#MeToo And Meesha-Ali Scandal

I don’t follow what is happening in the world. Why? Because the happening is depressing and same old story repeats again and again. So why should I take the interest? Why should I bring enthusiasm when it is going to do nothing but deteriorate your health.

In 2018, an individual cannot have a positive mindset because of this reason, because of the existence of the system which doesn’t help you to live your own life at all and if he/she compromises and tries to bring a positive outcome or inspire others with a better suggestion, or present a better theory and opinion, then there is a ranting and hooting race of fellow humans who will behave as betrayed and offended and curse you without understanding your point.

Forget the value of the humans who dropped words of wisdom from their mouth to their disgust by mistake, I have seen commentators mocking and insulting your country, your religion, your prophets, your entire family and ancestors (to whom you may have never met), just because he/she didn’t agree with you. Aye, that is how indisposed the world has become.

So I am not a newspaper geezer but that source of alarming the happening is faster on the social media. Neither can I avoid social media nor can I keep my eyes away from the news. So how things are rolled up nowadays? Forget about the world authorities and supreme powers playing a Game of Thrones every day, we normal earthlings are also getting emotionally corrupted.

For some decades, sincerity and morality from the emotional aspects of human relations were diminishing at a vast speed thanks to the scientific advancements and inventions which were supposed to help the human race at all, but now we are the criminals of our own body. No not masturbation, readers! This is about a lot of things. For example, developing a sexual interest in the children or taking the matters of human sexes in the debate.

Man versus Woman, why? Blaming and criticizing their sexes, why? Both were supposed to cooperate each other. Both were supposed to enjoy each other’s company. Why the hatred? Are we in position to speak on the blame games? If we are, then will we humans justify the case?

A wave of feminism globally rose with a ‘Me Too‘ slogan and suddenly the MAN became a disease, a plague. And thanks to Harvey Weinstein, who helped this wave become a tsunami. But, with time, has feminism conveyed the message and shaped into their own betterment within the same society where this cruel MAN is existing? What is the science or theory of feminism on which a girl or a woman constructs her ideology or life?

Recently, a topic in Pakistan rose in the name of sexual harassment among the celebrities. On the 19th of April, Meesha Shafi announced on the social media that she has been sexually harassed by her colleague, Ali Zafar. With the announcement, Meesha hash-tagged Me Too, confirming that a woman has been abused by a man. Fair enough, that is one side of the story.

A few hours later, Ali Zafar responded on the social media by denying all the claims lodged against him. As expected, man and woman from all over the world responded with many different opinions. Some favoured Meesha, some Ali. Some blamed to both or any of the two while some criticized the urban life and liberty, and advised to follow Islamic teachings.

What ridiculed the issue lies in the state of the event occurred between the two. Many of us passed their opinions. Through this blog, let me try to speak/write some points related to this event because I am also free to pass my opinion.

A) The first thing we should understand in such a sensitive case is to recognize the fact that you and I know nothing at all what exactly happened between the two. So before any of us begin writing our opinion, we should not be judgmental on any of the two’s case. People tell their side of the story and we are nothing to them. So we don’t know if what they say on the social MEDIA is even half lie or true. Meesha says Ali harassed her but he denies. So between these statements, especially in the case of sexual harassments, we have to be careful because we are absolutely not aware. We have to be choosy in our literature while passing our opinion. Unless one in a thousand is the witness of such incident or a close friend or associate in a circle has more capacity to fill the accurate words or use authentic explanation about the issue.

B) I am not a woman but I realize the sensitivity of the subject she faced if it is true. Now, as a viewer, when I read Meesha’s message on the social media, the first thing I hope is that may Lord be with her IF she has been harassed but but but and another but, if she is harassed then why is she announcing to the world? If she has become a victim of sexual harassment, then knock the doors of the court of justice and file a case against the culprit. (I was writing soon after the posting of both the tweets). When you need justice, you do not announce to the world unless you really are stuck in some remote or highly restricted area that the authority doesn’t want to move you or raise your voice. But Meesha is a very famous celebrity and she is free to take action on a man in the court. Reaching to the social media will not help to solve the case but will boil the topic with no deserving conclusions. Sexes will part and take sides. Both men and women would either become joke taking on each other or will involve themselves in a meaningless argument wasting each other’s time. Most of the women will listen to Meesha’s message and shoulder her while men will deny like Ali as if the claims were lodged against him, not Ali. Both will pass jokes on each other, mock their existence, insult them of their being man or woman.

