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Dear Ramcharan Teja, As a Bihari, why should I not be offended by your latest film?

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Ramcharan Teja
Ramcharan Teja (File Photo)

New Delhi, Jan 19: The latest Ramcharan Teja starrer in Telugu, “Vinaya Vidheya Rama” (VVR), which opened on Pongal all across Andhra Pradesh, is a deeply offensive film on every possible level. It insults the female sex by lewdly objectifying the heroine Kiara Advani.

It also insults the audiences? basic intelligence by taking the most outrageous liberties with time and space. To give an early indication of the film?s topographical tyranny, in one sequence, the film?s super-duper-hero Rama crashes out of an airport?s check-in lounge, jumps on a speeding train-top from Gujarat which takes him to Bihar to save his brother.

Don?t ask how Rama is able to time his furious travel plan with the Bihar train timings. I think it was Dharmendra who first balanced himself on a speeding train roof to avenge the wrongs done to his onscreen family in “Yaadon Ki Baaraat”. If he saw Ramcharan Teja?s loco-motivated homage to that old spirit of dada-giri Dharam Paaji style, Dharmendra would probably regret the day he agreed to travel ticketless.

There are many other absolutely unacceptable leaps of imagination in VVR that boggle the mind and do a great disservice to progressive cinema all across India.

As a Bihari, my biggest grouse against “Vinaya Vidheya Rama” is in the way Bihar and Biharis are shown as scruffy, sleazy, murderous bandits and outlaws. For years, filmmakers and actors in the South have complained about the way Hindi cinema depicts South Indians in a stereotypical ?Lungi Dance? avatar. In fact in the NTR biopic that opened this week, NTR (Balakrishna) is seen haranguing Mrs Indira Gandhi for referring to South Indians as ?Madrasis’.

I wonder what NTR would have to say about Ramcharan Teja?s licentious lies regarding Bihar and Biharis. For one, the film?s main villain, Raja Bhai played by Vivek Oberoi, is shown to be a Bihari running his own army in “Bihar”?or what passes off as Bihar in this madly confounded film which knows neither its history or geography well enough to make the narrative half-way coherent.

Raja Babu is shown to bully the Bihar Chief Minister, Mahesh Manjrekar, into perpetrating the worst havoc imaginable. The tyranny gets acutely unbearable when Raja Babu kidnaps the Election Commissioner and makes him dance in public wearing ghungroos(anklets) on his feet to humiliate him.

I really didn’?t get that one. Why would a dance in ghungroos be such an act of humiliation for a decent man whose nose the villain wants to rub in the ground? There are so many renowned much respected Kathak and Bharat Natyam dancers in India. Kamal Haasan and Birju Maharaja are names that come to mind.

This crass film moves forward on the strength of its own perverse definition of machismo and virility. The hero is shown literally beating up an army of ?Bihari? goons (all armed with guns, machets and other weapons) as the soundtrack emblasons his heroics with sounds that suggest a siren call for absolute anarchy.

My quibble with the film?s crass conflicts are with its ?Bihar? connections. The hinterland is replete with sandscapes and horses and outlaws who look like they are earning extra money by sneaking out of a Ram Gopal Verma action film and is no part of any Bihar that I know.

Why are Biharis considered to be so thick-skinned as to silently accept being portrayed as the worst scum of the earth? Isn?t that the image that chauvinistic political parties in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh favour in order to put migrants from UP and Bihar in place, namely back to their home states? And now, depicting Biharis as lumpen elements is taken to the next level. The hero must travel to Bihar(from Gujarat, on a speeding train upon which he jumps on from above) to rescue his Telugu family from North Indian pseudo-Maoists.

Dravidian rectitude survives.

IANS

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Film producer Raj Kumar Barjatya of Rajshri films passes away

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Raj Kumar Barjatya (File Photo)

Mumbai, Feb 21: Bollywood’s veteran film producer Raj Kumar Barjatya of Rajshri films passed away in Mumbai’s Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital on Thursday morning.

Rajkumar Barjatya of Rajshri Productions had bankrolled films like Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!, Hum Saath-Saath Hain, Vivah and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo among others. His last production venture Hum Chaar hit screens on February 15, 2019.

Rajkumar is survived by his wife Sudha Barjatya and son Sooraj Barjatya.

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Judge me, but don’t judge my kids: Ajay Devgn

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Ajay Devgn Kajol with Nysa and Yug
Ajay Devgn and Kajol with their children Nysa and Yug

New Delhi, Feb 20: Much like the children of other Bollywood celebrities, actor Ajay Devgn and Kajols 15-year-old daughter Nysa and 8-year-old son Yug, get a lot of media attention and are often targeted by social media trolls.

In an interview to IANS, Devgn, a protective father, said social media users should not judge his children.

