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KANK merits UK study

London, Aug. 17: Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna may have had some mixed or even unkind reviews in India but today in Britain, where Bollywood is big and seemingly getting bigger by the day, it merited serious analysis on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour.

The discussion ended with the programme’s long-time presenter Jennie Murray commenting that after the generous plug on Radio 4, “many people will want to see the film — I certainly do”.

Murray’s guests on the programme included two from Manchester, Shobna Gulati, an actress from the soap Coronation Street, and Rajinder Dudrah, who is “Senior Lecturer in Screen Studies” and “MA Screen Studies Programme Director” at Manchester University.

Dudrah, who is also the author of Bollywood: Sociology Goes to the Movies (Sage), knocked the notion that Bollywood movies featured only song and dance, and spoke knowledgeably about films with heavy sociological content such as Achhut Kanya (1936) and Mother India (1957).

Dudrah told The Telegraph after emerging from the studio that he had seen KANK at the Star City multiplex in Birmingham over the weekend and that he would include the film in the subject he taught at Manchester University — “BA Film Studies with a course in Bollywood Cinema (1947 until today)”.

He said that he had 30 students doing the course at the undergraduate level. “All are white, middle-class students, boys and girls. I also have four MA students and two doing PhD.”

“The fact that Bollywood is discussed on a mainstream Radio 4 programme, which is not just for women, not just for Asians, does take it into the mainstream,” he argued.

Gulati was included in the programme presumably because her name will be familiar to British television audiences, especially to millions of viewers of Coronation Street.

She recalled how as a child she was “dragged” by her parents to see such Hindi films as Sholay.

But Murray’s real interest was in “adultery” — did KANK break new ground by revealing extra-marital affairs was now as much a feature of Asian life as it was among the rest of the British population'

Here, opinion was divided. A BBC vox pop conducted among Indian viewers coming out of a Birmingham cinema had some women saying the film was far removed from their own experiences — one said that couples would “argue” rather than go off with someone else — while another said her “mum had cried a lot”.

Dudrah pointed out that in the past, characters in adulterous relationships were conveniently “killed off”. This time sexual boundaries were crossed.

Murray wanted to know if the “vamp” had won this time. She seemed happy to be reassured that the adulterous couple had “checked into a hotel”.

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