Friday Classics: Dabangg!!! The Most Progressive Film You Never Noticed Was Progressive

Dabangg!  Finally getting around to it.  And feeling “wasteful”, since I am going to have to come up with at least 7 posts for Salman week and now here I am wasting a topic I should have saved.  At least Salman was considerate enough to release his film right before his birthday, so it will all just sort of flow together.  Anyway, I will have to come up with another 7 topics without Dabangg (or possibly 14 if I decide to give him the full movie week and birthday week he is owed), because I have stuff to say about it and I want to say it this week!  A lot to say, as it turns out, this ended up being the longest Classics Friday post so far.

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News Round-Up: Dabangg 3 and Sonakshi, Diljit and Kriti, and Shahrukh and Karan and Farah

Happy Monday!  Time to see what everyone’s been up to over the weekend.  Not as exciting as some Mondays, but there are a few mildly interesting stories out there.

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Ittefaq Review (SPOILERS DO NOT READ IT YOU HAVE NOT SEEN): The Blindness of Prejudice

I really hope everyone who wants to has had a chance to see this film now.  I put off posting until Monday morning India time/after the last evening show has started America time so that you could.  If you have not seen it yet not, here is my regular no spoilers review, read that instead.  And if you haven’t but are going to be able to later, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW. Or if you aren’t sure if you will enjoy it, YOU WILL ENJOY IT, DO NOT READ THIS AND GO SEE IT INSTEAD!!!!  But if you have already seen the film, or live somewhere where you won’t be able to watch it for months and months and want to know what happens, then you can read on.

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Ittefaq Review (No Spoilers): A Timely Movie

It’s been a long time since I went to a movie theater and it was so crowded I could hardly find a seat!  That was exciting.  And I don’t think it was just about the quality of this film (although it is very very good), I think it is also a “right time” thing.

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News Round-Up: Abhishek-Dutta Mystery Continues, Sonakshi is Happy, RK Studios is Not Happy, DON 3!!!!!!

Yay!  For the first time, actually follow-up news stories!  I am getting better about this, checking the news at least once a week so I’m not totally out of the loop.

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Noor Review (SPOILERS): Fails in the Most Important Character, the City of Bombay

I already put up my no spoilers review.  The SPOILERS review doesn’t really have much to add to that, because there’s not much to the plot of the film.  But I can complain in a little more detail about how the plot fails.  And save you the trouble of watching it yourself, since you can just learn about it here.

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Noor Review (NO SPOILERS): A Badshah Song Can’t Hide a Bad Ending

Well, shoot!  This was not a great movie.  After I spent all that time reading and thinking about the book, the film was just bleh.  Kanan Gill was still amazing, but the rest of it really wasn’t worth it.  Oh, and then the end credits song with Badshah and Diljit was fun too.

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Everything You Need To Know About Karachi You’re Killing Me Before Noor

I finished Karachi You’re Killing Me!  Partly while waiting for my car to be fixed (if you listened to the Phillauri podcast, you know that my side mirror was falling off), and partly while sitting in the now-fixed car for five minutes because I got to the knitting group early and had to kill time.  Well, sitting there for 15 minutes.  I got sucked in and ended up being ten minutes late to knitting.

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R… Rajkumar: A Guilty Pleasure Film I Actually Feel Guilty About

After doing my Prabhudeva Birthday post, I was suddenly in the mood to watch my favorite Prabhudeva movie.  So I decided to indulge in a bit of a guilty pleasure.  And not “guilty” like it’s usually used, like something you know is bad for you, but like something that is bad for the world and I know I really shouldn’t be encouraging, but it just makes me feel so good!

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Force 2, a Mini-Review/Summary (SPOILERS): John Abraham Was Good, But Nothing Else Was

Force 2 popped up on Netflix a little bit ago and I thought “why not?”  Well, there is a reason why not!  This is not a good movie!  It took one good thing from the first movie (John Abraham’s character), and then grafted on a bunch of things that weren’t good at all.  And therefore, as punishment for the filmmakers (Bad filmmakers!  Bad!), they don’t get a real review!  They just get a little mini one.  But full of SPOILERS! So if you liked Force and are kind of curious about Force 2 but not enough to watch it, you should just read this.

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Happy Birthday Salman! Here Are My Favorite of Your Jodis!

The celebration continues!  I’ve done hair (very important) and film performances, now it’s time for film partnerships!  One of the things I love about Salman is how he is willing to step back and let his co-stars shine if it is better for the narrative.  And so he has helped to create one half of some all time great “jodi”s.

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Action Jackson: A Manga Crossed With Tarentino and Mixed to a Southern Beat

This was just a fun, silly movie!  Which was perfect, because I had a friend over and she said “I’ve had a bad day, let’s watch a fun silly movie.”  My first vote was Dil Aashna Hai, but she wanted something a little more current, so we ended up with Action Jackson.  Which I somehow missed in theaters and hadn’t gotten around to seeing since.

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Akira Review (SPOILERS!): Not Your Usual Heroine Film

I already put up my spoiler-free review, right when I got home late last night, but now that I’ve slept on it, I’m ready for my spoiler review!  And I am very excited because there are all these plot details that I am DYING to talk about!

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Akira: Okay, I HAFT to See the Original!

This movie was so interesting!  It really is just a southern action movie with the hero turned into a heroine.  But at the same time, there were all of these things that are so specific to the female experience, and I just have to wonder, did the director look at them and think “Hey!  I should remake this with a female star!”  Or, were they added in when the hero became a woman?

