Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounter With Bollywood (Hollywood Reporter) (video added)

thanks to Bliss & Pradeep..

thanks to Bliss and GF..

The Indian film industry gathered to hear the “Lincoln” director engage in a wide-ranging discussion with local screen icon Amitabh Bachchan.

MUMBAI – Steven Spielberg – who landed in Mumbai Monday – participated in a lively ninety-minute Q&A session with Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan in the presence of an exclusive, hand-picked audience of about 50 Indian directors and film personalities.

Also present were Spielberg’s wife Kate Capshaw, DreamWorks’ co-chair Stacey Snider, Reliance group chairman Anil Ambani and his wife, former Bollywood actress Tina Ambani. Held at the ballroom of the upscale Taj Land’s End hotel, the by-invitation-only evening Monday was organized by DreamWorks’ equal partner Reliance Entertainment. Bachchan – who has a role in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming The Great Gatsby — opened the session by welcoming Spielberg to India. Spielberg first came here in 1977 to shoot a sequence for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He then returned for location scouting in 1983 for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom recalling that he visited various cities including Benaras, Delhi and Jaipur among others. (That film was eventually shot in neighboring Sri Lanka). “What I really remember is the warmth of the people here – they would just invite me to their homes even without knowing me,” Spielberg replied when Bachchan asked him about his impressions of India.

The session kicked off with how he got started in film, with the Oscar-winning director sharing his now famous story about crashing his toy trains as a young boy and filming them with his father’s Super 8 mm camera. “That really showed me the power of cinema, that I could watch the train wrecks again and again,” he said. Referring to Duel, the film that put Spielberg on the map, Bachchan recalled, “I remember the effective use of sound for the truck – was that deliberate?” to which Spielberg replied that he set out to create an “aural threat which gave the truck personality.”

Bachchan then asked Spielberg about how he chooses actors: “In your earlier years – and sometimes even now — your films are driven by characters such as a fish or aliens or robots. Lots of actors feel threatened by that!” As the laughter subsided, Spielberg smiled and replied: “As I move beyond middle age, I am turning more towards actors to save my career. So that’s why I work more with the likes of Daniel Day Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio.”

Bachchan specifically pointed to his “unusual choice” of casting Tom Hanks as a soldier in Saving Private Ryan. “Tom is a great leader,” said Spielberg. “He started as a comedian but in every comedy actor there is a dramatic actor. As Tom matured, his films became serious and I thought he could do anything so that’s why I cast him as John Miller.”

Spielberg’s fascination with the James Bond films is well-known and when Bachchan asked him if he made the Indiana Jones films as an homage to the superspy, he replied: “Well, it was really George Lucas who was inspired by the cinema serials we saw as kids (such as those by Republic Pictures) to do Indiana Jones. But I called (James Bond producer) Cubby Brocolli after I did Jaws and told him I’d like to direct a Bond movie. And Cubby replied that I was not experienced enough but if we do a Bond movie on water we might consider you!”

Delving further into his continued attempts to win over Broccoli, Spielberg added, “Cubby asked me permission to use the famous five musical notes in Close Encounters for Moonraker. I said sure and by the way, do you have a slot for me for Bond and he said no!” The saga continued with the Spielberg-produced Goonies. “One of the kids in the movie is a 007 fan and plays the Bond theme on his ghetto blaster so I called Cubby to get permission. He initially refused so I reminded him that I gave him the five notes from Close Encounters to which Cubby replied that the Bond theme has seven notes! Eventually he did give permission.”

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91 Responses to “Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounter With Bollywood (Hollywood Reporter) (video added)”

  1. Sanjana:
    Rajni, Kamal, Mani could have been invited. And there should been a Salman’s item song and dance to entertain Spielberg. Bollywood in a nustshell.

    • All the few comments on Spielberg can be transported to this thread.