C) Now here is a turbulence of the situation where the denial of an assumed theory falters with the change of mind. The classes of urban life and the liberty of an individual’s mind and body are all fluctuating due to a dramatic turn. Sometimes it is the man whose strength and desire melts a woman, and sometimes it is the woman who diverges the world for a delusion or a false hope making her merry for a moment she spends with a man. Through the sensitive portions of the emotional bridges and ridges, both the sexes collapse and in confusion, the connection between the two damages in contusion. Either the man is no more willing to take a step ahead and accept the consequences or the woman is backing out and not letting herself sink into the ocean. And in both cases, the feeling of betrayal awakes.

The life of a celebrity around the world is pretty rich and broad in few cases. People freely accept each other’s company and there are different levels of acceptance towards your limits in such class. Some classes are so open, free and careless that man and woman here may sleep together and indulge in intercourse. And I am not talking the possibility of this occurrence between Meesha and Ali. I am just speaking generally that in a kind of global village or a social community you recognize your existence, you should also recognize and know your limits.

If any of the two were advancing their next move through their looks or giving a couple of secs focusing your retina on his/her lips, it is pretty obvious then. And if in the eleventh hour, any of the two decides to walk out then that is too embarrassing. Again, this is not about Meesha and Ali because I am not aware what happened between the two. This is just a general perception about a free society where men and women accept things.

D) What if and what if not? In both the cases, one of the names will fade, one of the careers will destroy, and one of the reputations will damage. Both have worked on international platforms and they are well-known figures. In personal life, both are married with two children.

The leaked video of the jamming session between Meesha and Ali shows nothing as both were at some distance. Not only this, Ali’s two ladies in his troupe, Aqsa Ali and Kanza Munir have expressed their support to him. Despite the fact that both are women, Aqsa and Kanza chose to defend Ali instead of Meesha which is pretty critical in a sexual harassment case.

If Ali is proven guilty of harassing her, Pakistan has their own version of Harvey Weinstein for a moment then. All male artists are on red alert. Many stories and claims will be leaking in near future. A very aggressive nation like Pakistan have already lost tolerance after the Zainab case and a high-profile name like Ali Zafar will become an ideal prisoner one would really like to hang.

But what if Ali is clean? What if what Meesha announced to the world was all lie? The consequences of the false case are very ravaging. If the court concludes the case in favour of Ali, then the biggest damage of the case will be the use of #MeToo, disrespecting a movement which globally helped the woman to make her voice recognize and significant. The global voice raised by the women to unite against the inequality and abuse of a man over a woman will lose the strength of delivering a powerful message. The slogan will be then corrupted. This will prove that the woman is intentionally using the power for a wrong reason and bringing bad to the objective because she knows that such statement (false or true) will lit a hellfire in the society, and due to misleading, most of the women in anger will beat him on the street.

If Meesha is wrong, then she will be brainwashing and manipulating millions of women globally. If Meesha is wrong, then the men in power will take the advantage of the lie and deceit. He will believe that the women who were globally raising their voice may also be lying about harassment in the past. Most of the men will think that speaking false about the man or making him culprit was and is in their nature.

Because this is what happens. When you have the power, there is a tremendous responsibility not to betray the power and the people. Because once the trust and reliability are damaged, they cannot be fixed. You can break someone’s heart in seconds but it will take years to fix, and some cases are infinite in time. The leader will be trusted by his/her followers but if the leader is found corrupted, those will curse him/her and face the consequences.    

And this is what the problem is. Look at Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. She won two Academy Awards for her documentaries based on honour killings and acid attacks on women but she thinks sending friendship request on the social media is a harassment. How on earth is this a harassment?

I am fully aware of this power called Feminism. But before playing this card, people should know the primary objective of Feminism? Feminism, in my opinion, is advocating woman’s basic rights when it comes to justice and equality. Correct me if I am wrong. By this definition, feminism applies in all the cases where the rights of woman are not implemented or if the woman has been physically abused in form of rape, sexual harassment, body-shaming, etc. Feminism also applies to woman’s rights over employment and electoral voting. If your agenda or objective is accurate and precise, everyone will be in favour of your movement. I support the word feminism and the slogan of hashtagged Me Too by the authentic definition and objective of feminism. But in the name of this movement, if the women are intentionally damaging the name and its objective, we will see a tremendous collapse of the society.

