Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Post: It's romance! No, it's not! Fine, I'm booking you for assault! It's like your last name is Pancholi or something!

First of all, Raanjhanaa is a hit! People really like it, which I can testify to. There was a far bigger crowd than I usually see at the Saturday afternoon matinee and people seemed to be enjoying themselves... especially the guys sitting behind me, who were simply loving the dialogues.

(Pic from Sonam's Instagram, I just liked it. Who says he's ugly!? Sheesh.)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Raanjhanaa: Not enough blood on that poster there, marketing team.

(Um... is this really the poster we're going with for the film? Needs more blood.)

Aur kaale bhi. If I’m reading my handwriting correctly, that’s the dialogue the guys sitting behind me were appreciatively reciting to each other and laughing about for a good ten minutes after Dhanush says it in Raanjhanaa.* The first of many good lines. “And I’m dark, too.” Dhanush offhandedly pointing out the obvious, making sure we recognize that his townie character is many shades darker than upmarket heroine Sonam Kapoor.

Written and directed by the same team who did the slice-of-life romantic-comedy Tanu Weds Manu, Himanshu Sharma and Anand L. Rai, Raanjhanaa has also been marketed as a romance but it delivers much, much more than longing looks and stolen kisses. Set in Benares and Delhi, Raajhanaa is a film about social class, politics, and provincialism. And obsession.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday Post: Let's be happy!

Let's all take a minute to remember RD Burman on his birthday. He is very much missed... though his songs will live forever.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday Post: Too much shit for one sandwich...

Shall we get this out of the way? The Salman Khan-Suraj Pancholi clusterfuck of bad news and sloppy reporting.

The Telegraph looks at the statue Suraj is accused under and it doesn't look like this is going away as his bail plea was rejected and now Salman is (apparently?) being given final say over whether or not Suraj will be launched in Hero.

As for Salman, his team has put up a website that will post information on 2002 incident as things unfold.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Post: Paging Miss Gorightry!


Oh, thank god, it's that other Salman Khan who might go to jail. And here I thought he was doing good works with the Khan Academy and he's out carousing...

(Here's a real write-up from Firstpost.)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Post: She's just my style!

Good morning, friends!! Do forgive me if I'm a bit out of it this morning. Last night I went (with my parents) to the HAPPY TOGETHER TOUR and it ran kind of late. It was really, really fun! There is something satisfying about seeing these showmen from another era getting up and... putting on a show. Gary Lewis, Mark Lindsay, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman... these are men from a time before the music business became all self-importantly "serious" and a guy could wear a lace dickey place some fucking solid blues on afternoon music television without anybody accusing him of "selling out."

Anyways, I highly recommend checking it out if they stop by you. Of course, this makes the second time I've seen Gary Lewis perform live so take how you will...

I mean, come on! AN ACCORDION?! I LOVE IT! Gary Lewis just seems so affable... sort of like the Abhishek Bachchan of 1960s pop music. Although that makes Jerry the Amitabh and I don't know how I feel about that.

In other news, maybe other people have an opinion on my Singham/Singam piece. I've gotten exactly two comments - one that was for the comparing of the two versions and one against. I did just watch Bodyguard and was thinking of trying to find the Malayalam version but if people aren't interested, then I won't try. Although, in the case of Singham, I did think it was important to bring up the original because they changed so much from it that one has to wonder why they picked it to adapt in the first place. Why not just make a new film? But I also don't think that any Hindi version has to be inferior to the original - with Ghajini being the prime example but I think even Wanted was better than the original. And there is a case to be made for Rowdy Rathore, too.

So, let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

100 Crore Club Honorary Member Badge: Singham

Bill Foster: What are you doing to the street?

Construction Worker: We're fixing it. What the Hell does it look like?

Bill Foster: Two days ago it was fine. Are you telling me the street fell apart in two days?

Construction Worker: Well, I guess so.

Bill Foster: Pardon me, but that's bullshit. You see, I don't think anything's wrong with the street! I think you're just trying to justify your inflated budgets! I know how it works! If you don't spend the projected amount this year, you don't get the same amount next year! Now, I want you to admit, THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THE STREET!

