Thursday, October 24, 2013

Filmi Fridays: Boss Kaun Hain?

My Yahoo! Movies column, first published here.

Joke of the day: Why did the Communist parties condemn Akshay Kumar’s latest movie? Because the Boss is always right!
Today’s theme is based on the latest movie from Action Kumar a.k.a. Khiladi Kumar a.k.a. the Boss. Who are the bosses of Bollywood?

Sujoy Ghosh’s debut film was a feature-length tribute to Sholay and the Boss. As two music-crazy ad guys went about writing copy for condoms, managing wives and mothers-in-law and practising for a music contest (called Jhankaar Beats), we were introduced to their Boss. The head of their ad agency was Vijayendra Ghatge. He wasn’t the Boss. Sanjay Suri’s wife was Juhi Chawla, a perfectly sweet woman. She wasn’t the Boss. His mother-in-law was a bossy, pain-in-the-ass. But she wasn’t the Boss either.
Boss kaun hain, maloom hain kya?
Oh come on, you know who the Boss is! He is the one who makes you listen to him. Riiii raaaaa tu ru tu ru tu ru tu ru tu ru tu ru...

Shah Rukh Khan was looking for a fast track to success. And he was prepared to be all sycophantic and shady about it. In short, he was saying Yes Boss every step of the way.
In Aziz Mirza’s morality tale about a sleazy boss (Aditya Pancholi) out to sleep with a girl (Juhi Chawla) his subordinate is in love with, SRK was the young, upwardly mobile upstart torn between his boss and his love. Add to that a heart-patient mother, the boss’ wife and a superhit soundtrack by Jatin-Lalit to get a very popular film that took SRK to stardom.

Sleazy bosses looking for a bit of a sex on the side are not in short supply in Bollywood.
Kay Kay Menon in Life In A Metro was one such character, who was sleeping with Kangana Ranaut in his subordinate’s (Sharman Joshi) flat. The subordinate was happy to let out his flat for his superiors’ amorous adventures till he realised that he was in love with the girl who was coming in with the boss.
This twist is obviously the same as Billy Wilder’s classic film, The Apartment, though this is not the first time it has been used in Bollywood. Amitabh Bachchan starred in Raaste Ka Patthar in 1972, in which he also played the bachelor executive who let out his flat to his boss (Prem Chopra).

Not all bosses make out with your lady love though. (To be fair, most bosses don’t.) However, Bollywood bosses are shady if not sleazy.
In Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, SRK was a junior architect who was coerced to cover up his firm’s incompetence by his firm’s big boss (Naveen Nischol) and his daughter (Amrita Singh), who seemed to have a soft corner for him. Aziz Mirza directed this morality tale which explored the favourite Bollywood theme of innocent hero losing his honesty in the big bad corporate world.
Abhishek Bachchan did a similar role, playing an upcoming executive in a media company owned by big boss (Jackie Shroff) and the voice of boss (Sushmita Sen). The name of the film was Boss Itna Sa Khwaab Hai. (Ahem.)

Bosses and secretaries are drawn to each other like a moth to flame.
In the definitive canon of this genre – Pati Patni Aur Woh – Sanjeev Kumar eschewed the charms of wife Vidya Sinha and tried getting cosy with secretary Ranjeeta, weaving an elaborate web of lies to garner sympathy, though not sex!
Hrishikesh Mukherjee borrowed the plot of Pati Patni Aur Woh for his comedy, Rang Birangi, in which Amol Palekar was the boss. He tried to bring in a spot of spice in his boring married life by wooing secretary Deepti Naval and repeating the same wooing techniques with wife Parveen Babi.

Basu Bhattacharya’s Griha Pravesh was a more serious take on the boss-secretary relationship as Sanjeev Kumar (yet again!) strayed from his seemingly happy marriage with Sharmila Tagore to seemingly fall in love with Sarika. The couple’s quest to buy a house for themselves hit a roadblock as Sarika wanted to enter her boss’ life formally while the boss was not completely sure if he wanted to let his family go.

As a tail-piece, it might be frivolously apt to invoke the abusive boss – DK – from Delhi Belly.
Okay, okay... you nitpickers can keep cribbing that he is actually a Bose and not really a Boss but we aren’t really writing a PhD thesis here, you know? This Boss is wildly popular in many parts of the Hindi heartland, his name is taken sometimes abusively, sometimes reverentially and by all accounts, the mention of his name is a sure-shot warning to take cover. Bad-ass boss, he is!
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