An Open Letter To the film industry


Dear Industry

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

                                                                                     Rabindranath Tagore

Its seven years to this week when CHAK DE! INDIA hit the theatres. It was a movie that even their makers did not give a chance, in their head. The fear of a flop was writ large on their faces. This was evident in their ‘apprehensive promos’. But on the first day, first show itself, the nation was taken over by a storm on the eve of Independence Day. Chak De became an anthem in itself.

But this column today is not to celebrate CHAK DE! INDIA, but to inquire where the spirited girls went. In particular: Sagarika Ghatge, Vidya Malvade, Chitrasi Rawat and Shilpa Shukla.


The last-name stormed the screen last year with her intense portrayal in Ajay Bahl’s B A PASS and collected a slew of awards along the way. A well-deserved applause to an excellent portrayal of Sarika Aunty, who was not only meant to drop clothes and seduce, but also display a lot many emotions blocked up within.

But I guess, the road to this film would not have been easy for Shilpa. Being an ‘outsider’ in an industry dominated by ‘filmi connections’ is always an onerous task. To break through even after a few good performances requires stamina and patience of a different kind. Lesser mortals would have given up. The frustrations within the industry are aplenty, especially so for ‘outsiders’ and girls in particular.

Chitrasi Rawat, that little dynamite, was seen in bit roles in a few movies before disappearing altogether, ditto Vidya Malvade who was last seen in 2012 in 1920: EVIL RETURNS.


It was Sagarika Ghatge as Preeti Sabarwhal who caught the nation’s attention with her pretty face and confident performance. Sadly, she too struggled to make a break-through subsequently. She also was last seen in 2012, in RUSH.

The question remains, why does talent not get a decent run in this industry? Is there something more one needs to do to succeed and get roles? While Shilpa is very much in the hunt in Bollywood, Sagarika too is on the lookout for another break, one that will do justice to her talent.

Apart from these CHAK DE girls, there are many, many more girls and boys who are seeking that one shot to glory, that one big break that will validate the belief they have in themselves. That one shot to freedom in believing that this industry does give a decent run to ‘outsiders’.


On the other hand, speaking of ‘outsiders’, one cannot but salute the hard work and effort put in by Shahrukh Khan, who came from Delhi with stars in his eyes, and no help in this industry. He fought it out, braved the Mumbai weather, in true Chak De style and became the baadshah of Bollywood. No mean feat.

My request to SRK; Sir, you know what it means to be talented and looked over. You also know how frighteningly difficult it is for a newcomer to get a break. Red Chillies could have a division ‘Red Hot Chillies’ which could especially look at talent from beyond the ‘filmi circle’. Just a thought; forgive me for saying this.

That could be your salute to the industry! It’s a dog eat dog world out there, but we can all do our bit if we only realize that there is enough and more for each and every one of us, without being insecure.

Let’s celebrate this Independence Day in Bollywood in the true spirit of freedom… freedom from bias, freedom from nepotism, freedom from ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ freedom from prejudice, freedom from bowing to pressure, freedom from getting back at each other…

C’Mon Bollywood, let’s lead the way to a FREEDOM of a different kind… let’s liberate our minds and welcome talented ‘outsiders’ with open arms and a fair chance to glory.

Martin D’Souza
(This weekly column tries to be as honest as honest can be…)