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Bollywood’s grazing on Indian politics and filmmaking

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When everyone is trying to please this or that political party, how Bollywood can resist its temptation; most of the Bollywood actors have lauded Modi for his leadership. They have praised every initiative taken by him and Bollywood has majorly lent its support to the government. Frankly speaking, a very few in Bollywood are capable of thinking. The few who can rationally think are mostly left-leaning theatre people who very obviously can’t digest the fact that Modi is at the helms of the affair. Rest is so lost in the box office ratings that for them, the world outside the studio and their apartments don’t exist. May it be Aamir Khan or Salman Khan, they can play roles and deliver dialogues but can’t think beyond their movie characters (remember that rape analogy by Salman for extreme hard work or leaving India comment by Aamir on intolerance). There are people like Shabana Azami and Anurag Kashyap who are extremely anti-Modi and then there are Anupam Kher and Paresh Rawal who are hardcore Modi supporters but most of the Bollywood guys won’t openly take sides for the fear of public outrage.

Bollywood actors and personalities have a lot at stake when their movies are released and one wrong statement or scene or dialogue in the movie can cause the difference between hit and flop. Well! These days, the directors are not only rendering their support to the politicians by voicing opinion but some have randomly become the slaves of today’s politics; to appease the ruling government, there were many movies made attacking the previous Congress government and its leaders, such as Indu Sarkar is a 2017 Indian period political film directed by Madhur Bhandarkar who is a staunch Modi supporter. The film is set in the period of the emergency in India, i.e. the 21-month-long period from 1975 to 1977 when there was a state of emergency across the country. The film was released on July 28, 2017, with a few cuts. In that film, the director and the actors have tried to show the atrocities done by then PM Indira during an emergency. However, the Indian population is smarter than the politicians and filmmakers, there were no buyers for the film and it got miserably flopped.

The Accidental Prime Minister is another disaster, a biographical film directed by Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, based on the 2014 memoir of the same name by Sanjaya Baru. It stars Anupam Kher as Manmohan Singh, the economist and politician who served as the Prime Minister of India from 2004 to 2014 under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Then there were movies like “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha” to promote Modi’s Swachh Bharat mission, then “Uri: The Surgical Strike” to convince people that the surgical strike was real; in spite of all these movies, the BJP recently lost in four Hindu heartland states.

Modi failed on most of the election promises he made — Lokpal, corruption, black money, GDP, good governance, price rise, petrol, jobs — during 2014. So now, all drill is about the PR. In this saga, the poster of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi biopic was released recently, days after it was announced that Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi would be essaying the role of PM Modi in the movie. The poster features Vivek Oberoi with prosthetics, makeup, grey hair, and beard wearing a Kurta. The background has National Flag against the backdrop of sunrise. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis unveiled the poster.

Vivek Oberoi, one jobless Bollywood actor who has no future here, is trying to get in the good books of the BJP; after this movie, he might not have much to do in films but he can opt for a potential career with the BJP. Only time will decide if this movie can generate some fan following for Modi or not, but this movie can definitely fetch the future for jobless, faded actor Vivek Oberoi.

When the BJP supporters came up with multiple movies, the Congress supporters too got in competition by launching teaser of the movie “My Name is RaGa”. It’s the story of a person who had been ridiculously attacked. Anyone who has fearlessly confronted defeat and failure can relate to this story. In that sense, it is the story of an individual who becomes unstoppable after a victory over a catastrophic life. The announcement of a film on Rahul Gandhi is the latest in the season of political biopics. In January, the first poster of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biopic was released. In another biopic, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui starred as Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray in the Abhijit Panse-directed Thackeray. The film released and got out of the theatre on a silent note, finally, Shiv Sena leaders had to book the theatres by landing up showing movie in their constituencies for free. Be it films attacking Congress or the biopics of Modi, RaGa, or Thackeray, they failed and will fail in fetching audiences. Most importantly, they cannot turn audiences into the voters.

Bollywood is a big industry; it comprises people from all walks of life, assuming the whole of it hates BJP and Modi would be a wrong premise to begin with, given many “actors turned politician” chose the BJP to start their political career. Some of them even held ministerial positions. Politics and Cinema, in the Indian context, have had intrinsic relations.

In 1927, the Indian Cinematograph Committee sent a questionnaire to Mahatma Gandhi. A Bombay daily sought Gandhi’s message on the occasion of the 25th year of Indian Cinema. Mahadev Desai, Gandhi’s secretary, responded that Gandhi had the least interest in cinema and a word of appreciation should not be expected. Gandhi’s impact is evident in the work of many, from Dadasaheb Phalke to Aamir Khan. The films of V Shantaram, Mehboob Khan, Raj Kapoor, and more recently, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, among others, dealt with the core themes of Gandhian ideology — non-violence, love, and sacrifice, Hindu-Muslim unity, the rural-urban divide, rejection of crass commercialism, women’s emancipation, and fear of moral decay. It was through their movies that Gandhi emerged as a towering moral force. However, after that, no politician made it to that big because they were not Nehru or Gandhi who had global popularity and recognition. The recent petty politics and movies have met all the lows of publicity by questioning the integrity of Bollywood personalities.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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