Monday, June 06, 2005

Glamourizing the Gutter

This weekend we went to see "D". Thought we went on only the second day of the movie, most of the crowd at the Innovative Multiplex was still drew in by "Bunty and Babli". This post isn't a review for the movie, that should take another post I guess. This post is about the image bollywood is presenting of the underworld. I'm not criticizing the movie here, the movie was "entertaining" but I'm not sure if I would say it was "meaningful". Basically, I'm real sick and tired of all these gangster movies; glamourizing the deeds of sick minds like Dawood Ibrahim & Chhota Rajan.

Firstly, these movies try to portray the gangsters like real bravehearts. "Is line mein experience nahi, daring ka zaroorat hai" -- uggh! How to define braveness? Where is the courage in shooting unarmed people, hiding bombs in markets/buses/cinema halls to kill innocent masses, bullying businessmen to pay hafta?! Beats me big time! In my opinion, gangsters are plain sick people, who don't have enough balls to sweat their way up. Now, the circumstances are highlighted following which the boy-next-door got transformed into real lead-pumping, chest-thumping, dance-bar-regular don. There is this silly notion that "Koi apni marzi se is line mein nahi aata". Bullshit! It's their criminal psyche and lust for easy money that drives people into underworld. Almost all of these movies start with a boy with a humble background (and an ugly stubble). Some event or the other pushes the boy to take the road less traveled leading to the dark alleys of the underworld. Once inside the game, he starts to ride up the ladder because of his work-ethics (??!) & hard work (??!) and of course, daring. Now, don't we all just love this lower middle class rags to riches story, but I seriously don't think this is the case in reality. Most of the bigshots in the underworld started as small pickpockets or hafta-vasooli goons. Everyday thousands of souls land in Mumbai with a dream to make a decent living; if all of them get recruited by the underworld, just like the movie-wallas love to believe, the city will literally go to the dogs!

Next, the movie-wallas are totally in love with the Robin Hood image of our friendly don next door. If Raghu helps his old neighbour (because the don used to steal his hens), it must be taken as bigheartedness on his part. What about all the families which got shattered because of their shootouts, bomb blasts, cold-blooded murdering, etc.? Moreover, some dons, like Arun Gawli, like to patronize particular localities, which helps them later to nurture their main-bhi-politician dream. In "D", taking up the underworld is portrayed as just another career choice for Deshu. Just as natural as anyone taking up medicine or engineering. Verbatim from the movie -- "Normal log gangsters ke baare mein jyada jaanta nahi. Hum log bhi apna kaam karte hain. Koi doctor banta hai, koi engineer; Main gangster hai." Whaaaadd? Is this the real world of Ram Gopal Varma? If some people, typically from the lower middle class, like to color their hands red to sate their itch for power & money, is it to be taken as another career option?!

I don't want to enter in another effects-on-young-minds debate, my main crib is about the obvious attempt to glorify the gore. Why can't Bollywood come up with a film about middle class dreams of India; about a message boy on trading floor rising up to be big name in the equity market; about an engineer from humble backgrounds making worldwide splash in software scene; about a sporting talent making big against all the odds? More importantly, would these movies make big bucks just like the gangster movies do? Is this the verdict given by the audience? Oh My God!! What kind of society is this!?!


anangbhai said...

Not that I've seen the film but you're right about the glamorization of violence. I don't mind the violence, but it's got to have a significance in the film you can't just keep popping every person every 5 seconds.
I think David Cronenberg does a good job of keeping the boundary between violence and senseless killing in his films. Check hsi movies out if you haven't already. The Fly, Naked Lunch, eXistenZ, Crash(1995) etc.

Aman said...

Varun your observations on Gangster movies in general couldn’t have been described better. It felt as though a long time thirst to speak out against the trashy stories about the lives of gangsters as portrayed by the much intellectually bankrupt ‘Bollywood’, had been satiated.

I agree with you completely when you say “In my opinion, gangsters are plain sick people, who don't have enough balls to sweat their way up.”

Also the inane punch dialogues of such movies are just a crowd stirrer and have as much resemblance to reality as a skin diseased crow would have to the hind of a dinosaur !

Satyajit said...

IMO, you shouldn't say it glamorization. The movie was shown with the point of view of the gangster. Even the narrative at the end is given by another gangster. Now if people take it as the good way, then there is something wrong with those people. And for this reason you can not impede someone's freedom of expression. They certainly are baddies and when they say those dialogues and they are just hiding themselves from their guilt feelings. It's just my vague view and am open to discussion.

Varun Singh said...

@anangbhai: I haven't seen any of Cronenberg's movies. I'll try to get my hands on them asap.

@aman: Thanks for your comment. Closest film to "reality", IMO, could be "Gardish (Jackie Shroff, Amrish Puri, Mukesh Rishi)". "Gulam" did a good job too

@Jha: Why such films, which "glorify" baddies are accepted so well, could be a topic of intense psychological study. I can't imagine any solid reasons right now. All the gangster movies do glorify the dark occupation! No two ways about it. In the name of reality, they portray a skewed picture, presenting those goons as real goldenhearted Robin Hoods! Even if it was spoken using the gangsters narrative, that doesn't make it otherwise. I think every drug peddler, every crook, every dishonest official, every corrupt politician has a story to tell. But then we have the truth too!

Reshma Sanyal said...

Is it my imagination or has your blog changed and improved tenfold since my last visit here?

Varun Singh said...

Hehehe. Thanks Reshma. I did change the template a bit & nowadays I'm writing only when I feel strongly. Nice to know it has improved, that was the motive when I started :)