Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Gossip!

Hello, world! I've got a few odds and ends I'm working on finishing up for you - including a podcast interview with Botown's Ajay Srivastava that I think you will really enjoy. My week is looking busy but I will try my best!

Now, time for news!

* More ridiculous comments from the
Glasgow Film Festival. You seriously would not find people talking this disrespectfully about any other world cinema! Meet James Kloda:

This selection certainly promises to be ‘beyond Bollywood’. Yet, without the garish numbers and overcooked premises of that blockbuster factory, I hope that there’s a similar sense of the joyful community in the theatre that I felt over a decade ago. Indian cinema deserves it – far more than a Sanskrit-prattling Jar-Jar Binks.

The Jar-Jar Binks comment references an earlier part of his piece when he explains that of his two film watching experiences in India, one of them was a dubbed print of
Star Wars: Episode 1. It's a throw away reference but what bugs me is the cultural superiority it assumes - like Indian cinema has nothing better to offer than a dubbed Jar Jar Binks.

Not to mention the casual way in which he assumes that all Indian cinema is offering viewers the experience of a "joyful community" - oh, those Indians. How joyful! How community-minded! Oh, please, white guy, join in their fun and they will show you a simpler and more spiritual life! May I offer you a copy of "Eat Pray Love" to go with your yoga?

And how about this gem:
If one theme can be discerned in the strand, it is in a yearning to escape from the rigid expectations of an autocratic patriarchy.

Really? Do tell me more about how authentic that is! Especially since you've seen approximately one Bollywood film ever!

Now, I know that some of you think I'm overreacting to some minor comments but what I think needs to be pointed out is that here is this film festival offering "Beyond Bollywood" when the people who selected the films - and those who will be viewing the films - have no real sense of what Bollywood is.

Imagine the reverse - somebody organizing a "Beyond Hollywood" festival of American cinema when the only Hollywood films they've seen are a dubbed Jackie Chan flick and
Independence Day.

The outsider can then cherry pick a selection of films showcasing a yearning to escape from an autocratic patriarchy with
American Beauty etc. etc. and nobody will challenge their knowledge of American cinema because, hey, if you've seen one Hollywood film, you've seen them all, right?

I know it's a few minor comments but it's the sentiment behind them that bothers me - a sweeping generalization of Bollywood as that stuff those brown people watch and attaching the tag of "real" cinema to things that showcase an India that the West understands - oppressed women and poverty.

As a white person and outsider I try to be so careful about how I talk about Bollywood to avoid the reaction Raj gave Sheldon on
The Big Bang Theory - "Dude, stop telling me about my own culture." And it makes me mad that white people who do things like run Indian-themed film festivals just assume that they have the cultural clout to do just that... and nobody challenges them on it.


* Oh, dear... will it be Salman Khan opposite Katrina Kaif in
Kabir Khan's next?

I'm surprised Kabir Khan went for the expensive big name instead of his friend and very talented actor Arshad Warsi. Hasn't Bollywood figured out yet that Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif do not pair well together? Not to mention that Salman Khan has never excelled at the small kinds of films that Kabir Khan showed an aptitude for with
Kabul Express and New York.

* Speaking of Robin Hood Pandey, he's invited a few friends to do cameos in

And the high court has also granted him the freedom to
travel abroad without permission - the last fallout from the poaching case.

* I think I knew this but it's worth bringing up again - Dibakar Banerjee's
Shanghai is based on the novel "Z."

* Hema Malini is doing a cameo in Prakash Jha's
Aarakshan - the film I was excited about when it was Ajay Devgn and Katrina Kaif and then became much less so when they were replaced with plastic faced Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone who looks young enough to be his daughter.

And I'm not a Saif-hater, really I'm not. It's just that I think he is in a bad place right now by trying to recapture his youth instead of accepting the fact that he's 40 years old. This isn't like Aamir playing 18 - Aamir was aware that he was playing a role, as ill-advised as it was. I think Saif
really thinks that he could pass for "20-ish."

* Maddy, on the other hand, finds it amusing that he can't
escape the "chocolate boy" tag at 40.

"I am not chocolate and definitely not a boy. I am a man and I have no clue how this image has stuck to me despite all these years. I think may be, inspite of trying to shell off my chocolate boy image, love stories excite me and some how I land up in such roles."

I think his evergreen good looks have something to do with it, too. He has the square-jawed handsomeness of a modern day Rajendra Kumar.

* In response to the threats by Shiv Sena against Pakistani artists, certain parts of Lollywood have responded by saying
Pakistani artists should stay out of India. Funny how their sentiments are exactly the same...

* Priyadarshan and Boney Kapoor are joining forces for a remake of

* Shankar of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is opening an online
music academy.

* Red Chilies
Always Kabhie Kabhie is going to be "youth-centric" and "feel-good" - and will avoid any sort of controversy.

* Shakira will not be doing
a song with Salim-Sulaiman.

* Piggy Chops has signed yet another gimmicky romance - this time one that
spans 100 years. Hasn't she learned her lesson yet? Love Story 2050, What's Your Rashee, 7 Khoon Maaf... and now this?

Agneepath filming is held up until after the Qasab verdict.

* Preity Zinta says she is not
out of work.

"Offers have been coming but the break I took from Bollywood was intentional,” says the actor, adding that she’s been busy with her Indian Premier League cricket team — Kings XI Punjab. “I wanted to be on the grounds with my team. So I decided not to take up work in Bollywood for a few years. But I am an actor first and at the end of the day, that is what I love doing . I’m now reading a lot of scripts and something will materialise soon."

Come on, producers! Somebody offer the pretty lady a job!


Carolyn said...

