Hindi Film 101: Ranbir Kapoor, The Physical Embodiment of Young Male Privilage

Okay, sharpen your claws, build up the knives of resentment, stoke the fires of your class/gender anger, and let us focus all of that on the one perfect representation of every man who ever tried to tell you his pain was more important than yours, that his success is a tribute to talent and not privilege, that if we disagree with him it is just because we don’t have the depth to understand his thoughts. Take down Ranbir, and we can take down every patronizing boss, every bad boyfriend, every dumb colleague promoted over you, every person who looks at the world and only sees a mirror, not a window. Yes, our Ranbir Hate, in one great cleansing burst, will Save the World.

Usual Disclaimer: I don’t know these people, I have no special knowledge, this is just how it looks to me based on publicly available information.

I don’t like to hate people, usually. And I try to keep that off this blog as much as possible. I don’t think hatred is a good thing to put out in the world, I think it poisons your mind and poisons those around you. If there is someone about whom I truly cannot say a good or kind word, as much as possible I try not to speak of them at all. That is my rule here and my rule in “reality” as well.

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I put off reviewing this movie for a very long time

I started out following that rule with Ranbir, I spoke kindly about him in reviews where I appreciated his performances, and I ignored him otherwise. I was even careful to avoid reviewing films where I knew I would not like him or the film. But then I saw Jagga Jasoos and, as a film and a performance, I simply could not find anything good to say. I had to be honest, and it was a major new film that I had to review, so I found myself writing a terribly mean review. And this is a comment I got in response from someone calling himself “moviedude”:

this so-called intellectual review is the reason why i don’t rely on reviews of random people to decide whether to watch a particular movie or not. thank goodness i watched the movie *before* i read this or i’d have had done injustice to a fairly decent, enjoyable movie by not watching it. i’m sure you’ll defend your review and some blind followers of you will support you but i have made it a point to steer clear of your blog in future.

Here is another comment from “Kabir”:

Seriously you are dumb. Your review literally proves that you have no knowledge of movies. Criticizing Ranbir? I am a student at the NSD Delhi , I have completed a year long film making course in NYU and a diploma from Lee Strasberg ( Ranbir kapoor is an alumni) . While pursuing the course in NYU I showed a bunch of Hindi movies there to the professors and students. All had one thought in common ” This guy Ranbir , he is a frickin good actor”. Ranbir did off-beat movies like Barfi , Rajneeti , Tamasha , Bombay Velvet , Rocket Singh and still you’re calling him an actor who don’t want to step out of his comfort zone. Even here in NSD everyone considers Ranbir as one of the most talented actors we have now. Most of the people in comment section haven’t watched Satyajit Ray’s work that’s why they weren’t able to understand this movie. This country is plagued by dumb fucks like you.

Coming to Jagga Jasoos , mark my words I repeat again mark my words. This movie is gonna go the “Mera Naam Joker” way . That movie was understood and considered a cult much later. You idiots don’t know shit about movies . I agree Katrina was not suitable for the role , and playing a teenager at the age of 34 ( you idiots are calling him 35) that’s called acting. This movie was one of the best Hindi movies I have watched ( my friends in NSD and overseas pals also think the same). So fuck off, this review of yours is shit

What shocked me was the tone of the comments. As you know if you are a regular reader here, our comments section has an overall tone of respectful disagreement. There is an assumption that everyone’s opinion is valid, and everyone has a desire to learn from each other. These two comments were completely dismissive of any possibility of disagreement, any concept that they could be wrong and I could be right. Or that I we could both be right in our own way. Or simply that I (or anyone who disagreed with their world view) had value in the world.

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These were also not early comments. In the first few days after I post a review of a new film, my posts are high in the search results because there just aren’t that many reviews out there (especially with spoilers). I get a lot of first time readers who hop in just for that review and hop out again. For “moviedude” and “kabir” to have found me, several days later, it means they were trolling the back corners of the internet for Jagga Jasoos reviews, looking for people to either attack for disagreeing with them, or praise for agreeing. While their comments may have a tone of “you attacked me by forcing me to see your opinion”, in fact they were out there looking for people to attack, needing to enforce some kind of power over others at the same time that they re-affirmed their own role as “victim” of some kind.

This is the kind of behavior that Ranbir Kapoor attracts and encourages through his public persona, and his film roles. I got those two comments, but I think if you go anywhere on the internet where his name is mentioned, you will find a similar tone among his defenders. A decision that they are right, they are the victims, they are in pain, and everyone else is worthless. And this is why I have decided it is okay to hate Ranbir, to publicly hate him. If “moviedude” and “kabir”, or any of the millions like them, are cruising the internet, I want them to be forced to acknowledge that there are people out there who do NOT feel their pain, who do NOT think like them, and that we are still human, and we deserve to be heard. Basically, I am not going to “fuck off”.

Ranbir Kapoor had a bad sad childhood, that is true. His father Rishi is an angry abusive drunk. As Rishi himself says, he struggled with how to be a father and a husband and still struggles with it. Rishi himself was raised by an angry abusive alcoholic and he saw himself repeating those patterns and wants to break free of those patterns and does not know how. Ranbir’s childhood was hiding from scary violent fights between his parents, and never feeling fully sure of himself or his place in the world. That is a sad thing and I would not wish it on anyone. But does a trauma in your past fully excuse all your behavior in the present? More complex, does a trauma in your past fully excuse how you react to your behavior in the present? I think it does not. Many people have trauma as children, many of Ranbir’s contemporaries had childhoods that were similarly bad and sad. But they reacted differently than he did, they chose to grow up and grow passed that.

