Bollywood = Indian Cinema?

Read a column on an insider’s take on Bollywood by Mahesh Nair in Outlook (http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?263231). He lists ten top pricks for the Bollywood bubble. One caught my attention..Here is it:

“Bollywood is Indian cinema

If you are looking at revenues from film content, the southern film industry generated about Rs 1,700 crore last year; Bollywood did less than Rs 600 crore! And if you are looking at sheer numbers, there were all of 230 films in Telugu alone last year, much more than Bollywood. More Bengali and Malayalam than Hindi films have won awards abroad at prestigious film festivals. Films that are most likely to be called ‘world movies’ from India are not those from the Hindi film industry but rather Marathi. Some of the best technical crew in the country works in the south, not in Mumbai’s Film City. So isn’t it time Bollywood got off its high horse?”

Aishwarya Rajinikanth and Mahesh Bhupathi have recently teamed up to start a ‘South Indian Movie Awards extravaganza’ on the lines of IIFA.  I wish them good luck. I also wish they also include good movies from other regional languaages from west and east too as a part of this initiative.

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கந்தசாமி – போதும் சாமி!!

ஒரு பிடி சிவாஜி, ஒரு பிடி ரமணா என எடுத்துக்கொண்டு பிள்ளையாரின் தம்பியை பிடிக்க கிளம்பியிருக்கிறார் சுசி கணேசன்..ஆனால் பழமொழிக்கேர்ப்ப அவர் பிடித்து என்னவோ ஒரு குரங்கை!!

விரும்பிகிறேன், 5 ஸ்டார், திருட்டு பயலே போன்ற நேர்த்தியான படங்களை படைத்த அதே சுசி கணேசன் தான் இந்த படத்தை இயக்கினார் என்ற கேள்வி ஒரு புறம் என்றால், படத்தில் விக்ரம் என்ற நடிகனை எங்கு தேடினாலும் கிடைக்கவில்லை!பணத்தை வாரி இரைக்கும் தாணு போன்ற தயாரிப்பாளர் கிடைத்தவுடன் கதை, திரைக்கதை எல்லாம் என்னத்துக்கு என்று இருந்து விட்டனர் போலும்!

பாடல்கள் வேகமாக இருந்தாலும், சில பாடல்கள் கேட்க/பார்க்க சகிக்கவில்லை..உ.தா. மியாவ் மியாவ் பாடல், கிளைமாக்ஸ் பாடல்!! படத்தின் ஒரே ஆறுதல் விக்ரமின் கூல் லுக்சும், ஷ்ரியாவின் ஹேர் ஸ்டைலும்.

தனது மற்ற படங்களை போலவே ஒரு நல்ல சமுதாய சிந்தனையை கூற கிளம்பிய சுசி கணேசனை தடம் மாற்றியது என்ன என்ற கேள்வியே படம் பார்த்து திரும்பிய என்னிடம் இருந்தது!!

பி. கு : இந்த பதிவு தன்னை படத்திற்கு கூப்பிடவில்லை என்று கோபமாய் இருக்கும் ஒரு நண்பரின் கோபத்தை தணிக்கவும்,  படிப்பர்வகளுக்கு படத்தை பற்றிய ஒரு எச்சரிக்கையை இருக்கட்டும் என்ற நல்ல எண்ணத்தில் பதிந்தது 🙂

Sarkar raj – Relevant for the times

I watched Sarkar raj in theatre last week. I liked it very much and would rate it better than Sarkar. As far as the performances go, Ash looked awesome in her formal suits and played her part effectively, Abhishek displayed the intensity that few of his contemporaries could and Big B proved why he is Big B. The scenes where he talks to Abishek in the hospital and the climax sequence where he takes back control show how good an actor he is. Add to this his sheer charisma and screen presence, he brings the character Subash Nagre to life on screen. The music, photography and feel of the movie resembled Sarkar. The screenplay is tight and well executed. The movie has unexpected twists and even expected twists come in unexpected moments!

 

I was more impressed with the theme of the film. The movie revolves around a conspiracy to dislodge the Nagres from their seat of ‘power’ just like the one in the earlier version. But this time, we have an interesting backdrop to this conspiracy. The movie brings out the debates surrounding ‘developmental politics’ and the various tensions that globalization and privatization can bring about. Ant this is the reason I found the movie interesting and relevant. Shankar Nagre (Abishek) displays the brand of politics that I believe in and would like to see our politicians to adopt. He is convinced that industrial development is necessary for the long term well being of the people and goes village by village to convince the villagers to look for long term benefits and not be discouraged by temporary pain. How much I would love our policy makers to be like him and enter into a discussion with the affected parties, convince them and take them on board before they embark on big ticket developmental projects. The interaction between Ash and Abishek on the role of business in development and the way Abishek slowly wins over Ash’s mind is very educative and relevant to current days.  On the other hand we have Somji (the character that has striking similarity to Raj Thackerey) who raises the people against the power project for his own selfish political reasons by giving provocative and flowery speeches. The reviews of the movie do not fail to point out that the film is inspired by Enron project. I do not see it that way. By reducing it to Enron project, we overlook the larger debate that the movie can bring out namely the various interest groups that use such developmental projects to personal ends and hamper the betterment of standard of lives of ordinary people. We see it happening in real time, don’t we? Remember what’s happening in Singur on the Tata Nano project and how the political parties are trying hard to gain political mileage out of it ?

