Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday: There are like cool girls out there.

Are you in Windhoek, Namibia?? Free Bollywood festival!! And a pretty great line-up, too! Check it out!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday: It's votin' time!

Roll up, roll up!

It's time to vote for the Golden Kela awards and I must say the choices this year are delicious.

So go and vote your negative feelings out.

Although, to be fair, I don't think Shahid should be in the 'why are you still trying' category with Preity and Prateik and NNM et. al. People on the Internet may not have liked R… Rajkumar but it was a hit. Unlike whatever Ishkq in Paris was.

Vivek Oberoi is another story. One could (and probably should) legitimately ask why he's still trying to be a solo hero.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday Post: Is that Leo back there?

The Jai Ho box office story gets another chapter.

Amidst huge and expectations, Jai Ho hit 4,400 screens in India and got decent opening. But its first day collection was not upto the mark and big reason for it was low ticket prices. Having collected Rs 60.68 crores in the domestic market in its opening weekend, the Sohail Khan directed film maintained the momentum on Monday and Tuesday too. The film has collected Rs 78.78 crores nett at the Indian Box Office in five days.

So, in other words, despite the hysterical articles about how Salman is done for and blah, blah, blah, Jai Ho did alright and part of the lower collections can be explained by lower ticket prices.

But the media is just continuing to shit all over Salman like he's Akshay Kumar or something...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Post: Jai Ho?

The discussion around Jai Ho has been interesting. Even without seeing the film yet--and believe me, when I said I'd catch it 'online,' I meant via a legitimate streaming site like ErosNow or Netflix--the deflated feeling around the English speaking parts of the Internet seems to be partly disappointment that Jai Ho wasn't another Dabanngg and (especially for the media) blood in the water because the film isn't racking up Dhoom 3 numbers at the box office.

I've now heard opinions on all sides but I will say it was bad word of mouth and lackluster music promos that kept me home this weekend.

You can check the comments from yesterday to read a good review of the film if you're curious.

(But, seriously, Komal Nahta? What a jackass. I wish these guys wouldn't throw around charges like that so casually. Salman's response was on point.

Salman Khan curtly said, "If they (one section of his fans) can't understand love, emotion,respect and the need of doing the right thing, then I rather have this film be the biggest disaster than it working for wrong reasons."

That's bold statement and one targeted directly at my old-fashioned filmi heart. I kind of wish I had gone now, just to stick it to industry guys like Komal.)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Post! Happy Monday!

Anybody interested in rent a house in Tampa for IIFA? Only $35,000 for the weekend! Wine cellar not included.

I wonder if the IIFA winners will be along the same lines as the Filmfare winners. I've had it with awards shows, except for the songs and performances and outfits, but the Filmfare winners were just a hot mess. A victory sweep for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag? Why do you keep encouraging Farhan Akhtar to act?!

I really miss the days of Best Comedian and Best Villain. This faux-Oscars thing doesn't work for me.

Meanwhile, Kamal Haasan, Vidya Balan, and Paresh Rawal won Padma Shree awards.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

R… Rajkumar: Rambo can't dance like THIS.

Sometimes it feels like my mission in life is to defend movies like this. Shine on, Shahid and Sonakshi. Shine on!

Deciding whether or not to see a film in the theater involves more than just whether or not I’ll enjoy the film. Do I want to pay for a ticket? Drive all the way out to the Indian theater? Dedicate half of my precious weekend day to watching and then reviewing a film? There were a handful of films I missed last year not because I didn’t want to see them but because when those weekends rolled around I was tired or busy or feeling broke and it just didn’t seem worth the effort. The pair of Sonakshi Sinha releases Bullett Raja and R… Rajkumar were two of those films. (Jai Ho may be another, but that’s a story for a different time.)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Post: It's a plot!! No, it's not. YES IT IS!

The big news today is obviously the MAJOR KHAN INTRIGUE… Shahrukh reports an injury the day before Jai Ho is releasing??? Coincidence or INTRIGUE? You be the judge.

Less fun is the numbers game already being played where Jai Ho is supposed to 'beat' Dhoom 3 or it's a massive failutre or something. *Yawn* Salman don't play that game and we love him for it. If people like it and it earns back enough money for all the backers, then that's a success, right?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Post: Main Tera Hero.

