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Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani CC#20 (IO) new title pg106 (Page 59)

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Editor's Note: This article containsspoilers about Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh, the segment directed by Karan Johar in Bombay Talkies.



Dear Karan Johar

We have come a long long way from Raja Harishchandra. In that 1913 film, Raja Harishchandra left his wife because of his promise to a man – the sage Vishwamitra. In 2013's Bombay Talkies, Rani Mukherjee's character leaves her husband because of his liplock with another man – her cocky office intern. Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh, verily.

The media is falling over itself to pat you on the back for your courage. Doing a round up of the reviews out there, Hindustan Timesproclaims "Bombay Talkies is Karan Johar's victory." Johar steals the show in Bombay TalkieswritesFirstpost. This victory is not necessarily because of the film or even it's subject matter but because YOU, the master of Kandy Floss, Koffee and Cinema Gloss, have taken it up.

Randeep Hooda in Bombay Talkies. Agencies.

Randeep Hooda in Bombay Talkies. Agencies.

"Johar has gone all out and narrated a story which one may have expected a Kashyap or a Banerjee to narrate but definitely not him," writes Shomini Sen on IBNLive. "Uncharacteristically mature for a film by Johar, and bristling with uncomfortable honesty," gushes Rajeev Masand. No more Student of the Year Rishi Kapoor ambiguity, no more Kantabai jokes. You have come all out and made a film where a lead character dares to say "I am gay", something even Onir's moving My Brother Nikhil could not quite do. "Johar's story is by far the bravest and hence the most risky," Sen proclaims on IBNLive.

All power to you, Karan, for taking on a subject close to your heart, for making a film that pushes the envelope for Indian cinema in its 100th year. But really, did you have to throw every stereotype and clich in the book at that gay intern played by Saqib Saleem? Forget likeable. Couldn't you have spared a scriptwriting moment to make him at least believable? This is a hard-hitting film, but hitting hard in all the wrong places.

Academic Zaid Al Baset made a checklist of everything your gay character stood for: "Gay as stalker, as husband snatcher, as closeted, as repressed, as violent, lunatic, the list is endless." Let me add a few more – emotionally unstable, unable to have any conversation without gratuitous sexual double entendres, self-destructive, masochistic, and prone to kiss-and-tell.

Oh, let's not forget inappropriate. Look, there is no workplace in India where you can show up and nuzzle the neck of the man you want in public – whether you are a man or a woman. You just don't. Forget about lovers, I spent most of my 30 minutes with your intern wondering how he had any friends at all.

I understand that a filmmaker your job is to tell a story. You don't have to construct a positive representation of anybody. You don't need to show gays as decent hard-working tax-paying citizens. You don't have to create a gay character that must stand in as a sort of shining role model for all gay men everywhere. You are a storyteller not a propagandaist. But gays have rarely been portrayed with realism and sensitivity on screen and my fear is you actually thought you were finally portraying a realistic gay man on screen instead of the usual caricature.

Didn't it occur to you that this opportunity also came with some measure of responsibility? For the thousands for whom your film might be the first exposure to real gay characters (after the faux-gay jokes of Dostana), gay will now mean the guy who comes to dinner and steals his hostess' (and best friend's) husband on the way out without any moral qualms at all, not even a moment's misgiving.

Mind you, it's not like he recognizes the husband from cruising in Mumbai's loos or gay chat rooms. Nothing in the husband's behaviour suggests he is a closeted homosexual. It's not a friendship that slowly ripens into more where they helplessly fall for each other in some desi Brokeback Mountain kinda way. This is cold-blooded stalking of his best friend (and boss') husband. And really, Karan, there are plenty of gay men who have kissed women multiple times without flipping their sexuality instantly. Someone please reassure Rani Mukherjee's character that one same-sex kiss doesn't have to spell the end of her heterosexual marriage.

Sorry, I can't join the supportive chorus of those who want to applaud you for making this giant leap out of the cinematic closet. But if this is the story that you had bottled up in you that was just waiting to be told, I honestly worry for you. Really, Karan Johar, is this how dimly you view homosexuals?

Dear Karan, it's commendable that for this film you have at least not bought into the usual Bollywood stereotypes about gays – effeminate mincing fashionistas. But what's the point of avoiding one stereotype and giving us another one that's in effect far deadlier and far more insidious? Better the jokes of Dostana which at least as the audience we knew were jokes than this piece of cinema that's served up as a serious slice of groundbreaking realism.

"I am gay but I don't bite – unless someone asks," says your character wittily. It turns out, in your world, the gay man is simply a namakharam who is happy to bite the hand that feeds him. Excuse me, but if this is what counts as "progress", I'd rather stick with gay serial killers on the screen.

Disclaimer: Bombay Talkies is co-produced by Viacom18, which is a part of the Network18 group that also owns Firstpost. 


http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/dear-karan-johar-do-you-really-think-gay-men-are-like-this-758285.html


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Posted: 07 May 2013 at 12:36pm | IP Logged
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Posted: 07 May 2013 at 7:53pm | IP Logged
I am obsessed with Nenje Yezhu from Maryan Day Dreaming
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-Fatima- IF-Stunnerz
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Posted: 08 May 2013 at 8:55am | IP Logged
can i come in?
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Posted: 08 May 2013 at 9:00am | IP Logged

you're allowed anytime 
been like 6 years since you came 

btw fatima if you are not busy will you help me with something
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Posted: 08 May 2013 at 9:05am | IP Logged
6 years goodness girl stop exaggerating lol

i am always free for help ask away

btw hwz ya?

The following 1 member(s) liked the above post:

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Posted: 08 May 2013 at 9:11am | IP Logged
help means D1 maths problems (it is ICT based). issiliye asked otherwise you'd tell me off for asking LOL
now only marj is missing from old gang... talked to sofia recently. hoor  I see on fb. 

nothing much studying doing stuff and talking to you 
whats the latest? what are you watching havent seen last 2 TVD episodes hate cvs for separating delena so soon. plz tell which epis and parts I should watch i only like delena 

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