One of the most newsworthy things I heard this week in “breaking news” (Fires! Party In-fighting! Tennis Imbroglio! Bar Raids!) is that Anurag Kashyap has finally earned enough money to buy his first car.
Yes, you read that correctly. Celebrated film producer-director Kashyap with nine films under his belt, a huge triumph at Cannes recently, a hot Bollywood actress as his wife and a fan base as strong as his cult following, has bought his first car. No, I don’t know which car, but I somehow don’t think it would be a Porsche. Or a Ferrari. Or a Jaguar.
Why is this newsworthy, you might ask. What’s so special about this factoid that it nudged its way into my mind-space and carved a little niche for itself?
Without being patronising — in an age of rampant consumerism, this news comes as a welcome counter point.
Not the buying of the car, of course, but foregoing one for all these years, even while attending all those big Bollywood premieres and parties, and being feted by visiting Hollywood dignitaries. The fact that a man — any man — can be successful at what he’s doing but is not defined by the trappings of materialism so associated with success, is a wonderful morality tale for all of us.
The film industry today is very different from what it was when it started out. Yes, some stars had their impossibly tail-finned Impalas and Chevrolets, and the Vat 69 tankards on their bars, but they were more flash-in-the-pan exceptions to the rule.
For the most part, its writers and producers, its lyricists and musicians were men of creativity — dreamers and poets at heart, idealists and stargazers in their souls.
Today it appears that even before a young girl signs on her first film, she’s bought herself her Audi. Or her penthouse duplex. Or her villa in Dubai. And, of course, no one here is begrudging anyone their material ambitions or their hard-won status symbols. It’s just that somewhere along the way, the message got somewhat skewered. To an unsuspecting public it appeared that they were in films for the singular pleasure of buying the cars, the penthouses or the baubles, whereas in the old days it appeared as if the material goodies were a happy byproduct of it all.
And it’s not just in the film industry that this impression prevails. There was a time when people entered a profession — any profession—because they were absolutely obsessed by it, had fun doing it and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Most of us who entered journalism, for instance, did so because we really enjoyed the process of it. No one in the trenches had any five-year plan, career goals or idea of how it would all turn out.
Today, we first audit the pros and cons, the yields and curve the earnings and rewards, much like choosing between one white good and the other. Should the kid become a computer scientist, a DJ or a sportsman? What are the prospects in each? Which car comes with which job? Etc, etc.
Which is why Kashyap buying a car on the eve of the release of his latest film, the critically acclaimed Gangs of Wasseypur, is such a happy thing. And may the ride — though it gets comfy — never be too smooth either!
Malavika Sangghvi is a Mumbai-based writer email@example.com