India Insight

Movie Review: Dawaat-e-Ishq

“Dawaat-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.

Gulrez aka Gullu is a feisty shoe salesgirl who dreams of studying fashion design in New York and marrying the perfect man with the perfect American accent. Her father has more modest ambitions for his only daughter. He wants to get her married, even if it means having to pay dowry. But when several suitors reject Gulrez because the dowry is deemed inadequate, she hits upon what she thinks is a brilliant plan to get the marriage monkey off her back, and fund her American education.

She convinces her father that they should assume false identities, move to another city from their native Hyderabad, advertise for prospective grooms, marry the greediest one, and then trap him in a dowry harassment case – all this so that they can pocket the settlement money. How someone living under a false identity can accuse another person of a crime is obviously a small detail that Faisal chooses to skip.

Her father, otherwise a sensible man, agrees and they move to Lucknow, where they home in on Tariq, the owner of a restaurant whose parents ask for a hefty dowry. Tariq (Aditya Roy Kapoor) falls head over heels for Gullu, wooing her with biryani and kebabs from his restaurant.

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.

Ghosh’s film takes the same premise, but not the middle-class milieu that was the hallmark of Mukherjee’s film. Instead, there are opulent palaces, kings, queens, and even the supposedly middle-class people dust their houses wearing designer outfits and artisan jewellery.

Book Talk – Navtej Sarna on India’s Jerusalem connection

Indian diplomat Navtej Sarna‘s latest book pieces together the history of an Indian “hospice” in Jerusalem. Spread over seven thousand square metres near the Dome of the Rock, the property has its origins in a visit by Sufi saint Baba Farid about 800 years ago.

sarnacovernewFarid, a pioneer of the Punjabi literary tradition, supposedly meditated for 40 days in an underground chamber in Jerusalem. His presence brought followers to this site and it “expanded through the centuries as a place for Indian pilgrims to stay.”

Thus begins the journey of “Indians at Herod’s Gate – A Jerusalem Tale“, a travelogue through the crowded, narrow lanes of the ancient sacred city.

Fans rush to HMT as watchmaker marks time

Vikram Narula walked into an HMT showroom in Delhi’s central business district this week to get his hands on an iconic mechanical “Pilot” watch. But the watches were sold out.

Narula, a real estate agent, is an avid watch collector, and one among hundreds of HMT fans willing to pay a premium for timepieces made by a watchmaker that is on the verge of shutting down.

Retailers have reported a spike in sales of HMT watches, especially hand-wound mechanical models, after Indian media reports said last week that the unprofitable unit of HMT Machine Tools Ltd was likely to wind down.

Give the public a role in Clean Ganga project, says Rajendra Pachauri

India’s holiest river is due for a clean-up, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking personal responsibility for restoring the Ganga and ridding the 2,500 km long river of industrial effluents and untreated sewage.

Uma Bharti, Modi’s minister for water resources and Ganges rejuvenation, has said the river would be clean in three years. Earlier this month, India’s Supreme Court asked the government for a roadmap on the project so that the court could monitor it.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), spoke to Reuters on the Ganga project, the need for transparency and how the public could help.

For Oscar-winning Tanovic, Emraan Hashmi’s “serial kisser” tag didn’t matter

When Danis Tanovic chose Bollywood star Emraan Hashmi to play a Pakistani whistle-blower in his new project, the Oscar-winning Bosnian film-maker wasn’t aware of the actor’s notoriety as Indian cinema’s “serial kisser”.
Tanovic eventually watched some of Hashmi’s Bollywood hits and found it funny that the actor had such a different image in India.

“Here he comes with a bunch of luggage and in front of me he came as a man, as an actor,” said the 45-year-old director, describing Hashmi as a “very calm, decent guy.”

In “Tigers”, an Indian-French production that premiered at the Toronto film festival last week, Hashmi plays a young Pakistani salesman who exposes the harmful effects of the multinational infant formula he’s peddling.

Indian tennis players “lack killer instinct”: Bogdan Obradovic

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

Riding on the back of two magnificent comeback matches (Leander Paes-Rohan Bopanna doubles victory, followed by Somdev Devvarman’s win in singles in Bangalore), Yuki Bhambri, 22, had everything going for him in the final rubber of the India-Serbia World Group play-off tie. Yuki had the “momentum” going into the match against Filip Krajinovic, 22, but he didn’t bring two important ingredients to the court: tenacity and killer instinct.

India paid dearly.

Filip, playing the biggest match of his Davis Cup career, a live fifth rubber, showed remarkable composure to best his opponent in three straight sets 6-3 6-4 6-4, ensuring Serbia’s return to where it belongs, the World Group.

Davis Cup: India scripts phenomenal comeback

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

It was a comeback of epic proportions. A kind that Leander Paes admitted he hadn’t been a part of in a doubles match in his entire 24 years of Davis Cup career.

Non-playing captain Anand Amritraj, a doubles semi-finalist at Wimbledon, said, “In the last 20-25 years, this is the most amazing comeback that I’ve seen.”

Davis Cup: Serbia showcases the art of winning

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

“I had nothing to lose.” It sounded quite innocuous when Filip Krajinovic, 22, said this to the media after winning his match against Somdev Devvarman at the Davis Cup in Bangalore on Friday, but it’s a lethal attitude. “Nothing to lose” is reverse psychology; it helps to achieve the opposite result.

With their marquee player, World  No. 1 Novak Djokovic, pulling out four days before the tie, and other experienced players like Janko Tipsarevic and Victor Troicki not in the team owing to injury and loss of form, last year’s finalist Team Serbia knew they had a lot at stake. It was not just a place in the World Group, but also their pride in being a fiercely competitive sporting nation was on the line.

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.

There is Angie (Deepika Padukone), a young widow who lives with her rather crabby mother-in-law Rosie (Dimple Kapadia) and a cat named Nareus. Angie is friends with Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah), a lonely old man who pines for the love of his life – a woman who he thinks turned him down. Thanks to the chance discovery of a decades-old letter, he finds that this isn’t the case. Angie insists that they must find Fanny and achieve closure. No one, she tells Ferdie, deserves an incomplete love story.

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