Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday Goss!

Is it the weekend yet? *yawn* I've gotten sucked into re-reading my favorite novel and stayed up way too late last night finishing up one of my favorite sections of my favorite novel...

Oh, well... I suppose it's either sleep or read and I chose read.

Anyways, moving on...

* Desi Hits seems to be under the mistaken impression that Sonam Kapoor is "curvy" and "non-emaciated." (Have they seen pictures of her recently?)

* Yash Chopra may be directing Aamir Khan!

* Piggy Chops hasn't agreed to 7 Husbands yet.

* Guru Dutt is getting a retrospective at the New York Film Festival. The author of the article (from the Village Voice) seems pleasantly surprised that the films are, you know, GOOD.

* John Abraham annoyed Londoners (probably) when his film shooting blocked off the London Bridge for 4 nights.

Here is the cast of Aladin at the music launch!! I really just... love Ritesh Deshmukh! I don't care what film he's in - I'll see it.

Hottie Dino Morea walking the ramps for Acid Factory...

Hema Malini still has it!! The beautiful Hema at a dance performance!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hollywood Interlude: Jennifer's Body

I watched Jennifer's Body last night despite the huge critical backlash against Diablo Cody, who wrote the film, and the stink of box office failure on the film itself. The problem, as far as I can tell from the reviews I read, is that Jennifer's Body is not another Juno. Speaking - or rather writing - as one of the few people who found Juno to be as obnoxious and affected and as overly precious as Juno herself, I was pleased to hear it. In fact, after seeing Jennifer's Body, I am pleased to say that it is a delightful send-up of the middlebrow, indie-rock fueled film about "young people" genre that Juno exemplified.

The disconnect between Diablo Cody's intentions and the audience means that ultimately Jennifer's Body fails as a mass market film. However, it's by no means a bad film and has all the makings of cult classic - I plan on purchasing a copy to put right next to Ginger Snaps on my DVD shelf. Where Cody went wrong in appealing to the mass market audience almost perfectly matches up in where she went right in appealing to me and my demographic of youngish women who not only enjoy a nice juicy piece of mythological storytelling (as apposed to the more realistic tone and characters of Juno) but who also suffer from a bit of figurative PTSD from their toxic high school years.

Jennifer's Body is the story of Anita "Needy" Lesniki (Amanda Seyfried) and her friendship with the titular Jennifer (Megan Fox) - a friendship complicated by the fact that, as shown in the trailers, Jennifer turns into a demon and needs to eat boys to stay alive. Amanda and Megan do a fantastic job with their characters. Jennifer is the embodiment of the hype that surrounds Megan Fox. She has the entire male population at her feet and yet, in a nice bit of characterization by Cody, Jennifer is almost entirely alienated from female friendships. She exists as the world sees her, as an object. Amanda, as Needy, is the humanizing influence on Jennifer. Also, Needy has a massive girlcrush on her which is fully realized in another moment drawn out in the trailers. The friendship between the two women is the driving force of the entire narrative.

Needy has a boyfriend, the affable beta male Chip, whom Needy ditches to hang out with the more electrifying Jennifer whenever she can. Their romantic relationship was really satisfying to watch play out on screen, mocking, as it did, the actual appeal of those beta males and "nice guys" that Zack Braff and Michael Cera would have us believe are the new hot thing. Sorry, boys, your carefully tussled hair and mix CD don't hold a candle to the appeal of the girlcrush.

And if Needy's boring boyfriend is the Zack Braff of the piece then Jennifer represents the revenge of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl - because that is what she is, but with very sharp teeth. She speaks in an exaggerated version of the Juno-isms that got so much praise and enjoys being unpredictable. We know almost nothing about her but then we never do in movies about MPDGs because the focus is always on the male point of view.

All of these relationships, so familiar to watchers of pop culture, play out on a canvas that mocks not only the Garden State-ization of indie films but the indie bands themselves. A lot of the humor in Jennifer's Body came from the exploits of a band-within-the-film "Low Shoulder" fronted by a surprisingly good looking Adam Brody.

Perhaps you are wondering why I am discussing a Hollywood film on my Indian film blog. Well, Jennifer's Body is the rare Hollywood exercise in choosing mythos over logos in it's story. It's not meant to be taken literally - instead the audience is meant to pick up the many metaphorical and extra-narrative plot threads that inform the story. This is exactly what appeals to me about popular Indian cinema - that sense of heightened reality. Looking at it like this, it's no wonder the very literal-minded American public couldn't understand what was happening in the film.

