Yet another Marathon is upon us. But I sense a chill in the air. and it has little to do with the mercury being substantially lower than is normal at this time of the year. Like with most 'events', Mumbai once again displayed how fickle-minded it is. The Mumbai Marathon has lost its original glam quotient and the 'kya kool hai hum' set has moved on to other thrills. No matter, the act of giving has not been totally forgotten. Though, I do find it strange that after so much effort and bandobast, all this super rich city can contribute is a measly 12.5 crores to various causes. That is chicken feed! But at least our Sealink will get its due footage. And Milind Soman will once again demonstrate his awesome fitness levels. Now we know what exactly Bipasha finds attractive in her boyfriends, past, present and future... stamina.
Bhago , Mumbai, Bhago!!!
This appeared in Hi! Blitz!
2011: The Year of the ‘Heroine’ as ‘Hero’….?
“Vidya Balan is the real hero in Bollywood.” The first time I read that remark, I seriously thought it came from a bitchy rival. This was just after critics had finished going gaga over ‘Dirty Vidya’ and the impressive box office figures of her latest movie had started to come in. But no! It was a genuine, if back- handed compliment from an industry source and seen in the right context, it also made perfect sense. Vidya carried ‘Dirty Picture’ on her hefty shoulders, all by herself. When was the last time a Bollywood heroine managed such a feat? Even the multi-faceted Priyanka Chopra delivered a dud with ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’. And she had seven men to prop up the film. Vidya had a senior citizen ( Naseeruddin Shah doing a brilliant take off on Sivaji Ganesan) as a co-star. I am not counting Emraan Hashmi ( blink and he was gone!). It was Vidya’s show all the way.Ekta Kapoor and Milan Luthria had conspired brilliantly to get the maximum mileage out of their co-operative heroine. Maximum exposure , too. And Vidya, clever girl that she undoubtedly is, went along gamely, perhaps realizing that this would be her unchallenged hour of triumph. And such a woman-centric film would possibly not come her way again. It was a brave call to take for all three. For, had it backfired, not only would Ekta have lost money, but Milan and Vidya would have lost face. And perhaps, a rosy future in Bollywood, too.
Whatever happened to woman-oriented movies like ‘Sujata’, ‘Bandini’, ‘Charulata’,
“Seeta aur Geeta’ ‘Bandit Queen’ ? Considering the vintage of those classics, it is fair to say, we have moved several steps backwards in Bollywood. This is ironical, given all the big talk about women’s empowerment and how lucky we are to be living in this day and age in which women are calling the shots. If that truly was the reality, why would we be celebrating the success of a solitary film that revolves around a Southern porn-star named Silk, who’s the central character of ‘Dirty Picture’?Why would we be making such a big deal out of Vidya – undoubtedly, a superb actress ? Are we desperately searching for the next Smita Patil? Or even the next Tabu? That is the opinion of a top female star I got chatting with right after the success of ‘Dirty Picture’. Said this luscious star somewhat tartly, “Well… Vidya had nothing to lose. But those of us who are in the big league would never touch such a role.” I asked her to name the others she considers her big league equals and she giggled, “You know… all of us… Katrina, Priyanka, Bebo, Aishwarya.” And that puts Vidya…. errr, exactly where? The actress paused before saying sweetly, “Vidya is not a star. She maybe looking to become the next Tabu. Matlab, a thinking actress. We prefer to be stars and divas.That’s the only way to grab all the top endorsements.” Aha – so, that’s what it is. Career decisions are no longer about scripts and roles. They are about the ads that follow a commercial hit. Fair enough. It is the girls stuck in between who are finding the going tough – girls like Kangana, Sonakshi, Anoushka, who are neither here nor there, but latko-ing in between. I remember running into Kangana at a really posh event, where she was looking rather lost even though she was dressed by a top designer brand. She looked around boredly and commented, “I look so much better than some of the actresses who bag big brands. Why do you think those people don’t approach me?” I summoned a top photographer and asked him to explain. After all, he was the one who recommended stars to those international brands. He told Kangana bluntly that her image was all wrong! I was taken back. What was so wrong about it? Before it got more detailed, I changed the subject. What if this happens to Vidya? Her film is a huge hit, and the producers are over the moon , but Vidya’s uninhibited performance ( with all that tongue rolling, lip biting, jiggling and wiggling), is likely to impact her positioning. It will be interesting to monitor how it goes from here. Either, she could zoom to the top of the heap and take on all those smug and snooty actresses on her own terms, or be happy doing the odd strong role that showcases her talent and allows her to shine. But the more important question is: how will Vidya cope with our top heroes with their fragile egoes? Which one of them will have the himmat to act opposite her and risk being overshadowed? Frankly, I cannot think of even one. Is Vidya the Meryl Streep of India? A fearless actress who goes where others refuse to tread? Streep is likely to walk away with the most prestigious acting awards for her portrayal as Maggie Thatcher in ‘The Lady’. Balan as Silk will certainly be the top contender here in India . But which award will she walk away with – Best Heroine? Or, Best Hero?? Watch out, everyone!