I like him more as a performer, an emcee than an actor.
Ranbir is cute. Period. (and now single. YAYYYYYYYY! let me try... let me try)

abhishek yes, i agree with you.. In Toto. Jai maata di.

Dus sar wala ... i am looking forward to it. I just hope, it aint very intellectual a film. I prefer, either intelligent and light, or plain scatterbrained and meaningless.

this intellectual films are a real traas. Dimaag ko Shot types

Sidhusaaheb said...

What about Zarine Khan? :P

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Another Kiran In NYC said...

Satish kaushik rocked brick lane. The book was maha boring.

UjSen said...

All said and done, I have this irritant quality of not being able to appreciate movies after reading the book.....So out of curiosity's sake..I will in most probability see it, but somehow.. the pictures in my head are so more if only I were.

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