So, the trailer for Tanhaji: The Unsung Hero has dropped on World Toilet Day. (How's that for subliminal messaging?)

I wouldn't be surprised if the idea was to coordinate Tanhaji's trailer launch with International Men's Day (also today) since this film is all about defining masculinity as alpha, violent and aggressive. (Yes, I picked this image particularly for the way it's framed, with the cannon as a phallic object in the middle.)

Seeing Saif Ali Khan dressed in black and consorting with Mughal-type folk, you may think he's the evil Muslim villain in Tanhaji (ref: Ranveer Singh's Khalji in Padmaavat). But no, Khan is playing Uday Bhan Rathod, who was apparently taking tips from Leonidas of 300.


So what we're getting in Tanhaji is a fight between the Maratha Tanhaji and Rajput Uday Bhan. Or, as the trailer for Tanhaji frames it, between the Good Hindu and the Bad Hindu.

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And guess what's topmost on the Good Hindu Tanhaji's priority list? Bhagwa - apparently it's the "Maratha flag" (I don't know enough of the Maratha community to know the truth of this) but in recent history, bhagwa was claimed by the RSS. Tanhaji's mission (should he choose to accept it) is to make the bhagwa flag fly. It must be a total coincidence that today bhagwa is synonymous with Hindutva.

Also on Maratha and Good Hindu Tanhaji's priority list: the Brahmin's janeu, apparently. (Just stab me in the eyes now. Seriously.)

But, as Tanhaji informs us, topping the priority is bhagwa. Leaving aside the disservice that the dialogue below does to those considered "mad", what Tanhaji's writers do is conflate the political idea of swaraj with with the contemporary religious connotations of bhagwa. This is in addition to the intentional confusion of Maratha caste identity with Maratha as a regional identity (see @h_tejas's toot).

It's not just the recent Maratha agitation that Tanhaji hopes to capitalise upon, by the way.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we make political and fundamentalist content in Bollywood; all the while taking cover under the umbrella of "populist entertainment" being allegedly harmless and brainless.

@dpanjana bhagwa reminds me of pakavan in Tamil.. Not sure whether both are cognates.

In Tamil, pakavan means head of the family / king / god.

@vjy It means saffron in Hindi and has become the colour of choice for the RSS.

@dpanjana the trailer seems to be the "greatest hits" of factually incorrect dialogue baazi. Now, for some stakeholder to come up and protest against the inaccurate representation

@sankarshan I don't think factual correctness has ever been associated with Bollywood. The thing to do though isn't to shut this film down (because that would let the director play a martyr card) but to dissect its messaging.

@dpanjana @sankarshan Note also how the lead actor wears a factory stitched white under-vest. 200 yrs before such a thing was made.

@dpanjana @sankarshan
Slate has a column that explores how close or far removed to the original story are Hollywood scripts. Do we have one for Bollywood? If not then someone should start it.
I have not seen the movie yet. Question is "do i have to"?
But I agree it should not be banned for any reason whatsoever.

@VivekT Well, you have a few months to decide. It's out in early 2020. @sankarshan

@dpanjana the Mohenjo Daro movie and the statements from the director was when I realised that it is convenient for them to play that "if you want accuracy, go see a documentary" framing. All these seek glory derived from Triumph of the will.

@GreySasquatch I've no idea since this is only the trailer and I don't plan to watch the film. However, I will say that most of the time, mocking anyone is not the issue. It's when that mockery is done to give voice to toxic beliefs that it's a problem.

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