 

Sarkar raj is a movie that is a mark of times that we live in. The larger debate that the movie brings about is relevant. Moreover the performances of the cast and the execution by RGV is brilliant, which makes the movie a must watch.

Fever Pitch – It’s easy to change for those you love

A couple of brand makeovers in the recent past had captured my attention – interestingly both them being that of banks. One was UTI Bank’s makeover as Axis bank, which used a series of ads featuring twins and the message that everything is the same except the name. The other, the subject matter of this blog, is the brand makeover of Canara Bank trying to shrug off its laidback PSU image into a modern banking one. The Canara Bank story was based on the message “It is easy to change for those you love. We are changing for you”.  I found the UTI ads cute because of the twins, but found it not great on message as I ended up thinking “Whats the use when thre is no change but the name?”. While the second set of ads on Canara Bank were powerful to get across the message that the bank is taking steps to change for you – the customer. These marketing analysis apart I really loved and believed in thier message – “It is easy to change for those you love”.

Isn’t it true? Isn’t it what life is all about? A movie that I saw yesterday, “Fever Pitch” made me thinking on these lines agin.

 

“Fever Pitch” is a romantic comedy featuring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. Fallon who plays Ben Wrightman is a huge huge fan of the Boston Red Sox baseball team and that is an understatement. Having spent his childhood with a divorcee mother and Uncle Carl whose only interest was in baseball, the Red Sox and the Fenway Park (Red Sox’s home ground) are the friend, family and everything for Ben. Every season he watches every game at the Fenway Park courtesy the season tickets that his uncle had inherited to him. This big obsession of his has been a problem with his previous dates as well. Ben meets Lindsey (Drew Barrymore), an ambitious upcoming corporate executive and asks her out after the first meeting. Their first date turns out to be a cute little disaster! Lindsey is sick and puking by the time he arrives at her home. He helps her, make her rest, cleans up the mess and falls asleep on the sofa!! (Now, you can’t ask for a better first date than that to show your love to your lady, can you?) Lindsey starts liking Ben too, a different sort of guy than all the previous executive sort of guys she had dated before. Lindsey asks Ben to come over to her parent’s place for the Easter weekend when Ben tells her of his ‘problem’ regarding to his obsession with the Red Sox.  In fact, he asks her to come to the opening weekend with her breaking her traditional Easter vacation with her parents and she obliges. She starts learning about the game and accompanies him for the games. But she finds it difficult to manage her office as well where she is fighting to get the next promotion. Things get worse when Lindsey asks Ben to accompany her to Paris where she is going on an official trip, but for Ben he cannot miss his game. Upset with this and that her plans of letting Ben know of her pregnancy when in Paris not happening, Lindsey snaps with him and even aborts her child, having doubts on the relationship now. A couple of make-ups and break-ups later, the movie heads to the climax, when at last Ben decides to sell his season tickets to a friend of his in order to prove his love for Lindsey. The beautiful climax has Lindsey running all across the Fenway park in the middle of a baseball game and stopping Ben. “You love me enough to sell your tickets. I love you enough not to let you. What do you say we try to do all of it?” she says.

 

And that friends sum up the message used by Canara Bank as well. We all change for the people we care and we love..and we must. It is very easy to live our lives on our own terms without any regard for others but it makes a great and a fuller life if one can accommodate for the near and dear ones. I am not saying that one should not have any individual goals or that sort of thing, but it is important to respect those you love – be it your parents, friends, wife or kids – and make some adjustments in life. Ben decided to give up his lifelong obsession for his love, of course it is just a moive, but  we can sure make some small adjustments for the people we care. And it is these small adjustments that strengthens a relationship, brings it more joy and fulfillment and makes this life worthwhile.

 

P.S: Coming back to the movie, I liked the movie very much. Some of the dialogues are very good like these ones:

“Look if I keep these seats, all I think about every time I am here is what I gave up to be here” – Ben to his friends in the Fenway park who urge him not to sell his tickets.

