Guzaarish and the mixed virtues of restraint

[SPOILERS GALORE!]



In a way Bhansali over-learnt the Saawariya box office lesson in Guzaarish. The operatic instincts this director has struggled with throughout his career have resulted in a fairly uneven set of films where the blend of linear narrative and hyper-stylized visual form has usually been a work in progress. These efforts have seemed overwrought, featuring the atmospherics of grand opera without necessarily the passions associated with the genre. From his earliest Khamoshi through his transitional Devdas his meandering narratives often undid his signature strengths, with Black he perhaps found what is to date his best marriage between intent and form (though Bachchan’s triumphant and really over-powering presence here can scarcely be overlooked.. a star who could provide Bhansali’s operatic vehicle with grand presence and grand passion at one and the same time) but it is with Saawariya that the director really came closest to realizing the ‘logic’ of his concerns than anywhere else. The overt theatricality and ‘staging’ of the film’s dreamscape coupled with its Broadway musical time-scheme offers the best index of Bhansali’s vision despite its somewhat insipid narrative. Possibly the hysterically negative reaction the latter received in every sense forced Bhansali to back track quite a bit. Guzaarish is his most even narrative with the exception of Black, a film where the classic Bhansali tension is far less apparent. Regrettably, and ironically, the strengths of this work are also achieved at the cost of Bhansali’s usual formal elan. By his standards the director has made a quieter, much more restrained work but it is also one that seems starved of oxygen sometimes. Almost as if the director were constantly looking over his shoulder at Saawariya. Inasmuch as he perhaps tried to avoid the latter he should also have cast fresher eyes on Black. This in effect was the kind of film Guzaarish could have been but is not. To the degree that Bhansali has constantly sought ‘un-Indian’ inspiration in these last three films of his from Black (Miracle Worker) to Saawariya (Dostoyevsky’s White Nights but really Visconti’s film version of the same) to Guzaarish (The Sea Inside with an admixture of the Prestige) he has at least managed to create newer (albeit ‘neverland’) worlds with the material. Irrespective of the inspirations one could not really think these films looked like anything else. Not so with Guzaarish where Bhansali plays it safe. He borrows far too much and is not quite the magician to give it new life. For all this Guzaarish is actually one of his better films all round, certainly very accessible as a narrative but it is also less interesting that some of its predecessors, ultimately far less vital than it might have been. It is not a film to dislike even if one does not enjoy it. It is also not one that particularly stirs. Guzaarish is perhaps a Khamoshi-like effort Bhansali might have made with the experience of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and a great deal of the narrative fat cut out from both films but it is not the heir to Black or Saawariya.

There are definitely triumphant moments in Guzaarish. The magic sequences with the younger Ethan are superbly handled and even if derivative (Prestige, Illusionist) are still the film’s most entrancing ones, not least in a formalistic sense and including the staging of the ‘accident’. Similarly some of the ‘little’ scenes from the raindrops falling on Ethan’s forehead and his inability to avoid them to his insistence that his nurse smash a vase for his anger to find expression. There are such genuine instances of emotion in the film. Bhansali however never allows this sort of element to become the defining feature of his work and keeps getting distracted with major and minor subplots. The magician’s apprentice was simply not needed, nowhere is Ethan shown very interested in furthering his legacy except when the apprentice shows up. There is beyond this never enough of a relationship developed between the two. By the time a twist is revealed at the end that too seems absurdly forced. Along the same lines Ethan’s former assistant and love interest pops out of nowhere only to be cast into narrative oblivion as quickly. Sofia’s abusive husband weirdly decides to complicate things twelve years into his wife’s unusual lifestyle choice. The courtroom sequences though dramatically effective take up far too much time in this relatively short film and seem implausible. Ethan’s mother interrupts the proceedings from time to time without any very good reason. In general certain vestiges of a much more commercial format creep into this film from time to time. It is not that the narrative ever gets derailed but that with every such move a great bit of the film’s characterizations are lost and what could certainly have amounted to its cumulative emotional strengths is sacrificed. Most strangely and perhaps in another instance of Bhansali not being too sure about his audience the ‘suicide’ that is the very raison d’etre of the film is completely effaced at the end. Instead we are left with a happy family reunion of an ending with its parallel wake moment beyond which no one need see the messy business of mercy killing. There is some unintentional black humor here mixed with a more standard teary-eyed farewell. Bhansali’s indulgences in recent films have not been of this sort. He has not been distracted in quite this manner. Guzaarish hearkens even in this sense to his earlier films. But those works promised far less than this one to begin with. Here the director had a lot of elements in place and just needed to concentrate on the ‘basics’. With the choices he has made however even his leads seem to be at the head of a procession of characters as opposed to being the engine of his film. Once more to the extent one is disappointed with Guzaarish it is not because one does not like what is on display but one senses the far greater possibilities that were compromised, not least when one compares it to its obvious inspiration, the Sea Inside, a film it is inferior to by an order of magnitude.

But it is not only the detours that unhinge this film even if in almost imperceptible ways. Hrithik Roshan’s central performance is also a very scattered one where the actor is off key on several important occasions. Admittedly Roshan has always been more ‘star’ than ‘actor’ but he might have exhibited greater control and evennness than he does here. It is a very earnest effort in many ways and this unfortunately shows as does Roshan’s inability to enact many shades of this character. One is for example a bit surprised to discover intonations from his Koi Mil Gaya character in some of the introductory portions. In a different sense his attempts at anger and frustration seem quite over the top. In Jodhaa-Akbar Hrithik did far better because Gowariker established a correspondence between Hrithik ‘the star’ and the received, romantic image of Akbar the emperor. To be impressed by the star in the film was to feed one’s mythologization of Akbar. Of course Gowariker’s film for all its own narrative messiness was a historical romance. The decision therefore paid off. But here in Guzaarish just the star will not do. Bhansali rather consciously renders Hrithik as Jesus and this offers a clue to the difficulties of this character. Jesus remains opaque to the historical record and therefore cannot be an adequate model for any sort of performance or ‘character’ (a question incidentally that Dostoyevsky struggled with quite a bit). Unless of course the part is that of Jesus! It is as if Bhansali would sometimes like Ethan to be a Jesus-type, an ideal sufferer, and sometimes a real ‘secular’ flesh and blood character with lots of negative emotion. For all this Hrithik manages to be endearing for most of the film and somehow takes one through the narrative. This happens because the star’s greatest strength has been his ability to play off a more vulnerable self. His father has always masterfully chaneled this aspect of his persona. Elsewhere the star has far less interestingly resorted to preening. Guzaarish allows Hrithik for all his limitations to operate in that space of vulnerability and at least aim for a more ‘sincere’ performance. In effect the star does make ‘contact’ with the viewer in significant ways but this is not of the order of an adequate performance let alone the ‘great’ one many of the reviewers have imagined it to be.

As a contrast this is one of Aishwarya Rai’s most successful star turns. It might not even be hyperbolic to state that she is possibly the film’s most ‘authoritative’ presence. More in control of her skill set and her signature than Hrithik, more effective than anyone else in the film. The film might have sunk without her foil. Even as Hrithik is expectedly impressive as a magician and especially with the choreography where he arguably delivers some of his best career moments it is ultimately Aishwarya’s ‘mime’ and dance in ‘Udi’ that are even more mesmerizing. This is truly a star at the height of her powers.She has over time developed a formidable star signature and has deployed it with increasing potency in a number of films. Guzaarish adds an impressive chapter to a career which even if it is has never had the ‘infinite variety’ of the pure actress seems nowhere close to being ‘withered’ with ‘age’. It would not be too harsh to state that Aishwarya is what Hrithik has been unable to become so far.

The one decision that Bhansali gets absolutely right in the film is to use only snippets from his rather dull and meandering soundtrack and mostly as part of the background score. Except for the ‘Udi’ number. Yet he perhaps goes a bit too far by not allowing more than a moment or two even from the title track. All of this along with a greater reliance on ‘silence’ again makes for a quieter Bhansali soundtrack than any of his previous efforts where even in the otherwise admirable Black the score was simply ‘too much’.

Finally one could argue with the oddly ‘period’ setting of the interiors or the lack of interplay between the vast spaces of Ethan’s grand residence (which incidentally makes his condition seem far less claustophobic than it otherwise might have been.. again the oppressiveness of Bhansali’s past visual choices would have served this film well) and the almost non-existent ‘outdoors’ of this film (so much of the work is about the character’s inability to break free of his immediate surroundings and yet the viewer must have a sense of what the character has really been missing.. one of many things the Spanish film does extraordinarily well). There are other ‘trifles’ to be picked here as well but those do not get to the heart of this work’s ‘problem’.

This might seem like a very critical piece on a film that I actually liked quite a bit and believe to be one of Bhansali’s better efforts. But a film must be judged by the possibilities it misses out on based on the premises it has set up. I would hesitate to call Guzaarish an unsuccessful film even allowing for everything I have just discussed. However, it is certainly one that settles for far less than it might have. And more crucially Bhansali’s restraint though understandable in the wake of Saawariya has not led him to the optimal set of choices given his instincts and his history and equally the ‘needs’ of his subject. Guzaarish is still a film I would rather see than most others from this director but I also await a better compromise than this to follow up on Black and Saawariya.

281 Responses to “Guzaarish and the mixed virtues of restraint”

  1. Very good read. But when I read this, I was stumped:

    “It would not be too harsh to state that Aishwarya is what Hrithik has been unable to become so far. ”

    I find this very hard to believe. Ash is one of the most mediocre actors in Bollywood. Hrithik at least has a Lakshya, KMG and a less even Mission Kashmir to his credit. Aishwarya has absolutely nothing in her career so far to be praised to such an extent. She’s a ‘star’ although her films have flopped left and right. She has her legion of fans, but from an actor’s point of view, she’s only passable.

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    • And before the posse of Ash fans tries to shove me on the chopping block, I’d like to mention some names whom I consider to be worthy of praise — Tabu, Rani Mukherji and in select roles, Kareena Kapoor.

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      • i get that you dislike aish, but a mediocre actress? c’mon saket…you’re being way too harsh, IMO. had you made this statement 10 years ago. i would’ve agreed readily. i couldn’t disagree with you more strongly today. i’d used the word “mediocre” to describe kajol or deepika padukone, or priyanka chopra, or katrina kaif, etc.

        also, i don’t get what’s so great about rani mukherji and kareena kapoor. sure, they’re definitely good actresses—and aish, to me, is just as good as they are—but they always get more credit than they deserve as actresses, which baffles me. they shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence as a great actress like tabu. heck, i’d take konkona sen sharma, vidya balan and gul panag over them

        bottomline is, aishwaya is no great actress by any stretch of the imagination, but she does have undeniable acting chops.

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    • I’d disagree.. I’ve liked Ash in most of her outings in recent years for the reasons I’ve stated in this piece. From hrithik on the other hand I’ve never seen him be a successful star in a part that doesn’t play to his strengths. JA did. Lakshya was alright, not much of a performance-oriented deal here in any case. The rest of the time he’s an earnest chap trying quite hard but he is something other than an actor. I rate Ash higher because deployed the right way a star signature can make up for the deficit in terms of pure performance. Hrithik has not yet learned to do this, he might with time. There are moments in Guzaarish where this happens for him, in some other films too, but it is nowhere as controlled as it should be. Not least because if a star is under the illusion he or she is a thespian there is a different sort of performance than when there is a greater awareness that one is more star than actor. Everything that is effective on screen cannot be subsumed under traditional acting labels. At the same time star signature does not mean one can do anything. John Wayne was fantastic in his Westerns but you wouldn’t want him in Taxi Driver!

      thanks for your comment though..

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      • But Aish was an equal part of JA. Why didn’t she get a quarter of the praise that Hrithik received?

        What exactly is Aishwarya’s star signature? Where exactly does she excel? Except for her beauty, of course.

        Madhubala is still revered for her timeless beauty. Hema Malini as well and she was actually a poor actress. Is Aish going to be remembered as part of this league? Only time will tell….

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        • Saket, there’s a certain sexist structure in place where women almost never get their due as performers compared to their male co-stars. Surprised you consider those reviewers as a standard!

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        • ideaunique Says:

          i thought aish was brilliang in raincoat as far as acting is concerned and of-course Guzaarish is her best till date……one reason she doesn’t have many films to talk about in acting dept. could be because she was not offered such roles earlier? or maybe she has matured now only as an actor?

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    • Ash has had the Ratnam films and the Bhansali movies which, leaving aside what one thinks of the performances, are undoubtedly marks of a star in control of her narrative. Hrithik’s stardom has no real narrative to drive it, (barring the populist-hero he does effectively in his father’s films and that of late he seems intent on jettisoning) and I think this is the real point Satyam is arguing. Not that Ash is a better actor but that she’s in greater control of her stardom. The actresses you mention are obviously better pure actors but none of them (Rani is the best example of late) seems to have the staying power or the “point” to it all that Ash easily has.

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      • yes, agreed with everything here..

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      • “Not that Ash is a better actor but that she’s in greater control of her stardom.”

        How is that true if all her films seem to be flopping left right and center? Is she a star because of her role in Robot? Action Replay? The Pink Panther 2?

        Or is she a star because of her roles in Guru and Raavan? In the former, she’s hardly got enough presence and in the latter, she’s bordering on the annoying, most of the times.

        Hrithik’s ‘stardom’ has a very unique facet to it. His dancing abilities. That’s his USP. It’s the least he’ll be remembered for, if not for anything else. What exactly will Aish be remembered for 10 years down the line? I’m genuinely curious because I don’t see much to understand this praise bestowed upon her.

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        • It’s true because revenue isn’t (fortunately and unfortunately) the only thing that determines one’s star power. We’re talking about two different things. I’m not saying that her performances are in some way superlative and that she’s the one everyone wants to watch. But she is a star who has figured out her place in the industry in a way that Hrithik precisely hasn’t. Ash’s USP (if one wants to dissect this) is her classically Indian beauty, a beauty that seems, at certain turns, to be inflected by a history of Indian screen beauties. And every film choice she’s made (even in a turdfest like Action Replay) has somehow built on this. Whether or not she’s setting the box office on fire, she’s the one getting on the projects and working with the filmmakers who (rightly or no) are considered to be at the fore of the industry in some respect.

          I get what you’re arguing, but I do think it’s a bit ridiculous to suggest that she may not be remembered for anything 10 years from now! Let’s be serious.

