Bollywood dutifully reported in full strength to the invitation sent by the Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh for a pow-wow to discuss and have a better understanding of each other.
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It was called an ‘interface’ with the express objective of making cinema, television and small screen an instrument of positive social change. It was held in the swanky and imposing conference hall of the newly commissioned RTO office at Andheri West, Mumbai. Among the top cops present were the Police Commissioner Mr. Satypal Singh, the Jt. Police Commissioner Crime Mr. Himanshu Roy, the Additional CP Mr. Vishwas Nangre Patil, and the ACP Sadanand Date.
Among the Bollywood big guns were Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Farhan Akhtar, Madhur Bhandarkar, Prakash Jha, Rakeyesh Omprakash Mehra, Ashutosh Govarikar, Javed Akhtar, Salim Khan, Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt, Sajid Khan, Suneel Darshan, Satish Kaushik, Rajkumar Hirani, Shriram Raghavan, Atul Agnihotri, Nagesh Kukunoor, Bonny Kapoor, Sajid Nadiadwala, Nitin Chadrakant Desai, Sachin Pilgaonkar, Vikram Gokhale, Manish Goswami, Robin Bhatt, Vinay Shukla, Ketan Desai, B.P. Singh, and others. The queen of the Indian Idiot Box Ekta Kapoor was also present. Ashoke Pandit was the chief organizer and Shekhar Suman conducted the proceedings.
The prominent among the few missing names were the Khans, and Big B.
The interaction was apparently, as reported by insiders, an image building exercise. The Mumbai police seem quite concerned about the portrayal of police and women in Bollywood films and the way it impacts society. This became evident in Vishwas Nangre Patil’s opening remarks when he talked about value systems, Gandhi, crime against women, and the dangers of an attitude like ‘pleasure without conscience’. An audio-visual presentation was made that particularly emphasized Bollywood item numbers; the lurid lyrics of songs, and the way item girls were depicted in them. It contained footage and newspaper reports highlighting how the item numbers objectified women and in what ways that might lead to criminal behavior. Shabana Aazmi was shown expressing her sense of deep disgust over them in one of the TV clips.
According to sources, the AV that looked like an exercise in showing a mirror to Bollywood filmmakers drew strong reactions from the unofficial spokespersons of Bollywood – Javed Akhtar and Mahesh Bhatt. They defended the industry in their eloquent remarks and said that there was no definite evidence that Bollywood item numbers are the cause of the rising crime rate against women. They also felt that cinema mirrors society and vulgarity in films was nothing new and it’s the police that had to make amends and win the confidence of people. It has always existed since the beginning of the film industry. Javed Akhtar went to the extent of suggesting that Cinema actually prevents crime and it’s evident from the fact that the parts of the country that have fewer cinema halls have greater rate of crime against women.
The Jt. Police Commissioner Crime Mr. Himanshu Roy intervened at this juncture and made it clear that the intention of the opening remarks of Mr. Patil and the content of the AV was not to blame anyone and the police in no way is interested in moral policing of any kind. He said that the meeting was called as part of the initiative of the Mumbai police to have an interface with various sections of society and since Bollywood defines the city, the Mumbai Police felt it necessary to engage with it. He invited suggestions to improve the relationship of Mumbai police and Bollywood and discover ways both can work together for common causes.
The noted film writer Salim Khan felt that a mother plays an important role in shaping the character of children and making them law-abiding citizens. Farhan Akhtar suggested that the romance portrayed in films leaves deep impressions on young minds since that’s the only reference point they have to learn about things like that. And at times the kind of eve teasing we show in films can lead to distorted social behavior. Akshay Kumar said that there should be fear of the police and the law in the minds of the people to stop them from indulging in criminal behavior.
The meeting reportedly ended with the comments of the Police Commissioner who said that filmmakers are creative people and they think ahead of society and can reach through their imagination where no one else can reach. He quoted the couplet ‘Jahan na pahunche Ravi, wahan pahunche Kavi’ (A poet can reach where even the Sun cannot). He felt that such fertile imagination crossed certain limits at times and created problems and the police and the filmmakers both should act responsibly in unison in building a better and a crime free society.
Since it was the birthday of Boney Kapoor, the conference ended on a pleasant note with the cutting of his birthday cake, and people congratulating him.
Rajesh Kumar Singh (the author) is Editorial Consultant for Festivals and Markets for Glamsham.com. He is a filmmaker, critic and market analyst. The information and views set out in this movie review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the Publication/Organization. Neither the Publication/Organization nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.