The post #MeToo era is an unusual time for the Hindi film industry. While as a society, we are accustomed to brushing difficult subjects under the carpet but this time, we will be doing so on a larger scale as Vikas Bahl’s Super 30 releases this Friday. Bahl, who was once celebrated for Queen, was last year accused of harassment by a Phantom Films employee. While an authoritative body has cleared him of the charges, the lesser said is better.
Much like many in Hollywood, here too, we are met with the dilemma of separating art from the artiste. So which way do we go?
When Vikas Bahl’s Queen released, he was hailed as one of the best filmmakers of his time. He had presented a beautiful story of a woman finding her own identity. As she went against society to embrace her beautiful self, we supported her and cheered for her. As we cheered for her, we also cheered for the man, who told her story and championed his point of view.
Hrithik Roshan starrer Super 30 tells the story of a teacher who uplifted the marginalised. Anand Kumar’s life story can serve as an inspiration to many but will it have the same effect on us? When we feel those behind the scenes might not be as noble as they pose to be, does it reduce the credibility of the film as a whole?
The film’s lead actor Mrunal Thakur recently pointed out that the film is not at fault. She said, “I thought about it but I realised, ‘What’s the fault of the film?’ The story is so wonderful. I have seen everyone working hard. While we were filming, everything was ok.”
What we can gather from her statement is that a large crew worked on the film and if one person did something unacceptable, not everyone should be punished for the same. But where does that leave the audience?
Should we act like nothing ever happened to the woman who accused Vikas Bahl of harassing her or should we, like Mrunal Thakur, think of others who have contributed immensely to the film?
The sad part is that as much as we would want to choose one or the other, we are quite shallow as an audience. Months after accusations against Alok Nath came to light, we as an audience made a conscious choice to watch De De Pyaar De in theaters.
When it comes to choosing our political leaders, a criminal case is usually not a deal-breaker and however preposterous that might sound, that is the truth of our society. When national leaders are chosen without rational thinking, do movies really matter?
The fact of the matter is that Super 30 will release and enjoy the success it’s meant to enjoy but the seed that has been planted post the #MeToo era will probably never leave our minds.