Guest post by SNEHA BANERJEE: It was a Monday morning that didn’t bring me blues, after many weeks of sweltering heat I could keep the door to my balcony open without fearing the skin-burning ‘loo’ and my room filled with the pleasant breeze which had the promise of bringing in rains once again. I decided to keep my diligently prepared to-do list aside and embarked on staring at the neem tree observing the avian cohabitants of my neighbourhood with the radio on my phone tuned to a FM station. It was then that the unnecessarily loud, over-enthusiastic voice of a radio-jockey broke the serenity of the surroundings. His shrieky voice exhorted a promise to keep Dilliwalon up-to-date with the latest controversies in Bollywood. Now, that was not something that I was very interested in – imagined competition among biggies, who ate what, who holidayed where and with whom and after betraying whom was going to be too depressing to handle, but before I could reach out to change the station, he took somebody’s name that still makes my heart skip a beat even after couple of leap-years have come and gone since I was sweet-sixteen. Yes, any and every news about this ‘star’ interests me and I want to know it all, true or untrue, gossip or through ‘reliable sources’.
But what I heard then, broke my heart. The RJ quoted a Mumbai tabloid, that Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) is having a third child through surrogacy and that he has ensured it is a son through sex-selection. Continue reading Shahrukh Khan, Surrogacy and Sex-Selection: Sneha Banerjee
Like many other lovers of Bollywood cinema, I too was caught up since October this year in the countdown to the battle of all battles, with the release of Om Shanti Om (OSO) and Saawariya on 9 November 2007. Reams have been written, debated and analysed on the two films in newspapers, television networks, and everyday discussions. They have been depicted as films catering to very different sensibilities, and representing vastly diverse forms. The verdict seems to have declared both as average films, though OSO seems to be faring better than Saawariya at the box office. I enjoyed the first half of OSO particularly and thought Saawariya as a film with great form, but not much content.
However, as a fan of Bollywood popular cinema, what struck me most was one striking similarity between the two films. I thought both the films offered great visual pleasure and feast for the female spectators, where the spectacular and stylish nude male bodies and images of both Ranbir Raj Kapoor and Shahrukh Khan, though very different from each other, were the prime objects of desire and erotic spectacle. Both OSO and Saawariya have urban heroes, whose bodies are produced and carved, rooted in providing a voyeuristic visual treat especially to most straight women and gay men. The identity of both the heroes in these films in centrally tied to the consumption of their nude bodies by the viewer. The films in some senses signify the coming of age of a new genre of Bollywood cinema, where it is not so much the female body but the male body which circulates and is on display, offering a sexualised imaginative anatomy. They also signify that the language of discourse of Hindi films has undergone a dramatic post modernist change in its conception of desire, where most of it is conducted not through the soul but through the body. There is no central heart, but a decentring of emotions at play here. In the recent past too, nude male bodies of Hrithik Roshan and Salman Khan have been offered to the viewer. It perhaps is also a reflection of the fact that more and more women are crowding the cinema halls and form at times the major chunk of spectatorship, and they are a vital part of the cinematic experience.
Continue reading Charu Gupta on Om Shanti Om and Saawariya