India and Bollywood Buzz

This week Bollywood was the dominant topic of conversation among bloggers. Bollywood dominated for a couple of reasons.  The first one is the wedding of the year or the decade or the century however you want to dub it. If you missed the news then here it is: Bollywood's hottest pair and the current power couple: Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, dubbed as “Abhiash” tied the knot today.

The second reason is the Richard Gere-Shilpa Shetty kiss. Here is what happened Hollywood actor Richard Gere was in India to help with an AIDS awareness campaign. During a public AIDS campaign event, Gere grabbed Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and kisser her on the cheek and the rest is history, and apparently there are a couple of legal cases filed against Gere.
In the following couple of paragraphs I have tried to capture a wide range of reaction from Indian bloggers about the Gere-Shetty kissing episode.
Jay Tipnis perhaps captures the feelings of many bloggers and tries to make sense of the kissing episode. Yes, India is a conservative country, but look what they are showing on TV ma, what do I make of it seems to be Jay's strand of thinking. He writes;

We can say that India is a very conservative country and that this was an unnecessary display by Gere and Shetty but I stand confused because I watch Hindi movies and there are more displays of suggestive dancing by scantily clad women all over the screen than this side of an MTV Spring Break special. On television, Indian serials are full of women carrying on affairs, murdering family members, and plotting world domination yet a kiss between two friends on stage at a rally meant to raise awareness apparently is now a slight against the conservative morals of the country. If that is not the most hypocritical thing I have ever seen then I don't know what is.”

GV Krishnan a retired journalist turned blogger shares his opinion about the Shilpa Shetty-Richard Gere kissing episode and why the media may perceived the episode differently from Shilpa. Shilpa. He writes:

“Shilpa's outburst at the media is understandable. What she perhaps doesn't understand is that media, much of it anyway, isn't there to put things in a positive light, but to report them as they perceive it. Media has celebrity bias. Had Richard Gere done it with a plain Jane, HIV positive, picked out from a AIDS awareness campaign meeting, the photo would still have made the papers, but on an inside page. Media knows how not to over-react, Shilpa.”

Amrit of Writing Cave is critical of some political parties and organizations and their reaction to the Gere-Shetty episode He writes:

“The Shiv Sainiks and other Hindu organizations are always a nuisance. These losers have nothing better to do in their lives, and like Islam, for them the Hindu sanskriti (culture, way of life) too is always under attack and needs to be protected sedulously. They have been burning the effigies of Shilpa Shetty. Although the secularists will jump at the opportunity and call it as “Hindu fundamentalism”, I simply term it as an annoyance and a law-and-order problem. These Shiv Sainiks should be arrested and put behind bars for a few years because otherwise they will keep finding one danger to their sanskriti or another.
In another such incident, an obscure Hindu organization called The Hindu Rashtriya Sena ransacked the Star News office in Mumbai for covering an incident the Sena found objectionable. The main problem here is the languor our police force shows. Arresting these hooligans after they have done the damage only furthers their cause and they become heroes amidst their communities. They should be tackled with before they can do any harm to the society.
Talking of society, unless such activists are treated like the outcasts instead of the culture-protectors, nothing much can be expected to happen.”

And as if mainstream media in India and abroad did not have a field day covering the Gere-Shetty episode, here in America Jon Stewart took a humorous swipe at the entire Shetty-Gere episode as I wrote in one of my post.

The second and dominant Bollywood news is the wedding of Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan.   An American In Athens has a pretty comprehensive post on the marriage of these two actors and writes:

You may be asking yourselves, “who are these people and why do I care?” Fair enough, they’re not Greek and have nothing to do with Greece, but Ab and Ash are the Indian equivalent of Pitt and Jolie, thus representing the union of two of the richest, most recognizable families in India…What makes this interesting is she is 33, two years his senior and marrying for the first time in a country where most women marry before they’re 20 or 25. Rai is also much more established and successful than her soon-to-be husband, who only rose to prominence in 2004.”

