India Insight

Movie Review: Dedh Ishqiya

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

What a difference a week makes. Last week, the sight of Vijay Raaz and Arshad Warsi in “Joe B Carvalho” was enough to drive someone up the wall. A week later, they are a sheer delight in film-maker Abhishek Chaubey’s “Dedh Ishqiya”.

A rollicking, irreverent and well-executed film, Chaubey’s sequel to his 2010 debut has more of the sparkling dialogue and wit, but better etched characters, and a story that will keep the viewer engaged till the end.

In “Dedh Ishqiya”, the adventures of Khalu and Babban continue with the two finding themselves in a crumbling mansion, owned by the aging, but beautiful Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit), who follows up on a promise made to her late husband. She organizes a poetry competition, and declares she will marry the one whose poems impress her the most.

Khalu, who knew her from before, is determined to win, but finds an obstacle in the form of Jaan Mohammed (Vijay Raaz), the local lawmaker, mobster and ardent admirer of Begum Para. The director builds the conflict slowly but surely, and the characters come to life through some lovely dialogue (Vishal Bhardwaj). Be sure to keep your eyes on the subtitles, because the dialogue is sprinkled liberally with Urdu words and phrases that are not very common.

However, it is this that lends authenticity to the milieu and setting. The characters speak in Urdu at one moment and then discuss iPhones the next, and none of it seems out of place. There are some delightful scenes — on several occasions, a group of people hold each other at gunpoint, none of them sure when to surrender, in a clever take on the Mexican standoff.

Aamir Khan’s recipe for India’s biggest blockbuster

In the weeks before the release of “Dhoom 3“, actor Aamir Khan got a message from his dentist, who was concerned that his patient’s new film wasn’t being promoted enough.

That was exactly what Khan, who plans the marketing of his films as meticulously as he prepares for roles, wanted to hear.

“When people are concerned enough about your film that they ask you why they aren’t promoting it more, you know you’ve achieved what you wanted,” the 48-year-old Bollywood star told Reuters in an interview.

A Minute With: Aamir Khan on movie marketing

Dhoom 3”, the third instalment in India’s only action movie franchise, has become Bollywood’s highest-grossing film, raking in more than 5 billion rupees ($80 million) in global ticket sales.

Lead actor Aamir Khan spoke to India Insight about the film’s marketing strategy, why reality TV shows may not be ideal for publicity and what he would change about his 2005 film “Mangal Pandey – The Rising.” Edited excerpts.

How was the marketing strategy for “Dhoom 3” conceived?
When we sat down for the first time, Victor (director Vijay Krishna Acharya) and the whole team were trying to figure out what we wanted to convey for this film. And like any other film, and this is something that both Adi (producer Aditya Chopra) and I feel very strongly, what actually wants to make you see the film is the trailer. We wanted to let the creative of the film speak for itself. Over the years, certain conventions have been formed and we looked at each convention for its own merit. Do we want to continue what is happening, is it of any use to the film, or not?

Movie Review: Joe B Carvalho

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

A contract killer with a schizophrenic personality; a woman who is blind but doesn’t know it; a police officer who spends more time in bikinis than catching criminals; and a detective who never shows any signs of intelligence — these are characters in Samir Tewari’s disaster of a movie “Mr Joe B Carvalho”.

Arshad Warsi plays the title character, that of a detective hired to stop a couple eloping, but finds himself embroiled in another matter. Mahesh Ramchandani’s hare-brained script stops making sense about ten minutes into the film.

Styled as somewhat of a surreal comedy, Tewari’s film has some bizarre situations that are impossible to make sense of or make us laugh. The reason why Carvalho and his lady love (Soha Ali Khan) break up is because he saves her from a snake, a scorpion and a live puppet — all of whom turn up in her bedroom — but in the process causes harm to her family members. The entire scene is absurd, badly acted and not even remotely funny. And this isn’t the only such scene.

Bollywood actor Farooq Shaikh dies at 65

Farooq Shaikh, the actor who embodied Everyman in Hindi films of the 1980’s and portrayed many memorable characters on screen, died in Dubai on Saturday. He was 65.

