India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Bollywood and sex education

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

A couple of weeks ago, I watched a Marathi film called “Balak Palak” (Children and Parents). A new crop of film-makers is portraying the burgeoning Indian middle class with its own set of problems and “Balak Palak” is no different.

Director Ravi Jadhav chronicles the lives of four school students and their first encounter with adult literature and how it alters their friendship. In the background is middle-class morality, which prevents parents from talking openly about the birds and the bees with their children, considers any such talk “dirty” but is clueless about dealing with their curiosity.

Jadhav narrates the story beautifully and despite its subject, “Balak Palak” never goes into sleazy territory. I couldn’t help but think of another film I watched recently. “Dabangg 2” has an item number in which the heroine refers to herself as a piece of tandoori chicken, to be washed down with alcohol.

Table No. 21: Passable fare

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

As thrillers go, Aditya Datt’s “Table No. 21″ isn’t likely to keep you on the edge of your seat, but you won’t be making a beeline for the exit either. This is one of those in-between films that won’t really make it to your list of must-see movies.

Rajdhani Express: The train wreck from hell

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

Ashok Kohli’s “Rajdhani Express” is one of those films which will force you to answer some existential questions. Questions such as “Why am I here?” “What am I doing with my life?” and most importantly, “How did a movie like this get made?”

from India Insight:

Responsibility or censorship: why Bollywood should pick

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters Corp.)

The mother and father of the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim were cremating their daughter's body around the same time I discovered Honey Singh, now lately known for his notorious song, "Ch**t," or "Cu*t." The song revolves around the singer's vision of satisfying a woman's lust, followed by beating her with a shoe and then moving on to other things.

from India Insight:

Banning Bollywood item numbers is no solution

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

The gang rape and death of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi last month has made many Indians take a hard look at how they behave as a society.

The best (and worst) Bollywood films of 2012

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

This is what it all comes down to — a year of watching movies and writing about them distilled into one post. Here are my picks for the best and worst of 2012 from the Hindi film industry.

Khiladi 786: The other ‘Son of Sardaar’

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Thomson Reuters)

If it wasn’t for the chorus of “Khiladi Bhaiyya” that accompanies Akshay Kumar each time he makes an entrance on screen, I would’ve forgotten I was watching Ashish Mohan’s “Khiladi 786″. I might as well have been watching “Singham” or “Golmaal” or any of the comedies earning a box-office billion that dot our cinematic landscape these days.

Talaash: Searching for the perfect whodunit

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Thomson Reuters)

The worst thing to happen while watching a murder mystery is someone telling you the twist in the tale even before the movie began. The second-worst thing is when you figure out the twist yourself, halfway through the film.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan: Unending romance

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It is difficult to judge “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” solely as a movie. Like it or not, it is the swansong of one of the defining directors of the Indian film industry and you cannot help but think of Yash Chopra’s legacy as you watch his last film.

There are shades of “Kabhi Kabhie”, “Dil To Pagal Hai” and “Veer Zaara”, and as you watch Shah Rukh Khan kissing Katrina Kaif on a lush, green meadow, you cannot help but think that this man knew his romance.

Son of Sardaar: Calculated entertainment

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In a recent interview, a film-maker described a movie as one “made with a calculator”. He might just have been talking about Ashwni Dhir’s “Son of Sardaar”. For a film that talks of heart and emotion, this is a movie made with cold-hearted calculation.

“Son of Sardaar” is a Diwali film, made with the sole intention of making money during the festival of lights, and stuffed with what Bollywood thinks is the complete package — romance, comedy and action all in one movie. But what is it they say about being a jack of all trades?

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