 

“He fanned me with a magazine for four years when I was going through menopause. I can put up with this” – Lindsey’s mother to Lindsey, when Lindsey asks how she could put up with her father’s new hairdo

 

“You love the Sox..but have they ever loved you back” – A school boy to Ben

 

“Are you faking it, because we don’t have to really do it if you don’t want to “ – Ben to Lindsey when he sees her puking on him coming to her house for the first date.

 

So do watch the movie if you get hold of it. It is definitely worth your hour and a half.

 

And yes, it is official. I have become a fan of Drew Barrymore. She is really cute, pretty and beautiful. Will watch more movies of her now J

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jodha-Akbar : A Preview

In my last blog on movies, I had remarked that one of the movies that I am looking forward to eagerly in 2008 is ‘Jodha Akbar’. I watched the trailer of the movie today and my eagerness has multiplied manifold. 

 After extolling the virtues of ordinary men with extraordinary determination using British India and cricket as backdrop in the Academy Award Nominee Lagaan and stirring many an educated foreign bound young Indians through Mohan Bhargav in Swades, Ashuthosh Gowarikar has come up with a historical now on the marriage between the great Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Akbar and the Rajput princess, Jodhabai. Knowing Gowarikar’s penchant for perfection, I am confident that this would be a very good movie. I have not read on the movie yet but see its trailer, so my knowledge on the movie is limited but I have only speculations as to what to look for in the movie.

 First on the trailer…The trailer looks brilliant, very well edited and has a terrific background title track music by none other than our own ARR. The sets look extravagant yet realistic (not like the ones in Saawariya or Devdas). The sequences involving the armies are grand – what you would expect to see in a good historical movie like this. Hritik looks royal as Akbar, charms with his smiles and delivers the dialogues (whatever little in trailer) authoritatively. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays Jodha and looks confident reminding us of her role in Guru. The support cast of Kulbushan Kharbandha, Sunrendar Pal et al. look impressive too. We can expect a cracker of a movie. 

What can we expect from the movie? The name ‘Jodha-Akbar’ suggests that this movie will be centered on Akbar’s marriage with Jodha and Jodha will have an equally important role as Akbar. In other words, this might not be a story on Akbar the Emperor, but on a small part of his life. There is no elderly Akbar seen in the trailer suggesting the movie will restrict itself to the younger days of Akbar. I believe this is a wise thing to do. 

Akbar has always been held in respect and awe by me, wondering whether such an emperor existed. A Mughal emperor married to a Hindu princess, ruling almost from Khandahar to the Deccan, a secular at heart, progressive and even tried to start a new faith by incorporating the best of all – Din-e-Illahi (that’s a sure MCQ question in history  examJ ). But we know very little of his early life and why he married a Hindu princess.  Is it a strategic move to establish peace with the warring Rajputs? Or was he really secular at heart even then at that young age? If yes, what or who shaped his ideals to have such a radical thought at that time?  What were the reactions of other Rajputs and Mughal princes? What was his equation with Jodha after marriage? Was she comfortable being the wife of a Muslim emperor? Was she the only queen or were there other wives of Akbar too? If yes, what then is the position of Jodha in Akbar’s heart? How much of this marriage shaped Akbar’s ideals later on? I look forward to answers for such questions in this movie. Hope Gowarikar has done his homework right. In that sense, historically this is a much needed piece of work. 

The movie I think will have relevance in today’s world too where we stand confused on what secularism and inter-religious harmony is, having let that discourse hijacked by the politicians. With the talk of the ‘clash of civilizations’ being imminent in the near future, this movie can be relevant at a global level too. Who knows Jodha-Akbar might win Gowarikar what Lagaan failed to!! 

Here is the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRyDWVXheL0

5 good movies that I saw in 2007

mozhi.jpg Mozhi – ‘Beautiful’

 Very few movies have made me feel good as Mozhi. I liked Radha Mohan’s previous movies but Mozhi made me his fan. A straightforward, simple, clean movie. Jo’s last movie before her marriage and she was at her best. I hope she resumes acting soon. The hilarious sequence in which Prakash Raj proposes to Swarnamalya (I wonder if anyone ever could do that in real life J ) and the sequence between Bhaskar and Prithiviraj stand out. ‘Kaatrin Mozhi’ song is one of my favorites now.

kalluri_t.jpg Kalloori – ‘Reality’

Films with college, friendship and love as background are not new to Tamil cinema. But Balaji Shakivel’s Kalloori took us to a college which was not shown earlier in Tamil cinema. The small town Govt Arts College was an eye opener. Balaji Shaktivel should be commended for this attempt of his.The characters were not the convent educated urbane students, but came from very modest backgrounds in rural TamilNadu. The characters – Muthu, Kayalmozhi, Ramesh, Nagarani, Kamakshi, Aadhilakshmi etc.- were not glamorous, but yet they are the beautiful characters that I saw on screen last year. The music by Joshua Sridhar was good too. I personally felt the tragic end to the movie was not warranted, though it was topical as the court ruling on the real case which inspired the case was given recently. The tragic end in his earlier movie ‘Kadaal’ which was a great success must have inspired Balaji Shaktivel. But ‘Kalloori’ would have stayed with me even without the tragic end. But maybe it would have opened other loose ends in the script. So the climax that the director chose gave him an easy way to end the movie without much loose ends.

chakde.jpg Chak de India – ‘Chak de!!’