      • Sanjana:

        Spielberg admitted he has not seen enough films from India as yet, but encouraged filmmakers to think of shared platforms for a global cultural exchange so that Americans get to see more of the films we make here. He also wanted to know if the audiences here were accepting of genrebenders, the way they were in the West. And cited the example of Beasts of the Southern Wild, an indie film that was hailed as one of the finest to have released last year.
        And last but not the least, Mr Sheshadri Srinivasan take a bow. If you are wondering who that is, well, he is the gentleman who designed the Bandra-Worli Sea-Link. And to quote Spielberg: “It is the best piece of art in this city.”
        Not the kind of person who believes in compromises, Spielberg touched a chord with many of the filmmakers present when Jaya Bachchan asked him if he ever considered dropping a project because he did not get the actor he wanted. Once again, Spielberg was ready with his answer: Lincoln, because Daniel Day Lewis took a fair bit of convincing even after turning him down twice. It was Leonardo Di Caprio, “a friend of the family” who took the initiative to track down the reclusive actor in Ireland, and got him to read the new script. The rest is moviemaking history.

        • Actually, only after a young Lincoln ran into a young Gandhi, and listened to the Mahatma’s pearls of wisdom, did he decide that he ought to fight slavery. Spielberg ought to be eternally grateful to India for that.

          • And in case, someone disputes the historical accuracy of my statement, I have proof to back it up:

          • I think America is repaying its debt by giving livelihood to many Indians. It is not only employment but also the 7 star facilities like roads, cleanliness, no red tapism, no bribery, freedom, no other language is shoved down, no bandhs and innumerable facilities which India can never provide. One can argue about Indians contribution but we should not forget chinese, koreans, japanese who adjust better as US citizens. Thats why many Indians never want to return to the land of Mahatma.

          • Sanjanaji, light lijiye.
            Lol, koi to mere is joke ko samjho yaar…

  2. Part 1

    [added to post]

  3. It will VERY, VERY unfair if we do not get a proper video of this..hope sense prevails on Gurubhai’s son and he brings out a proper video..

  4. TheCoolDude Says:

    Not sure why Bachchan felt that Hanks was a ‘unusual’ choice for Saving Private Ryan. He was going through perhaps the best phase of any hollywood actor (both critically and commercially) ever. He had already bagged back to back best actor oscars (only the second one to do so). Not to mention that Hanks and Spielberg literally live next to each other and are very good friends. It was really a no brainer. They have also teamed up for BAND OF BROTHERS and TERMINAL though TERMINAL was a let down.

    • rockstar Says:

      but frankly terminal was enjoyable and its entirely because of hanks and ya ryan came much earlier compared to them and hanks didnt had action image as such btw even terminal had dig on russians

      • thecooldude Says:

        I thought that Terminal could have been much better but box office wise, it was beaten by Dodgeball ! at the box office over the weekend it was released. Both Spielberg and Hanks had lost their magic.

    • Agree on The Terminal. I think Spielberg was going for a Capra-like effort with a touch of Chaplin thrown into the mix, but it didn’t really pan out. And I say this as someone who actually far prefers Hanks in his comedies.

      • Terminal is very popular on tv. I prefer normal human interest movies like Terminal to movies like ET, Close Encounters etc.

        • It’s not really the scale of the picture that I minded. It just felt like a very manufactured work. The exact opposite of something as natural and free-flowing as Catch Me If You Can.

  5. rockstar Says:

    speilberg might have not seen many of the indian movies but he copied them:

    people still know the et and the great ray:…1c.1.5.hp.IrfBHZa-OA4&psj=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.43287494,d.bmk&fp=e250dada5252ff82&biw=1280&bih=699

    he distorted image of indians in indiana jones which was banned in india and look how time changes when he need anil ambani to make lincoln and indian backdrop

  6. Pompous Baaja Sen (I don’t understand how this guy was the immortal words of Terylene from Agneepath..he is just a ‘very lucky bastard’) on the master class:

    Images from rediff:

    Further images:

  7. Speaking of Indian settings, it has been several decades since Spielberg shot in India (for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released in 1977, as well as Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, in 1984). So does he have any plans to film a movie in India again? “We have finalized a script for a movie that DreamWorks (the studio he co-owns) and our partners Reliance Entertainment plan to make together. Part of it will take place on the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir. But we’re still trying to figure out the casting, locations and who’s going to direct it,” said the filmmaker, dressed, as he often is, in a jacket and tie over a pair of jeans.