Before I wind this up, I'd like to discuss one of the reviews of the film that I feel kind of exemplifies the types of criticisms leveled at Jennifer's Body - from that bastion of middlebrow male reviewing The Onion AV Club:

After first complaining that the film lacked the "sincerity" that Juno had, the reviewer goes on to declare that "[n]either Megan Fox nor Amanda Seyfried can handle the wordplay like Ellen Page did. As they play best friends on opposite sides of the popularity divide, Fox rips into her line-readings with lusty overconfidence, while Seyfried timidly pushes them across, as if they were written in a second language."

If I may - first of all, saying that Jennifer and Needy were on opposite sides of the popularity divide is a FUNDAMENTAL misunderstanding of the story. They were, in fact, on the same side of the popularity divide. Here is something that men don't always know: the girls that are popular with boys are rarely popular with girls. The reason that Jennifer continued to hang out with Needy is that Jennifer had no other friends. Needy has a boyfriend and a few friends in her classes. Jennifer does not. Pretty does not equal popular, contrary to what Mr. Scott Tobias at the Onion AV Club believes. Secondly, the "wordplay" that he so loved in Juno is being mocked by Cody herself - which is why Megan Fox spits it out so lustily. Needy speaks in a much more naturalistic manner and when she does quip, it's done with a hesitance that shows she is putting on an act. They were not playing two Junos and failing, they were playing two very different characters who approach speaking in two very different ways.

Next he complains that "Cody’s script fails in the fundamentals, like establishing the odd dynamic of Fox and Seyfried’s friendship, or defining the particular anxieties of teenage life." Really? Because I think she captured it quite well. Considering that Mr. Scott Tobias has (probably) never been on either side of a girlcrush or even an inward-looking female friendship or even ASKED women about their personal lives, it is understandable that he didn't get the draw of Jennifer for Needy or how Jennifer used Needy to ward away feelings of loneliness. Unlike the 'bonds of brotherhood forged in war' or 'two cops that are complete opposites but then learn to work together,' a look at the inner workings of the erotically charged friendship of two teenage girls has not been much explored on screen - especially when not written for the titillation of the male viewer or sanitized for the Lifetime audience.

And, again, it's understandable that Mr. Scott Tobias didn't pick up on the constant references to the "particular anxieties" of being a teenage girl and figuring out how to use your body and what all your different desires mean - never having been a teenage girl himself.

For me, the film worked. I thought it was clever and I really enjoyed seeing a movie about two women where a boyfriend was not the central motivator (or even very relevant) in the story. I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, certainly if you have no sympathies towards teenage girls then you won't much enjoy this but also, I would warn off anyone who treats film as logos because Jennifer's Body makes no attempt to portray anything close to "real" life.

Everyone else - I'll meet you in Devil's Kettle High School!

GQ Men of the Year!

GQ held it's Men of the Year Awards function in Mumbai and Amitabh Bachchan won a special "lifetime achievement" award!

The real award for us, however, are the candid photos!

Aishwarya and Abhishek fresh off their North American jaunt on Oprah... I have to say that I do like Abhishek's Ravana look.

The couple that never ceases to look uncomfortable - Jaya and the Big B.

Irrfan Khan and Dineo Morea - an odd couple if I ever saw one.

It's not a real party, though, if Manish Malhotra isn't there!!

My favorite couple of the night - K.Jo. and Katrina!!! Who could ask for a better escort?! I wish K.Jo. could escort me to all my functions. I bet he has the bitchiest things to say about everyone... Don't you love her dress, though? Katrina is looking really good.

Not looking great is Bono Saifu, who should NOT be wearing those glasses. They make him look like he's tragically trying to hold on to the last threads of youth rather than making him look... youthful.

Tuesday Gossip!!!

Good Morning, all!!! I had a late night last night and went to see Jennifer's Body, which is not as bad as everyone seems to think. Shall I do a write-up?

Anyways, let's see what is happening today!

* Katrina Kaif is
promoting skin whitening cream.

* Shahrukh Khan is all psyched to do Ra.1.

"I’ve always wanted to make a superhero film, but I never had six-pack abs. Now that I have them, I want to do this. It’s not an animation film, as many people believe - I would like to clarify that. It’s a live-action film."

