Neeraj Grover must be turning in his grave. Dead for three years now, the ad filmmaker and Bollywood wannabe would have envied Ram Gopal Varma‘s pseudo chutzpah: attempting a film with Maria Susairaj as a central character.
Maria, the woman Grover bedded, killed Grover in 2008 — after her fiancé Emile Jerome Matthew found them together, Grover with his pants down. Literally!
As a Mumbai court let Maria as good as walk free on Friday (July 1), Ram Gopal Varma, of Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag fame that induced suicidal tendencies in many an Indian filmgoer, offered Maria a role in his next flick.
This is what he twitted on Friday: “She has been released now I want to make a film with Maria Susairaj. She wanted to become famous as an actress but she became famous as a murderess. If things went well it could’ve been a Rangeela for her.”
Only, no one really knows — least of all Varma’s vague tweet — what the Satya man really wants: a film on Maria, or a film with Maria? Any wannabe filmmaker worth his salt would die to cash in on the plot, rather than on Maria’s debatable acting prowess.
Here’s the storyline in nutshell: Maria’s fiancé Matthew catches Grover naked on her bed in her flat, he beats all logic and reason to somehow convince Maria, a smalltime actress down south, to kill the adman, chop him into pieces, dispose of the remnants in a bag. But not before they have sex on the same bed.
Plot? A ready-made film script? Right? Wrong, at least for our Bollywood brigade — most of them would fail to spot a plot. In fact, RGV is the only filmmaker who can be credited with even spotting a plot in the Grover murder case. His film on the murder, Not A Love Story, however sank without a whimper.
It is surprising that mainstream Bollywood hasn’t lapped up a story like this. It has all elements of a thriller that would keep a crime buff glued to the screen: love, sex, betrayal, scandal, intrigue and horror — all wrapped up in the svelte figure of a wannabe actress whose lust for fame made her sleep with a man who could arguably get her a step closer to her dream.
Add to that the naked rage and raw passion of her fiancé; imagine the dichotomy in Maria’s behaviour once she is discovered — she helps her fiancé kill her lover in cold blood. As the ad-line goes, it doesn’t get bigger than this.
But Bollywood has always pussyfooted in front of plots, especially with a strong woman protagonist (heroic or villainish), that most filmmakers would give their right arm for.
Remember Monica Bedi, Abu Salem‘s moll? She travelled the world with the gangster, was part of his many underworld deals, yet no filmmaker seriously considered recreating her life on film — she was the star attraction in television reality shows, but that was the end of it. However, her stardom came after her incarceration and Susairaj will be hoping she can do a repeat.
However, what many viewers would like to see is a classic based on the lives of these women. Something like Renée Zellweger’s (Roxie Hart) portrayal of Beulah Annan in the 2002 Chicago, who shot and killed her lover in 1924, or the Oscar winning role of Charlize Theron in the 2003 film, Monster, where she played out the role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed in 2002 for killing six men (she was not tried for a seventh murder) in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In fact, the Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukerji starrer, Bunty Aur Babli comes just about close to showing the life and time of Bonnie and Clyde, the infamous rogues in depression era America. However, Rani’s Bubbly is a shadow of the gun wielding Bonnie who changed ammos for her better half during gun battles.
Filmmakers in India have failed to cash in on women criminals in the country — while they jump at a woman victim (No One Killed Jessica), many lose the plot when depicting a lady with a gun, barring the stray art house exceptions like Bandit Queen or Godmother. Won’t viewers love to see a movie based on Priyanka Chaudhary, once crowned Miss Meerut, who killed both her parents in 2008 in a fit of rage? Her life in a male dominated society at home and her taste of the wild life of Delhi could be a plot tailor made for a movie.
While filmmakers in America are already contemplating a movie on killer mom, Casey Anthony who is accused of killing her toddler daughter while her trial is still going on, our directors and script writers have let go of classic cases that ought to have been made into films — primarily because the crimes reflect the growing changes in our social fabric.
Filmmakers, one can be sure haven’t even heard of Ritu Kapoor, a woman who was arrested in 2009 for kidnapping children because she couldn’t have any of her own and then killing those who didn’t suit her fancy or the story of Gavit sisters who are on death row for killing nine children who they kidnapped for their begging racket.
Sadly, our filmmakers are still living in a world where they see a woman as a mother and a sister, never a killer. They are attracted to cases like Susairaj’s or Monica Bedi because they are starlets, with some amount of glamour associated with them — but they will be cast as sidebars (often wearing skimpy clothes) and their stories would remain untold.