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Holiday: A Soldier is Never Off Duty; I Still Don’t Understand The Bad Guy’s Plan!

This is another one of those movies, like Hero: Love Story of a Spy or Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, where I HAFT to say the whole name!  I can’t bring myself to just say “Holiday”, I have to drop  my voice and add “a soldier is never off duty.”

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Indrani Mukerjea and Tevar

So, this isn’t really that film related (except that it sounds exactly like a film plot), but I am fascinated by the coverage of the Indrani Mukerjea murder case.

So, to recap, the police picked up a guy for a weapons charge.  While they were “interrogating” him, he suddenly confessed to hiding a body in the forest and setting it on fire, 4 years early.  Further questioning revealed, he had done this at the behest of his employer, Indrani Mukerjea, wife of the head of Star TV India. And that the body was that of her sister, Sheena Bora, who Indrani had drugged and strangled.

Over the next few weeks, almost every hour seemed to bring another juicy detail.  First, although Indrani had introduced her as her sister, in fact the victim was her daughter.  And she had a secret son as well, Mikhail.  And that son had also been drugged that night, but had managed to escape before being murdered.

It also came out that Indrani’s stepson, Rahul, had been living with Sheena.  They were in love and planned to marry, but Indrani disapproved.  Indrani’s husband, Peter, agreed with her and had cut his son out of his life entirely, not having spoken to him for years.

Now, weeks later, after the excitement has died down, the final information on motive and details of the events that lead to the murder have started trickling out.  And as I read them, something finally clicked into place, and I realized what this reminded me of!  Not a movie, but other news stories I have read, American news stories about spousal abuse leading to murder.

In those murders, and in this one, ultimately, there is no motive, at least not one an outsider can understand.  The motive is simply that the victim acted as though they had needs and wants and a life outside of their abuser.  And by this point, the abuse had gone on for so long, and had been so accepted by everyone around them, that even a murder did not seem outside of the bounds of reasonable response.

In America, it is relations between couples that are considered so private, and so sacrosanct, that outsiders are afraid to comment, and those inside the relationship are so ashamed that they would never consider sharing their problems.  The abusers take advantage of societies blind-spots to push the limits and become increasingly comfortable with their power.

In this story, it is the relationship between parent and child that is considered so private, and so powerful, that no one is allowed to interfere or judge.  Peter and Indrani Mukerjea were respected members of Bombay society.  No one found it odd that Peter would cut off all contact with his son merely because he dared to fall in love with someone of whom he disapproved.  No one found Indrani’s cover story for the disappearance of her “sister” odd, that Sheena Bora would be sent overseas to study by her “parents” (in reality, her grandparents) and not allowed to contact any friends or relatives, because she had a relationship that did not have her parents’ approval.

Worst of all, the newly released emails and texts show that Sheena herself accepted all that was done to her.  For years, she allowed her own identity to be lied about, to be a sister instead of a daughter.  She barely objected when her mother and stepfather sold the apartment she was living in, she put off her engagement to the man she loved, and even in the midst of a fierce battle with her mother, when threats had been made which lead her own boyfriend to suggest she it would be unsafe to be alone with her parent, she still agreed to meet with Indrani.

This same symptom of abuse is still apparent in her brother, Mikhail.  His mother attempted to murder him years ago, and did murder his sister, and yet Mikhail was still so afraid of her, that he never called the police, never spoke to any friends or family members, and may have even helped cover up the murder by maintaining his sister’s facebook profile.

And even if Mikhail had gone to the police, likely nothing would have happened.  Rahul, Sheena’s boyfriend and possibly the only decent person in her life, did go to the police.  He went immediately, he recorded messages and saved texts and emails.  He knew Indrani was a threat and that Sheena loved him and would never have left simply because her mother told her to.  The police did not believe him.  Despite all his evidence, they took the statement of the victim’s mother and ignored that of her live-in boyfriend.

Tying this all back into film, FINALLY, this reminded me of Tevar, the remake of a southern film starring Arjun Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha which came out last year, and which I finally watched last weekend.  Sonakshi is being stalked by a powerful gunda.  She runs away, with her parents’ support, planning to fly to America.  The villain and his gang track her down, and she is rescued by Arjun, who hides her in his home.  Coincidentally, his father is a police officer who has been assigned to track Sonakshi down!

This is all fine, kind of cute, romantic, whatever.  The problem is, once Arjun’s father discovers Sonakshi is staying in their home, the narrative suggests that he is in a moral quandary.  While we, the viewer, know that the heroine’s parents wish her to leave and go to America, he has been told that they do not, and therefore it is his duty as a police officer to bring her back home.

But this isn’t a moral quandary, right?  All he has to do is ask the grown up person standing right in front of him what she wants to do, does she want to go to America or does she want to go back home.  But that is not an option.  Because she is not a grown up person who belongs to herself, she belongs to her parents.  The audience is supposed to sympathize with him, to know that if her parents want her back, the right thing to do is to take her home.  Even if she begs, even if she runs from him, even if he has to beat her and put her in chains, it is always a parent’s right to decide what they do with their children, especially their female children.

And that is why Sheena went to meet her mother that day, and that is why Indrani thought it was perfectly normal to drug her daughter, to put her in the backseat of her car, to strangle her with her own scarf, and to pay her driver to dump the body, and then to go about her life with no guilt, no regrets, and no sense that she had done anything wrong.

 

(more thoughts on Indian family relations, here and here )