Is the breed of action heroes dying? This was the initial question asked by Devapriya Roy to Aditya Vikram Sengupta and Imtiaz Ali. The question is difficult: It is important to see how the hero has evolved from being someone who was filled with rage, to someone who has become much more ‘real’.
Talking about the action heroes of childhood, Aditya Vikram Sengupta recalled one of his favourites, Param Dharam (this author is ashamed to say she has watched it a few times too), where one of the defining moments of the film was Mithun Chakraborty whirling a wheel around and throwing it at Amrish Puri at the climax, successfully killing him for all his terrible deeds. But, that kind of action is probably not something which is too ‘relatable’, which was the verdict drawn from the recount.
Essentially, Bollywood is perhaps reducing the need to find the villain outside, an entity they can pile their anger against, but rather, looking inside, into the inner demons and rakshashas which live within us. Devapriya made a statement about the film ‘Bodyguard’ where she felt that the fights were extremely ‘spoofy’, where the film was not too serious about the fights, but rather, the actions were performed for the sake of enjoying violence.
Films like Sholay or, more recently, Ghayal, had looked at the villain to provide the audience a space for venting rage. One of the questions which was often asked by the heroes of yesteryears was that of a job: the quest for a job in a market where getting jobs was truly difficult was one of the tropes used consistently as a source of anger. However, with changing time, that rage has diminished with better economic stability.
Of course, there is the scope for mindless violence too. Aditya Vikram Sengupta spoke about the film Gunda, a cult classic which he had been able to see, but only in parts, while Imtiaz Ali said he had recently encountered the movie, and it had left him… rather speechless.
The rage is perhaps being replaced by confusion and inner struggle. Indeed, rage is now getting more outlets – from angry texting to a friend, or playing Temple Run on one’s phone, the outlets of rage are many, and that perhaps alleviate some of the rage and prevents it from building up. However, its also important to understand the replacement of rage with confusion – today, films show the struggle one has with oneself – what one wants to be versus what he is seen as.
Of course, no session could end without a plethora of questions, and the audience had far too many for the trio, and they fielded quite a few, although the conversation possibly went slightly off-topic. Questions about movies, realizing one’s dreams, ambitions and the difficulty in realizing them were strongly put.
Also, the question came: Was Imtiaz going to make a movie with Kolkata as a backdrop?
Bang came the reply: Maybe.
And I would leave you with another photo of Imtiaz Ali, because no, I still can’t get enough. For more such sessions, check out Kolkata Literary Meet website or follow the hashtags #KolLitMeet or #TataSteelKalam
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee is blogging in association with Kolkata Literary Meet, 2016.