Leading male superstars of the Hindi film industry change anything that they don’t like about the movies they choose to act in.
If they don’t like the actress (or female actor, as the actresses like to call themselves these days) who is starring opposite them, they can change the actress.
Or if they are having an affair with an upcoming actress on the sly, they can promote her and get her a role in the movie by getting the writers to introduce an extra character in the storyline.
If they don’t like the storyline of the movie, they can ask the writers and the director to rework it.
Items numbers, songs, comic tracks, action sequences and just about anything that the male superstar demands is added to the movie. Even the end of a movie can be changed, if the superstar is not happy with the end that has been shot or narrated to him.
The Hindi film industry in a very euphemistic way uses the term “suggestions” in reference to all the meddling around by the leading male superstars.
Nevertheless this ability of male superstars to get almost anything that they don’t like changed is limited to “reel life” and not “real life”. Not unless if you are Sanjay Dutt.
The actor was supposed to surrender on April 18, 2013, to undergo his remaining jail sentence of 42 months, for having held onto illegal weapons under the Arms Act. But he had urged the Supreme Court to allow him to finishing shooting of seven films starring him. This he said would take him at least 196 days (that is around six and a half months). He also told the court that Rs 278 crore had been invested in these films.
The Supreme Court granted Dutt an extension on “humanitarian grounds”. “Considering the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case and reasons stated in the petition, we are not inclined to extend the time by six months. However, we extend the time by four weeks from tomorrow. It is made clear that no further extension will be granted,” a bench comprising justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan, commented.
This is rather ironical because yesterday the Supreme Court(a different bench) refused to extend the time to surrender in case of Zaibunissa Kazi and four other individuals. These are Kersi Bapuji Adjania, Yusuf Khan, Ranjit Kumar Singh and Altaf Ali Sayed.
Dutt was arrested in 1993, for acquiring three AK-56s rifles, nine magazines, 450 cartridges and over 20 hand grenades. Some of these weapons were later stored at the home of a woman called Zaibunissa Kazi, whose request to extend the time to surrender was refused by the Supreme Court yesterday. The weapons that were stored with Kazi included two of the three AK-56s rifles that Dutt had got. Kazi was convicted underthe Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (or what we better know as TADA). She is now seventy and is suffering from cancer.
The one AK-56 rifle that was left with Dutt was melted at the foundry of Kersi Bapuji Adjania. Adjania is now 83. As per his son “He is over 82 years old, partially deaf and has serious coronary problems. His movement is restricted.”
If Sanjay Dutt can get an extension of one month to surrender why haven’t Adjania and Kazi been given the same as well? Is it because they are not celebrities who don’t have Rs 278 crore riding on them? Like Dutt does. Or the fact that they don’t have the Press Council Chairman and ex Supreme Court judge, Justice Marakandey Katju, batting for them.
In fact the argument that Dutt has Rs 278 crore riding on him and thus deserves an extension does not work at all. In a month’s time he won’t be able to finish all the seven movies anway. Despite that the bigger question is how can losses being faced by a few Hindi film producers come in the way of justice.
In fact, when these producers signed on Dutt to star in their movies they should have been fully aware of the risk that they were taking on. Dutt has been out on a bail for a while now, and a bail can be cancelled at any point of time. When a bail’s cancelled, the individual has to go back to jail. This is a factor that should have been a part of their calculation. If they chose to ignore it, that’s their problem, not the problem of the Republiclic of India.
But his producers continue to remain an unhappy lot. “He is thankful, but he is still under pressure as to how he can finish six months of work in a month,” Rahul Aggarwal, the producer of the upcoming Dutt starrer Policegiri told Reuters. Well, the producers will simply have to wait for Dutt to come out of jail and then complete their movies with him. This was a risk that they took on and are now paying for it.
In fact, some producers have now come around to the idea of waiting for Dutt. Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who were supposed to start the third instalment of the Munna Bhai series with Dutt, said in a statement recently: “Just two days back Sanjay called and said, ‘It’s tough to be in prison but I’m ready to go there because when I come back, I will experience freedom in its true sense. I will be rid of this monkey who has been sitting on my back for the last 20 years and scaring me’. When I walk out of prison, I want to walk straight onto the sets of Munna Bhai.” Dutt is lucky that there are people who are ready to wait for him for three and a half years.
In school this writer was made to by-heart the Preamble to the Constitution of India for the tenth standard exams. A part of the Preamble goes like this:
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
The preamble might vouch for justice and equality but it does help if you happen to be a Sanjay Dutt. To conclude, in life it is important to remember what George Orwell once wrote in the Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Sanjay Dutt is one such unequal animal, who now seems to be above the law of the land.
The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on April 17,2013.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)
Vidhu Vinod Chopra the producer of the superhit 3 Idiots made a movie called 1942:A Love Story which was released in 1994. The movie had soulful songs and could have been a big comeback for the great R D Burman. But alas that never happened. Pancham da died of a heart attack before the movie was released.
