By Jerry Pinto
WHEN I WAS a little boy, I thought reviewing movies would be a cool job. You get to watch movies and call it work. Now that I am in my 40s, I know why it’s called work. It’s because the only thing that I don’t have, the only thing I can’t extend, is the amount of time left to me. I have so many years, so many days, so many hours, minus the three hours and twenty minutes Ashutosh Gowariker took away from me last week.
Perhaps this is an attempt to counter the wave of Punjabiyat that has been washing over Bollywood. Perhaps this is an attempt to get hold of the NRI Gujarati’s dollars and the pounds that are at rest in the Midlands. Perhaps it’s an attempt to prove that Priyanka Chopra can do what Sanjeev Kumar did in the nonsensical Naya Din Nayi Raat and the make-up men did for Kamal Hasan in the dire Dasavatharam. Perhaps it’s an attempt to create a horror story for the children of Ashutosh Gowariker and other Bollywood brats. “Eat your vegetables or you’ll grow up to be like Harman uncle,” mothers will say and within a five kilometre radius, there will be no sound louder than the crunching of greens.
The story, borrowed from a Gujarati novel — improbably named Kimball Ravenswood — concerns a young man who stands to lose a fortune if he does not marry in 10 days. And if he does not want the money, why then, we shall visit upon him a debtridden brother who stands to lose his fingers to an underworld don and an uncle (Darshan Jariwalla) who will introduce him to 12 different women, each from the 12 star signs and don’t go rabbitting on about the 13th sign. That’s so 1990s.
Astrology itself gets a few sideswipes but there is nothing visceral, nothing angry, nothing to make you realise that we are a country in thrall to a system that assumes the earth to be the centre of the universe.
We run this country by astrology. We consult these hoaxes about the best time to break a coconut to inaugurate a bridge and who cares if we’re supposed to be a secular nation? We give taxpayers’ money to universities so that they can offer degrees in a subject that has no credibility, no predictive power and no rational provable relationship with our lives. That’s our rashee. The fault does not lie in our stars but in ourselves.