Purple strobe lights, psychedelic floral patterns unfolding behind a reeling hero, curry western rock ’n roll…and yes, the vamp, always the vamp. There’s something about the 70s Bollywood potboiler that has defined the frame through which a lot of Indians interpret the complex, peril-filled world of drugs. That Indian cinema is never the best factual guide to reality is secondary.
What it really does is to channel all energies into fearful stereotypes about ‘modernity’, especially resentful attitudes tinged with envy about ‘the elite’ and their ‘sinful’ living. And what that in turn breeds is the ideology of the witch-hunt. The real problems—international trafficking, hard drugs and the market for ever-new synthetic forms, under-age addiction—all these get sublimated in the temporary high brought on by someone rich and famous being nailed to the cross.