 A wonderful tight script. Very well executed. I watched this at Rex in a night show on the opening weekend of the movie, that is, much before Chak de became ‘Chak de!’. The movie stands out in memory for its brilliant execution of the hockey match sequences and the performances of the girls. I liked this movie for the multiplicity sub-plots that ran through its script: the question over the patriotism of minority, the  dilemma within the minority community (the scene where the coach kabir khan is alienated by his own community), the male-female divide in sports, the tension between regional vs. national interests, the neglect or ignorance of people from the mainstream states of the people from states like Jharkhand and the North East and of course the tension between cricket vs. other sports.. And of course, to me this is SRK’s best since Swades.

metro.jpg Life..in a metro – ‘Emotions’

It takes a lot of courage for a director to pick up so many threads and start running…and even greater intelligence to tie them together in the end and bring the film to a fitting closure. Anurag basu did very well in this respect. Each and every actor in the movie did an excellent work. It helped that each one of them was an actor and not a star! The conversation between Irfan and Konkana towards the end of the movie, the scene where they both scream on top of a building, the sequences involving Dharmendra and Nafisa stand out in memory.

oso.jpg Om Shanti Om : ‘Pure Entertainment’

This movie was a complete package. SRK proved that is the second best entertainer in India (Of course, the first spot goes to our own Superstar). Songs were good. Deepika was stunning.

Movies that I regret not watching so far: Veyil, Katrathu Thamizh, Onbathu Rooba Notu, Pallikoodam, Taare Zameen Par

Movies that I regret watching: Billa, ATM, Spiderman 3

Looking forward in 2008 : Dasaavataram, Indiralokathil Na Azhagappan, Abhiyum Nanum, Jodha Akbar

cheeni kum

topical.jpgIn my first ever blog I would like to review a movie that I saw recently..Cheeni Kum (Less sugar)..

The first time I saw the trailer of the movie with the title song I got hooked to it..not because it was something very new..but it was a remix of one of my favorite song (mandram vandha thendralukku) from one of my all time favorite movie (mani ratnam’s mouna ragam)..the next time i saw the trailer i ensured to check whether it was isaigyani himself who had done the remix or some unscrupulous yet intelligent music director who had managed to pick one of raja’s best to copy..fortunately it turned out that it was illaiyaraja himself who has done the music for this film of Balki, an adman making debut in feature films..

Needless to say, all the songs of Cheeni kum are good..illaiyaraja has taken his olden goldies and have given it a very contemprary feel to go with the plot of the movie.. Set in London, the movie is about a 64 old man (Amitabh) and a 34 old lady (Tabu) falling in love with each other. After the debacle of Nishabd Amitabh was at pains to explain that this movie is different..and different it was. To me the success of the movie lies in the way in which the romance between this seemingly couple is effortlessly shown. Its almost love at first sight and not so as well. The sequences involving Tabu and AB are a treat to watch. The director has also been naughty in certain scenes keeping in mind the age and the maturity of the lovers to handle the scenes, makes it interesting to watch.

There are three other pairs in the movie : AB and Zohra Sehgal, who plays his mother; AB and Paresh Rawal, Tabu’s father and six years younger to AB, the sequence where Paresh Rawal brings out the age factor each time AB attempts to talk of the marriage is funny and a treat to watch; the last pair is that of AB (yes again!) and Swini Khara (got the name right now, thanks to amit ;)), a nine year old girl who lives next door to AB and is a blood cancer patient, the sequences between these two are engaging and emotional.

The movie breezes past in the first half. The second half too starts well, but as the movie reaches the climax, it becomes a drag and a bit too cliched! I think the director ran out of ideas here. he would have done very well to have some patience, spend some more months thinking  to make the later half as interesting as the earlier one.

But in all, Cheeni kum is a good watch. Watch it,

1. for a stunning Tabu making a comeback

2. the Big B – who is at home, be it with a ninety year old Zohra Shegal or a nine year old Saimi Khanna

3. for the beautiful view of London brought to you through the lenses of P.C.Sreeram

4. and ofcourse, for the music of illaiyaraja..( credit should be given to the director here who has seemlessly merged the songs with the storyline of the movie)

(and yes, do ensure u go to a good theatre..i ended up at rex where i felt that there was some trouble with the print and lighting.)