India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Luck By Chance: An insider’s look at Bollywood


My favourite scenes in Zoya Akhtar’s “Luck By Chance” are when Rishi Kapoor is on screen as the over the top, aging Bollywood producer Romy Rolly.

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.

“Luck By Chance” is the story of Sona and Vikram, both struggling actors who are looking for a break in the big, bad world of Bollywood. Through their story, Akhtar depicts the confounding, ugly and yet oh-so-attractive world of our film industry.

The director tells the story light-heartedly but don’t expect direct humour. There are a lot of subtle references to real-life Bollywood characters, dialogues said in the passing and facial expressions, a refreshing change from the in- your-face slapstick humour we are subjected to most of the time.

Chandni Chowk to China: Sticking to the formula



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”.

Is an Oscar next, Mr Rahman?


His voice is soft over the phone, almost inaudible. He has just done a lot of interviews, and the tiredness in his voice is clear.

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.

A not-so-good year for Bollywood


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.

Ghajini: Aamir’s most commercial film yet


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.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi: Average, disappointing fare


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.

Meerabai Not Out: You’ll love it if you like cricket


To be honest, I didn’t watch “Meerabai Not Out” with a lot of expectations. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the film so much at the end of two-and-a-half hours.

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.

Yuvvraaj: A brilliant score let down by a lacklustre script


Setting out to create a Bollywood blockbuster? Just make sure you have all the right ingredients — big budget, famous actors, foreign locales, fabulous music.

Wait, something’s missing — yes, the script.

Unfortunately for Subhash Ghai, the era of formula films has long gone and even the most ambitious project can’t afford to take it easy in the writing department.

Dostana: A spectacular first half but nothing great overall


‘Dostana’ is a path-breaking Bollywood film alright. Maybe not for gay rights but certainly the number of times the word ‘gay’ has been used in a single film.

Indians hoping for a “Brokeback Mountain” may do well to stay away from this slapstick comedy about two men pretending to be a gay couple in order to lay hands on a top-notch condo overlooking the sun-kissed sands of Miami.

Dasvidaniya: A bittersweet slice of middle-class life


If you were expecting Vinay Pathak’s latest film to be a comic caper, you are in for a surprise.

“Dasvidaniya” is a bittersweet comedy about a man diagnosed with cancer and how he spends the last three months of his life.