The Telegraph
| Sunday, January 26, 2014 |

7days

The boor's blame game

Bharathi S. Pradhan Celebrity Circus
Bharathi S. Pradhan

The boorish Kumar Vishwas of the Aam Aadmi Party who wants to trip Rahul Gandhi in Amethi has not only rubbed nurses from Kerala, women in general (dark and fair), and tennis player Sania Mirza, the wrong way — he has also got Hindi film actors fuming. Or chuckling at his pathetic utterances. Trying to take refuge in his old role as a stand-up comic, sorry, poet, when he made those absolutely disgusting noises about male patients wanting to call dark-skinned (therefore, ugly) nurses "sisters", Kejriwal's candidate went on to demand an apology from Shatrughan Sinha and Raj Babbar for playing rapists on screen. Going beyond being odious, is there even grounds for a comparison here?

It's believed that the high command has wisely asked its members (loudmouth Digvijay Singh included) not to react to Vishwas and dignify him with a rebuttal. Congressman Raj Babbar is blissfully away from politics for the moment, shooting in Jaipur for Boney Kapoor's Thevar. He's got his BJP friend, Shatrughan Sinha's daughter Sonakshi, and the producer's son, Arjun Kapoor, for company in the film. So while Babbar chooses silence as his answer, here's something Vishwas should answer: if Raj Babbar played a rapist in Insaf Ka Tarazu, he was also shot in the film for it. What should we do to you, Mr Kumar Vishwas?

As for Shatrughan, although a celluloid performance has nothing to do with an actor's personal reputation, we know for a fact that long before he even joined politics the Bihari actor had himself sworn off rape scenes that were mandatory for a villain in the formulaic 1970s and 1980s. After picturising one such scene with Raakhee in a film called Paras, a young Shatrughan had been so disturbed by it that he had voluntarily put an embargo on rape scenes and never featured in any after that. As an actor, he didn't have to but he did it because it went against his own sensibilities. He didn't need an irresponsible comic like Vishwas to tell him what to do. He did it on his own even if it was early times and could have affected his career. Can anyone even associate Kejriwal's man with such finer feelings?

Besides, since when did an actor's on-screen work become a reflection of him as a person? Did SRK become a murderous stalker because he did Darr? On the flip side, should Sanjay Dutt be called an innocent pacifist because he advocated Gandhigiri in a film? Unfortunately, the last question is invalid as there are some who actually hold his Munnabhai portrayal as a brief for acquitting him or giving him relief. As it is, he's more on parole than in prison and there's not even a whisper of a protest against the privileges accorded to him because of his celebrity status, money power and political connections. It's a pity and a surprise because his sister, Priya Dutt who is the democratically-elected MP in the family, is the one who is least afflicted by the celebrity syndrome. While her brother helps himself to the lion's share and more of celebrity goodies, Priya is the rare MP who roams around like any ordinary citizen. I bumped into her at the airport, dressed in casual cottons and jeans with no fanfare, no security guards. Priya was in no VIP lounge or even in an executive passengers' lounge but was getting herself a cuppa from a counter in the crowded food court like any other passenger. She was off to Delhi and ready for a quick chat on what was happening in the capital. So very unlike her brother who thinks entitlement is his birthright.

With a Muslim mother, a Hindu father and a Christian husband, it's Priya who has a naturally secular personality. Despite this, there is a disappointing rumour going around that her party might not field her in this election, preferring to offer the ticket to tainted cricketer Azharuddin who'll bring in the minority voters by droves. If true, it's a move that'll put off a lot of other voters who are in no mood to back dirty politics anymore.

Finally, something sweet to sign off this Sunday. Hema Malini's well-oiled organisation has been at work collecting addresses from potential guests to daughter Ahana's wedding on February 2. Spacious golden-coloured paper bags have arrived with a nice big box inside, one compartment full of sweets with the invitation card resting against silk in the other. Funnily, the papers have been writing about Hema's ghee-soaked laddoos. But the invitation has come home with square/rectangular mithai, richly studded with nuts and oozing ghee. Not quite resembling, tasting or in the shape of a laddoo!