* Trisha is playing a double role that's not a double role in her Bollywood debut!!

* Salman Khan has done great things for single screen cinemas with the release of Wanted.

* Read a recap of Abhishek and Aishwarya on Oprah!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday gossip!!

Good morning, all!!! I did things a little backwards today, so don't forget to go back and read my review of Prabhas's Chatrapathi and watch the trailer for Ek Niranjan, which looks awesome, BTW.

Also of interest is my music review for Ek Niranjan - I think we have a winner!

Moving on...

... to more about Ek Niranjan.

* Kangana talks about her career.

"Given an option, I would choose a blockbuster over critical acclaim. Critics are just a handful of people who look too deep into the nitty-gritties of cinema. They forget to enjoy the fun aspect of the film. The audience watches films to be entertained. They don’t sit in theatres to scrutinise the technical aspects that go into filmmaking. So, I would rather make films to please those million instead of making movies for a bunch of people."

A girl after my own heart - although we already knew that! I hope Ek Niranjan releases here but I'm doubtful...

* The lost Shahid-Kareena film Milenge Milenge will finally be released in December. I'm psyched!

* Okay, the Hindi remake of Magadheera is getting ridiculous. They want to split the lead role in half so they cast as many big names as possible. That would be fine except who wants to play Raj Kiran to Rishi Kapoor?

* Ramya's temper tantrum cost the producer Rs. 10 lakhs. The trials of a diva... Honestly, though, I still like Ramya! She's just so... cute on screen!

* Poor BIPS!!!! Some jerk groped her breasts while she was at a Durga Pooja in Mumbai. The pervert escaped in the ensuing commotion.

* Akshay Kumar is not doing the lead in Kunal Kholi's film after all. (Hire Kunal Khemu!!! PLEASE!)

Skinny Minny Sonam Kapoor on the cover of People India!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ek Niranjan: I can't wait!!!!!

Okay, I know I just posted the Chatrapathi review but I'm just in a huge Prabhas fangirl mood right now.

So, first check out the trailer for Ek Niranjan!

Then refresh your memory with the stills from the film.

And finally, you can read my review of the soundtrack!

Ek Niranjan: Music Review

Kangana Ranaut is making her Telugu film debut opposite Young Rebel Star Prabhas in Ek Niranjan. In a departure from her wild and crazy Bollywood characters, Kangana will be playing a sweet, young guitar teacher and Prabhas is the emotionally distant loner who wins her heart. Directed by Puri Jagannadh, who also directed Prabhas in the superhit Bujjigadu, Ek Niranjan also stars Jodhaa-Akbar’s Sonu Sood as the villain. Releasing October 29th, Ek Niranjan has all the makings to be a masala classic.

Music director Mani Sharma knows this territory very well, after all, he did the music for Prabhas blockbuster Billa, which released earlier this year, as well as such modern masala classics as Pokiri (recently remade in Hindi as Wanted). Ek Niranjan is a solid entertainer packed with the kinds of up-tempo numbers that will certainly be used to showcase Prabhas’s superior dance skills.

The album begins with the title track “Ek Niranjan,” a catchy, rhythmic tune that mixes some heavy distorted vocals from Ranjith with some softer instrumental flourishes like Spanish guitar and violin, along with a twee female chorus. The result is a fun tune that should get your feet tapping.

Next up is “Gundello,” a duet by Hemachandra and Geetha Madhuri. Although it starts with a heavy electric guitar, the song is actually a shimmery dance song built on a standard club beat. It’s fairly predictable, using all the tricks of the dance mix, but still enjoyable. If the picturization is good, this one has the makings of a hit single.

The mood changes with “Sameera” which is a yearning song that alternates rhythmic verses with sweet choruses. Sung by Karthik, the song is the highlight of the album. The verses masterfully build up tension that is released with the crooning lyric “Sameera.” A cheeky female chorus and Spanish guitar breakdown complete the song.

Although the first three tracks are dominated by the male point of view, the female gets a turn in the sweet “Evaru Lerani” sung by Malavika, which makes one immediately think of pastoral imagery and saris flowing in the wind. Malavika’s vocals are doubled and tripled in places, giving her voice a pleasingly organic sound that is echoed in the flute that follows her lines.

