India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Ghanchakkar: Not crazy enough

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

There is nothing ostensibly wrong with Rajkumar Gupta’s “Ghanchakkar”. The filmmaker builds a story about a bank robber who loses his memory and cannot remember where he stashed the booty from a heist three months ago.

Emraan Hashmi plays Sanjay Atre, a seemingly mild man who is an expert at cracking bank vaults and lives with his garrulous and gaudily dressed wife Neetu (Vidya Balan). In what he decides will be his last crime, he pulls off a 350 million rupee heist with Pandit (Rakesh Sharma) and Idris (Namit Das).

The trio decide to lie low for a while. Sanjay is asked to keep the money safe but three months on, when the other two arrive to claim their share, much has changed. He’s lost his memory in an accident and is unable to recognise them, let alone remember where he hid the cash.

Gupta builds his story very well – you are sufficiently intrigued by the characters and their intentions by the time half the film is over. You are never certain what the two main characters (Balan and Hashmi) are thinking and Gupta tries to add a Hrishikesh Mukherjee kind of humour in some scenes.

Gippi: The pains of growing up

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

Handout still from "Gippi"Sonam Nair’s “Gippi” is the coming-of-age tale of a teenage girl who stumbles through life dealing with the typical crises of adolescence. Boys, parents, body image, acne and Shammi Kapoor come together to form the crux of this story, one that was probably written with the help of a handbook on how to script a teen movie.

from India Insight:

‘Vishwaroopam’ and Tamil Nadu’s cinema of politics

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

The most unfortunate aspect of the censorship controversy over Kamal Haasan's new movie "Vishwaroopam," which came out on Thursday, is that it is happening in Tamil Nadu. India's southernmost state has a history of using cinema as a tool of political dissent and expression, particularly regarding the Dravidian movement, but that spirit seems to have vanished with the decision to release a truncated version of the film after Islamic groups said certain scenes offended them.

Six-step guide to making India’s most expensive film

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Tamil filmmaker Shankar’s last project “Sivaji – The Boss” was reported to have a production budget of a billion rupees and his latest “Robot” is being pegged at 1.5 billion rupees, which would make it India’s most expensive film ever.

Starring Rajnikanth and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, “Robot” is set for worldwide release on October 1. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making India’s most expensive film – from director Shankar himself.

Dabangg: Salman Khan is the saviour

At the “Dabangg” screening, someone sitting a few rows behind me would scream hysterically whenever Salman Khan came on screen. She would cheer, shout out encouragement when he was beating up the bad guys and wolf-whistle when he was romancing the heroine.

DabanggIn the beginning, it was endearing. But then it began to seem contrived, forced and totally unnecessary — just like the film. Unless you are a Salman Khan fan like her, because then you would be able to forgive anything.

Peepli Live: Brilliant, nuanced satire

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Peepli LiveThere are a lot of nuances in Anusha Rizvi’s “Peepli Live” that you may not get at once. There will be a comment on the health system in villages or the lack of hygiene but they are so subtle that it may escape the notice of the less attentive viewer.

It will be your loss if you do miss out on these small details because this film thrives on subtlety — something we aren’t too used to as viewers.

from Photographers' Blog:

Come, fall in love

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I first encountered the 52-year-old Maratha Mandir movie theater while I was on one of my walks to explore Mumbai. Being new to the city, I do this often. It was just a casual walk down the lanes of the city when I saw a huge billboard promoting a film outside the cinema. The billboard proudly advertised it as the longest-playing film in Indian history.

A cinema goer buys a ticket for Bollywood movie "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" (The Big Hearted Will Take the Bride), starring actor Shah Rukh Khan, inside Maratha Mandir theatre in Mumbai July 11, 2010.   REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

The film "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" (The Big Hearted Will Take the Bride), starring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, is a simple romantic film shot in Europe and India, where a boy meets a girl and falls in love with her - girl is about to get married in India - boy takes the journey from Europe to India to win her over.

IHLS: I hate boring love stories

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At one point in Punit Malhotra’s “I hate Luv Storys” one of the characters tells another “just follow all the clichés and go for it”. That could well have been Malhotra’s motto while making this run-of-the-mill love story that drags on for what seems like forever. Malhotra seems to take every single cliché you can think of and insert that into his film – while pretending that this is a different love story. Boy who is commitment phobic – check; girl who has an overdose of pink in her bedroom and believes in love at first sight – check; Hate turns to love – check; Boring boyfriend – check. IHLS is definitely not big on the originality factor, and you know how it is going to end. You just wish the journey to the end was pleasanter. Imran Khan plays Jay, a young man who doesn’t believe in love stories, and cringes at the slightest hint of mush, but ends up assisting a maverick director who only makes love stories. Forced to work with art director Simran on a film, he pooh-poohs her ideas of romantic and ideal love, and her “perfect” relationship with her boyfriend, appropriately named Raj (Sameer Dattani). You don’t really need me to tell you how it goes from here. Jay and Simran spend time together, fall in love, one of them realizes it, but the other doesn’t, and so most of the film is spent trying to get through situations that wouldn’t have been necessary if only the duo had had a heart-to-heart chat with each other. Along the way, there are a lot of really inane dialogues (“Women are like buses, if one leaves another one comes along, but ultimately there is only one bus which can take you home”), some awkward acting and a lot of rich, pretty people and palatial homes. In fact some of the best lines in the film are not spoken, but printed on the t-shirts that Jay’s friend wears. Malhotra spoofs movies like DDLJ and “Dil to Pagal Hai” and “Dil Chahta Hai”, but fails to rise to the standard that made these films the cult films that they are. The direction is amateur, and the pace of the film could have been shortened considerably without hurting the plot. There are some moments that make you laugh in the first half, but the second half is just downhill. By the time the climax rolls in you don’t care what happens to the two protagonists. Imran Khan tries to make the best of his role and succeeds to a large extent, but Sonam Kapoor is stuck with such a one-dimensional role that she can hardly do much. Simran, it seems has nothing else in her life except for the idea of love, and a great taste in clothes. ILHS is ultimately a very ordinary and boring love story. Go if you have the patience for it.

Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor smiles during a promotional event for her film "I Hate Luv Storys" in Ahmedabad June 29, 2010. REUTERS/Amit DaveAt one point in Punit Malhotra’s “I Hate Luv Storys” one of the characters tells another to just follow all the clichés and go for it. That could well have been Malhotra’s motto while making this run-of-the-mill love story that drags on for what seems like forever.

Malhotra seems to take every single cliché you can think of and insert that into his film – while pretending that this is a different love story. Boy who is commitment phobic – check; girl who has an overdose of pink in her bedroom and believes in love at first sight – check; Hate turns to love – check; Boring boyfriend – check. IHLS is definitely not big on the originality factor and you know how it is going to end. You just wish the journey to the end was pleasanter.

Paathshala: Punished for three hours

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paathshaalaIf any real-life kids went to the school shown in Milind Ukey’s “Paathshaala”, you can be sure they would hardly get any studying done. Instead they would be busy dancing, singing, ogling at teachers, romancing and participating in reality TV shows.

The teachers in this school aren’t any better — they also sing, dance, wear inappropriate clothes and generally do everything but the things you are expected to do in a school.

Road, Movie: This trip is boring

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Road, MovieA road trip epitomises my idea of a good time and so does watching a great film. A combination of the two on celluloid is an exciting proposition.

Add to the fact that you have two young, promising actors — Abhay Deol and Tannishtha Chatterjee — and “Road, Movie”  had a lot going for it.

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