Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
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.
Why smoke at all if you cannot toss the cigarette in air, let it flip thrice, catch it with your lips and light it with a single match stick scraped carelessly on your boot.
Ajit in those days was the cigar-puffing gentleman gangster in numerous Bollywood movies with henchmen whose collective intelligence was nothing to write home about.
His characteristic nasal twang and deadpan expression became a rage in the 70s.
The cigar between his teeth became as much a part of his persona as his hilarious punch lines directed mostly at his moll ‘Mona darling’.
If smoking scenes are ever censored in Indian movies, I’m afraid the famous “Dum Maro Dum” song from the 70′s popular flick “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” – a soul cry for all smokers of dope – would be the first one on the chopping block.
No film has ever managed to simultaneously glorify and mock the “Flower Children” generation as much as this Dev Anand-Zeenat Aman flick with its vivid scenes of a hippie commune swaying to trance music in a drugged stupor .
I always found it interesting that very few leading men in the 60s and 70s were ever shown taking an occasional puff.