India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge: Contrived comedy


Atithi Tum Kab JaogeA moustache. That was the basis for one of the best comedies of Indian cinema — Hrishikesh Mukherjee‘s “Golmaal” — made in the 1970s.

There were no overly dramatic situations, no comedians, no toilet humour and yet, there was so much laughter in that film.

Since then, many a filmmaker has tried to capture that elusive charm of Mukherjee’s cinema, naming their films after his, borrowing concepts, but few have come close.

Perhaps these filmmakers forget the cardinal rule of laughter — it doesn’t work if you try too hard.

A year at the movies

At the beginning of the last week of every year I head to my neighbourhood DVD store to follow a long-standing tradition of mine.  I review my favourite films of the year and then buy DVD’s of those films.

INDIA-CREDIT/BOLLYWOODThis year my shopping list had only two names – Zoya Akhtar’s “Luck by Chance” and Vishal Bhardwaj’s “Kaminey”.

All the Best: Adding that Diwali sparkle


Watching three films in the space of 18 hours isn’t easy, especially when the first two are films like “Blue” and “Main Aur Mrs Khanna“.

When I settled into my seat to watch Rohit Shetty’s “All the Best”, I was really hoping for some laughs. Thankfully, I got my share of them.

Main Aur Mrs Khanna: A mindless romance


The other day a colleague asked me why I never seemed to like any film these days. I thought about it and wondered the same myself. Don’t they make good films any more?

Two hours after watching Prem Soni’s “Main Aur Mrs Khanna”, you realise the answer to that question is a resounding NO.

‘Short Kut’ takes the long, boring route


Somewhere in Bollywood, there has to be a movie-making machine.

All you do is insert a reel, change a few specifications (perhaps the hero’s name and occupation or the reason for a romantic obstacle with his leading lady) and wait for a “masala” movie to pop up, fresh and ready to hit unsuspecting audiences.

How else do you explain a movie like “Short Kut: The Con is On“?

This one is supposed to be a sometimes funny, sometimes emotional comedy about a struggling filmmaker and his double-crosser friend. It turns out to be neither.

‘Slumdog’ magic rubs off on India abroad


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Bollywood and Indian culture is getting plenty of attention worldwide — thanks to the “Slumdog Millionaire” effect.

Danny Boyle’s rags-to-riches romance about a poor Indian boy competing in a TV game show scooped eight Academy Awards earlier this year.

Partition: A not-so-epic love story


It’s unusual for Indian cinemas to screen a 2007 film that has already had its television premiere.

But the stand-off between Bollywood producers and multiplexes has resulted in a slew of otherwise straight-to-DVD films getting a chance at the box-office.

Videsh: Stark and unsettling


Watching Deepa Mehta’s “Videsh” is not a very pleasant feeling. Watching a woman getting bruised and beaten up never is.

The film is a stark, often unsettling tale that tears into a phenomenon of our times — the NRI marriage. And director Mehta does not shy away from the tough realities this film is about.

Firaaq: A hard-hitting debut by Nandita Das


The camera moves breathlessly through the dark alleys, following the two men as one chases the other. An old man watches flickering images on television, his face revealing myriad emotions every second. A group of men argue in a dingy, ruined shop, even as a child watches wide-eyed.

These are some images from Nandita Das’ “Firaaq” which will stay with you long after you have left the theatre. These are images that have been shot with as much passion as skill, both of which come through on screen.

Gulaal: Holds up the mirror to an unpleasant reality


“The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves.”

When I was watching Anurag Kashyap’s “Gulaal”, my mind wandered to this passage I had read some days ago, from the last editorial of Lasantha Wickramatunga, the editor of the Sri Lankan newspaper ‘The Sunday Leader’, who was killed by unknown persons.