Writing is an art. An art so creative, it has to come from the heart. Here are some simple tips and tricks.
The first and foremost thing about writing is to chill. Just keep one thing at the back of your mind — research your facts well beforehand. Take a deep breath, smile, relax your thoughts. Think you can do it, smile a bit, feel good and then begin writing. Take no stress at all. Because if something goes wrong in your copy, you can always correct or rewrite it.
Keep no hard-and-fast rules
No rules. Length, spin, words… everything’s your choice. And you can always reflect upon all that later. Do not let the technicalities come in the way of your creative thoughts before you begin.
Let it flow
When you write, just write… let the words flow. Don’t think whether they will fit, whether they are good or bad. Just write them. At the cost of repetition, let me say, remember to just go with the flow. You can put it all in order later when you revise.
There is this interesting dialogue from this Sean Connery movie Finding Forrester (2000) which corroborates this… It goes:
Jamal Wallace: “What are you doing?”
William Forrester: “I’m writing. Like you’ll be, when you start punching those keys. Is there a problem?”
Wallace: “No. I’m just thinking.”
Forrester: “No. No thinking. That comes later. You write your first draft with your heart. And you rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write. Not to think.”
Once you are done with your first draft — revise, revise, revise, revise… and when you have revised extremely well enough… then revise once more. And viola, you should have a good piece of writing with you.
Last but not the least, don’t be scared to be creative in your writing style. Don’t be afraid to break norms. After all, writing is all about being ‘creative’. You know what! Thoughts are things. They materialise. Manifest. Just like your thoughts create you, your thoughts create your writings. Rock on.
Half of Bollywood will be OUT OF WORK even after lockdown ends: Experts
Bollywood is in dire straits. After the Corona Crisis Lockdown, the entire industry is sitting at home and out of work. But what is most worrying now, is that experts predict that the situation is not going to go back to normal again. The new normal is going to witness around half of the film industry staying out of work. Business Upturn spoke to industry experts.
Read this exclusive article to know more and how to keep your personal brand alive and afloat in this time of impending financial crisis.
The lockdown has struck the most destructive and devastating blow to the entertainment industry. It has crippled the lives of thousands of daily wage workers, upcoming and existing talents, including actors, dancers, make-up artists, costume teams, technicians etc.
Bollywood going downhill
“Many would have already changed their professions and got into small time odd-jobs to somehow survive this phase with whatever they can earn here and there. The film industry has lost its way. Half of our industry’s workers will still be running helter-skelter for jobs and many of them will have to diversify into other fields and keep their participation in films to minimal,” says trade analyst Rajeev Chaudhari.
Amit Behl, senior joint secretary of Cine & TV Artists Association (CINTAA) echoes the sentiment. “Yes, half of Bollywood would definitely be out of work even if the lockdown ends. This is primarily because of specific reasons. One, because of the clash in directives between the State Government and the Central Government.”
“Plus, considering the hazards of COVID-19, there is a clear directive that actors above 65 and children below 10 will not be allowed to work till the time new norms come into place. Going by this rule, a lot of senior actors as well as child artistes will definitely be out of work, primarily when it comes to television. There have been huge budget cuts by the broadcasters and those budget cuts have been passed on to producers. So eventually it will go down to the cast and crew and the daily wage workers,” explains Behl.
Senior journalist Latha Srinivasan remarks, “The lockdown and its restrictions for more than 90 days has caused significant financial losses to producers, production houses, distributors and exhibitors. As a result, once the lockdown is lifted, it won’t be possible even for top actors in Bollywood to get back to work as businesses have to be realigned post examining the financial aspects and how best they can minimise further losses.”
Prepare for the worst
News of resumption of film and TV serial shootings has come out, but many technicians and actors are upset with the severe guidelines that have been issued along with insurance for all unit members etc. These additional costs of meeting the conditions of these guidelines are going to be challenging for the producers. Even if mainstream shootings will revive, there will be restrictions on crowd scenes, intimate scenes etc. with compromise in creativity and logistics.
Director Vivek Sharma who made the famous film Bhoothnath starring Amitabh Bachchan and featuring Shah Rukh Khan opines, “Thanks to film mafia, half of Bollywood was always out of work and post lockdown it will be the same. Television and web series’ actors will be in demand as these platforms need content to run their channels.” He feels that shoots will begin normally after September 2020 and that slowly people will get back in business.
