Bollywood's big boys do cry
Bollywood seems to have realised that big boys do cry with new releases showing the hero as vulnerable, tearful and even weak-willed -- something that has gone down well with the audience.
The trend began with Hrithik Roshan in this year's mega-hit Koi... Mil Gaya, where his performance as a man trapped in a child's mind brought him kudos. The role is expected to win Hrithik several awards, thereby confirming the opinion that roles which require star-actors to rise above conventional definitions of macho heroism score high points with the audience.
The week after Hrithik wooed the nation, tough-man Salman Khan took charge of the box office in Tere Naam. He played a small town toughie whose rough and rude exterior crumbles when he meets the sweet girl next door.
Dropping defences, Salman weeps like a baby in Tere Naam when he's separated from the girl, Bhoomika Chawla, and when he pleads with her to accept him.
Such scenes were inconceivable in earlier films where leading men got the girl without trying, let alone crying.
Under usual circumstances, audiences hide their discomfiture at seeing the reversal of conventional definitions of manliness by laughing.
"But in Salman's breakdown scene there's pin drop silence. This just goes to show that audiences no longer think of tough guys as emotionless, insensitive creatures," avers Arjun Sablok whose film Na Tum Jano Na Hum had several poignant moments for Hrithik.
As though to drive in the point of poignancy further, this week for the third Friday in a row, we encountered a tough hero who doesn't mind dropping his defences if the need arises.
In the just-released Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost, Abhishek Bachchan breaks down when his best friend is killed.
"I see nothing unmanly about crying. I may keep my emotions pent up in public. But who doesn't cry in private? So yes, at moments such as the death scene in Mumbai Se Aaya... one does summon the ghosts of grief from one's own past to evoke tears," says Abhishek tactfully.
In the three films, the anti-machismo performances of Hrithik, Salman and Abhishek are now being considered front-runners for the best actor awards.
"I don't think I played Radhe in Tere Naam to win awards. The audiences' acceptance is all the award that I want," says Salman.
Hrithik and Abhishek, however, confess that winning awards would be a welcome bonus to their efforts.
Emotional men who don't mind showing their softer side are coming into their own. In Ravi Chopra's Baghbaan and Rohan Sippy's Kuch Na Kaho, father and son Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek portray the complete man, tears and all.
"I think tears are very macho," laughs director Rohan Sippy.
In Sippy's film Kuch Na Kaho releasing next month, Abhishek plays an NRI who comes home looking for a wife.
"My film isn't a boy-meets-girl story. My hero is a man. And I've allowed him to express his emotions not according to how our cinema defines the hero but the way I see him. I think suffering is very heroic," says the director.