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        • Aishwarya Rai has easily been among the most iconic Indians (for those in India and for the diaspora) in this contemporary generation (besides being with Rahman the most well-known globally). Her cultural currency is rather unique and frankly transcends even her work in cinema. I don’t even believe there’s a debate to be had about this. On the rest she’s has had bad luck this year (barring Enthiran) but she’s also had D2, Guru, JA in succession earlier. She’s still getting some of the best parts.

          On Hrithik he has definitely been a very important star for his generation but I do not believe stars survive their age without a proper body of work. They might be remembered as successful stars but that’s about it. Unless of course the star becomes a truly canonical one and I don’t believe Hrithik has done that either. He’s not quite had the cultural resonance of SRK (which Ash does have). His dancing gifts are certainly singular, I’m afraid this itself does not ensure one a place in history. Because he does not even have like say Saturday Night Live or Grease iconic films as a dancing star. Just his own hits already seem quite passe. Consider Ash’s Kajra re moment. Worth many films!

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          • Ash’s Kajra Re moment? There were 2 other Bachchans in the frame. Including the most iconic superstar of all. Are you suggesting it’s close to Hrithik’s Ek Pal Ka Jeena?

            On Aish’s popularity, I agree she’s a global name. She’s got her hands in a few international projects as well. But appearing in Oprah is what defines ‘stardom’?

            She’s a top ‘star’. Still to this date. And it’s perhaps commendable but keeping aside her ‘popularity’ for a moment, is she anywhere close to Madhuri? Sri?

            I’m sorry but I can’t drop my standards if I like Bachchan. If I’m a fan of Madhuri, I can’t like Aish at all…

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          • No I never said Kajra re was all her but she’s a very integral part of the video’s narrative (yes Bachchan’s there but Salam-e-ishq cannot exactly be imagined without Rekha!). And yeah the song and video easily beat Ek Pal ka jeena in terms of the iconic appeal of each. Not to underrate Hrithik’s grand moment but kajra re was quite correctly dubbed the national anthem.

            And no I would take Madhuri as an actress but not necessarily as a star. It’s more a matter of preference on the latter. Sridevi I was never a fan of but she was a bona fide star and arguably a greater one than Madhuri (without doubt a greater one including her work across Southern industries).

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          • LOL, Ash should be happy.. this thread has become all about her!

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          • Madhuri, no (though this is in terms of performance, in terms of relevance, Ash has or will have her beat). Sridevi- yes, yes, yes. The latter I have long considered one of the most overrated female stars.

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          • Satyam, excellent write-up. With your and GF’s reviews. I’m now genuinely interested in the movie, which I wasn’t before.
            On Ash, I’m with Saket. I consider Ash a fairly mediocre actress. While she might have global currency and wide recognition, she hasn’t really demonstrated the ability to open or sustain a movie as a star, which both Madhuri and Sridevi were able to do in spades.

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          • thanks much Chipguy.. you should certainly check it out..

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    • I have to disagree that Hrithik’s filmography is stronger than Aishwarya’s. Here are the movies I liked:

      Iruvar
      Kandukondain Kandukandain
      HDDCS – liked partly for Aish and Ajay
      Devdas – not a fan but memorable
      Khakee
      Chokher Bali
      Raincoat
      Shabd – I liked the performances of Aish and Sanjay
      Guru
      Provoked
      Jodha Akbar
      Sarkar Raj
      Raavan/Raavanan
      Endhiran
      Guzaarish

      As for Hrithik, I liked his performance in only a few movies:
      Lakshya – partly
      Luck by Chance – cameo
      Jodhaa Akbar
      Guzaarish – inconsistent but good

      But to each his own when it comes to movies and performances.

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      • I should add Umrao Jaan too even if I’m in the minority.

        Saket, I don’t care about box office success as much as you do. I remember movies and performances not how they did at the box office.

        To be honest I dislike most of the top earning movies in BW.

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        • Actually, I don’t care about box office success. I’m not saying I don’t follow box office debates, but on the whole it’s my own preferences that seal the deal for me. I’m quite fond of some of the “small” films that get made in Bollywood. And I think I’ve mentioned it here that if those “independent” voices get throttled, I might stop watching Hindi films together.

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        • alex adams Says:

          if i may butt in about ash (no pun intended) —-IMO The allure, impact, poise and ( god knows what all) of Ash far exceeds what one may expect from her filmography or box-office success (or lack of it).
          I dont think dissecting each and every ash film, her performance and box-office success/ failure is relevant and definitely there is not much point in comparing ash to hritik of all people!
          firstly i dont subscribe to the theorem that ash is a mediocre actress. there ssems some inexplicable bias against her in addition to her beauty acting as a distraction from her obvious talent.
          She does have poor film discretion (common with bachchans) and due to her animosity from “khans”, she was debarred from the coterie films—when the likes of rani and preity had a field day. With due respect to rani and preity—they were ass-lickers of a certain banner(s)–somethign which ash did not seem to indulge in (atleast not to the same ridiculous levels).
          As for her contemporaries, only rani is a decidedly better actress than ash (but ash is much more beautiful by far, to be blunt and precise)
          And by the way–As mentioned earlier, I consider Ash THE most beautiful actress to ever grace indian screens ever….
          Nuff said.

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      • On the list of films I don’t think there’s even a contest here! I might not agree with all of your choices but Hrithik’s list isn’t even close.

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      • HDDCS is all right. Devdas is owned by Madhuri. Khakee? Of all the performances in that film, she’d be last on the list.

        Raincoat? Questionable but ok.

        Shabd? Disagree.

        Guru — ok but nothing spectacular.

        Sarkar Raj — does she even count in that film?

        Raavan — I found her annoying, to be honest. The criticism that Satyam directs towards Hrithik is most apt here. She’s earnest but a complete failure.

        I am not debating the films she’s been a part of. She has clearly been part of some very good to great films. I’m questioning her own contribution to those films. She’s not even consistently good, IMO, in the hands of great directors. How she’s fared at the hands of lesser directors is anyone’s guess….

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        • but all this is debatable.. I for example disagree.. the fact that she has those films isn’t! Hrithik however does not have this kind of resume so far. He might well build one but he’s already been around a decade and he was successful with his very first attempt. So it’s not as if anyone had doubts about his stardom. In any case you’re bringing up a number of unrelated things here. You’re the first person I’ve heard question her standing as star or cultural presence. I consider Hema Malini a complete non-actress but I don’t doubt how very successful she was!

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        • Please your argument makes no sense. Have Rani and Kareena whom you listed as good actresses been consistently good in all their movies even under good directors? No infact they have been OTT in many movies.

          All actors/actresses have good and bad performances and yet you single out one based on your personal bias. There are actors and actresses of whom I’m not a fan but I can acknowledge when they have performed well.

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          • Rani in Black, Bunty Aur Babli and Kareena in Jab We Met, Refugee, Dev, just to name a few performances are better than anything Aish has been involved in. Aish is just a poor actress, IMO.

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        • by the way I’ll say this too. Much as I adore Madhuri Ash just matters more in a historical sense (for the cultural contexts and for reasons of longevity). Madhuri in fact (and this is not really her fault) has nothing, really zilch of a resume. I am only slightly exaggerating here but she hardly has any important films.

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          • Whoooo !!!!!
            now you have gone toofar satyam

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          • Beta, Raja ,Kalnayak, Khel, Devdaas,Ram Lakhan, DTPH…..
            as against-
            Raavan and Robot??
            Zilch my ass…………..LOL!!!!

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          • Hum Aapke Hain Koun – she owned that film. Madhuri is by far the most iconic actress of the past two decades. Just the sheer volume of iconic songs alone seals the deal.

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          • why_so_serious Says:

            Rocky,
            You forgot Jeans. 😛

            What’s wrong with Robot? It’s a historical film. All the more reason why she’ll be ‘remembered’, according to Satyam.

            All the Madhuri films you mention age very badly, lemme tell you..

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          • Insaaf..Argument ka taraazu ab doosri taraf jaa raha hai..

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          • lol wss!!
            BTW we are talking about madhuri in those movies- not the movies themselves.
            Ash has No dhak dhak or ankhiya milaoo or ek do teen moments.

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          • Aloha Munna, just back from a week long vacation in Hawaii- Mahola !!

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          • why_so_serious Says:

            You definitely have a point there about ‘memorable moments’. It definitely is in favor of Madhuri..

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          • Am somewhat with Rocky here.
            In fifty years, I dont know who will be remembered with more reverence but Madhuri does have a solid resume. I think, as if now I would regard them equally. Madhuri was again more usccesful but Ash’s magic transcends more BO fate of here films.

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          • don’t mean to sell Madhuri short. I adore her as much as the next person. Just find most of her hits (leaving aside her own iconic songs) somewhat unwatchable at this point. Take even the Ghai films. Most of these take some effort to revisit. My point just was that she doesn’t have great classics to her name nor significant serious films. Barring exceptions. I always considered it her misfortune to have been trapped between two eras. Sridevi on the other hand was perfect for the 80s or for the badness of that age! Similarly on Ash my point was that when the history books are written Madhuri will just be another popular actress or perhaps deserving of a special mention for being the ultimate item girl among lead actresses but she won’t be part of an important Indian cultural moment the way Ash has been. Much as SRK is crucial for ‘new India’ and for the diaspora to an even greater extent. History is a rather cruel affair. So many stars that seemed extremely significant for their generations have dimmed with time. The best way to ensure survival is to either act in classics that get seen in every age or else do important films that are always considered worthy of discovery. Even being part of an important moment is no guarantee (consider Rajesh Khanna though his is a unqiue example inasmuch as the Bachchan revolution totally buried him). But your odds are better this way.

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          • WSS- Ash for me had two such moments-
            1.- In Taal when she pushes Anil kapoor while singing- Tu Ramta Jogeee
            and
            2. In HDDCS – Aankho kee Gutakhiya Maaf hon…

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          • I’m talking about important films. I now realize that you’re equating them with item numbers! What’s going on?! Hope it’s not the Hawaii effect!

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          • People from Madhuri’s time feel Madhuri has more moments, same with Sridevi or Rekha.
            People from Ash’s time feel many moments from her films.

            Now the current generation is moving towards Katrina or Deepika.

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          • LOL on Hawaii effect ! too many objects ( of desire) to look at there !!!

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          • I can delete your comment if there’s any possibility of domestic trouble!

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          • LOL- I told my wife- tum apne Haath- pair seko ( Tanning), main aankhe sek leta hoon !!

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  2. Superb piece, Satyam. Agree with everything here and especially in that this is not a film to “dislike” but it’s also not one to give a free pass to. It’s a messy effort but certainly one of Bhansali’s better works and of course is a better ticket than a lot of the drivel that passes for moviemaking.

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  3. Satyam’s words on performances can be just so expected.. even before reading the review, i had predicted he’s not going to like hritik and would have high praise for a mediocre actress..

    his praise for hritik, SRK and many others would automatically come when they start working for the Bachchan household

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  4. I haven’t ready fully, will wait until i watch it.

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  5. And GF used to say this earlier too, I was a bit slow to appreciate this but Ash under Rathnam’s guidance does show hints of this quality even in Iruvar. Obviously she’s too young here, it’s only her debut film but Rathnam instinctively understands how best to mold her. I also found her extremely effective in Guru. Leaving this aside the one other ‘stance’ that Ash has developed rather well over time and that serves her well in her pairings (especially with Hrithik but also otherwise) is the slightly deconstructive posture (I mean figuratively) with respect to ‘maleness’. In other words ‘I’m not buying this macho bluster’ kind of deal! This dynamic works well in Guzaarish where she often has to ‘mother’ a petulant patient. Again something very different from Sea Inside where the Bardem character is also the wisest one around. It hence carries a certain philosophical weight when he insists on dying. in Guzaarish you don’t quite get that gravitas from Hrithik. And Bhansali too with the Jesus bit seems to aim more for the passivity of ‘nirvana’ than the much more ‘active’ reflection Bardem suggests. On this note the idea that here’s a man whose systems are failing also seems a bit of a cop-out. It again tries to ‘excuse’ the decision to end one’s life. There is no such element in Sea Inside.

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  6. Pranav Rawal Says:

    Satyam and GF. Are you watching Boardwalk on HBO? Curious to know your thoughts on this.

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  7. Thanks, Satyam. Yet to see it but it is easy to appreciate what you have put down here.
    Agree with you regarding Hrithik/Ash comparision. In my mind there is no comparision. Hrithik can certainly boast of more consistent BO success but Ash is more iconic. She is a very competent actress and in the right hands, even exceptional.
    Saket just has blinders on when it comes to certain people. But, Utkal was here to remind us that Saket is still far more reasonable than some.

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    • LOL

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    • Satyam – Is there a “like” thing (as in facebook) in wordpress 🙂

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    • thanks so much Rajen..

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    • Aish can only be considered more ‘iconic’ when one transcends the confines of Bollywood. But I’d rather not comment on Bride & Prejudice, Provoked or Pink Panther 2 as films, let alone Aish’s role in them.

      I don’t disagree that I might have blinkers on. But as far as Bollywood is concerned, there’s no question who’s the bigger star — Hrithik or Aish. Blame it on anything — the social structure, the sexist nature of Bollywood or anything else, in Hindi cinema (and this is what we debate primarily on this blog) Hrithik’s films are going to get a much higher opening compared to Aish’s films. In fact, Aish will never get an opening on her name alone. Fact!

      Acting skills are debatable. One can argue Hrithik’s the inferior actor and Aish’s the superior talent. That’s not the position I’d assume, but as far as stardom is concerned, Hrithik’s the bigger star and will continue to be a star at least 10 years after Aish has taken her retirement.

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      • but that’s like saying a comparable male star is always bigger than a comparable female star! But note I never argued she’s a bigger star than Hrithik, I believe she’s a more important star which is to say a culturally more significant star (in India before all else).

        No female star can drive a film, the exceptions are few and far between. This surely cannot be an adequate criterion. Has she overshadowed her male costars as often as Sridevi or Madhuri? No. But then she hasn’t exactly been acting opposite Anil Kapoor who whatever one might think of him as an actor was hardly much of a screen presence! And I’d argue that to stand up against giants like Mohanlal and Rajni and Mammootty, to not be swallowed up even when paired against the leading stars of her day, often when they’ve had more author-backed roles, in Hindi means something. But again I fear that the terms of this debate keep shifting.

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        • Satyam, Aish can’t overshadow Tushar Kapoor, let alone Anil!

          Ok, I was joking but yes, I don’t think not getting “swallowed” because one’s an eye candy is not a big enough achievement. Is anyone going to watch Iruvar because of Aish? Guru? Sarkar Raaj? Khakee?

