The Idol | Cast: Lily-Rose Depp, The Weeknd | Creator: Sam Levinson | English | JioCinema
Since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, the entertainment world has been trying to decide whether the show The Idol is like the unfiltered early, vixenish Madonna of the tabloids or of her interpretation as a feminist icon by Camille Paglia. It’s that kind of show, where lowbrow mixes with the highbrow with some amount of discomfort. Which means immediately after a discussion between the intimacy coordinator and photographer on whether the pop idol in question can reveal her side boob, under boob and side flank, there is a debate on body autonomy. And as soon as a picture of the said idol emerges with her face frosted like a pop tart with a particular body fluid, and she becomes the top trending person on Twitter, there is a quick debate on whether she is a victim or an empowered feminist, with one member of her entourage suggesting they’re the same. Deliberately anti-woke, it allows us a voyeuristic glimpse of the lifestyle of a Britney Spears’ clone, Jocelyn (played by Lily-Rose Depp, channeling none of her father Johnny Depp’s vibe), and it’s interesting in a sleazy way until The Weeknd appears on the scene as a club owner and self-styled sex guru who tells her she needs to sound like Donna Summer (or, as he puts it, in his customary reptilian way, like someone who knows how to f***). Yes, this is that kind of a show where half the words have to be in asterisks, and the other half sound as if they’ve been written by a particularly frisky ChatGPT. So to answer an early question in the show: is Jocelyn Sharon Tate or Brigitte Bardot? We will have to wait to find out.
Bheed opens with a Bob Marley quote, “If you know your history, you would know where you’re coming from.” It covers recent events we’ve forgotten all too easily. Borders within our own country; a disease which is given a religion; food, water and shelter being considered a rarity; and workers in the cities walking thousands of kilometres to reach their homes. It was a period of pain and trauma, which India would like to forget, which is why Anubhav Sinha’s film is so important. We’ve seen Bheed’s characters in his films before: the police officer being made aware of his caste, the patriarch trying to protect his family, the working woman who is the conscience of the movie, and a system perpetuating violence and corruption. Shot in black and white, the suffering is magnified. Workers run over by trains and children dying of hunger, we’ve been there, seen that. But rewatching it still feels like a punch in the gut.
Why watch it? It is a movie that reminds us how ugly we can be and how we can turn from a supposedly well-knit society into a faceless crowd.