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Let’s start with life as a little boy in India versus a little girl. In India, the reality that little boys are better than little girls, more desired and more deserving of love and just generally more important, is so accepted and widespread that there are laws to protect female fetuses from being aborted simply for being female. The documentary “The World Before Her” interviewed a young woman who casually talked about how she always had to be grateful to her father because he allowed her to exist, he chose not to abort her before birth. As he regularly tells her. To her, that was a great generosity on his part, to allow her life despite her original sin of being female. A girl is taught humility, shame, and guilt literally since birth. She is female, and that is a terrible thing.

A little boy is taught that he is special since birth. He is male, and therefore deserving of everything. When a baby boy is born, the family holds a celebration, complete with prayers and sweets distributed and everything else. When a baby girl is born, Indian culture has no celebration.

That is the wider culture Ranbir, and his fans, grew up in. A culture that says, as boys, they are innately better and the world owes them everything for their mere existence. But let us look at Ranbir’s more specific family culture. When Neetu, Ranbir’s mother, married Rishi and moved into the family home, she struggled with her husband’s drinking, autocratic nature, and casual infidelity. She went to her mother-in-law Krishna for help and was told, essentially, “this is marriage, deal with it”. Rishi tells a story of when his career hit a rough patch soon after marriage. He sank into a true depression, was unable to get out of bed in the morning. And, as he himself says, he blamed his wife for everything and that was wrong and he shouldn’t have done that. But he says that now, decades later. When Ranbir was a little boy, the behavior he saw was his father’s emotional pain as the center of the household, with his mother’s job being to keep him happy, and her fault being that he was miserable. Within the household where Rishi was raised, the expectation is that men have pain, men misbehave, and everyone else will have to try to understand and forgive their pain, will have to deal with it. In fact, if a man has pain, it is the fault of those around him, the responsibility is on them to always keep the man happy and the failure is theirs when he is not happy. That is the way of the world, men have pain and women deal.

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Now, if Ranbir had remained a private person, I would pity him. A little boy who never learned how to be an adult because his adult male role models never showed him proper behavior, and the women around him indulged him. Of course he would grow up to fail at everything he tried and live off of his parents and grandparents. Of course he would be unable to maintain a real relationship with a woman. Of course he would have a strange shallowness and emptiness inside that kept him from ever being a real person. This is Ranbir, and this is his uncle Randhir as well, the forgotten youngest Kapoor brother who had one failed late in life marriage and spends his days hanging around the family studio or living with his mother (and Ranbir, when Ranbir was living with Krishna too). We see these people all the time, superficially charming men in the grocery store check out line who, you eventually learn, are living with their grandmothers, never married, and never held down a job. Lost souls.

But Ranbir did not remain a private person. That’s not entirely his fault. His family indulged him and told him he was wonderful, and that gave him the attitude that sent him out into the world and convinced others to feel the same way. Opportunities fell into his lap, and continue to fall into his lap, with no effort on his part. I would not expect someone as emotionally and intellectually stunted as Ranbir to understand the unfairness of this, to turn away the beautiful women, the choice film roles, the slavishly adoring interviews. But that does not mean I need to treat him like that as well. Most of all, it does not mean that my differing opinion of him is “wrong” or (as the tone of these conversations often becomes) a crime that deserves punishment, a sign of my inferiority as a person because I cannot appreciate him.

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Ranbir’s family sent him to New York, where he lived for two years on his parents’ money, occasionally attending film classes they paid for. He went to two schools while there, the School of Visual Arts and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. They offer completion certificates once you finish a class, I am not sure what certificates Ranbir earned or classes he finished. The School of Visual Arts also offers an undergrad program (which he certainly did not finish because it is 4 years and he was only there 2) and a Masters program (which he couldn’t have been in, because he was not able to finish college). The Strasberg programs vary from a 2 week course to a 2 year course. The application requirements are a certificate of completion from a high school program, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and a photo. And $75. To be accepted to the School of Visual Arts as an international student, you must provide proof of English proficiency and proof of financial ability (VERY IMPORTANT to them). And $500. Ranbir spent 2 years in New York and claims to have studied at both schools and made two student films during that time. What is not clear to me is exactly what and how much he studied at both schools. He says two student films, one 6 month course on “this is how you make a movie, this is how you turn on a camera, this is how you look through a viewfinder” would have given him two films. “Studying” at the Strasberg Institute could easily have been a weekend workshop or a two week course, at the most it was their one year intensive since he wasn’t gone long enough for the 2 year program.

So here we have Ranbir, a failure at everything he had ever attempted, supported by his family his whole life, arriving back in Bombay and handed a job assistant directing Sanjay Leela Bhansali thanks to his family connections. That’s odd to me, now that I think about it. Ranbir had already officially assisted on at least one family film production. And he had acting and filmmaking training (supposedly). Why did he need to spend time assisting SLB before he was qualified to start acting? This is usually promoted as his work ethic, or his dedication, or something. But that doesn’t really fit with everything else we know about him. It feels like more of the massaging the narrative to make himself always look good at the expense of others. Ranbir cared so much that he did Overseas Training, and then still wanted to train more in India. Not that Ranbir, despite supposed two years of training, was still not ready to have a real job.

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the timeline also doesn’t quite match. Everyone agrees on two years in New York. But he was 22 or 23 when he started assisting on Black. How long was he taking pre-college courses in Bombay before they sent him overseas? How much did he fail and start over?

