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Dear Ramcharan Teja, As A Bihari Why I Should Not Be Offended By Your Latest Film?

Subhash K . Jha

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 The  latest  Ramcharan Teja starrer in  Telugu  Vinaya Vidheya Rama(VVR) which  opened  on Pongal  all across Andhra Pradesh  is  a deeply offensive  film on  every possible  level.It insults the female sex by lewdly  objectifying the heroine Kiara Advani.

It also  insults  the audiences’ basic intelligence by taking the most outrageous  liberties with time and space. To give an early indication of  the  film’s topographical tyranny ,in  one sequence  the film’s  super-duper-hero Rama crashes  out of an airport’s  check-in lounge ,  jumps on a speeding train-top from Gujarat which takes  him to Bihar to save his brother.

Don’t ask how Rama is able to time his furious  travel  plan with the  Bihar Railways’ timings.I think it was Dharmendra who first  balanced himself  on a speeding train roof to avenge the wrongs done to his onscreen family in Yaadon Ki Baaraat.If he saw Ramcharan Teja’s loco-motivated  homage to that old spirit  of  dada-giri  Dharam Paaji style,  Dharmendra  would  probably regret the  day he agreed to travel ticketless .

There are many other absolutely unacceptable leaps of imagination in VVR  that boggle the  mind  and do a great disservice  to  progressive cinema  all across India.

As a Bihari my biggest  grouse against Vinaya Vidheya Rama is in the way Bihar and Biharis are show as scruffy, sleazy , murderous bandits and  outlaws.  For  years filmmakers and actors  in  the  South have  complained  about the  way Hindi cinema  depicts South Indians in a stereotypical  ‘Lungi Dance’  avatar. In fact  in  the NTR bio-pic that  opened this week ,NTR(Balakrishna) is seen haranguing  Mrs  Indira Gandhi for referring to South Indians as ‘Madrasi.’

I wonder what NTR would have  to  say about Ramcharan Teja’s licentious lies regarding Bihar and Biharis. For one, the film’s main villain Raja Bhai  played by Vivek Oberoi ,is shown to be  a  Bihari running his own army in “Bihar”…Or what passes  off as Bihar in this madly confounded  film which  knows neither  its history  or  geography well enough to make the narrative half-way coherent.

 Raja Babu  is shown to bully Bihar’s  chief minister(Mahesh Manjrekar) into perpetrating the  worst havoc imaginable.  The tyranny gets  acutely unbearable when Raja Babu kidnaps the election commissioner and makes him dance in public wearingghungroos(anklets) on his feet to humiliate him.

I really didn’t get that one. Why would  a dance in ghungroos be such an act of humiliation for  a decent man  whose nose the  villain wants to rub in the ground? There are so many renowned  much respected Kathak and Bharat Natyam dancers in India.Kamal Haasan and Birju Maharaja are names that come  to  mind.

This  crass film moves forward  on  the  strength of its own perverse definition of machismo and  virility.  The hero is shown literally beating up  an army of ‘Bihari’ goons(all armed with  guns, machets and other  weapons) as the  soundtrack emblazons  his heroics with sounds that suggest a siren call for  absolute anarchy.

My quibble with the film’s crass conflicts are with its ‘Bihar’ connections. The hinterland  replete with sandscapes and horses and outlaws who look like they are earning extra money by sneaking out of a Ram Gopal Verma action film, is  no part of  anyBihar that I  know.

Why are Biharis  considered to be so thick-skinned as  to  silently  accept being portrayed as the worst scums  of  the earth? Isn’t that the image that chauvinistic political parties in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh favours  in order to put migrants  from UP and Bihar in place,namely back to their  home states? And  now,  depicting Biharis as lumpen elements is  taken to the  next level. The hero must travel  to Bihar(from Gujarat, on  a speeding train upon which jumps  from above) to rescue his Telugu  family from the North Indian pseudo-naxalites.

 Dravidian rectitude  survives.

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