Friday, June 03, 2005

Movies - Rajni and Shah Rukh Khan

Last week, I met an old classmate (of college days) of mine and we talked about almost everything under the sun, The years that went by, old flames, new friends, Past ego hassles, Movies et. al. It was an interesting time overall and we agreed both of us have changed quiet a bit. She has too, except when it came to some weird maniacal obsession with her matinee idol "King Khan". According to her, she and her whole family have never missed a single Shah Rukh khan movie first day first show. Never missed a show of his in Bangalore. I am not quiet surprised by the female fascination of Shah Rukh Khan. But guys? blowing French kisses when he sings "Thum Paas Aaye, youn muskuraye"... That kind of shit makes me squirm..

I decided, that there is a bit of soul searching that I have to do and also examine dispassionately this phenomenon so that I can better grapple with whats happening. What’s wrong, is it me ? or is it the world I live in. I desperately needed to solve this disconnect.

I hail from Chennai. Lived my life in alwarpet, mylapore and T.Nagar. Friends mainly from tondiarpet, mylpaore, ayodhya kuppam. Ever since my childhood, I have been a boy of the streets playing street cricket, kings, mudug puncture (for a detailed description of this game of raw power, accuracy and manliness please wait for the next post titled “The games we played”) , Seven stones etc. Women have always been restricted to a dry comment once in a while of "super figure machi". My closest friends had names such as Jayapal, Rames, sottai. The ramakrishnans and Sunderramans were classmates who I rarely hung out with. Bryan adams, mettalica etc. etc. were English music fundas the iyer boys used to give and so was Kambodhi, Thodi and Kalyyani (carnatic rags). I was not that dextrous. For me, it has always been thalaivar songs (thalaivar equates with leader. At times, it is Rajni, Ilayaraja, SPB, Jesudass and even Deva). The hero worship was immense and virulent, cos Rajni represented all our ambitions, aspirations, and he was always an underdog changing the world order. It was a carefully cultivated image by Rajni. All his songs right from "Annan yenna, thambi enna" had a deeper meaning of life and were mildly philosophical.

Movies have always been "Rajni" and always "Rajni". A trip to a Rajni movie used to be an affair to remember. It starts the day when thalaivar announces the name. Immediately all the manrams (clubs) would be buzz with activity and sub manrams used to vie for the biggest honour. It was a show of strength. Right from sticking posters to putting up banners. The responsibility was onerous. Thalaivars' movie should beat the record. The territories would be divided and every known person contacted and goaded to make a trip to the theatre. The watching experience itself was a challenge. Right from getting the ticket and getting into the theatre, setting out flyers when "Super Star Rajni" comes on the screen. Whistling, dancing, shouting, clapping, and lighting up a thousand wala (inside the theatres). It was a carnival. The whole experience from organising till making sure the movie is seen the mandated 10 times was simply mind blowing.

As I grew up, I grew out of rajni, drifted to Kamal and Barathi Raja, even ventured into adoor, Sathyajth Ray, Shyam benegal, Ram gopal Verma, John Mathew mattan. I started understanding Rajni movies and the values they stand for. It gives the poor common man, a sympathizer and a sense of identity. If he cannot challenge Amma, there is always Rajni who could.

The jewel of the crown was in 1993 elections. Rajni and amma live in the same street - Poes garden. Amma was used to traveling in an entourage of 50 cars and holding up the traffic sometimes for an hour or two. In one such occasion outside his own house, Rajni was caught in a jam and he decided enough was enough. In true style, he got out of his car and walked straight out on the road. The crowd mobbed him and swelled all over him. He continued walking and Amma's juggernaut came to a screeching halt. The police couldnt do a shit and Amma and her entourage had to wait till Rajni reached his house. All that culminated in Rajni giving a loaded statement "If jayalalitha came to power, no one can save tamilnadu". Amma lost power and her deposit in bargur. The message was clear and simple "Dont mess with rajni, he will stand for the poor and question injustice. He will stop Amma for you".

That was years back and now Rajnis movies seldom appeal to me except for nostalgia of the golden time. I moved onto Coimbatore, Pune and Mumbai. My dream of studying in Pachaiyappas (a college of ill-repute but super cool attitude) remained a dream. even Tamil movies changed to relationships and romances. I dont mind romantic turns, but should be a natural part of movie. I cant take too much sweet. I am diabetic. I moved on to English and voraciously saw movies of a different kind. I understood the world was larger and grew steadily and sometimes fast.

As I moved from town to town, then country-to-country, I made a lot of friends. Discussed movies, understood other cultures and values. I adapted a large part of my experiences and changed my outlook to life. My old friends laugh at me, If I say "lets go for an english movie". I am a changed man compared to the 90s. As I undertand there is a lot to life than just romance and when life is so balanced, I expect the movies to be balanced too. That’s where the Shah Rukh-Karan Johar movies bewilder me.