    Now that he has an Indian company as a partner, has he caught up with Bollywood films? “Not a lot,” he confessed. “Though I have seen excerpts of many. Among the movies I’ve seen, I loved ‘3 Idiots’. A long time ago, I saw the Indian classics — Raj Kapoor, Satyajit Ray. I loved Awaara. I thought it was a beautifully made, heart-rending story—a father putting his own son on trial.” We couldn’t help wondering if it was just a coincidence that his two favourite Indian movies were both directed by men named Raj (Raj Kapoor and Rajkumar Hirani).

    What about Indian actors? “I’ve seen Mr Bachchan’s work in ‘The Great Gatsby’. He’s a wonderful actor and an iconic figure and his legend has carried all the way to America,” said Spielberg. Does he foresee any chance of a Bollywood collaboration? “A script hasn’t come along for that wonderful opportunity,” he replied.

  8. “That was the first time I really became aware of what my father did in the war,” said Spielberg, with a childlike sparkle in his eyes. “He spoke about it a lot to me but I didn’t really have any visual references. And what I saw looked beautiful and extremely friendly. There are lots of photos of Indian kids just running around jeeps and hanging out with these young American servicemen—my dad was the oldest at 27—and brilliant shots of elephants and cows and people and marketplaces and bazaars! Just the day-to-day lifestyle of India was so vivid.”


    Exotic India of snake charmers, elephants, cows, bazaars!

  9. “Exotic India of snake charmers, elephants, cows, bazaars” roflmao

    it was banned in china to

    ray’s constant refference of plagiarism and here come digs on bengali worship module….and look what time does to you

    anyway respect to the master

  10. A stilted exchange from Bachchan’s side. I felt this recently with Kamal as well in his similar conversation with Ang Lee. The questions were utterly uninspiring and the conversation didn’t have any flow either. I think one of the big problems here is that even titans like Bachchan and Kamal remain a bit ‘awed’ in the presence of ‘international’ figures. And this essentially ‘respectful’ and somewhat ‘intimidated’ sense/stance comes through very clearly. Spielberg kept things going with his ‘narrative’ responses but at the end of each there were awkward pauses and Bachchan would then shift gears completely.

    • Totally agree. I actually stopped watching after a bit. Just a rather boring exchange – felt scripted. It’s as if the questions emerged after a thorough reading on Spielberg’s Wiki page.

      • Haha. Good observation. But you are unfair to our actors. They are mainly actors while Spielberg is a film maker. What type interesting questions are there in the first place? If SRK was doing the intereview or whatever, he would have told him about his experiences at american airports and another Terminal film could have happened.
        That is what happens sometimes when 2 great personalities have close encounters. Nothing happens. Yawn.

        • mksrooney Says:

          i completely second u satyam. I felt myself that Big B was rather bad choice to discuss cinema. He is a great actor, but not fit for such questionnaire imo.

          And if true/or credible Big B or someone should have ask him what do say of this reports that u stole idea of ET from Ray ? :)

          • And make Anil Ambani embarrassed?

          • I don’t think it’s a question of Bachchan’s inability to come up with the right questions. The question one should be asking is why is this event even taking place? What is being plugged or pushed? At its core, this whole discussion is premised on a certain level of sycophancy. Kind of like a James Lipton interview in that sense…

          • He is not invited to be grilled, sliced and diced. He is a guest and guest must be treated nicely even if we dont like them. And who else other than Bachchan could do this royally? They chose the right man for the occasion.

      • mksrooney Says:

        agree re: ur comment below.

        But given your take i am more surprised why they didnt televised it!

