Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Worst-case scenario. Worse than a dirge.

There was actually a time in the Hindi film timeline (much before “Bollywood” became the vogue word) when really big-time stars did not flinch at being paired off with non-stars. The most glaring examples were Geeta Bali matching dancing steps with the erstwhile stunt star Mater Bhagwan in Albela (1951) and Shriman Satyawadi (1960) where Raj Kapoor consented to acting with Shakila without batting an eyelid. In those days, star earnings were not counted in crores of rupees but in single digit lakhs. They also did not have any product endorsing or ambassadoring opportunities and idiot box appearances to fall back on. Life was simple and honest and so was moviemaking. Middle India, the chief consumer of Hindi movies, too was not as greedy and self-indulgent as it has now become. To get an idea of how much of a turn for the worse things have taken since then, you should listen carefully to Middle Indian preteens slurpingly describing the food spreads they’re frequently privy to or their mall and multiplex visits. When I was their age, I did not know enchilada from my elbow. And, although I was clued in to Hindi and Marathi movies and cricket from a fairly early age, my role models were neither film stars nor cricketers but fictional characters like Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes. I was totally ill informed on the availability of goodies of all sorts and didn’t really crave for them probably because there were not too many of them around. (The only stuff I craved for was the unattainable 25-cent novelty items advertised in American comics.) I’m not saying that I was particularly virtuous, moral, principled, just, straight, honorable, honest, upright or incorruptible. I was just too dumb and deprived of temptations. I didn’t either know or use the F-word till well past puberty. Times sure have changed.