Education and training can be one of the markers of both male and class privilege. Advanced education is a luxury not available to most women in the world, and most lower class people in the world. If you are married young, if you have children young, if you don’t understand the education system, if you don’t have the money, or simply if your family is not willing to spend the money, you cannot get advanced education no matter how much you want it. And then for the rest of your professional life, you are told “see, you are just a nurse, while I am a doctor. I am better than you, I am smarter than you, I care more than you do, because I am a Doctor”. When the reality is often that the Doctor is no better than the nurse, simply was given more opportunities because his family was rich, his family was powerful, or he is a Man.

Kareena Kapoor, Ranbir’s cousin, did not have expensive overseas training. She did not even have a training period as an assistant director. She started acting at age 19 and just kept acting. No one would have considered “wasting” the money on training her. Her family needed her to work while she was still young and pretty, if she was interested in learning filmmaking, that was just too bad. And yet somehow, for Ranbir, they found the money and gave him the time.

Ranbir struggled in his first film. It flopped terribly, but his father arranged a second chance and he finally got a hit. He had a series of hits or at least not bad films for the next couple years. And during that time, he fell into the proper persona for his characters and himself, a persona that would ring a bell with a large part of the Indian audience. The primary mover in this persona was Ayan Mukherjee, who became (and has remained) Ranbir’s best friend. Ayan’s film Wake Up Sid established Ranbir as a charmingly immature type, who struggles with pleasing his father, with finding a place in the world where he can succeed, with finally being appreciated and happy in his life. With learning to appreciate the great talent and power he has inside of himself and using it to “show them all” that he can do what he wants if he just gets a chance.

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Look at Deepika worshipping him in Tamasha

This is what Ranbir’s most popular films have all been about in the subsequent years. The young man who is special, but no one knows or appreciates it. The young man who has a talent that only other special people can see. The young man whose pain dominates those around him, whose pain is cinematic and beautiful and greater than anything else that has ever been before or since.

This is how Ranbir plays himself in public as well. I believe the stories of his difficult childhood, but I also find it a little odd that I know those stories. That Ranbir will sit down in an interview and talk about hiding from his parents’ fights. That he thinks this is something it is important for us all to know, not because it will say something about spousal abuse or have a bigger meaning, but simply because it affected him. Ranbir is in love with the idea of his own pain, his own depth, his own importance and “specialness”.

Picture a young man who, at his birth, was greeted as the promised savior of his family. Who was told by everyone around him his entire life that he is the most special person in the world, better than his sister, better than his classmates, better than everyone. A young man whose family sacrificed everything to give him an education better than anyone in their family had had before, who was praised over and over again for those accomplishments. And now this young man graduates from the school that he was told is the greatest school ever and everyone will be impressed with him for going there, with a degree that he is told is the greatest most impressive credential anyone has ever received, confirmation of his amazing specialness and perfection. And he goes out in the world and he can’t get a job. Or he gets a job, and his boss expects him to be respectful, to prove himself, to make coffee sometimes. Or worst of all, he gets a job and then is fired because he just isn’t very good. Maybe his girlfriend breaks up with him, or the woman he has a crush on rejects him. And now this young man watches Wake Up Sid, or Rocket Singh, or Tamasha, or Rockstar, and he thinks “that’s me!!!!” It’s not that he isn’t so special after all, it’s that he is TOO special, too much for the world to recognize. And then he goes and reads about Ranbir and learns that he had a series of beautiful girlfriends who he left behind because he was Beyond Such Things. And that he has an Important Degree proving that he is better than anyone else. And that his films aren’t appreciated, flop sometimes, because no one appreciates his Specialness. This young man, this disappointed confused man facing failure and the possibility of humility for the first time in his life, clings to Ranbir.

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These could be perfectly nice young men, I don’t know them, but they represent what I am talking about.

This is why I hate Ranbir. Not Ranbir the person. Ranbir the person I pity more than anything, as one of the many people on earth who never had the opportunity to learn empathy and therefore will never know the happiness of a true human connection. But I hate Ranbir Kapoor the idea, the persona, the star. He is a symbol of toxic masculinity, of man children who cannot grow up or understand what it is to be a grown up, of people raised in a house of mirrors where all they have ever seen is themselves and, in Ranbir, they find yet another mirror to reflect themselves while the rest of the world beyond the frame does not exist.

And then they go out into the world and reduce anyone who is different from them into a “dumb fuck”.

63 thoughts on “Hindi Film 101: Ranbir Kapoor, The Physical Embodiment of Young Male Privilage

  1. I agree with this a lot, although I would put it in more extreme words. The thing I really cannot forgive him for is how he owes everything to his male privilege and his name, and he only uses those things for what he can get out of them, and not for good, ever.

    I can kind of get the older generation letting RK studios burn and then sell it, because they have a more direct and probably not positive association, but I simply do not understand Ranbir not doing a single thing to save it. Nothing! Everything he has comes from that studio! What is WRONG with him?

    I think his relationship with Karishma and Kareena is probably better than it looks to me, but I don’t think he’s done anywhere near enough to heal the way the family treated them. Where is the movie directed by him starring them or one of them? Why aren’t they producing together? Karishma seems closer to Govinda than to him. It’s all such a waste.

    Anyway, here’s my essay about how much I dislike Ranbir and any defensive commenters can come at me.

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    • That is an excellent excellent point, about not using your privilege in the world. And I feel like that is the clearest sign of privilege, this kind of it, that it has insulated you to such a degree you are blind to it, and blind to how it can be used to help others. I have almost infinite privilege myself, as a white woman in America, but while I am not going to spend my days torturing myself for that reality, I am also not going to pretend it doesn’t exist, or that I do not owe the world something for it.