The movie set during the days of the British Raj starts as a love story between the hero Anil Kapoor and the heroine Manisha Koirala, who keep singing all the beautiful songs composed by Burman in the first half of the movie. But throughout the first half all the characters other than the hero and the heroine keep saying this one line “shubhankar da aa rahe hain”, building the expectations of the audience for his arrival.
Shubhankar da (played by Jackie Shoff) finally arrives around 30 seconds before the interval. Until that moment the movie was a love story. Then on it becomes a movie on the freedom struggle, which in this day and age would have been called a political thriller.
As was the case in the movie, there comes a time in life of individuals as well businesses when the story has to change. The past has to be dumped and made insignificant and a new story needs to emerge.
This is something that Mamata Banerjee, rabble rouser par excellence and the only angry young man in the country with the days of Bachchan long gone, needs to realize. She built her career and life around trying to throw out the Left Parties out of West Bengal and finally after more than two decades of hard work and sheer persistence she succeeded.
If ever there was an example of an individual not giving up and finally succeeding she was it. But after becoming the Chief Minister of West Bengal what is her story? She still seems to be working on the same story of rabble rousing against the Left everywhere all the time, and holding them responsible for everything that is happening in the state of West Bengal. From rapes of women to lack of governance!
The irony of course is that she is the government now. Her level of paranoia against the Left is reaching extreme proportions now. Most recently she called the students of Jadhavpur University CPI-M cadres. As she said “They are the CPI-M cadres. I am not going to reply. I will give reply to questions from common people. I am sorry to say you belong to CPI-M. You are SFI (Student Federation of India, the student wing of CPI-M) cadres. We know all of you.”
While Bengal may be full of CPI-M cadres this is like stretching it a little too much. It is time that Mamata Banerjee changed her anti-left story.
There are a few things that Banerjee can learn from businesses from around the world which experience this phenomenon time and again. Some learn and adapt, others don’t and for some others by the time they realise that things have changed, it’s already too late.
Take the case of Nokia, the largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world. The company started in 1865 as a groundwood pulp mill. It gradually became an industrial conglomerate and among other things produced paper products, tyres, footwear, communication cables and consumer electronics.
In the early 1990s the company realised that its story had to change. It decided to concentrate on the telecommunication business. It gradually sold out a host of its other businesses. The change of story helped the company become the largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world.
But the company missed out on the smart phone revolution completely. By the time it changed its story and started concentrating on smart phones, other companies had already moved in and captured the market. A host of smaller companies from Micromax to Karbon Mobiles and many more are giving Nokia a run for its money in the Indian market.
Why did this happen? For the simple reason, like Mamata, the company remained attached to its earlier story.
There are other such examples as well. When it came to reliable trustworthy news there wasn’t a bigger brand than the British Broadcasting Corporation(BBC). The company did not see the story changing and the rise of 24hour news channels. CNN grabbed the opportunity and broadcast the Gulf War live into homes. Sony is another great example. The company changed the entire music business with the launch of the Walkman. But failed to see the story changing and handed over the mp 3 player market to the likes of Apple, on a platter.
Bharti Beetel which revolutionised land line phones in India by launching push button phones failed to see the story changing and remained stuck to selling push button phones, when more and more consumers were moving to mobile phones. Ironically, its sister company Airtel became the biggest mobile phone company in India.
The company has recently started selling mobile phones. Now imagine, during the days when Airtel was a growing company, Bharti could have sold its own mobile phones (under the Beetel brand) to consumers who bought an Airtel connection and thus could have been one of the biggest mobile phone companies in India.
Those who do see the story changing and change their stories accordingly benefit from it. An oft quoted example is that of Nirma and Wheel. The Nirma detergent started selling at Rs 3.50 per kg at a time when Hindustan Lever’s (now Hindustan Unilever) Surf used to sell for around Rs 15 per kg. The low price of Nirma made it accessible to consumers, who till then really couldn’t afford the luxury of washing clothes using a detergent and had to use soap instead.
To Hindustan Lever’s credit they did not remain stuck in their past, realised that the story had to change, and thus went ahead and launched their Nirma killer “Wheel” detergent, which eventually beat the sales of Nirma.
The moral of the story from all these examples from Surf to Nokia to Sony to Bharti is simple. At times in lives of individuals as well as companies the story that had worked previously needs to be dumped. It is time for Mamata to come up with a new story. She is no longer in the opposition when blaming the Left for every problem in the state of West Bengal was her story. Now she is where the Left was earlier.
If she doesn’t change her story and come up with a new one, her innings as a Chief Minister is going to be a short lived on. The people of West Bengal need to know what does the new Mamata stand for?
(The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on May 19,2012. http://www.firstpost.com/politics/what-mamata-can-learn-from-surf-bbc-sony-and-nokia-314738.html)
(Vivek Kaul is a writer and can be reached at [email protected])