Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
A perfect Saturday afternoon beckoned me. An early lunch was had, the house was quiet and the prospect of dropping off into an uninterrupted sleep was enough to make me smile.
One phone call changed all that. Amitabh Bachchan is on his way to the hospital, a source said and he is sick. The first thing that registered in my mind was “I hope he is ok” and then the journalistic instinct kicked in.
Frantic calls to his office, the hospital and his doctor followed. Details became clearer, the situation calmed down a bit and everyone heaved a collective sigh of relief. Many of us couldn’t help but go back in time to 2005 when Bachchan was recuperating in the same hospital. The focus on him then was immense.
There were hourly updates on news channels, reporters stationed outside the hospital 24×7 and thousands thronged to Lilavati Hospital, as if their presence might have made a difference. Prayer meetings were held and the entire film industry held its breath.
Normally, I do not care much for actor Rajinikanth’s bullet splitting or his iconic cigarette flip.
But as the government gears up to implement the ban on smoking in public places, I realise that the “long arm of the law” (apparently an all-time favourite dialogue of the celluloid police) may one day also extend to Bollywood.
Having grown up on the antics of Bollywood’s Supermen with their rakish head tilts and outrageous stunts, I cannot help but feel a twinge of fear at the thought of the censor board ever sanitizing on-screen smoking scenes.
Try as I might, I cannot imagine a docile, law abiding on-screen Rajinikanth sans his unbelievable cigarette stunt.
In my college years it gave us women endless joy to see male classmates end up red-faced while trying to imitate the southern hero.