Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tuesday: Pizza in the morning, Pizza in the evening, Pizza at suppertime...

I was thinking about this over the weekend and the difference between the Three Khans right now is that Salman makes films to please his family and friends; Aamir makes films with a deep sense of social obligation; Shahrukh makes films looking for outside validation, especially from the West. Is it because he's just got the kind of personality that can never be satisfied? If he "conquered" Hollywood, would he be looking for new people to impress on Mars? It's just interesting, you know?

Case in point are the smattering of Shahrukh stories today all from a some watch brand's party:

* Shahrukh "recreates" that star-packed Oscar selfie with some mediocre directors. Kunal Kohli is not the same as Jennifer Lawrence, dude.

* Shahrukh zings Salman Khan over Jai Ho knowing full well it will be fodder for the press.

* Shahrukh actually talks about Indian film's changing image in the West. Somehow, I just don't see Aamir or Salman particularly caring what Westerners like me think. On the other hand, that's probably why Shahrukh is the most popular with Westerners. But on the other, other hand, why should that be something special?


And so you know I'm not picking, case in point with Salman doing No Entry Mein Entry. Although, he seems to be dragging his feet on showing up for the shooting. Not that I blame him.


I'm hoping this debate on Gunday won't fade. I understand that as an outsider I have no personal stake in regional film and I certainly can appreciate the frustration of my friends in cities like Bangalore where it can be impossible to see new Hindi releases but as somebody who bemoans the global creep on Hollywood mass culture I'm very drawn to this point of view:

Non-Hindi film industries will be ruined, as they cannot outcompete Bollywood in black money, film volume and the cinema-hall blackmailing strength that comes with it. This desperate aggression was in full display in Assam where Rajni Basumatary’s Assamese film Raag which was running quite well was removed by economic goondaism to make way for Gunday. Cultural diversity, even cultural competition, can only flourish in a level economic playing field.

Dubbing my story in your language and then forcing it down your throat using my economic muscle will silence you. You won’t be able to tell your own stories. You will adapt to my stories. Too bad if you have your own tradition of telling stories. If that doesn’t make me a Goonda, I don’t know what does.

Or maybe it's just my inner money-hating socialist who hates seeing economic goondaism from Disney et. al. affecting even films in Assam.


Something about Sunny Leone's Bollywood striving just makes me happy. She's slowly crossing boundaries. While I can't say one way or the other on her acting, I hope people take the lesson that actresses in adult films are people, too.


AHHH! ALIA BHATT! I'm in love. She seems like such a bright girl. I hope she stays away from the Punit Malhotra crowd and whatever Parineeti has got herself mixed up with.

Actually even in school, I was a bit of a brooder and dreamer. I had lots of friends. But I liked spending time alone. And I’ve always felt that emptiness which my character feels. Like my character Veera, I feel something vital is missing in my life. There was always that hankering within me. While shooting in these far-off areas, communication with the outside world was almost nil. So I had time to connect with new emotions within me that I projected into my character.

I knew she was special when I saw Student of the Year. A lot of people wrote her off but I thought she added some real depth to the bratty rich girl.


TOI has Sujoy Ghosh bringing Vidya Balan, Irrfan, and Swastika Mukherjee back to Kolkata for another film. Maybe Sujoy can get Irrfan off of autopilot. We were talking in the comments of my Lunchbox review and I think Nawaz really outclassed him the film.


Bebo being gorgeous in Vogue.

“Being glamorous is not just about wearing great clothes and great makeup. It’s about your own personal style, it’s the way you feel. I practically wake up every morning feeling glamorous. That’s the way I am.”


Mallika Sherawat does an episode of CBS's Hawaii Five-0. Congratulations, Mallika!


Preity Zinta is entering politics. Got to pay those debts somehow...


Still not forgiving Imtiaz Ali for casting a non-actress model who DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WHAT SHE WAS SAYING in Rockstar.


Jiah Khan's mother is determined to prove that her daughter was murdered and has been conducting secret investigations!! And the Pancholis are fighting back. Rabina is really not going to let Sooraj debut unscathed.


Karan Johar likes kissing scenes. Surprise!! I personally don't much care for them. Maybe it's conditioning after all these years of Indian films but I find kissing scenes embarrassing. What's wrong with a nice song involving phallic plants? I ask you!


I've really been trying not to delve too deeply in the pink sari controversy but DUDE!! You can't use the famous pink saris and then accuse Sampat Pal for riding your coattails!! I would be a whole lot more sympathetic about trying to make a female-centered masala potboiler if it wasn't for those damned pink saris.

Sampat Pal has filed a case against the film.


