Bollywood seizes aam aadmi moment

Jan 26 2014, 07:55 IST
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SummarySalman Khan-starrer Jai Ho attempts to capitalise on the anti-corruption wave sweeping the nation

In one of its quickest adaptations of popular sentiment, Bollywood is racing to the box office this Republic Day with a script written on the street.

The much-calculative pundits of tinsel town have been quick to pounce upon the ‘aam aadmi’ of wholesome entertainment, with a Salman Khan-starrer full of cries as well as songs of change.

Jai Ho, which opened on Friday in a Salman Khan-signature release over 4,000 screens across the country, is awash with the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) trademark protests. In a violence-filled 140-minute-long action drama, Jai Ho transforms the protests against the system into a middle-class melodrama.

The Sohail Khan-directed film is a menagerie of middle class sentiment, with its women, men and children spewing anger at the corrupt politicians and their supporting cast of dirty cops. They also agonise over the status of the poor and the deprived. The good people are led by former army officer Jai Agnihotri (Salman Khan), who is thrown into a dilemma after an unpleasant realisation of finding himself in the centre of society’s troubles.

In true filmi style, Jai Ho, however, steals a march over the real-life-protesters-turned-politicians in something that Bollywood is proud of: sending out a message. The message, which is sure to touch a chord with the audience, suggests that instead of saying “thank you” for someone’s help, help three others, and, in turn, ask them to help as many.

The actor’s fans are optimistic about the message. “It is a good concept to help people,” says Surabhi Singh, a Delhi University student. “Salman Khan has millions of fans, who will definitely follow this concept,” adds Singh, a fan of the actor and an AAP supporter, who participated in the 2011 Ramleela Maidan protests led by Anna Hazare.

“Salman Khan has this screen persona of a man who takes on the bad guys single-handedly. In Jai Ho, he has factored the mood of the nation into this conventional persona of a man who is the invincible super hero,” says film critic Saibal Chatterjee.

In stark contrast to Arvind Kejriwal’s hugely popular anti-corruption helpline, the Salman Khan-originated ‘help chain’ might not have had a perfect day at the box office in its first screenings.The film failed to match the Krrish and Dhoom 3 figures. According to Mumbai-based trade analyst Amod Mehra, the film did an opening day of “less than R20 crore”. “The first day collections were decent, not mind-blowing,” says Mehra. “Saturday’s collections

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