Bay of Bollywood: Controversies at Sea

Bollywood- the king of all industries in India; the lone sunflower blooming while others are dying from the recessional rains. We salute Bollywood and the shining stars of it’s galaxy every morning in the newspapers and on television. They are after all omnipresent – sometimes for film promotion and other times for self promotion. All the off-screen action and drama makes most of us laugh out loud, thus sidelining Bollywood as a mere medium of entertainment and it’s extremely rich employees as puppets of the game. But the recent acts of demanding political correctness from the film industry, makes you wonder whether this bindass establishment has become a slave of the system.

Let’s start with the apparently different Wake up Sid, the most recent of Bollywood films trapped in controversies. The film ran into trouble a day after it’s release with Mumbai’s bad man Raj Thackeray. Some would say that Karan Johar and Ayan Mukherjee, the producer and director of the film, invited the trouble themselves by not correcting one dialogue in the film where Mumbai was referred to by it’s erstwhile name i.e. Bombay. It may very well be pointed out that a rose by any other name will still smell as sweet; Mumbai, even if it is called Bombay or Kakamuchee (yet another name for India’s alpha world city), will be the metropolitan city every other Indian wishes to reside in. But this Shakespearean philosophy was not enough for Raj Thackeray who threatened to put a ban on the film across the state if the glitch made by the makers was not corrected. As a result, the politically correct Karan Johar, who has always kept away from controversies decided to put a disclaimer before the film starts, admitting the ‘huge’ blunder committed.

Madhuri Dixit’s comeback film, Aaja Nach Le, suffered a similar fate. The title track of the song not only wooed the audiences but also managed to anger Mayawati, the self-proclaimed mother of all Dalits, so much that she approached the Prime Minister, asking him to put a nation-wide ban on the film. The reason was simple – the song implied that cobblers aspire to be goldsmiths, ‘bole mochi bhi khud ko sonar hai’ to be exact. These words were demeaning to Mayawati and her people, who said that they had no aspirations to be sonars and such suggestions were simply out of place. Of course, it never occurred to them that these verses were not meant to indicate their societal aspirations but were rather the result of the songwriter’s poetic ambitions (that were challenged not only challenged in Uttar Pradesh but across the country as well, thanks to Mayawati.)

Kaminey, on the other hand, is still floating in a sea of controversies. The film has hurt the sentiments of two Indian communities, that is not counting the narrow escape from the Marathi manoos. The chartbuster Dhan Tana that we all are well acquainted with, had made enemies with the Teli samaj even before the film’s release. ‘Til Til Tara Mira Teli ka Tel’ – this particular lyric in the first verse of the song was found offensive by the Teli Samaj who demanded that this line should be excluded from the song. Keeping this apart, there is also the matter of Jagannath devotees all across India who are raising their voices against the derogation of their lord in the film. In a scene of Kaminey, the phrase ‘apna haath Jagannath’ is inscribed on a toilet door and to the shock of Jagannath followers, it was placed near a semi-naked girl. Such insult of lord almighty was not tolerated by it’s loyal devotees and as of now, the film is amidst a public interest litigation in Orrisa, which demands deletion of the scene form the film.