A good old-fashioned news round-up! Instead of the complete focus on #MeToo stories. Although one of them is kind of a MeToo story, but mostly a “Ha! I was right!” story, which always cheers me up (even if no one else cares).
Do you remember several months ago Mallika Dua, or rather Mallika Dua’s FATHER, accused Akshay Kumar of “sexual harassment” because he made a wordplay about “ringing” her in the context of her hitting a gong on their game show. In case you forgot, let me put up excerpts from my original post:
Akshay is one of the hosts of a TV show, the “Great Indian Laughter Challenge”. On a recent episode, one of the female judges reached up to ring the bell that is part of the show set, and Akshay joked “Mallika ji, aap bell bajao, main aapko bajata hoon”. Which I think loosely translates to “Mallika ji, you ring the bell, I’ll ring you”. Which I guess could be slang for all sorts of things.
In response, Mallika Dua, the judge, said nothing. But her father released a video in which he said “I am going to screw this cretin Akshay Kumar for telling his co-worker Mallika Dua that ‘aap bell bajao main aap ko bajata hun’ at 5:26. This is his sense of humor and language. Star Plus..wake up..”
Most of all, it’s not Mallika’s father’s place to comment on this. His opinion is meaningless. This is between Mallika and Akshay, if she is okay with it than there is no problem. If she is not okay with it, than she can speak for herself. Her father’s assumption that her “virtue” is his to defend, that Akshay’s comment is somehow an attack on him (not Mallika) and on the general Indian audience, that is a lot more dangerous. Because that opens up the idea that, if the general Indian audience and her father were okay with anything Akshay (or any other man) did to her, then it would not be a problem. Even if Mallika was not okay with it.
Now, are you ready to be shocked SHOCKED? Turns out, the same man who feels the need to leap in and make abusive public comments about his daughter’s “virtue” and how it is threatened, who seemed to have no concept of what sexual harassment on the job actually is, is in fact himself a harasser (link here: https://thewire.in/women/filmmaker-accuses-vinod-dua-of-sexually-harassing-stalking-her-in-1989-incident)
He explained the job and asked me what my expectations were and I quoted an amount that most graduates were getting at the time – 5,000 rupees. He looked at me and said, ‘Tumhari aukat kya hai?’ I dont know what had hit me. I was stunned. What was this about? I had faced sexual harassment early in life but this sort of humiliation was a new experience.
One night as I came down to the parking, he was there…He wanted to talk to me and asked me to enter his car… Assuming that he wanted to apologise for his behaviour, I entered the car but before I could even settle down he began slobbering all over my face. I managed to get out and get into my office car and leave.
I don’t know about you, but this surprises me Not. One. Bit. First, the same man who thinks he has a right to speak out on behalf of his daughter about what she experienced at work, is a man who sees his female employee as his possession.
And second that the same man who sees a slightly off-color joke made one time in public while cameras are rolling as offending virtue, would not consider it attacking a woman in her car as harassment. After all, it’s not in public, he isn’t embarrassing her family, is he? So what’s wrong with it?
Just in case you weren’t sure, here is an example of how the patriarchal paternal attitude which sees sexual harassment as a matter of protecting a woman’s honor and therefore the honor of society, is directly related to the same kind of man who will see nothing wrong in treating a woman he sees as somehow outside of society (a working woman, a woman who has dated, a woman who is not part of his family) in any way he pleases.
But mostly, ha! I was right! My initial reaction of “what the heck is up with this man and why is he so weird about women?” was correct.
(This is for me, not Dua, he’s terrible but I am the BEST!)
Now, this is the juicy stuff! Well, for me. Manoj Mairta wrote a script in 2014. In 2016, it landed with Raykesh Omprakesh Mehra. And then Hussain Dulal was handed the script by Mehra and did more work on it, along with Mehra. And now the first look and promos of the film are out and Manoj Mairta does not feel his name is prominant enough (link here: http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/news/bollywood/merey-pyarey-prime-minister-rakeysh-omprakash-mehra-faces-legal-trouble/)
It’s a tricky situation, because Mairta himself says that other people worked on the script. But claims that it is still primarily his work and he should get top billing. So then it gets down to a matter of comparing Mairta’s original script, and the shooting script, and decide where the line lies. Especially since Mairta is technically given credit, he is listed in the official detailed credits on IMDB. And he received payment and all of that. It was just the above the line top billing as writer on the poster and so on that he wanted.
Are you getting Deja Vu? If so, it means you have been following these stories for at least 10 years like I have. This was very similar to Chetan Bhagat’s complaints about 3 Idiots. He still got paid, he still got credit, it just wasn’t the right kind of credit. In a way it’s almost noble, caring that much about your honor.
The nice thing is, India has a very careful system for this. You can appeal to the Screen Writers Association, they can consider all versions and drafts and make a judgement. Which is what Mairta did. The SWA agreed with him and told Mehra he has to give him sole credit for the script. Mehra however does not agree, arguing that Mairta ignored the contributions of the third writer, Hussain Dalal, who also deserves his own credit on the script.
Anyway, I just find this all fascinating! As I understand it, in Indian film the writers and composers and everyone else tend to sell their rights outright. There is no negotiation for percentages of the profit, or right of final approval, or any of that. You sell your work and it is then owned by the producer/director completely. Which has lead to this odd last minute court case and appeal system, since there is no other way to maintain control.
Another example, Salim-Javed went to court twice to prevent a remake of their classic films, first Sholay and then Zanjeer. It was tied up in legalities, because they were the only writers powerful enough to maintain some legal control over their work, and yet the majority of it was still owned completely by the original producer and whoever he sold it to.
Isn’t that all so very very interesting? The question of who wrote what when and all of it revolving around something as small as where the name goes on the poster?
Omkara is Still Popular
Tiny early publicity is starting for Taanaji, Ajay Devgan and Saif’s next movie. And it revolves almost entirely around “remember how great Omkara was?” (link here: http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/news/bollywood/12-years-omkara-saif-ali-khan-turn-anti-hero-ajay-devgn-starrer-taanaji/)
And I do! I do remember how great it was! I am definitely up for a repeat of that magic! If they want me to show up first day-first show, they can just keep reminding me of that, and telling me that Ajay will be playing the hero again and Saif the villain.
But what’s cool is, I didn’t realize so many other people remembered how great Omkara was! I never would have thought that it would still be popular enough that it could be a reasonable thing to be used to promote a film, right next to an implication that this movie will be like Bahubali, but bigger.