Camp Intensive Drama

Written by  //  July 10, 2011  //  Media & Popular Culture  //  1 Comment

Guest blogger, Sowmya Kumar is back with her take on the simple joys of pure, unadulterated camp.

Right now, urban Indian youth stand divided into 2 categories: those who adored Delhi Belly and those who were vaguely repulsed by it. Yes, I’m currently the sole torchbearer of the latter category and obviously, looking for supporters. I cannot fathom the raptures on Facebook about how the movie personifies the posterior and elevates it to fourth lead status, about how it captures sleeping men so accurately, about how well Aamir Khan’s chest hair vest and his heart shaped, stone-studded belt suit him. Why, the movie doesn’t even spare biscuits! Milwaukee

I must hasten to clarify that I’m in no way undermining Delhi Belly’s stellar contribution to Indian Cinema, in fact, its contribution extends far beyond. For one, it’s an extended plug for the Urban Dictionary. It’s also a big lesson on how food and scratching unacceptable places should not be allowed to mix. It’s also a sober treatise on the poor sanitary conditions, poor housing Gonflables Piscine, and poor condition of electrical fittings prevailing in our country. Besides, our news channels will surely kill to lay their hands on such genius material; very soon, News 9 Bengaluru will report about a man who stopped his ex-lover’s marriage the way Vir Das did.

Whatever it may be, the movie in its own campy style has endeared itself to most. What this implies about the ‘most’, I surely do not know; what I do know is that nothing, just nothing, beats Vijay Raaz’s expression when he carefully spreads the contents of the initial bottle on the red velvet cloth spread out before him. Or Vir Das’ attempt at drinking water through the burqa.

Campy stuff always appeals at some level. It manages to tap into some secret, uptight corner of the human psyche and shakes up things held there, resulting in some loud, surprise filled laughter. Surprise that what we’re watching is so bad, and surprise that we actually find it funny, even though we’re simultaneously crinkling our noses or shaking our heads in disgust. Camp is stuff so atrocious that it becomes good, even though its true value may be admitted only in private, away from everything that is sound, sensible and politically correct. Think Borat. Or closer home, Mithun-da as Gunmaster G9; Amitabh Bachchan as Ajooba battling a ‘Fauladi Shaitaan’ in someplace called Baharistan; Jeetendra as a ‘khuda ka nek banda’ in Dastaan-e-Hatimtai where he has to answer 7 existential questions to save a fairy from being permanently turned to stone; Rajnikanth dressed in black to confuse the villain and singing ‘My name is Nobody, his name is Somebody, I want that Somebody, Om hari Om’; esteemed C20 columnist Alok dancing to this, the list goes on.

Recently, I watched (along with 5 other people in the multiplex) an intriguing movie called ‘Fox’, where the plot revolved around a book written by a criminal lawyer titled ‘Fix the Fox’. Considerable scene time was wasted on every character commenting that the title of the book was well, so interesting. In another gem meta-movie called Naqaab, Bobby Deol fools his girlfriend (and us), makes a movie out of her infidelity and blackmails her, remarking that if she doesn’t play by his rules, her lover (an aspiring actor) ‘will not be a superstar, he will be sirf porn star’. This movie (i.e. the movie within Naqaab) wins the ‘best movie’ award for its realistic portrayal, at the Cannes, no less. And, oh, in Baghbaan (the tear-jearker, where selfish children and evil daughters-in-law separate the parents) the book wins the Booker Prize, didyaknow?

Why harp on fiction? When 26/11 was unfolding in Bombay, among all the sombre reporting, India TV chose to focus on the pigeons which had made Churchgate their home. They showed a solitary pigeon flying, with a emotionally charged voice, ‘Dekhiye in kabootaron ko- yeh shhayad soch rahein hai ki inka ghar achanak kahan gaya’. Not to be outdone, News 9 Bengaluru once ran a half an hour programme (maybe longer, I couldn’t watch anymore) on how a woman’s silicone implants saved her from a bullet; detailed descriptions followed about the thickness and of the implant, the length of the bullet, the angle of its trajectory, etc. The last scene I saw was of the smiling, happily endowed woman thanking her plastic surgeon.

Now, since camp abounds all over, it looks like a huge task to pick the camp star that shines the brightest. But, the answer is easier than you can imagine. Trivia: it’s the longest running show on Indian TV. No? Take a second look at the title of this piece. No, still? Tune in to Sony TV on Fridays at 10 pm to catch CID in all its campy glory. Menacing sharkface ACP Pradyuman, Senior Inspector Abhijeet, darwaza-tod Daya, ace forensic doctor, Salunke, his assistant Dr. Tarika (who has a love-track with Abhijeet), henpecked Inspector Fredricks will all be there, tackling crime in rather innovative storylines. The single most amazing thing about this programme is how all these actors take themselves seriously while shooting for it (along with the frightened expression of the common public in the serial, when ‘Hum CID se hain‘ is thrown at them).

Once Salunke was deeply examining some samples from a laash and Tarika was bending over the same- suddenly, Saluke screeches from his end, ‘Us laash ko mat choona, laash ko swine flu hain‘ (this was CID trying to be relevant during the swine flu scare). He only allows her near the laash after she wears an astronaut costume and he sprays her with some liquid from top to bottom. Another episode had a master stroke of a dialogue, ‘CID se bola hua jhoot makkhan ki tarah hota hai- jaise jaise garmi badhti hain woh pighalta jaata hai‘. In another, CID solved a murder mystery involving a model who had somehow managed to poison the lipstick of a rival. The episode ended with sharkface becoming all moralistic about how women have changed over the years, and uttering his parting shot, ‘Ab tum zindagi bhar jail mein sadoge‘. I really wish I could think of more nuggets.

There, I hope I’ve managed to put across the point that camp is such an integral part of our culture and makes for, well, at least a different kind of entertainment. Then you may ask, why I didn’t like Delhi Belly? I was dreading this question, for the answer is embarrassing; I ended up watching the movie in Hindi and obviously, had issues grasping the nuances of the abuses.

You bet I’m going to watch it again.

About the Author

A Supreme Court/Delhi High Court lawyer who writes a bit with a potentially fatal weakness for hyperlinks, tags, and the reader's approval. Follow @alokpi

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One Comment on "Camp Intensive Drama"

  1. majeed October 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm ·

    nice ….. post…… keep it up

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