Social Networking & Billu

February 16, 2009
Manasa Pamaraju

After a long hiatus of four months, we went to a movie on Valentine’s Day. The movie was Billu Barber. Not particularly a celebration activity for V Day, but merely the fact that me and hubs got the time to go to a movie and also the fact that this movie theatre is the closest to our lil abode.

Having cleared that, let me get on with Billu. It is a run of the mill story with two long lost supposed friends. One becomes extremely rich and famous - Sahid Khan (or King Khan) and the other remains where he was - Billu, as barber, tied down with family responsibilities and difficulties. Their paths cross in a small village named Budbuda. The King Khan is there to shoot for his film (wonder why, when all he does there is some space setting and fights, nothing rural). Here starts the social networking bit.

In today’s world, it is not enough to be well educated or well qualified to go up the ladder, it is all about who you know and hence what you can do. Social capital can be defined as:
• Resources available in and through personal and business networks
o Information, ideas, leads
o Emotional support, goodwill, trust, cooperation, power, influence
• Potential resources inherent in an actor’s set of social ties

Hence, coming back to the movie, Billu also reaps some advantages. Simply based on the rumour that Billu is the famous actor’s friend, things change drastically for him. Some of the changes are:
• Billu couldn’t pay the school fees for his children and now the school authorities come to his home to tell him that his children’s education would be funded till 12th standard - IF (there always is an ‘IF’) he brings the famous actor to the school function
• Billu’s barber shop is in dire straits. He hasn’t been able to spruce it up like his competitor, but the man persists. With the “supposed” new ties, he has a line of unending customers to gain - Sahid Khan’s hairstyle and the village bigwig sponsors new equipment for his shop - Once again, IF Billu can introduce the village bigwig to the superstar
• Billu’s wife is now seen with envy and her social status is elevated over night.

There are polite IFs, which require her to get a picture of the star or autograph or in one case, his handkerchief (I wonder if men today carry such a thing anymore)

So, the rise in Billu’s social status and the respect and advantages he is now able to enjoy is due to the “supposed” social connection that he has with this superstar. I wouldn’t want to tell what actually happens in the movie, but the climax dragged on and it was too obvious towards the end. All through, director Priyadarshan has maintained a light and funny script that has kept the audiences quite lively.

I enjoyed the movie, primarily because I am a die-hard SRK fan and loved him on screen. Yes, it is for die-hard Shah Rukh fans! But then, it is definitely not one of his or Irfan Khan’s best performances. You really don’t have to see this movie. The reason this movie kept me interested is because of this social networking connection that a lot of Bollywood movies sport.

It is not an observation out of the blue that - “People who do better are somehow better connected” and yes, towards the end, it is left for us, the poor audience to understand that Billu’s life has changed, for the better, due to his - Social Network.

An Indian in spirit, an artist in thoughts, a professional at work, Manasa is a writer at heart, who reflects on everything that is going on around her and the world at large. To unravel more about her, please visit Unravellling the Enamoured Enigma
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