To survive this lockdown and the fear its brought with it, Sharma suggests a lot of online interactions including workshops. “It’s a good time for people to learn and prepare for a time which will bring more and more changes and possibilities,” he says.
But Amit Behl is concerned about many other things than how one can make the most of this dismal phase. He worries about the fact that there is a “drastic cut in the crew members of the film shoots, which is about 30-35 percent slash in the number of people on the sets. That means a lot of people are going to be out of work. A lot of roles of junior artistes and actors are also going to face the axe because Indian daily soaps survive on family drama and a lot of wedding scenes, festival sequences and song and dance sequences, which will now have to be drastically cut or omitted altogether. There will obviously be no crowd involvement and no audience in any talk shows, game shows, reality shows and these kind of competition-based shows. Also, a lot of technical crew is going to be cut down, and all this is surely going to affect Bollywood as well as the television industry.”
Drawing our attention again to the state of affairs, Behl says, “The focus is now going to be about who all is essentially required on the sets and by the broadcaster. Those departments which can’t be avoided in shoots… those are the people who will get work for now. Of course, everyone is very hopeful that this crisis does not last beyond the end of 2020, but because of the dialogues I have had in the last three months with about 60 trade unions in 83 countries, I can say that the budget cuts and crew member cuts in other parts of the world are even more brutal than they are in India.”
Having said that, Behl points out that a lot of western countries have better technical finesse, so they can manage with the cuts. But we are a very manpower-heavy entertainment industry, so it’s going to hit us even harder and affect a lot more people than anywhere else in the world.
“But we can’t blame broadcasters for having heavily slashed their budgets. Because advertising revenue is down, the broadcasters don’t have much of an option. Its only the FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) companies who are advertising right now and its slightly inhumane for companies to begin advertising products related to COVID… whether it’s for a cure or for a PPE Kit (Personal Protective Equipment Kit) or for sanitizers. So we are in hard times and just hoping for the skies to clear,” he adds.
Improve communication and PR skills
Amith Prabhu, founding Dean at School of Communications and Reputation (SCoRe) is more concerned about how to utilize this time in self-improvement and education. Like many other he is of the opinion that this is the time to hone your communication and PR skills.
He asks industry people to explore opportunities to create low-cost yet high-quality cinema. He feels this is also a time to reset lifestyles and suggests five things actors can do. Here are the pointers he puts forth:
1) First offer a free and then a paid masterclass to fans on social media.
2) Create a low-cost short movie series shot from home or from places where crowds can be avoided.
3) Learn something new with multiple courses available online.
4) Support a non-profit organisation by being a temporary brand ambassador with no cost to that organisation.
5) Write a monthly column on the advantages of communication in the world of TV and cinema.
Fees to drop heavily
Rajeev Chaudhari wants to bring people’s attention to box-office collections. “Now with this humongous loss in our industry, the prices that a regular TV serial used to fetch from a channel will come down drastically to less than 50% and a feature film cannot perceive box-office business in hundreds of crores anymore. Gone are those days.”
He feels that the film industry’s corporate status has crashed and its premium value has diminished. “Now with reduction in film and TV unit members, along with reduction in the number of films being made, work opportunities will be very less and fees in all the departments will drop heavily.”
Chaudhari points out that in view of above cuts, due to new guidelines and deep recession, even if the lockdown opens up, it will not be able to accommodate all workers and creative labourers with jobs.
Beware of depression, suicides, fear
“The Corona Crisis has taken a huge toll on the financial and mental health of the industry’s labourers and creative members, leading to depression and suicides. This severe catastrophic state has never been seen before in our entertainment industry,” he adds.
Latha Srinivasan feels, “Given the government regulations to be followed for shoots, one needs to see how many people are comfortable working in such an environment. Some actors may not want to shoot till they are 100% sure their health is not at risk and it’s anybody’s guess as to when the environment will be COVID-free, if at all.”
“Yes, it’s true. Barring three or four of them, most Bollywood celebrities are not even stepping out, so to come for work is not going to happen,” says Viral Bhayani, the most popular Bollywood freelance photographer on Instagram.
“Everyone is waiting for a cure and Mumbai the epicenter of Bollywood still remains at a huge risk. If the shoots begin and something unforeseen happens then it is all going to go in vain. I know it has badly affected everyone financially but we will have to be more patient,” he remarks.
