India Insight

Priyanka Chopra seeks her second touchdown with the NFL

Priyanka Chopra is not a household name in the United States, but the Bollywood actress and singer will try to change that on Thursday night when she kicks off the National Football League’s Thursday Night Football game with her single “In My City.”

In this case, the city will be Foxboro, Massachusetts, where the New England Patriots will play the New York Jets. While Chopra will be in Mumbai, heart of the Indian film industry, the NFL Network will broadcast a video of her singing the song against a backdrop of football players and sportscasters.

“The most important thing is exposure,” she said. “(It’s an) intro to who I am and what I do.”

Chopra is a huge name in India of course, and wherever people gather to watch Bollywood hits around the world. But the 31-year-old has yet to make her name in a big way in the United States. It’s not that she and her people haven’t been trying. In July, she released the song “Exotic” with rapper Pitbull, and “In My City” came out as a collaboration with American rapper Will.i.am in 2012.

Now, “In My City” will be played at 13 games across the United States during the 2013 NFL season. It’s a step up for the song, which last year was aired during the pre-game shows.

Bollywood movie review: Shuddh Desi Romance

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

The hero of Maneesh Sharma‘s Shuddh Desi Romance is a confused young man. Raghu is never sure of what he wants. As a character in the film puts it, Raghu just flirts with himself.

Gayatri, on the other hand, knows exactly what she wants from life. She is an independent woman – and the man of the house – figuring out living expenses, insisting that her live-in boyfriend takes turns cooking and is unapologetic about having had relationships in the past.

These are characters poles apart from their Bollywood stereotypes. They don’t make a big deal about their love life, dealing with it as casually as one would drink a beverage or smoke a cigarette – at least on the outside. All this bravado ends when it comes to marriage.

Duniyadari trumps Bollywood star power for Marathi magic

While Bollywood film Chennai Express was steamrolling its way to success, another movie was on the fast train too, but not many people noticed.

Duniyadari (Worldliness), a Marathi-language film based on a novel by Suhas Shirwalkar and released in July, has gone on to become the highest grossing Marathi movie of all time.

The film, a light-hearted and somewhat clunky take on a group of friends in 1970′s Pune, opened to full houses, and sustained its winning run even in the face of a near monopoly of cinemas by Chennai Express and later by other Bollywood films Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara! and Satyagraha in cinemas. A local right-wing party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, threatened the makers of Chennai Express if they forced Duniyadari out of cinemas.

Bollywood screenwriters are finally getting their due, sort of

Jaideep Sahni, the writer of blockbusters such as Bunty Aur Babli and Chak De! India, is getting top billing in promotions for his new project Shuddh Desi Romance, a rare honour for a screenwriter in Bollywood.

Sahni spoke to Reuters about the curse of film intermissions and the reason his movies have so many layers. Here are edited excerpts from the interview:

Q: You and director Maneesh Sharma share top billing in the promotions for Shuddh Desi Romance. How did you pull that off?
A: Maneesh and I were quite embarrassed by it. Because we are not used to it, I guess. But our marketing colleagues felt it might do its little two bits in attracting people. I guess it is a bit of body of work and largely the producers and directors I have worked with. They are the kind of people who respect writing.

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.

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.”

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.

Collaboration key to Bollywood’s global appeal – Irrfan

Irrfan is no stranger to Hollywood. The Indian actor, who uses only his first name, has been part of critically acclaimed films such as “Life of Pi”, “The Namesake” and “A Mighty Heart”.

The 40-something actor is doing his bit to help Indian films reach more audiences worldwide. Irrfan says he’s goading local movie producers to collaborate, find new markets and swap its Bollywood image for a more universal language of cinema.

His new film “The Lunchbox” is one such international co-production and won the Grand Rail d’Or at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week. Director Ritesh Batra‘s debut feature film is about a mistaken lunchbox delivery by Mumbai’s dabbawalas that connects a young Hindu housewife to an old Catholic man played by Irrfan.

Bollywood fashion at Cannes

By Arnika Thakur and Shashank Chouhan

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

The image of Aishwarya Rai in a striking yellow sari with lots of gold jewellery walking the red carpet at Cannes 2002 is one that a generation of Indian movie fans may not forget.

Few Indians were familiar with Cannes until the actress made an appearance on the French Riviera. Not only did Rai introduce fans back home to the world’s leading cinema showcase, she also made global audiences take note of Bollywood. This year, the 66th Cannes festival is showcasing India as a guest country to mark the centenary of its film industry.

Mike Pandey hits bureaucratic hurdle for film on tigers

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

For more than 30 years, Mike Pandey has been a man with a mission. In its special issue on Heroes of the Environment in 2009, Time magazine credited the maker of wildlife documentaries with efforts to protect “everything from whale sharks to elephants, vultures to medicinal plants.”

In 1994, Pandey became the first Asian film-maker to win the Wildscreen Panda Award, better known as the Green Oscar, for his film on the capture of wild elephants. He also won the award twice in the next decade.

  •