No heroes in Bollywood

ShahrukhkhanThe once noble leading man has been undone by toilet humour.

The once noble leading man has been undone by toilet humour.

So I am here to write this obit on the Bollywood hero. He died when we saw him watering the mustard fields, from his very own personal spout, singing : "tujhe dekha toh yeh jaana sanam". Really, I wanted to ask Ranbir Kapoor, "kya dekha"? Just what did you see in that story that made you want to put yourself on screen and draw attention to the fact that you can urinate, rotate your pelvis, and sing a song, all at the same time?

Strictly speaking, the young Kapoor's eliminating act in Besharam is just the tipping point. The Bollywood hero has been dying, movie by movie, for some time now. No literal deathbed scenes decorated by a sickle-carrying figure or a "yamraaj" on a buffalo. But join the dots, and you can see nothing but the death of creativity. And The Hero.

The Hindi film hero began by being noble. He had to be Maryada Purushottam Ram. The man who upheld tradition and respected his elders and betters, touched their feet and, asked for "aashirwad". His romances had to be conducted with societal approval. He could also be Krishna and flirt with many "gopis", but only briefly. Having established his masculinity, he was expected to be happy with holy matrimony.

When the hero started getting unshackled from these two variants, he began lunging towards the bad, but it was never the evil that is interred with the bones. He could do bad things, and then repent. Or he could, alternatively, die in his mother's arms, in front of a religious edifice. Maa and Bhagwan there could be no better double-bill appeasement.

Then came a time when all this was old hat. We began thirsting for some real men who could live with their infirmities. But that was a short-lived deviation. We decided that the superstar-heroes we were willing to pay the most for were not going to be caught living a life, doing the things you and I do. Which meant that the stars and their writers began looking for things that sold the most, and this has led to the present situation: the Bollywood hero getting jammed between a rock and several hard places.

... contd.

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