          Sure, she’s present in all these films. But she’s not even the third or fourth best thing about them.

          And I don’t really understand how she’s a more “important” star compared to Hrithik. Is it because she’s been a part of far better films? Is the importance based just on association? That sounds unfair because there’s no “cause and effect” relationship to be established here. That is, her presence in good/great films is unquestionable. Her effect on those films is!

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          • I think we’re going round in circles at this point Saket.. don’t think I can add to what I’ve already said.. not sure based on your criteria if anyone saw any film for Hema Malini barring Seeta aur Geeta (this too had Dharam)! Your argument should disqualify every Indian actress!

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        • “the terms of this debate keep shifting.”

          Yeah we’re so far from where we’ve started I’m starting to hear myself defend Ash more than even I would like! I’m not a fan of hers either! But bottomline is she’s really working on some of the most interesting stuff out there, even if the quality of the end product is another matter.

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  8. why_so_serious Says:

    Re. Chipguy “I consider Ash a fairly mediocre actress”

    +1

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  9. “Beta, Raja ,Kalnayak, Khel, Devdaas,Ram Lakhan, DTPH…..
    as against-
    Raavan and Robot??”

    Rocky these against the films of Rathnam (you’d take Beta over Raavan?!)! Just this set would be enough but she had other stuff from something like Choker Bali to Gowariker and so on. C’mon, the ones you’ve mentioned are just escapist entertainers barring Devdas. We all love Madhuri in these films but they’re not ‘important’ works are they? I wasn’t including D2 for Ash!

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    • Satyam- how about – Prahaar , Mrityudand, Parinda?

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    • ‘Escapist’ entertainers? Satyam you are questioning box office successes with films like Chokher Bali, which are not going to be even talked about beyond this very thread. Forget the rest of the internet space.

      And as far as I remember, Aish wasn’t even the best thing about Chokher Bali! She got overshadowed by Raima Sen in the film!

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  10. Slightly off-topic but would recommend The Oxford Murders which I found to be a charming little film.John Hurt was brilliant and the mathematical and philosophical references were quite interesting.

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  11. alightly off-topic but the way liberal media and blogs are simply avoiding the Vir Sangvi and Barkha Dutt gate is very eye opening.

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  12. alightly= slightly

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  13. “…she won’t be part of an important Indian cultural moment the way Ash has been. Much as SRK is crucial for ‘new India’ and for the diaspora to an even greater extent”

    Funny how my disdain for SRK isn’t met with the same sort of disapproval here. The same Aish fans/supporters don’t utter a word when I criticize SRK day in, day out. And here I AM consistent. I don’t think much of SRK as an actor. I don’t think much of Aish as an actress either. She’s harmless compared to SRK, I guess. Being a female ‘star’ she doesn’t have it in her to change the course of Bollywood history. She can elongate her career, although without acting opposite Aamir, SRK or Salman, her currency is already limited. She’s a ‘beauty’ icon. But she’s also a talentless lass who’s just incredibly lucky. She’s the female version of Salman Khan with less relevance in terms of roles….

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    • But I’d day the same thing, disdain SRK as one might he’s culturally very important. On the rest just when I try to end the discussion you compare her with Salman! Oh well I’ll let it pass.. though I would consider a top female star who bypassed the three Khans more or less completely to be fairly significant!

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      • Exactly right. I think Saket misses the point that whatever one thinks of these actors as ACTORS, their significance as stars (which of course is connected to their acting talent, but not always dependent on it) is something one would be hard pressed to dismiss.

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        • I think what I’m trying to say can best be summarized like this:

          There are superstars who dominate the scene purely based on their talent. Their are others who do so by virtue of factors other than raw talent. Now given my history of being a fan of Bachchan, Pacino, Eastwood, Naseer, Aamir and several others, it’s entirely inconceivable for me to get past the average actor/superstar. Why should I drop my standards? Why be a fan of someone who’s NOT a good actor? I can be a fan of someone who’s a pure actor, but the opposite isn’t going to be true.

          Given that context, it’s entirely consistent for me to question Aish’s position as a star-actor.

          The other point about star currency and iconicity is not that relevant for me personally to ignore the more obvious talents that I happen to admire. The ability to act and emote, that is.

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          • But Saket, who’s asking anyone to be a fan?!

            Your final paragraph here, though, says it all. The terms of the debate here was about the first portion of what you’re speaking about. Never argued Ash was a talented/good/great actor. Simply that she is a star who understands her stardom–both its source and its limits. She’s not in the same fight as Konkona, let’s say.

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          • Ironically Eastwood is exactly the kind of star who is extraordinarily effective because of his ‘signature’ and ‘iconic appeal’. No one considers him an actor like Pacino!

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      • Just to be clear, the comparison with Salman firmly centers around each stars’ “looks” and how that plays into their acceptance in Bollywood as “stars”.

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  14. This is for Satyam — You have often criticized Ajay Devgan for “attempting” different films/roles and not having the innate ability to carry them off well. That’s a fundamental limitation and I agree. The thing is, Aish too is fundamentally limited in terms of talent. One can give Aish credit for the attempt, but that’s only half the bargain. More often than not, she’s been incapable of suggesting ‘depth’. Everything with her exists on the surface. There are probably a sum total of 2 expressions on her face — the ‘infamous’ giggle or the ‘constipated’ look that is supposed to suggest anything more serious. Her dialogue delivery isn’t great. She’s never been asked to portray roles that’d ask her to alter her body language. And she isn’t the most graceful dancer either. I’d have to watch Guzaarish just to see how much of an improvement she’s had over my preconcieved notions, but I am practically sure that she hasn’t improved to the extent that would merit her being called “the ‘star/actor that Hrithik hasn’t been able to become”

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    • Again we’re arguing along parallel lines here. First off I find Ash more effective as a star than Devgan (though he’s at this stage of his career quite impressive doing the masala thing, OUATIM is a great example) but leaving aside this debate Devgan has been in some remarkable films. If you asked me whether he’d done better stuff or Salman I’d pick him!

      By the way the rest of the debate is getting pointless (I consider the acting bit irrelevant to the debate.. much as John wayne isn’t an actor but is an extraordinarily potent screen presence as well singularly iconic star.. my suggestion is this has been Ash’s path, Hrithik isn’t there yet..) but it takes more than a little bias to say she’s not the most graceful dancer around! I have it on very good authority that there are probably not too many dancers in the history of Hindi cinema if any who are more skilled than her in this sense.

      To clarify somewhat more on Hrithik I found him magnetic in the magician sequences in the film. As long as he does this I don’t bring in the ‘actor’ debate. It is only when he attempts parts that otherwise the likes of Bardem and Day-Lewis have attempted that the ‘performance’ aspect of things becomes important. For years I have suggested that hrithik went wrong because he started taking himself a little too seriously and/or the prestige question got to him. He shouldn’t be doing D2 or Krrish all his life but he should be milking that general format for all its worth and elsewhere he should do ‘different’ like JA perhaps that still plays to his strengths. So if it were a copy of the Prestige or Illusionist he would have been fine. He’s just not the sort of actor who can play ‘character’. It has to be about his star signature. Having said that the latter is not a given. This too has to be developed. The star in question needs to nurture this very carefully too. Someone like Eastwood did this. Ash I believe has. Hrithik hasn’t been able to except in spurts. All the things for which people love him have rarely been seen in a successful film after KNPH. How could that be? Because either his choices were poor or he got sidetracked trying to do interesting stuff. Some stars are just not meant to do certain things. One can admire the impulse to try it out if it’s sincere but that’s about it. If Ash were to attempt Bhumika I would have issues! But she’s never done that!

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      • So basically you are saying, Aish is a very potent screen presence. Hrithik is not there yet. And you bring up John Wayne (!) as an example. Ash has developed a star signature. Hrithik hasn’t.

        What I also gather from your reply is that Hrithik hasn’t developed a signature because he got sidetracked doing more serious stuff. Aish hasn’t sidetracked herself and has developed a signature that makes her more important.

        Frankly, I don’t follow this argument one bit. You penalize a star for attempting something different (Hrithik) and you praise another for remaining the same. By this argument, Rajendra Kumar had a great star signature. Rajesh Khanna too. Dev Anand has a star signature that extends to this day!

        According to you, some stars are not meant to do certain things. That is not something I can ever buy! I’d rather a star attempt something different than he/she remain stagnant. I expect more out of a star. That may not be your criteria but it’s certainly mine!

        And on a tangent, why should people carry this excess baggage about star signature, cultural currency while watching a film? Why is it more important compared to the more obvious criteria put on display — namely the performances right in front of one’s eyes?

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        • Not at all. I am basically saying (and this is ALL I’m saying) that Ash is in better control of her star signature. Which only happens when you also have a better recognition of your strengths and limitations.

          On Hrithik doing different stuff I wasn’t blaming him for this impulse at all. Just that if the aim is to enhance one’s star narrative I’m not sure if his efforts actually do that. The media praises every star every Fri but there is a gap between this and public perception. No one thinks Hrithik is a fine actor. In fact my own sense is that they considered him a better actor after KNPH than they did after JA. There are reasons for this but leaving this aside my claim again revolves around star signature.

          By the way star signature or cultural currency are not excess baggage. This is precisely what the audience responds to. No one simply responds to an ‘acting’ job when it’s about a star. It has to be a performance that is good but one that incorporates the star’s signature as well. In commercial cinema there is no other route. Incidentally this is one of the reasons Abhishek often provokes ambivalence. Because he can leave star signature behind and just be the ‘actor’ in some of his parts. This is a fatal flaw for a commercial star. So for example D6, a performance where a lot of people had issues with. They didn’t necessarily think he was bad but that wasn’t quite into it or what have you. Actually he wasn’t playing even minimally the star here.

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  15. Aish was teriffic in Guzaarish but Hrithik’s was easily the best performance of the film. He is not getting much credit on this site.

    And I don’t think Aish is a better actor than Hrithik any day. Also, I find her quite annoying and artifical off-screen.

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    • Aishwariya definitely has tremendous screen presence. She can look quite respectable and decent enough in a classical role like Devdas or Jodha Akbar and equally hot and sexy in Kajra Re, Ishq Kamina or Dhoom 2. Films like Guru she acts pretty well. But I do think she is more just a screen presence then a good actress, she is competent and does not look out of place most of the time without putting in sterling performances.
      She is a total fake and annoying in interviews – with quite an irritating way of speaking, just find her to be a wannabe.
      With Madhuri she not only was a wonderful screen presence but she just had more appeal then that. Blockbuster songs and some memorable film moments. She just did a heap of junk but Tezaab, Ram Lakhan, Parinda, Dil, Saajan, Beta, Khalnayak, HAHK, DTPH, Pukar, Devdas is still a pretty stellar memorable effort and the iconic songs beat any actress in the last 2 decades. Plus a film like Raja opposite a total no hoper only rode on her starpower. Her smile and dancing is iconic.
      Aishwariya clearly is the bigger name globally but only Madhuri wins the battle of creating any kind of “craze” of sorts. Just feel Madhuri is more rooted and not a phony bit about her. Very natural and classy in every sense, but never losing her sexy appeal either. And the “craze” is important. Aishwariya hasn’t created this IMO, she is a big star no doubt and her attachment to Bachchans gives her a regal standing…but Madhuri always created a huge fanbase and especially amongst the male species and people would turn up just to see HER – Aish I doubt has created this level of interest amongst filmgoers but more her celebrity appeal and Miss World past has given her a media edge and coverage that has added to her star wattage. Her relationship with Salman definitely aided her career – that coverage pushed her further into the limelight, not to say she would not be a star without it, but it definitely helped her during her early days.

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      • Well Raja was Inder Kumar’s (He was current Rohit Shetty at that time) film with some good hummable songs. A fair example would be Mrityudand or Aaja Nachle. Fine performances but movies flopped.

        The thing is that when we compare Golden era of past we tend to remember the best and all the mediocre or poor work is forgotten (which is actually abundant). Khel,Zindagi ek jua,Sahibaan,Mohabbat,Aarzoo…But having said that IMO Madhuri is anyday better actress than most. Only when we compare global currency/recognition, Aish is probably far ahead even of male counterparts.

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        • yes this is exactly what I’ve been trying to say with far too many words! Will say this about Madhuri, she was unlucky in some ways but she frankly also lacked the discipline and perhaps pure drive of some other actresses. Hema Malini or even Sridevi easily outdo her in terms of longevity. Madhuri was never good at playing the Bollywood game but also she became off peak relatively early. Her first moment of triumph was Tezaab/Ram Lakhan end of ’88/early ’89 and by the time HAHK released in Aug ’94 it was her greatest hurrah but very nearly her last one too. She had at the most a peak period of 5 years. That’s not very much going by other major female careers.

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      • I’d agree with most of this except that I think you underrate Ash’s cultural capital which is not only about her media celebrity. and again I’d say that those Madhuri films don’t really compare with a Rathnam film or a Gowariker one or a Rituparno Ghosh one and so forth (Madhuri got more interesting stuff later… Wajood, Devdas, Pukar.. she was just unlucky to have had her peak through a poor period of cinema.. those commercial efforts of earlier years were important at the time but are just not very easy to watch today barring the songs.. Parinda is that rare exception.. Prahaar another one) though she certainly has more iconic songs that any other actress in this period. A bit like GF I too find it odd to be defending Ash so much because on her best day I’d take Rani over her too. Certainly Ash has no KANK like Madhuri moment. And perhaps that is the latter’s all time classic. Not sure. But for me it’s a bit like comparing Mithun with SRK. The former has some very iconic moments (we can still see how much he matters on all these dance and music shows) and he certainly was a big star in his day despite doing mostly junk. But SRK is just culturally more significant. What I am willing to concede is that perhaps Madhuri becomes more important inasmuch as one might see her as the ultimate representative of the iconic item song. Not someone who began this but someone who perfected it. I still wonder whether she will matter as much though. Just in the last ten years or so I do not find she has as much resonance with younger audiences as she did in the decade prior to this. Of course this happens with every generation but Ash’s archives seem more connected with the kind of cinema represented by Bollywood. I could be wrong.

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        • What Ash represents to me is the role that occasionally gets filled in the industry from time to time by a certain iconic actress’ presence, and that is the sense of being a “first lady” of Hindi cinema. Many things add to this aura, not least the family she’s married in to and the fact that all the big, epic films seem to work best when she’s the one selected to slip into the heroine’s seat.

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          • I agree with this. And thats the best thing about Aishwariya, in that she has kept herself relevant for over a decade and still managed to land big projects.

