Tweets and Baits: The Fakeness of it All


I am passionate about Hindi cinema. Well, who is not, the consumption of cinema is a national pass time. While watching the Newslaundry video interview of filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj, I got a sense that he was hoping that Shekhar Kapur’s much ‘talked about’ film Paani sould see the light of day sooner than later. Vishal Bharadwaj was not sure why Shekhar Kapur would not complete his film but ‘talk about it’ since seven years.

While following Shekhar Kapur on twitter I was rather intrigued to see the following tweet on the 28th November 2012:


A few days before directly referring to Paani, Shekhar Kapur twitted about cricket, Indian Parliament, politicians, Kejriwal and his Aam Admi Party, the FDI issue etc. This is apparent from his timeline.

Closely analyze the words of the above tweet and it gives a sense that Shekhar Kapur is passionate about his ‘futuristic’ film Paani as a director but he hopes to find an equally passionate producer. In other words, it gives a sense that he has NOT found a producer YET for Paani. So far so good!

On 29th Shekhar tweeted this:


Again it gives an impression that Shekhar is still on a ‘look out’ for a producer.

On the same day (29th November) he tweets this:


Why is he referring to himself in third person is anybody’s guess. But so far the tweets (mentioned above) give a sense that Shekhar Kapur has not yet found a producer for Paani and the future of this much ‘talked about’ film is bleak. On the 30th November comes the ‘big’ announcement but in the subtlest form.


Here Shekhar disclosed his twitter followers the NEWS that Yash Raj Films shall be producing the film. Finally, the acclaimed filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, director of Elizabeth found a producer for his film (that is ‘like his child’) in Aditya Chopra of YRF. As ironical as it sounds, according to Shekhar Kapur he needed a producer as passionate as him to nurture his child. But wait; did YRF decide to produce Paani overnight? Because just
going back two days, Shekhar seems oblivious to any producer being available. May be I am wrong. But then, what is the meaning of the words: “Will Shekhar Kapur ever make this film that he keeps talking about?” There can be three answers to this question.

a. Yes b. No c. May be

Yes, if he finds a producer! But from the tweets it makes us believe that there isn’t one YET. May be he is still hoping to find an equally passionate producer.

No, there is no producer in sight yet and until he finds a producer Paani cannot be made. So, no Panni. Plain and simple.

May be! This is the tricky one. May be yes, may be no. Yes, he may be able to make his film Paani if he finds a producer, perhaps he is in talk with a few but nothing is finalized yet, right? We don’t know this because he has not mentioned about this anywhere.

Nevertheless, the bottom line remains that Shekhar Kapur had not found a producer for Paani even until 7.59AM 29th November 30, 2012 or had he?


Interestingly enough, overnight Shekhar Kapur seems to have ‘found’ YRF who apparently decided to spend $30 million on Paani? Sounds exaggerated? May be it is, but then here is another fact.


On the day Shekhar Kapur decides to let the twitter world know about YRF’s decision to produce Paani the same day Hollywood reporter publishes the same NEWS? So coming back to the moot point, did Shekhar Kapur NOT know two days ago that Aditya Chopra of YRF may produce his film? It is very unlikely. How come Hollywood Reporter published the NEWS the same day? But then, Shekhar Kapur very conveniently got away by baiting his twitter followers by using words such as:

A film needs passion from director, but for a futuristic film as vast as Paani needs producer who is willing 2 give it as much passion (On the 28 th November).

Every1 keeps asking me about star cast of Paani. But d most important person is a producer who is as passionate about d film as I am. Who? (On the 29 th November).

Lets talk about Paani then? Will Shekhar Kapur ever make this film that he keeps talking about? (Again on the 29th November)

Until the 29th November his tweets made an impression that a producer for Paani is a distant future and his ardent ‘followers’ yearning that he finds one soon. Then suddenly on the 30th November we have the announcement of YRF producing it. Strange, but that’s what has happened.

