India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

from India Insight:

No ‘Dirty Pictures’ please, we are Indian

Indians woke up on Sunday to front page newspaper ads announcing the TV premiere of “The Dirty Picture”, a National-award winning film that was both critically acclaimed and successful at the box-office.

The film, based on the life of soft porn star Silk Smitha, was one of the most popular Bollywood movies of 2011, and its success catapulted lead actress Vidya Balan into the big league.

It was a glaring example of how Indian audiences, torn between traditional values and rapidly Westernising cities, have come to accept films with bolder themes.

For those who hadn’t watched the film in cinemas, this was a chance to see what the hype was all about. Sony Entertainment, the TV channel, launched a high-octane publicity campaign for Sunday’s telecast.

Vicky Donor: Sperm donation can be funny


You have to hand it to Shoojit Sircar and Juhi Chaturvedi – the duo have made a Bollywood film about a topic like sperm donation without a double entendre. This also speaks volumes about Chaturvedi’s skill (she wrote story, screenplay and dialogue), because ‘Vicky Donor” is hands down the funniest film of the year so far.

Sircar and Chaturvedi, both from the advertising world, address issues such as sperm donation, infertility, stereotyping and even the aching loneliness that sets in after a spouse dies young, with such light-hearted humour and panache that you cannot help but applaud their effort.

Housefull 2: Twice the torture


Reviewing a movie like Sajid Khan’s “Housefull 2” is a futile exercise. In fact, I don’t think the makers of this film made it for creative purposes — this is a money-making venture, and going by the number of people who came to watch it at 9: 15 a.m. on Good Friday morning, I would say it’s well on its way to becoming a successful one.

Khan doesn’t take off from where the first “Housefull” left off — this is a whole other story. But he does keep the toilet humour, over-the-top acting and noise pollution that characterised the 2010 film. Instead of laughing gas at the Buckingham Palace, he adds a fake Prince Charles who attends a wedding at the end and persuades one of the characters to stop shooting people in the name of “the queen and the country”.

from India Insight:

Sari-clad cheerleaders add Indian touch to IPL franchise

The upcoming session of the Indian Premier League (IPL), India’s glamour-packed cricket tournament, will see a sartorial anomaly come to life -- cheerleaders wrapped in saris.

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s IPL team, the Kolkata Knight Riders, has decided to cover their cheerleaders in one of the most traditional Indian outfits -- a marked departure from their 2008 wardrobe when a lot of skin, from midriff to thighs, was on display.

Agent Vinod: The spy who disappointed me


Perhaps the most surreal moment in Sriram Raghavan‘s “Agent Vinod” is during a shootout at a seedy hotel in Latvia, when there’s a horde of gangsters chasing the protagonists.

Instead of filming the scene like a regular action sequence, with lots of gunfire, smoke and action, Raghavan turns it on its head — filming the scene almost entirely in slow motion and to the tune of the “Rabta” song.

Kahaani: Vidya’s latest is a taut thriller


If you go by the Bollywood formula, Sujoy Ghosh’s “Kahaani” doesn’t tick any of the boxes. It’s a thriller — a genre Bollywood usually stays away from; it’s got a female lead, hardly any songs and no distractions in the form of a comedy/romance track.

It does tick one crucial box though — it’s a well-made film, with some great characters and powerful acting, and if you are willing to ignore some plot holes and go with the flow, this is a very satisfying watch.

Paan Singh Tomar: Slow and steady


The story of an athlete who gives up running and ends up becoming a dacoit on the run from the law may sound improbable. Why would a successful sportsman pick up a gun and kill people?

Director Tigmanshu Dhulia tries to answer that question in his biopic of Indian athlete Paan Singh Tomar, a seven-time national steeplechase champion. Tomar turned into an infamous dacoit in his later years, terrorising entire villages in the Chambal valley of central India.

from India Insight:

Bollywood stars kick up a fuss with real-life rumpus

Pow! Biff! Bang! Dishoom! Real life action by Bollywood celebrities has caught the nation’s eyeballs. Shah Rukh Khan was accused of roughing up Shirish Kunder some days ago and made ripples as he brought the media’s gaze from corruption scams and the election circus to the one thing that never fails to draw attention -- a spicy brawl.

Now, Saif Ali Khan diverts attention from Vijay Mallya’s king-size woes for beating up a certain businessman in Mumbai’s Taj hotel. Saif was booked for assault, arrested and later bailed -- insisting that he was only defending himself.

Jodi Breakers: The ‘Headachers’


‘Tis the season for romance — at least in Bollywood. After “Ek Main aur Ekk Tu“ and “Ekk Deewana Tha“ this month, comes Ashwini Chaudhary’s “Jodi Breakers“, another film that attempts to bring together romance and comedy and hopes to leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling in your tummy. And fails spectacularly, I might add.

R. Madhavan plays Sid, a divorcee, who after his split turns into a divorce specialist, “breaking up” couples when one of them wants out. Bipasha Basu plays Sonali, his partner who, of course, falls hopelessly in love with him.

Ekk Deewana Tha: Never-ending nonsense


Sometimes even the worst films can redeem themselves with a moment of lucidity. Just as you are struggling to make sense of Gautham Menon’s “Ekk Deewana Tha“, the heroine — in a fit of emotion — tells the hero “there is nothing here, no chemistry or anything at all. Nothing”. And just like that, she hits the nail on the head.

This almost three-hour romance is the cinematic equivalent of listening to someone scratching their nails on a blackboard. You want to pull your hair out and tell them to stop it already. Unfortunately, Menon seems to be in no mood to listen. Just when you think it’s all over, it goes on for a little bit more.