India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Growing up with the ‘Moonwalker’


It was the late 80s and I was in school, contemptuous of rules and looking for a cause to rebel against parental interference. I was too young to run away and wise enough not to push it so as to end up without dinner.

I was itching for an icon, a just cause to let out my angst, when I saw him for the first time on our black and white television one night.

I could have sworn Michael Jackson was looking straight at me and I stared right back, unabashed, mesmerized. “He knows,” I remember thinking.

Back then we had no cable connection and only a single channel — the government-run Doordarshan — that like a venerable grandfather took our education in its hands, combining crop rotation with calculus and regional films with Indian classical music.

‘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.

Jana Gana Mana ‘Rann’: new-age anthem?


Nearly 60 years after Rabindranath Tagore’s composition was adopted as India’s national anthem, filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s interpretation of it is raising conservative eyebrows.

Varma uses the tune of ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and adds to the lyrics, making it a full-fledged song for his film about India’s media industry — “Rann”.

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.

Fashion and Trade – Room for both on the runway


i.jpgMy previous post introducing the Delhi Fashion Week (DFW), dwelt on its capabilities as a newcomer in India’s fashion field.

Set up after organizers of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week fell into dispute, the object of the new fashion event on the block stimulated amplified suspense.

Delhi fashion week: new kid on the style block


The clash of catwalks spurred mixed emotions in the build-up to Delhi’s hosting of not one, but two fashion events this week.

tahiliani2.jpgDifferences between organizers of the established Wills Lifestyle India fashion week led to the creation of the Fashion Foundation of India which has launched the Delhi fashion week.

“Dum Maro Dum” while you still can, on celluloid at least


Normally, I do not care much for actor Rajinikanth’s bullet splitting or his iconic cigarette flip. 
pic1.jpgBut as the government gears up to implement the ban on smoking in public places, I realise that the “long arm of the law” (apparently an all-time favourite dialogue of the celluloid police) may one day also extend to Bollywood.
Having grown up on the antics of Bollywood’s Supermen with their rakish head tilts and outrageous stunts, I cannot help but feel a twinge of fear at the thought of the censor board ever sanitizing on-screen smoking scenes.
Try as I might, I cannot imagine a docile, law abiding on-screen Rajinikanth sans his unbelievable cigarette stunt.

In my college years it gave us women endless joy to see male classmates end up red-faced while trying to imitate the southern hero.

A date with Bipasha Basu awaits Vijender if he wins gold


Vijender KumarThere are a lot of perks to winning an Olympic medal in India (just ask Abhinav Bindra). State governments offer you lakhs, sometimes even crores of rupees, you get a lifetime railway pass, visit the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi, and even get patted on the cheek by President Pratibha Patil (hey, that’s a perk).

But boxer Vijender Kumar, who is in the semifinals of the middleweight category at Beijing, has one incentive no one, not even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or President Patil can offer him — a hot date with his favourite actress Bipasha Basu.