Surprisingly, Bhayani admits to a stark reality for many in the industry by giving an example of his own case. “Just like many who depend on outdoor work in their business, for me too, the photography business has unfortunately been destroyed at the moment. I’ve faced the probability of shutting down completely. But I also know for a fact that once the cure is out, we are gonna rock again. Things will be back to normal. Somehow I feel it is going to happen soon,” says Bhayani, hoping against hope.
He remarks that right now we all have to survive on our past incomes till things get normal. “Some of the shoots have begun but they are all happening outside of Mumbai and there too, most unit members are extremely scared. So even after the lockdown ends, many will still be left with little work or no work at all.”
Bhayani also brings us to another aspect of this issue, saying that the commitment and sentiment right now is so low that no filmmaker will take a risk to make a film unless there is cooperation from the Government and technicians charge fairly as per the current situation.
Larger-than-life cinema could return
But veteran freelance journalist Rajiv Vijayakar disagrees with many such notions. “I do not think we can quantify how much of the industry will be out of work after the lockdown. I am looking at it in another way.”
“The days of niche movies pandering to the ‘intelligentsia’ and pseudo-intellectuals — the so-called ‘multiplex cinema audience’ — are numbered. With a plethora of such films as well as inferior commercial movies hitting OTT directly, it is clear that such products will make a small but secure profit, which, sadly, will keep cinematic excesses like Ghoomketu and Bhonsle coming. But the pan-Indian movies will thrive, as these alone will get returns commensurate with the investments, as in the past.”
“The range of such movies, obviously, extends from Andhadhun to Sooryavanshi and the South kind of spectacles,” he adds. Vijayakar feels that all this will slowly, but surely, culminate in Hindi films reemerging as the mass-medium of entertainment which it was once upon a time, and which it should be. Accordingly, only the stars, filmmakers and composers who believe in such larger-than-life cinema will thrive.
Pandemic shall pass, but competition won’t
Casting director Ahana Mohammed says, one should simply accept the challenge the COVID-19 pandemic crisis has thrown on us and make it favorable. “Those who do not have Godfathers in the industry to provide big breaks, can start learning ways to sharpen their skills.”
“The best way to survive is to get yourself moving, even if it means virtually. Get connected to people, share your thoughts and emotions, be wise and utilize this time by learning ways to master your craft,” she adds.
She makes another point, saying that one needs to up his/her ante by getting professional help in this crucial time. “Get an agent on board, who can understand your talent. Follow this up with good PR activity, which is necessary to put actors — especially freshers — high up amongst the cutthroat competition. Remember, the pandemic shall pass, but competition won’t,” concludes Mohammed.
Star prices will normalize, nepotism will decrease
Veteran journalist Jyothi Venkatesh makes a very interesting observation on the same lines. “After the lockdown, only the fittest will survive in Bollywood whether it is actors or journalists or PR persons. The field will be automatically filtered and the best in their professions will continue. Star prices will normalize and nepotism will decrease, though not eliminated.”
“A lot of money will be saved and things will eventually turn for the better. Though with social distancing, it will be tough to show romance, content should improve. The biggest beneficiaries will be the OTTs.”
“In this scenario, only those who know their work and worth will be able to flourish and the rest will perish,” he adds. Venkatesh also points out that a change will be evident among film exhibitors. “The multiplexes will realise that they are here not to fleece the industry by charging producers and distributors rentals for trailers and standees, or milk the patrons with steep prices for samosas and Pepsi and also for drinking water.”
Need for brand control
New-age film journalist and blogger Diganta Guha says, “It seems quite incredulous that the bigwigs might not have any silver screen releases this year. Time is running out and they would have to be through with their pending projects. Crores are at stake and nobody wants to incur humongous losses just for the sake of delays.”
He adds that apart from the lockdown, actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely demise has been a jolt from the blue. “At this point of time, we need strong personalities as a lot of worms are getting out of the can and Bollywood may take a drastic fall if this does not stop. What is probably needs right away is some PR control to avoid the tsunami of controversies destroying its reputation.”
Guha analyses, “A great PR like Dale Bhagwagar could be the ideal person to guide actors and actresses through this period. Over the years, this guy has been legendary, handling media publicity for so many stars such as Hrithik Roshan, Shilpa Shetty and Priyanka Chopra. He is best suited for helping new actors and actresses maneuver their way through PR during such a crisis situation. Otherwise, a lot of celebrities might simply fade away into oblivion by the time all this chaos ends.”
