Friday, August 16, 2013

Chennai express - not a review

Chennai express - the latest comical flick is just a week old and the movie is already breaking all records despite the controversies, criticisms and a frail story line(almost nil).

 There are many reviews,  controversies  and comments regarding this movie but I must say I  liked the'Time pass' movie in  parts where it was peppered with some creative and comical situations  for instance like the antakshri dialogues between Shahrukh Khan(SRK) and Deepika Padukone(DP).
I also awed when I saw some mindblowing and brilliant locales  of South India,  especially  while the train winded through beautiful valleys, the pamban bridge shots, while SRK first meets Deepika’s father over a gushing waterfall and the movie also has some beautiful settings especially the fairytale village(loved the bucket wheel well) where the marriage scene takes place. This is not a review of the movie because by review standards I am already late by a week and in any case, my review is not going to make any difference because despite trade pundits giving negative reviews, the movie is lapped up by the masses.   There are mixed reviews , some like it, some don’t. It depends on the viewers preferences.
Regarding The controversy surrounding it. Many felt that SRK and the movie maker Rohit shetty( himself  a south Indian) and Deepika Padukone( another Southie)  are making a mockery of Tamil culture which generally most film makers do when they depict a region in a comical movie. It is not even a realistic movie( just a time pass movie)  and so some viewers like me would even take the depiction lightly.
In most Indian films (Hindi and regional) they typecast the communities/ regions  like,

  • When a Keralite is shown, she is shown with a mundu (wrap around)and a tight blouse with some chandan on the fore head .
  •   A maharashtrian  mostly is a kaamwali bhai in a navsari and naath( nosering).
  •   a UP  kaka in a kurta pyjama spitting paan and mouthing  dialogues through his paan stained teeth.
  •  A Christian Dsouza uncle in hat,  shorts holding a  daaru bottle.
  •  A gujju miserly  pawner(seth)  asking for interest on loan with a 'yeh apko sobha( shobha)  nahi deta' type of dialogue.
  • A Bihari babu as an uneducated villager( and to think this is the state that throws many IAS officers)
( all  the above characters with heavy regional accents)

But the most popular sterotypes in Indian movies would be a Madrasi or a Punjabi.

For  most film makers, anybody south of Vindhyas is a Madrasi and to depict a northie, it would be a Punjabi.

So a “Madrasi”  always wears a lungi/dhoti, with a kudumi( small tuft of hair) and  with a deep tamilian accent saying ‘Aiyo’ or 'aiaiyo' out of his  idli eating mouth,  if he is a goonda, then he is of gigantic proportion and dark skinned gobbling idlis from  a plate like in this movie. 

A Punjabi  is generally a  loud mouthed pot bellied fat man eating  a leg piece with both his hands and washing it down with a  bottle of beer or going ballistic with ‘balle balle’ and dhol.

 If you are regular movie goer or even a observer, you might  agree with me on the stereotypes and would even add more to the list.

There are a few critics  who felt offended that their region is not depicted properly in ‘Chennai express’ and they have voiced their views on social network. Fair enough, obviously it is not possible for all people to think on the same lines.

But what bothered me was the comments to such posts.  Some intolerant language people so freely use in the name of comments on internet is seriously shocking. It is racist, offensive and abusive. It is not that everybody is free of  biases. Each of us have our own bias and think, eat and live differently. Must we be responding it with such vitriolic comments. 

But No, everybody feels their culture is supreme. And the sad part, is that we always blame the politicians of exploiting people on the basis of caste, creed and religion. When we have to respond with maturity, instead we use vitriolic language and crumble at the slightest provocation.

Here reminds me of a beautiful little story which we used to narrate to students as part of our life skill course. Here goes,

A  Japanese and an American go to a cemetery to offer homage to their ancestors. The Japanese as part of his culture takes a rice cake to offer at the cemetery. The American who crosses his path pokes fun at him and asks” Would your ancestor get up from the grave to eat the Rice cake? 

When  the American goes to place a bouquet of flowers at his ancestors grave. The Japanese walks  over to him and says “ If your ancestor would wake up from the grave to receive your bouquet, then my ancestor too would eat the rice cake".  Each has their own culture right? 

And especially in a country like ours, we have to take pride in our cultural diversity. Why trade insults especially such abusive and foul ones?

 Everyone seems to be convinced that they and only they can be right. Why can't people realize that different people can think differently and have different likes and we must respect their likes and culture? Why are people forever trying to convert others to their school of thought or spend time convincing that what others believe or practice is stupid.And what's with the arrogance, sitting at home and typing away in abusive language?  Can’t we show some restraint and differentiate ourselves from the uncivilized creatures or psychos?

P.S: I live in a multicultural society and  we co-exist in harmony helping each other like in a joint family, extending support in times of need and get together for parties and festivals. The abusive comments in internet is what triggered this post.


  1. Very well written Asha. It is always stereotyping. For example, in Tamil movies if they want to show a North Indian, it is always a sardarji. In Hollywood, they always show Indians with an exaggerated heavy Indian accent.

    It will be difficult to believe. I have never seen a Hindi movie so far.

    1. True SG, about hollywood though some films like 'Life of Pi' were an exception. otherwise, for them we are the land of snake charmers. Time for them to brush up their GK. What say?

      Hav'nt you watched even one hindi movie?

  2. Nice post.. I like the example of the Japanese and the American that you told of in your post.. I agree with you that each and every culture have there own traditions.. And one must respect all of them.. Some times judging between right and wrong creates more problems.. Even I hate it when the comments become abusive in the end.. One can disagree to many things in life and on blogger many people give their opinions.. But to be abusive and to prove your point in that manner is certainly not the way.. Thoughtful post.. Keep writing..!!

    1. Welcome to my space, Priya:) Exactly Priya, that was my point about culture and abusive comments. Glad you share the same thoughts. Thank you for those encouraging words.

  3. You hit the bull's eye.Believe it or not,I was just wondering about the same thing when I saw people commenting by hurling abuses at each other on a News item in a news website.What happened to all the 'be polite and don't use cuss words' thing?

    Off the track...Bollywood,in my opinion,is in a state of confusion.They are not able to decide if they are influencing the culture and mindset or are they reflecting it? Or rather,its the people who are not able to distinguish between the real and reel life.

    1. Thank you, anu:) yes, whatever happened to politeness? what do we blame it on? upbringing....environment... or is to hog limelight? can't say.... but definitely breeds negativity.

  4. Yes, the trolls who comment are absolutely awful. I wonder what motivates people to dump such vitriol.

    We would also do well, to learn to laugh at ourselves a bit and not get so uptight on every small nuance. The Sikhs tend to be good sports - they don't mind laughing at Sardarjee jokes !!! As you say, its just time pass - so good to simply laugh and forget it .

    1. True ramesh, especially in a slapstick comedy like this movie...the cultural patterns are over exaggerated. It was a total fun riot though. Yes, sardars the most industrious community are good sports. true that.

  5. I liked Chennai Express, it was fun movie, makes me wonder why the not so good review.
    One thing I have noticed that the North Indians could never get into their dumb heads that South India means lot more than just madrasis, idly wada ingidi pingdi and ai-aiyos.

  6. I too liked it though i found it a drag at certain place.

    Yes Rama, some can't distinguish between a Keralite, tamil, for most of them it is Madrasis and nothing beyond idli wada sambar.

  7. Hi colleagues, its fantastic paragraph regarding tutoringand
    completely explained, keep it up all the time.

    my website: ostermann