Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
“I like it so far,” I told him, “but I don’t see where this is going.”
I am so happy that Rakeysh Mehra did show me where he was going in the second half.
He weaves a cohesive story from a million plots, tells us a modern parable for our times and extracts some great performances from an ensemble cast — and he did it all in the best place possible — Delhi.
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.
And that’s not just because he is brilliant in the part — he is. But the scenes capture perfectly the subtle performances and nuanced characters this film is bursting with.
If you are looking for intellectual stimulation at the movies, watch Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling” or wait for “Slumdog Millionaire” — “Chandni Chowk to China” is definitely not what you are looking for.
It’s the first big release of the year, is produced by a big Hollywood studio looking to enter the Indian market and has one of India’s most bankable stars. But it also has a lot of Bollywood “formula”.
There are no niceties, no formal hello; instead he plunges straight into the agenda of the day — that’s a typical A. R. Rahman interview for you. The 43-year-old music composer is as humble as he is talented, as unaffected by success as he is successful.
If you are looking for a word to describe Bollywood’s output in 2008, “ordinary” would be high up on the list. The world’s most prolific film industry churned out over 200 films this year and trade analysts say a staggering 90 per cent of these ventures didn’t make any money.
“This has been a trend for the last four to five years,” said analyst Taran Adarsh.
This is a first. Aamir Khan has gone the Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar way — the actor in him has given way to the star. He’s finally starred in a film that totally rides on his star power and as you discover once you’ve watched “Ghajini”, it’s not such a bad thing after all.
Khan plays Sanjay Singhania, a telecom tycoon, who we are told suffers from short-term memory loss. Singhania’s memory is wiped clean after every 15 minutes and to keep himself updated with his life, he has to continuously take pictures of his surroundings, write notes to himself and tattoo important facts on his torso.
He’s a face in the crowd — an ordinary government clerk. She’s a young, bubbly girl. They get married because of a twist of fate. The girl says she can never love him. But, he’s madly in love with her and sets out on a mission to woo her. That, in a nutshell, is the story of Aditya Chopra’s “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi”.
The problem is he takes all of three hours to tell you this, when the end is blatantly obvious in the first ten minutes. Along the way, the audience is subjected to meaningless songs, fight sequences with sumo wrestlers, lots of corny dialogue and references to past Yash Raj films.
Or maybe it was because it took me back to my teenage years, when many afternoons were spent cutting out pictures of my favourite cricketers and pasting them in a scrapbook.