Rajeev Chaudhari echoes Guha’s views.”A seasoned publicist like Dale Bhagwagar can suggest new PR ways to help actors survive this period. Because, in such a time, an out-of-sight actor and actress, will now be out of the industry.”
He evaluates that “With this deep recession and fierce cut-throat competition, there will be scuffling struggle by industry workers and professionals to be visible to the employers of the film and TV industry. I think now is the need for a good Bollywood publicist who can salvage good talent.”
PR or perish
But Chaudhari cautions that “Bollywood publicists too will have to find new ways to ensure that their PR clients are actively present in the radar of the casting directors and filmmakers, by generating articles, features, interviews, news, healthy gossip and Press Releases which suit the situation. The market has become acutely competitive and an actor or a professional can’t afford to skip the help of PR services now.”
He adds that every professional should seek effective PR help to make his or her presence felt in these challenging times. “Actors will have to be doubly aggressive in their approach and struggle to acquire work from production houses. With good active PR support, actors and actresses can keep registering their names their faces in the public even when they are not working. Their constant presence on the best Bollywood websites as well as social media and other PR mediums, could ensure celebs and upcoming artistes a place in the minds of casting directors and filmmakers.”
True! Fact is that the situation is what it is and film actors and technicians can’t help it, but focus on their PR at the moment. The only thing in their hands right now is to survive this crisis by staying afloat and continuing to be in the news. Otherwise, by the time the Corona Crisis ends, a new lot of actors and actresses will be ready to take over all the roles and new-age platforms setting their mark. Those you will have kept themselves in the news, might have some chance of survival. Many will perish.
Jo dikhta hai woh bikta hai
In the world we live in, there’s this umbilical cord between fame and credibility. Here, visibility equals credibility. You cannot be credible unless you’re visible. And that’s where the PR professionals and PR teams come in the picture. many in the industry believe that staying put in the news through PR is the best way to tide over this crisis. After all, the dictum ‘Jo dikhta hai woh bikta hai’ has always worked in Bollywood.
Maybe it’s for this reason that we are now seeing an influx of Bollywood’s upcoming stars, flock to PR guys to keep them in news during the lockdown. Actresses and actors are desperately trying to strengthen their brand and image so that they would be the ones to get work by the time this whole downturn ends.
Earlier, we have reported how Bollywood’s PR legend Dale Bhagwagar has been getting a huge amount of PR offers suddenly during lockdown. The top Bollywood publicist has signed seven new PR clients during the lockdown and shows no signs of slowing down.
Stay relevant, stay connected
Talking about PR strategies, Latha Srinivasan says, “Many actors might still want to stay relevant and connected to the audience at this time given that they may not be able to shoot or their films may not be releasing. One of the key things celebs should do is use their social media platforms to amplify the good work being done by people, start a fundraiser and talk about health and safety. They should also use their social media to uplift the morale of people. For instance, they can shoot fitness videos or showcase their other talents which people are not aware of.” But she warns that all top Bollywood celebs need to be careful to not put out posts that showcase them as the privileged lot, as this will backfire on them and bring up the topic of nepotism again.
Vivek Sharma is also of the opinion that celebrities should improve and improvise on their PR at this time. “The world is suffering. Not only from the Coronavirus Crisis, but also from depression. There is a lot of fear. During such a time if we film industry people make positive motivational videos, short films and vlogs, we can be a pillar of strength for many people. We can give hope and share hope, umeed, jazbaat aur saath.”
Viral Bhayani brings new insight to this. He points out that celebs do a lot of things for the sake of earnings. And it would be difficult for them to monetise most of the stuff they put on the web. “For Bollywood celebs to make money online is difficult as even if they make short films for YouTube, it takes a lot of time to monetise them.”
He says that workout videos of filmstars are often trending but after a point of time the actors need to balance them out with more different hobby ideas like cooking, singing, family videos, pet videos, Instagram Live appearances and even participation on debate shows online. He suggests that filmstars can also do their own photo shoots and show their fans different looks, fashion trends, gym looks and glamour looks.
Whatever be the case, we pray that our favourite entertainment industry comes out of the terrible situation it’s found itself in. We have our fingers crossed for all those who have lost work and hope they would be able to recover the lost time, stay afloat in news and bounce back when their time returns.