      And let us look at, for instance, Sonam Kapoor. Equally talented as Ranbir, equally privileged. But she is working to keep her family studio alive, she is getting risky feminist films out there, she is helping her less famous and powerful friends get the roles they deserve, she is doing candid articles and videos about body image, she is doing all kinds of things.

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      • That is exactly it, you can’t help having that privilege up to a point, but the real crime is in not recognising it and using it for good.

        Compare him to Shashi and his kids, even. Not really a comparable situation but they used their position and influence to make a difference, not just for themselves. They have kept Prithvi alive and influential, Shashi has always helped family members. I don’t even see Ranbir doing anything for the other Kapoor kids.

        Also, I just cannot understand an idea of family honour that will kick you out of the family for essentially being victims of abuse and doing what it takes to stay alive, but won’t kick people out for literally destroying and selling the family legacy. It’s really offensive to me.

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        • But who would kick out Rishi and Randhir? They are the kickers, there is no one else above them to make decisions. That’s the other part of it, this whole family structure of power coming from above down the patriarchal line that is just unquestioned. The Kapoor family is massive, but it is only a couple old men who get to make the real decisions for everyone.

          On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 1:46 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Go look at my new shoe post!

            And so long as we are being depressing, can I point out that Shashi handed off control of Prithvi theaters to HIS DAUGHTER who is running it like gangbusters and has been for years? Because when you pick someone based on innate talent and intelligence instead of gender, good things happen?

            I’m still curious about the parallel world where Kareena is running RK Studios and Karisma is their flagship talent and Ranbir was married off at 22 to some banker’s daughter in order to secure a loan and save the studio.

            On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 10:15 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • lI know, it just makes it all so much stupider because they have a better example RIGHT IN THE FAMILY.

            lol I would have put Karisma as the studio head and Kareena as the star, but this is something I’ve thought about before.

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          • I have thought as well!!! I feel like Karisma has that immediate screen presence, right from her first roles. She is rough as a performer and an actress, because she never got time to learn, but her natural talent is greater than Kareena’s. And meanwhile Kareena has this immediate instinct for the market place and what will work and what won’t. She has hardly ever had a flop. Put Kareena in charge of the studio, let her pick the right scripts for Karisma, and you’ve got a real powerhouse team.

            Additional example, Jeetendra’s family. Ekta was put in charge of the studio as a teenager, proved herself, runs a massive enterprise to vast success, and Tusshar stays home and has babies.

            On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 10:28 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. There are quite a few actors that I don’t get and find overrated but I think Ranbir particularly bothers me precisely because of his “intellectual” fans who think that they are above regular stupid mainstream movies and only watch “deep” Artistic Cinema. These people complain about nepotism yet give Ranbir who is from the most elitist film family a pass. They also go on about how Ranbir does “experimental offbeat films” yet seem dismissive of other actors slotted into the mainstream hero category like Varun and Ranveer that also do “offbeat” stuff now and then and a better job of it in my opinion. Cant believe of this happened because of Rockstar (most overrated film of the decade) and probably Tamasha

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    • This might be me believing to much in the magical connection between star and fan, but I feel like Ranbir must be at least a little bit like his most atrocious fans, for them to have latched on to him. Why do these horrible boys never attack me when I critique Salman? Or Ranveer? Why is it always Ranbir who attracts the worst element? There must be something there, something that they have in common.

      Conversely, this makes me like Salman etc. better. I feel like, if a Salman fan used such language with me and I was able to send that to Salman, Salman would immediately turn on that fan and punish him. While if Ranbir found the messages, he would laugh, or not care, or try to explain the pain of the person writing and why I should sympathize. Again, this could all be my fantasy version of these people, but that is what it feels like.

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  3. Maybe because Ranveer and Salman don’t have the whole super deep “intelligent” artist thing going on so their fans are just there for a good time? And the Ranbir fans seem to be utterly convinced that he is some genius artist and supporting him is some noble cause where they promote “meaningful” cinema and people that disagree with them are too stupid to understand art or something

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    • Indeed! Whereas Salman and Ranveer’s fans might be more likely to say “wasn’t that a FUN movie?”

      On Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 5:19 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • I’ll say!!!! As one of the 3 people in the world who saw Besharam, I can confirm that “fun” and “Ranbir” do not mix.

          On Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 5:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • OK, going to ask a devil’s advocate kind of question, partly because I think you’re on to something with the intellectual angle. Nothing like feeling yourself to be an aggrieved intellectual to justify looking on others with contempt. So, minus the manchild eternal immaturity and the personal fan vitriol, do you see any parallels with Aamir fans who see him as superior in talent, intellect, and virtue? To be clear, I see Aamir as a kinder human being who is trying to use his power to make the world better. Just perceive the one similar strain among some of his fans that anyone who doesn’t appreciate him isn’t smart enough to get it.

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          • Oh, that is an interesting thought!

            Just off the top of my head, the first thought I have is what you say, that Aamir is a kinder caring human being. Aamir’s films and stardom have a similar tone of being “good for you” somehow. But his films, and stardom, are about looking outward not inward. Dangal wasn’t about the troubles of a middle aged man, but the troubles of young women. PK was about Anushka and Sushant, 3 Idiots about Sharman, and so on. Aamir is the center perfect one, but the story of the film is actually the people around him. And in the same way, in public, he talks about his causes and what he cares about, not about himself. While in a Ranbir film, the biggest story revolves around his character, what happens to everyone else doesn’t matter. And in the same way, Ranbir in public life tends to talk about himself and his own artistic journey, I don’t know anything about social causes he supports or charities or anything. I don’t even know what he thinks of his co-stars in his movies, it’s all him.

