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Male bonding big in Bollywood - at what cost?

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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After "Masti", suddenly a whole lot of films on the theme of male bonding seem to be appearing in Bollywood.

Taking a delectable peep at the mating games of three bosom pals played by Vivek Oberoi, Ritesh Deshmukh and Aftab Shivdasani, "Masti" revives the genre mastered by real-life brothers Ashok Kumar, Anup Kumar and Kishore Kumar in "Chalti Ka Naam Gadi" five decades ago.

The madcap sense of fun and the delightfully comic mating games of a trio of heroes were revived in the new millennium in films like "Mohabbatein", "Dil Chahta Hai" and "Dil Vil Pyar Vyar".

But in the last two years other themes such as law enforcement took precedence over films on male bonding.

Now actors are more than willing to get together in festive splendour.

While Indra Kumar's "Masti" takes a wacky look at male bonding, Mani Ratnam's "Yuva" delineates the crisscrossing paths of three long-term friends, played by Ajay Devgan, Abhishek Bachchan and Vivek Oberoi as they choose separate options in life.

"Yuva" is already being perceived as the natural successor to Farhan Akhtar's much lauded "Dil Chahta Hai".

There are other directors planning and plotting to bring the male gender into a clasp of blood, bacchanalia and bonhomie.

In producer Gaurang Doshi's "Deewaar: Let's Bring Our Heroes Home", opening May 28, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and Akshaye Khanna play soldiers making their weary way back home across the border.

Needless to say the feminine presence in all these films is drastically diminished. This gender polarisation comes at an interesting juncture in the history of mainstream commercial cinema.

Films about women, featuring female protagonists at the helm, are becoming increasingly sex-oriented. Barring "Satta" and "Shakti", all the other recent heroine-oriented films have celebrated female sexuality.

At a time like this, the harvest of films on male bonding in the summer season beginning with Indra Kumar's "Masti" and Ahmed Khan's "Lakeer", starring Sunny Deol, Suniel Shetty, John Abraham and Sohail Khan, in the first two weeks of April signal a gender bias in mainstream cinema.

What has happened to the good old gender-driven dramas where Kajol could rub shoulders with Shah Rukh Khan on the basketball court in "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai"?


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