Shaikh is best known for his roles in films such as “Katha”, “Saath Saath” and “Chashme Buddoor”, where he straddled both commercial and art house cinema successfully.

His deadpan sense of humour stood him in good stead during his stint on television, where he played the lead in the Hindi adaptation of the British series “Yes, Prime Minister”.

The best (and worst) Bollywood films of 2013

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

This was the year of the mega blockbuster in Bollywood. Box-office records were broken in 2013 as more and more audiences thronged into cinemas. It was also the year that Indian cinema celebrated a century of existence, cementing its place as one of the world’s most prolific film industries — one that thrives on its own audiences and talent, without having to borrow from elsewhere.

As for content, it was a mixed year, with an overriding focus on catering to the lowest common denominator to bring in the money. Films such as “Chennai Express” and “Dhoom 3” proved that, backed by a big star, this formula still works like a charm.

Critics, thankfully, don’t have to go by numbers. Here then, are my picks for the year’s best and worst, in no particular order:

A Minute With: Sascha Sippy

Ramesh Sippy’s epic buddy action film “Sholay” failed to impress audiences when it came out in 1975. Almost 40 years later, the movie is an integral part of Indian pop culture. The film is now being released in 3D amid much acrimony.

Sippy went to court against his nephews who own the rights to the film. His nephew, Sascha Sippy, who runs Sippy Films, said that his uncle didn’t have any rights to the film, and did not have a say in whether the film could be released.

The Bombay High Court rejected Ramesh Sippy’s order, clearing the way for the new version. Sascha Sippy spoke to Reuters about the feud, why he decided to release the film in 3D and how he plans to take the “Sholay” franchise forward. Responses have been lightly edited.

Movie Review: What the Fish

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

Gurmeet Singh’s “What the Fish” is a comedy about a cranky old woman, her beloved goldfish, and a group of reckless, irresponsible young people who play havoc with her house while she’s away on a holiday abroad.

Sudha Mishra (Dimple Kapadia) is a cantankerous, divorced woman, who is constantly suspicious of everyone and doesn’t trust her own son. She reserves all her affection for Mishti, her goldfish, and her blossoming money plant.

When she leaves India to stay with her son for a month, Mishra entrusts her precious possessions and the house to Sumit (Sumit Suri), her niece’s lackadaisical fiancé. But the minute her plane takes off, the peaceful environs of her house are shattered.

How the Bollywood numbers game works

On Nov. 23, along with its usual glut of interviews and news about Bollywood stars, the Bombay Times featured a solemn announcement: “Box Office column discontinued.”

The column, written by Priya Gupta, editor of Times of India Metro Supplements, said it was getting increasingly difficult to get good numbers for how films are doing at the box office because filmmakers and production houses “jack up their numbers.”

“While filmmakers have no hesitation in picking up the phone and trying to convince us about their false data, they will not send formal emails confirming the data as they are scared of subsequent expose,” the column said.

Movie Review: R…Rajkumar

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

Prabhu Dheva’s “R…Rajkumar is the latest in the series of “masala entertainers” that Bollywood seems to churn out with alarming regularity. Watching one is like watching another, and reviewing one is like writing about all of them. Here are the five commandments that filmmakers follow while making these excuses for movies. We have used “R… Rajkumar” as our test case.

Hero’s raison d’être: win girl, annihilate villain
Romeo Rajkumar (Shahid Kapur) is obsessed with Chanda (Sonakshi Sinha), calling her his “lollipop”, making lewd kissing noises (that sound like a sink is being drained out) and stalking her everywhere. When his mob boss (Sonu Sood) falls in love with Chanda, Rajkumar decides to fight him and his village gang. Couldn’t they just elope to the city and live a peaceful life? No. Romeo has to beat up people with wooden horses and waste litres of fake blood.

Leading lady: spunky and independent. Turns into a doormat when she meets hero – Sonakshi Sinha
Not just in this film, but pretty much every film she’s done. She starts by beating the daylights out of cat-calling men. When Rajkumar stalks her, she shoos him away with a nonsensical song. Then she falls in love with her stalker, runs to him for help when the villain makes advances, and reaches the height of submissiveness by standing and shedding quiet tears while the love of her life is beaten to death.

  •