Monday, June 26, 2017

Tubelight

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Love for movies has been life time for me.  On Friday (6-24-2017) I saw Salman Khan’s new movie Tube light.  For some unexplained reason, our bathroom lights were flickering right after I watched the movie.  This movie just like any other movie, is just fine with me.  It has a bit more melodrama (taking you back to a couple of generations of emotions) and has a big cast including Om Puri, Salman Khan and his brother along with a good support cast and thrown in for good measure of Indo-Chinese conflict and melodrama with a couple of Chinese actors.  The movie itself is simple is limited to a small village on the foothills of the Himalayas.  The backdrop is wonderful and picturesque.

The movie critics have panned the movie.  The box office has not been as magical as Salman Khan’s last few movies.  This should not come as a surprise to anyone as the movie itself is not a regular masala movie but focuses on a boy/man who is developmentally challenged and his convictions of innocence.  The movie depicts India’s small and diverse communities.  It captures the nuances of different people, and certainly the brotherhood.  I thought the movie was just fine and really did not have any issue with the central theme of a man with development disabilities, his love for his brother and affinity to people around him, and mainly to truth.  It is a predictable and something we have watched a thousand times.  Being critical of this movie and panning its story is a derivative of making the hero a normal and mentally challenged person, and moving Salman Khan away from his onscreen persona.  The point of making Indian sensibilities a focus got lost in criticizing the movie.

India has always been and continues to be a nation full of stereotyping.  Indians brand people based on language, color, religion and abilities.  All movies make constant references to human beings, and most times use it as humor.  Indians have a (nick) name for everyone and everything and using a stereotypical reference is a common place.  No one in India (Indians) have a qualm about referring someone as “Tube Light” without any hint of apology or irony.  In all cases people are referred to as how people feel in identifying each other.

I still remember being referred to as a “Madrasi” when I went to study in Utter Pradesh.  I don’t think anything has changed in all these years.  Our mindset remains the same.  Indians have an uncanny ability to come up with a reference to every individual and the way we use nick names is engrained in our psychology.  Sometimes it is hurtful but the references are innocent.  If you remove Salman from the movie Tube Light, his character is a common reference to anyone with developmental challenges, and panning this movie is because of how we got used to seeing him onscreen.

While I searched for the origins of sarcasm, it has been a part of human behavior.  We simply add references and stereotypes to everything and everyone.  India with its diversity has a great dose of such sarcasm built into its system.  It is such a widespread practice, Indians simply accept it as a normality.

While I am not an expert of movie reviews and the psychology of movies goers, this movie is commendable because of Salman Khan, and his shedding his macho image.  It might not deliver the mega blockbusters of his previous movies, but depicts the Indian societies behavior towards its own in both developmental issues and regional intolerance.

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