Friday, August 9, 2013


You know what day it is... Chennai Express chugs out of the station! I've been collecting reviews and counting train puns over at my Facebook page so if you're curious go ahead and click on over. The general consensus appears to be "it's okay" with a sliding scale for how tolerable you find SRK's hamming. Deepika has been almost universally praised though her accent left some reviewers cold. The Tamil aspect that seemed to offend people most was the fact that large sections of the movie are in Tamil and Hindi-speaking viewers couldn't understand what was being said. This shouldn't be a problem for viewers watching in places where everything is likely to be subtitled but it does seem an odd choice for Hindi-language audiences in India that probably aren't used to sitting through films in languages they don't understand.

My two favorite reviews so far are Raja Sen's and this one, which inspired an insightful comment from blog reader Stuart, which I'll repost here:

That review actually made me a little sad. As much I was never a fan, he WAS a a charismatic entertainer at his best, and films like Baazigar & CDI showed that he could even act. To see him reduced to an almost Michael Jackson like obsession with freezing time and milking past glories is pathetic, in the original sense of the word.

Deepanjana Pal gives her own reading of the film as something made for Shahrukh fans. It's an interesting piece and I like her take on Shahrukh even giving critics what they want--something to complain about.

He’s no Chulbul or Singham, which is precisely what Khan wants you to note. He’s Shah Rukh and, as Jaaved Jaffrey observed years ago about Maggi Hot n Sweet Tomato Chilli Sauce, he’s different.


Now! Moving on!

In Tamil Nadu itself, Thalaivaa has been canceled. But it's still getting screened here in the USA. I'm very curious to see the film that got people so angry they would call in bomb threats to theaters!

Vijay fans are not happy.

I haven't been able to figure out WHY it's making people upset, though. Any help from my Tamil friends would be appreciated!! I would like to have some context going in.

Tangentially related is this interview with Prabhudeva because he mentions Vijay. It's really nice to see Prabhudeva speaking up for mass entertainment! He genuinely tries to put out a product he believes in for every film. Even if saddled with a producer's son as a hero. (TOI link but worth it!)

Ours is a different product and there is no point in comparing with other films. We (filmmakers and critics) might feel our films are over-the-top, but when the public loves them, they stop being so. As a filmmaker, you never know if you are doing something right or wrong when making a commercial film. You just put in the effort sincerely and it is finally up to the masses to whether accept it or not. But, what is important is that the entire team should like the final film and be proud of it.


Imran and Sonakshi are interviewed by Anupama Chopra.

Anupama: Do actors have a social responsibility? Sonakshi, Tehelka magazine carried an article last year about how you embody a particularly regressive fantasy and how you have personally let women down by doing the roles that you do. What is your response?

Ms. Sinha: What is progressive according to them? Wearing no clothes on screen? What is progressive? I would like to ask them. The magazine reflects the opinion of a very small section of society. I think the majority of the people watch my films, like my films and enjoy my films. So I would like to ignore that and go with what the majority likes. It doesn’t bother me at all. Everybody has an opinion today. It’s fine. I am not here to please everybody. I am here to do good work.

Oh, snap! I do understand the perspective of the article--having read my fair share of feminist theory--but I think it misreads Sona and her appeal. I don't think it's fair to compare her to Vidya Balan, who is older and more mature, and it gives her no credit for standing up to the Bollywood Body Police that would have her starve herself and strap on a bikini. If that's not self-agency, what is?


Alright, if I'm annoyed at the dismissive tone of this profile of Priyanka Chopra then it must be bad. Really, Los Angeles Times? You couldn't be bothered to Google Barfi beyond this:

Hugely popular in her native India, where many of her 4.3 million Twitter followers reside, Chopra has nearly 50 Hindi-language films under her belt. They include the well-received romcom “Barfi!” – India’s 2013 Oscars submission – in which Chopra plays a wealthy heiress caught in a love triangle of sorts.

I'm no Barfi booster but come on!