            I don’t think an angry Aamir fan is going to come yell at me for not liking PK, I think they are too busy living their lives and doing things in the world, just as Aamir himself does.

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          • Good answer, I agree :). We can all be guilty of getting judgmental about other people’s choices, but the corrective starts with curiosity and empathy.

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          • Yes, I have to say, I generally love running this blog because people disagree with me so kindly. Film is hugely subjective, we won’t all see or respond to the same things, but we can use that as a way to learn about each other.

            On Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 9:57 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I don’t know, I think Mahesh is wise enough to know that there is nothing he can do. He just has to wait for Alia to realize it on her own. Which I hope happens SOON!!!!

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  4. You hate Ranbir. And I bet you are curating comments to allow only your fellow Ranbir haters to thrive. Your long disclaimer that you don’t hate was good for nothing.
    You are a hater. A bitter woman with a poison pen. And it is your hatred that’ll never allow your blog to climb any greatness.

    You still have time. Remove hatred from your heart, and see how nonpartisan behavior elevates your blog.
    Finally I bet this comment won’t see the light of day. What a shame.

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    • Isn’t this interesting? The need to imply the deck is stacked against his opinion and “truth” would support him out (“I bet you are curating comments”).

      And then the need to identify me as a bitter woman, with the various misogynist implications, women become bitter and viperish, men are above that pettiness.

      The implication that I am in competition, that I am attempting to become “great”, and that my innate flaws are why I will not succeed (while, presumably, his greatness of spirit is why he will succeed). But what if I just want to write something and not be the best ever? What if I don’t require such external validation?

      And the ending implication that his words of wisdom, which will never be seen, could save us all. A full picture of himself as wise and better and greater souled, trying to guide us towards the right way. While I, the one who disagrees with him, am ruined and useless and female.

      This kind of comment I truly do not get except on Ranbir, Priyanka, and Kangana posts. But most reliably on Ranbir posts. I get the occasional hate comment (often on Akshay Kumar posts), but they are not direct responses to what I said, and are clearly paid conservative bots. It is only Ranbir, Kangana, and Priyanka that brings out individual volunteers to give me hate speech. Something about longform English language writing on the internet brings out Ranbir fans especially, and they will track down the most obscure smallest writing that they can find in order to defend the victim Ranbir. Kangana and Priyanka are much more hit and miss, depending on which particular little fan battle gang happens to come upon me in the waves of twitter.

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      • I claim no greatness. Nor do I think Ranbir is great. I rate Ranveer above him.
        Also I apologize for inserting woman when all I should have written was poison pen. I admit that comment was typed in rage when my brain was not functioning normally.
        I admire your blogs and enjoy reading them. Especially your keen observation and treasure of known gossip.
        I am genuinely put off by such posts where you are basically calling to arms an army of haters to bring down Ranbir. This behavior is what ‘got’ me.
        I genuinely want your blogs to improve. I swear (in India we pinch our necks while taking such oaths).

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        • This is what alarms me “that comment was typed in rage when my brain was not functioning normally.”

          This blog is not a place that welcomes thoughtless angry commentary, or usually has it. My post itself was not thoughtless, the opening paragraph was a bit cheeky, but from then on there is nothing that is not based on my interpretation of facts as we know them. I even end by saying that I pity Ranbir the person, it is his public persona and what it represents that angers me. As I said in the post, and in many comments so far, truly only my Ranbir coverage is capable of bringing out such anger that your brain will not function. Which makes me try to understand what Ranbir represents and why he angers people to the point of personal attacks. Which lead to this post.

          On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 2:03 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Ranbir has the toxic male fan base and Priyanka has the toxic female fan base. Both are seen as long-suffering and mistreated by the world who doesn’t accept their worth and talent. Ranbir gets the misogynists and PC gets the self-proclaimed feminists who think she should be excused of any and all bad behavior because she is a savage queen sticking it to the evil world that denies her. Kangana had the same fan base as PC but her increasingly crazy behavior has made it tough to defend her. They will be back though when people start forgetting the Hrithik mess.

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        • I am also almost positive that both PC and Kangana fans are coordinated in their attacks. Either because there is encouragement within the fan community to find and respond immediately (encouragement like it moves you to a higher level and gets you closer to meeting your idol), or because the PR team is actually paying people. And that drives the toxic behavior.

          In the case of Ranbir, it doesn’t feel like it is paid off at all, it just arises naturally. So, I guess, good on Ranbir that he isn’t actively telling his fans to do this. But bad on his fan community that they feel the need naturally without any external encouragement.

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          • I’ve also felt that the PC and Kangana attacks are PR-generated. They feel very coordinated and planned in a certain way. When it’s just normal fans doing it, it’s all over the place and has no overarching theme but that’s not the case with these two actresses. It’s also done in a way where it’s difficult to counter because they use feminism as their shield. If you criticize them, it’s because you must hate women.

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          • Yes, exactly. While with Ranbir there doesn’t seem to be a theme, beyond wrongness and lack of depth on the part of the person criticizing.

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          • I’ve gotten attacked by SRK fans a couple of times, the logic I had was that they only noticed me to begin with because I gave good SRK coverage. If I really didn’t care about him and just ignored him totally, who would notice? Like, I’ve never gotten swarmed by Kamal Haasan fans, I can’t stand the man but I also never write about him so why would they notice me?

