We Arent Like That Only
A Tamil filmmaker takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the strangeness of south Indians in Hindi films
Imagine a mime of SRK going kkkkkkk... for 10 minutes. Imagine Aamir Khan walking into a college campus. Not because he studies there, but because he is checking out where he wants to go when he leaves school. Imagine Sunny Deol jumping from a skyscraper in Andheri. And landing in Pakistan.
So any one of those scenarios is how a north Indian version of the "rascala" scene, (where Shah Rukh Khan plays a Tamil hero) would play out in a south Indian version of Om Shanti Om.
Let me start by making an admission. I don't find Shah Rukh Khan's stereotyping of south Indians in that scene or the unintentionally hilarious noodles and curd scene in Ra.One all that offensive to my south Indian identity. I probably would have if Aamir Khan had done it though. I understand an SRK movie is just that, "an SRK movie". You don't imagine teams of researchers working on plot and characterisation to ensure authenticity.
I don't consider myself an expert on "the depiction of south Indians in Bollywood" either. When asked to write this article, I had to complement my meager knowledge by watching a few films, talking to journalist friends and researching on the Net. But what puts me a little ahead of the average-Hindi-film-watching-south-Indian is the fact that I owe my film career to the kind of thing SRK did in Om Shanti Om. You see my first film was a spoof on Tamil cinema (Tamizh Padam). This was subsequently remade in Telugu as Sudigaadu (Riteish Deshmukh is set to play the lead in the Hindi remake). I am therefore in a good position to tell you how south India reacts. But we'll return to SRK in a bit.
Let's start off with Raanjhanaa and the south Indian actor it has launched in Hindi films. At the time of signing up for Raanjhanaa, Dhanush was already a celebrated actor in Tamil with a National Award for his spell-binding performance in Aadukalam) under his belt. All the praise that the national media, which only knows him through Kolaveri di, is showering doesn't come as a big surprise to us.