Sadhvi Prachi is right: It's time to boycott the Khans and embrace Ayushmann Khurrana

Deepanjana Pal

March 03, 2015 18:15:11 IST

You've got to feel a little bad for the Hindu Right in this country. Left-leaning intellectuals have gone on and on, for years, about how they think Bollywood is spreading misogyny and lust for violence insidiously. Recently, a judge in Australia went so far as to accept that Bollywood's depiction of romances was justification enough for a grown adult male to not know the difference between wooing a woman and stalking her. But here we are, up in arms against poor Sadhvi Prachi because she's said pretty much what all these people have said before here: that Bollywood is driving the nation insane.

While the rest of us came to this understanding after watching Bollywood films, Sadhvi Prachi came to this conclusion after chatting with a kid in Meerut about his life's ambitions.

"He said he wanted to become like Hritik Roshan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan. When I asked why, his mother told me because they are good at doing stunts," the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader disclosed to her audience in Dehradun on Sunday.

Young boys want to grow up to be actors like Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. And their mothers are supporting them in this dastardly plan. Ye gods, the apocalypse must be upon us!

Courtesy: Facebook

Courtesy: Facebook

Never mind the culture of violence fostered by the riots and political violence that have become depressingly staple fare in so many parts of the country. Or even the calls to violence that VHP's own leaders keep making to their congregations. Or the pent-up frustration that is the result of growing economic disparity, unemployment and other fiscal woes. The problem is Bollywood.

So Sadhvi Prachi wants us to boycott pulpy blockbusters by the Khans.

(That, incidentally, is the wet dream of a large number of film critics who watch films like Happy New Year and Kick and feel their brain ooze in a slow trickle out of their ears because of how tortuously stupid these blockbusters are. But never mind the trials and tribulations of being a film critic in India.)

Boycotting the Khans is an excellent idea, even if it is coming a little late in the day. Had Sadhvi Prachi recommended that Bollywood man up and break the stranglehold that A-list actors — that's basically Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan, with the occasional Hrithik Roshan and Akshay Kumar thrown in for variety — a few years earlier, it would have done the industry a world of good. It would have encouraged new talent, made producers pay attention to scripts and direction instead of fixating on which star is being cast, and who knows? We might even have more blockbusters that were also good films in the process.

But not all the Botox and muscle-flexing in the world can change the fact that time is a great leveller. At 49, all three Khans are the old fogeys of Bollywood, desperately trying to stay relevant and clinging to their little starry fiefdoms which are under siege because there are new kids on the block. In a country where 54% of the population is in their twenties and in an age when we are obsessed with youth and youthfulness globally, old is not gold. The Khans are being replaced, slowly but steadily and the younger bunch, Sadhvi Prachi will be happy to know, are mostly Hindu. But she shouldn't breathe too easy. Much like the Khans, the new brigade are happy to have a mix of idiotic comedies, cringe-inducing romances and gory thrillers in their filmography. The only silver lining is that the rising stars of Bollywood aren't opposed to supporting the little indies, which have got a little love from Aamir in recent times and none from either Salman or Shah Rukh Khan at any point. Regardless of how much he messes it up, at least Varun Dhawan will try his hand at a Badlapur.

Speaking of modest indies, I'm disappointed that while lashing out at Bollywood, Sadhvi Prachi didn't point out that there is a film out in theatres now that stars a Khurrana instead of a Khan, and is just the film that should warm all our hearts, regardless of our political leanings. Dum Laga ke Haisha could become the Hindutva brigade's favourite film, the one to screen at annual general gatherings and at indoctrination camps.

Starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pendekar (note: good Hindu names), the film is set in the Hindu, holy city Haridwar. It has no violence, if you ignore minor details like a husband and wife slapping each other and a young man threatening to set himself on fire. Because hey, if it doesn't have stunts and fake blood, it's not real violence, ok? Liberals, make a kachori of emotional violence and stuff your faces with it.

The film's hero is a young man who is deeply committed to his shakha, a gathering of men in shorts (and khaki sweaters) who meet in the morning and do PE together. If that doesn't bring a single tear to the eyes of everyone with an RSS background, I don't know what will. And the cherry on the cake: there's a sub-plot in Dum Laga ke Haisha about the hero's aunt that is bound to make Sadhvi Prachi and gang choke up with emotion. The aunt was married as a child to a gentleman who sent her back to her family without any explanation. While she lives with her brother, hoping against hope that her husband will want her back, her husband goes on tirth-yatra (tours of pilgrimage spots). Surely this angle in Dum Laga ke Haisha will give Jashodaben Modi the warm fuzzies?

Most importantly, though, Dum Laga ke Haisha is a clever and heartwarming film. If Sadhvi Prachi wants a film that promotes good values and a culture of sensitivity instead of non-violence, then this is the one. It could also be one of the few films that both the Hindutva brigade and left-leaning liberals clap for delightedly and openly. It's been a long time since Bollywood saluted that lot so stylishly.

Updated Date: Mar 03, 2015 18:16 PM