The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bollywood minus ‘ bhaiyyas’' Oh no!
- Plea to Thackeray not to rob Mumbai films of heartland stars

Chandrima S. Bhattacharya writes an open letter to Bal Thackeray after the Shiv Sena diktat to non-Maharashtrians, particularly those from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, to leave Mumbai

Dear Mr Thackeray,

I am writing to you because I am very worried. I am someone who eats movies, thinks movies, dreams movies. I am told that you, or your party, or both (I am not quite sure who actually), want non-Maharashtrians, especially north Indians, out again from Mumbai. But have you thought what would happen to Bollywood, and to me, if they left'

Have you counted how many “bhaiyyas” from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are there among our film stars' Let’s start with the greatest of them — Amitabh Bachchan. If he takes you seriously, he would have to pack his bags, because we all now know that his father — he was a poet, what’s his name — was from Allahabad. He died recently and it was all over the papers, though why he had to be born in Allahabad I don’t know. It would have saved me a lot of trouble.

Then there is Shah Rukh Khan. He, too, had to be from Delhi. So obviously he would have to go. Eesh. Shotyi Bondhu.

Then Govinda. I love Govinda in his yellow pants and whitewashed teeth. He is sexy, crazy, groovy, jazzy. Then Manoj Bajpai would also go. Then Shekhar Suman. Then Ashutosh Rana.

Then Shatrughan Sinha (well, he may make a comeback into acting). Which means we will have much less noise in the films, as for some reason all these men tend to shout very hard, but Bollywood would be empty, bereft, deserted.

Respected Balashabeji, can you imagine the gaping holes they would leave in filmland' And in my heart' No amount of Nana Patekar can fill up those. As I told you, I think movies, eat movies, dream movies and I think some of the north Indian people are very big — like Subhas Ghai and David Dhawan. Ha ha ha.

But to come back to my point. Aamir Khan would stay, possibly, because his family has lived in Mumbai for generations. But then Aamir only makes one film in three years now and Shah Rukh is so much more productive.

So there will only be Nana left. I know you like him , but frankly, how much more of him can you have' I mean, here I will be in Fame Adlabs, having paid more than Rs 150 on a ticket, Rs 20 on a caramel popcorn, Rs 15 on a soft drink, and I see only Nana'

Then a film will be directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, will star Nana Patekar, Amol Palekar and Namrata Shirodhkar, and the underworld funds will be provided by Arun Gawli' Will that make you happy'

I agree that there is Madhuri Dixit, who counts more than half the industry, and Isha Koppikar, who has shaken the whole industry, but the birth of a Madhuri Dixit is like a rare celestial occurrence.

The heroine scene, though, is not too bad really. The Kapoor sisters are from Punjab, Ash is from Karnataka and Rani is from Bengal, states about which you didn’t mention anything in particular.

I am also told that since your nephew reiterated his views about the “bhaiyaas”, you have tried to soften your stand. You all have even said that you want only those who came here after ’95 out. But tell me, if you are serious about your new stand, why are you not saying anything about Javed Akhtar’s song' You invited him to write an anthem for Mumbaikars, and he has written it from a secular, cosmopolitan point of view, I am told, but you are not doing anything about it. Is it because he is a bhaiyaa, too'

Anyway, dear sir, please don’t say anything about north Indians not belonging here, because that scares me very much, because that will be the end of Bollywood, my life, my soul, my source of sustenance. So please roll back your words, like they do at the Centre, and save my life. Help me. Till then, bye-, Al Pacino and Yo!

Yours truly,

Me Mumbaikar

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