Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
When a film is pitched as a big-budget, big-ticket film and is a Diwali release to boot, expectations do shoot up.
Anthony D’Souza’s “Blue”, starring Akshay Kumar, Sanjay Dutt, Lara Dutta and Zayed Khan is supposed to be India’s first “underwater” film, has music by A.R. Rahman and is said to have a budget of 800 million rupees.
But, as someone said after the screening, maybe they spent so much money on shooting the underwater scenes they forgot to pay someone to write a good enough story.
“Blue” falls in the same trap as most Bollywood big-budget films have in recent times (‘Kambakkht Ishq’ being a prime example) — it can’t see the wood for the trees and pays too much attention to superficial stuff while neglecting basics like story and screenplay.
Suparn Varma’s “Acid Factory”, which releases in cinemas this week has a unique feature — that of having the biggest ensemble of bad actors on a single screen.
Fardeen Khan, Aftab Shivdasani, Dino Morea, Dia Mirza, Danny Denzongpa and even the usually dependable Manoj Bajpai put in such atrociously bad performances that you wonder how they got away with it.
In spite of an interesting storyline and a reasonable screen time, you are never hooked to the events on screen, and even during the climax of the film, I was tempted to whip out my mobile and recheck my messages for the day — they would have provided far more entertainment.
Fardeen Khan plays Romeo, a cop who has “applied for an undercover assignment” (didn’t know that happened) to uncover dreaded don Kaiser (Irrfan Khan).
Bollywood has always survived on the formula — the elusive secret to making a successful film that combines elaborate sets, melodrama and of course, dancing around trees. Then multiplexes arrived and we were told it was the era of niche films, ones that didn’t go by the formula.
Films like “Wake Up Sid” are well on their way to becoming a meeting point between the old and the new, and becoming a whole different genre of films — the formula multiplex film.
It stars Priyanka Chopra in twelve different avatars, playing a girl from each zodiac sign and Harman Baweja as Yogesh Patel, the eligible groom who has to choose one of those girls.
When director Anurag Singh set out to make “Dil Bole Hadippa”, he must have stumbled upon a book called ‘The Big Punjabi Book of Bollywood Clichés’ and decided to put in each one in this film.
As if that wasn’t enough, he has taken elements from every successful Yash Raj film and added that to the film. So you have glimpses of “DDLJ”, “Chak De India”, “Bunty Aur Babli”, “Veer Zaara” and “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi”.
On Monday, Indian American designer Anand Jon was sentenced to 59 years in prison for sexually assaulting aspiring models as young as 14, throwing the limelight on sexual harassment in the fashion and entertainment industry.
While his family insists that he is innocent, the entire case brings into focus the fact that sexual harassment, or at least allegations of it, seems to be the darker side of our entertainment industry too. Unfortunately, it’s a topic that has been kept under wraps for a while.
What there is though is plenty of laugh-out-loud humour and an affectionate look at our favourite movie clichés — all of which are being mouthed by a middle-aged, pot-bellied hero.
Filmmakers in Bollywood, India's movie industry, are notorious for borrowing liberally from foreign films far and wide, especially Hollywood.
Even when they don't copy an entire film frame by frame, Bollywood directors often borrow from several films at once, melding story lines and adapting them to an Indian setting, complete with song and dance. They do this, of course, without buying the remaking rights. Despite a lot of original cinema coming out of Bollywood, plagiarism is rife.
The last such film I watched was Santosh Sivan’s “Tahaan”, a movie that tried to tell the story of this troubled paradise through the eyes of a child.
Director Piyush Jha tries to do the same thing with “Sikander” — the film’s protagonists are both teenagers, reacting to the violence and chaos around them.