Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
from India Insight:
I was watching a documentary on Greta Garbo on television. The film was in English with English subtitles for people more comfortable following written English than quick spoken English. Every time the word "sex" or something related to it would come up, the subtitles avoided it. "Heterosexual" became "hetero." "Her sexuality" became "her femininity." Dedicated channel surfing revealed similar evasions. In a conversation about breast cancer on an English channel, the station inserted an asterisk to partially mask the word "breast" in the subtitles, even though you could hear it onscreen.
TV stations and networks in India, similar to broadcast TV channels in the United States, remove objectionable content (sex scenes, nudity, some foul language and violence) from movies and other programming (see this recent Reuters story about how it works). This is thanks to the Indian Broadcasting Federation's Broadcasting Content Complaint Council. The idea is to make sure that public airwaves remain friendly enough for the ears of children and sensitive adults, though it can result in unintentional bloopers like the breast cancer example.
Apply that to film, and it can be an editing massacre. Look for odd leaps forward in the film's plot and you can see where the chopping happened. It wasn't always this way. Channels such as Star Movies and HBO made minimal cuts or none at all until the BCCC was established in 2011. Hindi films fare little better. The lovemaking scene between Saif Ali Khan and Preity Zinta in "Salaam Namaste" was removed from the televised version of the movie. "The Dirty Picture," the film about softcore actress Silk Smitha that starred Vidya Balan, came in for 59 cuts, but still couldn't make the cut for television.
Just in case you missed the message about naughty content, messages flash on English channels every once in a while, asking viewers to report objectionable content to the complaint council. After a while, the question presents itself: is this nanny state protection or is it the more ominous "censorship"? Either way, it doesn't seem to bother anyone.
from India Insight:
Indians woke up on Sunday to front page newspaper ads announcing the TV premiere of “The Dirty Picture”, a National-award winning film that was both critically acclaimed and successful at the box-office.
The film, based on the life of soft porn star Silk Smitha, was one of the most popular Bollywood movies of 2011, and its success catapulted lead actress Vidya Balan into the big league.
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.
As India heads into wedding season, yet another celebrity is hoping to get hitched — with millions of people watching on prime-time television.
Rahul Mahajan follows in the footsteps of Bollywood starlet Rakhi Sawant and will choose a life partner from among 16 candidates in a reality TV show.
There is something addictive about watching ‘The Moment of Truth’, the American TV show where contestants have to tell the truth to win cash.
from India Insight:
A new reality show in which a bunch of suitable men vie for the hand of Bollywood starlet Rakhi Sawant is an interesting twist on the prevailing custom of Indian men choosing their brides.
"Rakhi Sawant ka Swayamvar", which harks back to the ancient tradition of princesses choosing a groom from a line-up, began airing on Monday night, pitting more than a dozen men from varied backgrounds -- and with varying singing and dancing abilities -- wooing Sawant, a colourful personality known more for her antics off camera.
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”.
I am one of those people who get scared even when they aren’t meant to. I hate dark rooms and stormy nights don’t evoke any romance in my mind. In short, I am a perfect candidate for horror films — or at least that’s what I thought.