When the IT minister attempted to downsize the economy’s problems by quoting the collection in movie theatres on Oct 02, the main culprit was the movie, WAR that was released on the day. The movie netted a cool 78 crores on opening day.
The movie has been mounted on a 100 crore budget complete with foreign action directors. It has hunks as the main protagonists with drop dead good looks, six packs and rippling muscles to boot. It has jaw dropping stunts and flying kicks galore, the more scary stuff done by the heroes in long shots allowing the doubles to do the dirty work for them.
By latest reckoning it has clocked 300 crores and may well end up in the 400 crore bracket. With an adverse sex ratio a fact of life, there is little doubt that this movie is primarily eyeing the young male audience. It is an unabashed celebration of the male psyche, overawing the viewer through form rather than content. It is good old escapist stuff and the attempt has obviously worked.
Surprisingly there are no girls of the type that are usually part of this kind of package. The female lead is more to show the heart of gold that our hunks have rather than the skin show associated with such efforts.
The entire movie is standard male candy floss. It is Mills and Boon testosterone if you will pardon the blasphemous mix of genres and it is par for such course.
There was another biggie in the year 2019 that also celebrated testosterone. If WAR handles the physical aspect of the male hormone, this movie concentrated in highlighting more the emotional mess ups of the male hormone.
The movie is Kabir Singh named after the central figure in the story. Coincidentally the name of the Hrithik Roshan character in WAR is also Kabir. The original Kabir must be turning in his grave to see such machismo associated with his pristine name.
Shahid Kapoor, the hero of Kabir Singh is no Greek God kind of male unlike the two in WAR. In a country with the dubious distinction of having the highest malnourished kids in the world, he is more the kind that a kid on the block can identify with.
With movies like Haider and Udta Punjab under his belt, he appears to be the go to guy in Bollywood for that half crazed, frenzied, over the top kind of persona. He has not disappointed his producers who are laughing all the way to the bank.
His character in this movie has anger issues, indulges in violence to resolve issues, is a misogynist, knows no rules or decorum and of course does not get the girl he loves thanks to her parents. He proceeds to self destruct in a Devdas kind of way, binging on alcohol with drugs and violence as added attributes. Oh he is also a successful surgeon through all this.
The movie takes the viewer through this tortuous self destruct journey and generates a happy ending in the last few scenes as if by way of compensation. It had a budget of 68 crores and amassed a cool 380 crores by way of business.
And that is simply put, curious. It has no big names to talk of, no exciting locales, and no overwhelming stunts. Kapoor is not that kind of star who gets great openings for his movies. His last solo biggie was, Jab We Met, in 2007.
It is a movie that has obviously struck a chord predominantly with the young male audience. It is hard to imagine girls enjoying his treatment of women he deals with. Simply put they are treated like dirt and still ask for more. The movie has done well in metros as well as the other centers, establishing the fact that social changes if any are still skin deep in our country.
The approach to women in the movie has been commented upon by activists but can be explained by the patriarchal mindset that our society is still gripped by. After all we are still figuring out if girls should carry cell phones or they should wear pants or be Sanskari.
It is the way he deals with authority and regulation in the movie is the aspect that is different. And that is what should be disturbing the bigger brains in social sciences. What comes through about the male protagonist is the central fact that he is so angry and frustrated with his environment that he knows only one way to deal with it; to threaten to walk away or get violent or get violent and walk away. And the movie shows him succeeding with this approach.
Whether it is the dean or the warden at college or the hospital or the OT or the girl’s parents or even his own family; his approach is the same. He is aggressive, violent, ready to walk away and more. Sadly it is the approach of a loser and there is no other way to describe it. And the crowds seem to have loved it.
Is the success of these movies therefore just a fluke or maybe it is the angst of a young generation facing the brunt of the highest level of unemployment in 45 years with skill levels unable to cope with job requirements and thus deprived of fruits associated with the ladder of success. And sadly they seem to see very little light at the end of the tunnel. So it is escapist fare or downright self flagellation.
Apologies but it is a view slightly different from the IT minister’s about our current times.
- Blog post by Rakesh Chopra .. He blogs at https://decipheringnews.wordpress.com