Water scarcity is an issue. This is a known fact. The poorest of the poor living in the slums of Mumbai are the ones to know it best from their lived experience. Perhaps better than you and me who are reading this? Now, do we need Shekhar Kapur to tell us that ‘it is problem’ and perhaps even visually show us his imaginary ‘futuristic’ solution at the cost of Aditya Chopra’s $30 million? This is perhaps the least important question. Because, by the end of the day, no film has been able to come up with a solution. Yes, it may create a certain level of ‘awareness’ amongst a few – especially the urban elites that may watch Paani at the multiplexes. But will it make any difference to ones who can afford bottled water and have access to water tankers?

Will people suddenly give up flush system in their toilets that drain 5 liters of water irrespective if one takes a shit or piss? Will the situation of Paani in India or anywhere in the world be any different after the screening of Paani? I am sure it will cross the 100 crore club, the latest benchmark for a film’s ‘success’ in India. In fact, I am sure it will surpass even 200 crore, but what difference will it make to those kids whose photo was posted by Shekar Kapur in this Paani ‘research pic’?


For the countless poor in the slums, they will be even glad to just see the film, much less make any difference to their lives. Forget seeing the film, they may not have been fortunate enough to even see their own picture on twitter posted as ‘Paani research pic.’

However, by the time the box-office would have stopped counting, the producer, director, cast and crew, media outlets, distributors and multiplex owners would have all had their share of their pie. After all they would give their sweat, blood and their best effort to make the film Paani a success.

For the audience, I just hope that after seeing the film it makes them a little less thirsty.

The role of India’s untouchables in film

Published originally in The Star here

DEEP THOUGHTS | living | The role of India’s untouchables in film

The role of India’s untouchables in film

Jun 22, 2007 04:30 AM

Shauna Rempel
Toronto Star

Name: Prashant Kadam

Age: 35

Program: First year of master’s degree in Cinema and Media Studies at York University

Thesis: Visual representation of the Dalits in popular Hindi cinema

The background: Dalit refers to an outcast class of “untouchables” under the Hindu caste system in India. Before the caste system was thrown out in the 1950s, Dalits were considered the lowest of the low, relegated to society’s most menial jobs and subjected to violence, harassment and abuse.

Even though the Indian constitution forbids discrimination along caste lines, it still exists, especially in modern cinema, a huge business in India. Nearly 200 Hindi-language films are made each year in India and the 160 million Dalits are sorely under-represented. When they do appear, they are usually cast as victims or stereotyped as uneducated, rebellious and violent.

“There’s a tendency to portray them as physically handicapped at times even. It’s how filmmakers perceive them and how society still perceives them,” Kadam says.

The correlations: Similar studies have been done on portrayal of aboriginal peoples in film and on Blaxploitation films of the ’70s. In Shaft, for example, there is a perception that a marginalized group is taking back some power.

“The notion of a Blaxploitation film is that the industry understood that there was money to be made by portraying black characters in a film,” Kadam says. But, “they were still stereotyped.” Male characters were often subjugated and beaten, while female characters were either sex-hungry or victims of sexual violence, he says.

The movies: Kadam focuses on three films that are rare because they have Dalit characters as protagonists.

Ankur (The Seedling), from 1974, is a story about a maidservant who is impregnated by her boss and abandoned by her deaf-mute Dalit husband. The husband later returns to his wife’s side, only to be beaten by the guilt-laden boss.

The 1994 film Bandit Queen is loosely based on the life of Phoolan Devi. She was sold into marriage at 11, subjected to years of abuse, and by her late teens was leading a gang of bandits on violent robberies that targeted the rich and shared the spoils with the lower castes.

The 2000 film Bawander (Sandstorm) is also inspired by the story of a lower caste woman who stands up for justice after a gang rape by taking her abusers to court. However, she is again victimized, in the court and police system.

The Future: After his master’s degree, Kadam wants to expand his study as part of a PhD thesis. He hopes by then Dalits will portray themselves in their own films in the same way filmmaker Spike Lee does with the black experience in North America.

Deep Thoughts is a look at research

going on in and around the GTA.