Bollywood seems to have captured the pulse of the nation lately and is now translating it on-screen.
The year 2014 was a game changer of sorts when anti incumbency favoured the BJP in forming the government after a hard-hitting defeat in the year 2004 (solely blamed on their India Shining campaign). During the Congress tenure, there were a lot of new terms that were introduced such as ‘Pappu’ to address Mr. Rahul Gandhi while former PM Manmohan Singh was fondly referred to as Maun-mohan Singh for his penchant for maintaining his silence during times when the image of Congress was degrading with the series of scams it got embroiled in, year after year.
So after BJP’s sweeping victory, that took all political pundits by surprise, we were introduced to newer terms that have, well, almost divided the nation these days. Those terms, as everyone is fully aware of them are: the liberals and the bhakts. But what we’d like to focus here is how (with the influx of social media), Bollywood, the fraternity which was earlier renowned for its politically correct stances, finally began putting forth their views about the current political scenario and even taking sides.
This was pretty evident when Anupam Kher jumped into the “Intolerance Debate” and the “Award Wapasi” campaign, which was about a number of renowned authors and artists returning their Sahitya Academy Awards as a form of protest against the unstoppable attacks on the freedom of expression of citizens. So Anupam Kher countered the movement with a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan alleging that the Award Wapasi campaign was a way to defame the country by projecting a different picture to the world. He was joined by a number of artists from the film industry including Madhur Bhandarkar, Ashok Pandit, Abhijeet Bhattacharya (whose Twitter account remains suspended after his series of foul tweets towards a woman), among others. But that was not it. Recently, the actor released a poster from The Accidental Prime Minister, based on the life of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, where he plays the central character (and which will also reveal a number of scams the Congress party was involved in).
Likewise, Madhur Bhandarkar, who accompanied Anupam Kher for the march to Rastrapati Bhavan has also jumped into the political bandwagon and how? Everyone knows how any issue that gains traction today (under the BJP regime) is always countered with the “Where were you during the Emergency?” rhetoric. And so, cashing in on that, Madhur Bhandarkar has come up with a film, Indu Sarkar, that depicts the Emergency era (and which is also facing Congress’ ire).
Similarly, there was a massive uproar related to the ban of Pakistani artistes after the URI attacks. Karan Johar’s film, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, suffered major public backlash (because he featured Fawad Khan in the film), but did you know who gained a lot of positive traction then? It was none other than Ajay Devgn, whose film Shivaay had the same Diwali release as that of KJo. Devgn went on to accuse Johar to have paid KRK to support his film and trash Shivaay and then further jumped onto the nationalism bandwagon (certain critics hailed it as a promotion technique for Shivaay which was pitted against a bigger banner). And presently, Ajay Devgn’s Baadshaho, set against the back drop of the Emergency, will release year.
Akshay Kumar’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha has become tax free in the country owing to the popularity of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which is a very dear project for the current regime, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
JP Dutta is also back with yet another ambitious project based on the Indian army (his favourite subject), which is another chapter from history, if sources are to be believed. We’re sure this announcement has come in at the right time because these days, citizens and the media are increasingly obsessing about the Indian army.
And while anti-incumbency may have helped the BJP gain a foothold in 2014, the nationalism fever has just begun in Bollywood with the fraternity now taking their patriotism to another level with the kind of films they’re producing. Even film titles such as Thugs of Hindostan and Saare Jahaan Se Achcha seem to have an element of the fever that has gripped the nation lately.
Of course, we’ll have to wait and watch how the films fare at the box-office to get a better idea about whether this new formula will work or not, but what we believe is that Bollywood is becoming quite tactical in its approach towards filmmaking, having finally discovered India’s pulse, and also ensuring that they deliver exactly what is the need of the hour. And this may as well include a film (if someone thought of it) about the Bhakts versus the Liberals, which does not seem to be a far-fetched idea now, if you come to think of it.