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      • I don’t even see the big deal about Aish’s hindi film career so far. She doesn’t have a genuine all time blockbuster like HAHK with significant credit attached to her name. She doesn’t have a Beta or Raja — films that rode on Madhuri’s performance, primarily. In fact, I remember the media calling Beta as ‘Beti’ just to emphasize her pre-eminence.

        What are the significant films in her career so far? HDDCS, Devdas (where she got owned by Madhuri!), Jodha Akbar (Hrithik received all the praise here), Guru and Raavan. The last film on the list happens to be one of the biggest critical bombs in recent times. I could add Rituparno Ghosh’s Raincoat (an average fare at best) and Chokher Bali where she got overshadowed by Raima Sen, of all people. There is absolutely nothing bar one HDDCS that I can mention as a true highlight of a 15-16 year old career. She’s a bit like Bhansali’s set pieces – very pretty to look at, but not necessarily adding any great value to the framework. No wonder she’s Bhansali’s choice as a heroine.

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  16. an excellent piece of writing as always satyam but let me say that as much as I loved Aishwarya’s performance in this film and Raavan I disagree that she was better than Hrithik in the film or even otherwise speaking. I find her a remarkably improved actress since her earlier days (Devdas and Raincoat included) and definitely a great departure from the plastic doll image – but she is not even better than Rani leave alone Madhuri.

    In some ways I do agree that hers was a more restrained performance but Hrithik’s Ethan had a childlike quality and innocense that was absolutely endearing and in some ways diffcult to match. Again this is all subjective and each to their own.

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    • Thanks Julie.. I too found Hrithik endearing as I noted in the piece but this was despite the performance to my mind, not because of it. Again I chose my words carefully with Ash. I didn’t say she acted better than Hrithik. Just that she had greater control of her signature and star aura here, that her presence perhaps anchored the film more than Hrithik’s. This is what I meant by ‘authoritative’. and again I’d urge you or anyone else who hasn’t had the chance so far to check out the Sea Inside and consider the difference. There Bardem does anchor the film. It’s not just about one actor being better than another but ‘kind’ of performance. As pure actress I too would take many other actresses over Ash but as pure star not many. Much as to repeat the same examples a bit I’d take many many Hollywood actors over Eastwood but few as stars over him if any.

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  17. Very well expressed satyam. Not having seen it yet makes me feel frustrated with my inability to voice any opinion.

    I’m with you where Ash is concerned..generally.
    One shouldn’t confuse her personality at interviews etc with her person in films. They are poles apart.
    Madhuri was just unlucky to be there during the worst time in Hindi films with all those trashy films, so she hasn’t achieved as much.

    Ash has improved so much and she has acquired a polish that one can’t ignore.
    In an industry where heroines are of hardly any importance she has made a place for herself.

    Even if she isn’t as great as some of us think she is, I think she would win hands down in the present crowd. She stands out like a ‘keechad mein kamal’.

    All the above doesn’t mean I think her better than Hrithik. As I said it would be unfair to compare any heroine (let alone Ash) today with the heros who have things going far better for them.

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  18. Pranav Rawal Says:

    my two cents. I am amazed that we are even having this conversation. comparing Aish to Hrithik and Madhuri. Both Hrithik and Madhuri are miles ahead in terms of raw talent than Aish. Hrithik lacks the depth and talent or the raw wattage that Madhuri had but he makes it up almost by sheer hard work. Aish enjoys international recognition but thats that. She cannot compare to Madhuri in terms of screen presence or acting talent. And I agree with some people here in that I find her very irritating in interviews.

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    • So comparing Aishwarya to Hrithik is so outrages? When did Hrithik become Amitabh Bachchan? Aishwarya’s career is filled with films to be proud of. Certainly more than many of her contemporaries.

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  19. alex adams Says:

    my 2 cents—Ash is peerless and the most beautiful actress ever on the indian screen. fullstop.
    For “raw”acting talent, I watch movies of smita patil etc.
    One needs to get the priorities and discourse right.
    One cannot start discussing pamela andersons u know what while comparing someone elses dancing skills for eg.
    This is not to belittle madhuri or hritik ( i love both as well) but somehow Ash has a unique place.
    Trying to decipher what exactly that thing is, is like trying to define x-factor.
    All those who refuse to find her significant or below average actress—-plz explain—why this 37 year old female actress in india ( not the west), post marriage is commanding one of the biggest projects and salary and and contracts.
    why does will smith or ben kingsley still try to get her to sign a film opposite her but not rani, preity, kareena or even katrina.

    i

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    • “why does will smith or ben kingsley still try to get her to sign a film opposite her but not rani, preity, kareena or even katrina.”

      This is frankly ridiculous. Anil Kapoor has more currency in the West at the moment compared to Amitabh Bachchan! He’s doing a major role in MI4! Does that make Anil Kapoor a much better actor/star? Does that increase his wattage tenfold?

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    • “All those who refuse to find her significant or below average actress—-plz explain—why this 37 year old female actress in india ( not the west), post marriage is commanding one of the biggest projects and salary and and contracts.”

      The same reason why a middle-aged Salman Khan is doing the same and more! Their physical attributes are such that they possess a fan following of their own. And that is no doubt a credible achievement, but this isn’t supposed to be the summit of all achievements.

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      • I don’t believe it’s just about physical attributes in either instance. In cinema it is about the image one crafts beyond a point, about the meaning that gets attached to a star.

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    • Is she good looking than sridevi?

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  20. I dont know why we are having this debate.
    As far as I am concerned Madhuri and Ash are God’s gift to MANkind.
    I am thankful for that. Forget Ash vs Madhuri.
    Who says we have to choose?

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    • For someone who doesnt like both or one of them, all is not lost. There is always Tun Tun or Preeti Ganguly or Lalita Pawar,. And, if even that doesnt work, SRH hain na.

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    • Saner words were never uttered!

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    • alex adams Says:

      “Forget Ash vs Madhuri.
      Who says we have to choose?”
      Wont mind a threesome!!
      Or even if a dash of katrina thrown in as a”starter”
      I dont know how/when/when this has changed into a madhuri VS ash debate—i love both.
      The only thing being disputed was the constant denial of the (Undeniable) beauty, presence and importance of Ash
      **not meant in a derogatory vein to those named above”

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  21. Slightly off topic rumor:

    Vishal Bhardwaj to direct Hamlet with Aishwarya and Hrithik

    http://img13.imageshack.us/i/65538428.jpg/

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  22. If Ash is less pretty, would she still have dominated? Her beauty is her strong point as well as her weakspot. She has no real personality and the person we see is so unreal. Her dancing is more graceful than Madhuri’s or Sridevi’s. In Gujaarish, she received more acclaim than the hero. She needs special projects to showcase. She just cannot be like Kareena or Kajol who can do any role with ease even looking unglamorous. And international recognition is PR most of the time. She is like a still beauttiful picture. Not a flowing, vibrant one. Since who hollywood is to dictate us whom to put on a pedestal?

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  23. I don’t think Hrithik playing Hamlet will be so disturbing to the indian audience. Yours or my personal judgments aside, the general consensus out there is that Hrithik is not only a huge star, but also a very good actor who can play difficult roles. For example, Koi Mil Gaya is considered good acting by a large majority of people.

    Let’s take Abhishek as an example. I like him a lot, but you speak of him as if he is De Niro. And I am sure you have your reasons. But that’s not what the Indian audience thinks.

    I just don’t think speaking on the behalf of others is the right thing to do, especially when it’s not in sync with what appears to be the general consensus.

    Lastly, if Bhardawaj can make Shahid Kapoor look like an actor, then I am sure he can do wonders with Hrithik.

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    • To be very honest my own sense is that Hrithik’s reputation as an actor has gone down over the years not up. Yes despite all these reviews for films like JA and Guzaarish. I don’t think people think of him in those terms. He’s seen as the Krrish guy or whatever who’s trying to be an ‘actor’ with some of these films. Remember a lot of the audience just doesn’t patronize his films when he does different. On Abhishek I again believe it’s the opposite. People do take him seriously as an actor. They might have questions about his stardom though and they also believe that he does ‘weird’ too much. But I have very little doubt he comes out way ahead as a matter of general perception. The media once again presents a very distorted view of things. And one could run down the list with some other actors too. Devgan is thought of an actor far more than most of his peers but this is often not evident in the ‘reviews’ where many actors are praised in similar fashion. Again I’m not suggesting that general perception is ‘correct’, this is just my sense of what it is.

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    • “Yours or my personal judgments aside, the general consensus out there is that Hrithik is not only a huge star, but also a very good actor who can play difficult roles.”

      This is not only the consensus among general people but also among directors who matter! Vishal Bharadwaj wants to work with Hrithik. Anurag Kashyap approached him with the script of ‘No Smoking’. Rakesh Mehra wanted him for D6. Gowarikar’s worked with him. This aspect somehow gets lost while discussing Hrithik.

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      • I think Hrithik is overated by the media as an actor. This is having not seen Guzarrish, but overall I find him too dramatic and in the simplest of roles like MPKDH, Yaadein or MDK a total disaster of an actor. He has excelled in roles like Jodha Akbar but not the way the media gives it to him. Being approached by big directors is all ok…but the industry does not have many big A list stars who can “act” available. Hrithik is competent enough and is not a disastrous choice, but its not like major stars barring Akshay are working 3-4 films a year. Aamir, SRK, Hrithik have all worked with major directors if you look at it like that. Abhishek too. And repeating actors does not seem a must for directors like Mehra, Gowariker, Bhansali. They seem to want to work with different stars so there is a bit of a merry go-round of sorts.

        When likes of SRK and Aamir are winding down to 1 film a year, Hrithik becomes the natural choice next.

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        • I won’t disagree with you about Hrithik. I don’t find him to be a great actor either. But the way the debate is framed here, it’s made to look as if Hrithik’s such a poor actor compared to others and while some stars are justified by just being ‘present’ in a frame, the fact that Hrithik gets sought after by all the names that matter is conveniently forgotten!

          By the way, I think Abhishek’s a better actor than Hrithik. But try explaining that to the average guy on the streets. They might physically assault you!

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          • To be honest I find Hrithik and Aishwariya pretty much the same. Both adored for their looks, dancing ability and “starry” appeal. I find generally Hrithik overated by the media as an actor, Aishwariya underated as an actress…but both just competent actors who are not going to give knock-out sterling performances, but can still pitch a decent enough performance in tough roles. Better suited to “epic” or “larger than life roles” than playing normal roles though Aish did do well in Guru. But it is there aesthetics that has been the major appeal for sure. No wonder they have worked well together.

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          • “But it is there aesthetics that has been the major appeal for sure. No wonder they have worked well together.”

            Add Bhansali to the mix and we have enough ‘beauty’ to blind anyone 🙂

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          • “By the way, I think Abhishek’s a better actor than Hrithik. But try explaining that to the average guy on the streets. They might physically assault you!”

            Oh I disagree completely.. I doubt anything has the recall value of Abhishek’s Guru in Hrithik’s career for those people, i.e. for ‘acting’.

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      • Without getting into the debate of who was offered what I think these casting decisions are made for all sorts of reasons. We do have to look at larger patterns though. But if one is looking at good directors for Hrithik Ash has a lot more of those!

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  24. And if Mel Gibson can handle Hamlet (not the greatest actor out here), I am sure Hrithik can too.

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  25. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Almost all the all the reviews of Guzaarish have praised both Hritik and Ash. But mnay more have caled Ash’s performance perfect, while many have found Hritik earnest, but not quite reaching greatness.

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    • A very important difference being in the scope of each role. Hrithik’s the focus of Guzaarish from what I can gather. Aish isn’t!

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      • Yes, Hrithink was focus of Guzarrish but still Ash manages to get all attention of the viewers, that’s speaks volumes about her performance and acting capabilities. I hope you understand what I mean.

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  26. And if Ash is udner-utilized by her other director then I can not consdier iot her fault. SHe shows her acting skills when role demand sthat….Chhoker Bali, Raincoat, HDDCS, Devdas, Guru, Umrao Jaan, Jodha Akbar, Provoked,……and now Guzarish, list is endless.

    We shouldn’t forget Bollywood is men dominated industry, if an actress, without any filmy background, survived here for more than 10 years, that itself is a big achievement.

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  27. I remember watching a program on NDTV where Amitabh was interacting with a live audience. This was just after Guru’s release and Bachchan happened to praise Aishwarya for her role in Guru. Immediately a bunch of teenagers questioned his judgment and called Aish ‘fake’. Bachchan was obviously taken aback but recovered his poise and went on to defend her performance in Guru. The crowd gave a big thumbs up to Abhishek in Guru but they were still sceptical about Aish. And this is supposedly one of her finer moments in hindi cinema.

    I am going to assume that nothing much has changed since then. If I have to offer a conjecture, the general perception about Aish is that she’s a screen ‘diva’, a very glamorous heroine, but nothing beyond that.

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  28. Speaking of star-actresses, one of the finest performances that I can recall from recent films belongs to Priyanka in Kaminey. It was nothing short of a revelation. She had the spunk, the audacity to carry a relatively ‘deglam’ role and appear comfortable and unflustered. Granted, it’s Vishal Bharadwaj who probably deserves the most credit for writing such a role and then extracting such a ‘natural’ performance from PC, but even then, the performance has so much fire, so much ‘energy’ while getting the tonal balance right, it just deserves a ton of acclaim.

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    • When she was on song my favorite actress in the post-Madhuri generation was easily Rani. To this day I regret how she completely wasted her career after the high points of ’04/’05 when she had Yuva, HT, VZ, Black, BnB, MP. A great combination of commercial cinema and worthwhile roles. Then it just evaporated. It’s hard for me to think of another actress at any point who was in a comparable position and whittled it all away. I do concede she was never numero uno material but she should have been among the top actresses for a long time.

      Not much of a Priyanka fan. She is fluid enough and has a certain screen presence but I’ve never found her great. Kareena I thought had interesting moments in Refugee and again had screen presence but she became psychologically a diva a bit too soon in her career. Without any justification whatsoever.

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      • Rani was astonishing in Yuva. Really, people tend to forget how good she was in the film! Black is a also a great performance. BnB isn’t at the same level but it’s a wonderful performance, nonetheless.

        On Kareena, I’m a huge admirer of her spontaniety in JWM! Also liked her a lot in Dev. I can’t but feel that she’s a natural talent and that she gives it away by working in insignificant films.

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        • I find Kareena’s performances over-pitched most of the time. Wish she’d learn some restraint.

