Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Gossip!

The coverage of a That.One.Film is still dominating the media landscape but it has taken a bit of an interesting turn. Since I've been laid up with a cold for the past couple of days, I've had plenty of time to haunt the comments thread over at the Satyamshot Open Post and posters there have had a lot of insight into the box office numbers games and after looking at all the numbers from all the sources, the consensus seems to be that the 25 crores on the second day number is inflated.

It seems to me - and many others - that Shahrukh feels like a hit or even a superhit is not enough; he wants to smash box office records. While That.One is set to make bank, it's not set to break the record of 3 Idiots or even Bodyguard. That doesn't stop certain segments of the media from twisting around themselves to make it appear that the film is breaking records - even though it's not. If only Shahrukh hadn't set up the media narrative to be THE FILM IS GOING TO SMASH EVERY RECORD EVER, this level of success would seem like, you know, success.

One does have a small sliver of sympathy for Shahrukh if he is unable to enjoy his success just because it's not the best success... Shahrukh hasn't really been King Khan of the Box Office since Om Shanti Om and it doesn't look like the film is the one to re-crown him.

As far as reviews go, the American media has been mostly very kind, although the cynic in me can't help but wonder if they've been so dazzled by filmi magic that they are really reviewing "Bollywood conventions" and not the film. For example:

If you’re bored by the action scenes or the love story or the dopey domestic comedy, just wait three minutes for something else to come along — and whoever you are, you won’t be bored by the musical numbers!

I'm sure this is true of the film but it's also true of almost every hardcore commercial film coming out of India.

On the flip side, the handful of negative reviews of the film coming from American media do the same thing in reverse.

Much more interesting to me was this piece on some of the nastier undertones to the film.

This film is made for a pan Indian audience. How many kids in India can afford these kinds of games? How many Indian kids can relate to gaming heroes? And why is it that being a ‘dood’ is supposed to be ‘cool’ for Indian kids? Why can’t Indian kids be cool eating with their fingers? Also why do they have to look and dress in such a way that they can ‘pass’ for a white American kid? The kid’s deepest concern is that his father is not cool. His dad eats with his fingers and says ‘dude’ instead of ‘dood’. The kid is a gaming junkie with attitude. He doesn’t like fat kids and does nasty things to them, but we are supposed to like this kid. The disturbing thing is that kids in the audience do like him.

And this piece from Samit Basu who lays out the details of what went wrong with the story.

What does our supervillain, R***, want?

World domination?

Nuclear warfare?

The destruction of Facebook?

No, he wants to kill a small boy who was kicking him around in his videogame.

Granted the small boy was extremely annoying, and R*** had my sympathy for most of his few appearances, but you know what? This is not the kind of earth-shaking conflict situation you base a superhero movie on, unless it's a flat-out comedy or parody.

Okay - so for the news that doesn't involve Shahrukh Khan...

* Will online streaming kill the DVD? (Beware that this site has a video ad that you can't turn off.)

The growing market for tablets that can play videos is also forcing a change—not just in the market but also in consumer behaviour. For instance, because of tablets, entertainment is becoming more a solitary pursuit than the social activity it was in the past, said Kamal Jain, chief financial officer of Eros International Media Ltd. Revenue from multiplexes will still be important, he added, but over time, people will increasingly move from DVDs and want to watch movies on personal devices.

I'm emotionally attached to the idea of the DVD or anything but there is something sad about everyone just watching their own films on a tablet device. That doesn't seem like much fun to me.

* Agent Vinod faces more trouble - they've been accused of damaging a heritage site.

* How on Earth is Shweta Bharadwaj worth 50 lakhs? And, more importantly, why aren't people hiring Mumaith Khan instead?

* Sonu Sood's well-deserved success has him turning down offers left and right. One he accepted is playing villain to Allu Arjun in Trivikram.


Bastard Keith said...

All of this must be prefaced with a simple statement: you are my favorite writer of your kind on the web, and frankly, I'd widen the net and include print. There will never be a site I check as religiously as yours for news, gossip, posters, videos, etc. You are a fucking titan at what you do, and the day will never come when I stop reading.

Now, then.

The narrative, as far as I can figure it, is this:

VOLDEMORT: THE SUPERHERO MOVIE was created to be "Just like Hollywood." It has received venomous reviews, and the word of mouth is most likely not very good. It has made money, but the numbers have been inflated. This has probably caused SRK some pain, for which you feel a certain sympathy. American reviewers who liked it are probably just a little wet behind the ears at this Bollywood stuff, so it's understandable that they'd cut it some slack in their innocence. SRK's vision of an all-conquering artistic/box office behemoth was laughed off the stage and that's all to the good.

I should like to propose a counter-narrative:

SRK spent an absolutely obscene amount of money making a movie. He marketed the shit out of it because in order to recoup, awareness had to be at an astronomical level. This annoyed many people, and was justifiably lampooned. On release, the reviews were divided fairly evenly between deep enjoyment and scornful ridicule. Audiences, the true judge of all these things, turned out in huge but not record numbers the first day. The second day, a Thursday yet, enough of them enjoyed it that it witnessed a significant uptick in attendance, significant enough that even with a mild inflation of numbers, it would still be the biggest day in Hindi box office history (while box office accounting is notoriously hard to source, inflating by even 5 crore would be utterly impossible). The reason? It's a hard-working, flashy entertainer from a beloved (by some) megastar with the polish of a Hollywood blockbuster but the pacing, vibes and general soul of masala.

The ending to the narrative remains unclear, but I stand by it. The house I saw it in was packed with Indians on a Wednesday afternoon in Times Square, and the response was tremendous. Whoops, clapping, whistling, hooting laughter, the works. And I loved it myself, and will defy anyone to tell me that I've just not seen enough Indian cinema to really judge the thing on its proper merits. The damn thing works, even with its occasional script lumpiness. And if you have a genuine allergy to SRK, yeah, well, skip it for sure. But you don't need to be a megafan to love it. SRK holds a place in my heart, but even I've seen him in a few films where I got impatient with his acting tics. I always judge on the work, not the canon.

I'm sorry VOLDEMORT has you so up in arms. But really, and honestly, and sincerely...isn't it possible that people like it? I know I did, and so did the friend I took with me. I'm going again next week.

The unthinkable has happened twice this week:

I agreed with Rachel Saltz (it still makes me gag a little to say it, but hey, even a stopped clock...)

The director of CASH made a better movie than the director of GHAJINI.

What a world, eh?


Thelondongirl said...

I love it bastard.....lost for words. I know what i saw( didnt watchtill end... nosubs) I enjoyed, just on a simple time pass, basic enjoyment level. I'm not dumb. Am i? i always feel like i should say something deep, or insightful. but shoot if I could find Dabangg great, I refuse to justify my cheesines. guilty pleasure much.Vaah!

Filmi Girl said...

@bastardkeith Thanks for the comment and I appreciate your counternarrative - even if I don't quite see it.

But I think I finally see where this falls on the realm of things other people like but I don't - Spielberg. This seems to have the same elements that many people find enjoyable but leave me cold - I think one of the reviews said it best, that this film connects best with those who had once been 13-year old boys. I can respect that.

(But you really can't trust those box office numbers. Indian box office numbers are NOTORIOUSLY, um, flexible.)

@thelondongirl Simple time pass is totally fine. :) I can understand how many people would also think so.

I think partially where my frustration came in is that a "simple time pass" was being trumpeted as "the next great masterpiece of Hindi cinema."

Thelondongirl said...

Arent those ppl who do that a little over enamoured, or just paid to be that enthusiastic that they spout hyperbole left right and centre? hope you feel better soon Filmi Chicka

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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