This wedding has been the talk of mainstream media, who appear to have ignored other big news stories in Bangalore writes The World As We Know It. Apparently there is a public transport strike in Mumbai that has largely gone unnoticed by mainstream media and they write:

“Why can't they focus on the bigger picture? I mean where does the problem actually lie? Why do these strikes happen often? Isn't that what journalism is suppose to be?
We are really disappointed with the deteriorating standards of journalism.
The only news or rather ‘irrelevant stories’ they write about is the wedding of Bollywood actor
Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. The news about their pre-wedding ceremonies, list of invitees etc is spread across several pages in a newspaper. What difference does it make to any of our lives? Have they done anything significant to deserve this kind of publicity?”

Farazan Versey of Cross Connections also wonders about the mainstream media's obsession with the Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwarya Rai wedding. She writes about a TV reporter's attempt to gatecrash the wedding, and how other events in the city are slipping by unnoticed by mainstream media. Farazan writes:

“Where were these enthusiastic reporters when 700 hutments were demolished two days ago? I could not even find a report to post here. The only evidence I saw was a picture of the devastated site with a child carrying a fan from the debris.”

9 comments

  • i think that Aishwarya Rai and Abhiash are the best couple, (apart from my parents,)the sad thing is that if Aishwarya Rai is in a movie and kisses a guy for the movie, i dont want Abhiash to get upset, so i wish Abhiash and Aishwarya Rai THE BEST MARRIAGE EVER!

    From your biggist fan ever priya

  • Didn’t know the Rai and Bachhan families were among the “richest” families in India :-)

  • Scott

    For a society who has been deeply damaged by colonialism can one think of a more offensive image of a white guy grabbing a daughter of India and forcing himself upon her? It is so symbolic. It is right in line with the image of the white colonist forcing himself upon a country and just taking whatever he wants.

    Richard Gere should pay the ultimate price for this.

    What bothers me however is those who would blame Shilpa Shetty for this.

    Too often women victims of rape in India are blamed for what happened like they wanted the rape to happen or it was their fault the rape happened even when the truth might be that the rapists brutalized them and they couldn’t stop the rape from happening.

    While of course Richard Gere didn’t actually rape Shilpa Shetty, I still see this whole “Blame the Woman Victim” dynamic in place. From what I saw from the video Shilpa Shetty did nothing to cause Richard Gere to act the way he did, and was in fact as shocked as everyone else was that he would act in such a disgraceful manner.

    We need to defend this daughter of India, not blame her for this white man’s assault upon her.

  • People are over reacting about Richard Gere! People that know Mr. Gere’s past and how he feels about other countries know that he was not trying in any way to disrespect Shetty or the country. It was all in good fun. For people to say the words rape and to say that Gere should pay the max penalty is just disgusting.

    India and people like scott……. GROW UP!

  • […] Source: Globalvoicesonline […]

  • My thoughts

    Thank you very very much. I have seen hundreds of bollywood movies, and let me tell you something. There are so many romantic scenes in the films of the men and women. And now something like this happens with a little kiss on the cheek, and the whole country is going crazy. I just think the matter of the fact is that the rioters were just those uneducated people who have posters of shilpa shetty up on their walls and dream about her. And now Gere comes and kisses their dream girl. Blood starts to boil and envy takes them to the streets. Its a shame that such a little incident has been taken out of proportion when more important issues have been ignored. To tell you the truth, India has been influenced by the USA a lot. With everything from movies, music, lifestyle, fashion etc… and yet something like this happens and everyone get their machetes out. Grow up people. Also I have a lot of respect for other cultures, but some things need to be handled in an appropriate manner and professionally.
    thanks

  • serena sisodia

    i wish ashwarya ria and abeshek buchen to be a happy couple and i wish them the best in ther marriage good luck…commented by serena

  • Saejal sisodia

    hi, its me Saejal, and i just wanted to say…I WISH YOU ALL (new) MARRIED COUPLES THE BEST LIFE EVER!!!………………………….ive got 4 sis’s no bro’s but i got alot of cuzin’s ..serena.sisodia..simran.s..sasha.s…Ravneet & Taji MY PARENTS R DA BEST!!!

  • hi everyone, i think that abesheik and ashwaria rai will have a great married life, but just becuase there married i dont think they should stop being in films, in fact i think they should be in a movie together, from you best fan, saejal sisodia!-keep up the good work!!

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