He said: “Judge me, but don’t judge my kids. Kajol and I are the actors, judge us…it’s because of us, our children are under the spotlight everytime.”

“Being judgmental about someone is not a good thing. If I start passing a judgement on someone, that person would obviously feel bad…so do my children,” he added.

The “Singham” star, who was in Delhi to promote his fortcoming film “Total Dhamaal”, said, “Honestly speaking, those people don’t really matter. But I feel bad sometimes when my kids go through such harsh trolling.”

The star couple’s first child Nysa recently got trolled and body-shamed for her airport look – and this was not the first time she was being targetted.

Asked about how Nysa deals with “such harsh comments”, Devgn said: “She used to get upset over trolling earlier, but now she doesn’t care about it anymore. She knows how to deal with it. She has accepted that there will be some people who will keep judging no matter what.”

On how to tackle trolls, he said, “Avoid it… If you will react, they will react more and this will continue. So better to stop fighting against trollers.”

Commenting on how people have reacted angrily to remarks by some actors on the Pulwama terror attack, Devgn said: “In such a crucial situation, it is better if we become conscious while choosing our words because people are angry and you never know how someone at the opposite end interprets your message or post.

“One can be misinterpretted anytime and then you can’t sit down and explain to people that what were your real intentions. It’s better if we all become little conscious and don’t react to things immediately. Think twice before writing anything on social media to avoid hurting someone’s sentiments.”

IANS

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Sting operation: Bollywood celebs, TV actors caught agreeing to promote political parties for money

Actors Vivek Oberoi, Shakti Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Amisha Patel, Mahima Chaudhary and Sonu Sood, and singers Kailash Kher, Abhijeet and Mika were some of those caught on camera accepting the deal for toeing the agenda of a political party or endorsing it for money.

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Sting operation: Bollywood celebs

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) More than 30 Indian film and TV industry actors/artistes agreed to spread the propaganda of political parties through their social media accounts for money, which they asked to be paid in cash, in other words in untaxed black money, it has been revealed in a sting operation.

Actors Vivek Oberoi, Shakti Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Amisha Patel, Mahima Chaudhary and Sonu Sood, and singers Kailash Kher, Abhijeet and Mika were some of those caught on camera accepting the deal for toeing the agenda of a political party or endorsing it for money.

The celebrities were caught on camera accepting the cash-for-tweet offer during a sting operation conducted by media portal Cobra Post over a period of 3-4 months last year.

Cobra Post on Tuesday released the sting operation in a video documentary titled ‘Operation Karaoke’, in which actors, dancers, singers and models were caught accepting the offer for promoting political parties through hidden cameras.

The reporters, acting as agents working on behalf of the Congress, the BJP or the Aam Aadmi Party, made an offer to pay 10-20 per cent of the decided sum in cheque or bank transfer, and the rest through cash, which the celebrities accepted.

Vidya Balan, Raza Murad, Arshad Warsi and TV actor Saumya Tandon were the only ones who refused the offer.

Celebrities were offered Rs 2 lakh to Rs 20 lakh per message according to their brand value. Some celebrities even asked the reporters-cum-agents for up to Rs 20 crore citing the sway they hold on the Twitter sphere.

These celebs agreed to promote the party — any which was proposed to them — to create a favourable environment before the 2019 general elections.

They swore to keep the entire exercise a secret and the agenda hidden.

“This way, you (celebrities) are manufacturing an opinion through social media. If you reveal that you have taken money for the promotion that you are doing, it would be fine… If we go by the trend, these people may not shy away from propagating a communal agenda either,” said journalist and former Aam Aadmi Party member Ashutosh during the press conference.

He compared the celebrities who accepted the deal to “trolls” and called trolling a “paid syndicate mafia”.

Hartosh Singh Bal, political editor of Caravan magazine, also addressed the reporters and termed the incident a telling foreboding of the “dangerous times” ahead.

“We are going to see the consequences of this in the coming elections,” he said.

The impact most of these celebrities can have through their handles in denting or boosting a party’s image can be gauged from the number of followers almost each of them has on Twitter.

Amisha Patel has 3.95 million, Vivek Oberoi above 2 million and Sonu Sood 1.5 million followers on Twitter. Jackie Shroff has 2.27 lakh, Kailash Kher has over 5 lakh and Tisca Chopra of ‘Taare Zameen Par’ fame has 3.20 lakh followers on Twitter.

Model and actress Sunny Leone, though one of those agreeing to promote the BJP on camera, issued a disclaimer on Twitter hours after the press conference, rubbishing the news of promoting a political party.

“Hi, this is to inform you that I am not campaigning for any political parties, unlike the news that’s circulated talking about me doing so… If I choose to promote anything in political life I would choose things I only believe in,” she tweeted. Leone alone has 3.95 million followers on Twitter.

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