What gives Shakti Kapoor the 'shakti' to joke?

And when are we going to stop laughing at their unfunny jokes?

 |  3-minute read |   03-10-2018
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During the shoot of Dhobi Ghat, Aamir Khan had apparently moved into a tiny studio apartment — a chawl as we call it in Mumbai — right at the heart of Mumbai's vast dhobi ghat, where the film was being shot. Aamir fondly reminisces on this memory every time he has the media over to his Bandstand bungalow. His reason? He wanted to feel at one with the atmosphere, and it also helped keep over-enthusiastic fans from mobbing him every time he would have entered the area in his plush car. "I would walk up to the spot where the shot was set up, and walk back to my hideout once done," he'd say.

Shakti Kapoor, too, seems to have locked himself up in a perpetual state of naivety after his iconic role in Chaalbaaz.

For there's method acting, and then, there is Shakti who seems to be stuck in the "Main chhota sa, nanha sa, pyara sa bachcha hoon" phase. Because that is the only way you can explain his stand on Tanushree Dutta's allegations of sexual misconduct against Nana Patekar.

"I don't know anything about this case. This was 10 years back, I was a kid back then," said Shakti at a recent press conference when asked to comment on the issue, and smirked. It gets particularly problematic when right the next moment, you hear a bout of laughter filling up the entire room. They were my friends from the media.

Shakti obviously had a vested interest in proving that he was a kid back in 2008. Because that directly falls in line with the 'Shakti Kapoor sting operation' narrative that took India by storm in 2005. He was a kid, he was unaware, he made a mistake. Now be the bigger human and forgive him, no?

And while we're at it, let's also forgive him for the Item Bomb hunt for the Sanjay Dutt-starrer Musafir, where he boastfully declares himself fit "to judge whether a woman is a bomb or not" because the industry knows him "as someone who always has a pretty woman in his life." Kill. Me. Now. 

Twitter, of course, reacted appropriately and exploded against Shakti's irresponsible comment. Opinions ranged from "Oh! How can you say that? You're a father to a daughter," to "Shraddha Kapoor should find out if he's at all her real father." Yeah, things cascade into nasty valley pretty quick in Twitterdom. But why only blame Shakti for this when his audience seemed to lap up his crass joke? Aren't they equally guilty? 

The problem is a tad deeper than what meets the eye. And it has everything to do with Bollywood's star culture. Blame it on the autocracy of celebrity PR, or the might of social media, Bollywood journalists have been reduced to connoisseurs from critics. A press conference is a mushaira, and all we're allowed to say after a star delivers a punch line is "Waah, waah!" Questions are screened, certain issues are declared off-topic at the start of the event, and the celebrity reserves the right to walk out if things get out of control for them.

On those rare occasions when one brave heart manages to ask the uncomfortable question, you can expect representatives racing over to the journalist to snatch away the mic. Rarer still is when the benevolent celebrity interjects and obliges with an answer. That it often is a jibe at the journo itself, with the rest of the connoisseurs chiming in, is another story.

tanushree-nana-fin_100318023031.jpgYes, yes. Nana (Photo: PTI)

Which is why when Amitabh Bachchan recently avoided commenting on the very issue, for he is "neither Tanushree, nor Nana," his audience laughed with him.

When Shakti disdainfully laughed the matter off, his audience laughed with him.

When the next Khan or Kapoor makes a similarly questionable comment, their audience will laugh with them, too.

And herein lies the answer to the question we've been asking ourselves ever since Hollywood's #MeToo movement paved the path — why can't Bollywood come together too? Well, until we stop being indulgent towards these stars, until we can stop being their benefactors and start being critics again, until their crass jokes are met with a stoic silence resonating through a packed auditorium, how can Bollywood say #MeToo?

Also read: Don't make excuses, Bollywood: If Nana Patekar is 'obnoxious', just say that

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