My apologies, friends!! I stayed up way too late watching R… Rajkumar last night and overslept this morning. It's amazing how much my schedule got thrown off because of the snow day. So, all I have for you today is the trailer for Main Tera Hero and, wow, is Varun Dhawan a little charmer! I could even ignore ol' duck lips, his charm was so powerful!

I'm not sure if I'll write up R… Rajkumar since there wasn't much substance to it. Well, maybe I will, since I did enjoy it. But I will say this--R… Rajkumar is like aggressively the opposite of those fancy, urban rom-coms and I can see why it did so well on single screens. I wouldn't go as far as to say 'throwback' but the script was definitely aware of what it was doing and why.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday post: RIP Akkineni Nageswara Rao

The big news today is thatAkkineni Nageswara Rao has passed away. The Telugu film industry will be shut on Thursday in mourning.

Rest in peace, sir.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Post: I got a snow day!

Everything about this article about PR and films angers me.

Does this mean the content has a very limited role in it? Pratim says, "Content is only king for a pauper film. The smaller the film, the content becomes more and more crucial. For bigger films, you can go about with just about anything and a few identifiable elements like roaring dialogues, item numbers, crazy action. The review also becomes more critical for smaller films. Films like 'Chennai Express', 'Krrish 3' and 'Dhoom 3' got such negative reviews and yet laughed all the way to the bank. They are largely review-proof."

Do I even need to write a rebuttal on this paid-for-by-a-public-relations-firm piece? Leaving aside the fact that the mangling of the idiom 'cried all the way to the bank' is one of my biggest pet peeves, the common consensus among industry types that mass films are all equally nonsensical and stupid is just wrong. I mean, okay, the critics might treat them all that way but for those mass films, the audience is what matters. If your only marker of a hit film is cash money, then, sure, a huge publicity drive and hype and a big star will probably get people in the door to see just about anything.

BUT there is also the question of trust and of building a relationship with the audience. When a star squanders an audience's good will, they are far less likely to want to shell out to see the next one from that star. It wasn't just Aamir's 'star power' that brought people out to Dhoom 3 despite negative reviews, it was their trust that he would deliver a good product. I'm actually not sure how Krrish 3 was received among audiences. I mean, I loved it but, again, I trust Hrithik (and Rakesh) to deliver a product that I will connect with.

More interesting to me this past fall was the reaction among Shahrukh's fan base to Chennai Express. It wasn't just that the film got negative reviews like the others mentioned but he got negative reviews from some of his strongest supporters in the media, including Anupama Chopra, who literally wrote the book on him. Will there be fans less likely to cut him slack for his next picture? Will they wait until the second weekend to make sure it's going to be good?

These are things not captured when you reduce all commercial films to that ridiculous caricature of 'bad reviews; big box office.' I mean if that was the case, why didn't Rascals become a top earner? Where is that Ra.1 sequel? Why is Tees Maar Khan considered a flop when it actually did not-that-bad business?

If Bollywood types really want to have the Hollywood model where you spend a bajillion dollars on a crap film like Transfomers that everybody will see once and then forget about immediately after it earns a bajillion and one dollars, this is the right way to do it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Post…

You know I love a good Vijay mass!

I really, really enjoyed going to see Jilla yesterday. Even without subtitles, it felt like a real soul cleansing experience to see such a well-crafted masala film and it reminded me of the reason I began writing about these things in the first place. There is something magical about a film like Jilla, in the way it tells the story of the problems ordinary people face. In just three hours or so, Vijay makes the police give a shit about their jobs, he gives women physical self-defense training, he sticks it to a corporate developer who wants to bulldoze a village, and he fiercely loves his family.

His character is straight up a hero, a good person who wants to do good things.

This is always what is missing for me in recent Bollywood fare, with the exception of something like Krrish 3. Not having the mentality of a teenage boy from the American exurbs, I find antiheroes tedious and discussion of 'tropes' and 'world building' even more so. It feels like the 'twist' in the 2006 Don remake also marked the beginning of the end of the hero as a good person in popular Bollywood films… now everybody wants to walk in slow motion and be 'grey' and have bold scenes because apparently that is what's cool and not discussions with tiny children about risking your life to save others. (SHOUT OUT TO Krrish 3! Rakesh Roshan, never leave me. Never. Leave. Me.)