Taking us from Elysian Fields to the beaches of Goa, “Mahammari” opens with a sample from that old club standby “Calabria 2007” setting the mood for this all out dance track. Mani Sharma throws everything he has into it and the result is a jumbled but not unsatisfying dance number. The song perks up during the chorus but is dragged down by some kitchen-sink instrumental breaks.

Finally, the album ends with a half-baked tribute to Michael Jackson in “Narthana Thara.” The picturization should be amusing but “Narthana Thara” itself is lacking both a melody and an interesting beat. Samples of classic Michael Jackson songs are thrown in at random. Prabhas’s dancing should salvage this in the film.

Overall, Ek Niranjan is a solid effort. There are some sour notes, most specifically “Narthana Thara,” but the rest of the album more than makes up for it. This is another winner for Mani Sharma!

Chatrapathi: Another winner from Prabhas

What was that? Did I just hear Prabhas kick about a thousand bad guys in the face? Oh, yes, Chatrapathi has more of Prabhas dishoom-dishooming than I ever thought I could possibly want to see. But you know what? I enjoyed every single second.

Chatrapathi is a love story between Shivaji (Prabhas) and his mother Bhanupriya. Actually, she’s not his real mother and, no, it’s not a romantic love story. You see Shivaji’s real mother died and his father married a second wife. That second wife had a son of her own, Ashok (Shafi). Their father passed away at some point in the past and now Bhanupriya has adopted Shivaji as her own son. She loves him like a… son. And her adores her like any good Indian boy should.

There are two problems that Chatrapathi lays out for us at the beginning of the film. One: Ashok is a little prick and is insanely jealous of Shivaji’s love for “his” mother. Two: the family are forced from their home in Sri Lanka and wash up as refugees in (I believe) the port city of Visakhapatnam. Due to some heartless machinations on Ashok’s part, Shivaji is separated from his family and Bhanupriya is led to believe that he’s dead.

We pick up the main narrative 12 years on from these events, where we’re introduced to a certain bad-ass Hero who has spent the time being whipped and mistreated as a virtual slave to a dockland kingpin who has ensnared the entire group of Sri Lankan refugees in his evil grip.

Shivaji has been captured by pirates and is going to be fed to the sharks!!! Obviously he escapes – and he may or may not beat up a shark in the process – and we see that little has changed for poor Shivaji in 12 years. He’s still extremely moral and always ready to do the right thing. Also, he has been pining for his mother for 12 years.

You can probably see where things are heading. Ashok makes a reappearance and uses his proximity to their mother to torment and torture poor Shivaji.

In perhaps one of the stupidest moves that a filmi wannabe Hero can make, he joins forces with Ghajini aka Pradeep Rawat, whom you never trust. EVER!
And along with this vintage brother vs. brother in pursuit of mother plot, there is a sweet romance with super-duper cute Shriya Saran, who plays a government employee swept up into the refugees’ plight.

Things never get steamy the way they do in Varsham - this is strictly an adorable romance but with Shriya so cute and Prabhas so studly, I didn’t really miss the lust.
Besides, they dance really well together!

My favorite story, however much I ached for poor Shivaji separated from his mother, was the refugee storyline. Prabhas literally picks up a sickle and hammer to take down the corrupt leaders exploiting the working class and also eve teasers.
I haven’t seen a young man this angry since, dare I say it, Amitabh Bachchan. Indeed, I am going to go out on a limb and declare the Young Rebel Star the biggest and best Hero to grace the screen since the Big B himself.

Prabhas can do it all and I will watch every second of him doing it all with rapt attention.

There really wasn’t anything new about Chatrapathi, just old tropes polished until they gleamed but who says that I can’t enjoy the same story told over and over, especially if it’s a good one?

Speaking of gleaming – not only did Chatrapathi have the delightful Shriya Saran, it also had item numbers from two extremely delicious young ladies.

Tatooed diva Mumaith Khan shakes her moneymaker while Prabhas demurely treats her with respect by averting his eyes.

And poor tragic Arthi Agarwal gets a fantasy number in which she expresses pretty much how we all feel about Prabhas… “Yeah yeah yeah yeah I want this, yeah!”
In conclusion - Chatrapathi is a total entertainer. I can’t understand why it had such low ratings on Netflix – I laughed, cried, and pumped my fist in the air when Prabhas kicked yet another evil doer in the face. What’s not to love?