The above quotes you include are not from Glasgow Film Festival, they were written by an independent journalist. The Beyond Bollywood strand is in no way intended as a slight to Bollywood cinema, it is simply a celebration of independent Indian filmmaking, the kind of which rarely gets screened in Scotland.

Carolyn Mills,
Marketing Coordinator
Glasgow Film Festival

Filmi Girl said...

@carolyn I appreciate the sentiment but I still think that the "Beyond Bollywood" tag is a patronizing one. While those comments may have been from an independent journalist, he was echoing things I read that came directly from the festival.

Bollywood has such a wide variety of styles and topics and is loved by a global audience. Yet, I have seen nothing that lets me know that the festival organizers understand what Bollywood is - let alone how the chosen films are not a part of it. For one thing, Udaan may not have lipsync songs but it is very much a Bollywood film and was nominated for all sorts of Bollywood awards.

Secondly, films like Road Movie are not "independent" - it was financed by a Hollywood studio. You should be using "art house" to describe these films, not "independent."

I think it's great to bring Indian art house films to Scotland but please be more careful in how you talk about Bollywood. Those stereotypes being thrown around are not helpful to anybody.

ruggedboyz said...

Though both Preity n Rani deny it, Anupama chopra was tweeting bout the same, how bollywood Reigning Queens are suddenly dethroned, after they are past just their 30s
its a harsh industry, where peripherals matter a lot
peace out

ruggedboyz said...

I really appreciate u backing bollywood, it helps to be a lil sensitive or just show an urge to learn. Let our tones be apologetic when speaking of things we have less knowledge of
Whats with this report about Salman doing yash raj movie, Salman asked for a crore ???? that was his price in 2002 i guess
Salmans price is nothing less then 10 crore today, if industy pundits are to be believed, though he may ask for much less, the kind soul that he is, considering his last movie was a superhit of the year

Bombay Talkies said...

I don't see anything wrong with the festival being called "Beyond Bollywood." It features films that are outside the mainstream. What would you have it be called? The title sounds good. Little Zizou (which is a great film--I got to see it when Sooni Taraporevala premiered it at SALTAF a few years ago) and Road, Movie and others that are playing are indeed outside the norm of what people expect Bollywood to be. And they're not poverty porn, contrary to what you've implied here.

It doesn't matter if the people who picked the films aren't "experts" like you are. They picked films that are outside the typical British perception of Bollywood. And unless the author of the piece told you personally that he's only ever seen one film (and in the piece he says "two of my most memorable experiences are" not "the only two Indian films I've ever seen are"), maybe you can go with the assumption that he, like most of the people who have cable television in the UK, have seen their fair share of Indian films. I know I sure did living in the UK--the Bollywood culture is pervasive in the UK, unlike here in the States, and everyone has a general idea that Bollywood = colorful singing and dancing. This festival aims to counter that perception. What's the problem?

I think you're massively overreacting to that article, and being a bit snide to someone simply because they don't have the same opinion about films that you do.

There's criticism and then there's being rude. I like your blog and I like most of what you write but you sometimes have a tendency to assume you're the only white person out there who really "gets" Bollywood, and while yes, sometimes some journalists say some silly things (especially in the good old NYT) this is not one of those cases.

Filmi Girl said...

@bombaytalkies I wrote up something longer on the Beyond Bollywood thing which I'll post later. My main complaint is that you can't take people "beyond" Bollywood if they don't have a baseline understanding of Bollywood to start with and it's insulting to those of us who like Bollywood to imply that it's not worth the time to be taken seriously.

And I wasn't saying that their choices were bad, just that they are neither "independent" nor representing some renaissance in the industry nor really "beyond" Bollywood. I mean Little Zizou had a highly publicized cameo from John Abraham!

I don't assume I'm the only white person who "gets" Bollywood - far from it - but I do assume that journalists are guilty until proven innocent when it comes to their Bollywood knowledge.

If you disagree and want to give them the benefit of the doubt, that's totally fine - but around here, journos need to prove themselves.

Bombay Talkies said...

I think there's a difference between insisting that journalists need to "prove" themselves and mocking them for...what, exactly, I'm not sure. Not liking a dubbed version of Star Wars? I'm sure it was god awful (then again, the English version wasn't so great either...) :P

Nothing in the article indicated that the author/festival director doesn't have a "baseline understanding" of Bollywood. The directors of the festival decided they wanted to show films that were a bit different than what most people expect Indian films to be. Nothing wrong with that. Their festival, their choice. I'd much rather those films be used as representatives of recent Indian film making than Love Story 2050 like the London SciFi festival used. Oy. I think it's good to show films that are a bit different than what most people have seen on tv every weekend.

I'll be interested to see what else you have to say about it, but unlike the other examples of "Media WTF?" you've pointed out on your blog, I see absolutely nothing the matter with Kloda's article. It certainly isn't patronizing, as you said to Carolyn. What would be patronizing would be to assume that the only type of film Indians know how to make are traditional song and dance masala style.

Bombay Talkies said...

I also sort of feel like you and other people who like Bollywood aren't really the target audience here, but I could be wrong.

Filmi Girl said...

@bombaytalkies Viewing a dubbed version of Star Wars Episode One had nothing to do with Indian cinema and I really didn't understand why he felt the need to mention it. Totally irrelevant and confusing - just like Episode 1 itself.

And I do understand that I'm not the audience, which is why the tag of "beyond" Bollywood is so annoying to me. Why not just call the collection "Modern Indian Art House" or something?

The directors of the festival decided they wanted to show films that were a bit different than what most people expect Indian films to be. Nothing wrong with that. Their festival, their choice.

I agree with you. There is nothing wrong with that. My complaints are that a) they feel the need to label their choices non-Bollywood and b) all the speil about how these films are somehow part of a new generation of filmmakers making films about the "real" India.

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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