Filmstars ko gussa kyun aata hai?

Break-up, patch-up, brawls, slaps — it’s all been there ever since the movies were invented — but whoa, the agony path didn’t make front-page news. There were no TV satellite channels to go hysterical over a thoda sa thappad ho jaaye incident at a Juhu hotspot. One channel presenter — looking as if World War III had erupted — reported that the fracas happened at Sanjay Dutt’s apartment when the combatants were dancing and drinking at a nightclub. Boggled me, how could the two be in two disparate venues at the same time? However since this isn’t a TV review, I will leave the Shah Rukh Khan-Shirish Kunder maara maari right at this full stop.

And rewind to the time when Nutan’s tight slap on Sanjeev Kumar’s face did make it to the papers (very inside pages). An evening paper also got mega-excited about Jeetendra’s proposal of marriage to Hema Malini but the lady threw a flaming fit; turns out that the imminent wedding story was planted by a publicist to create a buzz about the movie Dulhan. Nutan didn’t patch up with Sanjeev Kumar; Dulhan bombed. Imagine it didn’t even attract an initial three-day rush.
Other quaint brawl stories could be titled “Feroz Khan ko gussa kyun aata hai?” The cowboy-hatted-and-booted actor possessed a cinemascope temper but the names of the critters who aroused his ire and booze squabbles have been forgotten in the mists of time — like the press photographer who had the nerve of clicking Feroz saab relieving himself in the gent’s. Enraged by the intrusion, the “Jaanbaaz” whipped out a revolver from his jacket and was about to fire… it’s said… when the flash bulb walla ran for his life into the dark night, and has not been heard of since.
Dharmendra, of course, let his fists fly at the Blitz columnist Krishna. I remember visiting Krishna in hospital, bandages and black-eyed; he said he would not let Dharmendra get away with the assault. I was also at a Taj Mahal Hotel meeting where an “understanding” was negotiated with the bone-broken Krishna. Did it involve monetary compensation? Must have had to reimburse the hospital bills for sure.
My favourite dilwali Devyani Chaubal ignited the jalakar-raakh-kar-doonga streak of my favourite actor Dharmendra. She had called the eminently gorgeous Hema Malini “a stale idli”. What followed was a run-Devyani-run item as he chased her on the streets, scoring a double whammy with rougher treatment meted out to Krishna. By the way, he would end his spicy columns with the legend… “samajh gaye na?” — a catchline which continues to be imitated to this day and age.
Okay, so you might say these star-journo wars are not quite in the league of the SRK-SK slapfest. That depends on your mindset. Because there’s nothing newsy about the squabbles which Sohail Khan, Ashmit Patel, Mukesh Bhatt, Ranvir Shorey and Sikander Kher have got into in recent years. Salman Khan has been a trendsetter of sorts, losing his cool with Ranbir Kapoor at a Bandra restaurant and then gifting him a wrist watch. So many stories abound about the Bodyguard flipping out during the days when he was dating, pursuing and haranguing a gorgeous actress (samajh gaye na?). Now let that pass since he has cultivated this image of “Being Human”. He has sobered down; he won’t pour a cola over Somy Ali’s hair ever again. Fizz and forget.
Rivalry between every hero, heroine, producer and corporate is endemic. Yeah sure, show business thrives on “Mein Camps”. I still have to hear another film personality praising another — genuinely — or without a gainful agenda. Over the decades instead of the competitive spirit turning healthy, matters seem to be going the other way. Action is returning not only as a movie genre but off screen as well. And it’s played up maniacally; it’s drawing room conversation from the palaces to the pavement jhuggis.
To conclude, let me wind up with an unreported case of a physical duel. At Holiday Inn, a thousand moons ago, common friends had organised a peace summit between the estranged Salim and Javed. Both the writers are excellent with words but don’t mince them either. So after an initial politically correct dialogue, boom, tempers exploded. Salim suffered an injury on the back of his head, his sons still-to-become-celebrities were outraged. They wanted to drive over straight to Javed’s… but their father said, “No way. It’s none of your business.”
Now if you ask me, that’s being human.

The writer is a journalist, film critic and film director

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