    • i agree, satyam. this “interview” by amitabh bachchan—as much as i love the guy—is so disappointingly perfunctory he looked rather small in spielberg’s presence, actually. its sad and shocking to see him sound so scripted, intimidated and low on energy throughout. the questions he was asking came off as film school studentesque; rather lacking in substance.

      most, if not all, bollywood celebrities feel inherently inferior to ANY famous person from the united states, i’ll never understand why. its weird…

    • Navjot sidhu wud have been a better host instead of Big B ;-) at least he wud come up with his one liners like: “The distance between heaven and earth is more a matter of attitude than altitude” :-) (he was praising SD’s hurrican century with this…)

  11. seems like Bachchan has also invested in Dreaworks, Here Steve speaks very fondly of Bachchan and Obama…..
    Satyam please note ..LOL

    • thanks Rocky.. good watch even if the journalist here seemed way in over his head!

    • That’s completely wrong. Steven was talking about Amitabh Jhunjhunwala (CEO of the Reliance Capital) who instrumented the partnership deal and that Jurno in his way over the head and out of the head replaced AZ by AB, though it was hardly any surprise for me. Ya, but people like U and others here are not getting it is one..

  12. ***Satyam/GF: I think one of the big problems here is that even titans like Bachchan and Kamal remain a bit ‘awed’ in the presence of ‘international’ figures. And this essentially ‘respectful’ and somewhat ‘intimidated’ sense/stance comes through very clearly. ***

    Amitabh is hardly intimidated by Steven Spielberg. As noted on many occasions when AB talks of Hollywood on his blog, there is always condescension and jingoism regarding ‘our films, their films.’ It is this sort of attitude that comes across as an obstacle when discussing with master-makers like Steven; especially when you see in this video that they are truly open to discussions genuinely and not as a formality. And I am not talking of AB’s observations on Slumdog. I whole-heartedly agree with him there. Slumdog was a pathetic excuse in film-making beating one stereo-type to the next with glee and milking on ‘hope’ and ‘human spirit’ when the US was down in the dumps economically. I have noted a general tendency of unwarranted jingoism in his observations when he discusses Hollywood and Oscars. Even in today’s blog-entry after the master-class, he says Hollywood wanting to partner with Indian groups is just because of our massive ‘youthful’ population & the reflection of such huge population on commerce. So is that it? Our ‘greatness’? Procreating like rabbits that have their condom packets stolen or mis-placed? Hollywood can very well survive without India. India is just a market where they can release their movies and make as much money without going into the nitty-gritty of partnership/production. And in any way, the ONLY place where we are able to assist Hollywood in their endeavors is for those big/medium budget Hollywood movies which need animation/software support. I know, since I worked on part of Iron-Man II special effects when working for Oracle & inter-acted with the honchos over-seeing from US. So Amitabh needs to get out of his ‘our films for our people, their films for their people’ ghetto mentality and appreciate art where it needs to be appreciated – not just when taking his father’s poems to France. I still remember how he dismissed AVTAAR as a spectacle of technical wizardry. Agreed, it is definitely more of a visual wonder than a cohesive story-telling product. But can one dismiss AVTAAR’s achievement of technical wonder in one line? Nothing else to talk about? For such an erudite person and having seen cinema grow—or stagnate, whichever way you look at it—over a period of 40 years, to be so dismissive and cavalier about Hollywood’s achievement is truly disappointing. He did the same for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and INCEPTION. For Inception, I remember him saying that it was a smart way of making money so that one doesn’t understand the whole thing at one go and after discussions on internet, comes to watch it again so that one understands it better and hence ensure the film’s success. Well in any case, it is far better than ‘fan’-atics flocking to the theater to watch Chiranjeevi go down on his knees in something called a ‘veena’ dance-step in one movie and then flock to his next one where he then ‘comes up’ from the ‘veena’ dance-step and gains stability of posture. Wow, what an amazing achievement of carrying the ‘story’ forward!! Or a heist film consisting of 30 minutes of trite love-story time! At least LINCOLN didn’t have a scene showing Mary Todd Lincoln cavorting half naked beside the White House water fountain in summer!