My first Shah Rukh movie was Bazzigarh and frankly I liked it. After that came a string of romantic movies of the sensitive kind, where the King Khan almost seemed to be a girl. To start with he wears lipstick, and is immaculately groomed – no sign of roughness. In almost all his movies he is international, lives out of london, has a super rich father and wears swanky suits in Mumbai. Now the only people who wore suits were the corporate honchos and the cuff parade waalas. And you need to have an AC car and a chauffer to carry a suit gracefully. Imagine getting into the borivili fast at Andheri with a Raymond suit on :D. Back to the topic, It looks to me as if the hero’s purpose in life was to bag the girl and nothing else. At least nothing else is shown. He rarely works somewhere and he cries profusely almost as immediately as a teen. Looks as though he was a hero created to satisfy the maternal instincts of a female. The heroes they wanted to connect with. It was not a hero without an identity of his own. There is a big disconnect between this world and myself. I can not understand this imagery and portrayal of a character. There is no one like that I know. Perhaps someone can throw some light.

All questions started when I found my 12 year old niece screaming for Shah Rukh Khan. All the mushy-mushy karva chauth, connecting with the heroine, her mother, her sister and her whole family, bearing of deep emotions out in the open is fine. But men, going ga ga over these phenomena stumped me totally. One of my friends was expressive in his narration of how Shah Rukh khan would connect with Kajol's mom in DDLJ. I was damm embarrassed hearing it narrated. The only comparison to this awestruck admiration was when Jayapal my friend years ago narrated how Rajni the underdog, tames telugu action queen Vijay Shanthi in Mannan. Just these two images side by side stressed me out totally. They were the total opposite ends of my movie experience. Is not all this bearing of innermost feelings unnatural? I even thought there is something wrong with me. I tried rehearsing it with my friend and changing my style. She just said "Vasu you look ridiculous".

Nowadays I walk out of theaters when a movie is lousy (English, Tamil or Hindi). After my old obsession with rajni died down, I watched and appreciated all good movies that make people think and those that focused on life. I walk out of movies that are bad and no chick flick unless there is a chick around. The only exception was Govinda and I am a great fan of comedy. All kinds - charlie chaplin, crazy mohan, Jim carrey. My all time favourite was and is Office space. Where does Shah Rukh - Karan Johar fit in all this is too difficult to fathom for my mind?

Maybe I am not mature enough to understand the subtle nature of those emotions and expressions. I dread the day when I start understanding these. Kindly dont be offended by my dislike of King Khan. I assure you, I tried my very best, but really cant come to like him or his chum buddy Karan Johar.


At 7:15 PM, Blogger Archana said...

Frankly enough,there was a time I liked candy floss movies like DDLJ, Hum aapke hain kaun and God knows why! Maybe just for entertainment. These movies I still like but movies like K3G, Kal Ho na ho, Veer Zaara bore me out...I'm tired of watching these.
Btw, Rajni is originally from Karnataka, isnt he?

At 6:12 AM, Blogger perspective said...

my you write too!@@@!!!
nice to have you around on the blogging community..
Welcome Welcome Vasu!!


At 10:07 AM, Blogger gulnaz said...

lol, the first thing to do, when watching hindi movies is to switch off the thinking side of your brain. they are just candy-floss for most part. though i think srk is cute, the idea of men too finding him cute is eew! ;) anyways i didnt know he wears lipsticks, how silly, i like his articulateness when he gives interviews and he comes across as someone with a sense of humour too.

anyway thanks for dropping by, come again. :)

At 1:02 AM, Blogger ada-paavi!!!! said...

i to cant stand candy floss hindi stuff, stopped watching hindi movies unless they r brilliant like black, anywas i watch tamil n enlish movies, there is not much of a diff in the a verage quality between them. XXX2 is american propoganda with mindblowing action sequences, Vijaykanth movies r personal propoganda plus patriotism with action, both r crap, how to lose a guy in 10 days in no different from a normal ajith or vijay tamil movie. in the end the mundane movies of all kinds r the same with flashes of brilliance, a pianist, 16 vaithilae, nayakan or black. rajini movies r the theatre expreience than the movies themselves. candramukhi first day first show was more about the experience than the movie, fans oging gaga over their thalai, thats wat i like about his movies (his fans r similar to MGR of yesterday and Vijay of tomm - he wants to mould himself in that fashion)

At 5:38 AM, Blogger Vodka said...

ha..i knew this post wasn't very far from being published the day u sent me an invite!! to tell you the truth(which u have to promise never ever to discuss with me later!!) i think SRK movies are made for women like me..i would just love to go to a theatre and cry when SRK says,"ma ne kaha paro chod do,paro ne kaha sharab chod do..ek din ayega,jab woh kahega,duniya chod do.."

see,i might be mad,but i love it!! and who says i have to be normal? or sane?!!!!

At 5:39 AM, Blogger Vodka said...

oh and BTW,i am sorry for having left SRK garbabge on your blog,if u wanna delete...

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Archana said...

Someone's a regular in updating !! :P

At 12:25 AM, Blogger Vasu the terrible said...

Vodka - You seem to know too much about me, are you using your third eye already ??? or am I that predictable ???

As regards to the other matter, I agree with :)


At 7:54 PM, Blogger Vodka said...

ha are that predictible..dont worry,when i do use my third eye,you shall know!

i see the ocean getting smaller, in sight yet?!!

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Vasu the terrible said...

Is that a good sign or what ???

ocean getting smaller...


At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

missing classmate


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