India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

from India Insight:

Kids rule the roost as Bollywood woos audiences

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

Mumbai resident Gopal Das doesn't usually go to the movies. It's the children who drag him and his wife to the cinema to watch the latest Bollywood film.

Das's 8-year-old son Shubham insisted on watching Shah Rukh Khan's "Chennai Express" on his birthday this week. His teenage sister had recommended it.

"They both said they don't want a cake or dinner out," Das told India Insight as he waited with his children at a city multiplex. "We usually don't watch movies, only the ones they want to watch."

Das is not alone. As Bollywood tries to bring in ever more movie watchers, producers and filmmakers are finding that it's worth marketing to children as much as they can, even for films that are meant for adults.

The Attacks of 26/11: Revisiting the ghosts of Mumbai

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

Just before the intermission in Ram Gopal Varma’s “The Attacks of 26/11“, a police constable stumbles around with a rifle, searching for the two gunmen who had just wreaked havoc at Mumbai’s busiest train station. He slumps to his feet on the blood-stained floor and lets out a cry of anguish.

There are prolonged shots of a dead dog, fake blood squirting out of people, and much gore on screen as Varma recreates the horrifying events of Nov. 26, 2008. If the aim of the film is to chronicle these for posterity, this is certainly not how the story should be told.

from India Insight:

Responsibility or censorship: why Bollywood should pick

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

The mother and father of the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim were cremating their daughter's body around the same time I discovered Honey Singh, now lately known for his notorious song, "Ch**t," or "Cu*t." The song revolves around the singer's vision of satisfying a woman's lust, followed by beating her with a shoe and then moving on to other things.

Mumbai’s Oktoberfest takes place under the stars

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Thomson Reuters)

It wasn’t Munich, but try telling that to the hundreds of Mumbaikers and expats (including some wearing lederhosen) who gathered at Mahalaxmi Race Course on Friday night, sipping imported Bavarian brews from hefty beer steins, determined not to let geography get in the way.

That Girl in Yellow Boots: Stark, unsettling cinema

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Anurag Kashyap’s “That Girl in Yellow Boots” is an unsettling tale of a girl in search of the father who walked out on her as a child. Kashyap holds back very little in his narration of this tale, portraying Mumbai as a ruthless city that makes her search even more difficult than it should have been.

Kalki Koechlin plays Ruth, a British girl who comes to India hoping to find her father. She struggles in Mumbai, living as an illegal immigrant, working in a shady massage parlour, living in squalid conditions, driven only by her quest for a parent she yearns for.

Shor in the City: Smart writing makes a smart movie

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It’s OK not to have too many expectations from “Shor in the City” — I know I didn’t. After all, it doesn’t have a great star cast, there hasn’t been too much buzz around it and except for the music (the lilting ‘Saibo’ number especially), the promos didn’t really stick in your mind.

The movie, however, is a whole other story. This is a smart film — one that hooks you from the get-go and doesn’t let up. Co-directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D K are sure of their craft and confident in their script and it shows.

Dhobi Ghat: A whole new hue

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There’s a charming scene in Kiran Rao’s “Dhobi Ghat”, where Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra) is filming her maid-servant and her daughter for a video tape she’s making for her family back home. While the maid is suitably coy about being on film, she’s also equally anxious to finish off with the niceties, and do what she’s there to do — work, earn her living and move on to the next house. That scene for me epitomises Mumbai in so many ways. It’s a city always in a rush as Yasmin says — there’s no time to waste on getting to know your neighbours or sharing gossip with them — not when there’s money to be earned and a living to be made. Rao captures this and so many other myriad hues of the city marvellously in her directorial debut, a deeply insightful portrait of four individuals who find and lose love and deal with loneliness in Mumbai. Aamir Khan plays Arun, a reclusive, commitment-phobic artist who is fascinated with a set of tapes he comes across, chronicling the life of a new bride in Mumbai city. Kriti Malhotra plays that bride, coy and full of hope, reporting daily events like what she’s made for dinner and her neighbour’s problems on tapes that she hopes to send to her brother back home. Monica Dogra plays Shai, an investment banker on sabbatical who after a one-night stand with Arun is slighted by him, and uses their common laundry man or dhobi Munna (played by Prateik) to keep tabs on Arun. Slowly, she forms a bond with Munna, a migrant from Bihar, who harbours dreams of making it big as an actor. Rao takes her time establishing her characters, but they are so well fleshed-out, you don’t mind discovering their quirks slowly. The film moves at a slow pace but is beautifully shot in real locations, mostly in South Mumbai. Performances are top-notch, but Malhotra and Prateik stand out – both conveying so much through just one glance that you empathise with their characters straight away. Films like “Dhobi Ghat” are like exploring a new cuisine — your palate may take time to get used to, given the “masala” and action it has been used to — but stick with it, and you will discover flavours you have never tasted before.

dhobighat1There’s a charming scene in Kiran Rao’s “Dhobi Ghat”, where Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra) is filming her maid-servant and her daughter for a video tape she’s making for her family back home. While the maid is suitably coy about being on film, she’s also equally anxious to finish off with the niceties, and do what she’s there to do — work, earn her living and move on to the next house.

That scene for me epitomises Mumbai in so many ways. It’s a city always in a rush as Yasmin says — there’s no time to waste on getting to know your neighbours or sharing gossip with them — not when there’s money to be earned and a living to be made.

from Photographers' Blog:

Come, fall in love

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.

Striker: Sporadically good

Chandan Arora‘s “Striker” is one of those sleeper films — the ones which don’t have big stars or a big marketing budget, so that you don’t find hoardings at every street corner or its stars on every reality TV show.

StrikerBut perhaps it is because of this that you go in without too many expectations and allow the director to pleasantly surprise you — at least in some parts.

Fashion overdose: Do we need so many expensive clothes?

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Whenever I have attended the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, it has always struck me as an event that is a little out of my league, but something that always gets the eyeballs.

After all, isn’t fashion, at least some form of it, an increasingly essential part of urban living?

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