    He does remember fondly Montgomery Clift’s performances and Gable/Leigh’s GONE WITH THE WIND. Also, THE GODFATHER. But that’s it. It is like a ‘formal’ acknowledgment to Hollywood because one cannot ignore the impact of Hollywood on Indians – the middle-class especially.

    You cannot revel in mediocrity dismissing comparatively superior piece of film-making as ‘subscribing to the other culture.’ Now I am not claiming Hollywood to be the messiah of film-culture. For every Lincoln there are 10 Forgetting Sarah Marshalls. But it is the seriousness to narrative that many of them bring to the table when they take up subjects that is to be admired. There is a scene in 0 DARK THIRTY just before the Islamabad Marriott bombing where Maya and her colleague are unwinding over a bottle of wine. Very casually, the director skips in a line about whether Maya is taking care of physical needs with a co-worker. Maya replies that she is not here to f*** and within the next few seconds, there is a huge bomb blast that knocks their senses out. Very effectively, Kathryn conveys metaphorically that in such an atmosphere, Maya has become so subsumed in the US’s mission for finding UBL, that she doesn’t even have the time or energy to think beyond the mission and hence there is NO place in the narrative to widen on such details. And this seriousness of narrative is maintained throughout the film only to be diluted a bit in the denouement when she breaks down after being the ONLY member boarding a plane back to Washington.

    I can maybe engage –but definitely disagree— with Satyam’s disappointment with Steven when he helms serious issues (though Lincoln worked perfectly fine for me when he let his direction kind of take a back-seat and let Kushner’s writing and Day-Lewis’s performance do the difficult tasks of de-mythologizing Lincoln). That is a valid scenario to debate; but not a cavalier dismissal of Hollywood’s seminal projects as is the case with Amitabh; which again is quite contradictorily amusing since he did praise the pre-production research and ‘attention-to-detail’ during his time on the sets of The Great Gatsby.

    Many of such of Amitabh’s behavioral attributes have confirmed for me that if not for his outstanding inherent talent, and, if it were not for the fact that his peak-time was parallel to the times and presence of people with better understanding of movie-making as a holistic process, he would have bitten the dust badly. We need to know what we are good at but more importantly, we need to acknowledge when/where OTHERS are better than us. Maybe if they really wanted to have a more meaningful discussion,

    Kashyap or even Mehra would have been better choices; just because they still have the child-like quality when it comes to film-making process..

    Now the disclaimers:
    a)I am the biggest fan alive of Amitabh Bachchan
    b) There go out the window my chances of bagging work even as miniscule as correcting spellings in Bachchan’s biography..

    • “Kushner’s writing and Day-Lewis’s performance do the difficult tasks of de-mythologizing Lincoln”

      Don’t agree at all this is what the writer and actor accomplish. There’s a bit of sleight of hand here because the Lincoln in this movie certainly looks “worn” by the burdens of war and politics but for all of Day-Lewis’ creaking physicality and Kushner’s fluent, studied dialogue I wasn’t convinced that this was an exercise in deconstructing the myth as much as it was creating a different frame for it. In other words Lincoln’s humanized here but he’s also (and here’s the sleight of hand) never presented as anything less than a saint.

      This is not to take anything away from either Day-Lewis’ magnetic performance nor the film which despite my ambivalence about it (I think it didn’t help that it released in the same year as Django– a “historical” I preferred far more for its resistance to the sort of genuflecting for the historical time period [to borrow someone else’s words] on display in Spielberg’s movie) is certainly always an engaging and very literate work.