Construction Worker: Hey, fuck you, pal.

- Falling Down, 1993

Homer Simpson: It's time to clean up this town!

Seymour Skinner: Meaning what, exactly?

Homer Simpson: You know, push people around, make ourselves feel big.

- The Simpsons, S5E11, "Homer the Vigilante"

[For the intro to the 100 Crore Club series click here. Then see Member Badge No. 1, Member Badge No. 2, Member Badge No.3, and Member Badge No.4.]

Technically, Ready should be the next film in my 100 Crore Club series but even I couldn’t quite bring myself to pay to see it again, though I remember enjoying it well enough at the time. Films like Ready are mayflies - born to provide a brief moment of pleasure before flickering away, leaving behind only a couple of catchy songs and a pile of cash.

That the wafer-thin Ready managed to join the 100 Crore Club and be one of the top grossing films of the year is a tribute to one thing - Salman Khan. Specifically, Salman Khan after Dabangg. Though Salman often seems to put across a DGAF attitude, the interviews he gave for Ready show a man concerned with giving the aam aadmi his 10 rupees worth of entertainment, with living up to the expectations set for him. Salman also had this to say:

“The people, and that includes me, go to the theatre to watch a real hero, and this genre was missing for a while. Now that they are liking this genre, I will continue playing these roles.”

Even if Ready’s Prem Kapoor wasn’t particularly heroic, he was delightful to watch and that was enough to satisfy Salman’s fan. Prem kept appetites whet for the next larger-than-life hero to stand astride our cinema screens, a hero who is much more interesting to talk about.

Yes, I’m talking about Ajay Devgn as one Inspector Bajirao M. Singham.



The lion of the police force!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Post: This air I breathe.... it don't belong to me.

Good morning, friends! I hope everybody in Singapore is breathing okay... those fires just keep burning, huh? And my heart goes out to the people of Uttarakhand.

What is the world's environment coming to...

We all should have listened to the O'Jays back in 1973.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday Post: Axe Body Spray: Why not announce your douchebaggery by scent? That way people know to avoid you before they see you.

There is something EXTREMELY disturbing about this ad...

Although, Ranbir for Axe makes perfect sense, at least considering his partying during the TOIFAs.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday Post: I built it.

Let's start today with Techdirt's take on a US Chamber of Commerce memo:

The US Chamber of Commerce, the giant lobbying organization who led the fight for SOPA/PIPA, is apparently so invested in "must have stronger copyright laws" that it doesn't even bother making sense any more. It's released a bizarre statement claiming that India needs stronger copyright laws, because Bollywood is so successful.

Hat tip to this piece in Firstpost which argues... I'm not sure what for pointing it out.

This issue of copyright and "originality" comes up time and time again when discussing "Bollywood." On the one hand, we can probably all agree that copyright law should be strong enough that copying a scene directly from a VHS tape of Pretty Woman (we all know exactly what film I'm talking about) should be prohibited without some form of credit but beyond that, I'm actually quite fond of the way stories and plots slosh around massy Indian films. What's wrong with taking inspiration from a previously existing story? It's like... I was listening to the This American Life episode on patent trolls and sometimes I get the feeling Hollywood wants copyright to work the same way. "Ah, well, we own the rights to an old film about two brothers from two different fathers who start off hating each other but become best friends so you can't make Dabangg without paying us."

Of course, there are other issues involved, too. The way the American system works now, copyright mostly just protects big corporations with the actual content creators getting little or no monetary compensation. I suggest checking out this piece on the original creators of Superman... and then maybe take another look at Javed Akhtar's Zanjeer cash grab.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Priyanka Chopra's look for the Mary Kom biopic has been leaked... and it's really tacky looking. I cannot believe this film is actually taking place. WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST GET AN ACTRESS FROM THE NORTHEAST?!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Filmi Girl in and as... MONDAY POST!!

Let's start the day with something sweet!

The first look of Shudh Desi Romance starring Parineeti Chopra and Sushant Rajput Singh!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy 30th Birthday, Ninomiya! 二宮和也、お誕生日おめでとう!!!

Tomorrow (today in Japan), my favorite idol is turning 30 years old and I’d like to wish him a big Happy Birthday from America! 三十歳になった二宮和也、お誕生日おめでとう!

Ninomiya (R) with my fave butch lady comedian Haruna-kun

But even those of you who don’t follow Japanese entertainment will probably remember Ninomiya Kazunari as the young soldier in Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima.

After this film, he could have easily chased bit roles in Hollywood for cash - the Watanabe Ken and Asano Tadanobu route - but, if anything, Ninomiya has always seemed somewhat embarrassed by his Hollywood connection and seems to prefer talking about farts on late night variety shows to red carpet premieres. He’s lazy, weird looking, notoriously unhealthy, ridiculously short, known industry-wide for being a cheapskate, obsessed with video games and bikini models, and one-fifth of Japan’s current top idol group Arashi (嵐). Ninomiya has always fascinated me because of this inner contradiction, the idol embarrassed by his own existence. He’s the master of deflecting questions to his band members in interviews and whenever he does act idol-y, it always has more than a shade of deliberate exaggeration to it, as if he can’t quite figure out why it is we like this stuff so much but he’ll give it to us if that’s what we want.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday post: No Parking on the dance floor.

Let's open today with a jumbled piece from the Atlantic which asks why "Bollywood" doesn't like sci-fi and fantasy written by somebody who appears to have only a passing familiarity with massy Indian films.

This isn't to say that there aren't folk tales with magic and mythology in India. There are. That makes their absence in Bollywood and their overabundance in Hollywood all the more remarkable. Whereas Bollywood takes quotidian family dramas and imbues them with spectacular tales of love and wealth found-lost-regained amidst the pageantry of choreographed dance pieces, Hollywood goes to the supernatural and futurism. It's a sign that longing for mystery is universal, but the taste for science fiction and fantasy is cultural.

Okay. I appreciate the sentiment behind the piece - mutual cultural understanding is always a good goal - but I feel like the author is missing something and is making a one-sided argument. Not only is her definition of "sci-fi" and "fantasy" is too narrow and Western-focused, her survey of Indian films appears to not have run very deep. Just because there aren't dragons and robots in DDLJ doesn't mean that there aren't elements of "sci-fi" and "fantasy" in massy Indian films. I mean, in the last few years alone we've had some mega-reincarnation stories like Magadheera (historical fantasy) and Eega (modern fantasy) as well as wonderful over-the-top sci-fi stories like Endhiran (robots) and more subtle ones like Maattrraan (genetic modification).

We just need to take the Western franchise blinders off to see that fantasy and sci-fi mean more than dragons and space ships. Why do massy films need superheroes in underpants outside of their clothes to protect metropolis when Salman Khan in tight-fit denims does the job?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Get on the train... to Rohit Shetty-ville.

Since the big trailer launch of Chennai Express there has been a lot of discussion about Rohit Shetty's back catalog - at least around my part of the Interwebs. The general consensus seems to be that all Rohit Shetty films are basically the same and Chennai Express is just more of that "same." The assumption is that because the mindless mass audience made a 100 crore hit out of Golmaal 3 (read my write-up here), that anything Shetty does that isn't the cinematic equivalent of him tripping on his shoelaces and face planting, will be a giant hit. Doubly so with Shahrukh added.

I think this does a real disservice to both Rohit Shetty's filmography and to the audiences that enjoy his films.

Thursday Post: A two news story day...

Suraj Pancholi will be in jail for another few weeks. Apparently he deleted all messages from his phone and the police need more time to investigate... so we'll be hearing about this until at least July. Unfortunately.

Poor Jiah.

Now we have some media outlets and Bollywood celebrities coming out in support of Suraj (because nobody understands or is more qualified to talk about the pain a young actress is going through than Sanjay Gupta, Subhash Ghai, and Mahesh Bhatt) and others continuing to paint him as a monster. I suppose it depends on who has been paid off by the Pancholis and their backers and who prefers the "clicks" generated from Suraj's Tales of Horror. And in between, Jiah's mother is getting painted as a raving looney. You know, I think we could all cut Rabiya some slack considering her daughter just committed suicide and is having her life choices dissected in the nation's headlines.

At the very least, we can all be grateful that Madhur Bandar-car, Friend Of Spielberg, hasn't announced a "feminist" film on the subject... yet.

(For some perspective, read Lakshmi Chaudhry.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday Post: Wirework in Progress... warning.

Do we need to have another chat, media? On the list of Things That Are Not Okay is posting pictures of a 10 year old boy on his birthday because YOU think his papa is Aamir Khan. I was tempted not to link to the post but I trust that you will be responsible with your clicks. Really classy move to put the word alleged in scare quotes. That's really socking it to a 10 year old boy who has done absolutely nothing to warrant any sort of press attention other than having a self-absorbed mother obsessed with being famous.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday's Post... the vultures haven't had their fill yet.

BIG news today... Suraj Pancholi has been arrested in connection with in Jiah Khan's suicide note. He will be held until at least June 13th. We can't know if he has done something he can be charged with criminally but we can assume that he is probably not an upstanding human being - just like many spoiled rotten star sons and rich boys. One has to wonder if Deepika Padukone's sympathy for Jiah, at least as far as attending her prayer ceremony, comes from her own experiences dealing with Siddharth Mallya.

We'll just have to wait and see what the next few days bring.

And if Salman Khan continues with helping to launch the brat.

And if Suniel Shetty will let his daughter be launched opposite him.

Ram Gopal Varma apparently put together a short tribute video to Jiah that made me cry at 6:30am. Just a warning.

(I'd also warn against clicking on ANY of the Suraj Pancholi links unless you have a morbid desire to rehash the heart breaking cry for help in Jiah's suicide note. Al Jazeera, the first one I linked to, is the most respectful but it doesn't tell you anything more than I just did. The rest grow increasingly lurid in detail.)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Post: Back to work...

Verdict in the Salman Khan case has been postponed until June 24th.

For those confused about the IPL scandal, The Telegraph has a rundown of Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kunder's history.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Post: We're about to have a hurricane up in this coast.

I got a few comments on MY comment about Saif jokingly telling his daughter she will have to lose weight to become an actress and I just wanted to clarify what I meant. I think it's really damaging to a girl's sense of self to have her parents telling her she is fat when she is not.

Here is Sara Ali Khan with her mother. She's a beautiful, young girl.

Now, I don't know what relationship Sara and her father have and maybe Sara is extremely self-confident about her body and doesn't mind getting teased but - having been one myself - most 16 year old girls have a lot of body issues and it can be dangerous to poke at them like that. Saif may think he's just making a joke but for a 16 year old girl who is already feeling insecure for putting on weight in unexpected places because she is going through puberty, comments like this can be dangerous. "Maybe I am fat," she starts to think.

The comparison I wanted to draw between Sonam and Sonakshi is of a healthy body image. For all her other good points, the first thing I see when I look at Sonam Kapoor is her emaciated face. Speaking very frankly, I'm convinced she has (at the very least) a disordered relationship with food. She's always talking about food but appears as if she never eats any - which makes me think that she's probably starving herself to stay slim. Sonam also appears to be unhappy... probably because she is starving herself.

Sonakshi, on the other hand, seems like she is maintaining a healthy weight and appears happy with herself and her body - to the point of actually turning down a clothing brand that wanted her to lose weight.

If I had a daughter, I would want her to be confident enough in herself to say to some fashion executives: FUCK YOU! I'm not dropping 30 pounds from my healthy weight to fit into your clothes. Make your clothes fit ME.

Whatever their other merits, Sonakshi seems like the better adjusted, healthier, and happier girl. Isn't that what you should want for your daughters? Healthy and happy? Instead of emaciated and talking about ice cream that she never eats?

But maybe this is the kind of thing only an older sister would notice... Saif clearly hasn't.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thursday Gossip: Not quite 100 Crore Club...

Ah~ despite tricky headline wording, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani has NOT joined the 100 Crore Club but it has done blockbuster business on the NRI circuit where it managed to crack the US top 10 films.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wednesday Post: Another depressing day dawns...

Another day, another round of depressing articles about Jiah Khan. Poor thing. Her death has made the international press circuit, which means her final filmi role is as entertainment column filler from Auckland to Washington.

Some of the better pieces to emerge today are this one from the Times Group.

Jiah recently signed a three-film deal with Ratan Jain's son-in-law Siddharth, hoping to get third time lucky. According to Siddharth, what was noticeably different about Jiah was her unwillingness to compromise. "Money was never on her mind when she met for narrations. Let's say she was creatively inclined. But she was also very, very choosy about her roles." In Bollywood parlance, an actress who has no work has no right to be picky about her films. Despite the mounting odds, Jiah held on to hope with alarming naivete.

And this one from Khalid Mohamed in the Asian Age.

Clearly, she wasn’t a bimbette. Extremely well-read, the late English writer Bruce Chatwin was her inspiration. She gifted me Chatwin’s In Patagonia, with an inscription asking me to check out a few lines she had marked in gel ink. The lines, she said, were her life-wish, a utopia: “I pictured a low timber home with a shingled roof, caulked against storms, with blazing log fires and the walls lined with all the best books, somewhere to live when the rest of the world blew up.”

And one more from Lakshmi Chaudhry at Firstpost.

The reality is that the film industry disproportionately attracts fragile young women with severely low esteem who seek redemption in stardom. Like moths to the flame, they flock to a profession that is brutally competitive and punitive on their ego, treating them instead as easily substitutable bodies to be used and discarded — unless they turn out to be the rare chosen few who win the celebrity game. The real tragedy is that the number of Jiahs is rising with each passing year in a nation held hostage to Bollywood which now defines everything from our clothes to our aspirations. We imitate our stars and encourage our young children to do the same, be it jiggling to Chammak Challo or aspiring to be the next Katrina Kaif. Perhaps it takes a Jiah Khan to remind us of the high price of our infatuation with fame.

Aamir and Kiran Rao stopped by to pay their respects... one wishes Kiran had been able to reach out to Jiah earlier. I think they would have had a lot to talk about.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tuesday News Post: What a way to come back...

What a sad way to come back from a wedding... RIP dear Jiah... I'm glad I wrote something before the media started vomiting up "news" coverage consisting mostly of lurid speculation and pictures of Jiah modeling in hot pants.

The best piece so far is this one, which more eloquently picks up on the themes I wrote about last night.

She was 16 when she was cast in Mahesh Bhatt’s production, Tumsa Nahin Dekha. While shooting a song sequence set at a swimming pool, Khan had to wear a swimsuit. The way the crew reacted to her appearance unsettled young Khan enough to make her abandon the project. However, the fact that she was ready to wear a swimsuit was enough for many to label her “sexy”. This would be fine if “sexy” didn’t preclude being intelligent and talented.

Apparently, the police are questioning her boyfriend Aditya Pancholi's son.

Meanwhile, back in the filmi world where bright, talented 25-year old women don't kill themselves...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Jiah Khan: May she rest in peace

I may come back and edit this; it was written from the heart, so please excuse any mistakes. For additional reading, Jiah herself commented on my Housefull review over here and take a re-read of some Ghajini posts here and here.

(Jiah in March; snagged from her Twitter feed.)

The Times of India is reporting that actress Jiah Khan has committed suicide. She was reportedly found dead in her apartment in Juhu. She was 25 years old.

Part of me is hoping it's a TOI mistake and Jiah will pop back up on the filmi news circuit tomorrow to laugh about this... or that she's changed her name, cut her hair, and run off to Brazil with a super-sexy lover and the next time we see her she'll be Juliana Fernandez, acclaimed Brazilian telenovela actress.

Jiah Khan was a wonderful actor. Unfortunately, talent can only take a woman so far.

Congratulations to FG's Baby Brother!!

(Regular posting should resume tomorrow, unless something truly unexpected happens!)

(Before the ceremony, playing "I Spy" with the flower girl...)

My baby brother and new beautiful new wife!

The wedding party...

Tearing it up afterwards...

Photos courtesy of Beck and Call Photography

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