Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday Gossip

Okay, I got some pushback yesterday on how flippantly I treated the Arjun Kapoor weight loss story and I just wanted to briefly address the issue because this one is important to me. I hadn't realized that Arjun had been clinically obese and I think it's great that he took steps to improve his health and get himself into shape.

"Oh ho, Filmi Girl, so now you think weight loss is good!"

Wrong. I think getting healthy is good.

I don't think weight loss in and of itself should ever be a goal because that kind of thinking is dangerous. If somebody has bad eating and exercise habits and changes them to better eating and exercise habits, weight loss will probably result. Just focusing on weight loss as a goal leads people to try all sorts of dangerous and (yes) unhealthy diets and obsessive exercise. The severely underweight starlet is just as unhealthy as the tubby girl in McDonalds and the obsessive exerciser is just as unhealthy as the couch potato.

How many painkillers do some of these Bollywood muscle men have to pop to get through a song and dance number that your uncle could do with no problem?

How many more hours a day does one of those bikini starlets spend obsessing over food than on doing something productive... like taking acting classes?

I know it's asking too much for an image-focused industry to care more about health than how many ounces an actor has gained since lunch time but that is my take on it. Images are deceiving and we have to be ever vigilant against images that want us to feel bad about ourselves in order to get us to buy products - whether those be fairness creams or diet plans.

Anyways... onto less controversial issues...

* Another take on the Shahrukh Khan detention incident.

Naturally, the government and our missions abroad are not aware that thousands of Indian travellers to Europe, North America and Australia are regularly harangued by obstinate and rude immigration officials at international airports, that every day we stand in long queues outside embassies in New Delhi, exposed to the elements, to be refused visas without reason. On the other hand, it is for anyone to see how we queue up for security and immigration lines while so called VIPs escorted by pushy policemen and immigration staff are ushered into aircraft and constantly upgraded to first class.

* Irrfan Khan is certainly on a roll with all his interviews these days...

Hollywood films try to strike a universal language. In recent years, we have seen so many Hollywood films releasing in India. People in the west don't see Bollywood films. Why? The reason is because they have stuck to a language that is universal. We need to find a language and a sensibility in our stories which can speak for itself all over the world. This will happen when you make films about your own culture and people.

Um... wrong. Sorry, Irrfan! You just don't know Westerners if that is what you think. The reason people in English speaking parts of the world don't see Bollywood films is simple - we won't see anything that isn't made in English. Americans, especially, hate subtitles. Also, just in general, we don't want to watch things with non-white people in them. It's a simple as that.

And as for Hollywood's language being universal... yeah. I would argue that Hollywood's language is just the loudest so we hear it better.

* Tigermanshu Dhulia on Saheb Biwi aur Gangster 2.

* Anybody in Hollywood or Bollywood interested in outsourcing their film productions to Hyderabad? Akkineni Nagarjuna has the studio for you.

* Business of Cinema reveals all of the Rowdy Rathore guest appearances.

"Hyderabad promises to be less expensive than Mumbai in terms of accommodation and transportation. They (Bollywood) can also save a lot of time in travel. Only the lead actors and the main crew have to come as everything else is available."

* Strip Queen Poonam Pandey finally snagged herself a film.

* Dhobi Ghat's Monica Dogra has signed on to Bejoy Nambiar's David.

* Check out Lolo on the sets of Raaz 3.

* Manisha Koirala confirmed for Bhoot 2.

* Is it Katrina Kaif for Imtiaz Ali's next film? Well, she is an "exotic import" but not a new one... but then Imtiaz will probably have some other minor roles to fill with foreign models, so I'm sure he's got it covered.

* Shahid clears up rumors of which films he's signed and which he hasn't.


Yunus Perveez said...

The "Why do People not watch Bollywood" is an interesting question though that I haven't found a clear cut answer to.
Comparing them to Hollywood might not be right but if you compare them to the critical praise that Iranian or South Korean cinema has gotten or even more recently Eastern European cinema.

They also have subtitles, different races or cultures but there is a complete aversion especially from male geek cinemagoers (think SlashFilm etc) which I never understood. Surely some of RGV's movies would not be deemed song and dance movies... I wonder why no one has ever truly broken through.

thediva_1 said...

Finally someone who realizes the reason Americans don't watch Indian moies is because there NOT IN ENGLISH!
I think it's sad how actors like Irfan have no idea about the audiences they are talking about but think they know them best.
Need to ask an American!

Jess said...

I think there are a lot of reasons Bollywood doesn't click with US audiences.
1. Like filmigirl said, subtitles
2. The biggest Hollywood films are huge CGI/effects heavy action/superhero movies. And Bollywood can't come close to the quality ($$$). And Bollywood fight scenes are rarely realistic looking.
3. The majority of Americans, and men in particular, have 0 interest in a film with songs and dances.
4. The themes are different. Relationships in Bollywood films are different, whether parent/child or romantic relationships, a western audience is used to certain tropes, and would find Bollywood tropes/cliches unusual. (I am still put off whenever, say a father slaps his grown daughter in a movie. Only the villians could do that in a Hollywood movie.)
5. The comedy. There is some overlap here but comedy is the most difficult genre to pass over into different countries.
6. The different approach to showing sex, sexiness, and sexuality
7. Finally, most people don't know anything about Bollywood, and wouldn't know where/what to watch even if they wanted to.

