Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hai! Hai! Now funerals as events!

This is a picture I keep going back to.... the magnificent Fort in Lisbon. It was a terrific evening.... and I couldn't stop clicking.

Am in Delhi for two days.... may or may not be in this space.... you have been warned!


My column in Bombay times today...

Hai! Hai! Now funerals as ‘events’…

“Itna sanaata kyun hai, bhai?” could well be A.K.Hangal’s epitaph. Such is the irony and tragedy of life. When the senior actor passed away at age 98, after dedicating over 50 years of his life to movies and theatre, merely a handful from the film industry showed up to pay their last respects. Hangal’s one liner from ‘Sholay’ ( “Itna sanaata…”) must have reverberated in the Vile Parle crematorium where his last rites were performed by his grieving son, surrounded by Raza Murad, Ila Aroon and a few others. Such a poor showing for a Padma Bhushan awardee, who had acted in more than 200 films! Expecting major stars to turn up at the funeral, the Mumbai police had arranged for a bandobast… but obviously, the big guys had other priorities. However, it has to be said that when funds were required to pay Hangal’s mounting medical bills, and it became known that the actor was leading a life of penury, several large hearted stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Mithun Chakraborthy, generously came forward to help the family. All the more distressing that the turn out at the Grand Old Man’s funeral was as low…. Even if the tributes were lavish.

It’s now come to a point where we make zero distinction between ‘events’. Everything has been converted into an event. And numbers say it all, whether it is a movie premiere, fashion show, birthday, music launch, book launch, film preview,success party, shaadi …. or funeral. It’s only about the celebrity turnout. Another line from ‘Sholay’ comes back to haunt us today, “Kitney aadmi thhe?” Hungry for content, media wallas wait for hours , often in awful conditions, for the big names to show up. When that does not happen ( as in the case of poor Hangal), features’ editors holding up a page for the all important celeb images, tear their hair out in frustration. All that blank space has to be filled! A film star funeral generally guarantees several photo- ops . Look no further than Rajesh Khanna’s. There were enough images and quotes at his blow out of a funeral to cram into several supplements. Poor Hangal was not as blessed.

This is the way the cookie crumbles, not just in Bollywood-crazy India, but in Hollywood as well. From Michael Jackson to Liz Taylor and Whitney Huston, the coverage of their spectacular funerals was flashed across the globe for days and weeks , focusing as much on their achievements as on the celeb quotient at the ‘events’. P.R. firms have started to recognize high profile funerals as valid image making ( or breaking) opportunities. These days , it is not unusual to receive calls from assorted p.r. agencies crassly asking, “ So…. will you be attending so-and-so’s funeral?” The time is not far off when there will be show stoppers at crematoriums and fashion designers will create ‘looks’ for funerals, same as they create lehengas for weddings. Sounds horrible – but it’s happening!

A.K. Hangal will be remembered with love and respect by his Marxist colleagues. For a humble tailor from Karachi to make it in Mumbai’s film industry and contribute to over 225 films, is by no means a small achievement. Rahim Chaacha lived and died, as a brave and proud worker. Thank God, his funeral was not converted into an event.


Pallavi Bhatkar said...

Really very very...sad. No one turned up for his funeral.. There was indeed sanaataaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

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Down but not out said...

did you attend the funeral ? :P

Pooja Rathore said...

May his soul rest in peace.His funeral being attended by very few people is really sad.....meaning only if your big(paisawala and succesful) ....the funeral need to be attended, otherwise not....thats really sick.
quite agree with you when you say everthing is an event including funerals ....i too will not be surprised if they come out with new fashion designer wear especially for funerals and then ....who wore the best white outfit....

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Tsomo85 said...

May he RIP! As for image breaking opportunist; They are used to tear their hair out frustrations!!!! HAHAHAHAHA since they built their hope & expectations from a faceless people like FAKE jhunjhunwala and other self proclaimed intellectual/ comentators that doesn't exist in real life! HAHAHAHA UGLY LOSERS WITH SEXY FANTACY!

Tsomo85 said...

Many a times they think we don't know the difference between national news breakers vs fox breaking news! IDIOTS!!!!!!

Divya Virmani said...

Sad to know that such a famous name from Sholay and still not many showed up at his funeral! That's the reality of life...if you ain't famous like Bachchan's or Kapoor's you ain't getting publicity. The 'Kadva Sach' of Life.
This actually reminds me of Mona Kapoor, ex-wife of Boney Kapoor. Rem the hoopla around her funeral?! I doubt many ppl even knew her...I doubt ppl even knew who she was when she was alive.

Suresh Mandan said...

A.K. Hangal was not a humble tailor.He took up tailoring rather desgining by choice and he was one of the few tailors in karachi those who came to his work in Suit.His father was well placed Govt. Officer in the British India

raj said...

we expected more on late AK Hangal and a tribute rather discussing absence of celebrities.

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Pooja Rathore said...

@Raj - very sane and thoughtful comment...

Shobhi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jogeshwar said...

In a hypocritical society like ours, it is sickening to realise that people attend funerals for image making so that they're not slandered in society. I believe grieving is more of a personal affair.

This reminds of 'Solitude' a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Laugh, and the world laughs with you:
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth
Must borrow its mirth,
It has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound
To a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure
Of all your pleasure,
But they do not want your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all;
There are none to decline
Your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by;
Succeed and give,
And it helps you live,
But it cannot help you die.

There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train;
But one by one
We must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Krishnakhot said...

In india many people die daily but nobody cares or even thinks. Today news channels want to increase TRPs so they ran behind popular people. I know if there is any funeral event on tv and if many people dont know about that person then they will flip to other channels. Its left to them about whom they care or not. You cant force anyone

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