Thursday, October 21, 2010

An open letter to Abbas Tyrewala (subtitle “I can guarantee that your romantic comedy is not going to be life-changing.”)

I wasn't going to post this but what the Hell... what the worst that can happen?

Dear Abbas Tyrewalla (and Siddharth Malhotra, Siddharth Anand, Imtiaz Ali, etc. etc.),

Look, let me be straight with you - it’s not that I don’t like romantic-comedies. I count
Jab We Met among my all-time favorite films; I have seen Hollywood romantic-comedy The Cutting Edge upwards of 50 times, including once this past weekend; I paid money to see Valentine’s Day; I own 17 Again starring Zac Freaking Efron for God’s sake! I like the romantic-comedy genre just fine. However, what has been grating on my nerves to no end over the last year or so has been the constant stream of self-important promotion about all the Bollywood romantic-comedies coming out.

I know, I know... a certain amount of purple prose is to be expected from industry journalists, especially ones who have close, um, “financial ties” to the industry like Taran Adarsh, but telling me that your next romantic-comedy film is the second part of (and I
quote) “a soul trilogy” is not the right way to promote what appears to be a movie-length desi version of an episode of Friends. What is wrong with saying upfront that it’s going to be a movie aimed at young urban and NRI women? (I give definite props to the team of Aisha for doing just that.)

But I think the problem with
Jhootha Hi Sahi is the same problem with Anjaana Anjaani, I Hate Luv Storys, Break Ke Baad, and with a large part of Bollywood right now. You and these other filmmakers - many who are educated abroad - making Hollywood-style romantic comedies in Hindi but promoting them like they are either parallel-cinema (“a soul trilogy’? really?) or like they are normal Indian popular films. Imran Khan and his ilk are being presented to us, the viewing audience, like they are Heroes (like Jr NTR is a hero or like Amitabh Bachchan was a hero) when really, they are just actors. And, on that note, when John Abraham’s performance is the selling point of a film - as I’ve heard mentioned in a couple interviews - that is not incentive to get me into a theater. (And I say this as a HUGE John Abraham supporter and fan - his best work is always done with a veteran actor to help him along, like with Nana Patekar in Taxi No. 9211 or with Ayesha Takia, Paresh Rawal, and Ranvir Shorey in No Smoking.)

Now, I’m not saying that nobody should be making these movies but by the same token you can’t force audiences - especially NRI and young urban audiences, who these seem to be aimed at - to go see the
desi version of The Ugly Truth (with its bloated run time and other half-hearted nods to Bollywood conventions) when the actual 90 minute, montage-free, high production values The Ugly Truth is playing next door.

Something has to give - either keep the Hero and traditional Bollywood film reporting and promoting style that showers purple prose and ‘superbs’ over everything or go with this new style of actor who ‘disappears’ into a role and is just a person.

Endhiran was superb and mind-blowing. Jhootha Hi Sahi may be good or it may stink - I can’t say, since I haven’t seen it yet - but I can guarantee you that it won’t be superb. And, really, do we need it to be mind-blowing? No. There is room in this world for films that are pure entertainment. Rohit Shetty doesn’ t go around saying that Golmaal 3 is the third part of a “friendship trilogy” but I’m going to be first in line to see it anyways because I know it will be hilarious - or to use a more appropriate example, Akshay Kumar isn’t promising anything more than a good time with some romance thrown in in Action Replayy.

Jhootha Hi Sahi is a middlebrow romantic-comedy - just own it and stop telling me and my fellow Bollywood-lovers that it’s anything more than that because we’re on to you, Mr. Tyrewala. We have a saying here in the United States: Fool me once, shame on you but fool me twice, shame on me. And I ain’t no fool and I’ve already seen Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.


Filmi Girl

PS Can you and your fellow middlebrow NRI romantic comedy filmmakers please stop trying to trick us into thinking that Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor, Lara Dutta, etc. can act? Just admit that you cast them because they are thin , can pose prettily while a song montages in the background, and some people find them attractive. I’m tired of these same rom-com Barbie heroines getting meaty roles in artsy films that should go to actual actresses.


KeepingItSimple said...

Ho Ho Ho !!! Right in the Spirit of the game !!!

Glad to see one heart-shout post.

IMHO Imran/Sonam & the newbies are yet to establish an identity of their own.

Only time & hopefully audience will know how long they will last. (My guess .. a couple of years) :-)

Farhana said...

