Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dissing Ka Dum: Why Salman behaving badly makes compelling TV

(A lot of the Sallu-Kat analysis in this post done by our resident Love-Chakker guru Mind Rush)

Salman Khan gets a lot of rap for having a temper that is not entirely in his control. But after watching the hugely compelling first few episodes of his cornflake of a contest-show Dus Ka Dum, I'd like to offer an alternative hypothesis: Salman Khan is a man who has a sense of humor that is not entirely in his control.

Having a rampant sense of humor isn't bad in and of itself - but once you see Salman unable to control himself going hammer and tongs at his guests you begin to realize how he got himself into that huge fight with SRK. Or for that matter why his girl Katrina Kaif is always rolling her eyes at him whenever they make an appearance on TV together. But more on that later.

First, a brief roundup of DKD this season. Two guests show up - usually both have something in common, like they are family or they have a movie to promote. Salman asks them one question each, usually based on some bogus poll. The pair play best of five - the winner plays Salman one on one. Salman asks ten questions of the same flavor - each question gets the contestant closer to Rs 10 crores.

There are more rules, but these are all you need to know for now.

Salman basically hosts this show like a rapscallion. He is the dildaar types who is so friendly with everyone that he is on backslapping terms with them all.

Often he'll throw in insider jokes that we may not fully understand. Sometimes, shrewdly he'll bring up a nascent controversy and make a joke about it. Almost always, he'll irritate his celebrity guests. And the joke is that often the joke is on him - he seems to have some fleeting clue that his guests are getting agitated. But he seems to believe this is part of his persona - you only get Salman in wild, bitter shots: take it or leave it. It is a testimony to Salman's celebrity in Bollywood that most choose to take it.

All of this creates a hugely entertaining show - Salman himself seems to be having a ball. And I love watching it simply because I want to see what he'll do next. His guests also react in suitably loopy ways.

Take the Daler Mehndi-Mika Singh episode for instance. Salman asked the two brothers a bunch of tractor-wala type questions. At one point he asked 'How many men believe that alchohol makes them more out of control' (or something similar). Mike put on his straightest face and said 'When people drink, they tend to get more on their guard - so chances of bad behavior are reduced'. No one seemed to take this seriously. How do I know? Because both Salman and older brother Daler burst out laughing immediately. Chastised thus, Mika blurted out a story about how he gate crashed Yuvraj Singh's birthday party once under the influence.

Later yet, Salman asked Daler 'How many men are turned on by their bhaabhis?'. Mika raised his hands and offered this from the sidelines "I love my bhaabhi!". Daler's retort came immediately - "Your place is at your bhaabhi's feet!"

But DKD really shines when a Salman ka jaana-pehchaana celeb shows up - as was the case with sisters Kareena and Karishma or better yet, Katrina Kaif (along with Neil Nitin Mukesh).

Constantly ribbing, infantalizing and at times humiliating Katrina, Salman gave us his version of Girls Gone Wild. One sharply representative example came when he asked Katrina about any media blown controversies between her and her costars. When Katrina chose to clear the air between her and Bips, Salman silently laughed into his palm.

Katrina reacted suitably - she rolled her eyes at his jokes, often making it clear that she wasn't happy at all. She reacted warmly to her costar and fellow competitor Neil Nitin Mukesh - her body language with him was easy, even eager. Salman, on the other hand, was at the receiving end of some very unenthusiastic reactions from Katrina.

After the first few times I thought surely a man in his forties has seen life enough that he gets the point. Happily for my entertainment, Salman isn't one of those. He kept at it - often playacting so much that he made Sushmita Sen look minimalist.

One of the truly fun things about DKD is that the questions are closely and uncompromisingly aligned with the life of the contestant. (Daler was asked if Rakhi Sawant would make a suitable wife - in light of that nutty Mika-Rakhi controversy). In the Katrina episode, Salman threw out some delicious questions about commitment and marriage proposals. To be fair, he didn't spare himself. At one point, he strutted around and asked the audience with a hurt face "Why would any woman ever turn down a proposal by a man?"

Katrina tightened her face muscles and said nothing. Later she got distinctly prickly - castigating Salman for being a homebody when it came to planning vacations.

All through this it took gigantic grace and an inborn talent for diplomacy for the third cog in the wheel to stay in the game with these two. And I would like to report that Neil Nitin Mukesh displayed both in abundance to emerge unscathed from all this. Salman called on him to do a few imitations and then demanded "Shahrukh!"

"He'll get me killed for this" fretted Neil.

"Yes!" said a visibly exasperated Katrina.

Not only did Neil proceed with the SRK imitation but then shrewdly insisted on doing a Salman as well - which he nailed.



memsaab said...

Is it on YouTube? I would kill to see NNM's impersonations! He's genius at that :)

Unknown said...

I so totally forgot to link to YouTube on this. You can watch all 8 parts if you click on this link.

Priya said...

Hi Aspi,

Again a comment on the movie.

What do you think about New York - from a "safedi ki chamkaar" point of view?

i can't help but be saddened by the whole white-whiter trends. why is it that beauty/coolness is defined by john/katrina/neil - who are basically white people masquerading as brown people?

where is the pride in the brown skin???!

Unknown said...

I hadn't thought about it - but you are right. New York is one white movie!

Honestly it amuses me. But among the men, three of our biggest four stars (SRK, Salman, Hrithik, Aamir) are dark. Two of our biggest four female stars are dark (Aish, Bips, Kareena, Katrina).

I suppose we could look at the trend in the next generation of stars and see how it pans out. I'll have to back and read my darkwati post :)

meena said...

I have faith in our south asian system...for every Saira Bano we have a Rekha, for every juhi there is a Bhagyashree. for every Katrina (barbie?) there is a Konkana..never fails the darkwatis end up making more of an impact than any fairwatis in the long run.

Unknown said...

For every Aish we have a Priyanka.

meena said...

he is so white he is a ghost... http://www.screenindia.com/news/Neils-reality-check-in-New-York-before-films-shoot/478796/

Unknown said...

That Neil Nitin Mukesh story is bunkus. Thanks to my inside connection with the US immigration office, I have the dirt on that.

Apparently the officials detained Neil to try and figure out how he makes his hair look like a series of overlapping tsunamis.

Pitu said...

Man, I lurve this show. But Kat is such a stupid, spoilt brat. Whatta sourpuss. Ever heard of laughing at herself? Bah. As for Neil, he is fugly. Gag! On the other hand, Bebo-Lolo were AWESOME. And I loved that Lolo danced on 'Sarkailo Khatiya' and had some pointed things to say abt the women who did the morcha outside her house :-D

the.ijtema® said...

kat is a gold digger. period.