    • That’s a strong polemical response. However I would still disagree. I think that when he speaks about Hollywood it comes across as ‘defensive’ and not condescending. At least to me. And this is the classic structure of colonization (to which we are all heirs..). One is defensive precisely because one wishes to be ‘like’ the other. I’ve often brought this up on his blog but one cannot simply walk away from a history of colonialism. We speak the language, we inherit entire paradigms of thinking, we partake of the institutional frameworks.. so on and so forth. We are hence children of colonialism and there is a love-hate relationship in this sense even when we seek to resist this heritage. All of this is quite natural. It is the classic split identity that so many novelists have talked about in various contexts. Closer to our own Rushdie is the obvious candidate. And so when it comes to Spielberg or whoever the position of ‘interrogator’ is a tricky one for the same reasons. Recently when shooting for Gatsby he (Bachchan) referred to “legends” like Di Caprio and Toby Maguire! Hardly condescension.

      • Incidentally the most remarkable thing about this colonial discourse is that even the categories of the native are either invented or reconfigure by the colonial intervention. In other words there is no way to speak of ‘India’ (one example) in any nationalist sense or to do the same for various ethnic ‘purities’ and so on without implicating the very same structures. Colonialism is not just the same as any imperialism of the past. It involves a vast apparatus of ‘knowledge’ which in turn ‘re-reads’ everything it conquers and presents it as completely ‘natural’ and in the first instance to the native (Gayatri Spivak has a wonderful phrase about how history is narrativized as logic.. in other words what seems merely logical is actually the end-product of a certain history) himself (or herself..).

        And so when the ‘native’ comes face to face with the colonial other there’s an asymmetry. even if the former interrogates the latter he (or she) knows that the very ground from which such questioning takes place is entirely dependent on the categories first put in place by this other. This creates a certain anxiety..

        • If the film maker is from Pakistan or Bangladesh, there would have been level playing field. It is just like Chiranjeevi or Rajni feeling awed by Bachchan’s presence. It is not that they are less but it is that Bachchan is truly an all India figure. In the same way Spielberg is an international figure. Our money can buy their presence but can our money buy their hearts too? Culturally we are far apart. They will be nice and find something to praise even if it is as stupid a thing as our Worli Sealink. Belittling him that he stole from Ray will not make us great. It only shows our pettiness.

      • I can definitely buy your argument that he is not overtly condescending and that it is ‘defensive’ nature on display vis-a-vis the ‘English-speaking peoples’ as per Churchill. Still, of all persons, Amitabh has the education/background/world-view to not let such defenses over-take him when it comes to appreciating and acknowledging good art – from whatever corner it may be. But the world we are living in has to/partially has moved beyond that. I can understand the split-identity context but a person of Amitabh’s stature/experience is beyond that. Harivansh Rai Bachchan got a phD from Oxford. Amitabh has no problems with that and is in fact proud of that. David Cameron visited India – the prime minister of a country that colonized us for centuries – and sat down with students of a girls college with everybody fawning over him! The point is, I cannot start getting defensive about my native literature in the face of Shakespeare just because we have been colonized for long..Irrespective of our colonization, Shakespeare remains immortal not just in England but everywhere else and so will Daniel Day-Lewis some day. One cannot just keep relegating Hollywood’s success/imprint in India to commerce and other such parameters. Yes they are there; but so is quality! Cameron worked for 12 bloody years painstakingly on Avatar and the result shows. And one just dismisses this film as a big-budget technical effort and attributes its success to effective marketing? Not fair! By the way I am just using Avatar here as an example..

        The other day, in a press conference for I LOVE NY, Sunny Deol was asked something about the Oscars and he said,’ What’s the big deal about Oscars or Boxer? yeh unke liye hain..we make films for our audience.’ Dude, you are coming to NY, making a movie in NY and selling the ‘American’ dream to the mall-leeching youngsters wearing Calvin Klein undies in India, and suddenly, when asked a question about Oscars in terms of quality, your patriotism surfaces? Huh? You do not even have the guts to make a film rooted in your own country! 80 percent of Hi fi’s products are trickle-down films from Hollywood in terms of style/execution/treatment/story.

