Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wired Magazine: Y U SO LATE?

I'm a big fan of Wired Magazine.

Really... I pay for my issues dutifully and read them with great interest.

That is why I was so disappointed to see
this post on a Wired blog about "Bollywood Sci-Fi" featuring... Endhiran.

If the giant mechanical snake and the heavily armed android don’t catch your eye in the trailer for the Bollywood-style sci-fi film Endhiran: The Robot, the elaborate song-and-dance numbers surely will.

Mashing together a surreal mix of CGI robots, outrageous action and cornball choreography, the clip — which proclaims the film “the biggest spectacle ever” — racked up millions of views on YouTube. It also caught the eye of the genre freaks who run the legendary Alamo Drafthouse theater chain out of Austin, Texas.

In what might be the first theatrical deal cut solely on the strength of a viral video, they made a snap decision and snagged the rights to screen
Endhiran in Austin, sight unseen.


Look, I realize that not everybody keeps up with the latest Indian film releases but there is something really frustrating about the fact that this is a movie that was released in October in the USA with English subtitles AND reviews from mainstream outlets like
Variety and yet it's being treated as a "cult" phenomenon - a "discovery" by the "genre freaks."

The only reason they didn't bother to watch the film before snagging the rights is they were too lazy to go to the theater when it came out and/or to order a copy of the DVD which has been available
for purchase for some time.

While I am glad to see that mainstream Indian films are FINALLY getting through to the cult film community, do we really need one of these, "Wow, India makes cool movies, too" posts every few months? These are just as annoying as the "Wow, comic books/video games/genre fiction novels are not just for kids anymore" stories that make the newscycle every once in a while.

I would strongly encourage people to go see
Endhiran at the Alamo Drafthouse because the film is awesome but I would also like to let those "genre freaks" know that a) it's more than a little patronizing to refer to the trailer of a hit film that has been released for a while as a "viral video" because b) they are not discovering anything that millions of people haven't already seen in the theater and enjoyed.

(I for one, reviewed it THREE TIMES - one two three.)

Nobody let me get away with that kind of nonsense when I "discovered" Beverly Hills 90210 on Netflix last year.

Filmi Girl: "Have you heard of this show? It's hilarious and awesome. Brandon and Brenda are like twins and..."

Annoyed Co-worker: "Um... yes. I was alive in the 1990s and it ran for like 10 years on TV."

Filmi Girl: "Don't tell me who Brandon ends up with!

The moral of the story: Just because it's new to you doesn't make it a "discovery."


Anaamikaa said...

Hi FilmiGril,

I usually enjoy reading your blog and agree with a lot of what you have to say, but here I have to disagree.

Yes, it is very annoying when my British friends smirk every time I bring up an Indian film and automatically assume it's going to be a tacky song-and-dance fest.

But sometimes that condescending tone is fully deserved, and (IMHO) Robot is definitely one of those times. And to me the tone of the article towards Robot was definitely condescending and not admiring. Like a so-bad-its-good sort of thing.

First of all- the appalling portrayal of women. I've lived in Mumbai till I was 15 and watch a Bolly film a month, and even I was shocked at all the unnecessary, sleazy rape attempts and the 'honor' suicide. I dread to think what the average American's reaction to the rampant misogyny would be.

And then there's question of Rajnikanth. If you haven't been exposed to the hype surrounding him, he is horrendously unappealing. Every American review I've read of the film seemed bemused by his 'pomposity and paunchiness' and thought he was 'too old for such silliness'.
Of course he works in the Indian context, but you have to admit the idea of him being a Super Star to a non-Desi film watcher is too ridiculous for words.
And the fact that he's opposite a beautiful, much younger women will just make it so much harder for foreign auds to digest.

And finally, I think the article is quite right in assuming that Sci-Fi in India is still in it's fledgling stages since the few Hindi films we have had in genre pre-Robot are all quite embarrassing ( Koi Mil Gaya and Drona). I don't think they're saying that about Indian films as a whole

No offense meant though, I love your take on Indian movies.

Plus I'll be really interested to hear what you have to say about the Thank You trailer and Deepika's near-anorexic look in the DMD item song :-)

Filmi Girl said...

@anaamikaa Hi, thanks for the comment!

Are you disagreeing that people should go see the film because you think they won't like it?

I definitely think that the tone of the article was condescending and I definitely think that the people who are screening the film are doing it so it can be laughed at and mocked. Both of those things are annoying to me.

I quite enjoy Rajinikanth and the super-star hype and I know other Americans who really liked the film.

Check out this review from an American guy who is not an Indian film watcher:

I do think that cultural feelings around topics like a woman's honor make it impossible for some people to watch a film like this and I understand that. It's the same reason I have trouble watching some Hollywood films like Up - a film that somebody coming from outside the USA might not have any issues with. I try to be sensitive about those kinds of things but I don't always see them until somebody points it out. :)

On sci-fi... well, I'll save that for another time. Drona really isn't sci-fi but then a lot of Hollywood "sci-fi" isn't really sci-fi. It's space opera or melodrama set on a space ship.

Something like Mr. india is much better speculative fiction than the latest Star Trek movie was.

Anyways, I do appreciate the comment and I absolutely love when people disagree with me or pick apart my arguments because it can only help me improve my reasoning skills. ;)

And the Thank You trailer looked awful... sigh. I tweeted it earlier - on the plus side: Akki, Anna, and Irrfan. On the minus side - regressive roles for women and that dim bulb Sonam Kapoor. I should do a whole post on films I plan on avoiding this year. Hee hee!

Anaamikaa said...

You should do that post :-) I am *really* hoping that all the wives cheat on their sleazy husbands with Akshay (the tagline makes me think they will + its the only thing that can justify the trailer).
I would usually never think about an Anees Bazmee film, but that trailer is almost too offensive, no? And speaking of offensive the sadistic TOI article on Deepika in DMD:

A friend (sarcastically) posted this + the Thank You trailer on my FB wall and totally ruined my day. Grr....(and sorry if it has the same effect on you :P)

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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