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.”