        As I said, my concern is not about Amitabh’s conduct in this master-class. In fact, it is his greatness that he NEVER allowed his super-stardom to cast a shadow on the proceedings and let Steven dictate the course and narrative. And we Indians know of his humility. That particularly is a no-brainer. My only problem is that with the kind of exposure and erudition he has, the ‘defence’ against former colonizing powers sounds a bit weak. I have felt that ‘strand’ of Hollywood relegation to commerce/marketing on his blog-entries. And his blog-entry today just was the last straw about ‘Indian’ market cannot be ignored and all that bull. If it is just the population, then let’s see how much those B-grade college-sorority movies make in India compared to stuff like 0 Dark Thirty or even Contagion.

        If one can demand SRK to strip himself of victimhood owing to the kind of life he has had/led, asking Amitabh to shed that colonial defence and see things for what they are is also perfectly valid. And let’s not take his appreciation of Tobey Maguire seriously. I do not know in which universe he find Tobey a ‘legend.’ If he is, then Tushaar Kapoor is the ultimate legend of Malegaon..

        • What a passionate argument! Cheers.

        • Given his attitude towards Hollywood, it is ironical that he was asked to host. It is like asking Advani to host MMS.
          But he was not like this in his younger days. I read a blog of him where he shared his craze for MJ. And he also accompanied Ash for Pink Panther premiere. His anger maybe directed against those who unfairly compare bollywood to Hollywood.

        • “Still, of all persons, Amitabh has the education/background/world-view to not let such defenses over-take him when it comes to appreciating and acknowledging good art – from whatever corner it may be.”

          Don’t you think this dynamic is often strongest when the person in question has that background? In other words I could substitute ‘colonized’ for those three terms you’ve used. And again I don’t really mean it in the old knee-jerk sense where this word would be thrown about all the time. Just that, and to get a bit theoretical about it, the moment of ‘native’ self-assertion is one already accounted for by the colonization process. So for instance with Rushdie’s ‘hybrid’ identity, the enunciation of this still comes about in English (no matter how polyglot) and not in Hindi or some other ‘local’ language. Yes Bachchan talks about Indianness all the time, he voices a strong nationalism and so forth but all of these things already rely on categories acquired from elsewhere. And I don’t mean that one should try and return to some pre-colonial ‘purity’. That is neither possible nor I would argue desirable (not least because there’s the irony here too that any such nostalgia is itself framed by the same ‘Western’ categories).

    • “I know, since I worked on part of Iron-Man II special effects when working for Oracle & inter-acted with the honchos over-seeing from US. ”

  13. -interesting points both ways there…
    Have watched only bits of this discussion
    I do feel Ann jos point is worthy here. I’ve been waiting for amitabh to adopt this slightly assertive and unapologetic attitude for a while.
    Sometimes one sees him being ultra-polite and even ultra-humble to the most menial of the Bollywood machinery.
    Although bachchan isn’t surely being ‘rude’ at all, he does give the impression of not listening to/bothering about any answers and moving onto the next topic to be ‘ticked’. There’s also this attempt to come out as ‘not being overawed by Spielberg’ that’s being overdone at places.
    But at the end of the day, both gentlemen involved are mature enough to not taking these ‘behavioural dynamics’ & ‘pitching tones’ too seriously. Amitabh obviously at ‘home pitch’ in front of his own audience that ‘worships/ped’ him. His trademark humility may also not have been taken up well in this scenario. So it was always a ‘tightrope’ for amitabh how he plays it.
    So to summarise briefly from the few mins I saw–
    How amitabh ultimately ends up playing isn’t disappointing at all( some may find it semi-assertive though given the setting), though for me it was surely interesting!
    As for Spielberg, he conducts himself well, plays the ball on its merit and doesn’t hit across the line ( as expected)!
    Ps: will try to see this properly in totality later …

  14. FInancial clout & film making

    Someone above asked this ‘why this meeting at all’ or something like that. Well, it IS a significant one purely due to the stature of the two gentlemen involved, their position in their respective countries and what they signify to those places. Their actual ability is not as immediate issue here & there’s symbolism in the choice of the interviewer and I agree that bachchan had to be the one to discuss stuff with Spielberg (his own attitude and anti-Hollywood stance and lack of openness towards Hollywood) notwithstanding!

