A Pseudo Secular Rhetoric – With Lots of Love from Bollywood.
Article written by Shilpa Nadkarni
Many of us grew up fantasizing about the glamorous, glittering, stars, heroes/ heroines of the famous Bollywood during the teenage era. Bollywood has always been successful in leaving an impact on styling, lifestyle and many more things that one would aspire about. I still remember whenever a movie used to release be it Dewaar, Sholay, Don, Tridev, Tezab, Maine Pyaar Kiya, Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, etc within a week’s span, we used to get to see the outfits used by hero/ heroine in the movie, available in markets and some privileged kids used to make it sure that they have these kind of outfits in their wardrobes.
Angry young man and underworld stories in 1970s; drama, action, disco & rock dance movies in 1980s; family based mellow dramas in the 1990s; friendship based comic movies from 2000 onwards was the trend then.
From year 2010 onwards, Bollywood movies evolved to not only intelligent movies like Drishyam but also started experimenting with delicate topics which were women centric stories like Pink, Lipstick under my Burkha, etc. Bollywood also started experimenting by bringing in trans-gender characters or showing live-in relationships on one hand while suspense & thrillers like Kahaani, Baby, Special 26 movies were a part of the on-going trend. After gaining some confidence that the new era audience is open to fresh topics now and is not reluctant to sensitive topics like it used to be a couple of years back, this Diwali, Bollywood gifted the audience a movie based on trans-gender called – Laxmii.
Laxmii had its own rounds of controversies before its release over the name of the movie and formerly named Laxmmi Bomb was finally changed to Laxmii. Since this movie was released amidst of COVID, people were excited to watch it and A-list star like Akshay Kumar was in a lead role. Many movies do well not for the stories or how it is directed, but are followed only on basis of Star power, that is who is in the lead role, so was in case of Laxmii.
The movie-Laxmii, choose to deal with a sensitive topic of trans-gender and the difficulties such people face in life. Actor – Sharad Kelkar who doesn’t have more than 20mins of screen time has done a fabulous job. As far as the story revolves around the character of a trans-gender Laxmii and the problems that Laxmii faces in life being different from others, I would say the movie is portrayed well. However, I fail to understand why does the story have to bring in Hindu-Muslim touch to the movie. Why does the Bollywood producers/ directors expect that on the biggest Hindu festival – Diwali they would release a movie amongst the crowd which is majorly Hindus and portray it in such a way that shows how superstitious Hindus are, how unfair Hindus are, how cruelly they can treat their own whereas on the other hand Muslims are so loving and caring, full of humanity, fair to unknown people and they are so practical. I had no idea that Muslim community is so open to trans-genders before watching this movie.
Some scenes in the movie are so naive that it is shown that Laxmii’s evil soul cannot enter the temple but is so powerful that it can pull out the Trishul from the temple and kill the villain. A Hindu character kills Laxmii by hitting dagger (khanjar) in Laxmii’s back. Director should have studied Hinduism well, to know that Hindus never hit in the back. All negative characters in the movie are Hindus whereas all those who can do good are Muslims like Asif the lead character, the Pir Baba another character. All Hindu priests are either thugs or they are incapable of providing solutions when the very concept of soul / reincarnation / after life is a Hindu concept.
I fail to understand why Bollywood wants to divide or differentiate between Hindus and Muslims, was it really required? What was the need to have a Hindu / Muslim angle in a film which was supposedly a film with a message to treat trans-genders on equal terms??? A very good subject focusing on equality for trans-genders has been killed by giving it a Hindu/ Muslim angle. India is 73 and has grown beyond Hindu/Muslim rhetoric then what is the point in going back and recalling the black days of the Indian history?
Over and above, Bollywood releases these kind of movies on the biggest Hindu festival, expect a major Hindu crowd to watch it and make it a big success. I would have understood if this was directed by Raghava Lawrence and Produced by Shabinaa Khan but I wonder what makes people like Tusshar Kapoor and Akshay Kumar support these kind of story lines which depict a wrong image about Hindus. The most disappointing part of the entire experience was Akshay Kumar, who has always promoted nationalism or was that also just a part of making money on the sentiments of the nationalistic audience???
After watching Sushant Singh Rajput’s case Bollywood has proved and set an image for themselves that in this film industry there is no place for intellectual, talented, enthusiastic artists like Sushant, only uneducated people who are in this business from generations to generations can survive here with the backing of their families.
Unfortunately, the inmates of this industry don’t shy away from provoking anti-national slogans at places like JNU as a promotional activity before movie releases and then they expect that their movie should run successfully in Hindustan. Today, I feel ashamed to have fantasized about this so-called glamorous industry during my teenage which in reality has turned out to be completely hollow inside.