I hope this Meesha-Ali chapter ends soon. May the case rest with Meesha and Ali meeting their deserving fate and justice.

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SRIDEVI – The Art, The Charisma (First Part)

The clock struck 12 and it was the 25th of February when I was driving the street and returning back to home after a dinner with my friend when my 19yo brother on Facebook questioned who Sridevi is. I obviously got the clue but for a couple of minutes, I just couldn’t believe that Sridevi, the queen of hearts, is no more.

Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit were the top-billed heroines of the Hindi cinema of the 80s and 90s. Both dominated the film industry, achieved marvellous success and numerous awards, and occupied the hearts of millions of fans around the world. Both were fabulous dancers and both had the quality and ability to compete with the leading male actors on box office by running the film on their own. The reason for stating this is because of the cinematic culture of India where the business of the film heavily depends on the leading male actor. These two unchallenged queens of divas never starred in a film together which speaks of an obvious professional rivalry.

My earliest memory of Sridevi is watching her in ChaalBaaz which I happened to watch on VHS. ChaalBaaz was the remake of Ramesh Sippy‘s Seeta Aur Geeta and Sridevi played a spectacular double-role. Later on, I watched dozens of films in which Sridevi starred like Mr. India, Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, Janbaaz, Aakhree Raasta, Himmatwala, Joshilaay, Khuda Gawah, Laadlaa and many more.

It is hard for today’s generation to understand the hype of Sridevi’s demise and what she meant to the Indian cinema. Her contribution is stupendous. In honour of her memory and dedication to the Indian cinema, I began writing this eulogy for Sridevi, to whose beauty I am deeply gratified, after knowing about her demise. Let me try to highlight a few segments of her career.

16 VAYATHINILE

It has been forty years to P.Bharathiraja‘s classic 16 Vayathinile which starred Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, and 13-year-old Sridevi. The film was about a 16-year-old village girl who wishes to become a teacher but her life is stuck between the two lovers.

The emotional performance in 16 Vayanthinile was incredible. The scenes when her character Mayil is spotted by the rich doctor, or when the doctor takes his chance on her, and a few more scenes. It is very tough at 13 to play such emotional roles. Such a sensitive scene like Rajini’s rape attempt on her showed that the actress was daring and courageous enough to grab any given role.

MOONDRAM PIRAI/SADMA

It is surprisingly strange that in the Indian cinema, we hardly see the leading ladies taking a challenge of playing the character of a mentally or physically challenged woman. Tell at least three such roles in the next 10 seconds! Tough isn’t it? The best to our memory is Rani Mukerji/Ayesha Kapur in Black, Priyanka Chopra in Barfi, or Jaya Bachchan in Koshish.

Sridevi is among the very few leading actresses to have played such a tougher role and the obvious evidence is Balu Mahendra‘s Tamil film, Moondram Pirai and its Hindi version, Sadma (released a year later). Sridevi took months in the preparation for the role of a young girl who suffered retrograde amnesia after a car accident. It was her versatility at such a young age that she displayed a stunning performance straight from the scene when she opens her eyes and widens her big eyes to see two strange people standing in front of them who are actually her parents. While the parents try to comfort her, she is unable to recognize them.

From that scene until she recovers, her mental performance and body language were unbelievable. The way she observes the puppy dog and plays with it, the funny fight scene and saree scene with Somu (Kamal Haasan). Sadma was only her 2nd Hindi film but at 20, she already had established her name in Indian film industries of other languages.

Here, I must mention the name of Kamal Haasan, and praise and thank him for his contribution to the film. Because the characters of Kamal and Sridevi in the films were one of the most unusual pairings and their extraordinary performances helped the films to be remembered for decades. Balu’s direction and their onscreen presence aided the film to conclude at one of the most dramatic and emotional ends. I recommend the readers to read Subhash K. Jha’s excellent film review for the Indian Express. In my opinion, Moondram Pirai/Sadma were Sridevi’s best performances of her prestigious career.

