James Bond, Padma Rao and Salman Khan



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The new James Bond thriller, Spectre, was released in India much later than in Sri Lanka. Okay, we can say Sri Lanka first! But, despite the navel controversy created by an ‘innocent’ Chief Minister of the Western Province who just hates navels and may be the Navy we Sri Lankans could be very proud. We are not like the Indians. We love to kiss; we are tolerant of long kisses and we let James Bond kiss as long as feels like on our screens!


The Indian press is slamming its censor board for censoring the long kissing scenes. In India James Bond is allowed to kiss only for few seconds each time. Argh! The media is questioning if Indians don’t kiss for long. The Chairman of the Censor Board says, "Sorry. We already passed the film with cuts" and the man admitted that he didn't even watch the movie. I am devastated, too. I wonder where I am these days. Am I in the land of Kama Sutra? May be, the Indian censor board people never kissed for long but only used to giving flying kisses. I do feel sorry for them and of course James Bond, Monica Bellucci the oldest Bond girl, and all the Indians.


The Times of India chose to even write an editorial, ‘No Kisses Please, We are Indian’. It says thanks to the Indian Censor Board Chairman India is well protected from Kisses. The newspaper questions why a kiss has to go from being delightful to anti-national. It says even Pakistan let the kisses go uncut. The editorial takes the Chairman of the Indian Censor Board, Pahlaj Nilhani to the cleaners. The editorial says, "There can never be a licence to kiss. Never mind that India is supposed to be the land of the Kama Sutra, Khajuraho et al. The Censor Chief also reportedly came up with a list of cuss words than never can be used in films, including Bombay and haramazada (whatever that means) Bond can go on saying ‘Never say Never again’ till he is blue in the face, he’ll always be trumped by our censors whose motto is Always Say No."


My advice to the Chairman of the Sri Lankan Censor Board, Saman Athaudahetti, who is also Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s top media man, is to be liberal, Be Carefree, Be Free and Easy. Don’t be Prudish. Let the viewers decide. We don’t need a Cultural Police in Sri Lanka.


I always enjoy watching movies in India. It is funny when southern cinema fans throws flowers when their ‘Hero’ sets the screen on fire. Fortunately it doesn't happen in New Delhi. I went to see the latest Salman Khan/Sonam Kapoor movie ‘ Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ at the Satyam cinema at Nehru Place with my friend Sapna. She didn't want to see the movie saying it was useless. But, I told her I needed to laugh and was looking forward to being entertained by Salman. It did provide the laughs. Sapna says old male actors should stop acting with young actresses. She has a point. India needs young male leads to keep up with the young actresses instead of the oldies. Or is old still gold? Salman Khan is always a good man both in reel life and real life. He does not run over sleeping people on the streets. He does not go hunting. He is such a do goodie and even came to see us in Sri Lanka just before the Presidential elections. I always saw Salman as a comedy character despite his muscles and fat. He does well in this movie which made me buy the Film Fare magazine from Khan Market just to read about his co-star Sonam Kapoor. Who cares about Salman anyway? It was a long film and we both contributed 800 Indian rupees to Salman’s salary and missed my lunch at the famed Bengali restaurant ‘Oh Calcutta’


Padma Rao


It is Friday night in Delhi and my friend Padma Rao of ‘Sri Lanka - New Country’ fame says to me: ‘Let’s go to a party at a German diplomat’s houses. She was in charge of the Press earlier and she is back in India again." I join her and she asks her driver to shift to the rear seat. She drives the car herself to beat the Delhi traffic. She does beat the Delhi traffic to some extent. Maybe only a journalist could do that. At the party of Crystal , yes the German Crystal , Padma bats for Sri Lanka in grand style. She tells everyone ‘ India is my Janma Bhoomi; Sri Lanka is my Karma Bhoomi. I feel so much at home in Sri Lanka and with the Sri Lankan smile." She asks everyone we speak at the party to go and visit Sri Lanka. She shares her experiences and relates stories on Sri Lanka to them. All I do is listen to her and nod in agreement. She says, "Mahinda Rajapaksa had his faults we agree. But, unfortunately he is the most maligned man in Sri Lanka and elsewhere today. Do you think anybody could have defeated terrorists and won the war in Sri Lanka but him?" She laughs at the so-called ‘Bleeding Hearts’ of Sri Lanka and the NGO types and many others. She questions what they have to say now in the face of terrorists threats, fear psychosis in Europe and elsewhere.


Padma speaks of her affection for Germany and France and ridicules the British and American Press. At times she speaks in her second language German and I continue to nod. It is a Yes from me because it’s all about the good of Sri Lanka over and over. I think Sri Lanka got to find a way to honour Padma. We really need to.


My friend Padma is right. It is not the New Delhi I I lived twice before. It is a bit more expensive. No kisses. No hisses. But the misses and messes and poor Aamir Khan trashed.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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