Actual actresses like Katrina? haha

Filmi Girl said...

@keepingitsimple LOL! Thanks for the comment :)

@Farhana Hey, don't bring your straw man arguments in here. YOU brought her up - I never claimed Kat was a great actress.

Farhana said...

I just think it's strange that you "don't want to see [Katrina] or any other actresses bashed" but continuously go out of your way to do just that. Incidents such as this cause me to have very mixed feelings about your blog. On the one hand, I am absolutely addicted and find you witty, well-spoken (well-written?), and side-splitting hilarious. On the other hand, and with all due respect, I disagree with so many of your views and get frustrated when you speak hypocritically.

All of this is clearly a personal problem haha but I just want you to remember how much your devoted fans set store by your words and are even heavily, albeit secretly, influenced by them =)

Filmi Girl said...

@farhana Okay, okay. I see what you are saying... I guess in my mind there is a difference between "bashing" and "expressing an opinion" - to me, "bashing" is more like "she's so fat; she's ugly; etc. So, I don't think it's bashing (or unreasonable) to call Sonam out on being more interested in her clothes than in acting (Abhay Deol just did the same thing in the press).

And I don't think it's bashing (or unreasonable) to express concern when actresses are fainting on set and using eating-disorder trigger phrases in interviews. Bashing is making fun of somebody's outfit or nose or eyebrows.

These ladies are professionals and should expect to have their professional performances put under the microscope and that includes me finding their performances lacking.

Does that make any sense? Negative opinions are fine - I have plenty, as you pointed out - but that isn't bashing.

(And I do try to be as fair as possible - I believe I gave Bebo some flack for Kurbaan and I gave Deepika a lot of credit for Chandni Chowk to China.)

Obviously if you read my posts, you know I give my opinions pretty freely - I'm not one of those people who finds everything "superb" - and people are free to agree or disagree. I don't delete comments unless there are personal attacks. :)

Three Wishes said...

Love it Filmi Girl! I didn't think it had too much hatorade--actually just the right amount of snark.

FWIW, as you know, we definitely have different opinions of the talents and likability of actors and actresses. But that said, I think we can both appreciate how much the filmi genre as a whole, and I can appreciate and respect the thoughtfulness behind your blog even if I don't always agree with the ultimate conclusion.

Pardesi said...

I think of the lot mentioned by you, Katrina is there ONLY for looks and how the males in the Indian audience are attracted to a half foreigner type female. She has the least acting ability of the lot and only has her looks going for her. For that matter, John Abraham and Imraan Khan fall in exactly that same category on the male end of the spectrum. :D

Farhana said...

@Pardesi That is exactly how I feel about Katrina! When I see her on screen, I get so swept up in her drop dead gorgeousness and charming smile. Then, when she opens her mouth, I can't help but get irritated (the girl cannot speak Hindi or English, her native tongue, properly). And THEN I feel guilty and resentful towards her for making me like her for purely physical reasons haha It's a complicated movie-watching process...

Filmigirl, thanks for hearing me out! I think we understand each other a lot better now. As I said before, I really am addicted to your blog (and have gotten others addicted too!) and I truly look forward to reading your posts every day, even as I may disagree with them =)

jjake said...

LOLS great rant FilmiGirl and I don't think you are bashing anything. Really Rom-coms by there nature are not anything intellectual, ground breaking or artsy. And there are no Hero's left in Bollywood with the exception of Salman (as long as he keeps makeing or remaking Southie Style films) And BTW I love how you put Jr. NTR in the same parentheses as Big B. He-He!

Andromache said...

Iiiiii kinda have a weakness for romantic comedies of the OMG dreaded Western mold (I don't mind many different styles of film making from bollywood, and I don't think I can dictate this in the slightest), but yeah pretty much only when they're Jab We Met quality etc. They're miss far more often than hit.

What's really driving me crazy is *mild spoiler alert* how both this one and Anjaana Anjaani are both treating suicide in such a cavalier fashion. Like it's merely a plot dictated impediment to *~true love~*. Right up there with them dating somewhere else or living far away. Way to simultaneously downplay something pretty serious and make your leads look like total brats.

dagnyfan said...

I disagree about Priyanka Chopra. In Dostana, when Bobby D. is acknowledging her work (during the fashion show). Her face goes through about 10 subtle expressions that were very natural and believable. Times when she hammed (i.e. in SEI - it was what she was supposed to do. I personally found it funny.)

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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