MR. INDIA

Shekhar Kapur‘s Mr India was memorable for not one but many reasons. Count Amrish Puri‘s unforgettable villainous role of Mogambo, and Anil Kapoor‘s title role, but Sridevi was also a major factor in the film’s outstanding success for not one but at least three reasons.

One was her comic performance in the film at numerous occasion most memorably in that Charlie Chaplin sequence.

Then her performance in the song Hawa Hawaii, her slapsticks and moves. The song made singer Kavita Krishnamurthy a stellar.

Then another song, “I Love You“. Sridevi in a blue saree for me is still more sensual than nowadays skin shows. Although both Hawa Hawaii and I Love You were one of Sridevi’s biggest hit numbers of her career but the significance of the latter is the solo show in the entire six and a half minutes of the song. Sridevi here proved that the choreography of the song can run solely on a woman with the masculine voice in the background. Sridevi’s sex appeal in the song is still considered one of the hottest choreographies in the Hindi cinema. She was just out of the world.

CHANDNI/LAMHE

There had to be something in Yash Chopra‘s mind that after a series of back to back failures and below average performances of his films starting from Kaala Patthar to Vijay that he chose to cast Sridevi for the first time as the leading cast to play the title role of Chandni. Yash Chopra wanted to change the action era of the 80s by making a romantic film and announced Chandni.

Being a female-centric film, Sridevi proved to be the perfect girl to play Chandni one can imagine. If the blue saree in Mr India wasn’t enough to melt our hearts, comes white churidar and kurta with a leheriya dupatta which looked incredibly simple and beautiful on Sridevi.

Sridevi made Chandni a cult classic. The legacy is that the film inspired the women to buy the Chandni white dress in Chandni Chowk. Two famous numbers from Chandni graced Sridevi’s career.

One was ‘Mere Haathon Mein’ which became India’s most famous chooriyan (bangles) song.

And then the classical tandav dance number where she turned into some mythical Goddess again in the white dress. Sridevi looked some Venus in that dance sequence but then, when did she never looked Venus?

The moment in the song Mitwa when the flute begins to play Tere Mere Honton Pe and Sridevi releases herself from Rishi Kapoor‘s arms and begins stepping to dance slowly, it is so mesmerizing! It is like an angel of love has descended down to comfort our souls.

Two years later, when the action era in Bollywood continued to race furthermore years, Lamhe happened. Yash Chopra again cast Sridevi and this time for a double role. In my opinion, Lamhe wasn’t Sridevi’s finest works. Coming from a journey where she did Nagina, Mr.India, ChaalBaaz, and Chandni, Lamhe wasn’t that wow. Considering that she had done double roles before and if double-role has to be the criteria, then the forthcoming film Khuda Gawah was a way better double performance. Sridevi did win the Filmfare award for the Best Actress but she may have won that for many films she was nominated before and later. 

Versatile actress Manisha Koirala once stated in the interview that both Lamhe and Chandni were her dream roles.

GUMRAH

In the 90s, if there was any director who really worked and improvised on Sridevi’s acting, it was Mahesh Bhatt. Gumrah‘s Sridevi was pretty different from her previous works like her reaction to her ailing mother’s death. And when she is wrongly caught for cocaine in the airport, she has a powerful facial performance of dropping into a sudden ill fate. The way she loses herself in shock after the drugs are produced from the handbag and begin screaming her boyfriend’s name in confusion is a remarkable shot. Her prison fight scene for a key with a female prison ward shows how the innocent character can bring rage and go violent. Her emotional personification, complexity to the character, her timing were top notch. Gumrah was indeed one of Sridevi’s finest works.

ENGLISH VINGLISH

Gauri Shinde‘s debut film, English Vinglish, marked Sridevi’s first grand comeback in the Indian film cinema after 15 years. And the role she played was her testimonial to her dedication towards constructing her phenomena. Just like she entered the Hindi cinema with no fluency in the language, she played the character of a small entrepreneur who learns to speak English to gain self-respect among her family.

This film set a base for Sridevi as an introduction of yesteryear’s heroin in the second innings of her age. Playing a real character role in her late 40s and giving competition to the new faces. Sridevi became an institution to the new generation and taught the fluctuation of confidence. That test of her spiral benevolence was her attribute.