Before the film screened, the trailer of Gunday was shown and it was like everything I hate about these current Bollywood masala films--pointless wallowing in the nostalgia of the 1970s, glamorized bad guy antiheroes, plus Priyanka Chopra doing a vapid and overly sexualized "item girl" act.

As much as I would enjoy Ranveer Singh in those tight trousers prancing around on screen, the film seems like an empty exercise in Mad Men-style nostalgic wheel-spinning.

Give me a good Vijay mass over that 'cool' nonsense any day.


Let's see what happened over the weekend!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Jilla: I think the critics are the brainless ones...

For the life of me, I never understand when critics (and others) call masala films as a genre “stupid.” Hero-giri might not be your cup of tea but that doesn’t mean it’s stupid, it just means you don’t like it. Let me flip the narrative on you. How about thinking of a 3 hour film that can a) hold the attention of somebody who can’t understand the dialogues, b) enable that person to follow the twists and turns of the plot with little trouble, and c) manage to transmit all the emotional and meta-narrative points without the use of words as “smart” filmmaking?

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been going to my local Indian theater for enough years now that they didn’t even bother to warn me that Jilla had no subtitles and even if they had I would have watched it anyways. While I definitely missed out on some banter and comedy, the main thrust of the film came through clear as a bell. The actors faces and voices, the music, the direction, as well as my experience with the language of masala filmmaking, were more than enough to satisfactorily guide me through the film but I do feel it’s important to be honest about these things, especially as a non-Indian, and especially writing about regional film.

Read on if you want to hear what I have to say but do keep in mind that I only understood a handful of dialogues.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Post: RIP Suchitra Sen

Sad news this morning: Suchitra Sen has passed away. She seems to have had a difficult life but I hope she found some peace. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.

A wistful song to start the day… they don't make songs (or films or actors) like this anymore. That fountain going off is far more erotic than any bump-and-grind club song could ever be.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday Post: Too much PC. WAY too much PC.

Just a quite note from me. I've actually been ill the past week or so, so I hope you can forgive the lackluster posts. Hopefully I'll shake off whatever this is soon but please bear with me. Just going to work has been taking all my energy… but I'm trying my best!! I love you all and would never abandon you but sometimes daily life is just draining.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wednesday…I overslept. Sorry!

I overslept this morning, people, so this will be very short!!

(My bed was so warm and I was so tired… what could I do?!)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Post: 6-5=???

Tickets for IIFA go on sale… today!

Here is the Ticketmaster page if you want to try your luck with refreshing and refreshing to get a non-$3,000 ticket.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Post: You can say anything and people might take you seriously...

Good morning!! I'm sorry I don't have a review for you this weekend. I had been thinking about seeing Jilla but because the weather was so nice, instead I threw open the windows and cleaned like a maniac!! I found all sorts of goodies, too. Old copies of Filmfare and Stardust and about a billion cat toys hidden in the sofa. Since Jai Ho doesn't open until the 24th, I should have another chance to catch Jilla this coming weekend so all is well.

A clean apartment leads to clean thoughts, no?

Now on to the news!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Frida.. what? Attention span of a gnat?

Bollywood Life gives a run down on where Sholay is today:

The question is, who is the Sholay franchise revival aimed at and how long can it be exploited. Most of the people who have contributed to the re-release box office are those from the nostalgia market. The vast majority of India’s massive youth population have the attention span of gnats and are prone to dismiss Sholay as an old film, as the less than stellar box office numbers prove.

Whether Sascha, PEN and co recover their investment from the nostalgia market alone remains to be seen.

See, now this is something I have to look in to. Was the box office of the 3D version that bad?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thursday Post: Qu'ils mangent de la brioche.

The big story today is one that it took my sleep addled mind some time to figure out but Zee News has a concise and even handed write-up of the Saifai Festival controversy. The crux of the matter is this:

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his Samajwadi Party has come under severe criticism for, on one hand, failing to rehabilitate Muzaffarnagar riot victims and, on the other, splurging on the ongoing festival at Saifai.

