22 September, 2020

Glorious Make Belief Bharat!

Stars survive in a wispy, staged world. Politics is too real.

R. Prasad
Glorious Make Belief Bharat!
Actor Manoj Kumar, like former matinee idol and Congress MP Rajesh Khanna, is, incredibly, still alive. Both survive apparently on a steady supply of scotch and DVDs of their old movies. Clearly they are confined to a customised ICU of sorts.

What do heroes do when they grow old? The tragic ones turn their own ghosts with wispy hair and whistling breath. The comic ones fulfil prophecies made before they were born—Oedipus vexed?—and become MPs. Meimber of Da Haaze. Desh ke Neta. The Smiling Mr Falu, as one of the lesser Bangladeshi politicians is called. The really lucky ones—and the more ambitious—are from the South. They get to be chief ministers, as in the case of N.T. Rama Rao, M.G. Ramachandran or Jayalalitha. Or Rajnikanth ("Super Star, Rajni Saar"), waiting in the wings. The fading stars transmigrate—wig, rouge and collapsible soul—into kurta-pajamas, and begin their second stint in histrionics. And, in no time at all, they realise that politics too, like Hindi cinema, is without a plot. The difference is this time around...


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