Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Watching a Salman Khan film ‘first day first show’ is an experience in itself. I watched it in a multiplex, where there were snaking queues full of excited fans, hoping they’d get tickets for the first show of “Bodyguard”. They were hooting, cheering and screaming in the aisles even before the movie started.
When Khan made his appearance on screen a few minutes into the film, grown men were dancing and cheering him on. This is clearly a star with ample charisma and a fanatical fan following who don’t care for technicalities like good cinema. “Bodyguard”, written and directed by Siddique, is in the same mould as Salman’s earlier Eid hits “Wanted” and “Dabangg”, showcasing the star’s romancing, fighting and comedy skills, thus rendering things like the story and screenplay useless.
Khan plays Lovely Singh, a security officer with an agency, who is assigned the task of protecting the daughter of a rich man from imminent danger. The girl in question (Kareena Kapoor) resents him tailing her all the time, and in the hope of distracting him, makes calls to Lovely Singh, pretending to be a girl who has a crush on him.
Lovely falls for it, and for someone who is supposed to be alert, remains entirely clueless that his phone girlfriend actually lives in the same house as him. There are also some bad guys waiting in the wings to orchestrate fight sequences from time to time, and a twist to the romance angle in the end.
More than 20 years after he first mesmerised an entire generation with his baritone and signature dialogue, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan is going to be back on celluloid, but this time in a different avatar.
Producer Karan Johar said the original film which was produced by his father didn’t “meet commercial expectations” and he thought this one would hit bull’s eye. Directed by debutant Karan Malhotra, the film stars Hrithik Roshan as Chauhan while Sanjay Dutt plays dreaded villain Kancha.
If you didn’t know better, you would almost think Ram Gopal Varma made “Not A Love Story” just so he could give his audience motion sickness. Crazy camera angles that peer into everything from the leading lady’s skirt to hidden corners of a house dominate this film and that is what stays with you, even after you leave the theatre.
Varma draws inspiration from the sensational murder case of Neeraj Grover, a television executive who was murdered by aspiring actress Maria Susairaj and her then fiancé Emile Jerome. He even shoots in the same building where Grover was killed and makes only cosmetic changes to the actual story.
There is much to be said about “Khap”. Let’s get to the story first. The movie is about a village which adheres to the khap panchayat system under which two people from the same khap or clan cannot marry each other.
Whoever goes against the khap rule is killed to keep the gene pool from being spoilt and to keep the honour of the clan and tradition intact. The audience knows them as honour killings.
Rohit Shetty’s “Singham”, a remake of a Tamil film, is a cop movie that is perhaps meant as a tribute to the 80s “angry young man” and the theme of the lone, honest police officer taking on the rotting system.
Ajay Devgn plays that honest cop — Bajirao Singham, a police inspector in a remote village in Goa who maintains peace and calm in the village by using his goodwill with the villagers. When he is transferred to “Goa city” (I always thought it was a state) after crossing paths with a don-turned-politician, Singham is confronted with a corrupt system, cynical co-workers and threats from the politician.
While that one had what was at best a wishy-washy murder, this one goes all out — there is blood, sadism, a twisted mind and one of the most sinister villains you have seen in Bollywood in a long time.
Abhinay Deo’s “Delhi Belly” isn’t your average Bollywood film. For one, it can hardly be called a Bollywood film, because the primary language isn’t Hindi, it’s English. Like most Bollywood films, this is also not a “family film”.
All those cuss words and toilet humour would be tough to endure with your parents or kids sitting next to you — with friends, it might be funny though.
Anyone who has grown up watching Amitabh Bachchan during the 70s and 80s will either go all nostalgic on watching Puri Jagannadh’s “Bbuddhah Hoga Terra Baap”, or will cringe at the way your memories have been distorted with this new, technicolour version of the angry young man. In my case, it was the latter.
During one of the funnier scenes in the film, Bachchan tells a character that he’s the ‘original”, and that kids today are doing nothing but imitating him. He then proceeds to sing a medley of most of his hit songs, including “pag ghungroo” and “mere angane mein”, except this new modern version has English rap songs, skimpily clad foreign extras dancing around him and Bachchan himself dressed flamboyantly (some would say garishly), gyrating to the song. At that point, you wonder, should you really mess with a classic, even if it’s your own?
The story takes off from where the four, after having donated all the money they won to charity, are back to being jobless and penniless. But when they come across their arch nemesis Kabir Nayak (Sanjay Dutt) and see that he’s rich and successful, they decide to feed off his wealth. Riteish Deshmukh, Ashish Chowdhry, Arshad Warsi and Jaaved Jaafery play the roles of the four friends.
Director Bejoy Nambiar’s debut effort “Shaitan” is not your typical Bollywood film, so if you are the kind that enjoys that kind of fare, let me warn you at the outset this may not be the film for you.
However, if you keep an open mind and go into the theatre, believe me you will be rewarded. Here is a film that is unabashed, cool and made by a director who knows his craft.