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Bollywood's darker side revealed again

Bollywood has always lived with a large dose of delinquency, but it had a semblance of order in chaos and some pretensions to creativity beneath what can be, for many of us not taken in by the catchphrase 'Mumbai is synonymous with its cinema,' a most discomforting sheen.

india Updated: Apr 22, 2012 00:54 IST
Vaibhav Purandare

Bollywood has always lived with a large dose of delinquency, but it had a semblance of order in chaos and some pretensions to creativity beneath what can be, for many of us not taken in by the catchphrase 'Mumbai is synonymous with its cinema,' a most discomforting sheen.


But even this modicum of order and artistic striving appear to be chimeras, in light of the criminal endeavours that have come to light over the past few days of who-knows-how-many gangs pursuing wealth and property with the help of honey traps; usurping such wealth and property by kidnapping and murder; and systematically targeting victims in the name of acting, production, direction and all the other activities associated with filmmaking.

We always knew that narcissism lay at the heart of this world rather than any art. The reason Bollywood is kitsch is that a lot of people in this industry are motivated not by notions of creating fiction or demonstrating skills in acting but by self-indulgence and self-admiration.

This self-admiration has dried up emotions and empathy and has fed the more monstrous ambitions, which, in the process of fulfilling, no act is deemed reprehensible and no limits so sacrosanct that they cannot be breached.

The curious contradiction is that while the past decade of corporatisation has helped smoothen some processes and even induct a bit of professionalism (at what other time would someone like Vidya Balan have been number one with a film like Kahaani?), the devil beneath the surface remains much the same, and the more beneath the surface you go and the more beyond the professionalised sections you look, the more dubious the whole enterprise appears to be.

It is a world difficult to recognise for an ordinary human being, and certainly impossible to identify with: Just about everything is fake, the ‘paai-lagoos' (touching of everybody's feet with excessive humility) are bogus, the warm embraces are much like Bijapur general Afzal Khan's, the praise is so excessive you might want to vomit and the concern so insincere that even Shah Rukh Khan shaking his lower lip would appear less artificial.

The Vijay Palande-Simran Sood episode has exposed the criminal underbelly of this universe like no other. But the saddest of all is the negligence, and even possible complicity, of those who are supposed to uphold the law.

The police did not investigate Karan Kakkad's disappearance on March 5 hard enough; if they had, as Debasish Panigrahi of this paper reported, Anuj Tikku's father might have been alive today; if the cops had been careful enough, Palande would not have been able to escape from police custody for a while on the evening he was arrested; and if DN Nagar police had opposed his bail application strongly a few years ago, it is possible Palande would have been behind bars now and in no position to harm anyone.

But the police haven't done their work, and now, residents of Andheri (West) complain that they don't even correctly check the antecedents of people who come to stay there on rent. I wonder what more sordid revelations from this part of Mumbai will come tumbling out.