Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
“We have to reach early,” I told a friend. “Or else we will never find a place to sit.”
Sure enough, even though we reached a good 45 minutes before the actual event, the seats in the first row were occupied.
We contented ourselves by sitting in the second row and discussing what was most likely a “historic moment” — at least for us film journalists — actors Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan on the same podium, speaking in one voice, as “friends”.
Keep in mind that these stars were once taking pot shots at each other almost daily in the media, so this sudden camaraderie was somewhat of a bolt from the blue. No wonder then that pretty much the entire press corps was in attendance, and even before the two Khans entered, their agenda was being dissected.
There are films that grab you instantly and don’t let you go till the credits roll. There are those that start off on a great note but lose the plot midway. And then there are those which don’t start off on a good note, nor do they end on one.
Nagesh Kukunoor’s “Tasveer” falls in the third category. The film starts off at a sluggish pace, but by the time the second half rolls in, it graduates into a half-decent thriller and you start to think that Kukunoor may be on to something after all. You are wrong. But we will get to that in a bit.
Ever looked at those picture perfect fashion models walking on the runway and wondered how they do it? Well, actor Shah Rukh Khan has the answer.
“I was told the secret was to suck your cheeks in, pout your lips and look really angry, when you walk the ramp,” Khan told a wildly cheering audience after he walked the ramp for Manish Malhotra at Mumbai’s Lakme Fashion Week.
When designers Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna were asked why they didn’t use any celebrity on the catwalk at the India Fashion Week, a nonchalant Khanna replied: “Our clothes are our showstoppers. It’s a business event, let’s keep it that!”
But in a world of glamour where media visibility is almost a prerequisite and most of ‘what’s hot’ and ‘what’s not’ is measured by the number of shutterbugs and roving video cameras present, does having a movie star or two sashay in front of a celebrity-hungry media really make bad business sense?
“The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves.”
When I was watching Anurag Kashyap’s “Gulaal”, my mind wandered to this passage I had read some days ago, from the last editorial of Lasantha Wickramatunga, the editor of the Sri Lankan newspaper ‘The Sunday Leader’, who was killed by unknown persons.
I am one of those people who get scared even when they aren’t meant to. I hate dark rooms and stormy nights don’t evoke any romance in my mind. In short, I am a perfect candidate for horror films — or at least that’s what I thought.
The last thing I expected A.R. Rahman to do during his Oscar speech is invoke Salim-Javed. After all, you don’t expect to hear one of Bollywood’s most famous dialogues on Hollywood’s biggest night. But in hindsight, I am so glad he said “mere paas maa hain.”
Not only did he demonstrate his love and respect for his mother, he also pretty much made that particular one-liner from Hindi cinema world famous. Melodramatic and over-the-top though it may have been, Shashi Kapoor saying those four words to his brother (Amitabh Bachchan) in “Deewar” remains one of my favourite moments in Indian cinema.
He gave me a refreshingly honest answer – “I am here to be a successful commercial film maker, and those are not the kind of films I will make. I want to play it safe for now.”
Obviously watching him every five years or so on screen, as yet another filmmaker tries to “interpret” him, really tries my patience.