Bollywood’s only PR guru Dale Bhagwagar is also the only specialist on Bigg Boss. Having handled the PR for a full 20 contestants while they have been on the controversial show, Dale also has guts to call a spade a spade. He boldly addresses queries in this exclusive no-holds-barred interview to QNA India.
Bigg Boss 13 has shifted from Lonavla to Filmcity Studios in Goregaon, Mumbai. Do you think it’s a good move?
Dale Bhagwagar: That fresh breath of Lonavla air that the Bigg Boss Housemates felt in the garden area is missing. Also, knowing that they were far away from Mumbai city, gave the contestants a feel of being separated from their near and dear ones, which went perfectly with the show’s concept. That is now missing too.
But being at Filmcity, has its own share of advantages too. Availability for props, food items, staff etc would definitely be better when in Mumbai. Travel time for staff and Salman Khan is less.
Moreover, security is better as Filmcity has two security gates before one reaches any studio floor. The distance between the first and second gate is almost 2 kilometers. So for any anti-Bigg Boss protest morchas to walk all the way, would be quite a task, and also provide the makers ample time to call for police help, just in case any protest morcha breaks through the first security gate.
Will Bigg Boss 13 get better TRPs than last season?
Dale Bhagwagar: I have a feeling Bigg Boss TRPs may not rise with the passing of its seasons now. The reasons are many. The attention span of people have changed. Also, most youth want to watch shows on the go, and not sit in front of television sets anymore. Though on Voot, the show has limited its visibility by being absent on YouTube; the most popular platform for videos.
Another reason is that the show has deviated from its original concept of being truthful to reality television, and feels more and more like a game show. Being a publicist in the entertainment field and having handled the PR for the maximum Bigg Boss contestants and watched them closely, I’m of the impression that the media publicity for the show also needs more innovativeness and improvement.
Many more journalists need to receive its daily synopsis and publicity images. The PR images for the media could be of better size, correct format and higher resolution too. This would make the journalist’s job of covering Bigg Boss, easier. Scribes may then refrain from searching and lifting random images from FB pages or channel website, which may not satisfy their needs for a great image-resolution.
Apart from all this, one has to also understand that Gen Z does not sit and watch TV serials. So most of the times, they identify quite less with the TV stars which feature more and more on Bigg Boss nowadays. All these and many more transformational changes could give the fortunes of Bigg Boss a punchy boost.
Bigg Boss approaches a lot of celebrities, but only a few of them finally go to the Bigg Boss House. Do you think this is a promotional ploy by the makers to create a wider buzz for the show before it rolls?
Dale Bhagwagar: Ha ha! It seems you have stumbled upon some secret. Yes, this does create a buzz initially, as not all who are approached are aware of the secrecy clause in BB contracts. So they yap and talk and hint, or tell their friends that they have been approached for Bigg Boss. Some even pompously write on FB that BB approaches them every year. But I don’t think that kind of PR buzz helps them. If they really want to be on the show by getting in the limelight, or catch the attention of the makers, there are other intelligent PR strategies and methods.
What if the selection process goes on public voting?
Dale Bhagwagar: That could be an interesting turn. But the public will have to see the drama quotient of the contestants and judge by that. Only then will it work well. Hai na.
Is it better to have only celebrities in Bigg Boss or is it better to have common people with celebrities?
Dale Bhagwagar: The hero of the show should be the concept. I feel, the best thing for Bigg Boss will be to focus on its original ‘reality television’ format and reduce the number of games and tasks. I also strongly feel that Bigg Boss should have two seasons every year — one with celebs and another with commoners.
What do you have to say about most contestants who win Bigg Boss, but are not able to remain in the news after winning? What could be the reason?
Dale Bhagwagar: The primary reason for this is that success goes to their head. The months they spend in isolation makes them believe that the show has made superstars out of them. When they meet their family and friends on the show, they hear stories of how they are being talked about in the outside world; about how famous they have become etc etc etc. They think they have ‘arrived’ and this thought goes to their head.
When they come out they are mobbed, first by the media and then by the people on the streets. They get a lot of instant recognition. In all this hullabaloo, most of them forget that PR plays an important role in the imaging, branding and consistency of any publicity exercise.
What they completely fail to realize is that long-term fame is not about hype, but about imaging and branding. That is why so many Bigg Boss contestants lose out in the long run, with most of these disappearing into oblivion. Even the winners.
