Paat na paya meetha paani/Or-chhor ki doori re...
Needless to say, such references hold up a mirror to the society to see for itself the reflection of deep-seated, centuries-old prejudices.
A senior journalist with The Indian Express asked director Kabir Khan in an interview, "There are casteist lines about 'fair' Brahmins and 'meat-eating' Kshatriyas. Isn't that too stereotypical?" He replied: "Exactly the reason we placed it in the film. Caste is so steeped in our conscience that that is how we talk. That's the stereotype. Bajrangi voices what we all think."
Masaan and Bajrangi Bhaijaan have also come at a time when political pressure on the Narendra Modi-led NDA government to release detailed Caste Census data of the Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2001 is mounting, and the Bharatiya Janata Party's rivals and critics have attributed a political motive behind the delay. They have claimed that relevant caste data will help develop specific schemes to "uplift those who have been maltreated and suppressed in the name of caste."
Perhaps it is too naive for us to think that a film can unshackle us from the prejudices of the centuries-old caste system that sit so deeply in our conscience. "Films cannot change society. They never have. Show me a film that changed society or brought about any change," Oscar-winning filmmaker Satyajit Ray had rightly said in an interview with the Cineaste magazine in the 1980s.
However, what films like Masaan and Bajrangi Bhaijaan can definitely do is showcase the reality in a brave, unflinching manner. And may be in doing so, hammer into our minds the fact that we do harbour prejudices against people who we think are different from us and nudge us to question our beliefs.
Hopefully, more such films will be made and they will one day bridge the gaps that Ganges' sweet water cannot.
(The views expressed by the writer are personal. He tweets as @saha_abhi1990)
Read: Masaan review
Read: Bajrangi Bhaijaan review