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          • Yeah I find Kareena annoying almost everywhere with the exception of Dev, Omkara and Yuva. The last performance might be my favorite of hers, and has aged exceptionally well.

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        • Only 2 for Rani and one for Kareena and you call them great?
          What about Ash in Raincoat, Chhoker Bali, HDDCS, Guzarish…..Sorry I come back to same point but I find it difficut to digest when people try to take ” well deserved” credit from Ash and pass it on to some non-deserving heroines.

          Problem with Ash is that, she and her performances are always compared with her males leads in the films. IF a Katrina/Kareena films succeeds (even like Welcome, Golmal 3) then they are given due credit of being heroine of such a film if an Ash film succeeds, peopel try to pass credit to other leads/factors. Why such hypocricy?

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  29. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    “Saket: I am going to assume that nothing much has changed since then. ”

    Meaning that Ash had givena gret perfomancein Guru, one that made the character believable and work in the film. And this is not the first time that she had done it. She was a diva and nothing more. really? Is hat why one of the best directors of performances , Sanjay Bhansali ahd repeated her thrice and another Rituparno Ghosh ahd repeated her twice? Manasi ( taal), Nandini ( HDDCS), Paro ( Devdas), Jodha ( Jodha akbar), Umrao ( Umrao Jaan), Ragini ( Raavan), Sophie ( Guzaarish). Which other actress of her generation Ash essayed so many heroine-oriented roles and make them work? Yes, Kajol, Rani, Karena, Priynaka have given god to great performances, and are good actresses. But Ash is a star performer in her own right apart from being a radiant , timeless beauty.

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    • A few points:

      1) The radiant, timeless beauty part I don’t have an issue with.

      2) Taal is an execrable film. And even if we talk about performances, Anil Kapoor got the most credit in the film.

      3) Repetition doesn’t equate to consistent brilliance. Ask Arvind Swamy. Mani Rathnam also repeated him thrice!

      4) Aish’s wasn’t even the second best or third best perforamnce in Guru! It’s Abhishek, Mithun, Madhavan, Vidya/Aish. In that order, IMO.

      5) As I keep repeating Aish got owned in Devdas. Hrithik received the lion’s share of the praise in JA and Raavan is a critical bomb. No one cares for critical bombs! Umrao Jaan too is best forgotten. That only leaves HDDCS according to me.

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      • But going by some of what you’re saying she might have acted in some all time great films but this wouldn’t mean anything if critics ripped it apart. It could have been Mera Naam Joker and it wouldn’t have mattered!

        Again you keep getting back to performance. I am still trying to figure out what this has to do with the original debate. Secondly one wonders why many of these directors keep casting her.

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        • Satyam, as far as Raavan is concerned, I’d have to side slightly with the critics on the film. It’s not only critical reception that I care about ( I will defend Delhi 6 till the very end!) but I personally found it emotionally distancing. I am the guy who’s going to support a ‘No Smoking’ here. Perhaps the only one as well.

          The original debate was whether Aish has become a better ‘star’ compared to Hrithik. Getting back to that, the nature of Bollywood dictates that heroines can never compete with major stars in terms of footage or screen credits. In that respect, Hrithik or SRK and Aish, Kareena etc are not even competing for the same slots. A star like Hrithik or SRK will command the meatiest role, the best lines and so forth. By definition, the heroine is shortchanged. So a comparison isn’t really fair.

          Even if I had to make a comparison, I’d side with the star with a better understanding of the medium and one who’s displayed better acting chops — subjective as it is.

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  30. Wow we’re still talking about this? It’s a new day folks.

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    • Hey if SS was a TV channel, we’d be hailed for generating good TRPs!

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      • actually got the highest ‘TRPs’ yesterday since the Ravaan peak period!

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        • Thanks to me !! LOL
          Satyam – we all know how hard it is for you to say – Hey I made a mistake,

          so I will take your ” don’t mean to sell madhuri short ” above as an official retraction of the “Zilch” comment and move on…… LOL !!

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          • I don’t really take that comment back Rocky (and hence confirm your first point..LOL!). My admittedly hyperbolic formulation was only meant to suggest that she doesn’t have a body of work that transcends her time in terms of serious cinema. Who watches Beta today?! Or even Khalnayak?! Or Saajan for that matter?! This when those lead stars are still around. Most of those films just seem dead. They’re not likely to become classics across the ages. Madhuri has done some serious films but Ash’s volume is just greater on this score irrespective of what one prefers. That was my only claim. And if one compares iconic films of each I just think that most of Madhuri’s films are very mediocre if you take away her songs. HAHK is the one exception for an all time classic deal. Don’t think there’s anything else. Tezaab incidentally was a good film besides having that breakout moment for her. This too seems dead. The thing is that when people want to watch masala they just go back to the 70s. Ghai doesn’t cut it for them. What else for Madhuri? Inder Kumar?! To be honest she doesn’t even have better films than Sridevi if one just looked at the latter’s best stuff, her co-stars and so on. Again Madhuri was unlucky to have been caught between two eras. I saw many of her films when they first released. I myself cannot watch them easily again. She is always a delight to watch but the film becomes a chore. Who watches Kishen Kanhaiya?! But I don’t disagree that Madhuri has far more iconic moments film to film compared to Ash. But which is why my claim even in this regard was that Ash means more in general terms to her moment not for specific films. Madhuri was a very popular actress based on a certain body of work. With Ash her cultural capital has always raced ahead of her film resume though in recent years she has become much more effective at developing a signature. This is the only distinction I drew.

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          • That is the point that Inspite of Inder Kumars – she stood out and people remeber her grace and beauty. She did what Big B did with Chandra baraots and Rakesh kumars .
            Ash on the other hand inspite of having Mani, Ghai , Twitter, Internet, facebook etc, has really nothing to brag about. ( except may be oprah but we all decided with MNIK that overseas does NOt matter.
            I like Ash a lot , but to belittle Madhuri’s achievments to make Ash look betteris plain wrong. Promise- my last words on this subject.

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          • But Chandra Barot with one film and Rakesh Kumar with a few gave Bachchan good movies to act in, not just fragmented (albeit very strong) moments ala Madhuri in all those turdfests she did. She definitely rose above the material, but the material ultimately adds to the myth. Bachchan is the premiere example of this. He was not only the greatest, his golden age gave him some of the greatest material of any period in Hindi cinema.

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          • agree with everything here..

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          • But Chandra Barot with one film and Rakesh Kumar with a few gave Bachchan good movies to act in, not just fragmented (albeit very strong) moments ala Madhuri in all those turdfests she did.

            Mrnatwarlal,yaarana are the bad films of Amitabh in his prime.Growing up overseas will make people reach all sorts of conclusions.

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          • “Growing up overseas will make people reach all sorts of conclusions.”

            And thanks sunil for reminding us that some of us have yet to grow up at all.

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    • LOL, Saket keeps pulling me back in!

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  31. Put this piece up on Bachchan’s blog yesterday. Got this response:

    satyam … hmmmm .. comprehensive

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    • Hmmmm,

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      • don’t think he agrees with too much!

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      • the problem is once you say you prefer Saawariya as a model you lose the audience!

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        • Odd as it sounds given his plaudits, my own sense on what he’d written about the film was that he was holding back. He definitely praised it but it was the kind of expected, almost scripted praise that one would see coming a mile away. He didn’t delve too deeply into what he found strong (as far as I read) and it’s more interesting to me that he chose NOT to say much in this instance.

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          • yes that is indeed true.. he did praise it quite a bit and I can understand the praise having seen the film. But it was noticeable that he chose to devote a paragraph to the newcomer here and did not say anything specific about the leads. I made this point indirectly on his blog. This is one example of what you’re referring to.

            By the way (and thankfully he did this as far as I’m concerned!) it was rather odd that Bhansali made such a big deal of composing the soundtrack only to have very little of it in the film. And it’s not as if he had enough of a background score to make up for it.

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  32. for the record I just got through another viewing of the Sea Inside last night. I actually got onto this film very late because I tend to avoid such subjects even from the West. I find them cliched and manipulatively done. But I finally saw this relatively recently and watched it twice at the time. Now a third. It’s probably become one of my favorite films. I just marvel at how much of a light touch the director has here. Just about everything has been handled exquisitely here. Also find it hard to believe Bardem was just 35 or slightly younger when he started working on it. He had a real model to study and so forth but nonetheless it’s a remarkably natural performance. And ‘age’ it seems to me is the the hardest thing for a younger actor to get right.

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    • It is a superb, superb film. And Bardem’s performance is a miracle here. Given his (still-young) record this is really saying something too. I’ve said it before but the supporting performance I find amazing here is the woman playing the sister-in-law.

      I saw it twice in the theaters and not since, though I’ve taken a look at scenes here and there and bought the soundtrack when I was in Europe. I should revisit it.

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      • yeah I’d love to watch it on the big screen if there’s a rerun at some point.. by the way if you see the film after Guzaarish you realize just how much Bhansali has squeezed every aspect of the film into Guzaarish. There’s a moment here where someone talks about Ramon’s eyes and how beautiful they are and Guzaarish sure enough accentuates Hrithik’s throughout the film. Similarly one of the characters has had an abusive husband and though this character is absent from Guzaarish this aspect of her story is grafted onto the nurse’s life.

        On a related note the accident in Mar Adentro also seems much more tragic because [spoiler alert] there is no malevolent force (at least human!) behind it. And everytime you watch it you can really feel the character’s sense of ‘regret’. Because this of course was a very avoidable accident. The sea imagery is also so interwoven into the concerns of the film. By the way there is a ‘meta’ framing here too. As the film opens the lead character is asked to imagine the sea and so on like a movie screen.

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        • What I remembered that Bhansali obviously snagged from the film was the dialogue with the priest who tries to convince Ramon to retract his petition. I remember finding it jarring that Bhansali casted the “oaf” from 3 Idiots for the parallel priest role!

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        • And you’re spot on about the accident. This was a very human lapse, and even a very “beautiful” one in many ways.

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  33. “…it was rather odd that Bhansali made such a big deal of composing the soundtrack only to have very little of it in the film. And it’s not as if he had enough of a background score to make up for it.”

    The soundtrack compared to Amenabar’s is lame as hell. This piece alone beats anything in Guzaarish with a stick:

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    • this is sublime music..

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    • I’m sorry, but this is a typical sounding piece.
      It doesn’t beat Tera Zikr which is extremely addictive.

      I still hold my opinion strongly that like wine one has to develop a taste for the style of acting and making films that one sees in the west.
      Their body language, way of expressing, facial expressions are different and comparing them with desi ones is like comparing oranges and apples.

      I’m sure Bardem (?), the actor (I’m not mistaking him for the musician here 😉 did an excellent job in his ‘world’. But I’d leave it at that. In an Indian setting witth Indian sensibilities it would have stood out oddly I am pretty sure of that.

      I remember watching a film called ‘Warrior’ starring Irfaan Khan.
      I think the production unit was not Indian, the characters who played Indian characters looked so odd. Their whole aura was different and looked out of place.

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      • “The Warrior” was a British production, though the director was of Indian origin (i.e, he was a British Asian).

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      • LOL, obviously Bardem would look out of place in an Indian setting.

        But to each his own. I’m going to continue to draw a comparison here because, hey, I’ve actually seen both films and there are, um, clearly connections. As for the actors, since Bhansali himself went around talking about Hrithik’s performance in relation to actors from the West, I think it’s understandable that some of us also draw our comparisons.

        If we are not to draw connections between West and East, then perhaps Bollywood should stop persistently pilfering from other industries. In the instances when that doesn’t happen, we can perhaps concentrate less on comparisons, even if I think comparisons aren’t always detrimental to analysis.

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        • >I’m going to continue to draw a comparison here because, hey, I’ve actually seen both films and there are, um, clearly connections.

          Great!
          And while you’re at it could you also draw a comparison between the English language that the Indians have foolishly given their own pronunciation, intonations, stress, and accent to?
          Not only that, it also varies from South to North!!
          It is far inferior to the infinitely more superior original 😉

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          • Perhaps I need to work on my English because I haven’t made it clear to you that the original is in Spanish, lol!

            And I’m glad you’ve brought up how things vary “South to North” – given how much Hindi cinema steals from within India itself and mutates into lesser films, I certainly shouldn’t be too critical of Bhansali for looking elsewhere for a nice change!

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          • English is an example to explain the basis of my POV. Just substitute any word/words there.

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          • Oh, I see. Then I take it you’re assuming that because I like The Sea Inside better than Guzaarish I obviously must privilege all things “West” over what comes out of India.

            I would protest this, but since you seem to like to deem yourself the authority on all things Indian and un-Indian, I doubt I have much a of a case. I guess I’ll have to suck it up and settle into your blacklist!

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      • Maybe some of us have more developed tastes and find it easy to compare wine from different parts of the world!

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        • Conceit seems to be in the air these days …or was it always there? 😉

          At least be so kind as to compare your developed taste with only wines and not other drinks made of grape juice.

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  34. actually this is a useless discussion because if box office tells about ones star power then there are no superstar in this industry whose score is gud when they play a character which doesnt suit their stardom …..hrithik like all other a listers is a huge superstar…salman ,shahrukh and aamir flopped in films like yuvraaj,swadesh and mangal pandey ..

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  35. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    salman ,shahrukh and aamir flopped in films like yuvraaj,swadesh and mangal pandey ..

    Managl pandey was nowhere neara flop. It was aobve avergae to semi-hit if you are talking trade parlance. Swades wasn’t a flop too. YUvaraj was a disaster, but Salman was not playing anything out of the box there, he was a musician lover boy , a standard for any Bolywood hero, a role that he has played many times, ( HAHK)

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  36. Satyam, this is regarding your comment that general public’s opinion of Hritik’s acting abilities. If you consider the reviews from BR to lesser ones like Raja Sen there is a nearly unanimous opinion that HR has nailed it. The general public whether on twitter, facebook or Sites like Passion for Cinema have given HR the thumbs up. Unlike Abhishrek’s acting in Raavan and D6 which was panned by both critics and general public alike. So please don’t make false statements about general public opinion. You might not think much of his acting but obviously the public disagrees with you.

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  37. “Who watches Beta today?! Or even Khalnayak?! Or Saajan for that matter?! This when those lead stars are still around. Most of those films just seem dead. They’re not likely to become classics across the ages. Madhuri has done some serious films but Ash’s volume is just greater on this score irrespective of what one prefers.”

