Popcorn

What is ‘wholesome’ about Dabangg?

In the name of God. What have we done?

The one film that redefined crass commercialism and toilet humour at its worst (I cringe at that 'chhed' line every time someone says it and giggles) has been named the year's 'wholesome entertainer'. By the National Film Awards committee, no less.

The National Film Awards are announced for the singular purpose of plugging in the holes (pardon) left behind by popular film award ceremonies that are rigged, bought or are blatant showcases of favouritism in the industry. Or so I thought. Well, looks like we might need another body to take care of that, because this year's awards smack of giving in to popular demand rather than reward genuine achievement in the field of cinema.

Dabangg, last year's answer to the void that was left behind by the underwear/drawstring/mattress/pillow innuendo-laden era of David Dhawan, Govinda and Karisma Kapoor, is a lot of things - entertaining, yes. Hilarious, in parts. Paisa vasool, to the bottom galleries. But wholesome? From which god-loving angle, pray tell?

J P Dutta, who chaired this year's jury, also invited more criticism for failing to get the names of the regional winners right during the awards ceremony. Reality check, please, awards committee - maybe you should keep Bollywood bigwigs out of the jury if you want to focus on excellence in regional cinema.

It could have been an honest mix-up - maybe they intended to give the Best Film award to Dabangg and Wholesome Entertainer to Do Dooni Chaar, which actually makes sense. Previous winners in this category have varied from the treacly diabetic to the unassumingly charming. But to pick a movie that revels in its uncouthness as a 'wholesome entertainer' might be setting a precedent that might lead to rather unsavoury results in the coming years. One can well expect Bhaag DK Bose to be the clincher for Delhi Belly next year.

Honestly speaking, I should have known that it would come to this when 3 Idiots won the last time round. If sucking a baby out of a mother's womb with a vacuum cleaner can earn the prestigious honour of being labeled 'wholesome entertainment', then a movie in which Malaika Arora suggestively rubs her rump in front of a tongue-lolling audience of make-believe cops and robbers should also fall into the same bracket, right?

For film-goers' sake, I hope we're dead wrong.

PS: Much to my consternation, our followers on Facebook seem to think Dabangg was indeed wholesome entertainment. But no, I won't rest my case.