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from India Insight:

“Margarita, with a Straw”: dissolving hatred of homosexuals in India

Modern India is walking slowly towards a general acceptance of homosexuals and lesbians. Shonali Bose in her new film, “Margarita, With a Straw,” tries to pick up the pace. The film, which premiered and won the NETPAC award at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year, is about a teenager with cerebral palsy who is unabashed about her sexuality, much to the horror of her middle-class, conservative mother.

Bose, who identifies herself as a bisexual, says the film comes from two personal experiences – that of exploring her own sexuality and the experiences of her cousin, who suffered from cerebral palsy. Bose said she hopes that the film contributes towards the debate over Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which forbids homosexual sex, and eventually sexual legitimacy for homosexuals, bisexuals and lesbians.

“I am ready for right-wing protests when my film releases. Bring them on. As long as people can see the film and talk about these issues, I am ready to face it,” she said in an interview.

India’s Supreme Court has refused to decriminalize homosexuality. Last year, it overruled a decision by a lower court to declare sexual intercourse between same-sex partners as legal, saying it was up to the Indian parliament to repeal such a law.

from India Insight:

Kalki Koechlin on her role as a disabled girl in “Margarita, With a Straw”

Picture taken from the official Facebook page for the movie https://www.facebook.com/MargaritaWithAStraw  Kalki Koechlin is one of the few actresses in recent years to build her star power while proving her talent in indie and mainstream Indian cinema. Last year, she played what many would consider a side role in one of Bollywood’s biggest romantic movies, “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani”, decked in designer, slinky outfits and danced to peppy dance numbers.

She also has done star turns in “Dev.D,” “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” and “Shanghai”. This year, she plays Laila, a teenager who is afflicted with cerebral palsy, but is also discovering her own sexuality, much to her conservative mother’s horror, in Shonali Bose’s “Margarita, With a Straw”.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: ‘Sonali Cable’

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Handout picture from the movie "Sonali Cable"Charudutt Acharya’s “Sonali Cable” telegraphs its intention in the title: it’s a communications movie, focusing on the Internet, that part of Indian urban life that has become indispensable to the growing ranks of India’s middle class. Grandparents use it to speak to their grandchildren living a continent away, bored housewives surf for erotica, and pot-bellied businessmen use it to run their businesses from home.

The growing need for Internet service is one well met by our baudy hero Sonali (Rhea Chakraborty), owner of a small cable service business. She is super-charged like the Energizer Bunny, jumping between buildings, flinging cable wires as enthusiastically as her dialogue, and zooming in and out of the screen with a perpetual grin plastered across her face. She’s a whiz with wires and definitely not the cable guy that the company usually sends out to hook up your service.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Tamanchey

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The producers of “Tamanchey” ("Guns") are being sued by a man who claims to have directed the film but hasn’t been credited for it. This is hardly new or surprising in an industry not known for respecting writers and directors. What’s really baffling is that someone would want to take credit for this appalling gangster film.

As on-the-run prisoners Munna and Babu, Nikhil Dwivedi and Richa Chadda seem to be competing to see who can come up with the most ridiculous line delivery. (Dwivedi’s faux Bhojpuri accent sounded like he spent an hour learning the language before launching into monologues)

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Bang Bang!

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

There's a scene in Siddharth Anand’sBang Bang!” when Katrina Kaif as a woman in danger worries that Hrithik Roshan's pistol, cradled in her worried hands, isn't big enough to do the trick. Roshan produces a gigantic gun from just off camera and shows it to her. "In shock?" he asks. You bet. It's just what she's been hoping for.

bangBang Bang indeed.

The film is a remake of the Tom Cruise action comedy “Knight and Day”, a fun caper about an unlikely couple on the run from the U.S. Secret Service. In the Bollywood version, the single-line plot gets expanded to include all the baubles and ornaments that India’s mainstream cinema can't seem to do without. Patriotism, brotherly love, romance, exotic locales, cut-cut-cut shots, pounding techno music, sexism? You name it and they are all there, larding up this film to the 160-minute mark.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Haider

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

In retelling William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Hamlet” against the backdrop of war and sectarian strife in Indian-administered Kashmir, Vishal Bhardwaj’sHaider” starts off promisingly. It's too bad that the promise never delivers.

A handout still from the film "Haider"A tense, beautiful 10-minute opening sequence introduces Kashmiri doctor Hilal Meer, who thinks nothing of hiding and treating a wanted militant in his house, and his wife Ghazala. Meer does it for humanitarian reasons, telling his wife, “I support life over death.”

from India Insight:

And Then One Day: Naseeruddin Shah on his memoirs and life

It's difficult to hold back your surprise when Naseeruddin Shah, one of India's foremost art house actors, says the film industry doesn't interest him greatly. In a career spanning almost four decades, Shah has worked with Dadasaheb Phalke Award-winning director Shyam Benegal and James Bond actor Sean Connery, won acclaim for his movie roles and continues to dabble in theatre.

But Shah wasn't exactly a child prodigy. His grades were the poorest in class and his teachers thought he would "find it difficult to amount even to a small bag of beans," he writes in his memoir "And Then One Day."

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Daawat-e-Ishq

"Daawat-e-Ishq" is one of those infuriating films that seem to go on for ever, getting more monotonous by the minute. For a movie that is supposedly about food, there is surprisingly little of it on screen.

Instead, director Habib Faisal chooses to populate his movie with asinine plotlines, a lead pair whose romance is stone-cold, and characters who are neither funny nor interesting.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Khoobsurat

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

If you are looking for a modern version of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's much-loved film of the same name, then Shashanka Ghosh's "Khoobsurat" may disappoint you.

Mukherjee's film was centred on Manju (incidentally the name of the main character’s mother in the remake), a rather effervescent heroine who steamrolls her way to everything and takes it upon herself to change the lives of a rather dull family.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Finding Fanny

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

In Homi Adajania's version of Goa, there are winding pathways, crumbling mansions, and the sleepy village of Pocolim where "life doesn't pass you by, it passes you by at the pace you want it to."

There is an oddball cast of characters to add to the picturesque location, and some lovely lines. The setting is perfect for a road movie with quirky characters, but Adajania's film falters for want of a strong premise and its inability to see these characters and their story to some sort of a rightful conclusion.

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