In writing of Indian culture, I am highly conscious of my own subjectivity; arguably, there is more than one Indian culture, and certainly more than one view of Indian culture. – Shashi Tharoor
You must be really not existing if you haven’t seen the drama and release of the Bollywood superstar Salman Khan. Admittedly, 800+ crores ride on his movies and television performances. But, tell me how much substance is there in his movies? It is surely a package deal with some comic scenes, few great songs, some fight scenes and that is it. It is something which will give value for money for the mass viewers. But, scratch a bit of the surface and see if it is a movie that creates any impact in your thinking, society, or great acting? Sorry. His movies have only one motive – to entertain. With the Khans and the Kumars getting out atleast a movie a year, it seems like we are watching the same old stuff everyday. Akshay Kumar seems have taken over the role of a conscientious citizen a la Manoj Kumar (Padman, Toilet – Ek Prem Katha, Airlift), Aamir Khan brings out some unknown but serious aspect (Taare Zameen Par, Dhoom, Secret Superstar), Salman with his scriptless, storyless and directionless movies and Shah Rukh has overdosed on romance. But every time he tries something geniune, the viewers reject him (like Ashoka, Ra One). Both these are good movies though.
A lack of variety, and mind-numbing Hindi movies forced me to look elsewhere. I tried Hollywood. But, Marvel and DC Comics is ruling there as well. I cannot take in any more Bam Bam Boom Boom and Super Heroes. Their other movies are mostly based on Books which I would rather read than watch a 90 minute crammed re-hash.
I was in for a surprise when I recently watched some Tamil and Telugu movies recommended by my brother who is crazy about them. I told him I cannot take in Rajni style larger than life movies either. But he insisted. Over the weekend, he downloaded the movies he wanted me to watch on Amazon Prime. (Yeah, little brothers are like that).
Tepidly, I first selected the Telugu movie Arjun Reddy. Believe me, I do not know a single Telugu word and was totally relying on the sub-titles. It was about a Doctor named Arjun Reddy who had anger management issues. He was super rich and did crazy things like falling in love with a Tulu girl at first sight. Now, again, for me Telegu and Tulu were one people. But apparently, they do not inter marry. The girl’s family rejects his proposal based on his caste. Arjun Reddy is totally thrown out of gear. He becomes an addict, the family throws him out, he loses his licence due to medical negligence. I did not like Arjun Reddy’s high handedness with which he dominates everybody as they are scared of his anger. But, the movie addresses some very current topics. There is the language used which is what a normal person of his age will use. There are expletives in it, not many, but some when he talks with friends. It felt so normal. The guy has sex with his girlfriend. But it is just a normal progression of their love and not something to think about. Nobody, in the movie thought this is abnormal. It feels like a breath of fresh air. The guy is shown to have a serious problem and the family helps to de-addict him. If only this message is shown in many more movies. It will help youngsters to reach to their families for help and also for the families to understand that it is ok for their super intelligent children to falter. They can guide them back to the right path.
Here, was the best part. The girl, Preethi, marries some other guy. And Arjun sees a heavily pregnant Preethi after about 7 months. He is disturbed. Not because she is pregnant, but because she looked unhappy. He comes back to her and asks her to leave her husband. At which point, Preethi asks who will take care of the baby. And Arjun says he is ready to be the father and will love the baby whole-heartedly. Can we imagine any of our super macho alpha heroes doing the same? I just loved the movie. Please watch it before it is remade into Hindi with Arjun Kapoor as the lead. I cannot bear to think about the horrible acting that will be in store.
That’s not all. I saw a few Tamil movies too, again thanks to subtitles. One of them I loved was Katri Veliyidai (I don’t know what it means). It stars Karthi (he is a sweetheart) and Aditi Rao Hydari (ethereal beauty. Remember her in Padmavat as Khilji’s wife?) In the movie, Karthi is a fighter pilot who is languishing in a Pakistani jail. Aditi is a doctor. The story is in flashback. Karthi serenades Aditi till she agrees to marry him. But, Aditi is still sceptical. Because Karthi is very dominating. He is quick to insult her at times, sometimes in front of his friends or parents. He takes her home to meet his parents at his brother’s wedding. His brother is marrying a heavily pregnant girl. But it is considered normal. The girl goes straight to hospital for delivery after the wedding. The parents grumble that the brother should have had the baby first and then got married. Imagine that in a Hindi movie.
Aditi tells Karthi that she wants an equal relationship where she can voice her thoughts. Karthi agrees to it but Aditi knows he will revert when the situation arises. Aditi gets pregnant and asks Karthi to marry her now. To my surprise, Karthi says he is not fit to be a husband as he is very selfish. Of course, he realises his mistakes when he is in jail and comes back a changed man, to marry Aditi. Now, tell me which Hindi actor would have done the same.
I saw another movie which was a detective movie. It had no songs but it kept me on the edge of my seat reading the subtitles real fast.
And now my dear friends, here is my verdict. Do not restrict yourselves to mainstream Hindi, English movies only. Watch them in other languages. Open your eyes and your mind. India is not just what the mainstream media is showing us. It is not just about toilets, pads, machoism. There is so much more. Malayalam movies were always better than Hindi movies. But, seeing Tamil and Telugu with such advanced storylines, is making me want to watch more.
I have added many Marathi movies too to my watchlist. And next is Bangla. Give me some recommendations folks!
P.S. This is not a sponsored post.