There is a time in many of our lives when movie stars take control of our minds and senses. We are drawn to their larger than life images, cool persona, and especially the romance they have with their co-stars on the screen and the audience.
But for some of us, there also comes atime when we are able to outgrow our obsession and realise that there is a life and a lot more intelligent cinema beyond the world of those stars. For a while we overlook their weak moments.
|Cruise’s public spat with Shields didn’t go well with his fans while people complained of Khanna’s eccentric behaviour
But eventually their repetitive performances, dull, flat films and their messed up personal lives bring us back to the reality. This week two stars, who once mattered a lot to me, made news. It was a strange experience to revisit those earlier times and then question: what the hell was I thinking?
This is an embarrassing confession, but when I was a teenager I was a big fan of Rajesh Khanna. I was drawn to his smiling face, wit, coupled with the romance he portrayed on the screen, often lip-syncing songs in Kishore Kumar’s voice, as he wooed the actresses of my teenage years – Sharmila Tagore, Tanuja and especially that vivacious Mumtaz. Khanna’s films were often packed with heavy dose of melodrama and tragedies.
His characters would suffer from incurable diseases that I had never heard of – lymphosarcoma of the intestine and leukaemia. Here I have another embarrassing confession to make: yes, I cried when Khanna’s characters died in Anandand Safar. But as I grew older, I outgrew Khanna.
His latter films seemed mediocre, uninteresting, and forgettable. There were more compelling stars and I had started to watch better quality films. Khanna did not age gracefully with time. His films did not reflect the realities of the changing industry. The star that I had so greatly admired was a distant memory.
Recently, a friend narrated sad anecdotes about an eccentric Khanna who was his neighbour for a few years in South Delhi. Last week’s news about Khanna’s illness made me think briefly about him.
But mostly I felt nothing. This week, closer home, I heard the news that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had filed for a divorce. And in my own way, I joined the countless others in mocking their marriage and especially making fun of Cruise.
What a difference three decades make. I still remember seeing Risky Business, All The Right Moves and especially Top Gun in the mid-1980s. Those were such fun, entertaining and romantic Hollywood films.
A new era was emerging in Hollywood with young stars like the members of the Brat Pack, Matthew Broderick and others, but Cruise was already marching ahead of them – the coolest, hippest, tad bit cocky of the lot.
Fame comes with a price and as we see in the Bollywood of today, many who make it big, have a tough time balancing their true self with the adulation from the fans, and the obsession to stay on the top. Cruise made a decision in his personal life that changed him.
He joined the Church of Scientology, introduced to the religious order by his first wife. Along the way as he became a humongous global star he was also projected as the face of the church. His statements, pronouncements and interviews became more and more peculiar.
Cruise’s public spat with Brooke Shields in 2005 over the drug she took to overcome her postpartum depression was the last straw for me. This was not the same man whose films I really looked forward to watching. Instead he had become a strange joke. I went to see War of the Worldsand Ifound it hard to separate Cruise’s character and his very messy public persona.
Seriously what the hell was I thinking? There are stars whose bright lights continue to shine long after they have left us. We think of Raj Kapoor, Meena Kumari, Nutan, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart with affection and respect. And then there are others, who come crashing so hard from their pedestal that we wonder why did we place them there?
Kashyap’s magic works again
This refers to Aseem Chhabra’s column ‘Let the Gangs thrive’ (PM, June 24). I have no doubts as far as Anurag Kashyap’s style of filmmaking is concerned. Although I am yet to see Gangs of Wasseypur, Kashyap’s Black Friday still stands out from his contemporaries’ works.
With reference to Chhabra’s observation that Kashyap rushed a bit with the subject, I think it is because he considers his audience smart enough to understand without having the need to explain each and every aspect of the plot.
Actually, he relies more on the manner in which he weaves the story, which becomes selfexplanatory at some point during the film.
- Ratish Khosala
I agree with Chhabra’s observation that the last scene in Gangs of Wasseypur is inspired by Godfather. I knew I had seen a similar scene but failed to recollect it during the film.
The promos of Part II are exciting and I know Kashyap will take on the story from where he left in Part I. The reason for my excitement is the fact that despite a two-and-half-hour of pure entertainment I wanted more.
- Manish Rao
Bajpai at his best
Sardar Khan’s character should silence the critics of Manoj Bajpai. He has always lived upto the expectations of his fans. If there’s someone in the Hindi cinema whose film i always look forward to other than Nana Patekar, it is Bajpai.
The actor has shown exemplary maturity since Rajneeti. I hope at least now the industry realises his worth.
- Rajendra Kamble