How dynamic is that restaurant scene when she levels up her confidence and courage to place her order in English resulting in the cashier losing her patience in unsuccessfully cooperating with her. Dropping of coins from shaking hands in tension, and accidentally hitting the other customer were very rich scenes. It was a flawless timing where Sridevi displayed some embarrassing moments of millions around the globe.

But Sridevi summarized her entire brilliance and translated her legacy in the final speech making the viewers think if Sridevi really had English issues in real life. The way she began the speech, tried to set the tone with some words, pushed herself to built confidence and gave tips to the bride in the most simplest English was so human and natural.

MOM

Her final leading performance and confirmed to be her 300th film by many sources. Mom is one of the most vibrant and unforgettable performances by Sridevi. She plays a stepmother who wants to win her stepdaughter, Arya. Arya is gang-raped, the family is broken and loses the case in the court against the culprits. So she musters her courage and wills to get her daughter justice.

The film will annoy the viewers with the fact that if the angel of death had not followed her for a while, Sridevi in her 50s would have done wonders and gracefully stretched her already 50-year acting career. Because many leading actresses, who earned their name and reputation in the cinema, either get married and retires or sparingly shows up in their 40s and 50s.

Besides the above picks, I imagine Sridevi’s domination would have been unmatchable if she would have worked in Beta, Darr, Baazigar, Mohabbatein, Baghban, and Baahubali when/if offered. Beta was a huge miss and her rival Madhuri took the centre stage with that Dhak Dhak number. Yash’s original choice for Darr was Sridevi but she refused. Abbas-Mastan planned to have Sridevi in a double role of twin sisters in Baazigar but then opted for Kajol/Shilpa to play those roles.

Sridevi’s lack of interest scrapped her character in Mohabbatein who was supposed to be Amitabh‘s love interest. Baahubali’s character of Sivagami played by Ramya Krishnan was first offered to Sridevi which she declined due to her commitment to the other project. But the mother of all misses is declining Steven Spielberg‘s offer to play a character in Jurassic Park. And her reason was that the role was small and unworthy of her star stature. Oh, my.

Thank you for reading. This is the conclusion of the first part of the tribute to Sridevi. Please wait for the second and final part. Will be posted soon.

Film Review: Mom (2017)

Mom is about a stepmother (Sridevi) who strives to win her stepdaughter, Arya (Sajal Ali). One night, Arya is gang-raped, a family is broken and loses the case in the court against the culprits. Mom musters her courage and wills to get her daughter justice.
 
In my opinion, it is a story which has been repeated a thousand times in the Indian cinema. The subject of revenge and fight for justice were pretty common subjects back in the 80s and 90s of action-era. The above plot will much remind the filmgoers a Rajiv Rai cult classic, Mohra which was based on precisely these lines.
 
The impression lies in the film editing and direction with the help of impressive performances by all the main cast constructed on a typical script.
 
The film definitely helps to raise the reputation of STEPmother in a South Asian society but also makes the viewer observe the mental and physical capacity of the rape victim because, in most of the Indian films, the woman dies after the rape. Sajal Ali steals the show when she does the screaming and Adnan Siddiqui (father) tries to ease the pain.
 
Another gem of a jaw-dropping scene was of Sridevi when she is informed by the doctor of Arya’s rape. The degree of the display of shock and agony by Sridevi was colossal. Both these scenes were one of the best scenes in 2017.
 
Some aspects of the film are pretty odd. The performance of the culprits before the rape is so 90s i.e., unrealistic. A.R.Rahman‘s background score in many scenes is forced and unnecessary. Sridevi looks like a champion killer in her revenge attempts, even her Need-For-Speed mode of driving to catch the culprit on his bike and breaking/entering the house doesn’t buy you. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a spy in an unusual getup is a waste. The second half of the film is very stretched. And the biggest issue above all these points is that Sridevi is the face of the film, not the subject. At any given circumstance, husband and wife could have equally played their part in the revenge but the film shows that the director wanted to focus only on Sridevi.
 
Mom is a solo show by Sridevi who features for the last time in her acting career in a leading role after a sudden demise. Mom is one of the most vibrant and unforgettable performances by Sridevi. The film will annoy the viewers with the fact that if the angel of death had not followed her for a while, Sridevi in her 50s would have done wonders and gracefully stretched her already 50-year acting career.
 
RATINGS: 7/10

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