Splainer

Wednesday, September 9 2020


Dive In

I have absolute faith in CBI and the government. The truth will remain the same and it will prevail. The truth will be the revelation that everyone is seeking. I am sure Sushant will get justice.

That’s what Rhea Chakraborty said to India Today anchor Rajdeep Sardesai on August 27. Yesterday, she was arrested for procuring and paying for drugs for her deceased boyfriend, Sushant Singh Rajput. The police have zero evidence that she personally consumed any drugs—and did not find any drugs in her possession. And yet she has been charged by the Narcotics Control Bureau as “an active member of a drug syndicate.” Chakraborty has been sentenced to 14 days in judicial custody and denied bail. The charges she faces carry a 10-year prison sentence. Her lawyer called it “a travesty of justice.” We agree. Illustration: Parth Savla

Big Story

The (Un)Making of ‘Mulan’

The TLDR: The $200 million live action reboot has run into a series of controversies—all of which relate to serious human rights issues. They raise big questions about Disney’s eagerness to appease the Chinese government—and point to Hollywood’s shameful history of kowtowing to Beijing’s line.

 

Remind me about ‘Mulan’...

  • This is a live action remake of the beloved 1998 animated film—which was a big box office hit and was nominated for an Oscar. 
  • It is the first Disney movie with an all-Asian cast and the first to be rated PG-13 (for battle scenes)—and the most expensive of Disney’s live action remakes. 
  • The cast includes some of the most popular Chinese stars including Liu Yifei (as Mulan) and Gong Li. 
  • And it is directed by a woman—Kiwi director Niki Caro, who is best known for ‘Whale Rider’. 
  • The movie was released on September 4—available online on Disney+ for the hefty price of $30 for US audiences, and soon to hit theatres in China.

So the stakes are high for Disney.

 

What’s the controversy?

There are three serious problems with ‘Mulan’:

 

The movie’s big star: Back in 2019—at the height of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong—Liu Yifei shared a post on Weibo (Chinese version of Twitter) which read: "I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.”

 

The problem: At the time, the Hong Kong police was caught using excessive force to crack down on the protests. That post has now resurfaced, and activists across Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan are organizing a boycott of the movie. Pressed on this issue earlier this year, Liu just repeated the one rehearsed line: “I think it's just a very sensitive situation."

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In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • Boeing has a Dreamliner problem
  • Forbes list holds few surprises
  • Bollywood has a Beyoncé problem
  • Only 3% of Indian companies plan to hire

 

Smart And Curious

  • James Joyce wrote seriously raunchy (and NSFW) letters to his wife
  • Meet Sangita Iyer, a woman dedicated to saving India’s temple elephants
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