In the last decade, Bollywood seems to have been getting more progressive in its subject matter. The only problem is that a lot of Hindi films that aim at addressing social issues do so without properly being educated on the subject and end up following Hollywood mindlessly. This is pretty much why we get crap like these films.
1. Article 15
While the movie pointed out crimes against marginalised castes, it does so from a very privileged upper-caste gaze. For instance, in a very popular scene from the film. the protagonist is shown as a city-man, unaware of caste at all, thus absolving him of having played a part in the cultural subjugation of people. The only people unaware of their caste as from upper-castes, because the marginalised get reminded about their status every day of their lives.
The movie also comes down with the white-saviour fever, while giving very little screen time to its Dalit characters and only uses them for dramatic effect, to induce pity. This could be a whole article on its own.
The Sonakshi Sinha film had what it takes to make a good film with a badass woman at the centre of the plot, leading the story. However, poor director, bad acting and irredeemably comical villains made sure none of that ever came to pass. Pretty much 30 minutes after the film starts, it falls down a rabbit hole of trying to establish its lead as a legit hero of the story, but the problem is that it never stops; almost as if even the director wasn’t convinced of it either.
Dhadak was meant to be a remake of the Marathi classic, Sairat, a film about caste and honour killings. Needless to say, once Karan Johar took over the project, all hopes of having a coherent take grounded in reality were turned to dust. If you have watched the original film and then this, you know how much relevant material from Sairat was eliminated, reducing it to an average small-town teenage drama that we had seen a million times before and probably will continue to in any future Dharma Productions’ projects to come.
At first look, the film seems to get it right. The protagonist is a vertically challenged and one of the other leads is a woman in a wheelchair. But 30 minutes into the film you begin to question your own sanity. Because, SRK, just plays SRK. He looks like SRK as well, just smaller in stature. Anushka Sharma’s role is reduced to playing the woman who falls for him. That’s it, that’s her role. The film absolutely makes a mockery of its subject.
5. Mission Mangal
The movie wasn’t meant to be woke. It simply had to tell the story of 3 scientists, who happen to be women, battling against all odds to make India’s Mars mission possible. Everything you need for a great film is right there. Problem is, someone decided to add ‘elaichi’ to this proverbial Biryani, in the form of Akshay Kumar. Being the A-lister that he is, the Indo-Candian actor takes most of the screen time, and the film ends up being about a man who facilitated the women’s success story.
Again, a film that was supposed to address some of the issues and discrimination faced by the transgender community in the country, is overshadowed by one’s man over-the-top theatrics. It ridicules transpeople, portrays them in a bad light and at its best, ends up caricaturing them as part of a deeply troubled homogenous group. The best thing Akshay Kumar could have done for the transgender community would have been to be staying away from telling stories about them.
The less said about this film, the better. It caricatures gays and ridicules them to no end. That’s it. That’s the whole film. There’s literally nothing else to it. Well, maybe a very catchy song but that’s about it.
8. Begum Jaan
Vidya Balan always does her homework. Maybe, she did it for this one as well but it just doesn’t show up on the screen. The film ends up being cliched and cartoonish, so to speak. I wish there was something redeemable about the film, due to my obvious bias for Balan’s talents, but I am afraid I would be lying to you.
Kangana Ranaut has played some really good characters in her long career, characters that stand out for being ferocious, smart, independent, and just being unique to everyone around them. Unfortunately, this supposed biopic about the Queen of Jhaansi simply doesn’t meet those standards and ends up becoming just another mess carried around by over-the top-dialogues and bad acting, and directing that’s as all over the place as most period dramas Bollywood makes.
The film has rightly been lauded for managing to start a dwindling conversation about surrogacy in India but it fails to do so without putting other women down; namely, women who choose abortion over having a child. While the whole world is moving in a direction where women are at the frontlines fighting for the right to govern their own bodies, Mimi ends up shaming those who choose not to be mothers and therein lies its problem.
Makes me weep realising just how far behind on the times we are!