Bollywood finds new muse in anti-graft protests

Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:55am EST
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A hapless bank clerk who makes an enemy of a local politician and has to bribe himself out of jail seems like an unlikely theme for Bollywood, known around the world for its dance numbers and family melodramas.

Yet the industry is now taking up corruption and clean government in a host of new films, inspired by anti-graft protests that have found resonance with India's middle-class and laid bare the angst of the common man.

Multi-billion dollar corruption scandals in India have fed middle-class frustration with the ruling classes, and a relentless campaign by Gandhian activist Anna Hazare last year forced the government to bow to his demands and agree to draft anti-corruption legislation.

Even though Hazare's movement appears to have lost some steam, corruption and a clean, accountable government are prominent issues in state elections this year.

With interest in the topic high, Bollywood is moving to take advantage.

"Any art form borrows from what is going on in society and it was but natural that I was inspired by the anti-corruption movement while writing my film," said Rumy Jafry, who wrote and directed the film about the bank clerk, "Gali Gali Chor Hai" or "A Thief in Every Street."

"The common man isn't affected by what the king is doing. The corruption that affects him is the rot at the lowest level, where he has to pay even for the most basic of amenities."

"Gali Gali Chor Hai" opened in theatres around the nation in February, and more films on corruption are in the works, including one on Hazare himself.   Continued...