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Bad language

For some weeks now, the media has been very keen to prove that Paris Hilton was going to, (no, in fact now she already has), snub Kangana Ranaut. So low was Ranaut that she was snubbed even by the woman who had been snubbed by all of the A-list, they gasped. This was only the latest chapter in what seems to be an ongoing endeavour to prove that Ranaut is the most wannabe of them all. I mean, wasn't her English proof enough of this?


Illustration/ Jishu Dev Malakar

She sat, painfully awkward, between Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt on Koffee with Karan. It was claimed fear of Bad English froze her. I'd say it was more the clubbiness in the air. The boys clubbiness. The family business clubbiness.

Then Sonam Kapoor had been asked who was the actress who could use English lessons and Kapoor had answered, Kangana Ranaut. She wrinkled her nose as she said it in her Teenagesville 90210 accent as if to convey, I know I shouldn't say this but I can't help it, I'm so cutely candid, so adorably forthright. If I may be candidly cute and adorably forthright myself, Ranaut might rightfully suggest that Kapoor could use acting lessons but then they'd all flap around calling her an upstart.

But a question on acting lessons -- at least it would be appropriate for actors. The question about English? Does it matter in, um, the Hindi film industry? Isn't it more to the point that Ranaut does not need Hindi lessons, unlike many of the other lovelies who turn their expensive noses up at her? That this question should be raised at all is embarrassing.

Not just because it reveals the snobbiness of the A-listers, but because it reveals what contempt they feel for the majority of the people who are their paying audiences and how cynical that relationship is. There's great d eja vu in all this. First there was the season of hating Mallika Sherawat.

She was brought up on every episode of most talk shows as Miss Wannabe. All Sherawat had done was say she worked out like crazy to get the body she had and that for a female actor it was all about the body, as only two things sell: sex and Shahrukh Khan. But the daughters and sons of movie daddies don't want to talk about that, do they? Because their beauty is natural and it's their talent that counts, ya? It took a woman as cool and unpretentious as Zeenat Aman to say -- she is Miss Wannabe who will be.

Isn't everyone a wannabe something in a competitive world? But perhaps the wanting of others, served raw, messes with your well-cooked exterior and the family connections it carefully camouflages. By denouncing them, you can pretend you have nothing to do with the inequalities that give some people more chances than others.

There was also a brief season of mocking Rakhi Sawant. She couldn't be ignored, so for a while she was treated as quaint, but soon enough she was too crude, too low class for those already arrived.

What is the real problem with all these people? They are "outsiders." They are not already connected by wealth or pedigree and they would like to be let in on the basis of what they can do as the parents of these pedigreed people once were. And the happy family called Bollywood doesn't seem to love that. Yeah, if I were Shahrukh Khan, I'd feel depressed too.

As for Ranaut, last heard she was planning to take French lessons. Guess that'll be handy in Cannes. Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at http://www.parodevi.com/.

The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper.

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