“All Bollywood actresses need to understand and accept that controversies are a ‘business’ for media. Only when they adapt, is when they will be able to take advantage of the situations media presents. Otherwise, they’ll risk resisting change, till a new generation comes and laps it up.” -Dale Bhagwagar
Tanushree Dutta seeks FRESH PROBE on Nana Patekar issue
Recently, the Mumbai Police submitted a closure report for #MeToo cases like Tanushree Dutta’s, who accused Nana Patekar of sexual harassment during the shoot of a song in 2008. Due to lack of evidence and witness statement not supporting Dutta’s story the case was closed and reported as ‘filed with malicious intentions’. But this week, Tanushree has written an e-mail to the Commissioner of Police, asking for a fresh probe in the case against Patekar. As such cases drag on, industry insiders discuss if Bollywood can wipe the #MeToo scar off its damaged face.
When the #MeToo movement hit the world, no one knew its ripple effect would reach so many shores. Bollywood, which has forever been an insulated kingdom of filmy families, known for its tight-lipped fraternity, was shockingly exposed.
Though most people have never raised their voices about the relatively shadier going-ons of the world’s largest movie industry, the #MeToo movement saw a handful of women come forward and speak up of issues old and new.
One would think that in the aftermath, Bollywood and the men accused, would be reeling under, unable to face the world. But if the slew of clean chits given are to be considered, the tide seems to be flowing the other way.
Take into account how actress Tanushree Dutta’s FIR with Oshiwara Police Station against Nana Patekar, accusing him of sexually harassing her during the shooting of a song on the sets of ‘Horn Ok Please’ in 2008, concluded. The Mumbai police gave Patekar a clean chit in the case, filing a report that said Tanushree’s complaint could have been lodged to seek revenge and that it seemed ‘malicious and fake’. The actress has claimed that the police have colluded with the veteran actor.
In another such instance, Vikas Bahl, the director of Queen who was accused of sexual harassment by an employee of Phantom Films, has been cleared of all charges. An internal inquiry by Reliance Entertainment cleared him and reinstated him as the director of the Hrithik Roshan film Super 30 before its release.
Well known for his sanskaari roles in top budget films, actor Alok Nath was accused of rape, sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, by atleast three women, one of them being writer-director-producer Vinta Nanda. Nanda had accused Nath in a Facebook post that went viral, after which Nath had filed a defamation suit against her. Nanda filed an FIR against Nath, alleging rape. In January 2019, the Mumbai sessions court granted anticipatory bail to the actor, observing that Nanda did not lodge the report immediately after the alleged incident for her own benefit. The court also observed that possibility cannot be ruled out that Nath has been falsely accused in the crime.
Karan Oberoi receives tremendous support
TV actor Karan Oberoi, who was accused of rape and extortion by a woman, was granted bail by the Bombay High Court, about a month after his arrest. Oberoi has since been seen at a demonstration highlighting #MenToo; a campaign to create awareness about cases where men are falsely accused of rape and other such charges by women. In what is a shocking turn of events, the person who made the accusation, was arrested for ‘falsely’ implicating Oberoi.
But a global movement like #MeToo will hardly die down anytime soon, says actress-filmmaker Soni Razdan, wife of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. Razdan feels, “A significant movement like this cannot simply go away. There has been a seismic shift and in future, people who are violated in such a manner, won’t be quiet anymore. That also implies, others will learn to conduct themselves better.” Razdan had also shared a past encounter of sexual harassment with a news outlet at the peak of the #MeToo movement, where she had narrated how during a film shoot, somebody had tried to rape her.
Gender neutral should be the future
Poojita Chowdhury, a talented filmmaker (and daughter of Renuka Chowdhury, the former Union minister of State for Ministry of Women and Child Development), says “It is unfair and unfortunate when people who have committed crimes are protected and get away. But I believe that a new order is emerging out of this for the greater good, and it is not all hopeless. Patriarchy is very deeply entrenched for centuries, so it’s not going to be easy to change the status quo.”
Chowdhury’s film, Gender Bender, is about changing gender roles and rules around work and features real women in traditionally male jobs, and daughters who work with their fathers. “This is where its relevant to the movement, because ultimately it is about evolving into a society, where work, talent and opportunity are gender neutral spaces — the right of every person, be it man or woman, to work with respect, dignity and same opportunity,” she says.
