The spat between the Bollywood star, Kangana Ranaut, and the Shiv Sena Member of Parliament, Sanjay Raut, is yet another story that the news channels have lapped on to for their noisy debates. The story was so damn inconsequential initially that, ideally, it did not warrant any human attention. But, it has been played up for the large scale consumption by gullible Indian audiences – who are looking for entertainment from real life characters.
If BJP was in power in Maharashtra and any actor who is seemingly pro-Congress, or even just about indifferent to BJP, had made a statement of the kind Kangana made, I am wondering if the BJP MPs would have behaved differently. BJP and Shiv Sena were ideological bed-fellows for more than three decades and parted ways for nothing but differences on power sharing. Sanjay Raut’s statements and the language used about Kangana were as out of place and in bad taste as Kangana’s ‘POK’ statement. As a follow through, the Home Minister of the Government of India provided ‘Y Category’ security to Kangana and the BMC reached her office in Pali Hill initially as a part of a ‘routine’ drive to check if she had violated any municipal guidelines and later to demolish the structure. What started off as an impetuous spat resulted in a major issue between political parties and following the story has become a national pastime.
Is the Indian tax payer supposed to pay for the security cover that an actress needs for her going over the top and making some silly comments about a State Government. She can nurture a political ambition and has all the reasons to fulfill it – no one can deny her this right – but her foolishness should not result in a strain on the budget for maintaining law and order. At the same time the State Government in Maharashtra and the BMC should find some priority activities to chase through these trying times rather than carrying out a demolition drive just before she lands up in Mumbai. This is pure vendetta on display. Passionate display of love for the Nation and the State on the part of these two persons – who are wired by the same ideological thread – should not result in such national waste of time and resources. Wish we could ignore these attention-ambitious people who, also, happen to be motormouths. Also, it is neither expected nor warranted that a state government should start settling scores with individuals – howsoever important and irresponsible they are. .
Corona has, for the last six months, taken away some small pleasures of life and one of these is watching movies in theaters. Watching a movie used to be (and, hopefully would soon be) a feel-great experience in itself – the luxury of booking on line and selecting the preferred seats, walking into a lounge that had food courts, ordering snacks that would be served on the seat at the desired time, using washrooms that were cleaner and better lit than the drawing room at home and reclining the seat to stretch and feel the comfort of the perfectly controlled climate. This passionate love for watching movies is because of the satisfaction that one derived from the marked difference in movie watching experience that one had been through. Going to watch a movie in the younger days generally had a conceptualization stage and that required spinning stories for getting the permission for going out of the house for four hours and managing to get the one or two rupees required to buy the tickets. This was followed by the project execution stage and this involved getting into the queue for tickets much before the sale would start, braving the pushing and the awkward touches before getting the tickets from the inverted U shaped opening of the caged counter (now replaced by the stylish box office), waiting for the door to open and then being squeezed in the crowd that used to be competitively huddled to enter the theatre together to grab the rear seats in their respective enclosure. It used to be hot and humid and the fans on the two sides of the walls would not be able to dry the sweat of the even the persons who managed to grab the vantage seats. Snacks inside the theatre meant papads and samosas dispensed from a basket carried by a boy in a banian. Seats in the front stalls had no cushions and the cushioned seats in the first class, invariably, had torn cushions and one could feel the coir fibre coming out from the middle and the sides as well as the bite of bugs.
Despite all the luxuries associated with the ‘Gold Class’ movie watching now, the movies that one remembers and recalls fondly are the ones that had some effort and struggle as a back story. It is not that great movies were produced in the sixties and seventies – it was just that gratification that one got on seeing the favorite stars on screen after the colossal struggle that one went through.