Raj Thackeray (sic) is remembered before the polls thanks to a little yelp from a friend Tomah-to, tomay-to; potay-to, aloo. But some people would really prefer it that we get the words right. So it is with Mumbai and Mumbhai. Karan Johar’s not the only Mumbhaikar to keep calling the city ‘Bombay’. But it’s Johar-bhai who was the sitting Mumbai Duck when his latest film, Wake Up Sid (Sena), riding on some serious box-office money, made far too many references to ‘the beautiful bay’ of Bom Bahia as the anachronistic ‘Bombay’. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) bossman Raj Thakre is still smarting from the fact that the Bombay Marine — the private navy of the East India Company — and its actions against Maratha vessels in the early 19th century, really established the first real power base in India for the Company Raj. So, Mr Thakre really had to come down on Mistah Johar for having characters in his film refer to Mumbai as Bombay.
Mr Johar is no fighter nor was he meant to be. So as part of a negotiated deal that may have involved changing the name of his television chat show to ‘Coffee with Caran’ as well as putting a one-line disclaimer about the Mumbai-Bombay switch in his movie at the start of the film, Mr Johar lives another day. The Marathi manoos feels vindicated about now knowing what the MNS’s Assembly poll issue is weeks before he goes to vote in Westminster-style elections.
It’s easy for us in the comfort of our cheap front stall seats and cheaper pirated DVDs to hrrmph about Mr Johar caving in to Mr Thakre’s demands. But it’s the filmmaker who’s at the frontlines, making sure that the hundreds, if not the thousands, dependent on the release and success of his film earn enough to take those trains that ply in and out of Victoria Terminus for their livelihood. So a gift hamper for you, Johar-ji.