These are things I've noticed have been issues when trying to get friends to watch a Bollywood movie.

As to why the more 'art-house' Indian films don't get more attention, I have NO idea. Maybe they just aren't trendy enough for the Weinsteins to pick up.

rachael said...

I think that the average American's aversion to Bollywood has a lot to do with unfair reputation than the actual movies themselves. People seem to have some really kooky ideas about what Bollywood films are actually like, but once they actually sit and watch a couple they seem to really like them, in my experience at least. I've converted not only my boyfriend, nephew, and mother, but my 62 year old southern father who is heavily resistant to any foreign movie not featuring Jackie Chan. My aged pop not only shares my mother's love for SRK, he now has developed a hilarious man-crush on Hrithik.

I think if distributors actually worked harder to get Bollywood films in front of a more mainstream audience more people's perceptions might change. As it is, they don't even seem to be trying to capture the art house crowd, which seems the obvious first step.

pennywhistler said...

I think one of the major reasons Bollywood doesn't get a big Western audience is that it's not promoted to them at all. I mean, it wasn't that long ago that I couldn't see films at the cinema because English subtitles were still not standard. When I flick through the local newspapers/listings magazines there are adverts for films from every country you can think of, but never Bollywood. My favourite film critic says he would love to review Bollywood films, but the distributors won't invite the mainstream critics to the screenings. I am not sure what it's like seeing Bollywood films in the US, but here in the UK it can sometimes be an uncomfortable experience. I think it takes a fair bit of courage for someone who has no experience to Bollywood to walk into a cinema!

Bombay Talkies said...

I think PennyWhistler's got it mostly right--it's hard to have an aversion to something you don't even know exists. If a variety of Bollywood films were playing in every major American market and people were given the choice of what to see *then* maybe you could say it's because Americans won't watch films not in English, won't read subtitles, don't like the stories, etc. I'd wager to say perhaps 1% of the country has even a passing familiarity with Indian films, and those of us outside the major metros have NO chance to see it in theaters.

I've lived just outside of Nashville for two years and I've seen exactly two films come to a major theater here: Anjana Anjani, which was given only weekday matinee showings, and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, which played for three days. People around here can hardly be blamed for not choosing to watch Bollywood; other foreign language films play to well-filled theaters. It's not the language problem as much as it is access to the films. (And when the films *do* play they have to interest viewers. Access + good films is a good way to start when it comes to growing audiences for Bollywood in America.

thediva_1 said...

I agree with racheal 100%.
People in the west have SUCH twisted notions of what Bollywood is. They think it's childish and senseless dancing/singing, which is not true.

People of all ages love Hindi cinema in India, it could be the same for the west. It's just a matter of watching the right films and having the stereotypes of Slumdog Millionaire etc. ended.

AND the language barrier (which will always be there and will always prevent Hindi films from gaining a HUGE audience)

And on the matter of Italian and Iranian films, they have extremely niche audiences that are into that heavy "art-house" type cinema. Many Americans aren't into that either. It's just that those films found their audience, which B-wood kind of has in the west too (filmi girl and others). Why that doesn't seem to occur to Irfan Khan and others is beyond me.

Filmi Girl said...

Everybody has making such good points I didn't want to jump in!! LOL!

I do agree that there is a bias against Bollywood more than against other foreign films just because of the "silly" stereotype attached to any film that has songs in it.

I also agree that there is definitely an audience for Indian films in the West - especially films like Tigermanshu Dhulia is making.

What I don't think there is in the West is a mass audience for Bollywood - i.e. the mainstream stuff. Sure, there are people who are going to love it but most Americans really just don't want to read subtitles and they don't want to watch "weird" stuff that stars people who don't look like them.

Maybe that will change in the future but at the moment the mass American audience is just too insular for any foreign film to break through.

maxqnz said...

What a fascinating discussion! I wish it had been up when I wrote a guest blog for the fiftyfifty.me challenge, I would have linked to this so that readers could see "insiders" talking about this perennial question. I agree with pretty much everything said here, but espcially with Bombay Talkies comments about the lack of exposure - it's much worse up here in Aotearoa. In my town, there have been exactly TWO Hindi films come to the cinema in the last ten years - Barsaat (with Bobby and Filmi Girl's number one favourite actress Piggy Chops) and Ra.One. That last was cruel irony - finally a Hindi film was here and I still didn't go!
That's why I think you're right, Filmi Girl, that there will never be a mass market for mainstream commeercial Indian films in the West. The non-mainstream could survive though, if given the chance to do the arthouse circuits, I think.

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
.article .article-content { word-break: normal !important; }