Dilli Chahta Hai
Bollywood’s hottest new location is Delhi. And why not? Our political capital makes more waves than Mauritius, and has more climbers than the Swiss Alps. While there have been several filmi MPs, the arrival of Shatrughan Sinha and Vinod Khanna marks the first full-length ministerial movie. With all that grease and make-up, it’s the perfect place, and I’m surprised that such a high-powered team didn’t discover it earlier.
Delhi is almost a one-stop shop for anyone wanting to make a film. Everything you need is readily available. In a political capital there’s never any shortage of plots, fight masters or quick-change artists. It has enough experience in handling the tantrums of stars, and even more so, those of falling stars. Song-and-dance routines? Dilli mass-produces them to such a degree that it may have to start dumping them on some other sucker country. The states won’t lift any stocks; they have enough tamashas of their own.
Today every stud and his squeeze may be tapping their feet to Nikamma kiya hai is dil ne, but our political leaders got there first. Not so long ago, it was a case of Nikamma kaha tha is Dilli ne, Sitaram Kesri having used this N-word to describe Deve Gowda. Some might consider such a statement impolitic, but you don’t have to be Rajdeep Sardesai to know that ‘political correctness’ is a contradiction in terms. Indeed, anyone who doesn’t should be branded an oxy-moron. The suave and soft-spoken Mr Khanna might like to take note of this, but Shatrughan has been known to fire from the lip.
The two new ministers, Shotgun and VK 47 may take — and receive — several pot-shots during their Delhi location shooting, but it’s good to know that this time they are on the same side. Instead of starring as they once did in Dost Aur Dushman, they’ve taken their cue from their other film together, Mere Apne.
Both of them should feel perfectly at ease in their new roles now that the seduction of the Society Page has narrowed the difference between the filmi party and the political party. I don’t often see Shotgunji in a shot-silk vest boogeying with the statuesque Poonam, but Vinod and his Kavita, who is as comfortable in a designer sweater as she is in a sweatshop, are one of Mumbai’s must-have couples. Since Delhi’s netas are increasingly championing Bollywood’s Backless Classes, Mr Khanna should find plenty of meeting ground with his ministerial colleagues.
There is an older reason for film stars to feel perfectly at home in politics: movie titles have always sounded like the news of the day. Shatrughan may recall his role in Aag hi Aag as he grapples with prevalent fevers as part of his new Health portfolio. He might also be able to tell Mr Vajpayee how to deal with contentious political women, drawing from his 1971 starrer, Ek Nari Ek Brahmachari. His fellow Sinha has been moved out of the Finance Ministry, but Shatrughan could now advise Mr Jaswant Singh on how to roll back the Choron Ki Barat that’s begun surging forward again.
Vinod Khanna’s cinematic oeuvre may prove equally useful in his new role in the Ministry of Tourism. He can give a quick Parichay to tourists, starting with Mera Gaon Mera Desh, and then showcasing the comparative attractions of Purab Aur Pachhim; no, he should not give any encouragement to Do Shikari, even if they are fellow filmstars out to take a quick buck.
Vinod-ji’s varied experience could enable him too to play a supporting role vis a vis his leader. He could teach the Prime Minister how to handle the fractious Himalaya Putra of Kashmir. He is familiar with both The Burning Train and the Khoon ki Pukar which followed in Gujarat, a state that certainly needs harmony among Amar, Akbar, and even Anthony.
Indeed, life following art has become even more apparent in more recent movie titles.
The exultant Shatrughan may well tell his gorgeous wife, Hum Dilli Le Chuke Hain, Poonam, but that other TV thespian, Mamata waited all week to get on the gravy train, and to be told Bodhai Ho Bodhai. It’s not just the three K-jis of Kapil, Krishnamurthi and Kalam who know that Kabhie Khushi, Kabhie Gham is the most succinct description of the life political. But Delhi is not just about ups and downs; it’s often just about bumbling along, Na Tum Jano Na Hum, with NDA partners publicly carping that they’re kept more in the dark than a Patparganj colony with perpetual load-shedding.
In political alliances, sometimes it is possible to keep up the charade of Mohabbatein, but there’s always one person or partner who ends up as the Shaheed.
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Alec Smart said, “How would you describe the Tehelka poaching case? Leopard in a spot.”