Sunday News Update!!

So... Aziz Ansari was hilarious last night. I highly recommend anyone who enjoys comedy go and see his live shows. At one point, I was laughing so hard at that I actually had tears coming down my face. Yes. What was really interesting to me was that he had appropriated a few of his jokes that he did as "Randy" from Funny People into his actual set as Aziz - just minus the dances that "Randy" always did with them. To be fair, they were pretty good jokes.

The downside of the Aziz show was his awful opening act Dan Levy, who seemed like he would be more at home in a frat house telling jokes to drunk 20 year olds than to a crowd of people who think jokes about epic battles on twitter and references to Modest Mouse are the height of hilarity. And it's not that I just didn't think Dan Levy wasn't funny (which he wasn't), I hated his whole shtick - he was one of those guys who thinks that he was "oppressed" because no cheerleader would date him in high school. You know the type. And all of his jokes had this bitter, bullying edge - as if because he's not Brad Pitt, the rest of the world has to pay for it.

There was one joke Dan Levy told about how "great" it would be to be the cop whose job it is is to investigate strip clubs and as part of it he tells us a conversation he had with a stripper. Now, as this was going on, my first thought was "(aspiring comedy writer) Anglotastic would hate this" followed by "he's totally afraid of women and it's pathetic." Later, when discussing it with my sister, who was also at the show, she said, "I kept thinking about that poor stripper. If I saw some nice young men come into the strip club, I might think 'maybe they'll like me' but you know this guy would never look at the stripper like a person."

And that sums him up. He totally alienated at least half of his audience. Ladies enjoy comedy, too, Dan, so either stick to the frat house circuit or get some better jokes.

Anyways, enough about d-bag comedians! Let's talk gossip!

* Stardust reports a sequel to No Entry with Sallu in a double role!

* Glamsham seems to think that the "Hrithik clone" tag is off of Harman Baweja. Okay, fine. But the only reason for that is that Hrithik is a billion times more handsome and talented than Harman, so he was really never a "clone" per se. Let's just all agree to call him a Hrithik knock-off and call it a day.

* ILOVEAKSHAYKUMAR!!!!!! I mean, Akshay Kumar is a fantastic human being. He's starting a charitable foundation for stuntmen.

* Sandalwood hottie (and friend of Filmi Girl) Diganth has been getting rave reviews for Manasaare! I can't wait to see it! Congratulations, Diganth!

* In the not so good review department, the Toronto Star has a fair assessment of What's Your Rashee - [it] sags and drags less than it ought to. But it's destined to outstay its welcome with most viewers.

I was explaining to my sister why I didn't feel it necessary to go see this in the theatres and said, "You know - it would be like watching a three and half hour romantic comedy and I just can't do that." And it's true! The whole point of the epic length masala film is that it gives you drama, romance, comedy, songs, etc. in just the right doses so that you never get too tired of any one thing. Done with Johnny Lever? Just wait a few minutes and it will switch back to Akshay kicking somebody's butt! But with a epic length rom-com.... it's just tedious after a while.

* I can't decide if this novel is going to be hilarious or tragic.

Meredith McGuire's novel, Bollywood Becomes Her presents a Westerner's take on Indian social customs through the lens of Bollywood -- not through films likeSlumdog Millionaire, but popular Bollywood hits such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Jab We Met.

This sounds like cultural tourism at its worst...

Gorgeous Rani at Durga Pooja!

Sallu walking the ramp for the brand launch of Guru.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Gossip!!

It's the weekend, duckies!! Are you as excited as I am? Probably not, since I'm the only one who is going to see comedian Aziz Ansari live here in Washington, DC!

See! He's super-funny!

Okay, now the question you're all really asking is, "Are you going to see What's Your Rashee?" Honestly... probably not. I know Priyanka is supposed to be amazing but I just don't have it in me to sit through 3 and a half hours (or whatever) of Harman and Priyanka together with an endless train of zodiac signs.

Speaking of the endless train of zodiac signs, how about this quote from Ashutosh:

"I hope the pirates didn't cut the film. I don't want them to watch an incomplete film."

Really? I'd almost be more tempted to watch a cut print of What's Your Rashee at like 2 hours of material or something than the full epic.

Anyways, let's hit the gossip!