    I think that’s a fair assessment of Madhuri’s career/place in Indian cinema, but I’m not persuaded that Ash’s legacy will turn out any different. Offhand I can’t think of any films of Ash that I think will survive through the ages. I’m genuinely curious to know which of her films you think are candidates for becoming classics?

    It’s possible that you’re making a far narrower point than Madhuri vs. Ash’s place in Indian cultural or cinematic *history*. Are you saying that in their *respective times*, Ash has a greater command over her career and dominance (may not be the right word) in her field than Mads did? If yes, then I agree.

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    • Have a few related points here..

      1)Ash has meant something significant in cultural terms for the very same generation of Indians, locally or in the diaspora, much as SRK has. One can debate the latter’s box office accomplishments but as a cultural matter his position seems very secure. Madhuri was extremely iconic in her age but there was nothing specific to her stature that would distinguish from other top actresses. Hema Malini on the other hand was dominant much longer than Madhuri (who incidentally was never quite recognized as the top actress by the Bombay media till she was almost at her fag end.. Sridevi was seen as the reigning actress even through Khuda Gawah in ’92.. this was somewhat unfair to Madhuri but it also perhaps spoke to the difference between the auras of the the two.. Sridevi quite reinvented herself in the latter half of the 80s) and whose position in the Hindi film canon is assuredly secure and who was even famous as the ‘Dream Girl’ is vitally a part of the 70s era because the latter means something. But Madhuri’s late 80s/early 90s period was a rather impoverished one for Hindi cinema. This was always Madhuri’s misfortune. She had very many iconic numbers in her day all of which are not very retrievable today because no one can now watch those films. That period has just aged very badly. Even Ghai, the biggest director of the 80s, seems so passe on those signature 80s films. So Madhuri to my mind doesn’t have any cultural currency beyond that one would associate with any top actress. Consider even her iconic ‘item’ songs. She has more of these than perhaps most actresses though not all but her kind of item song is really irrelevant to today’s ‘Bollywood’. It was part of an older paradigm that has been defunct for quite sometime.

      2)The cultural currency of one age is not necessarily that of another. Rajesh Khanna was once Bombay film culture all on his own albeit for a brief period, today he seems deader than many lesser contemporaries. It is certainly possible that SRK might not mean as much three to four decades from now. The same might be true for Ash. The degree to which the India of the 90s and beyond keeps mattering will decide the fate of these two. So in that sense any ‘re-valuation’ is possible. But this is an even greater reason to be associated with films that are not only of one’s moment. Inasmuch as one is associated with ‘serious cinema’ and/or meaningful entertainment one is much more likely to be valuable for later generations. Because even when people are not invested in the cultural moment of an age, even when later history has left that moment behind the films might be worthy of resurrection on their own merits. Today we talk about Iruvar even though it didn’t work at the time, not dozens of other films that were hits in that period. The examples could be multiplied North and South. Which is not to say Madhuri has none of these but far fewer and more importantly her ‘signature’ has never been connected to the prestige project the way Ash’s has been. What she is best known for isn’t Parinda or Prahaar or Wajood. Devdas is the one exception, ironically the one where she shares screen time with Ash who meanwhile has two other projects with the same director (and probably counting). What could be held up against three Rathnam films? Again other examples could be offered but the point is that these films are integrally a part of her narrative. The same cannot be said about Madhuri’s better films. It’s like Dev Anand who actually has done some serious films but because his narrative was never about those except for obsessives like myself who’ve seen every single film of his no one really gets beyond the very iconic stuff or the ‘classics’.

      All of the above doesn’t get to who’s better as an actress. That seems to be self-evident to me. But it’s also an irrelevant consideration here. It never mattered whether Hema Malini’s contemporaries were better actresses or not! The star with genuine cultural capital which is not simply dependent on the ‘movie-iconic’ but transcends it (the joke is that for the longest time Ash didn’t have very much box office success and still enjoyed a unique kind of prestige.. her Miss World moment is an extremely important one for ‘new India’) has the best chance of becoming part of the historical record. Because even when the moment is less immediate historians of culture will note this fact. Much as SRK will have to be a part of this history. Or Rahman. I don’t see any such special place for Madhuri.

      A further somewhat separate point I made was vis-a-vis star signature. I’ve often said this but the effects that a star creates on screen and that wins him/her an audience cannot only be reduced to the notion of pure performance. Which does not mean that one cannot separate actors from others. Just that even non-actor stars can sometimes be extremely effective on screen and on occasion even moreso than those are pure actors. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood are great examples of extremely iconic stars who could nonetheless never ‘act’ the way an Olivier or a Pacino or a De Niro can act. But this doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of either Eastwood or Wayne. It even lends itself to a certain critical confusion where even professional critics will often praise the ‘performances’ of each actor. But perhaps the key word here is ‘performance’, not ‘acting’. Similarly I think over time Ash has developed a potent star signature and has deployed it very successfully with the passage of time. This is often underestimated.

      Ultimately though very few films survive through the ages. Really a negligible percentage. If you don’t have all time greats or seminal films of that order you might be in a tough position. It might be argued that the star who does best after Bachchan in a historic sense is Raj Kapoor. Far more than Dilip Kumar who was first among equals in his day. This does not seem surprising to me because it is not easy for any commercial Indian film to put Awara or Shree 420 in the shade whereas most of Dilip Kumar just seems awfully dated or at best retrievable as ‘classic’, not really profound cinema. In any case my point is that 99% of even the most significant films of any age will probably not make it through to the next one. And in this sense I wouldn’t argue that Ash has some obvious candidates though again being associated with important directors is still the best one can do. Rathnam will certainly never be irrelevant and she has three films with him (so far). Bhansali or Gowariker are more debatable and those two careers are much more incomplete than Rathnam’s but Madhuri doesn’t really have anything comparable to these two either (barring Devdas). HAHK possibly survives as a classic, the way DDLJ probably will. But I would be willing to bet on a lot more from Ash’s canon.

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      • Most of Aishwarya’s films will be forgotten in another 10 years.

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        • LOL – I think you have confused Aishwarya with your star Akshay. They look so much alike.

          We are still talking about movies (Iruvar, HDDCS, Devdas) that released about 10 years ago.

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      • Agree with much of what you’ve written [especially the bit about Dilip K :-)], but I think you’re overvaluing Mani Rathnam. Contempory Bollywood isn’t my area of interest, so I may be off, but my sense is that Rathnam isn’t nearly as important a figure in Hindi films as he is on Satyamshot.:-) I mean no one in my circles of Bollywood afficianados talks about “Guru” much less “Iruvar.” No, I don’t think Rathnam is Ash’s ticket to cinematic or cultural immortality.

        I’m also not convinced on the “star signature” front. I don’t see Ash’s sig. being either particularly well defined/distinct or potent. I should note that I reside in the US, so it’s possible that the power of Ash’s star aura is not fully accessible or visible to me. May I ask what you think her signature is?

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        • Overvaluing Mani Ratnam? Are you serious?

          “Directing landmark films such as Mouna Raagam (1986), Nayagan (1987), Anjali (1990), Thalapathi (1991), Iruvar (1997), Alaipayuthey (2000), Kannathil Muthamittal (2002), Yuva (2004), Guru (2007), and his “terrorism trilogy” consisting of Roja (1992), Bombay (1995) and Dil Se (1998), Ratnam is widely credited with having revolutionised the Tamil film industry and altering the profile of Indian cinema. Ratnam has won multiple National Film Awards and twelve international film festival awards.

          His Tamil movie Nayagan, Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy and Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa are the only Indian films that have appeared in TIME Magazine’s All-Time 100 Greatest Movies. His film Roja was the only Indian film to feature in TIME Magazine’s “10 Best Soundtracks” of all time.”

          This information can be found on IMDB, Wiki and other sites. Even if you are not a fan of his movies, you should show enough respect to at least Google him to see his impact on Indian cinema before dismissing his legacy.

          A couple of my friends have studied filmmaking in NYC and LA and in their world cinema classes; Ratnam is one of the few Indian directors on the curriculum.

          Like

          • There is no point in following up this unending discussion thread, just bringing down anyone continuously is not healthy.

            Like

        • “May I ask what you think her signature is?”

          What? You don’t notice her 50 giggles every 10 minutes?

          Like

  38. salimjakhra Says:

    Excellant review Satyam.
    I saw the film at the weekend and am not quite sure what to make of it.
    Really liked Ash.
    Didn’t feel quite convinced by Hrithik (but I do in general rate him higher as an actor than you do! Certainly think he’s a better actor than Ash)
    Regarding Aish vs Madhuri, its really tragic that Aish has way more decent movies in her filmography, because Madhuri was infinitley superior in every department (other than raw beauty!!).
    My issue with GUzaarish was the fact that Hrithik wanted mercy-killing, but he barely appeared to be suffering in the film – most of the time he was enjoying himself. More should have been shown of the pain and sufferring Ethan was going through (like the heart-wrenching rain scene).

    Like

  39. Watched Guzaarish, I wish Aishwarya should have some more screen time. I’ve felt the characters were not well developed to create any kind of emotion required for this type of films. It is beautiful, but not the best from Bhasali. I’ve disappointed….

    The film was a BO failure even before its release due to high cost and limited audience appeal.

    Like

  40. Agree completely on Ash. I always felt she is a much better actress than Hrithik or Madhuri. Hrithik is completely overrated. Madhuri is like the Katrina Kaif of her generation, but Mads is a little more decent on the acting front. Also, Madhuri never experimented and kept doing safe roles in commercial cinema. The only film that I’d like to remember of Madhuri’s are Mrityudand and Devdas (where I felt she was completely overshadowed by Ash again, she still gave a great performance though).

    Where as Ash’s great films/memorable performances list is way too long! Iruvar, HDDCS, Devdas, Chokher Bali, Raincoat, Provoked, Umrao Jaan (the film was pathetic, but her potrayal was awesome), Guru, Jodhaa Akbar, Sarkar Raj, Robot, Raavanan, Guzaarish.

    The only common thing that all Hrithik, Madhuri and Ash share is that they’re all FANTASTIC dancers. Beyond that, I don’t see them reaching upto Ash.

    Like

  41. I seem to have offended very many people with my Ash-Madhuri comparisons here! So consider this a way of bringing closure to the debate:

    Rare pictures of Ash, Madhuri

    Like

  42. I think Sanjay Leela Bhansali is now going at par with RGV with another flop (yes compared to the movies he directed earlier like Black and HDDCS) Aishwarya and Hrithink make a nice pair.

    Like

    • Careful Katrina or else SLB will not cast you!

      Like

      • Lol! He called off Bajirao Mastani when Salman recommended Kat for the film.

        Like

        • Where did you hear this? Bhansali decided not to cast Salman in Bajirao Mastani when he was fixated on Aishwarya for the Mastani role and she refused to act with Salman; this was long before Katrina entered the picture. Before he gave up on Salman there were rumors that the Mastani role might go to Rani or Kareena; then Salman was out, and for a while there was buzz that it might be made with Aishwarya and Abhishek (after the two of them got married).

          Like

          • I think SK was just joking. 🙂

            Like

          • Bhansali wanted Salman and Ash at one point. Obviously that cannot happen anymore. It is true that he did want Abhishek-Ash at another point. Abhishek though wasn’t quite interested. This is from some years ago. The thing is Abhishek has actually refused some rather illustrious names too but these details usually don’t appear in the media because unlike some other stars he’s not interesting in spreading the word around. I do believe that Abhishek would have been an odd fit in Bhansali’s word. Having said that I would encourage him to do this project at this point if it could possibly be revived. For a few reasons.

            Like

          • just tweeted Abhishek with this:

            [normally I wouldn’t say you’re a great fit for Bhansali’s world but if Bajirao-Mastani could be done with you and Ash at this point I’d be for it. This might sound extremely counter-intuitive after Saawariya and Guzaarish but I think a love story from Bhansali with a Guzaarish-like narrative (which is to say less stylized than Black let alone Saawariya) would work. Also think that Bhansali is in some deep trouble following these last two releases. This is perhaps the only subject he could make on his sort of canvas and with people actually willing to invest money in it. The soundtrack would have to be given great attention. The Saawariya deal won’t do let alone the Guzaarish one. But if some modalities could be worked out I do think this is the time to bet on the Bhansali market which will never get more bearish than it is now! Again people have just drawn the wrong lessons from both Saawariya and Guzaarish. Getting back to Bajirao.. a JA kind of deal with vastly greater ‘visuals’ and with just a reasonable narrative would be relatively safe in the multiplexes. and if you ask me it would also be the right ‘non-diegetic’ take on your ‘couple’ with your spouse. Not sure if this can happen or if you’d be interested at all but if you are you should try and bring it about. My hunch is Bhansali would be interested if he could find a producer.]

            Like

          • a rumor here that Bhansali’s making it with Salman and Kareena:

            http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/bollywood/news-interviews/Forget-Ash-its-Bebo-for-Salman/articleshow/7014380.cms

            would be very surprised if this were true. Salman has always been his favorite actor but it would be remarkable if he decided to replace Ash with Kareena.

            Like

  43. adithyajones77 Says:

    Interesting debate here…I never found Aishwarya to be a good actress at all..If u make a comparison to Madhuri,Madhuri is miles ahead as an actress and also I found her to be a typical Indian beauty,where as Aishwarya,had more of an international look with her fair skin..As an actress as constantly pointed out by many she is plastic and really struggles to bring any sort of emotion on her face..Only good thing about her is that she has a good screen presence due to which most of the people do not care whether she has right expressions on her face..Is Rathnam’s Hindi films that much culturally relevant?..I don’t think so..His earlier Tamil films were great no doubt..But Hindi films?…..So what are all these Hindi movies of Aishwarya which make her culturally significant?….It is true that for many Indians who were carving for that western attention Aishwarya was the right one to point since she had that fair skin and international look,she was not the typical dark,buxom,Indian woman..In that aspect I would concede that Aishwarya had some cultural impact other than that I don’t see it anywhere..

