If you've seen Imtiaz Ali's Rockstar, there should be a nagging doubt that bothers you. While every song in the film is so beautifully woven in with its complex, layered plot, there's one song that stands out as being meaningless: Sadda Haq.
While the song itself is quite catchy, whose haq is Ranbir Kapoor, a singer, talking about? The haq to be a troubled artiste? The haq to have an unmanageable beard and loose, bohemian clothes? It was truly confusing.
However, five years later (Rockstar was released in 2011) there's finally a film where we feel the song truly fits in. Imtiaz Ali recently shared a short film of his on Facebook, titled India Tomorrow, which revolves around a short (naturally) but entertainingly gripping conversation between a sex worker and her client, about stock markets.
Through the film, Ali managed to debunk all the notions you have about prostitution, gender and even the financial world.
India Tomorrow starts in a seedy room where two people are supposedly having sex. The man gets a phone call from someone in the middle, where he learns that the stock market has crashed and he has effectively lost all his money. However, to his surprise, the sassy sex worker mumbles sound financial advice that catches his attention. What follows, is a rather fun conversation between the two.
Imtiaz Ali has always managed to tell fascinating stories about two people and their relationship (read: Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met and more recently Tamasha). He sticks to this memo in India Tomorrow, and even though the timeline has been crunched down to 5 minutes, it still leaves you sufficiently curious about the two people in question.
The female character is a fiesty sex worker, who has ample knowledge about world and current affairs, which includes the financial world. "News nahi dekhte ho kya?" she flippantly asks her client when he questions how she knows so much. And it's as simple as that. No elaborate explainations.
What I loved the most about the film is not just Ali's non-judgemental portrayal of two starkly different professions, but also the man's acceptance of this gender debunking. At the end of the film, upon realising that the woman in front of him is so knowledgable, the man tells her very proudly that she could easily become an investment banker.
The assumption here is that sex workers are forced to make their living with something demeaning, and socially unacceptable. However, she is quick to ask him to shut it. "I can take care of myself, you worry about you," she says.
The film ends with a faster version of Rockstar's 'Sadda Haq' with real life footage of sex workers. They are seen taking selfies with Imtiaz Ali, and posing like bosses for the camera. The last 30 seconds of the film definitely justifies the use of the song. My only criticism would be the amateur text running through the film. It gives the impression of being a film made by an intern, and not Imtiaz Ali, but the concept overpowers this all.
Apart from the fact that India Tomorrow is an intelligent, crisp and progressive film, it's also understated in the most beautiful way, not trying to boast about how effectively it makes its point in 5 minutes. It's a simple film, with an interesting concept. That's Imtiaz Ali for you, ladies and gents.
Watch India Tomorrow here: