Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Post: RANVEER SINGH! Save us!

I saw this yesterday but since today was a little light... Karan Johar made an offhanded comment about the star system ending because Vicky Donor did well.

Um, no. First of all, those small films don't do nearly as much business or have as much cultural influence as your 100 crore club Bodyguard or your Rowdy Rathore and second of all, all the success of these "Hindie" films have done is create a second tier of "stars" for the media to yap about, some of who have been gobbling up the attention like somebody named Kardashian - Ayushmann Khurrana - and others who wish we would all shut up and let them work - Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Post! Remember when heroines weren't CGI'ed?

Check out my SPOILER FREE review of The Reluctant Fundamentalist! And ignore the American reviews which are mostly either bitching that it's too different from the book or demanding that the film provide all definitive answers to why there is Islamic terrorism or are white guys complaining that discussion of racial profiling and hatred of Muslims in America feels irrelevant in this day and age... to them.

My man Kenneth Turan over at the LA Times gets it, though. But OMG the comments! THE COMMENTS!

The novel, intended as parable, was pure pabulum. The character Erica represented AMerica, and that was about as subtle as it got. Directed squarely at the self-loathing Left, the film should do quite well in Los Angeles.

Okay then.

And for the love of all things filmi, how do Shabana Azmi and Om Puri not get mentioned in most of these reviews?! Or Meesha Shafi? It's like all of the non-American actors were one big blur. Well, at least we all agree that Kate Hudson was crap.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Reluctant Fundamentalist: A Tale of Two Cities.

On January 27, 2011, in Lahore, an American man named Raymond Davis was arrested for murder. He claimed to be an embassy employee and that he had shot the two young men at point blank range with his (illegal) 9mm Glock in self-defense. American officials were unwilling to confirm this. They were also unwilling to produce the driver of a vehicle which, in attempting to extract Davis from the scene, had jumped the median of a road, killing two bystanders.

Nobody was shocked when, months later, after diplomatics relations between America and Pakistan had frayed to dangerous levels, that the US admitted Davis was CIA and then paid blood money to the relatives of the men he killed in order to get him out of the country.

Just to be clear, these aren’t spoilers for The Reluctant Fundamentalist - the Raymond Davis incident actually happened. In real life. And American viewers should keep this in mind as they settle in to watch Mira Nair bring Lahore, Pakistan and New York City to life in The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

We are not so innocent.

Sunday Post: Why is this so difficult?

Zohra Sehgal is 101 years old!!! WOW! Congratulations and happy birthday!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Midnight's Children. Aka That Time Salman Rushdie got all his buddies together to make a movie he wrote.

Kip: "So, you and Tammy still together?"

Uncle Rico: "No, not really."

Kip: "Why is that?"

Uncle Rico: "Well, she's jealous. Says I'm livin' too much in '82. Well, I dumped her."

- Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

How does one review a film by Salman Rushdie and Deepa Mehta? Do I concentrate on the politics, the story, the entertainment value, the craft, the characters, or the personality behind the story? For a film based on a book by one of the most divisive authors of the twentieth century and directed by one of the more socially conscious directors, both of whom are catering to very different audiences among the global Hindi speaking multiplex audience as well as to the Western “foreign film” crowd, the issues raised are so numerous that it’s difficult to even know where to begin.

Saturday Post! And some totally uncoincidental news!

Really, cats? You yell and yell for me to get up and once I do, you guys fall asleep in my bed.

Catssss! *shakes fist*

(But so cute. Ammirite?)


Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Post: Jackky Bhagnani better watch his back... there's a new producer's son in town!

Mala Sinha is back in the news for quipping on the number of awards that actors receive these days.

"I see awards on TV, every week there is some award function happening. We used to get award rarely. But today there are so many awards. I wish I was heroine today and you all would see me getting award on every channel."

Oh, Mala! You deserve an award on every channel.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday Post: Was Jeans really that bad?

We start today with an interview with the four directors behind Bombay Talkies.

There was a time when the distribution map of India was as well known as the political map. Do filmmakers today need to know their audiences that well?

ANURAG I really don't understand how a film can reach out everywhere. My logic is that your biggest hit is 3 Idiots (2009) and 25 million people have seen it in a country of 1.2 billion. The only thing I have always done is to work my films in such a way that they do not flop, so that I can make my next film. When my films were not releasing in India, I got a passport and took my films abroad. Before 2004, I didn't have a passport, I didn't know how to speak in English.

KARAN Research by FICCI Frames says there's only 8 to 9 per cent of this country that is invested in cinema. And we say we are a film-loving nation. Actually we are not! The challenge is to get that 90 per cent to watch films.

Not to harp on a point but is this the percentage of the population invested in films or in HINDI language films? I mean, either way, I'm sure some suit is interested in getting that 90% into see UTV's latest release but the implication is different.

The whole conversation is pretty interesting, though. They talk about the audience; Zoya reveals herself to be a Gone with the Wind fan; and then everybody busts on Jeans, which I haven't seen but now I kind of want to. Maybe that should be a new series… A look at India's submissions to the Oscars.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shamshad Begum has passed away.

And some sad news that deserved its own post... Shamshad Begum has passed away. She was 94.

I will always remember her fondly for her playful, earthy counterpart to Asha Bhosle in one of my all-time favorite songs "Kajra Mohabbat Wala." Shamshad's swan song.

(And as an aside, I wonder how many actors, other than Biswajeet, were bold enough to have a woman sing playback for them.)

Wednesday Post... RAANJHANAA!

Vidya Balan has joined the jury for Cannes.

Other big names joining Spielberg and Vidya are Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman, Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz, Japanese director Naomi Kawase, Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, French actor-director Daniel Auteuil and Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.

Also going to be at Cannes: Neil Nitin Mukesh, Ameesha Patel, and Shortcut Romeo. Prepare thyselves.

Are you even ready for Cannes-mania?! I LOVE CANNES COVERAGE! One day I'll get to go myself, I just know it. A gorgeous frock, a contract for L'Oreal... it will all be mine. Mwa ha ha...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Post: Why so serious?

Good morning, friends. Apologies for my small break. I took very ill over the weekend and had trouble doing anything beyond laying in bed with my eyes closed listening to audio books. (Side note: Wolf Hall really is pretty great!

I'm feeling much better now, though, so let's start the day!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Post... TGIF?

Good morning, world. I'm attempting to write this while simultaneously following the Boston man hunt so I may be a little (read very) distracted.

Stay safe, Bostonians!!!! I spent six years in the city and while I may have cursed the bitterly cold winters, the constant discussion of the Red Sox, and the teeming masses of undergraduates… YOU DON'T MESS WITH MY CITY!

Pomp, circumstance, and nostalgia...

It's late and I'm tired so I apologies if this doesn't flow right. I want to pick this topic up more in my review of Chashme Baddoor - which is coming! I promise! As if I could resist mentioning Sid's Jesus smoking a blunt t-shirt but why not give everybody a big page of text to read. It's been a long week, my friends. A loooooooooong week.

Pomp and circumstance do nothing for me.* Steven Tyler was the commencement speaker at my college graduation. I didn’t particularly want to attend but my mother insisted on it - as did my siblings, who were excited at the chance to see a real celebrity. A few days before the ceremony, a friend helped me bleach my hair and dye it bright cotton candy pink. Just because. My mother stoically said nothing about it but I thought the pink popped quite nicely against the green of my robe in the photos.

Hey, at least I left the novel I was reading on my chair.

The reason I bring up this pointless reminiscence is because there has been a lot of pointless pomp and circumstance marking 2013 as Bollywood’s centennial.**

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday: Our favorite villain has returned! Read into that what you will...

Once again, I won't know what films are playing this weekend until tomorrow... the mystery continues! But today, the big Bollywood story is Selena Gomez's bindi game.

"The bindi on the forehead is an ancient tradition in Hinduism and has religious significance," Hindu statesman Rajan Zed told WENN (via MSN). "It is also sometimes referred to as the third eye and the flame, and it is an auspicious religious and spiritual symbol ... It is not meant to be thrown around loosely for seductive effects or as a fashion accessory aiming at mercantile greed."

Yeah, I'm on team nobody here. On the one hand, Selena Gomez is culturally appropriating with her new image (and song) but on the other hand, the anti-bindi crusade reads more like those FIRs that get filed against movies for having smoking in them or because there's an item than coming from a place of real hurt. If the bindi has him that mad, why not arrest every henna booth giving white kids "spiritual symbols" at state fairs across America?

Selena's Indian drag (musical and otherwise) is in poor taste is what this all comes down to. Here's a handy checklist for her the next time she decides to go the "exotic" Gwen Stefani route:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday Post: GABBAR... I mean, um, GABBAR!

Good morning!! I know I have a pile of writing that I owe you but... it's SPRING TIME!

FLOWERS! ORANGES! PINKS! AND BEBO! Picture snagged from this write up of Namrata Joshipura's Lakme Show. I wore an orange dress yesterday and am tempted to dig out a pink one today.

Let's hit it! ONTO THE NEWS!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Good morning, friends, and what news to return home to. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston this morning. I worked very, very near to one of the blast sites for about five years and it is really sad to see my old neighborhood covered in blood and debris.

I share the anxiety, waiting to see who the FBI will finger and desperately hoping whoever is arrested won't give hateful idiots an excuse to bash up on Muslims or "Muslims" (aka brown people.) Not that uncertainty has stopped the idiots on twitter and other places from throwing around accusations.

If you need some thoughtful writing on the topic this morning, please check out Juan Cole's piece on sympathy.

Terrorism has no nation or religion. But likewise its victims are human beings, precious human beings, who must be the objects of compassion for us all.

Monday, April 15, 2013


And I bring you a song titled "Give it up for Bachchan" from Bombay Talkies! While I trash Anurag Kashyap a lot for his seemingly endless lack of self-awareness, I'm actually really looking forward to his segment of Bombay Talkies. Funnily enough Get Filmy and I talked a lot about this when we met up in New York. (SHOUT OUT!)

We live with these stars, in a way. When we see Amitabh in a film, it's like watching a family friend. There is no way any of these stars could ever live up to the perfect images constructed of them and that gap remains a source of fascination for film fans. Ranbir drunk and partying with girls in Vancouver; family men rumored to have second wives; and my favorite scene in Guddi in which Pran reveals himself to be a perfect gentleman.

(Also, how great is it to hear Sukhwinder Singh again?! I missed those smoky tones.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

New York City Express... 1 ticket! 1 ticket to see KYARY PAMYU PAMYU THAT IS!

Yes, my dear friends, I'll be leaving you again for a few days. This time it's off to New York City! (NEW YORK CITY!) I've got one precious ticket to see one of my favorite new artists - one Miss Kyary Pamyu Pamyu!

(Kyary being all adorable in Paris; snagged from her Twitter.)

The show is sold out, which makes me nervous. Not because I'm afraid of crowds but because I'm afraid of, yes, the American media and their lazy take on anything Asian. So, on the off chance that any journalists are Googling around looking for something on Kyary, for your consideration, please enjoy my explanation of and clarifications on the pop wonder that is Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in interview format.

Friday Post: Go away, John Abraham.

How important are movies in society? As important as the author writing about them needs them to be. See, this is where I wish people would stop trying to use the glitter of Film City to justify whatever social point it is they are trying to make, especially when it's clear that they really do not watch Bollywood films.

For their part, Bollywood films have changed somewhat in recent years to depict the woman as more of an equal to her male counterpart and less of an object; their roles are more career-driven and less subservient. Women are standing up to society and their families where injustices such as forced marriages exist.

These trends are not enough. Bollywood can become more progressive on women's issues by portraying lives of ordinary women living in South Asia, and the challenges they have to face on a daily basis. Behind the opulence that is often portrayed in Bollywood films, the troubling reality of Indian and Pakistani societies is that the injustices against the women of the top 1% most often do not reflect the same gender discriminations of the vast majority of women within society. After all, the wealthiest individuals are not the ones who ride the bus every day.

Obviously I feel a deep empathy for the point human rights activist Humira Noorestani is trying to make - that the plight of ordinary women is pretty terrible in parts of South Asia. However, I don't think it helps anything to make sweeping judgements about films that she clearly doesn't watch. Referencing the gritty Water as a "Bollywood" film in one paragraph and then decrying the "opulence" of Bollywood films in another. Which is it? Is Deepa Mehta Bollywood or is Rascals Bollywood?

Not to mention that Bollywood, as such, gets more play in places like London and Toronto than Chennai and Hyderabad - let alone in Bangalore where Malashri will dishoom you in the face as soon as look at you. Plus, consider the television serial. Ekta Kapoor's empire surely has as much or even more influence as the Bollywood studios. Not one mention of something like Jhansi Ki Rani or Hitler Didi? And what about Satyamev Jayate?

Confused essays jumbling psycho-sociological analysis, a Film Studies 101 understanding of art, and heavily stereotyped ideas of an entire region's film industries do nothing but take up space on the Internet and give reactionary idiots a straw man to fight against.

Should Bollywood be more socially aware? And whose social values should Bollywood be projecting? The independent career woman who likes to drink and carouse like a man in London? The community-minded woman who gives up a teenaged romance to complete her education? The woman who fights? Who joins the police force? Who supports her family at home? Who wears a bikini in defiance of patriarchal taboos or who finds the bikini body itself a type of patriarchal tyranny?

Undoubtedly we would all like to see more women in bigger roles in front of and behind the scenes and this is slowly happening - and faster than in Hollywood, one could argue. You just have to know where to look. Like at the movies themselves.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday Post: Oh, so edgy...

The Indian Film Festival opened in Los Angeles with Gangs of Wasseypur and Freida Pinto… despite the fact that she has yet to star in a single film that takes place in India that wasn't written and directed by a white guy.

And what is a film festival without Anurag Kashyap talking out of his ass:

He attributed piracy and the popularity of downloading films for this new willingness to accept edgy films. “Piracy is changing Indian cinema,” said Kashyap. Younger auds embrace edgy films while the older crowd still prefers the song-and-dance fare, he added.

Bullshit. Why does he constantly play up this fake narrative of Bollywood's "evolution" (unspoken) to be more like Hollywood? Because it gets him attention from international outlets?

Anurag, bro, speak to ANY of the South Asian youngsters going to see Hindi films on a regular basis in LA and they'll tell you what they want: song-dance romances like Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.

The audience for edgy films is there but it's always going to be small. That's just the way art works.

Anyways, the full list of films showing is here and there are some good ones, so check it out!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday Post: Back to business...

Wow, not much news today…

So I'll post a promo instead:

ALI ZAFAR is touring the US! It should be a good show - I just need to figure out who is selling tickets and I'm booking mine.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday Post: I'm back, baby!

So... VIVA LAS VEGAS! I'm back, baby!

*WHOOSH* The Bellagio Fountain at night!! One of the first things I saw driving into Vegas with my mum!

(FG at Cesar's Palace!)

(FG out at Red Rock Canyon!)

(FG with the lovely and talented Meena! Thanks for taking me out to lunch!)

I had a great time in Vegas and cannot wait to go back...

... and I even got to meet one of my ALL TIME HEROES: TELLER from Penn & Teller!!! I want to write up something special about that because it really was special to me. Even if I was so tongue-tied from fangirl apoplexy I could barely get two words out. Possibly the only 33-year old woman reduced to incoherence by a 60+ Latin teacher cum magician but that's just how FG rolls.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Post: Setting my soul on fire!

Yes, that's right! I'm off to Las Vegas and updating will be irregular until... Wednesday or so.

I expect Vegas is going to be exactly like Elvis Presley starrer Viva Las Vegas, so I'm packing my Ann Margaret style swimsuit and a clean pair of white gloves.

(But if I see any suspiciously Imran Khan looking types, I'll walk swiftly in the other direction. The last thing I need is a fake marriage.)

For those looking to go some place far colder and less sunshiney than Las Vegas, please note that despite the crowing TOIFA is far from sold out and "hundreds" of tickets remain available. A little birdie tells me that that Labour Party propaganda is flowing pretty heavily at the press events. I'll be curious to see how this all plays out. Understandably, I suppose most stars really don't care about being used for crass politicking in another country, as long as they get paid.

(Huffington Post has some starry arrival snaps, crass politicking does have some glamour!)

And PS How about that game yesterday!! What a nail biter at the end there... but why put Pollard on so late?! Since my brother will soon be marrying into Guyanese family, I feel a tie to all the Windies players. Go, Chris Gayle, go!

(Photo credits: Jacques Rossouw/IPL/SPORTZPICS)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thursday Post: The "Desi Magic" Countdown begins... now!

Good morning, lovelies! Did everybody catch the IPL opening game yesterday? I was following the live blog on CricInfo and trying not to cheer too loudly at my desk. How about that Mahela Jayawardene, huh?

I have to admit that I enjoy the sea of I hate it but I love it blog posts from cricket fans surrounding the spectacle and staginess of the IPL. What great fun we'll have for the next few weeks!

Especially with ALL THE DRAMA! Let's face it, when SRK is involved, media drama is never far behind. And when you get Kat, Dippy, and SRK on stage together, well, MAJOR DRAMA. Is it me or is his hair piece looking worse and worse these days...

[I want one of those shirts. Anybody else? I can Cafepress some up.] And nothing says IPL like behind-the-scenes bickering about promotions. Reports are already trickling in that Shahrukh is doing his damnedest to keep Akshay starrer Once Upon A Time In Mumbai 2 off the radar.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wednesday Post: GET READY TO PARTY!

TOIFA. It's coming closer… and the IB Times is on it.

It is not a surprise that fans and the audiences of the show would be interested in the film stars and their upcoming performances more than the controversy of "vote scandal" lurking around the show.

The IB Times seems to be referencing this article from Vancouver's Metro News where an intrepid reporter went to the airport and talked to three people who were waiting to see stars arrive.

But TOIFA won the Liberals at least one vote in the crowd – if only Maheep Pannu was old enough to hit the ballots. “If I was voting, I would vote for the Liberals because they’re bringing Bollywood into Vancouver,” the 17-year-old said.

Unfortunately the IB Times missed the one epic comment at the bottom of the page from one Yogesh Kumar Bhatia:

The likes of SRK, the Bachhans, Kapoors, etc. are all elitists who have a C-rated skill of making supposedly "entertaining movies with well-built, thinly clothed women who can certainly dance. But that does not make an actor or give them the right to spend my money for their ego-driven self-aggrandizement!

The Vancouver Sun is on top of the C and D list celebs and bold faced names arriving though they seem to be confusing them for A listers… possibly because the Vancouver Staff can't tell their Shreyas Talpades from their Shahrukh Khans. Or maybe it's just the spell of the notorious personal charm of one Mr. Abhishek Bachchan. Who I suppose is technically an A-lister, or at least has an A-list name.

Meanwhile poor little Surrey has been totally overlooked.

BUT if you are in Vancouver and want to spot your own C-lister, do check out this list of star spotting locations. I will totally post any photos sent to me. especially with Anurag Kashyap whose interest in the scandals seemed to extend as far as the media not talking about his troubles with Kalki.

The TOI itself is busy keeping up with all the hot news - like how Sunny Deol (who is my dad's age and romancing a girl younger than me in his next film) doesn't work out for six pack abs.

"I have always been a fitness freak but I am not here to work for six pack and gloat about muscles around, that is not who I am. When I joined this industry, that time action was really action. There were no safeties for stunts, no cables.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday Post: Am I a dust bin?

Three little letters… IPL!

Shahrukh Khan may still be banned from Wankhede Stadium but that doesn't mean he's not thinking of the fans.

The Pepsi IPL 2013 Opening Nite is being touted as the ‘grandest sporting spectacle ever seen in India.’ What are going to be its highlights, and what will your role be in the same?

The Pepsi IPL 2013 Opening Nite will be a spectacular ceremony, the likes of which India has never seen before. I will be performing to some of my songs. Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone, two of my co-stars, will also be there. Pitbull, the international rapper, will thrill the audiences.

Unfortunately, the youtube channel is limited to India only so you'll have to find some other way to watch matches.

But there's always Ranbir and his Pepsi ad for everybody. I've always found it funny that nutrition-free calorie bomb sodas sponsor athletic events. As if cricketers are really back there swigging Pepsi and Coke before heading out to the pitch.

Also starting up… TOIFA. Prepare for the hype explosion!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday Post: Trust Nothing.

April Fool's Day: TRUST NOTHING!

Is PC working with Pitbull? Is Fardeen Khan quitting? Is Shahrukh still banned from Wankhede Stadium? Who can say. (And more importantly, who cares.)

I'm not out to trick anyone and I've tried to avoid the ones that are obviously false but I could still get fooled so… yeah.

The big story of the day is HIMMATWALA, more specifically how badly Himmatwala flopped. 31 crores is the number being thrown around. While I would like nothing more than to give it a glowing review just to spite the smug critics out there to be honest, in the end, I couldn't work up the enthusiasm to go see it. If it had been Akshay I probably would have made more of an effort but Ajay is hit or miss for me in these mass films.

So, anyways, it looks like we have a prime candidate for my next edition of Box Office Poison!

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