    Like

  44. Had posted this earlier, but it got hidden somewhere in the previous delige of posts, courtesy wordpress. Hence I am reposting this about ash.
    Again to clarify, this is not meant to belittle or compare to madhuri and hiritik, both of whom i adore. Infact, madhuri has her own distinctive place as a superstar “fmale bachchan” at her peak. but feel that the media discourse has not been exactly fair to ash. Her realtively weaker filmogrpahy is more to do with her poor film selcetion and inner industry coteries and politics eg animosity to all khans. I mean, she wasnt exactly atgood terms with all khans who mattered in the industry.. Givrn the hero- dominated terms of bollyowood, it was admirabe that she got away wthout blatant as-licking (and dont knwo what all licking) typical of rani and preity.
    It is ironical that the very same ass-licking of a particaular banner by rani ultimately destroyed her booming career.
    previous post— “if i may butt in about ash (no pun intended) —-IMO The allure, impact, poise and ( god knows what all) of Ash far exceeds what one may expect from her filmography or box-office success (or lack of it).
    I dont think dissecting each and every ash film, her performance and box-office success/ failure is relevant and definitely there is not much point in comparing ash to hritik of all people!
    firstly i dont subscribe to the theorem that ash is a mediocre actress. there ssems some inexplicable bias against her in addition to her beauty acting as a distraction from her obvious talent.
    She does have poor film discretion (common with bachchans) and due to her animosity from “khans”, she was debarred from the coterie films—when the likes of rani and preity had a field day. With due respect to rani and preity—they were ass-lickers of a certain banner(s)–somethign which ash did not seem to indulge in (atleast not to the same ridiculous levels).
    As for her contemporaries, only rani is a decidedly better actress than ash (but ash is much more beautiful by far, to be blunt and precise)
    And by the way–As mentioned earlier, I consider Ash THE most beautiful actress to ever grace indian screens ever….
    Nuff said.”

    Like

    • >I consider Ash THE most beautiful actress to ever grace indian screens ever….

      Now, Now!! Calm down, alex adams!
      To *ever* grace the Indian screen???!!

      Like

  45. BTW! I saw Guzaarish last week. Flew to England(London) to see it..and also for some work 😀

    All i can say about the film is;
    -it is a very fine film
    -its for those who understand films
    -its a film for those who are ‘jazbati’ (emotional) and sensitive
    -it is not for the masses
    😀

    I loved it!!! While the men seem to think Aishwaraya was better than Hrithik, I must say Hrithik dominated throughout with Aishwaraya not far behind, simply because the scope was limited for her.
    She was very good, yes, and beautiful.

    Maybe I’ll write more later, because many critics asked questions, why this and why that. I fouind the answers in the film itself.
    One example;
    I love ‘The Vigil Idiot’ ‘s cartoons. They are funny, but he joked about the missing ramp for 12 years in a house with an invalid on upper floors.
    The answer was that he didn’t go out and stayed up (something repeated quite often) so the need or thought didn’t arise. Now why he didn’t go out is anybody’s guess. Perhaps celebrities don’t like to be seen in any other way. He did seem to feel self conscious in that resturant when a woman kept staring at him.

    Anyway, there were lots of such questions.

    Like

  46. I honestly feel Khalid Mohammed is a douche bag. But he did crack me up by coining a new term for Bhansali’s ‘neverland’ — Bhansalipur!

    Like

  47. Ethan is the biggest superhero: Hrithik
    Roshmila Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times

    It was party time when suddenly his face bloated and his lungs blocked. He was rushed to hospital following an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. Ten years ago, another celebration was cut short after the release of his debut film, Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai, when dad Rakesh Roshan was rushed
    to hospital with bullet injuries.

    “Both incidents taught me that it’s important to enjoy every moment as it comes, life is so transient,” says Hrithik Roshan, whose last film Guzaarish may not have made the cash counters jingle, but is getting him plenty of accolades.

    The actor reasons that it’s unfair to judge its box-office performancein the first week itself.

    “It needs time to grow. It’s not a Dhoom 2, Krrish or even a Koi…Mil Gaya that despite an off-beat story was a more commercial film. It would have been easy to show off my six-pack abs or dance in the flashback sequences but Mr Sanjay Bhansali had the courage and conviction to stay true to his vision,” he argues. “Today, I’m getting the kind of appreciation I haven’t seen in 10 years.”

    Hrithik points out that he’s seen people dancing to his songs and throwing coins. But this is first time they’ve applauded, silently, for 10 minutes or held him 60 seconds longer with tears in their eyes. “And instead of feeding my ego, all this just makes me grateful that I was chosen to tell Ethan’s story. Like Buddhist disciples who spend two months on a rangoli and then, with the last stroke, wipe it off, I too intend to enjoy this journey without holding on to the praise,” he philosophises.

    For him, Guzaarish will be memorable for the climax speech. It was 10 minutes long and he had no clue how to graph it out. On the day of the shoot, he made some excuse and ran home to rehearse some more. “But I didn’t know how, so at the end of the day, I told myself to live every word. The next day, the scene just happened; wrapped up in 30 minutes flat!” he reminisces.

    Hrithik has died twice, in six months, in Kites and Guzaarish. He smiles, “Kites was the story of a loser whose biggest victory was giving up his life for his love. And Guzaarish ends with laughter, not tears or even death.”

    If he was faced with a similar situation, would he react like Ethan? He says, “I want my story to be the greatest ever, and for that, I have to take on every challenge that comes my way. Ethan lived every moment for 14 years. Only after his body gave up on him, did he ask for death. When the end comes, I too want to be in control. For me, Ethan is the biggest superhero.”

    However, he admits that he will return as a reel life superhero in Krrish 2. “Dad has just locked the first draft. We’ll take off by next June and Krrish will land in 2012. At the end of Part 1, you saw only a semblance of the superhero, this time you’ll meet him,” he promises.

    “Dad has always been a flag bearer. He made Koi…Mil Gaya with a five flop dancing-fighting star. It was a crazy risk. So was bringing a masked and caped superhero to the Indian screen. Risks like these make life beautiful!”

    Like

    • Once again that stupid/condescending comment;
      “a beautiful nurse in designer gowns whose reasons for dedicating 12 years to a single patient are never explained.”

      A ‘thinking’ person will recognize that she found refuge here, away from her unhappy degrading life, in ‘serving’ someone who needed her. During the course of these 12 years she falls in love.
      Not that difficult to get this, is it, Mr Richard Kuipers?

      Another stupid comment;
      “but rarely rings true emotionally.”
      I think here there is a cultural misunderstanding regarding what rings true emotionally. I have never felt emotional stirings while watching films like ‘love story’ (so much is made of it). I need solid melodrama (manipulations as he calls it).

      I will stop analysing his stupid and condescending review here as I’m not very fond of writing long posts. It’s tiresome.

      Like

      • Actually these reviewers are pretty well versed in all kinds of international cinema! Secondly the Ash angle does have its absurdities (I too commented on this). In any case I think it’s an easy way out to just accuse the ‘Western’ critic of cultural bias. There are very many commercial Hindi films and otherwise over the last 10-15 years that have received glowing reviews in these very quarters!

        Like

        • >Actually these reviewers are pretty well versed in all kinds of international cinema!

          Ha!!

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        • This reviewer for Variety is new and the previous reviewers (Derek Ellery, etc) had more knowledge of Indian cinema.

          SLB’s major flaw for Guzaarish was not giving Sofia more of a back story. Why did she dress in an eccentric manner? We are supposed to derive on our own that maybe she is depressed and wears Victorian clothes because of her abusive marriage.

          BTW the abusive husband scene was not needed in the present tense and should have been shown as a flashback.

          Like

      • “A ‘thinking’ person will recognize that she found refuge here, away from her unhappy degrading life”
        Someone disenchanted with married life and dedicating 12 years of life helping someone, point to me that the person is giving by nature and probably is not consumeristic which doesn’t go with ” designer gowns “.

        ps – I haven’t seen the movie but found nothing wrong in excerpted quote. It is just an opinion, be it from Richard Kuipers or Rajeev Masand.

        Like

        • not just this but we eventually learn something about her own life towards the end and one wonders why it took 12 years for that ‘development’ to emerge!

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        • >It is just an opinion, be it from Richard Kuipers or Rajeev Masand.

          Right. But when you are presenting your opinion more as a fact, or a comment not really thought over (just glossed over, I’m looking at you Mr R. Kupiers!!) then it is suspect.

          As for the designer clothes, well, anything on Aishwarya looks special and designer. I think that was Bhansali touch where he goes into a ‘neverland’ stance, but it should not take away from her feelings of dedication towards nursing a person.

          Like

        • Satyam, are you accusing me of falsehood in giving opinion when I haven’t seen the film’?

          Like

          • I thought you still hadn’t seen it? You were certainly defending the film even against its original (!) when you hadn’t seen either!

            I should be thankful for small mercies that Aamir wasn’t in Guzaarish!

            Like

          • I have seen it. As I mentioned yesterday I flew to London for it on Saturday (came back on Sunday) I still have the other half of the ticket. Woud you like to have it…as exhibit A 😉

            I wasn’t defending the film against its original. I was objecting to the comparison made with the same yardstick.

            Amir wouldn’t have been able to do such a role. His acting skills are limited to college pranks.

            Like

  48. http://www.mid-day.com/entertainment/2010/dec/011210-Hrithik-Roshan-Madhuri-Dixit-Guzaarish.htm

    The first film Madhuri Dixit- Nene watched after landing in Mumbai a week ago — was her Devdas director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish ( she hasn’t watched his last film Sawaariya).

    She has come away impressed with Hrithik Roshan’s portrayal of a quadriplegic in the film. She called him to shower praises on him saying it was one of the best performances she had seen in a long time.

    Shocked, thrilled A source close to Hrithik discloses, “ He was shocked and thrilled when Madhuri called him on Sunday and chatted with him for 20 minutes about how much she had loved his performance. She told Duggu that Ethan was the most difficult character she’s seen on celluloid and his portrayal blew her mind.” Hrithik has great regard for the Dhak Dhak girl and her words meant the world for him.

    Mads complimented him on everything from his voice, to the look in the eyes and told him that she found Hrithik’s dance sheer poetry. She admits, “ Yes I did call up Hrithik to praise him on his brilliant performance in the movie. He played a quadriplegic and it’s so difficult to do such a role as there’s no body language. He emoted with his eyes so convincingly. I’ve heard that he really worked very hard on his role. I told him that he was unbelievably good and he said he could now retire! Even Aishwarya and all the actors have done a good job. Sanjay has made a beautiful film.” Madhuri reminisces, “ I remember when I was shooting for his dad’s film Kishan Kanhaiya I heard Hrithik ( who was assisting Rakesh Roshan) saying Anil’s dialogues loudly in front of the mirror. I felt he had lot of potential and told him so. Of course he was embarrassed. I had discovered the germ of Hrithik’s talent and sincerity even then. He is still the same — as hard- working as ever!” At the time, Mads had told him that he would make his mark in the acting world — a compliment Duggu cherishes even today.

    Like

  49. Satyam, that story is false.

    December 1, 2010 05:03:03 PM IST
    Glamsham Editorial

    There were recent reports that Sanjay Leena Bhansali has signed Kareena Kapoor for his next film, BAJIRAO MASTANI. However, the reports are far from being true…

    http://www.glamsham.com/movies/scoops/10/dec/01-kareena-not-finalised-by-sanjay-leela-bhansali-yet-121009.asp

    Like

      • This is very strange (or not, given MM’s reputation), since only a week ago, all the papers were carrying articles that Salman has “forgiven” Bhansali, since he organized a special showing of Guzaarish for his family and friends at Bhansali’s request to him to give his feedback on the film, and further that Salman thought the film was good, but would start slowly, so needed aggressive promotion.

        As for the Bajirao Mastani story, I never believed it anyway, since it actually sounded like a recycled article from a few years ago, when the Salman-Kareena pairing was first discussed.

        Like

        • Agree sm, this whole thing has the smell of a recycled story on a slow news day. The Bombay film media has a few staples: Dhoom 3; Bajirao Mastaani; a good ol’ run down of abhishek or aishwariya; etc.

          Like

      • Here is something that puts the above remarks in context. Salman was at an award function honoring differently abled persons:

        Speaking at the event, Salman said, ”When I come for events like this all the petty troubles that surround me seem to melt away. We should take the winners around Mumbai, to show people their achievements and maybe the city will be a better place.

        Unfortunately, films on these issues don’t work at the box office. I once was part of a film which had HIV/AIDS as a story, and not even the stray dogs come to watch it.”

        http://www.planetbollywood.com/displayArticle.php?id=n120110100503

        So he might have commented on the box office failure of Guzaarish in the same way as that of Phir Milenge. At any rate, it is clear that he was not picking on Bhansali per se, but I guess that doesn’t make for as sexy a story (which incidentally has now been picked up and repeated by other Bollywood sites as well).

        Like

        • He’s saying a lot more about Guzaarish though! If the remarks are completely fabricated it’s a different matter but if not any reasonable person would take offense. Secondly saying something similar about one’s own film hardly gives one license to do so with the efforts of others!

          Good sleuthing on your part though!

          Like

          • Not much sleuthing required, the article came up readily with regard to the disabled function.

            As for fabricating remarks, there is plenty of evidence of it in the MM article. For one thing, all the lead paragraphs are their own imagination about the “rift” between Salman and Bhansali. Then, the “stray dogs” comment is about Phir Milenge (according to the Planet Bollywood article), but here it’s been incorporated into the Guzaarish remarks. So I’m not convinced of the accuracy of their quotes or reporting, not that I ever am, whoever they’re writing about.

            Like

        • Here is the video of the event. The only comments you see Salman making is about Phir Milenge. He says nothing about Guzaarish, besides mentioning its name. Despite this, the channel goes on and on about his “dushmani” with SRK, Aishwarya, SLB, the breakup with Aishwarya, yada yada yada. But, where, among all this blather, is any footage of Salman actually making any disparaging remarks about Guzaarish? If such footage exists, why didn’t they put it on air?

          http://khabar.ibnlive.in.com/news/44351/6/23

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  50. Duggu’s message to Sallu: Heroes don’t gloat, they should show some grace

    While Bhansali has retired hurt, Guzaarish hero Hrithik Roshan wants to cure Salman Khan of his nastiness with a jaadu ki jhappi and kindly words. We get you the lowdown

    Kunal M Shah and Subhash K Jha

    Posted On Friday, December 03, 2010 at 02:02:30 AM

    Salman Khan’s acerbic comments on Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Guzaarish have stirred a hornet’s nest. While Bhansali, stung by his one-time friend’s words, has retired hurt, shutting himself off, Guzaarish hero Hrithik Roshan is fuming.

    As reported by us on Thursday, Salman had at an awards function to felicitate the handicapped accused Bhansali of exploiting the physically challenged for his art, and trashed Guzaarish for its poor box office collections.

    “If such an old and trusted friend can be so insensitive I don’t want anything to do with the entertainment industry,” Bhansali told us before begging off from commenting further on the matter.

    But his lead actor Hrithik Roshan has been irked enough to connect with us. “I’ve always known Salman to be a good man, someone I’ve looked up to and admired and still do. He’s always been a hero and always will be.

