Saturday, March 8, 2014

Gulaab Gang (Pink Gang)

India's Pink Gang of  women activists gets the Bollywood Treatment... and a nice review from the Hollywood Reporter . Starring greats Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla. Written and directed by Soumik Sen.


"It’s tremendous fun watching Dixit and Chawla in their roles; just as much fun are the performances by Tannishtha Chatterjee (Brick Lane), Priyanka Bose and Divya Jagdale as Rajjo’s enthusiastic supporters. Sen has also composed music for the film, and even sung its rousing closing song, 'Tere Jai Ho.'

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dedh Ishqiya

How long will I have to wait to see this on DVD in Canada? How many more sleeps?  This is the sequel to Ishqiya, a darkly comic, sexually-charged thriller that was a big hit a few years ago with Vidya Balan as the femme fatale. This time, that part's played by the great Madhuri Dixit.  Some of the best, smartest and most daring folks in Indian film are involved in DI. Vishal Bhardwaj, wrote, produced and composed music for the film. Director: Abhishek Chaubey. Starring Naseeruddin Shah, who most Anglos know from Monsoon Wedding and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Arshad Warsi, Vijay Raaz (Dubey in Monsoon Wedding) and young actress Huma Queireshi. These are all people who are known for pushing the envelope to make brilliant movies.  They know how  to be artistic, moving, meaningful and entertaining,  to reach all demographics, and integrate the masala  in wholly new ways without ever pandering to the audience.  To have so many in one movie....

Indian movies often play here, at theaters in the suburbs mainly, but I am unable to get to the cinema because of my special needs dog. (Long story.)  It's the DVD for me. I've set up a google search alert for "'dedh Ishqiya' +DVD."  Hurry, hurry.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bollywood at Cannes

Amit Kumar's Monsoon Shootout is getting great press from the festival. The Guardian calls it "bold noir" and "a brash, blockbusting corrective to Cannes's more sombre excesses." The Hollywood Reporter calls it an "artful genre movie:" 
A cunningly intricate first film from India, Monsoon Shootout combines the best of two worlds – a ferocious Mumbai cops and gangsters drama, and a satisfyingly arty plot that turns in on itself to examine the outcome of three possible choices a rookie cop might make when he confronts a ruthless killer. 

THR also has a nice write-up on Monsoon Shootout's producer, maverick Guneet Monga:
As a trail-blazing producer with over 20 films to her credit over the last five years,Guneet Monga heads her banner Sikhya Entertainment and runs acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap's production outfit AKFPL. Monga was featured as one of the 12 international players to watch in The Hollywood Reporter's 2012 Women in Entertainment special.  Once again, Monga is busy at Cannes where her films have been representing India two years in a row, including new titles The Lunchbox and Monsoon Shootout

Monday, December 5, 2011

Three Idiots

When Indians would pooh-pooh Bollywood masala to me, I used to cite a list of great Bollywood films to make them admit they actually do like good masala movies. Now, I just mention 3 Idiots. FTW!

For those of you who still don't get Bollywood, the masala formula is, roughly, this: singing, dancing, comedy, drama, melodrama1, death, birth, a monsoon dance number--and maybe a fight scene--a movie that you, your kid sister, your prudish Auntie and your dad can all watch and enjoy without boredom or embarrassment. A good one should make you laugh, cry, and hum the best song for a week. A great one will do all that, and maybe even change the way you view the world.

The formula has grown pretty tired in the last fifteen years, as younger directors have edged--or run screaming--away from it. Writer-director Rajkumar Hirani and his co-writer Abhijat Joshi ran screaming into it and made masala wildly entertaining and meaningful again. And they did it with the dull subject of education reform. Is there anything so boring these two couldn't transform it into something magical? (The History of Indian Mud maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it.) This is a movie for the whole family, even your foul-mouthed Auntie and the snobbish professor Uncle who claims he hasn't seen a Bollywood film since Pakeezah.

First, the quibbles: I usually LOVE Boman Irani, but his character in this didn't quite work for me; the birth scene almost breached my threshold for corn; and, the film lags a bit in the middle. But the rest of the movie is so sweethearted and so much fun those diddling things don't matter much in the grand scheme. The slapstick and sight gags are inspired, the melodrama moving, the corn sweet, the musical numbers dazzling. Hirani and Joshi use the masala formula with appreciation, to support the film's many moments of more subversive comedy and finely-tuned drama. The camera-mounted copter scene still haunts me. The ending still makes me laugh.

What an ingenious and irresistible vehicle for its message, to foster talent, question authority, think outside the box, and foremost, provide education for all. Idiots was a megahit all over India--across all demographics. It got the whole country talking about education reform, just as the Indian parliament was taking on the long-awaited Right to Education bill. Beyond India and the overseas NRI2 markets, it has a fervent cult following in Hollywood and is now a viral hit among Chinese youth. Reports say Stephen Chow, no less, will adapt and direct a Chinese version.

In their previous film, Lage Raho Munnabhai, Hirani and Joshi took on Gandhism and political corruption in their own smart-silly way. Their next is rumored to be about "Godmen," i.e., yogis, gurus, priests, mullahs et al. (They are proliferating with the mass media in India. It seems like every third channel on TV is someone in holy robes preaching the truth according to him. Also, peddling his spiritual books, DVDs and eponymous brand of ayurvedic herbal products.)

UPDATE: Aamir Khan and Hirani will team up again for Hirani's next movie.

1 What's melodrama to the middle and upper classes is everyday life for many in India. Idiots handled this well, showing the absurd sacrifices already poor people have to make to send a child to school, even on scholarship.

2 Non-resident Indian.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shiva and Shakti

Catching up on my Indian film reading...interesting how so much of the groundbreaking cinema (and television) these days, comes from potent male-female partnerships--husbands and wives, brothers and sisters--notably: Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao at AKP, Anurag Kashyap and Kalki Koechlin, Farhan and Zoya Akhtar at Excel, Ekta and Tushar Kapoor at Balaji. So Indian, so organic.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Big B in 3D Great Gatsby, WSJ and NYT

Amitabh Bachchan has been tapped to co-star with Leonardo Dicaprio and Tobey Macguire in Baz Luhrman's 3D Great Gatsby, in a juicy character role as Meyer Wolfsheim, inspired by real-life gangster Arnold Rothstein.

More proof that America is starting to take India very seriously.... The Wall Street Journal has revamped and beefed up their India coverage and added a Bollywood blogger to their India Real Time line-up....

And the New York Times has launched a whole new blog on India, called India Ink, with an impressive list of contributors.

Hollywood and the western media woke up to India in a big way the last ten years. I'm waiting for western publishing to do the same. So far, they seem oblivious to India's lit boom. But I predict in the next two years every author who can will be maneuvering, manipulating and sweet-talking their way into Indian litfest invitations. (I could predict which ones will, but I'll keep that to myself. :) )Link

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bol

"Shoaib Mansoor is rapidly becoming the flag-bearer for new Pakistani cinema."




"The film is a tour de force, both in terms of the performances by the two main protagonists, daughter Humaima and father Manzar and in the narrative which spills over with umpteen twists and turns, geared to shock and shake you up, with their horrific tenor. If Humaima Malik is picture perfect as the rebellious daughter who dares to question her father and even take drastic measures to ensure that justice prevails amidst all the inequity, then Manzar Sehbai is magnificent as the tyrannical man who is desperate to hang on to family honour and moribund traditions." (TOI)