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Dear Karan Johar, Did You Really Have To Ruin A Film Like ‘Sairat’?

I’ve always been an ardent admirer of Karan Johar. I was only 2 years old when “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” appeared on the big screen. That alluring smile of Shah Rukh, Rani Mukherjee’s ultra-modern portrayal of Tina, and oh! Kajol as the vivacious girl-next-door Anjali in faded jeans and funky t-shirts—all of these seemed to be a fairy tale to me. The peppy numbers of his movies would thrill me, carry me to a universe of colors, dancing fairies, and abiding joy. I’ve always adored him for the sake of nostalgia, But when I grew up and began to understand the complexities of life, society and its patriarchal rules, only then was I able to see the unabated misogyny that lurked behind the beguiling and seemingly “happy ending” of his film.

I was equally astonished at how aesthetically Johar exploited NRI emotions in “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham”, endorsed the “char din ladki in” attitude in our all-time favorite “Kal Ho Na Ho”, and glorified extra marital affairs in “Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna” with the impregnable aid of hypersensitive emotions. Should I even talk about “Student of The Year?” The story revolves around a school where students come in Gucci jackets and most amazingly (duh!) their intelligence is measured through their dancing skill at prom night. Wow! Mr. Johar, you have such an unquestionable insight of the Indian Education System.

All these years, he has hurled so many unrealistic, stereotypical, misogynistic movies at us. Yet we ran to the theatres to steal the essence of the life we could never have. He made money out of our misery. He is rich because we are miserable and hopeless dreamers. But what gives him the right to ruin a regional classic like “Sairat” and turn it into a nonsensical idiotic Bollywood remake? Money perhaps?

“Sairat” (Director: Nagraj Manjule) is a Marathi film set in a rural backdrop. The film explores the emotional journey of two young college students, Archana and Prashant. The story has nothing new to offer. It’s a conventional story of financial and racial inequality between two lovers. But the way it has been presented is something that the big Bollywood directors should learn from regional movie makers. Here the characters do not elope on bullet bike or wear designer ghagra choli while playing holi. The lucidity of the film and the handling of numerous emotions compel the audience to swing between the fear and the love they feel for Archana (Archie) and Prashant (Parshya) when they wage a war against the powers-that-be. The story reflects zeal as much as it reflects poignancy and romance but in a more pragmatic way. Sadly these independent works are deprived of the limelight, because of the monetary void in their industries which results in a lack of promotion and weak marketing.

Karan Johar is welcome to direct/produce ludicrous movies like “Shandaar”. But ruining a brilliant original like “Sairat” with a pair of star kids and their plastic acting (very evident from the trailer itself) is injustice to cinema. Adding glamour to a simple story has been the easiest formula of producing a super-hit in Bollywood. But designer lehengas, posh locations, and unnatural acting (read: overacting  are inevitably going to suffocate the simplicity and innocence of such a beautiful, beautiful movie.

Being a cinema lover, I am heartbroken. Shattered.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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