And, unfortunately, that splurging came to everybody's attention because it included private jets and performances from Salman and Madhuri and Deepika and not because children were dying from the cold nearby. Bad optics, you know.

As an outsider, I don't feel comfortable commenting on this but I will point you to a bitter rant calling out apolitical stars if you are so inclined and another one on how certain millionaires probably didn't even consider the fact that there were suffering people close by to their fun if that floats your boat.

The stars in question seem to feel badly about their decision to perform and Being Human is making a large donation.

And the UP government is giving Madhuri's Dedh Ishqiya a one crore subsidy.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wednesday Post: Ting ting?

I'll kick things off today with an article on Sharad Kumar, who I had never heard of but am glad to meet. Plus the article led me to google the one film he was in and I found this:

Happy Wednesday!

And if you feel inclined, check out my Dhoom 3 FAQ for Western critics who think they know more than they do.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Filmi Girl’s Dhoom 3 FAQ for the poorly informed film buff

As much as I want more people to share my love for Bollywood, I’m always wary when a Bollywood film catches the attention of Western film types because for every open minded film fan in Las Vegas or Sydney or Glasgow, there are five assholes with film degrees who think they know everything because they saw some Shahrukh movie in World Cinema 101 and five Internet lawyers who have decreed that there is but one way to craft a film and that way be the way of Nolan/Spielberg/*insert your fave white guy here* and will argue you to death if you try to tell them otherwise.

For the most part, I’ve given up attempting to argue with these guys (and they are mostly guys) about films because they never listen to me but with Dhoom 3 cracking the Top 10 on the American box office charts, the ill informed reviews have been flying fast and furious… into my inbox. Because people love sending me this stuff. Probably because they know I’ll write something like this in response.

And, so, here you go!

Filmi Girl’s Dhoom 3 FAQ for the poorly informed film buff

Tuesday Post: Should I start offering Filmi Girl Points?!

Surprise! Times Points! Imagine my surprise when I try to click on a article about Akshay Kumar releasing a movie on Republic Day "in the league of Bourne and Bond" (blah blah blah) when I get a pop up message with a little crown on it saying I earned 4 Times Points.

Um… at first I was afraid it was a paywall thing, like I got to read four articles in 24 hours but that would be silly. The TOI doesn't want you not clicking on articles. Nope, they just did that thing where companies turn normal activities like reading the news into a game. The whole thing seems kind of half-baked but if some engineering student in Delhi wants to waste time commenting on 200 articles in order to earn a virtual badge on the TOI website, who am I to judge?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday Post: A sober beginning to the new year...

Telugu actor Uday Kiran has committed suicide. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Filmi Girl bids good-bye to 2013

Good-bye, 2013.

This was a mixed year for me on many fronts. Real life served me some wicked highs and lows, some of which played out here on the blog and you all were reminded, yet again, that I am not always the sassy Helen-esque persona I put on.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Friday Post: Any day Salman Khan high-fives a small child is okay by me.

See, this is what kills me. I get that a lot of Western women develop an interest in Bollywood via Shahrukh Khan but there is so much more to mass films than a) romance and b) Shahrukh. So who the hell is deciding on "Bollywood" film festival line-ups that include Om Shanti Om, Billu Barber, Bride and Prejudice, and… Monsoon Wedding. It's like purposely designed to alienate anybody not interested in romances or Shahrukh. And you see this all the time over here where Bollywood = romances/Shahrukh like Neha Dhupia is whispering into the ear of every two bit festival organizer.

I mean, okay, keep Om Shanti Om in there but the line up can still be family friendly and accessible to Westerners with something from the Rajkumar Hirani genre. And then maybe add in one of Vishal Bhardwaj's Shakespeare films or something like Ishqiya for class and top the whole thing off with a nice Salman potboiler that's not too mass--like Ek Tha Tiger or Dabangg--and you've got a good, not too out there but still representative mix of what Bombay can do.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thursday Post: Welcome to 2014!!

Suchitra Sen is in hospital. Get well soon, ma'am!

Sorry for the lack of chatter today but this middle-of-the-week holiday thing is brutal! Oof!

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