Blockbuster. Red Carpet. The 100 crore club membership. Multiple Oscars. Or iifa’s. Sold Out.
The umbilical cord of the above is one: A simple tale spun with the thread of dramatic hyperbole, your commonplace Bollywood best film victor.
In this arena, there are some, which receive approval from only one side of the seesaw: the critics or the mainstream audience. However, there are a few exceptional, cleverly crafted movies that break the proverbial seesaw into two halves: acclaim from the paradoxical neighbors, an exception, and a rare occurrence, but possible, very much possible. These are the movies that grip the audience in a tangible time frame, in a realistic depiction of perhaps, a famous controversy? To reel in more positive applause- a criminal controversy? Maybe even a case retired in court– but fresh in mind.?
Does this strike a bell?
Talvar, perhaps? Vishal Bhardwaj’s brainchild swooped right in and embodied carpe diem, gained a lucrative USP, and become the exception everyone looks forward to munching their popcorns and crunching their tickets. What really was so commendable in this movie? Was it the natural layers of humor in the grave lasagna of a defamed murder case?
Believe it or not, after exiting the movie hall with mind preoccupied with the clever and savvy direction of the movie, I heard Indians being Indians. Typically, Bollywood is our utopia and we are so governed by it that we often base our judgments and imagination on how I’ll run onto the Himalayas as a rebellion against parents and in the spur of the moment fall in love with a high school jock, or how when I’ll undergo a dramatic transformation all random strangers in the background will groove their legs and swing their arms in perfect synchrony.
“The servants are to blame, the movie made it very clear”
“Definitely, I mean how can parents even murder a daughter, that’s against our sacred customs”
“I’m satisfied with the movie, at least it solved the murder case that even the police could not”
In a room full of such dialogue passage, I wanted to cut my ears off because I could not comprehend the utter absurdity of those around me, the utter gullibility of the audience and oh, the shrewd shrewd director.
If I have studied literature enough to co-relate it to Indian dramatics, it is that the propagator of the message always has a motive and sharpens his blade accordingly. In trying to win audience approval, especially the conservative Indian joint families, the director presented the case with an imbalance, a bias. Often, when my mother’s expensive Sari goes missing, the first one to blame is the servant and same is the progression when my brother’s board games go missing or when my father’s watch goes missing or my chappals go missing. Stark reality is that half the time these low class laborers aren’t to blame but our perception of social division is such that we can make them the scapegoat and free ourselves of remorse of carelessness. Concurrent with this Indian mindset, Bhardwaj makes the ‘servants’ slate of the case concrete while the parents are investigated by measly detectives and portrayed in a cherubic spotlight.
The primary underlying message that majority of the audience failed to spot was that the movie was, in reality, a social commentary on the reckless administration, police force, government and the lax bureaucracy in the Indian subcontinent. Moreover, it was apparent that the detectives own ‘school of thoughts’ and process of investigations differed for they had different perspectives and experiences and as they let their personal lives meddle with their case’s outcomes, they failed to give justice to the real victim- Arushi Talvar.
My nerves boil. Sometimes, even a vein pops out on the forehead as I ball my fingers into my fist. When will the Indian society look and rise above its own naivety and focus on the things that do matter? Talvar is a good movie, although slightly prejudiced, it surely is a true portrait of the quintessence of the Indian dynamics on ground level. But, just like only a few know the true value of a diamond, it takes only self-realization and alienation from the hyperbolic, frenzy concept of Bollywood to appreciate movies like Talvar for what they really are. ‘Things happen for a reason’, so let’s grow into critical individuals who identify those reasons and imbibe them. Next time you watch a movie, try to look past the ostentatious dance numbers and costumes and Alia Bhatt (just kidding) and seek for the deep-set meaning, the film’s raison d’être, your raison d’être.