He is the latest Bollywood name to climb on to the ‘Slam Gajendra Chauhan’ bandwagon. He wrote an article in a well-known daily about how the I&B Ministry is interfering in the working of the film industry. One wished he had not camouflaged his political bias and agenda with his discourse on how the Govt. of India does not seem to care for film art or artistes. He believes he is being treated as low caste ‘bhand’ and ‘mirasi’ and ‘gypsies’ who give cheap performances by the roadside.
He felt slighted over a harmless reference to Bollywood item numbers by the Minister of State, Information & Broadcasting Ministry, Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Bhardwaj considers ‘item numbers’ as the lowliest form of film art or as he puts it the ‘lowest common denominator’ and will prefer to be associated with the ‘highest ones’.
And what is the higher and more progressive form of art according to him? He thinks that the liberal use of expletives is a sign of progressive art. He criticizes the CBFC and calls it ‘regressive’ for not even allowing swear words like ‘saala’, ‘saali’, and ‘lucchey’. He is obviously blowing it out of proportion since we have watched quite a few films with expletive laden dialogues in the past few months. They were all certified ‘A’.
Vishal Bhardwaaj probably would have wished the CBFC to certify them for universal viewing. That would have been really revolutionary since even the film certification regimes of the so-called liberal and progressive western nations don’t allow films with ‘bad’ language to be released for universal viewing.
It’s strange and shocking that these views are coming from the protégé and disciple of Gulzar, the most celebrated lyrics writer, a person who pioneered the trend of item numbers with a super hit song and dance sequence like‘Chal Chaiyan Chaiyan…’ and who even won an Oscar for his ‘Jai Ho’ item number in SLUMDOG MILLIONNARE. So, the ‘chela’ does not seem to have a very high opinion of the body of work of his ‘guru’.
I don’t know how will millions of singers, dancers, street performers, circus artistes, band players, folk singers, folk dancers, and performing artistes of various hues and colors will take their low grading and brow beating by a Bollywood filmmaker. Interestingly, Bhardwaj, who takes great pride in being a Tarantino and Guy Ritchie clone has himself used item numbers like ‘Bidi Jalai Le…’ in his films. I’m sure the ghosts of those item numbers must be haunting him every day.
Or it’s quite possible he had had a bout of amnesia while writing his politically motivated article. He concludes in the article that he would not want to feel if he made a wrong choice in electing this govt. That’s interesting. The fact is this govt. was elected in spite of him as he was one of the signatories to an anti-Modi appeal issued on the eve of 2014 Parliamentary Elections.
(Rajesh Kumar Singh is Editorial Consultant for Festivals and Markets for BollywoodTrade.com. He is a filmmaker, critic and market analyst)
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