Well, now that I have got you triggered, let us talk. For the uninitiated, ‘Sairat’ is a Marathi movie that released in April 2016. Sairat has everything you would want in an Indian romantic drama - young lead pair in innocent love, soulful songs, opposition from family, - and also, most importantly, BIG SPOILER COMING UP SO SKIP THIS LINE IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED BUT WOULD LIKE TO WATCH THE MOVIE - the lead pair gets killed in the climax in a cold blooded manner. The act is not shown on screen, but the gore creeps into your bones through the eyes of the little kid of the couple who escaped the brutality.
Killing over caste or religion or class has been recurring in India, despite all the tall claims of modernity and liberalism. The barbarity even got a term - Honor Killing. The name formed since the killings are mostly carried out to ‘protect’ the family's ‘honor’. But I believe that the more apt description is that the families kill their honor by even thinking of committing such a heinous crime. Just the other day a 23 year old man was hacked to death by his wife's family in broad daylight, right in front of his pregnant wife, as they were on their way back after a pre-natal check up. So much for honor.
Why is Sairat a failure?
Made on a modest budget of four crores, Sairat rocked the box office and ended up collecting a whopping 110 crores. The gripping climax sequence leaves the audience in a state of daze, long after the end credits rolled. Alas, the success of an artwork is not only defined by the number of tickets sold. A piece of art need not necessarily have a purpose or a message, however, the kind of picture that the makers of Sairat drew was hard to miss. It was a reflection of how horrific and bloody our pursuit for the “good name” in society can get. An extreme, shocking, yet very real instance of log kya kahenge.
Sairat came out in 2016, and in the same year Huffington Post reported that the number of instances of honor killings reported in India had rose by over 700% in an year. While we danced to the tunes of Zhingat, we chose to not look at the bigger picture. In a way, it is not the movie but we who failed. If a piece of art fails in bringing a positive influence on the society’s conscience, the art too fails despite what the box office says.
Why Sairat should not have been remade?
I agree it is utopian to hope that a movie would change a nation overnight. It would not. Transformation or evolution is a painfully time consuming process. Art could only indicate the right path, it is the viewers who has to take the first step. And the second. And keep on walking in the right path and make sure they don’t turn back.
That said, I still believe Sairat should not have been remade. At least, not as Dhadak by Dharma Productions. I still have not mustered enough courage to watch what Karan Johar has come up with. From what I hear, Dhadak is everything that Sairat was - except that the makers chose to focus less on the caste issues - and there lies the entire problem.