Dear Mr Taurani,
Congratulations, Mr Taurani. I believe the first weekend’s collection of your latest release ‘Race 2’ is an impressive Rs 50 crores. And that’s really really cool. The film will probably enhance your bank balance further, and enable you to sign more stars who demand and — thanks to obliging producers like you — get the kind of fee that would feed a whole village in Odisha for ten years.
And at the end of the flashy display of a 9-star lifestyle, designer outfits and gym-toned bodies, what does the audience come away with?
Are you happy being just a dream merchant selling aspirational bilge to a populace that is highly impressionable and thinks that if one can’t get the Good Life by right then breaking some major laws would help you get there. And if guys out there in private buses want girls with great bodies sheathed in bikinis by your side, just make sure you are seen at the poolside in your new Armani suit. How to get that Armani suit without working hard is the crux of ‘Race 2’.
Mr Taurani, this is not cinema. It’s aspirational aphrodisiac served up unprescribed to a nation where every today 20-year old dreams of owning a fleet of cars and romancing with a harem of svelte houris, preferably draped in western clothes.
Though released on the occasion of Republic Day not one actress in ‘Race 2’ is ever seen in a saree. Did Vidya Balan really bring the Indian costume back in vogue? If she did, the chic lasses in ‘Race 2’ are not aware of it. Every hero and heroine in ‘Race 2’ wears international labels, drives in posh high-end international cars and spends time in the most exotic locations acoss the world chosen, I am sure, after a recce that could comfortably fund the sequels to ‘Paan Singh Tomar’, ‘Vicky Donor’, ‘Kahaani’ and ‘English Vinglish’.
Absence of a desi-pan is compensated by an abundance of not-so-desi puns. Anil Kapoor has so far brought great glory to Indian cinema with both his Indian and international parts. Here he is reduced to mouthing a series of phallic jokes of the the kind that even Shakti Kapoor would have probably refused in his herdays.
And to think Anil’s daughter Sonam with all her friends could be watching her dad do the leery act with Ameesha Patel. I blush on his, and her, behalf.
A sobering thought, no Mr Taurani?
But it isn’t the bawdy banana jokes that bother me so much as the amorality of your protagonists. Everyone from John to Jacqueline seems stricken with a sense of saturated self-styled moral arrogance bordering on megalomania. Early in the film the beauteous Deepika Padukone guns down a business adversary in a crowded pub and walks away in hip-swaying slow-motion to the sound a pulse-pounding background score .
‘Moral’ of the sequence: if you wear a slitted dress and high heels no one notices the gun tied to your thighs. How I wish the Delhi rape victim possessed the same panache—and the pretty revolver–to overcome patriarchal tyranny.
We are living in troubled times, Mr Taurani. I am not asking you to make films about real-life torment. Give the common man cake if you can’t give them bread. But for God’s sake, do not mock them by offering them fantasy versions of the ghastly reality of gender discrimination in our society. Offer them item songs by all means. But do not turn the predicament of the middleclass into an item of extravagant mockery. The super-elite lifestyle in ‘Race 2’ seems to flow out of bank vaults where money minted in private banks are stacked to create an illusion of sumptuous affluence.
Are you happy making films that seem to say, it’s okay to indulge in nefarious activities as long as the dividends are dishy? Is it okay to break serious national and international laws as long as the heroes get to walk away from the scene of crime in slo-mo salvation?
Really, Mr Taurani when Anil Kapoor says he has no time to “pop” Ameesha Patel “cherry” I wonder whose cherry your film is popping!
Next time, Mr Producer, get a sense of morality into the high-end life in your cinema about the rich renegade.
And next time, blow up a few less cars. Use that money to get a screenplay writer who can tell right from wrong.
Subhash K Jha
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