Sifting the real from the fake
Bollywood’s only PR guru Dale Bhagwagar gets philosophical, saying, “When God created humans — the highest among the living species — he created man and woman. Man went on to create society and a class divide between the rich and poor. With time, another divide took birth in the form of racism — the genetics and colour divide between black and white. Now thanks to the #MeToo movement, humans have been introduced to the ultimate divide — between man and woman themselves. And in India, the world’s largest film industry, Bollywood, is most impacted.”
“The movement has left a scar, not only on Bollywood, but on the fabric of society,” adds the PR consultant. But Bhagwagar points out that Bollywood’s version of #MeToo has been very different from Hollywood’s. “Here, 97 percent of the ladies, who came forward with issues had nothing concrete to say,” he feels. “They were more or less being biased or vindictive towards men. Inspite of that, our scandal-hungry media lapped up all of that and more, turning the voices into a huge campaign, probably for the sake of extra eyeballs, hit rate and TRPs.”
He feels that with the exception of Vinta Nanda, whose rape charges warrant serious attention, the others said things like ‘he tried to touch me’, ‘he tried to feel me up’, ‘he tried to kiss me’, ‘he put his hand around my waist’, ‘he put his hand on my shoulder’ and similar things. “The guys did not molest, they didn’t force — they probably tried their luck by casual flirting. But the #MeToo gals named and shamed guys in the media, and put a blot on their brand and image forever for that,” says Bhagwagar. Ironically, some of the names featured in the Wikipedia #MeToo page have been his ex-clients. These include Vinta Nanda, Mandana Karimi, Elnaaz Norouzi and Shama Sikander.
Pooja Bedi, a strong voice behind her friend Karan Oberoi’s recent misfortunes, couldn’t share her thoughts with us due to a hectic schedule of spearheading a movement called ‘Men Too’. According to The Quint, Bedi said, “Taking into consideration the history of our country and the patriarchal society that we live in, there are times when a rape victim goes to the police station and her complaint does not even get registered. That is wrong. So, we need laws against rape and such violence. But at the same time, if women are misusing the law that is meant to protect them, we need to think about how to protect the rights of the man as well.”
Razdan thinks it is power that creates this sort of an imbalance. People inclined to, will always misuse it and in a film industry as huge as Bollywood, there is no one player involved, she believes. “We cannot paint everyone with the same brush. I feel everyone should speak up, gender notwithstanding. Making someone guilty until proven innocent is not fair and one must support the real victims,” she says matter-of-factly.
The real movement trudges along
Chowdhury believes the movement helps to create space for human potential and is not just a ‘battle of the sexes’. On hindsight, to say that anyone who has been named has lost out on opportunities, may well be speaking too soon. Most of the men have returned to work, some like Alok Nath having even added a hit like De De Pyaar De to the cap.
Bhagwagar who was hired for crisis management by one of the men whose name had popped up in #MeToo, did a short-term guerrilla PR (stealth) exercise for him. “I believed in the guy’s innocence, so I admit, I took steps to drown the girl’s articles in the media with some spin and SEO. But not everyone was as lucky as my PR client. A lot of men now have to live with the damages to their online image for life,” he says.
That said, the way ahead for the real victims of MeToo is somewhat blurry. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, has a few obvious drawbacks and so, old cases of harassment can’t be taken into consideration. Internal committees might do their job well but that’s not transparent enough. While a robust set of gender neutral laws can ensure people get their voices heard and justice is met, the playing field, especially in Bollywood, may not be even.
“There are committees in every office, but we don’t see them as very effective. But we still have to keep at building such outreach programmes and institutions that will get a firm grip of how to deal with authentic cases over time,” says Razdan.
So what do the women who have finally found the strength to speak up, do until justice is met? A good example is Tanushree, the one who began the movement in Bollywood. After her case was shut, Tanushree told the Indian Express, “I pray that I never have to deal with this kind of toxicity ever again in life. I am tired of fighting alone against oppressors, bullies and a corrupt system. But please don’t take this example to mean that you will not be heard when you speak up. Continue to expose these creeps through social media and other platforms so that in future people would think twice before troubling an innocent young girl. I still believe I will get justice and victory will be mine. How, only time will tell.”
