Sailing with Priyanka on the Ibis
(Picture above - Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranawat and Mugdha Godse - stars of the new movie 'Fashion')
I haven’t seen Madhur Bhandarkar’s ‘Fashion’ yet – but, I am sure that I’m not the only middle-aged man salivating at the bill-boards of the ravishing Priyanka Chopra with her ‘come hither’ look (she’s coming out more sharp and confident with every passing movie
– tho’ I'm told, in Fashion it is Kangana Ranawat who steals the show with her acting and dagger looks. See her pic below).
Vinod Nair – the dapper and charming “Fashaan Editor” of Echtee has commented on his Facebook ‘Wall’ – “ Fashion not so FASHIONable” (and, you thought I give bad titles !!) pronouncing it as a ‘shallow’ portrayal (thought it was all about being shallow and hollow in the first place, but who would know better than Vinod -
see pic below
). Critics like Rajiv Masand have trashed it for similar reasons. Our mutual Facebook friend, Mrinalini, is more pointed in her observations. “Isn’t it Bhandarkar’s modus-operandi, where he
pretends to expose the under-belly (like that term – apropos PC baby !!) of society… whereas in reality it is simply sensationalism and titillating movie making” ? she asks very pertinently.
But is it only menopausing males like me – who are making a beeline for the movie to pander their sagging libido? I suspect not. Some argue that - Page 3, Corporate and Fashion represent a new genre of Bollywood films. What do we call it - “Neo-realism” ? I won’t put these films any where close to the category – of, say, the cinematic versions of Arthur Hailey’s - Airport, Hotel – which tried to demystify the aura of those establishments – giving us a glimpse of the real ‘goings-on’ inside the corridors, kitchens and control rooms – even while weaving a thrilling plot around them. I remember another such movie while in college – ‘Network’, about the dirt and muck of TV Newsrooms and how TV personalities like Barbara Walters and Larry King are created. Nor is it a Bollywood version of Satyajit Ray’s 'Nayaak' – digging beneath the skin of a super-star.
These films – I think, reflect another social phenomenon – which, I believe, is largely the
creation of our media. This is different and distinct from the yellow journalism practiced by the film magazines of yore fabricating gossip about the lives of movie-stars. That was a game of selling fantasies to a socially and economically deprived (occasionally, depraved) class. Whereas today it’s all about selling fake dreams. By the relentless chatter about the ‘life-style’ of the so called
'glam-set' (being simply rich and famous is passe these days
) – they make believe that success and fame are
just a hand-shake away
. All it requires is a minor bending of morals – but the glamour and glitz that follows is more than worth that little compromise be it on the catwalk, corporate ladder or the proverbial casting couch.
Picture on the left - Bipasha Basu in a scene from 'Corporate'
Sociologists (or social anthropologists) can tell us what is it about us and our children (more than the earlier generations) that we crave for such vicarious existence. But, those who think that, this is purely an urban middle-class affliction are mistaken. Only this weekend I met a gentleman – who has done a research amongst farmers of Punjab about the kind of content they would like in a newspapers designed specifically for them. Apart from t
he expected news about politics, economy and trend in commodities – he was surprised by their overwhelming demand for a full feature life-style section. I don’t see why it should be any different in UP, Bihar or even West Bengal. (
On the right : Priyanka - when she was a little less 'evolved')
And, here I am not being judgmental for I do like Priyanka. Be sure, I will go see FASHION very soon. Because, that’s the closest I can get to a ramp.
Jumping off the ship
Meanwhile, on its way to Mareech ( Mauritius) the IBIS has pulled in her sails to weath
er a storm in mid-ocean
. Five jump ship – the head serang, a lascar, the two convicts and a condemned migrant (girmitya), - and take off on a long boat to seek their fortunes eastwards – to Singapore and China. The Sea of Poppies -first of a new trilogy - certainly has the scale and sweep of an epic. Each of the characters have a story of their own to tell (product of rigorous research, undoubtedly). But, to what effect I am not sure. The strands loosely plied together into a thick rope - but separate all the same, often appearing disconnected and ready to come apart. In parts it reads like a very literal translation of a historical Bengali novel –of a genre reminiscent of Sunil Gangopadhya’s “Shei Shomoy”. The book picks up pace towards the end just as the IBIS gathers wind in her sails. That’s when, perhaps, Ghosh also decides to dispense with his voluminous tomes - Dictionaries and Reference books. (
My uncle from London wrote: “ I am reading the Sea of Poppies. I wish there was a glossary for the now forgotten terms of various dishes and other slangs”
The Booker may not be the ultimate recognition for an author (I think it's a huge marketing scam engineered by the publishing community - that's why I won't read Adiga's White Tiger) but it gives me the re-assurance that I am not in the minority of one. And, while the Booker may have eluded Ghosh, I don't see why an author of his stature and standing should put a whole list of minor awards - such as the Hutch Crossword or the Frankfurt International e-book Prize - as testimonies on the cover.
A friend had accused me of being a lazy reader who doesn’t know how to engage with a demanding author. I worked hard with Ghosh in bed and on planes during my trips. Perhap
s, I too should have taken a whiff of that magical substance made from Poppy flowers to have appreciated it better. But, in the end - I feel as wasted as the rest of the human cargo on board after days of a tiring and turbulent voyage. So, now I have turned to Le Carre’s latest : A MOST WANTED MAN. Somehow, I get a feeling that, I will enjoy this one more. Tho' my ultimate fantasy remains - sailing on a schooner with Priyanka !!