India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana: A dish with heart

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The Punjabisation of  Bollywood has meant that on-screen depictions show a very polished version of Punjab. Fluttering dupattas, lush fields, glitzy weddings and lively dancing are what Punjab is all about, but Sameer Sharma’s “Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana” doesn’t stick to any of the stereotypes, which is a relief.

The streets are bumpy, the women aren’t flawlessly dressed and the men do not break out into bhangra or slap each other on the back at every given opportunity. Sharma’s film is simple and shorn of any plasticity, and even though the recipe does go haywire a couple of times, Sharma manages to salvage the dish in the end.

His protagonist Omi (Kunal Kapoor) is a selfish young man, who runs away from home as a teenager after robbing his grandfather of his life savings to emigrate to the UK. Ten years later, he is broke, unemployed and in debt. When a gangster threatens him with death, Omi flees to India.

Back in Punjab, Omi finds that his grandfather has lost his memory and with it, the recipe for his famous “Chicken Khurana” which was the mainstay of their roadside restaurant menu. To add to his woes, his younger brother is getting married to the girl Omi once loved.

Yash Chopra, so much more than romance

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My very first Yash Chopra film was a disappointment.

I remember watching “Lamhe” as a kid, almost without blinking, on a grainy television screen on a newfangled device called the VCR and thinking to myself, what is this story about? To my young mind, it didn’t make much sense. But the memory of “Lamhe” and that lazy summer afternoon I watched it with my cousins is still vividly etched.

Of course, it took years for me to actually “get” the film and what it was trying to say. For an Indian film-maker to explore a theme as bold as that of a woman falling in love with her mother’s lover was brave, and to pull it off as he did, spoke volumes of his control over his craft.

Student of the Year: Bromance, brawn and not too much brain

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Is it possible for a film-maker to regress with each film? Wouldn’t logic dictate that you learn and therefore progress with each film? But Karan Johar, who otherwise comes across as one of the most savvy, intelligent and knowledgeable people in the industry, doesn’t seem to apply that same logic to his films.

After his last film as director “My Name is Khan“, in which he tried to deal with the sensitive issues of terrorism and racism, Johar is back to what you would think is familiar turf with “Student of the Year“. College romance, pretty people falling in love, dances, wedding sequences interspersed with bikini scenes, and bare, perfectly sculpted bodies that are given lots of screen time.

The phenomenon called Amitabh Bachchan

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Twitter is abuzz with the spirit of festivity, and here’s why: It is Amitabh Bachchan’s 70th birthday.

One of the few people who can be described as a superstar, the ‘Big B’ is one of the greatest actors India has seen, and (I dare say) one of the few who does not need an introduction almost anywhere in the world.

English Vinglish: Mum’s the word

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“English is a very funny language,” said Amitabh Bachchan many years ago, and many Indians agreed. In Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s comedy “Chupke Chupke”, a character makes fun of the English language, ridiculing its pronunciations and syntax; and when Kamal Hassan sang “come fast, come fast, don’t be slow”, no one blinked an eyelid at the bad grammar in the song.

In the India of 2012, English is no longer a language to be made fun of – fluency in English is an indicator of upward mobility, of having a chance at “making it” in this country. As of 2010, English was the second-most spoken language in India, behind Hindi, and the number of Indian English speakers was double the UK’s population.

Aamir Khan returns as hero with ‘Talaash’

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Almost three years since his last full-length release “3 Idiots”, actor Aamir Khan is back with a new film. In between, he’s had a baby, produced a couple of movies, made his debut on Indian television, met the prime minister and appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

YouTube Preview Image“Talaash” is a psychological thriller, directed by Reema Kagti (a Farhan Akhtar protégé who previously directed “Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd”), and stars Khan as a police inspector trying to solve a difficult case while he battles his personal demons. Rani Mukerji and Kareena Kapoor also have pivotal roles in the film.

Aiyyaa! Rani Mukerji is back

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Rani Mukerji is proving to be choosier than Aamir Khan. It’s been a year and ten months since her last film “No One Killed Jessica” was released in cinemas, and fans can now catch a glimpse of the actress in “Aiyyaa” next month.

YouTube Preview ImageA comedy about a middle-class Maharashtrian girl who falls in love with a south Indian artist, the film also stars Malayalam film heart-throb Prithviraj and Marathi comedienne Nirmiti Sawant.

Joker: The joke is on you

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Akshay Kumar, wearing an outrageous hat, is dancing with a long-haired, ash-smeared, nearly naked holy man perched on his shoulders. At times, Kumar pats the man’s stomach even as the “baba” waves a “We Love Aliens” placard. No one will blame you if you ask — What exactly is going on here?

But hold your breath, for such moments will be too many to count and by the time you see an alien dancing to an item number, your brain will be numb and nothing in life will make sense except the neon EXIT sign that will seem like the light at the end of the tunnel.

Which is your favourite Rajesh Khanna moment?

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The image that came to mind when one heard of Rajesh Khanna’s death was, of course, the pivotal scene in Hrishikesh Mukherjee‘s “Anand” where the words “babu moshai” ring out.

Fans of Khanna will feel the same kind of emotion — that he might be gone, but that his voice, his shy smile and the “flying a kite” hand movement that was so much a part of his personality will be with us, reverberating much after he has passed on.

Bollywood drama – off screen and in parliament

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You cannot escape Bollywood and the drama that comes with it, not even in the hallowed environs of the Rajya Sabha.

On Monday, as actress Rekha, the newest member of the upper house of India’s parliament took oath, the focus — at least that of the cameras, was on another, older member. Rekha’s short swearing-in ceremony was interspersed with several shots of a very grim-looking Jaya Bachchan.

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