            On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 4:22 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. If I’m to be perfectly frank, the kind of behaviour you say Ranbir encourages is present in the fans of other actors and actresses, too. I’ve seen enough fanwars on Twitter that I can say that with a fair amount of certainty- just came off a particularly ugly one between Alia fans and Shraddha fans. I think those comments you quoted are abominable, but I don’t think Ranbir- in his public persona (funny he manages to have one considering he’s not on social media and generally doesn’t do a lot of interviews) or private life- is any more hateful than any other (male) young star in the industry.

    He’s never struck me as particularly pseudo-intellectual in interviews, either. Just very withdrawn and closed-off.

    Does this count as a defence? I suppose I’m playing devil’s advocate, here- just a little bit.

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    • I’m just distracted by the idea of Alia and Shraddha fans getting into wars! They seem like such different actresses to me, I can’t imagine comparing them. Which I suppose goes to your point, fans can be anywhere and act strange every where.

      What I can tell you from this blog in particular (which is a very limited specific place), is that while I have gotten similar angry comments about Priyanka and Kangana, and once or twice Shahrukh, those started on twitter. Someone found a tweet by accident (or was trolling for angry tweets) and then tossed it to the crowd, I got a lot of twitter blowback and a couple comments. But only Ranbir brings out people outside of twitter. This isn’t a social media war, this is individuals finding me all on their own and defending him by themselves. It’s very strange to me.

      And thank you for playing devil’s advocate! I have only seen/read a few interviews with him, and the ones I have read felt like he was playing the “great actor” card more than was justified, but that is just how it looked to me.

      On Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 10:31 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Funniest experience I had is when a group of SRK fans started going off on me on twitter without realizing they were still tagging me in the conversation. I felt like saying “hey, you know I’m still in the room, right?” And then suddenly it disappeared from my feed so they must have realized what was happening and removed me from the group.

          But yes, twitter is wild. With Ranbir in particular though, I don’t think I’ve had a twitter attack, and it certainly doesn’t start on twitter (unlike with PC, Kangana, and SRK), it starts here. Very odd.

          On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 10:47 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I don’t think it’s really about Ranbir the person because apart from his dating history, people don’t really know him. He keeps to himself pretty much. But it’s about the star persona that he represents. The guy from Rockstar and Wake up Sid and Tamasha and Bachna Ae Haseeno… almost every movie. He is the sad, lonely, deep, long-suffering little boy in spite of being more privileged than almost everyone. His parents don’t understand him, he is not loved enough, a man-child who is special but nobody recognizes it. Somehow this connects hugely to lots of Indian men who are equally privileged but refuse to see it and pity themselves and glorify their pain. It’s a tone deaf way of looking at the world. Everything revolves around them and their nonexistent pain and tough life – they have so much depth and are so intellectual and yet the world denies them their rightful place. There is a stink of entitlement that comes off these men.

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  6. Truthfully I feel like we don’t know anything about any celebrities. The ones who do have nice images might just be completely crafted by their pr team. Have you seen this ask me anything done by this guy working for a PR firm in bollywood? He revealed quite a few things and honestly I find it all to be true.

    What i mean to say is that one who has a clean image might not be being completely honest. I don’t know a lot about Ranbir, don’t watch his interviews. I think he has good screen presence but I’m not interested in him outside of that. I barely watch his films as well.

    But i think everyone has good and bad, some are just more transparent about the bad.

    Like the previous commenter said as well, i dont think that type of hate is found only from Ranbir fans. I think all fans are like that. But you wouldn’t find it on posts where you genuinely like the actor or actress, because of course no one feels defensive then. Those comments are so rude and dumb but I see them a lot online, in defense of any celeb. If someone published a criticism filled post about SRK they’d find a lot of those comments too.

    Anyway i do find Ranbir off-putting at times, just his entitled kind of nature, so i can see your criticism. But i also don’t believe that a lot of other celebs out there aren’t worthy of a similar probe into their personalities and images.

    For example in this reddit AMA, the guy said while talking about Deepika Padukone that she and her PR did one of the scummiest moves he’s seen for publicity. But she is otherwise better than a lot of other celebs. I think what he’s referring to is her mental health talk. I think it was just PR driven. You know, in the end, i think she did a good thing by raising awareness and making it less of a stigma. But i do it stemmed from a not fully honest place. To be honest I got that vibe from it back in 2014 when she was talking about it. And she does seem heavily calculative. Anyway sorry to go off topic but just thought that AMA was interesting

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    • Just based on my experience, as a blogger for 4 years who has written about all kinds of celebrities from all over India, Ranbir is special. I do not get that kind of hate related to anyone else, and I’m not lying or exaggerating, it’s just the truth. You can look at the comment above where the writer described it himself as “that comment was typed in rage when my brain was not functioning normally.”

      Why is that? What is that? Why does Ranbir criticism lead to such anger that it is impossible to think straight? I’ve gotten angry comments on criticisms of Shahrukh, Priyanka, and Kangana, but those were semi-coordinated attacks, a post was retweeted and a twitter fight made its way to the blog. But for a person to read something and immediately be in such rage that they must personally attack me is very very strange.

      That was my starting point, Ranbir the person I find pretty unremarkable, but he keeps working and keeps being hailed as the “Best Actor in India” which made me think there must be something there that is resonating with people.