* All of Filmi Girl's dreams are coming true with a hat trick of films from Bebo and Akki!! Kareena Kapoor has been approached to appear opposite Akshay Kumar in Pyaar Ke Side Effects 2!

* There are "strong rumors" that Katrina Kaif will be appearing opposite Filmi Girl fave Shahid Kapoor, in what should be an interesting match-up as long as they don't ask her to dance. Also, isn't Katrina much taller than Shahid? I don't know how that will work. Not that I care about things like that - being a tall lady myself, I don't have a problem seeing taller women with shorter men but I think sometimes people in general don't like it. I mean, I wouldn't have a problem starring opposite Shahid Kapoor even if he was a couple inches shorter... it would just mean a better angle for checking out his V-neck T-shirts!!!

* Anil Kapoor is back in LA and has begun shooting for 24.

* I Hate Love Stories is sounding more and more promising!! Apparently, one of the characters is a take off on Karan Johar!!

* And for any Swiss readers, Prabhas will be filming in Switzerland from the 28th!! Go out and find him!

Friday, September 25, 2009

What's Your Rashee? Hero Edition!

Despite middling reviews of the film as a whole, Priyanka Chopra's 12-role tour of the zodiac has been singled out for praise.

I thought I would share my own zodiac: a different actor for every star sign! I don't actually believe in astrology, so if somebody else wants to draw some conclusions from this - by all means, go for it!

Aries: Ajay Devgan (April 2, 1969)

Taurus: Dev Patel (April 23, 1990)

Gemini: Kunal Khemu (May 25, 1983)

Cancer: Shotgun Sinha (July 15, 1946)

Leo: Manoj Kumar (July 24, 1937)

Virgo: Akshay Kumar (September 9, 1967)

Libra: Ashok Kumar (October 13, 1911)

Scorpio: Shahrukh Khan (November 2, 1965)

Sagittarius: John Abraham (December 17, 1972)

Capricorn: Anil Kapoor (December 24, 1959)

Aquarius: Pran (February 12, 1920)

Pisces: Aamir Khan (March 14, 1965)

Friday!!! Gossip Update!!

Good morning!!

Before I get started, may I direct everyone to my rebuttal to that ridiculous Wall Street Journal article.

Mr. Bellman never reveals his source for this ridiculous bit of misinformation and passes it off as common knowledge. I'm sure Vishal Bhardwaj, whose film making processes were meticulously detailed in Stephen Alter's fantastic book "Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief", and indeed included storyboards, budgets, and schedules, would be shocked to hear that Wall Street Journal thought he made his films by throwing some glitter, dancers, and a big pile of cash in front of a video camera.

* Business of Cinema spoke to a bunch of directors about the spate of piracy that culminated in the stealing of the master print of What's Your Rashee.

* Poor Sanjay Gadhvi can't catch a break! He's going with a daring twist in his new film 7 Days in Paris - no stars. I think because he doesn't have the budget to pay anyone with a real crowd-drawing name...

* Priyanka Chopra has signed on for 7 roles in Ashutosh Gowarikar's next film. Seriously, though, Ashutosh, the 12 roles is a great gimmick but do you really need to have more than a double role in every film? Give the massive multiples a rest.

* Boney Kapoor talks about Wanted:

"Let Aditya Chopra make films for multiplexes. I'm happy reaching out to the masses."

Oooo! Burn!

* Shiney Ahuja has been sent to a hospital for his back pain. I don't like to see anybody suffer but I have to admit that I hope he is taking some time to think about what he has done wrong.

* Sonu Nigam gives an incredible interview (accompanied by the worst picture of him I've ever seen) where he talks about the lack of song quality in today's films. He sounds so bitter!

"Music composers have realised that concerts are money spinners. So they make songs that they can sing. I don't want to be part of this craziness where I am given sub-standard songs and the best are taken by the composers themselves."

* Apparently The Bad Boy of Bollywood, Salman Khan doesn't see anything wrong with celebrity designer Anand Jon - despite the fact that Anand Jon has been convicted of raping multiple women AND of something involving "lewd acts" to a child. (You can read more here.)

Salman on Anand Jon: "“I had a word with Anand and never thought he was a bad guy.”

Cool! And then you two cats can go start a boys club with Shiney Ahuja! Good times...

Let's end with something happy!!

