In Bollywood, cops cometh too late

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MUMBAI: For years now, the police force has been an object of ridicule in Bollywood. More often than not police officers are shown as corrupt and they always arrive late at the crime scene (read after the hero has done his bit). What’s more, many a times police officers are also shown as being under the villain’s payroll.

Films like Deewar (1975), Zanjeer (1973), Ardhasatya (1983), Sheheshah (1988), Thaanedaar (1990), Baazi (1995), Shool (1999), Sarfarosh (1999), Dum (2003), Kagaar (2003), Gangaajal (2003), Khakhee(2004), Garv – Pride and Honour (2004), Aan – Men at work (2004), Ab Tak Chappan (2004), Jo Bole So Nihaal (2005), Zeher (2005), Gangster (2006) and the recently released Shiva (2006) have broadly had one subject in common – the predominance of the police force.

While some of these films became box office successes by portraying the police in negative light, there are some that have portrayed the force in a positive manner.

However, has the film industry ever pondered over what the Indian police force has to say about the films that show the police in a negative light?

If they hadn’t until now; they were forced to do so recently at the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) annual general meeting by none other than Mumbai commissioner of police A.N. Roy.

Roy was of the opinion that filmmakers hardly ever portray the police in good light. “Movies influence the audiences’ perception to a great extent. The police is always been shown as villain in films. While the policeman may be the hero of the film, the police department most definitely is not. It is an object of mere caricature. Actors who have played the roles of police inspectors have become big, but not the police itself,” stressed Roy.

At the same time, Roy was quick to confess that his busy schedule hardly permitted him to watch movies lately.

While the producers from the film fraternity who were present at the IMPPA meet applauded Roy; directors seem to disagree and offer a different point of view.

Farhan Akhtar says, “Whatever we show in our films is taken from what we read in newspapers. So if the police force stops being written in a negative light in the newspapers, we will stop portraying it in our films.”

Akhtar’s Don, which is scheduled for release in November, has a sequence wherein the police has to go to another country to catch Don. “I have done research for this sequence and followed a protocol,” stresses Akhtar.

On the other hand, director Tanuja Chandra says, “I am not hearing this for first time. But if the commissioner of police really wants filmmakers to show absolute reality, it would upset him even more. Films are fictitious and entertaining and they should be taken as such.”

Chandra’s Zindaggi Rocks has Seema Biswas in the character of a cop, who has been portrayed in good light. “While making Sangharsh, I had interacted with some policemen for my research work. If the police department wants us to portray them in a good light, they should step forward and do some PR for themselves,” opines Chandra.

Producer-director Mahesh Bhatt adds, “This is an old and oft repeated tune. We have portrayed the police in good light in films like Deewar and Zanjeer, which have become blockbusters. However, I would like to add that just like all policemen are not good; all films made on policemen also may not be true. Movies are fictional and should not be taken seriously.”

Director Onir (of Bas Ek Pal) has a different point of view. “I am scared of the police, not because of their portrayal in movies, but because of my personal interaction with them,” he says.

Onir poses a valid question too – “What have the police done to fight piracy of our films? So many pirated CDs are still sold outside railway stations.”

Speaking on his experience while shooting for My Brother Nikhil, he further adds, “The film had a lot of scenes based on how the police had behaved with the central character. I was shooting in Goa at a real police station and the comments made by policemen present there on HIV+ patients were really disgusting. That is exactly what I have shown in the film too.”

While the filmmakers stress on the fact that all their films and characters are well researched, Roy is of the opinion that, “Filmmakers need to do a lot of research before making films on such subjects. Many films wrongly portray the uniform and badges of an officer. This shows lack of research.”

Inviting filmmakers to approach the police for any kind of research they require on the force, Roy said, “We will be more than glad to help filmmakers. Recently the Mumbai police has acquired the ISO 9000 certification. We can guarantee that in 98 per cent cases, the police reach the spot of crime within five minutes of a call. Will any filmmaker ever portray that?”

Roy concluded by saying, “I agree that the police system may not be 100 per cent perfect and in such cases, we are ready to face the criticism. But when we achieve something great, someone should portray that too.”

Filmmakers, are you listening???