    But yes, it’s not heroic to laugh or make fun of a filmmaker just because his box office collections are not up there with yours. Guzaarish is a super success in its own way. And I will be hurt if anyone talks like this about Mr Bhansali. In my opinion a hero never gloats. When you are super successful, it should in fact make you more gracious and loving.

    This is the time one should use to turn even enemies into friends…just give love, not laugh at others. By the time I finish this sentence, I have already forgiven his words, because I know deep inside he only has love for me and this must have been just a momentary lapse of judgement. Will expect a big hug the next time I meet him,” said Hrithik.

    To err is human, to forgive divine. Bhansali’s coterie is not in such a forgiving mode though. Says an irate friend, “What gives Salman the right to decide whether SLB donates to charity or not? Some people like to make a song and dance about their philanthropy. Others do it quietly. Again, Sanjay feels it’s about choices.

    The films Salman does and the way he projects his charitable causes are as much his prerogative as Sanjay’s approach to cinema and charity. Why comment on another person’s attitude to life?”

    Bhansali’s friend recalls, “During Khamoshi Sanjay and Salman were involved with the disabled. Sanjay still remembers when he sent a teacher to teach Salman sign language for Khamoshi and the first thing Salman asked her was how to say ‘f#*k’ in sign language. The mortified girl had fled from the scene. That’s the bratty side of Salman which seems to have now gone out of hand.”

    Says SLB’s close friend, “Sanjay has no intention of reviving Bajirao Mastani at this point of time. Salman must have felt that Sanjay wants to work with the Dabangg hero post the lukewarm response to Guzaarish. But Sanjay has no intention of working with Salman. Not now. Not in the future. Their friendship has just been put to rest.”

    Like

  51. And they say women (Deepika/Sonam) are bitchy.

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  52. sarvanash Says:

    was planning on checking this out, but this went to only a single show after the first week and today was the last day. While break ke baad will be playing multiple shows even next week.

    Like

  53. oops i missed this one.. when i was out of town.. would read it soon!!

    Like

  54. Hrithik to make small-screen debut

    A decade after his big Bollywood debut in Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (2000), directed by his father Rakesh Roshan, Hrithik Roshan is ready to make his small screen debut with a dance-based reality show. It’s rumoured that the show will be produced by Fazila Allana and Kamna Menzes of SOL Productions and is likely to come on air towards the mid or last quarter of 2011. The show in question, it’s learnt, is called Dance Olympics and is a homegrown format.

    The dance oriented show, it will feature artistes from various countries. They will represent their respective countries of origin, and the production company and Star Plus, the channel expected to air the show, will audition thousands of artistes across 20 to 30 countries. The finalists, our industry sources say, will compete against each other, much like it is at the Olympics, where representative players perform for their country’s pride.

    HrithikHighest paid?
    The first round of auditions will be conducted outside India. It’s heard that the channel and the production house approached Roshan Jr in the last quarter of the year, just ahead of his year-end release Guzaarish. The actor, acknowledged in the movies for his dancing skills, has apparently been offered a fee of Rs 2 crore per episode, according to sources.

    If the industry speculation is anything to go by, then the show which is expected to run into 56 episodes, will fetch Roshan anything between Rs 90 and 112 crore, turning him into one of the highest paid Bollywood imports on TV. Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar, who were paid approximately Rs 1.5 crore for their shows, would then rank second. Roshan’s manager Afsar, without commenting on the industry speculation, adds, “Hrithik has been in talks with a production house for a dance reality show. He has committed time for TV next year. Once we have all the details, we can talk about it at length.”

    No details, please!
    But Roshan admits that he will be debuting on television show next year: “It’s early to comment on the details. But it’s true that I will be doing a dance reality show on TV.”We emailed Star Plus officials, but there was no reply from their end at the time of going to press.Fazilla Allana of SOL Productions says, “It’s too early to talk. Wait for the channel to make an official announcement.”

    Like

  55. “Money has to bow before art”
    By Vajir Singh
    06/12/2010
    Next Attraction

    Hrithik Roshan speaks

    Let’s start with the obvious. Are you disheartened with the fate of Guzaarish at the box office?

    (Takes a long pause) You know, it’s exactly the opposite. Today, I wake up with so much gratitude to God and for all that I have in my life because during the ten years of this journey, I have not experienced what I am going through right now. This is beyond any other form of accomplishment.

    To date, I have seen people dancing in the auditorium, throwing coins. I have seen them shout but the feeling of people sitting in silence after they watch the film or come up to me and just hold me for 60 seconds or more without saying even a word… I wish I could explain it in words.

    The film communicates at a spiritual level. That’s the kind of love and feedback I am receiving for Ethan. I have to be very careful to take only as much praise as I need from all this. I have to pass on the rest to God and to Mr Bhansali.

    Please continue…

    Ethan was definitely not the work of a good actor. I was simply blessed to be chosen as a medium to pass on all the thoughts and lessons from the various Ethans I met through this journey.

    Any sensitive or honest actor would have done an equal or better job, having spent all that time with all those paralysed people who have gone through this tragedy and evolved so much in their lives.

    A superhero in Krrish and an emperor in Jodhaa Akbar. Do you think the audience didn’t expect to see you as a helpless person?

    Probably. The main core of the audience leads a very stressful life. Maybe that deters them from exploring films like Guzaarish. But the best moments are those when people have confessed that they did not feel like watching a film like Guzaarish because it was depressing, and then saying the film made them feel as it their problems had vanished! I felt like passing on this reaction to other people who decided to stay away from a film like this because they think it will make them sad.

    You mean it’s a matter of how one looks at the film… perceptions, right?

    Guzaarish is not a sad film. In a very joyous and bright way, it shows you how your own life is beautiful in spite of all the troubles you have. That’s the journey I went through. Whether it’s painting or poetry, everything comes from a past chapter of misery or struggle or pain. That’s the equation that became very clear to me when I met these paralysed patients. They were the ones making me laugh and then they took me with them into the dark space of their intense suffering.

    I realised that by going through that journey, instead of moving into a darker space, I landed up in a beautiful and bright place. It is only after going through those alleys and dark places that you understand what life really is.

    And it has changed you…

    (Cuts in) Today, I have more gratitude. I don’t complain, bicker or get irritated. It’s natural to feel that way due to the monotony of our lives, our daily stresses and ego problems about someone saying something and you lashing back. All these things have gone from my life. Ethan has changed my life completely. I have learned to forget and forgive. (smiles)

    It is said that the budgeting went wrong. Comment.

    At times, money has to bow before art. If it were all about the selling price and profits, nothing beautiful or artistic would exist in this world. Things like poetry, painting, architecture, anything that is beautiful and artistic, needs to exist for the sheer fact that it should exist. Guzaarish is one such piece of art.

    When Guzaarish was being made, did you think the budget could dampen the film’s prospects?

    There are things you learn at every step of your life. The economics of films has been a learning experience through this phase. So far, I have been a slave to my vision. I have never had to make a choice about whether to do a film or not. My choice is already made depending on how excited I am with every cell of my body, right after I have read the script.

    So far, I have gone purely by instinct because I’ve wanted to know where my heart would take me as an artist, and my potential as an actor. But I have now reached a place where I am a little more evolved and I am a little more comfortable with my art. I don’t like too many mental gymnastics but perhaps I can now apply my mind to a point where I can reach a balance between my heart and my head. I think that would be a more intelligent approach.

    And Kites…

    Well, Kites was entirely my failure. I thought it was time to break the language barrier. And that’s what made Kites fail. Kites was a beautiful film and I received a lot of praise and accolades for the film and my work. It would have worked if the hero was a Hindustani guy, ladki ko patata and he would pass some witty remarks. What went wrong was that he was completely unidentifiable to the Indian masses.

    India is a land of heroes. They need to see a hero. That’s what they did not get. Kites was the story of a loser. He married for money, he ran away, left that sweet girl behind, he couldn’t save the girl he loved, the girl died, he couldn’t take revenge and then he died. Usne kiya kya picture mein…

    Does this mean our audience is not ready for such experiments? And…

    (Cuts in) But that doesn’t mean that we don’t keep trying. As I always say, everything is not about the box office. I am sure even Ronnie Screwvala did not take on Guzaarish because they thought they would make pots of money. It was for the sheer love of cinema.

    Maybe this was not your year but next year you will be back with what the audience loves to watch in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (an urban, youth film) and the Agneepath remake (a hardcore action film).

    (Smiles) There’s nothing like “this was not mine or that will be mine”. I refuse to believe that this wasn’t my year. I lived two beautiful characters in Kites and Guzaarish.

    Coming to your question, I love bouncing off from one film to another. I am an extremist. If I want to do something, I do it completely. I would like to get to the other side of the spectrum. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is the complete opposite of Guzaarish, and Agneepath is a complete opposite world to Zindagi. And Krrissh is a completely different from Agneepath.

    How do you see yourself as Vijay Deenanath Chouhan?

    It’s a very interesting script. I am a slave to my vision, and if I react to something, even I can’t stop myself from being a part of it. Like it happened with Akbar (in Jodhaa Akbar)… People said, “How can you measure up to Prithviraj Kapoor?” And I said I was not trying to be Prithviraj sir. It would be foolish to try to compete with the original. I would not do Agneepath if I were trying to compete with the Vijay Deenanath Chouhan of that film. It’s a completely different take and about a young boy. There is no bass voice and he has not got the swagger. He is a boy. Baccha hai woh…he is angry.

    How are you preparing yourself for this role?

    I don’t know how I will prepare for it. I simply react to a script, come home and then wonder why I signed the film because I don’t know how to do it. I go through that for a week. Then I feel, “Abhi toh phans gaya hoon… so I have to go ahead with this.” This is an inevitable process I go through. So before I start a film, I sit and complain and crib about why I signed the film and then slowly I become OK. (Smiles)

    It’s been a while since you did a multi-starrer like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

    This film will completely breaks the star image. I am not the star of that film. I am just a boy. It’s completely different from what I have done before. Not even like Dhoom, which was also a multi-starrer. It’s just the opposite. Main hoon frame mein and you might not even see me. It’s like that. It’s not that I am the star of the film and Abhay and Farhan are also there. We all share equal weightage, footage and importance.

    Are you doing Paani?

    I have such deep respect for Mr Shekhar Kapur. He has spoken to me about the film and if it materialises, I will be very lucky and excited.

    And finally, Krrish.

    Well, I think we’re done with the interview so now I will go and sit with my dad. He’s sitting in the next room. (Smiles)

    Can you tell us how many times the script has been revised?

    Krrish has gone through three to four years of servicing, surfacing and submerging. We get excited and it does not work, then we rework. I think in the past three to four years, it has risen like a phoenix and shelved again, like, 20 times. But now finally Dad has got a vision which blew my mind.

    Will we see two Hrithik Roshans or just one?

    (Laughs) Two or three or four, keep waiting.

    What about Jadoo?

    (Laughs again) Jadoo ke liye bhi you will have to wait.

    Finally, this time will you meet aliens?

    (Laughs loudly) Since you’re asking so much, let me tell you… This one will be the bigger or biggest of the Krrish series.

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    • he’s changed his tune from “good films succeed/bad films don’t” silliness he would always say.

      Like

    • It’s amazing how commercial failure can bring out one’s artsy instincts! On another note his Agneepath response makes clear yet again that this will just be a complete impostor of a film using the title and character names of the original to do something different altogether!

      The Paani thing is odd. First he was supposed to be in it. Shekhar Kapur later on didn’t quite confirm this. More recently Hrithik in an interview made it rather clear that he was not part of it. here he talks about it again saying he’d be lucky if he got the chance or if the project materialized. Kapur also in a recent interview said Hrithik would be ideal for the role. So wonder what’s holding it up! I know Kapur’s work ethic does not often involve completing or even beginning films he announces but the responses from him and Hrithik suggest a different sort of ambiguity as well. One could just say that Hrithik would be in the film whenever it get launched. But there hasn’t been this sort of clarity. And clearly something has changed because these stories were earlier confirmed by Hrithik’s side and not so anymore.

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  56. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Film-pricing-more-reasonable-today/articleshow/7038243.cms

    There is a definite rationalization of prices in Bollywood films. Many thought that Salman Khan’s next film after Dabangg will fetch a huge price, but the film-a remake of Tamil hit Bodyguard-has gone for Rs 62 crore to Reliance Big Pictures, a very reasonable figure when compared to boom time acquisitions like My Name Is Khaan (Rs 95 cr), Kurbaan, Wake Up Sid (Rs 80cr), Kites (Rs 110 cr) and Ghajini (Rs 90 cr). Though there are speculations that the market will again witness a jump and pricings will increase as the economy and market is getting bullish, there have been some good pricing calls. This includes Dum Maro Dum (Rs 24 cr) to Fox Studios and Agent Vinod (Rs 40 cr) to Eros.

    UTV CEO, Siddharth Roy Kapur, said: ”The production cost of Guzaarish is Rs 50 crore and we have already recovered Rs 25 crore from satellite and music rights of the film.”

    Like

  57. Even though it will take at least one more reading to fully grasp your piece but overall I totally agree with your analysis.
    Have to say had I not seen the movie just last night – yeh piece Sar ke upar se nikal gaya hota !! LOL!!

    Like

  58. Saw this yesterday and was very,very,very pkeasantly surprised.
    IMO, this is a gem from Bhansali.
    Most importantly was quite surprised by Hrithik’s performance. I doubt if he will ever get a better role in his lifetime and in my opinion he played it pitch perfect. Never knew, he was capable of such voice modulation and he was brilliant in the final sequence. Aishwarya shows what a consummate performer she is and how she is miles ahead of others. Even liked Bhansali’s attempt at music. The movie stayed with me long after it finished.
    Very little to criticise here. Other than the fact that it might be ‘unoriginal’ and Bhansali’s indulgences in the visuals ( tho far more restrained here) and some little inconsistoncies in the plot line.
    Am surprised it did not find wider acceptance.
    I would rate this performance by Hrithik at the same level as SRK’s in MNIK. May be a notch higher. Two of the most endearing star turns in recent times.

    Like

    • Bhalo_Manush Says:

      “Most importantly was quite surprised by Hrithik’s performance. I doubt if he will ever get a better role in his lifetime and in my opinion he played it pitch perfect.”

      “I would rate this performance by Hrithik at the same level as SRK’s in MNIK. May be a notch higher.”

      Completely agree here….

      Like

    • good to know you finally saw it..

      Like

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