We love them, we criticize them, we follow them, we advise them – A love hate relationship, that stems from our dreams being played out on screen. Our Bollywood Moviestars! The release of new films every Friday is a common point of excitement at the end of the week for most cinema lovers in India. Several industries are built around these people- people who spend the largest part of their life in a make belief world, momentarily transporting us out of our reality into the fantasy world. And of course the sightings! The crowd outside Amitabh Bachchan’s bungalow, Shahrukh’s house on the tourist map of mumbai, are all evidence of the Demigod status we confer on them. And rightly so, I must confess – a realization I had after an interesting conversation.
I met a dear friend a few days ago- a UN advisor and part of the UN peace talk force, who had just returned from Syria. The situation in Syria was was grim, he said, in fact life threatening- Bombs, gunfire, and the smell of death round the corner. And in the middle of all of this was my fiend attempting to get several warring factions together to meet across the table and have conversations for peace. The daunting task took its toll on him, he sadly recounted, and eventually it had limited success as the entire peace talk team had to spend most of their time in a safe bunker when the fighting took on renewed force. He described the horrific scenes he had witnessed, and the tension that was a constant in the air. I commented that he would’ve probably experienced a kind of fear that most of us could not even imagine, to which he smiled, and said that while they were in action, he had both the Gods and the Demi-Gods looking over him. And with that, he told me something very interesting.
Well, word had gotten around camp that there was an Indian in the peace talk team, and everytime somebody new walked into his makeshift office tent they searched for him very warmly! Raj Kapoor’s ‘Mera joota hai Japaani’, he said, was sung out to him with great adulation, as was Amitabh’s dialogue from Sholay. ‘Aishwarya Rai- most beautiful in India’, was announced to him warmly again and again, as were the repeated requests for Shahrukh Khan movies….All in all, he recollected fondly, he felt the warm and protective hugs of all those chieftains and leaders of the several warring camps he was trying to negotiate with! My friend confessed that it was all on account of their love for our Bollywood movie stars! In him, they saw a part of their fantasy world, a chance to get closer to their idols, to the people they loved! He brought closer to them, a part of the world they had never experienced, yet dearly adored. And in that he said, were several promises made to look after him, as a special friend! So in fact, my friend declared, that he felt looked out for, and knew that should things have gotten out of control at any point in time during negotiations or otherwise, there were enough people looking out for him!
And so, as our conversation drew to an end, we concluded that we rarely value the role that our movie-stars play as subtle peace keepers, relinquishing boundaries and religions and cultures, and how unusual relationships are forged, by virtue of common love for cinema! Our movie stars have succeeded in bringing together people like none else, including even the UN, we laughed! So here’s a big thumbs up for our favorite filmstars, and a promise for renewed respect to their dual roles – cinema hero and peacekeeper!