Recently veteran actor Manoj Kumar lashed out at Shahrukh Khan and Farah Khan. Om Shanti Om showed a duplicate of Manoj Kumar beaten up by guards. The issue has been blown out. Manoj Kumar threatened to sue the film makers. Shahrukh Khan has in turn apologised.
Did Manoj Kumar over react? Was Shahrukh Khan wrong in imitating the actor? The boundary of decency is always blurred when it involves a person who is sensitive. But at the same time one has to be careful and responsible while depicting some one where there is a high audience. Was M F Hussain’s nude painting in a bad taste? Was Danish cartoonist morally right in his drawings? Was KKK right in carrying out its ugly campaign on blacks? Is it ok to have Sardar jokes?
I argue that the action can only be judged by intention. If the makers of Om Shanti Om had a real intention in hurting the veteran actor then it is in a bad taste. The truth is never apparent. One has to dig deeper to know if Shahrukh Khan or Farah had malicious intentions.
Portraying South Indian movies in a bad light has become a regular trend in Bollywood. In Om Shanti Om we see Shahrukh Khan duping the heroine by telling her that he is a South Indian actor (as if popular actors in Bollywood don’t even recognize south Indian actors). Then he delivers dialogues in some weird language with some Tamil words in between. Shahrukh Khan also does some stunts to mock few South Indian language films. Finally he names half a dozen veteran South Indian actors to make it clear who he was trying to mock.
Such potrayal has become common in some Bollywood circles. But I fear such tactics may backfire.
Where is Bollywood and South Indian industry heading towards?
Bollywood actors in recent times have been trying to portray Hindi movies as representative of Indian movie to international audience. But the international audience has refused to accept Bollywood movies at par with English or Chinese movies. Last year Malayalam superstar Mammooty had lashed out at the Indian international film festival. He said the event should be named Hindi international film festival. Bollywood hasn't learnt anything.
The problem with Bollywood movies lie at the strong cultural element rather than the content and creativity. The international audience doesn’t find the cultural element amusing. The jokes on South Indians or sardars don’t tickle them.
If you take South Indian movies, the progress in content and creativity is much better than Bollywood. Over the decades, South Indian movies have delivered best music directors, choreographers, directors and technicians. South Indian movies are making in roads to places like Japan where Bollywood has failed. The South Indian movies also make sure not to mock or disrespect one another or even the Bollywood movies. This positive spirit has caused the four language industry to come together.