'Swades', 'Kisna', 'Black' - the 'hero' is back
Subhash K. Jha, Feb 5 [ Sat, Feb 5, 2005 ]
Mumbai, Feb 5 (IANS): In this cynical era, when villains have taken over the mantle of heroism and when Sanjay Dutt insists on making the anti-hero a fashion statement in films like "Kaante", several movies projecting the nobility of the human spirit have been released.
The first film of the new noble series is Ashutosh Gowariker's "Swades" where Shah Rukh Khan, moves away from the image of the roguish child-man to play a man who journeys into an ideological nirvana. This has its roots in the most non-cynical, upright heroic roles of the past, such as Guru Dutt in "Pyaasa" and Dharmendra in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's "Satyakam".
The season of nobility in mainstream Hindi cinema has started in right earnest.
Last month, Vivek Oberoi, unconsciously carrying forward the image of the do-gooder that he has acquired after his exemplary work with tsunami victims, played in Subhash Ghai's "Kisna" a poet-warrior during the British Raj who selflessly devotes himself to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.
It's the kind of unconditionally ideological character that most leading men would hesitate to take on in these cynical times. The philanthropist in Oberoi helped him to follow the memorable hero's role.
Says Subhash Ghai: "Vivek is almost like a modern day 'Kisna' in the village that he has adopted in Tamil Nadu. I show him as a kind of legend in a little village in Garhwal. It's a strange meeting of fact and fiction."
Noble heroes denuded of that swaggering cynicism that makes them so endearing to the present day generation of moviegoers, seem to have found a niche in our cinema again.
In Harry Baweja's "Main Aisa Hi Hoon", to be released this month, Ajay Devgan, playing a mentally challenged man battling for custody of his son, is so free of guile and cynicism that he seems to belong to another era altogether.
This isn't the first occasion when Devgan has played to the galleries in guileless glory.
In Prakash Jha's "Gangaajal" last year, Devgan played an idealistic cop battling corruption among his colleagues. Idealistic cops were no strangers to Hindi cinema. Noble, unconditional ideal heroes are.
Films like "Swades" and "Kisna" seem to have revived the era of innocence once patented by Raj Kapoor in films like "Awara" and "Shree 420". Subsequently, the era of Amitabh Bachchan completely wiped out all remnants of innocence and replaced it by cyclonic cynicism.
Now Bachchan, who patented the wry, cynical Angry Young Man's role, has come a full circle with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Black". In the film, Bachchan plays a passionately raging teacher to a deaf and mute girl who devotes his life to connecting her to the world of normalcy even as he recedes from it.
It's a terribly idealistic role of the kind that has never been written for any male actor in an Indian cinema.
According to Bhansali, idealism is a goal that he strives to achieve in all his work. "Hrishida's 'Satyakam' is one of my favourite films. I love Dharmandra's unrelenting attitude to corruption throughout this great film.
"Some of that idealism seeps into my characters, whether it's Ajay Devgan in "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" or Mr Bachchan in "Black"... When it comes to my cinema, I guess I'm an idealist too."
Will "Black" consolidate idealism as a tenable option for screen heroism? The process has already been set into motion in films like Farhan Akhtar's "Lakshya", Ashutosh Gowariker's "Swades" and Subhash Ghai's "Kisna".
As the rogues' gallery grows in bulk, will the scattering of ideologue-heroes make a difference to the way the audience looks at the issue of integrity in these trying and compromised times?