Kamal Hassan starts shooting for Uthama Villain!!


Dear Shahid, please keep in mind that only one fedora per crew is allowed.


Most importantly… JIGARTHANDA TRAILER IS UP!!!! YESSSSS! I cannot wait!!!!


Yunus Perveez said...

Should we add Shahid to http://nicefedorasshole.tumblr.com/


That is a lot of slapping in that trailer!

Moimeme said...

Re Nargis in Rockstar: I know you're too young to have seen a TV mini series called Shogun that aired at the beginning of the 1980's. But you might have heard of it. It starred Richard Chamberlain and a top Japanese actress whose name I've unfortunately forgotten. Everyone who saw that series was tremendously impressed by her acting and the passion and conviction she brought to her role. And then came an interview with her where we learned that she didn't know a word of English, and she learned all her lines phonetically, and, yes, she didn't know the meaning of the words she was saying in any scene, though obviously she was told the general meaning and the emotions she was to convey by the director. So what all this means is that not knowing the language is no barrier to a true actress. :)

Moimeme said...

Dhoom 3 had a "deep sense of social obligation"? :)

I have to disagree with you on your interpretation of why The Three Khans make their films.

Salman says, and he shows it in practice, that he makes films for his fans. That's why he doesn't care about critics' opinions as long as his films are hits, because he interprets that hit status to mean that his fans are liking his films. In the past few years, with the launch of Being Human films, he also has started making films with a strong social message, which is again apparent if you see the list of films that are on the slate for that banner: Chillar Party (already produced, and won the National Award for best children's film that year); the Hindi version of Mahesh Manjrekar's Marathi film on the undue pressures placed on children in India's education system; Dr. Cabbie, about an Indian immigrant doctor in Canada, who, lacking a license to practice in that country, starts driving a cab for his living and turns that cab into a mobile clinic to help people, and the Hindi version of Riteish Deshmukh's latest film on encouraging special needs children to dream big and achieve all that they can.

Shahrukh has always been obsessed with being "Number 1." For a while that meant at the box office, and for a few years he was number one at the box office, though that number is far lesser than his fans imagine. With DDLJ becoming such a huge hit among NRI's, he actively started courting that market, and is still number one overall there, though he is no longer alone in being known abroad. Specific films of other stars, like Salaam-E-Ishq, Jodha Akbar, Krrish, and 3 Idiots, surpassed SRK's films overseas in those years. However, his position has definitely declined in India in the past six years, with Aamir and Salman taking over the top slot in alternate years. I think his obsession to be "on par with Hollywood" is more a result of his personal situation -- his kids no longer think Indian films are cool. :) Back in 2001, I remember a statement he made saying that he wants to put Indian films on the global map, and get recognition world wide and from Hollywood, *but* that he wants that recognition for Indian films as they are -- song, dance, melodrama -- and not lose their Indian character. So his thoughts have changed over the past decade. To be fair, though, I think his focus is more on the technical aspects than on losing songs, the way KJo, say, or any of the "new breed" of directors want.

(continued in part 2 below; sorry, I really didn't think I could condense it.)

Moimeme said...

Part 2 of the Three Khans comment:

So now we come to Aamir. I find him quite an interesting case. He started off with a bang in QSQT, which was billed as a romance. So then he signed a bunch of romance films, some of which worked, but a lot of which didn't. He tried some action films where he was rejected, because people thought of him as the "chocolate hero." Then he focused on building a reputation as a "thinking actor", and chose a bunch of remakes/ripoffs of classic Hollywood films. Now I must say that Aamir has the best script sense of these three, so he chose good films to copy. :) But most of those films didn't work at the box office, being either outright flops or minor hits, while Salman and Shahrukh had humongous hits. The only huge hit Aamir had prior to Lagaan was Raja Hindustani, which is not a film that anyone thinks of as a critics' favorite. Just before Lagaan Aamir had the megaflop Mela.

Having by that time labeled all Indian awards as unworthy, Aamir put his all into producing Lagaan and marketing it to the Hollywood folks. That he succeeded in getting it an Oscar nomination (under laxer rules than now) is a testament to his great marketing skills. By this I don't mean that Lagaan doesn't have quality, but just that better quality films from India before never had the right marketing.

With that success Aamir actively started courting the world market, in particular the "western" market, making "quality" his USP. I think many people forget that he tried out for the Bollywood Dreams musical in London at that time. So for a while he was going after the Hollywood imprimatur of quality, much as current day "new breed" directors are doing. But he was the trendsetter, and he was successful at it, too -- both Dobhi Ghat and Peepli Live premiered at the Sundance festival, and got good reviews there. By this time Aamir's name became synonymous with quality, as well as commercial success. Combining his keen eye for a good script with his excellent marketing skills, he made a film like Taare Zaameen Par into a commercial success. And then ... it seems to me like he decided that he must also have the number one commercial tag to his name as well, so he made Fanaa and Ghajini. Then 3 Idiots, which, while some can claim had good content, was clearly a commercial vehicle. Then came Talaash, a much smaller hit, but it could again be argued as a "quality" film, though there are quite a few dissenting voices, too. For a while I thought he was alternating the "commercial" with the "quality" films (I think Fanaa was followed by TZP). But now, I don't know. It seems to me like he really does want to be at the top of the commercial game -- hence Dhoom 3 -- but he also wants to feel he brings extra quality into such films -- hence Dhoom 3. :) I have yet to see it, but opinion is clearly very divided on it, with either a majority or a very large minority feeling that he didn't do a good job either story wise or acting wise.

Along about this time (i.e., after TZP) he started courting the "social conscience" tag, first with his ads for the Indian Tourism Department, and later with Satyameva Jayate.

So I really think this latter is one more identity that Aamir is trying on, hoping that it works. This is not to say that he doesn't genuinely believe in what he's doing, but that he is always aware of how it affects his public image.

I don't think I can say anything any more about his films -- they seem all over the place in terms of content, and more box office driven than "quality" -- but that "sense of social obligation" that you detect is all focused on his TV series rather than his films.

8th wonder said...

well i live in bangalore and every week the latest hindi, tamil, telugu and kan movies release....and people here actually prefer bollywood over kannada movies....so i wonder where u got that from

Anonymous said...

Aamir reminds me of post-Unforgiven Clint Eastwood (as a filmmaking personality, no comment intended on either person's sociopolitical beliefs) in some ways; someone who gets acclaimed for taking risks when what has really happened is that the man understands the film business too well to lose money at it, and has also found a sweet spot where his tastes and the critics' tastes coincide.

There's a lot that could be said about the way having their children underfoot has shaped Shahrukh's, Akshay's, and Ajay's film choices versus the relative lack of pressure Salman and the two divorced stars that age (Aamir and Saif) face in that direction. (I don't know much about Salman's siblings' children but it's a safe bet both that he's fond of them and that they don't play a huge role in his choice of projects.)

Moimeme said...

@Odadune -- Salman may not have children, but he has two brothers and a brother-in-law. :) I think the adult pressure is harder to withstand than any amount of whining/sulking that children can do. I only need to cite Jai Ho as evidence of what Sohail's importuning can do, or indeed, any of the films where he directed Salman. Actually Salman's nephews and niece are to be congratulated because they walked out on Main aur Mrs. Khanna in ten minutes, and that's how Salman realized that they had a "disaster" on their hands.

I don't really see that Akshay and Ajay's kids have had much impact on their film choices -- at least these two don't talk about their kids much, who in any case are younger than SRK's. As for the divorced dads, they are still very much involved in their children's lives, so again I don't think we can count the mere fact of divorce as proof that their kids don't influence them. As in other matters, I think it's a matter of individual personality how they react to their kids' inputs. What's your basis for saying what you did?

Anonymous said...

Not saying that Saif and Aamir aren't involved in their kids' lives, just find it interesting that the two guys whose children (pre-Azaad, in Aamir's case) lived with the men's ex-wives are the ones who have little interest in making their films child/young teen friendly. And yes, Sohail is a serious burden for any man to bear. ;)

Ajay's pretty frequently cited daughter Nysa (who likes his silly movies better than "the ones where Mommy cries") as one of the reasons he makes relatively clean, lowbrow entertainers. My impression of young Aarav's influence on Akshay's career is more of a hunch on my part:

-2006/2007: Akki says in an interview with Rajeev Masand: "My son thinks I'm funny, my wife doesn't." At this point he's mostly making very juvenile, very male comedies.

-2009: Twinkle Khanna, in a rare interview, remarks that her son's favorite Bollywood star is Ajay Devgn. Akshay's films end up scheduled opposite Ajay's a couple of times over the course of 2009-2010, and Akshay ends up signing the sequel to one of Ajay's gangster movies in early 2011.

-2012 to present: Aarav develops a taste for western-style action films, notably Skyfall, and military shooter games like Gears of War. His father makes Holiday with the action choreographer of Skyfall, and gets tentatively involved in Neeraj Pandey's upcoming third directoral effort, sometimes described as being along the lines of the Bourne Identity films.

Like I said, more of a hunch or a hypothesis than anything I can prove, and even if he's an influence on his father's rather WTFork project selection process, he's surely not the only one.

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