India Insight

Bollywood movie review: Zanjeer

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

Everything is distorted in Apoorva Lakhia’s Zanjeer (Shackles), a modern-day version of the iconic 1973 action-thriller of the same name that gave Amitabh Bachchan his aura of Bollywood’s angry young man.

Inspector Vijay Khanna (played by Ram Charan) is not the brooding, intense young man of the original. The protagonist is now a sculpted statue that twists its face while expressing emotion.

Mala (played by Priyanka Chopra) is no longer the effervescent chakku chhuriyan street performer. She’s an irritating woman with too much make-up who gyrates to songs with offensive lyrics.

The friendship between Sher Khan (the original was perhaps Pran’s most famous screen role) and Vijay is only depicted through lofty monologues from the characters. We never get a sense of how the two become friends.

In the new Zanjeer, Vijay Khanna is a troubled police inspector on the lookout for gangster Teja (Prakash Raj), who runs an oil mafia and speaks in double entendres. Mala is a non-resident Indian holidaying in the country when she witnesses a murder at the hands of Teja’s men.

Outlook weak for India economic growth: analysts

India’s economy grew at 4.4 percent in the June quarter, its slowest rate since the first three months of 2009 and weaker than analysts’ consensus of 4.7 percent in a Reuters poll.

With the rupee still trading near record lows and a ballooning current account deficit alarming investors and policymakers, several investment banks are worried about the road ahead.

Here are some comments on India’s economic growth released by investment banks after the recent GDP data:

from The Human Impact:

How old is old enough to be jailed for gang rape and murder?

The crime was horrific, the case shocking, and the trial long. Yet when the much anticipated first verdict in the high-profile Delhi gang rape case was pronounced in India over the weekend, there was no jubilation, just outrage.

Found guilty of the gang rape and murder of a student on a bus in December, the teenager - one of six accused - was sentenced to three years in a juvenile home, sparking anger and debate over whether India is too soft on its young offenders. Four adult defendants are on trial in a separate fast-track court. One of the accused committed suicide in jail.

The first reaction came from the parents of the dead 23-year-old student, who was beaten, tortured with an iron rod and raped on the night of Dec. 16 before being dumped on a roadside in the capital.

Kids rule the roost as Bollywood woos audiences

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

Mumbai resident Gopal Das doesn’t usually go to the movies. It’s the children who drag him and his wife to the cinema to watch the latest Bollywood film.

Das’s 8-year-old son Shubham insisted on watching Shah Rukh Khan’s “Chennai Express” on his birthday this week. His teenage sister had recommended it.

“They both said they don’t want a cake or dinner out,” Das told India Insight as he waited with his children at a city multiplex. “We usually don’t watch movies, only the ones they want to watch.”

Sensex loses 3.75 percent in action-packed month

The BSE Sensex lost 3.75 percent in August, its worst monthly performance since February, as worries over foreign outflows were exacerbated by the rupee that fell to record lows.

India’s current account deficit and a struggling economy still worry market participants.  Data showed on Aug. 31 that June quarter GDP grew at 4.4 percent, below analysts’ estimates.

The rupee recovered in the last few trading sessions of the month, closing around 65.75 per dollar after falling to a life low below 68. Still, the unit lost 8.1 percent in August, its biggest monthly fall since at least 1995.

A safe city no more: what went wrong in Mumbai

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

An increasingly globalized city that has grown indiscriminately, a metropolis where inequality festers, and an urban sprawl blind to the needs of the poor. Mumbai is where a twentysomething photojournalist was gang-raped by five men this month, shattering perceptions that it is India’s safest city for women.

Sociologists and historians say this was not an isolated incident, and warn of more attacks. They cite a growing class divide and pockets of uneven growth as factors linked to crimes against women, who are often victims of socially sanctioned oppression.

“When you see huge gleaming towers coming up in your neighbourhood and you are left with absolutely nothing, you are bound to feel resentment that will manifest itself,” said author and historian Gyan Prakash.

Need good roles but need money too: Manoj Bajpayee

In a career spanning nearly 20 years, actor Manoj Bajpayee has oscillated between brilliant and mediocre performances, winning acting honours while also getting brickbats for his poor choice of movie roles.

Bajpayee, whose performance in “Gangs of Wasseypur” (2012) and “Special 26” this year won him critical acclaim, plays the villain in Prakash Jha’s “Satyagraha”. The Bollywood film opened in cinemas on Friday.

The 44-year-old actor spoke to Reuters about how he nearly wrecked his movie career, the time when he had no work and why he is no longer content with just good roles.

Pricey dollar puts South Africa, Australia on Indian tourists’ maps

When Aparupa Ganguly visited South Africa in 2007, the country’s topography and wildlife made such an impression on the communications professional that she couldn’t wait to come back. Ganguly got her wish six years later – thanks to a stable rand.

Foreign-bound Indian travellers such as Ganguly are realizing that holidaying in countries such as South Africa and Australia offers value for money as their currencies have been largely stable in recent weeks and haven’t appreciated as much against the rupee, when compared to the dollar or the euro.

Data shows the South African rand and the Australian dollar have gained around 10 percent since May, compared to a near 30 percent surge in the U.S. dollar which hit a record high above 68 per rupee on Wednesday.

India’s parliament gets its groove back, at least for now

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

India’s notoriously disruptive parliament has been going through a productive phase in the past two days. Bills are getting passed, politicians are discussing the state of the economy and for a change, members are listening to each other as they deliver well-researched speeches.

For a house with one of the poorest records of accomplishments in Indian history, the last two days were downright atypical.

On Monday, parliament debated a $20 billion plan for nine hours to provide cheap food to two thirds of the population. For a change, the government got the main opposition party on board by incorporating some of the changes that its opponents proposed.

Piecing together the ‘Great Tamasha’ of Indian cricket

The Great Tamasha” is a book about cricket, but it is also a tale about the rapid rise of modern India and the corruption that plagues it. A series of scandals in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the glitzy Twenty20 tournament run by the country’s cricket board, got James Astill hooked to the game in India. What followed was the 40-year-old journalist’s first book – an account of India’s rich cricketing tradition, politics, religion and the emergence of the cash-rich IPL.

Astill takes the reader from the slums of Mumbai to a village in north India, places where cricket is as much tamasha (spectacle) as it is religion. Bollywood stars, business tycoons and cricketers, both past and present, feature in “The Great Tamasha”. So does Lalit Modi, a former IPL chairman, now an outcast in India’s cricketing circles.

Astill spoke to India Insight about his book, cricket and its celebrity culture. Here are edited excerpts.

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