Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ramu ki Aag

Poor RGV. He could well take a note out of Billy Joel's song book and lament "We Didn't Start the Fire". The fuss around his Taj visit, the full blooded condemnation of his trip to the site and the public outrage around his red circled face on news channels has left even the phlegmatic film maker on the back foot.

I don't get what the brouhaha is all about. Isn't there far more worth concerning ourselves with, than who was part of the hapless VRD's entourage to the site? What does it matter to the issues of national security whether a film maker or a CM's actor son went along or not? After all, barely 96 hours before their visit, the Taj had been visited by those whose entry should have been checked and stopped with far greater alacrity. They went in with guns blazing, destroying our very sense of personal security and well being, and now we were going nuts about RGV visiting the charred and crumbling remains?

Hey, some of my friends in Mumbai went to the site too. Maybe it was morbid curiosity, who knows. But that's only human. We saw the drama unfold on TV for days. Why blame somebody for actually wanting to go and see the place where it all took place?

Here's my guess on what happened. Ritesh boy told daddy dear that he wanted to come along whenever daddy visited. Makes sense - daddy has security. Ritesh wouldn't need to take along his own (if he still harbours illusions of being mobbed that is, after his flop career).

When daddy dear called son to join him, son was with RGV. So Ramu decided to tag along.

Isn't that fairly harmless? Deshmukh surely wasn't going there to give his son and the film maker a 'tour' as the news channels alleged. Even if he fails in the sensitivity department, he can't be that stupid. Not after what happened to RR Patil and Shivraj Patil.

But more importantly, here's what I am genuinely nonplussed about. Why on earth is everybody up in arms if Ram Gopal Verma wants to make a movie around the South Mumbai terror attack? Why is it the sign of ultimate crassness and of a profiteering mentality? Why is the very thought repugnant and horrible?

Film making is a creative art. It is a form of personal expression and a vibrant way to make a statement, show one's point of view and speak one's mind. Yes, sure it's also a profitable business, but it can as much easily run into huge losses. And the reason the commercial stakes are so high is because making a movie also costs much more, takes much more time, physical labour and coordination effort than say, putting pen to paper. You can't just wait for inspiration to strike, you have to do a lot of spadework before a movie idea get translated onto celluloid.

After the terror attack, poets have written poems, journalists have written essays. If a musician performs a piece, a composer composes a special tribute or a painter puts on canvas his personal horror and grief we will stand up and laud their efforts. We will read articles, share poetry, forward blog posts and treat them all as one consolidated creative expression of solidarity.

But if somebody wants to make a movie on the same subject, we will call him crass.

My heart goes out to all my very dear film makers friends in Mumbai - Imtiaz, Gorky, Bijesh, Chandu. I can't help but wonder what they are to do, if they wish to express their anger, hurt, horror, grief and frustration. Must they curb and bottle their feelings simply because their medium of expression is celluloid?

I am a writer. Two night after the attack a poem came to me and it is up on my blog since then. I've got emails, comments, smses and telephone calls about its relevance and validity. What if a film maker wants express how he is feeling about the same issue? He is not allowed to work in the only medium he finds himself able to? That is crass and profiteering simply because a film has to be relased at the box office and be put through the vagaries of hit and flop, while a poem need not be sent to a publisher, a painting may not see a galary?

Let's get real. It doesn't cost that much to write a poem or paint a picture. They can be personal forms of expression while a movie necessarily has to be a public form, depending on an audience for its very survival. That does not mean that people working with the medium have simply become desensitized businessmen. It's also their chosen field of creativity. Cut them some slack.

Cut poor RGV some slack. The hilarious sms floating around about him is a telling comment on how things can get blown out of proportion, with neither logic, nor perspective:
Ram Gopal Verma Ki Kamaai, Do Sarkaar Banai, Ek Giraai!!

Ha ha. Yeh aag bichaarey Ramu ne nahin lagaai!

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