      Obviously all celebrities use PR and so on. That is my basic assumption. But you can choose how to use it. For example, if Ranbir chooses to do nothing and make no statement, even while his films fail, his girlfriends are attacked, and so on and so forth, that tells me he is a coward who is unwilling to put his personal fame to the test in order to help the greater good. Salman and Aamir were quicker to speak up when Katrina got in trouble for going on vacation with him than Ranbir was. When his films flop, he disappears while every other star of his level issues statements taking responsibility and apologizing. At a certain point, doing nothing is doing something and tells me about him.

      I could certainly do a similar probe on Kangana and Priyanka fans, and even my beloved Shahrukh fans, but I haven’t been attacked by them in the same way so I don’t feel I have a right to do that.

      On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 8:12 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. On the subject of Ranbir, I just came across this article: https://www.hindustantimes.com/bollywood/when-11-year-old-alia-bhatt-felt-too-shy-to-place-her-head-on-ranbir-kapoor-s-shoulder/story-E4Cyim0GOtGZ7VjK4rKmaI.html.

    How in the world were Ranbir and Alia supposed to debut together 15 years ago. Alia would have been 11 and Ranbir would have been 22!!! I also looked up the film they are referencing and found this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balika_Badhu_(1976_film). I guess Bansali was thinking of making a remake of a movie about a child bride who grew to love her older husband! Only silver lining I see is that Bansali thankfully had the sense to shelve it. Also, how in the world is this a “cute” story to share?!!!

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  8. I don’t hate Ranbir. Some of the movies you hate, I love, such as Jagga Jasoos, but the persona you describe of the poor misunderstood privileged boy is SPOT ON! And when I think of the demographics of India, I imagine there are a lot of young educated men perhaps having a hard time making the movie ideal of wealth that they thought (or at least hoped) their education would get them, I can understand the anger. But then they aren’t allowed to be angry because they pass so many beggars on the street, and the very fact that they aren’t allowed to feel the anger they feel makes them angrier. And here they are, studying a subject they hate, working at a job they despise, all for barely enough money, when they were raised to be KINGS! (As a westerner I sometimes feel that Hindi films are instructional videos on how NOT to raise boys). So those roles Ranbir plays does speak to them, he gives them an outlet. And he is good enough at it, I myself wonder, maybe Ranbir never wanted to be an actor. Maybe he himself would have been happier as an engineer, or a house dad? And I also wonder, don’t all those young men deserve an outlet too? I need a gorgeous middle aged mother to identify with, okay I get Kajol. Young educated women, they can glam onto Alia. Old men who wish they were still young, they can pretend with Salmon. Young men who want to be famous, well they have Ranveer. But what about the unhappy young men? Why not be happy they have Ranbir to glom onto? Everyone tells them they should be happy, and they aren’t. Well look at Ranbir, he has everything and he isn’t happy too! They aren’t alone! I don’t know who first said “We read to know we aren’t alone.”, but a lot of people don’t read, so they watch movies instead. This anger at life could be one of the uniting characteristics of his fanbase. So they will use that anger to attack anyone who attacks their god Ranbir. I don’t want to be on the recieving end of those attacks myself, so kuddos to you for putting yourself out there. Your opinion is valid. And from the information you’ve provided, it seems like his stardom might be valid as well.

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    • I love your description of the young man trapped in a life and a job he hates, and the anger at not getting the life he hoped for. That’s it exactly, that anger and frustration at the world, that’s what it feels like Ranbir is answering in his fandom. And of course you are correct, fiction gives us a place to see ourselves and find someone to speak to us. The question is, do the people with the most power in society (and educated young men in India would have the most power) have the right to be angry at the rest of society? I’m not sure if that “how can I be unhappy when I pass a beggar” thought is actually going through people’s heads much of the time.

      Have you read about the Angry Young Man in 1970s Hindi cinema yet? Amitabh represented him, young men raised post-Independence in the “new” India that was supposed to give them everything. But Amitabh’s characters, and audience, were the homeless beggars on the street, the ones who stole to survive, who weren’t able to go to school, and so on and so forth. And his “heroism” usually involved somehow sacrificing everything for others, he steals so his younger brother can go to school and have a legitimate life, or so his mother can have food, or whatever. That’s what I am missing in the new “angry young man”. He isn’t the one crushed at the bottom of society, and he doesn’t seem to be angry on behalf of others, just himself.

      Bringing it back to Ranbir, if I think about his films in isolation, most of them (excluding Tamasha and Rockstar) have a decent character journey where he starts out being broken by disappointment at his life, then picks himself up and works hard and finds happiness, and finally manages to reach out to someone else. But if you put them all in a row, and add in Tamasha and Rockstar, you can find this strong through line of young male anger. I like some of his films on their own as well, but I don’t think I could handle a mini-Ranbir film fest because I would get sick of him so fast.

      On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 1:24 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • What’s interesting about this situation is that, so far as I can tell, there was no loss of power. Just loss of expected power. Does that make sense? Their life is no worse than their father’s lives before them, but they THOUGHT it would be better, it was promised to be better, and that didn’t happen. Especially when you have worked hard for years because of this guaranteed promises reward at the end of the miserable rainbow. So it kind of goes back to the education system issues again too, there is no test you can pass or degree you can get that will guarantee you happiness.

          On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 4:26 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • There is a little bee in my brain that wonders if Karan Johar, and his depictions of those worthy beautiful rich people, perhaps helped create this current batch of angry young men who haven’t been able to surpass their fathers, but who watched his films and thought that one day, maybe they too would arrive at household parties in a helicopter?

