India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

from India Insight:

Kids rule the roost as Bollywood woos audiences

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(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."

Das is not alone. As Bollywood tries to bring in ever more movie watchers, producers and filmmakers are finding that it's worth marketing to children as much as they can, even for films that are meant for adults.

Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara: All talk, no action

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

Milan Luthria’s tongue-twister of a movie “Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara!” is a hark back to the gangster films of the 1980s, the ones with mafia dons, their tempestuous love lives and all the complications that came with it.

But director Luthria and writer Rajat Arora are apparently convinced that they’ve come up with something original and clever. Their smugness shows on screen and gets on your nerves. For a gangster film, “Mumbai Dobaara” has just about three action scenes and even in the most crucial action sequence, the characters are busy delivering long-drawn-out homilies on loyalty and friendship. That is what this film is, really – all talk and no action.

Chennai Express – Doesn’t reach its destination

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To get a sense of Rohit Shetty’s “Chennai Express,” wait for the closing credits to roll.

The film contains all the stereotypes that exist about those who live south of the Vindhyas, but narrated by someone who doesn’t live there. A South Indian film for those not living in the South, so to speak.

Bajatey Raho: Much ado about nothing

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Shashant Shah‘s “Bajatey Raho” is a comedy about a motley group of people who try to con a businessman out of the millions he made by cheating gullible clients.

Ravi Kishan plays evil businessman Sabharwal, who owns everything from schools to dairy farms and treats his staff like dirt.

D-Day: Gripping enough

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

The search for India’s most wanted criminal and a fictitious operation to capture him in Pakistan is a great idea for a Bollywood movie. Filmmaker Nikhil Advani uses this premise in “D-Day” and exploits it to maximum effect.

Advani builds a gripping tale that chronicles a covert operation to bring back Goldman, a fictional mafia don undoubtedly based on Dawood Ibrahim. He lives in Pakistan, masterminds terrorist attacks in India, is protected by the government of the country and speaks to his henchmen in Marathi (The real-life Dawood Ibrahim is from Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra).

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag: The game is over

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Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra‘s biopic of Milkha Singh is one of the few sports movies to come out of the Indian film industry. It is also a perfect example of how not to make a sports biopic, and a telling comment on the compulsion of most filmmakers to “Bollywoodise” what starts off as an unusual subject and premise.

It seems Mehra and writer Prasoon Joshi started off with the noble intention of making a gritty film on India’s most successful athlete, but fell back to their Bollywood ways. They added a bit of romance here, a song there, topped off with over-the-top melodrama, and convinced themselves that this was the heart-wrenching story of a man who fought against all odds to succeed at the international level.

Raanjhanaa: Not the perfect love story

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

Director Aanand L Rai is a smart man. He plays his trump card right in the beginning and hooks you to his film. He introduces his charming hero with A R Rahman’s “Tum Tak”, a lilting number that plays out in the first few minutes of “Raanjhanaa”. What choice do you have but to hum along in the narrow lanes of Benares, where schoolboy Kundan (Dhanush) falls irrevocably in love with Zoya (Sonam Kapoor).

He pursues her brazenly and when her parents send her elsewhere for higher studies, he promises to wait till she returns. When Zoya returns eight years later, she has forgotten their adolescent romance but he is still pining for her and is ready to do whatever she asks, just to get her to smile.

Yamla Pagla Deewana 2: Insanity overload

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In Sangeeth Sivan’s “Yamla Pagla Deewana 2″, the bankruptcy of ideas and creativity is so obvious that the director knows he has to resort to another hit film and franchise to try and crack a few lame jokes. So Bobby Deol and Neha Sharma fall in love over their mutual love for Salman Khan and his “Dabangg” films.

The fact that even Salman Khan’s name cannot retrieve this film from the depths of mediocrity should tell you something. Sivan resorts to all forms of toilet humour and slapstick comedy, with characters such as a whisky-drinking chimpanzee and a villain called “Dude”.

from India Insight:

Collaboration key to Bollywood’s global appeal – Irrfan

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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.

from India Insight:

Bollywood fashion at Cannes

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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.

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