Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shahrukh Mania at AMU and the fear of crowd management

Do we really want to know how Michael Jackson makes his music? No. We want to understand why he needs the bones of the Elephant Man -- and, until he tells us, it doesn't make too much difference whether or not he really is bad.- Frank zappa

Well in the comedy film HUNGAMA made by Priyadarshan there was a dialogue uttered by Paresh Rawal , It was like he exclaimed to know the name of this star first time from his excited wife's mouth. He questioned, "Shahrukh! Kiski Bhukh?"..Well if i look at AMU now..I know the answer.

I think on the yahoo groups now there is too much brouhaha over this visit of King Khan. Many justified, many are from a different context where such angle are unnecessary. I never consider film only as entertainment. Film can be as academic as any other subject of the world and it is proved with the introduction of the Film Studies in reputed universities like Oxford, Harvard etc. Star system in Indian Cinema gradually developed as a result of changing traditions in Indian Film Industry. Through this mass media the public transferred its aspirations and nostalgia to the stars who, in their eyes were the worthy objects of admiration and imitation. In India star system existed since the Silent Era and became even stronger when the studious were at their height. Fundamentally the main objective of the main conception of the hero is to make the audience dream.

Shahrukh Khan is the product of the same star system where his characters, be it in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kal Ho Na Ho, or in Rab Ne Bana De Jodi successfully led the Indian Youth Community in an unseen way and style to dream that the most mysterious thing “love” is achievable in life even after all the odds. Culture always works in a complex framework and nobody can deny Shahrukh with his stardom (I have serious problem with his monotonous acting however) contributed in the post LPG (Liberalization-Privatization-Globalization) era to create a unique culture of entertainment (good bad we don’t know) which is changing its shape at the end of the decade. So he is a film megastar & we have to judge him only through the lenses of cinema only.

His latest film My Name Is Khan has so much to do with the Muslim Identity, a Muslim character with Asperger Syndrome which led him to trouble in the post 9/11 America. Promotion of a film now holds an important role in the post-production stage of the film especially in this market driven economy. Amir Khan travelled across Varanasi, small village in Madhya Pradesh and other 6 places in disguise in order to promote the film “3 Idiots”. My Name Is Khan is awaiting release and so the name of Aligarh Muslim University (Still a name which strengthen the Muslim Identity in India & the world) is definitely going to increase the rating of the promotional caravan of this film dealing with Muslim Identity.

As being at the helm of affairs of the University Film Club I have organized many film festivals and called many established actors, directors etc at the Kennedy Auditorium and they also delivered some of the best lectures I have ever heard. However we at the Film Club always try to call the less known yet critically acclaimed actors with the fear of crowd whereas we always had option to call the best shots(however the budget restrain us also because maximum we can afford the economy class). Tom Alter was the Chief Guest at the First National Film Festival FILMSAAZ-08 at AMU and spoke at large about the medium of cinema, Farooq Shaikh delivered an awesome lecture on” Degradation of Content in Indian Cinema in spite of Technological Advancement” in July, 2008, National Award Winning film-maker AMU old boy Muzaffar Ali delivered a lecture on the “ Parallel Film and pioneer filmmakers in India” in the second National Film Festival Filmsaaz-09. However Film Club always calls these actors, directors and attaches a programme of workshop for its members or for GEC fraternity along their interaction with the AMU students. Such lectures should have been organized this time also by at least Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi for the UFC members which gave them an outlook which is very important. In any academic institution they serve a great purpose.

I am not much cynical about the visit of Shahrukh Khan at AMU, I am mainly critical about the possible management of the interactive programme at the Kennedy Auditorium. Film Club members under me has always taken the charge of Hall Management of most of the programmes held at the Kennedy Auditorium during 2007-09. Be it the play Ismat Apa ke Naam by Nasiruddin Shah by IG Memorial Trust( along with SPM team whose inexperience at the Kennedy we blame for the mismanagement of that programme), or International World Alumni Summit 2008( Along with OSD Prof Javed Musarrat, I and Dr.F.S.Sherani planned the sitting arrangement at the Kennedy and Film Club boys handled the guests there), and the usual Sir Syed Memorial Debates. We can proudly say that UFC members know the psychology of the AMU students and best because during the film screening we naturally handle 1500-2000 students. So with certain authority I am apprehensive on the management issue at such a closed space where we wont be able to provide not more than 600 seats to student who will be Hall Post Holders, GEC Members and Grievance Committee members & rest may be Teachers, AC, EC, Court Members, Press, District Administration would occupy. How we are going to control all the students?

During the Nasiruddin Shah programme even lecturers, Readers with no pass but with Aligarhi attitude( they found their students as UFC volunteers at the gate and asked them to let them in to be on the safe side for their attendance or sesional marks) entered and created huge problem for us. SSP along with their force could not stop students barging in. The case with Rahul Gandhi was something different. But the case of the most sought celebrity in India is going to be else. 3-Tier security system will work a little for sure but its true all the 25000 students (I heard some girls already started crying with the fear not to see him, some boys ready to cross any barricade, everyone has gone crazy what I can see!)want a glimpse of him and we are not comprehending the situation properly. From Firozabad to Bulandshahar all the old students are calling their friends that they may come. People from surrounding places may disturb the campus also. Recently during a promotional tour of Salmaan Khan’s Veer, police had to lathicharge which wounded 200 audiences in Hydrabad.

AMU is not a civil area so I just fear no such untoward incident happens here. The Kennedy Hall Administration can’t be sure all will be safe inside leaving things on the Proctor Office with little force because even if a single moment any crowd gather and breaks any barricade its going to diminish the concept of outside and inside so there must be an emergency plan also to cover the guest of first rows and stage.

However we at the film club always keep the name of any celebrity visitor secret even from Press to avoid any problem( Though it get leaked most of the time but that among AMU fraternity), the PRO should not have published it to inform even the locals. Today with all these apprehension which shared by some other Film Club members, I along with them visited Proctors Office and raised these issues. We who are associated with Kennedy for many years loves each of its brick and its stage is so much pious to us, such is our emotional bondage which other Old Boy may feel alongwith. Any damage to this precinct building will hurt us most for sure.

Right now I am also apprehensive about my entry with the pass and get a seat peacefully as in the history of AMU rarely people with pass entered such programme of celebrities. I know at the last moment even anybody can snatch this from their senior Adil Bhai( I wont be surprised as I can see the excitement all around from today). I wish all the luck to the AMU administration and pray that their plan yield success in the end and nothing happens to my beloved Kennedy Auditorium.

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