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          • I don’t think so, at least not Karan Johar. I would suspect the Karan Johar films are more like a kid in America feeling bad because they aren’t a wizard like Harry Potter. And when I think about the “American” side of things, my angry millenial generation isn’t mad because rom-coms told us we would be architects and magazine writers and have amazing apartments, but because our high school advisors told us it was worth it to go into massive debt in order to get a college degree. I would guess something more along those lines, movies are fantasies, but it is “common sense” that if you get an engineering degree, you will get a good job and a beautiful wife and your life will be perfect.

            On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 7:04 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • The 4-chan / Incel community did cross my mind. And while the frustration they feel is perhaps the same, I think the anger is different. I don’t think they are as educated as the Ranbir fan base, I don’t think Incels are as experienced in the real world. Ranbir fans might write some nasty responses on the internet, but I think they are better people than Incels. They have jobs, they just don’t like them. I have an sense that there are certain aspects of Indian society that can be stifling to creative people. Of course all societies have these aspects to some extent, but the expectation to conform in Indian society is perhaps particularly strong. (Did I throw enough perhaps and maybes and ifs in there to make it clear I don’t really know what I’m talking about?)

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          • You did a great job!

            My impression is that there is an enormous pressure to conform, yes. But there is also an encouragement on the part of young men to feel self-pity, or at least more tolerance for it, than for any other person in society. I just can’t condone that. You can feel whatever you want, of course, but this indulgence in self-pity and sense that you are the most tragic figure in the world, that is what bothers me. Almost a pride in misery.

            On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 6:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. I hear Bhansali traumatised both Ranbir and Sonam when they were working on Saawariya. Threw stuff at Ranbir and made Sonam cry repeatedly, and both wanted to give up at one point. Anil sent Sunita over to set to comfort her and do damage control. Rishi publicly denounced SLB, but- er, I really think Ranbir could have benefited from on-set parental guidance (he was like, 24 then?). Notably they both usually only mention his name in passing.

    And the one time he did try breaking out of his pigeonhole, we got Bombay Velvet, in which both he and Anushka were slammed for being grossly miscast. I’m one of three people on the planet who quite liked it, so it’s a small comfort to me that neither he, Anushka nor Anurag regretted the project.

    Ranbir’s biggest strength in acting has always been the emotional transparency and vulnerability he shows on screen (a rarity among folks in his age group), and it’d be I wish they’d play around with that a bit more to fit more mature characters. Example- I think Ranbir would do really well as a widowed father trying to raise his young children. I think Ranbir’s a good actor- just not a versatile one.

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    • Hey, my friend is one of the other three people who liked Bombay Velvet! You two should have a little club 🙂 Personally, I found Bombay Velvet a time when Ranbir showed his inability to break out of the pigeon hole. I felt like he was playing his violent gangster as Wake Up Sid if he were a gangster.

      Interesting story about Bhansali, I hadn’t heard that before. It’s clear from the end result of his films that he is a very precise director of his actors, but I hadn’t heard anything that indicated he directs them angrily before.

      I agree that Ranbir can show with emotion and vulnerability, although I also find his performances as a whole tediously similar, the tricks he uses to show vulnerability in Sanju are the same as what he uses in ADHM and so on. If he is going to play every role so similar, I would love to see that same kind of little boy sadness and openness used for a different kind of character.

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      • General consensus is that he’s got better since then (meaning no throwing stuff) but he’s still very demanding. Deepika and Priyanka came close to tears when when they started working on Ram-Leela and Bajirao Mastani respectively.

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        • Interesting. And a very good reason for him and Salman to decide not to work together after all.

          On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 9:14 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  10. This seems wrong in so many levels.Your reasons for the rant seems silly considering the way you wrote so impartially about other controversial figures like say Salman. It made sense when Bhansali was attacked during the Padmavat controversy. But what did Ranbir do that’s so controversial?. If he chose to waste his talent on poor-little-rich boy roles, that’s a waste of talent and opportunity. But nothing to be so upset about.Just look at Akshay Kumar or Kartik Aryan.They stick to what’s familiar.The second reason seems to be that he’s a player.So is almost everybody in the industry.Do you write rants about all of them? Or it could be because you identify with Katrina more? As for Alia – she’s a very shrewd person who understands the undercurrents of the industry very well.She really doesn’t need anybody’s pity.Is Ranbir really under any obligation to save the family business if he knows that he’s not capable of running it? We don’t know that Karisma or Kareena had any interest in running it.As for Sonam and Rhea, have you seen the entitled and immature way Rhea spoke during last years’ producer’s roundtable? That was Papa’s money talking all the way.So why single Ranbir out? There are actors whom each of us can’t stand for a variety of reasons which don’t make sense in the real world.But this call for attack seems silly and unnecessary.

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    • I agree with you, there is no real reason to attack Ranbir, which is why I tried to not do that really. There are actually other actors and celebrities in India that I dislike similarly as celebrities, as artists, and so on. But Ranbir is the one who somehow incites a particular kind of anger and resentment within his fans that does not come with any other actor, that’s the reason for this post.

      This is one of those posts where there is a big difference between what I will say in a comment and what I will say in the post, and there is a reason for that. In the post, I clarify Ranbir’s lack of credentials, and discuss his terrible childhood. And I don’t think I say anything else specific about him, nothing about his family studio, nothing about Alia, nothing about him as a player, only about how his personal narrative, and the persona Ayan gave him in Wake Up Sid, tend to play into a generalized self pity and narrative of the privileged male.

      In a comment, I will talk about all those things you discuss, and not feel bad about it, because we are just talking as people. But in a post, I am far more careful.

      On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 5:00 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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