Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
India is the land of colours, sound, and call centres — or at least, that is what Western popular culture has been trying to reinforce over the past few years. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel“, starring Judi Dench, is Hollywood’s most recent expedition to India, and it sticks to the formula.
They are lured to Jaipur, the city of palaces, with an online advertisement of a hotel that promises a life of leisure to the elderly — only to find themselves in a building on its last legs, run by an incompetent, hyperactive Sonny, played by Dev Patel of “Slumdog Millionaire“. Patel’s love interest is a modern young girl who works at a call centre.
Made on a modest budget, the film is a commercial success and is inching towards the $100 million mark in ticket sales — a remarkable run for a movie that has senior citizens as its main cast.
Spending Sunday evening standing in a dusty, arid place, waiting more than three hours for one person to show up, is certainly not my idea of fun. However, when the person in question is Tom Cruise, the equation changes.
Mr Cruise was to turn up at a red carpet event in Mumbai, organised before a fan screening of his latest film — “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”
When Freida Pinto made it big on the international stage with “Slumdog Millionaire“, there were quite a few who couldn’t quite believe her success.
While she was feted all over the world, found herself on prestigious magazine covers and on high-profile red carpets, in the country of her birth, there was some reluctant praise and a lot of silence which is unusual for a country that “adopts” anyone who sounds remotely Indian and is a success in the West.
Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood and Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood are looking over the shoulder of Ridley Scott’s Robin Longstride.
So rather cleverly, the movie is a sort of prequel to these and may justly be titled “The making of Robin Hood”. It ends at the beginning.
Pulitzer prize winning film critic Roger Ebert says he can’t remember a year when it was easier to pick the Oscars.
Iraq war drama “The Hurt Locker”, which has picked up key awards in the run-up to the world’s most prestigious movie awards, is the favourite to bag the Best Picture trophy, with all-time box-office king “Avatar” the other contender.
Filmmakers in Bollywood, India's movie industry, are notorious for borrowing liberally from foreign films far and wide, especially Hollywood.
Even when they don't copy an entire film frame by frame, Bollywood directors often borrow from several films at once, melding story lines and adapting them to an Indian setting, complete with song and dance. They do this, of course, without buying the remaking rights. Despite a lot of original cinema coming out of Bollywood, plagiarism is rife.
A feeling of numbness and disbelief is not uncommon after a movie-watching experience. Sometimes you are awed by the sheer vision of the director or the depth of a particular performance. Sometimes, it is a thought expressed, or an expression that stays with you.
If you are looking for intellectual stimulation at the movies, watch Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling” or wait for “Slumdog Millionaire” — “Chandni Chowk to China” is definitely not what you are looking for.
It’s the first big release of the year, is produced by a big Hollywood studio looking to enter the Indian market and has one of India’s most bankable stars. But it also has a lot of Bollywood “formula”.
There are no niceties, no formal hello; instead he plunges straight into the agenda of the day — that’s a typical A. R. Rahman interview for you. The 43-year-old music composer is as humble as he is talented, as unaffected by success as he is successful.