Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
At one point in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Guzaarish”, the protagonist of the film Ethan Fernandes sings “it’s a wonderful world” while his mother is being buried. It’s a poignant moment, one where you feel the pain of the man. It’s also one of the very few genuine moments you will find in the film.
Everything else, like Aishwarya Rai’s make-up, seems fake and loud, and puts you off. The emotions, the set design, the dialogues, Hrithik Roshan’s beard are all out of this world, residing in some alien planet that only Bhansali inhabits.
I’m from Goa (where the film is set) and I can assure you, I don’t know of too many Goan women who wear Victorian skirts, have elaborate hairdos and bright lipstick, all the while nursing a paraplegic man. Actually, I don’t know if women anywhere do that.
It’s easy to romanticise the past, isn’t it? Easy to think back to the time when bell bottoms and “arranged” marriages were the norm and tell ourselves it was a much better time. The past has that intangible quality of making us all look a little better, even to ourselves. Perhaps that is why Bollywood is going back to the past so much nowadays, making films about every period but the present.
Director Vipul Shah certainly seems to believe in reliving the past in “Action Replayy”, as do his main characters but they relive it so badly you want to shake them back to the present. The past here holds no romance, there are only bad wigs and garish clothes to represent it.
I could write a regular review of the Rajnikanth-starrer “Robot” as I do almost every week. I could give you the story outline and list out the positives and negatives, talk about the performances. But that would make no difference because most people are going to watch this film anyway. And no matter how absurd the storyline might be, you cannot escape the sheer star power of Rajnikanth. He makes even the most ridiculous scenes and plot lines look entirely stylish and believable.
So, in a departure from the usual drill, here are some thoughts on ”Robot” rather than a regular review
Tamil filmmaker Shankar’s last project “Sivaji – The Boss” was reported to have a production budget of a billion rupees and his latest “Robot” is being pegged at 1.5 billion rupees, which would make it India’s most expensive film ever.
Starring Rajnikanth and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, “Robot” is set for worldwide release on October 1. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making India’s most expensive film – from director Shankar himself.
Instead, it was just a melody that served as a background. Given the memorable music of his earlier films, there are a lot of expectations from this one.
We Mumbaiwallahs hear so much about the big guns down south – Rajnikanth, Kamal Hassan, Mohanlal, Chiranjeevi, etc, but hardly get to hear them.
So of course, I didn’t know Rajnikanth has such a great sense of humour, in addition to being a huge star and a great actor. The veteran charmed everyone off their pants at the music launch of his new film “Robot”, and had the audience in splits with his explanation of how he came to do the film.
The overwhelming feeling as one leaves the theatre after having watched “Raavan” is one of disappointment. Make that huge disappointment. Could it be that one of this generation’s finest filmmakers, is credited as director in this disjointed, mediocre effort?
Nothing in the two-hour film is reminiscent of Mani Ratnam’s class. Instead it is littered with shoddy direction, bad acting and long-winding but nonsensical dialogues. The only saving grace is Santosh Sivan’s magical cinematography, but the truth is even that cannot hide the flaws in this film.
For someone who came into the Indian film industry as a former beauty queen, Aishwarya Rai has done her fair share of unglamorous roles in Bollywood.
From playing an abused wife in “Provoked” or the middle-aged wife of an industrialist in “Guru”, Rai has always let her acting do the talking.