Saturday, May 8, 2010

Three elephants in the room.

Hate to jam this post in but I feel like it has to be made; call me the Official Khanna Week Squee-stopper, if you must, but I assure you, happy posts will commence tomorrow once more - for now, let's deal with the things we might talk about but don't particularly enjoy talking about head-on.

I mean, they are in a sense the reason this Khanna fest had to be initiated - why are Khannas so unloved (or underloved or not adequately loved) by the great Bollywood worldwide consciousness (wow, does that sound spiritual? we could just call 'em fans).

Akshaye Khanna - I am not sure where I've read about this perception that Akshoo picks his roles carefully and is particularly choosy about which films he does. But I have read it and going by how little movies he makes, I could swallow it, too. But then I look at his filmography and just .. what the hell. I understand getting stuck in a rut, doing crappy film after crappy films because that's all you're offered but can that really be true for somebody who has shown considerable acting potential and is widely considered a solid actor despite, you know, all those countless bad films I choose not to name right now. I confess I know very little about the inside workings of the industry so maybe I'm missing a lot of key factors that play into this but sometimes I fear that the dude doesn't really care and kind of wants to cash in.

Rahul Khanna - Now here's a guy whose perceived pickiness with roles I could actually see as justified, as his filmography doesn't really have that many bad films. But it's so tiny! Isn't everybody on Twitter now? Doesn't everybody just want to cast him? (I do, but the only job I have available is cleaning my room. I doubt Rahul gets out of bed for the money I'm willing to offer him...)

Vinod Khanna - One word: Osho. (For the uninitiated, or the newbies, here's a little lesson in history - at the height of his career, in the early 80's Vinod Khanna joined his guru and withdrew from regular human life into a spiritual commune in North-East US of A. He returned to the industry in the late 80's.)

I spotted somebody commenting on a youtube video of some Vinod Khanna song that "he realized the futility of human existence" or something like that, and this made me realize how much a culture colours our perceptions of one man following his guru and withdraw from his regular job AND family life. I mean, Finns don't tend to withdraw from anywhere as hundreds of years of Lutheran work ethic kind of ties us to the home and work life so much so that the idea of "getting away from it all", in a spiritual way, not just for a holiday, is completely alien. (Not saying this is better - just how it is.)

But to somebody of India, it's not necessarily so. Now, I don't personally withdraw my own judgment completely because of this. I could, but it feels pretentious - I still have the opinion that from the point of view of a fan, who loves his 70's/early 80's films and isn't enamored with him returning to Bollywood when the films lacked inspiration and interest, and he was getting too old to be a hero anyway. And if somebody I knew left their family to pursue greater spiritual understanding, I'd consider them selfish. But I keep in mind - different context, different culture, different perceptions.

So I maintain my views as a fan. I think the man made simultanously the worst and the best decision he could've made. Leaving Bollywood in the early 80's? Abandoning a slowly sinking ship, good call. Returning to the industry in the late 80's? Sigh. No. Just no.

So there. Elephants sorted. Would be curious to hear your views on these topics. And sorry for squee-killing, just gotta be honest with myself & my readership here. I still love all three of these actors - trust me on that one.

[Elephant screencaps from the Tamil film Dhool.]


Nicki said...

Your Khanna-O-Rama posts have been so fun to read! Loving all of them! On top of that, even Rahul is enjoying them too :D

Ness said...

I just read in a Filmfare interview with Akshaye (from v. recently) something along the lines of "I'd rather be in a successful film than a good film" - which suggests maybe a different kind of choosiness. And I have to admit, my first reaction was to judge him until I was like "Actually, what's wrong with that?" It was actually quite an interesting interview with him.

veracious said...

Nicki - Thanks! :D

Ness - Good point, but then, what makes a successful movie? Nobody knows. Wanted drew in crores. So did 3 Idiots. Both I'd say are good movies. And you have films that have the makings of a hit but flop horribly, I'd say a lot of Akshaye's filmography falls into that category (like crowd-appealling Priyadarshan comedies that never catch flame in the BO). So who's to judge when the audience is the final judge? So in that respect I question his choices, because it's a weird thing, success. You would sort of be more secure doing films which are good to you.

Beth said...

This isn't squee-killing! It's research! :) And after all, it's the blend of fun, delight, thought, and question-asking that keeps me so involved in Bollywood blogs.

I have that interview and haven't read it yet! Bah! I too am baffled by his "choosiness," and he makes it damn hard to be a fan. And if what he's after is box office success rather than artistic (if the two are being considered separately), then shouldn't he be doing all he can (like lots of interviews, tv shows, twitter, etc) to encourage us to follow him into the cinema? Huh.

But even given that, it's a huge puzzle to me why producers and directors don't seem to be after him more. Or maybe they are but he just doesn't sign stuff?

They're an interesting bunch, these Khannas. There are aspects of all of their filmographies that make me wonder how strongly they feel about acting, or at what cost, anyway. We know what Vinod does (and has done) when he isn't (wasn't) acting; Rahul has done quite a bit of tv work (I'm shocked to see he has endorsed a subsidiary of De Beers, given his strong opinions on ethical treatment of animals), but I have no sense of what he would prefer to be doing if it's anything different than what's going on currently; and Akshaye...well, yeah. Who knows. I do know that I thought it was so funny when Luck by Chance showed him being persnickity about roles :)

Tiny correction: Osho's commune is in the northwest US (Oregon). And check out the pyramid in the Pune site in the Wiki article! Dang!

Ness said...

What Akshaye defines as success is totally the question - and still a mystery because as far as I can tell, it's not necessarily box office success OR audience acclaim. So yeah, I have to wonder: why not do 'good' films?

But then, trying to figure out what is going on in anyone else's head is a surefire way to go nuts.

On the topic of the Osho thing - I had never really thought about it properly in terms of the impact it had on his family life until I read an interview that Rahul gave (with Kavita Chhibber I think, on being a "Celebrity Son"). He left his family, his wife, his sons, his job, his friends, his country, and followed a spiritual ideal. FOR A LONG TIME.

That's got to have an impact. On everybody involved, right?

AMIT said...

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