Rishi Kapoor was my first movie star crush, the first poster inside my cupboard. There was something light and fun about Rishi Kapoor on screen. The girls he romanced seemed regular and cheerful and dancey, not shrinking violets. In Doosra Aadmi he became obsessed with an older woman, though he was married and worked it out. He made love seem normal So, one night, in a fit of nostalgia (but remember children nostalgia buri cheez hai) I posted a song of his on Facebook. A scathing comment followed: How can you like the @#$% fat drunk? What about the allegations of domestic violence against him? What's this say about you?
I wondered: What did that say about me? Is it not possible to like one thing about a person if you don't like another thing about them? If I like your singing voice, am I automatically endorsing your unkindness? If Salman Khan has run people over, is it sacrilege to say his Being Human foundation does good. Conversely, just because his foundation does good work, does this mean he is incapable of manslaughter? If you feel disturbed by Kasab being tortured, does that mean you condone or support his violent acts? Are we really so unthinking that we can't hold two thoughts about one person at the same time? Gosh, why have so many media channels when two should do, no? One black, one white.
Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh in Doosra Aadmi (1977)
Rishi Kapoor, asked just this kind of question with the tweet that got him trolled. “Why do you equate food with religion?? I am a beef eating Hindu. Does that mean I am less God fearing then a non eater? Think!!”
I was surprised that it made me a bit, well, senti. Because I felt it was a long time since I heard something said this way. Not with a bully boy echo of us-and-them in its tone as if those who eat beef were more enlightened and liberal for eating beef.
Or those who didn’t were purer and so, superior.
But Mr Kapoor’s statement felt like he spoke not from above, but as one one among plural people – even those who ban- and then insisted that they, well, think! That it was possible to eat beef and be a believing Hindu. As it is possible to be left-liberal and be good friends with someone right-wing, despite angry disagreements. Or isn’t it?
It is possible like it is possible to stay friends with someone even after they’ve been mean to you because your relationship is not confined to that moment of hurt; to stay with a man even though he’s playing you because you aren’t defined by his game. All it requires is for you to, Think!! Not pull out a fragile ego and wave it around.
Mr Kapoor’s persona is self-deprecating and expansive. On Holi, he encouraged us not to think but to drink, “but wisely, not like me.” He admitted in an interview that he knew he hadn’t quite made his relationship with his son work, but was helpless in his limitation. At the risk of full abuse, he makes flaws look normal. No sanctimonious new age self-embrace, just an admission of human messiness. Possibly he will soon tweet something that will make me tear at my hair, but...well, I’ll deal with it then.
The thing is – if you keep saying others are wrong, so you can seem right, keep noisily pointing to others flaws so we won’t notice yours, how do you give anyone achance to to find a thing to like in you? I’d try though and I might, if only I Think!
Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevi.com.
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.