Dali City (Yunnan, China): By degrading women to mere sex objects, Bollywood is not only destroying the country`s rich heritage but also leading to more incidents of molestation and rape in urban centres, veteran actor Victor Banerjee has said.
"Bollywood is a cancer. Hindi commercial cinema has denigrated women. We owe a debt of ingratitude to Bollywood for having insidiously polluted our culture covertly," Banerjee said on the sidelines of the BCIM Car Rally from Kolkata to Kunming.
Joining the rally in the Imphal leg, the actor, alongwith the 79 other participants, were witness to many cultural programmes hosted by the state and provincial governments of India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China.
Though these events were mostly scheduled in the evenings after a long and tiresome drive through challenging terrains, it invariably left the rallyists enthralled.
Be it in Jessore, Dhaka and Sylhet in Bangladesh; Silchar and Imphal in northeast India; Ka Lay and Mandalay in Myanmar; or Ruili, Dali and Kunming in China, it is always the local culture that was showcased.
Even in Myanmar where Bollywood movies are very popular, the girls danced to hit Hindi numbers in traditional style. One could perceive the cultural bridge as one travelled forms the west to east.
Talking about today`s commercial cinema on the sidelines of the event, Banerjee said, "I hate to admit it but we are responsible for it having influenced our traditional conservatism and social values."
Best known for playing Dr Aziz Ahmed in David Lean`s Hollywood film `A Passage to India`, Banerjee regretted that despite having a rich repertoire of our own, we imitate the worst.
"Hence, we end up making a hash that is neither American culture, nor Indian," the veteran actor, now in his sixties, said.
He even hit out at the parallel cinema movement in India for showing gory violence scenes which rarely happen in reality in the country.
"If you watch some movies, it would appear that India has free gun licence like the US," Banerjee said.
He has just completed shooting for English movie `Blemished Light` in which he plays a university professor who happens to be a Muslim.
Also on the anvil is Bengali film `Anaitik` in which he plays a character with a split persona - an educated politician who is also a closet debauch.
In the Yash Raj production `Goonday`, Banerjee plays the role of the Kolkata Commissioner of Police.
When asked about Bengali cinema, he said it is not worth talking about. "It is a shame. Commercial Bengali movies are all crass imitation of Telugu and Tamil movies. There are only a handful of directors like Rituparno Ghosh, Aparna Sen and Gautam Ghose who make quality films," Banerjee said.