Chowdhury summarizes the movement’s true effect succinctly. “It’s like a volcano that has erupted. So in the aftermath of such an eruption, there will be consequences. But it is very early to say that it has scarred men to work with women, or that the latter will lose out on work opportunities. Hopefully, the larger outcome of this movement will set a new standard of ethics, accountability and personal conduct across professions, for both men and women. The critical thing now is to use this time not to settle back into the old system.”
Netflix made a thunderous debut in India with the web series Sacred Games starring Saif Ali Khan as police officer Sartaj Singh and Nawazuddin Siddiqui as underworld don Ganesh Gaitonde. As Sacred Games Season 2 makes its debut, Bollywood’s only PR guru Dale Bhagwagar lists his 16 most favourite dialogues from Season 1.
1) “Kabhi kabhi lagta hai, apun hi bhagwan hai.”
2) “Mumbai shahar hai yeh. Kuch bhi ho sakta hai idhar.”
3) “Bhagwan aadmi se kahani me baat karta hai. Hum sab ka life ek kahani hai.”
4) “Main chhota sa tha, 10-11 saal ka, tabhi fix ho gaya tha, yeh aaj ka din, ye connection, aap — Dilbagh Singh, aur main.”
5) “Lagta hai 6 janam pehle ki baat hai, jab main maa ko dekha.”
6) “Aadmi andar se jitna kaala hota hai, duniya ke samne utna hi safed banne ki koshish karta hai.”
7) “Tum mardon ko aisa kyun lagta hai, ki har aurat ko tumhein hi bachana hai.”
After launching Swadeshi Samriddhi SIM cards, yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali has launched a new messaging application called Kimbho. It seems to be aimed at giving competition to the most popular messaging app WhatsApp owned by Facebook.
At the launch, Patanjali mentioned that the Kimbho App is already available for downloads at Google Play Store.
After Reliance Jio giving competition to foreign companies in India, another techno revolution is on the cards from this week. WhatsApp has been downloaded by more than a billion people on Google Play Store. Whether Kimbho can come anywhere near to that humongous figure, remains to be seen.
Kimbho is a Sanskrit word, meaning “How are you?” or “What’s new?” The app’s logo shows a seashell with a green-coloured round chat design around it; similar to WhatsApp. Kimbho’s tagline is ‘Ab Bharat Bolega’.
Got an interview done for my PR client, ace make-up, hair and prosthetic designer Preetisheel Singh, in the prestigious Deccan Herald. Super special thanks to talented journo Purnima Sharma for her understanding and perseverance.
Max Clifford, the world’s most scandalous publicist once called Dale Bhagwagar“the PR to go to in India.” So what made Clifford praise and refer another publicist? A little case study about this public relations professional from India reveals a lot.
Often termed the King of Spin, Dale Bhagwagar undoubtedly tops the list as the most famous PR experts the Indian entertainment industry has ever witnessed. He is most probably the highest paid publicist and the guy behind the glamour, glitz and media hand-handling for a huge number Bollywood celebrities.
He has looked after the media for more than 200 film stars including Hrithik Roshan, Shilpa Shetty, Priyanka Chopra, Govinda, Vivek Oberoi, the evergreen Dev Anand, and films such as the Shah Rukh Khan starrer Don and Farhan Akhtar starrer Rock On!!
That’s not all! Dale has handled the PR for around 40 movies starring actors such as Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Arjun Rampal, Bipasha Basu, Bo Derek, Boman Irani, Jackie Shroff, Jesse Metcalfe, John Abraham, Kabir Bedi, Kareena Kapoor, Karishma Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Manisha Koirala, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Padma Lakshmi, Prakash Raj, Preity Zinta, Rahul Bose, Rani Mukerji, Raveena Tandon, Rekha, Saif Ali Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Shabana Azmi, Sharman Joshi, Shriya Saran, Sunil Shetty, Sunny Deol… and the list goes on and on.
Well known as Bollywood’s only PR guru, this award-winning publicist from Mumbai is also a master with handling controversies and crisis management for actors. For this, he has been quoted in each and every prominent Indian media, apart from some of the topmost international publications and news television channels such as BBC World, CNN, Sky News, The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Daily Mail, New York Times and The Washington Post.
Dale has spearheaded Shilpa Shetty’s PR during her Big Brother win and also handled the media for a full 20 names who have participated in the reality show’s Indian counterpart Bigg Boss; best known for being hosted by megastar Salman Khan.
All this and more makes the guy a master of masters. No wonder, a simple Google search in his name brings up thousands of results.