Silver fox Pankaj Kapoor talks about his career and family, no thanks to an indifferent interviewer:

I believe Shahid is a fine actor but his abilities have not been tapped. He’s seen more as a star than as an actor. You’ll notice the range that he has displayed in Mausam. It’s easy to play a 25-year-old and then a 50-year-old. But it’s very difficult to play a 19-year-old and then a 29-year-old. As an actor he’s expressed maturity in Mausam. He did it in Kaminey and Jab We Met too. Directors should approach him with dramatic and interesting characters and not the regular chocolate boy roles. These don’t have a shelf life.


Vidyut Jamwal is slowly building buzz. If you are sexy and talented, they will come.

Vidyut and Kangana? Yes? Producers are you listening?


Ravi Teja, he of the glowering expression and lush mustache, is making a Bollywood debut?

Ravi Teja would debut in a double role in Samir Karnik's Kaur & Singh. The film would be an action-comedy (Ravi Teja's forte) in Hindi and Telugu. The Telugu version of the film would be entitled Laxmi Reddy.

Huh. I could be interested in this.


This rumor has been going around: Aishwarya to do an item for Ram Leela?


Ayushmann is rumored to have signed on to a biopic about the first Indian to make an airplane, a topic which sounds unbearably twee. This is going to be one whimsical film that I'm better off skipping, though if it's good, it sounds like the kind of thing Oscar voters would like...


And Akshay brings the Emraan Hashmi-style "sufi number" to the dance floor with "Bismillah!


Moimeme said...

Pardon me, FG, but I think your bias is showing. :(

Why have you highlighted *the* two worst reviews of CE? Even if you want to discount the likes of Taran Adarsh, most other reviewers have rated it 3 or 3.5 out of 5. Quite a few of them have also praised SRK's performance, while some have accused him of "hamming" in parts of the movie. Yes, it is true that many are softening their criticism of a Rohit Shetty film in diplomatic language, which is no doubt due to the presence of SRK in it. I thought you might have investigated that phenomenon. For instance, having now accorded a certain level of respectability or acceptability to a Shetty product, will they treat his next film with equal respect? That would be an interesting question to speculate on.

In your blog of a couple of days ago, you wondered why CE was being released in places like Morocco and Peru. Morocco I could understand, as they do have an audience for Hindi films in general, but I also wondered about Peru. Well, here's an article that shows that there's a specifically SRK fan community in Peru (as well as Indonesia, which again is no surprise).

(Unfortunately they don't cite the original source of this article, but I thought you'd enjoy the photos).

bollyprime said...

Let’s face it, Shah Rukh is entertaining. Pick it apart and examine it under a microscope if you must. . He’s intelligent, funny, and can think faster on his feet than anyone else in Bollywood. He is sweet, arrogant, sometimes pompous and full of contradictions. So what, I’m not related to him. He’s not part of my real life. He is a part of my “escape” from real life stress and problems. I know him, he’s comfortable and familiar. He seems like a good person. I am looking forward to spending time with him this weekend and am hoping to introduce him to some of my “real” friends.

Melanie said...

Frankly I thought SRK was hamming, but it didn't bother me that much, it was on purpose. Deepika was awesome, she carries the traditional outfit very well (and reminds me a little bit of Aishwarya in fact), very energetic, and I thought she held her own against Khan in spite of having less dialogue.

Where SRK's hamming bothered me it was towards the end, when he makes a speech/sermon, I was SMH.

Otherwise it was harmless fun, the songs are nice, visuals too.

odadune said...

Disliked the Bismillah video when I first saw it, and still think it's a poor fit fit for (what else we've seen of) the movie, but it's been growing on me. I am however reasonably sure that my irrational desire to reach through the screen and pinch all three actors' cheeks in turn is not the response Milan was hoping to evoke. :p

Sona/Imran seemed off their form in the interview w/ Anupama, though I liked his concern abt getting lost in the PR bubble. There's a case to be made for the kind of career Sona's carving out so far, but I didn't think her response made it very well.

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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