India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

English Vinglish: Mum’s the word

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“English is a very funny language,” said Amitabh Bachchan many years ago, and many Indians agreed. In Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s comedy “Chupke Chupke”, a character makes fun of the English language, ridiculing its pronunciations and syntax; and when Kamal Hassan sang “come fast, come fast, don’t be slow”, no one blinked an eyelid at the bad grammar in the song.

In the India of 2012, English is no longer a language to be made fun of – fluency in English is an indicator of upward mobility, of having a chance at “making it” in this country. As of 2010, English was the second-most spoken language in India, behind Hindi, and the number of Indian English speakers was double the UK’s population.

Indeed, in today’s India, if you don’t know the language, you might find yourself to be the object of ridicule and it is this very insecurity that director Gauri Shinde picks on and explores in her debut feature “English Vinglish”.

Her protagonist is Shashi Godbole (Sridevi), a meek Maharashtrian housewife whose broken English is the source of much embarrassment for her pre-teen daughter and mirth for her executive husband (Adil Hussain).

Heroine: The Bhandarkar school of cliches

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Bollywood has always it’s own genre of films – masala entertainment, the re-birth saga, etc. “Heroine” belongs to the “Madhur Bhandarkar” genre of films. Pick any field, or place (Corporate, Jail, Fashion), stuff it with every cliché you can think of and more, add a gay character (irrespective of whether the story needs it or not), throw in some over-the-top dialogue, and of course, package the whole thing as “realistic cinema”.

Bhandarkar has made a career out of these slice-of-life films, most of which are just a collection of incidents that characterize that industry, according to the director. Remember the drug-abusing models in “Fashion” or the hard-nosed CEO in “Corporate”?

A “cleaner” Bigg Boss?

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If you’ve been a regular watcher of “Bigg Boss”, India’s version of the international reality show “Big Brother”, you will never look at a mop the same way again. Remember model Pooja Mishra breaking a mop and then flinging it across the room in a fit of rage? YouTube Preview Image

Or Sambhavna Seth during one of her screeching sessions? Or the romance between Anupama Varma and Aryan Vaid?

Barfi!: The sweet life

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Even before you see a single frame of Anurag Basu’s “Barfi!” you will get a sense of the movie, thanks to a quirky song which calls on you to switch off “both your mobiles and kids”. It also promises that the film will give you no “gyaan” (expressing opinion) and that it will tell you about “saccha pyaar” (true love).

You could either be charmed by this unusual beginning or be put off by it, as I was, especially because it feels like overstating the tone of the movie and making a judgment for you about its content. But you might soon forget that and a lot of other things. The very first scene, a Chaplinesque chase through narrow streets is shot expertly by Ravi Varman, and will give you a sense of the old-world charm that pervades the film.

Aamir Khan returns as hero with ‘Talaash’

Almost three years since his last full-length release “3 Idiots”, actor Aamir Khan is back with a new film. In between, he’s had a baby, produced a couple of movies, made his debut on Indian television, met the prime minister and appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

YouTube Preview Image“Talaash” is a psychological thriller, directed by Reema Kagti (a Farhan Akhtar protégé who previously directed “Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd”), and stars Khan as a police inspector trying to solve a difficult case while he battles his personal demons. Rani Mukerji and Kareena Kapoor also have pivotal roles in the film.

Raaz 3: Horror gone bad

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An ageing actress, her almost obsessive desire to stay at the top and destroy her rivals – all of this sounds like fodder for a good drama, and it is a theme that has been explored several times. Trust Vikram Bhatt to add ghosts, flying cockroaches and strange graveyard rituals to that concoction to give you the horror that is “Raaz 3“. #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } Bipasha Basu Emraan Hashmi Esha Gupta

Bipasha Basu plays Shanaya Shekhar, a top actress who is so obsessed with her success she will do whatever it takes to hold on to it. When a younger actress begins to upstage her, she gets desperate. And by desperate, I mean really desperate. So much so, that she agrees to enlist the help of a spirit, who promises to torture Sanjana (Esha Gupta).

Aiyyaa! Rani Mukerji is back

Rani Mukerji is proving to be choosier than Aamir Khan. It’s been a year and ten months since her last film “No One Killed Jessica” was released in cinemas, and fans can now catch a glimpse of the actress in “Aiyyaa” next month.

YouTube Preview ImageA comedy about a middle-class Maharashtrian girl who falls in love with a south Indian artist, the film also stars Malayalam film heart-throb Prithviraj and Marathi comedienne Nirmiti Sawant.

Joker: The joke is on you

Akshay Kumar, wearing an outrageous hat, is dancing with a long-haired, ash-smeared, nearly naked holy man perched on his shoulders. At times, Kumar pats the man’s stomach even as the “baba” waves a “We Love Aliens” placard. No one will blame you if you ask — What exactly is going on here?

But hold your breath, for such moments will be too many to count and by the time you see an alien dancing to an item number, your brain will be numb and nothing in life will make sense except the neon EXIT sign that will seem like the light at the end of the tunnel.

Gangs of Wasseypur 2: The perfect ending

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After I finished watching the second and final part of Anurag Kashyap’s revenge saga “Gangs of Wasseypur“, I got into a cab and headed home. Except that, when I got in, I imagined the driver pulling out a machine gun and aiming at me.

On the way home, familiar roads seemed eerily silent and every passer-by suspicious. So ingrained and pervading is the violence in this film that you cannot help but carry a bit of it home.

Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum: Double trouble

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Adult comedies aren’t too common in mainstream Bollywood. Most comedy films will try to throw in a couple of raunchy jokes to get a few laughs from the audience, but to make an out-and-out risqué film isn’t very common.

Sachin Yardi’s sequel to the 2005 “Kya Kool Hain Hum” certainly tries to fill in that gap. There is double entendre, skin show, crude gestures and lots of old e-mail forwards converted into one-liners.

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