Kajol and Shahrukh on the cover of Vogue!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Filmi Girl talks to Kunal Nayyar

I originally did this interview back in February, but since The Big Bang Theory just started up again on CBS, I thought it would be an appropriate time to transfer this interview over from my old space to my new one!

Kunal is a real sweetheart and I hope Raj gets more to do this season!

Here is the original interview:

While big Bollywood stars dream about working in Hollywood, one Indian actor is already doing it, Kunal Nayyar, one of the stars of the
The Big Bang Theory, on which he plays the scholastically brilliant but pathologically shy Rajesh Koothrappali, Ph.D. The rakishly handsome Kunal took some time from his busy Hollywood schedule – and post-Oscar recovery – to talk with me about being Indian in Hollywood, Slumdog Millionaire, and, of course, geek pride.

Kunal was born in London but raised in New Delhi, where his family still lives. He didn’t come to the United States until college, where he earned a degree in business. But, his interest in acting was always lurking in the background and after satisfying his parents with a practical degree, he was free to pursue his passion. With a Masters in Fine Arts from Temple University and a long resume of plays under his belt, the question was now how to earn a living. Well, to make a living in acting, says Kunal, “you have to go to Los Angeles”.

When I asked Kunal why he chose Los Angeles – and Hollywood – over Mumbai or even London, he didn’t hesitate. America had become his new home. This was where he had built up his resume, made friends, and, more importantly, made contacts. Besides, he continued, there weren’t any Indians from India doing any serious acting in Hollywood. “How cool would it be if I made it here?”

The difficulties faced by ethnic actors, especially Asian actors, in Hollywood are fairly well known – that’s a large part of the joke in the Harold and Kumar movies after all. Still, Kunal says that while the leads may still go to the white guys with blue eyes, the casting calls for that guy’s best friend or co-worker are more and more often “ethnically open.” Although he’s happy playing Raj for now, and the show has a few more years to go until syndication, Kunal hopes that more and more roles become ethnically open so that “in 7 or 10 years, I can play a detective or a cop and really kick some ass.” (He’s also open to my suggestion that I write in to the producers of the show to have them give Raj a Bollywood-style dream sequence, where he gets to dishoom-dishoom some bad guys.)

While Raj is certainly not a tough guy, like a cop or a detective, he does have his own quiet appeal. (Well, he’s quiet until you get a couple of drinks in him…) I prodded Kunal a little on the NRI (Non-Resident Indian) stereotype issue but he didn’t bite. “If you go to Silicon Valley or the research department of a university, you find a lot of Indians.” And Raj isn’t exactly portrayed as your average NRI - he’s super smart but with some real pathological issues. And, can we really hang an entire nation of people on one character on one TV show? Well, I certainly hope the great Bollywood watching audience doesn’t hold all white people responsible for the filmi actions of Tom Alter – how many virtuous heroines did he hold hostage over the years?

More interesting to Kunal is the nerdy aspect of his current character. When I asked him if he was a nerd in high school, he couldn’t give me a straight answer. “I went to an all boys high school, and we were all sort of nerds.” The great social divide of American high schools was non-existant for Kunal. In India, it seems, being a jock isn’t enough to make you popular and liking Star Wars, reading comics, and being smart isn’t enough to get you socially ostracized and labeled a nerd. The cast, along with the show runners, of The Big Bang Theory did a panel at Comic Con last year and Kunal spoke with great affection the fans – nerds, in other words – who would come up to the cast and tell them, “Thank you for making us look cool.”

Everybody likes an underdog!

And speaking of dogs, the big wins of Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscars have brought the idea of Indian cinema and Indian stories to Hollywood’s attention. Of course, Kunal had seen it and called all the fuss “well-deserved hype” as well as saying the success of the film could only be a blessing for actors like him as the whole world gets used to seeing Indian faces on the big screen. The conversation turned, as it had to, to Bollywood. Would Kunal ever consider going to Mumbai? “Of course! I’m from India; I speak Hindi; it’s my home.” He hinted that he had made some contacts in the industry – I couldn’t weasel out any names, but I’m crossing my fingers for Anurag Kashyap – so, maybe we’ll be seeing him in Bollywood sooner rather than later.

(Kunal as Raj in
The Big Bang Theory - from

Kunal’s favorite actor: Aamir Khan
Kunal’s favorite films:
Dil Chahta Hai and Rang De Basanti
.article .article-content { word-break: normal !important; }