    Which comes to the main point I always harp on. Forget the smalltimers, even a Spielberg has to respect finances & balancing the books brings him to parley with the ambanis here. It’s not a sudden love of India /Indian films (that he admittedly doesn’t know much about anyways) that has brought this about.

    I repeat as I always do –in anything more than an amateur home video/mms etc finances form an integral part of the process, atleast of equal importance to the ‘creative’ one. While this is basic knowledge and for some it’s like trying to tell a granny how to drink water, but sometimes in the entire facade of creativity and artistry, some manis and mehras forget this basic fact.
    Can’t really blame them much either–as I’ve told before–had a recent occasions where I got a camera in my hand (albeit in a buddys small indie setup)– one suddenly starts getting delusions of grandeur and a flight of ideas that needs to be kept under a lean by the demon of economics …

  15. contd–
    One also feels somewhat relieved at amitabh taking a semi-assertive approach without overt defensiveness
    It’s just that the occasion and person chosen for this change in approach wasn’t the most appropriate–I mean, but it’s not illegal to treat Spielberg like another KBC contestant!
    But then he may soon be back to treating the local bhagnanis and lahkia type persona non-gratas as worshippable commodities!
    Apart from the reasons enumerated above–perhaps with the ‘local menials’ amitabh has a stake to maintain ‘friendly/family’ relations (not for his own but perhaps for someone else’s career lol)
    In the case of Spielberg, he had nothing/not much to lose …by taking this semi-assertive bordering at semi combative tone mixed/interspersed with ‘requests to help out the Indian film industry’. Oops bak2work

  16. An other topic. Indians are now into Mensa on a large scale, it seems. The 2 Mensa records are by kids of doctor couple. And it is uncanny. These maybe genuine cases. But some cases may not be so. Do parents try to gain fame by using their kids, artificially or otherwise? Will it put pressure on ordinary kids by ambitious parents? The ridiculous and sensational headlines must stop in the larger interests of kids. Let them grow naturally.
    I am not doubting their intelligence or sincerity but I am afraid some parents may misuse just to get that Mensa record for their kids. You know how some Indian parents are.

  17. i enjoyed the conversation. Big B was fine and so was SS. Nothing wrong with Big B’s questioning style or attitude here. But the entire session was of 1 hour – so where are the rest of the 30 min videos?

  18. Steven & Stacey with Masand:

    don’t miss at 7:40 where Steven cries he lost to Fellini..vintage stuff

  19. Bit unrelated but contd from the other thread —
    Ps: btw what happens when one is dreading a high stress high stake meeting/ program, is getting all geared up and suddenly it gets postponed /cancelled?
    Pure bliss & then the sudden ‘release’

    Btw just caught bits of a flick while munchign a sandwich that was playing inadvertently-watched only few minutes
    Aaron eckhardt gearing up for his self help guru talk -the guy was good (for the less than ten sec I watched the movie for) –yeah it is an eminently forgettable film with Jen Anniston. And Charlie sheen has a good scene or two
    Has shades of talaashesque ‘grief’ vibes as well

    But overall liked eckhardt s nervous energy before he gave his talks. Reminded me of a scene by Dennis quaid in vantage point.
    Sometimes pretty crapfest films also have a special scene/moment.
    Ps: hehe I’m quite sure nobody would’ve seen these forgettable films or found these scenes a big deal though lol

  20. They shouldn’t let Spielberg leave without clinching a major Hollywood Bollywood collaboration announcement
    Start when the irons hot–& stop the cash flow otherwise :-)
    Ps/ Satyam -seen GoW ?

  21. At 13.4o ticker of the above video someone shouts -“Prabhu deva”..someone else shouts -“arrey jane do, jane do, bol hee nahin payega, bol hee nahin payega”…
    kaun Chu#### banata hai aisey logon ko reporter??

  22. Haha saw this video upto one and a half minutes— had already seen ten celebrity DRIVERS-couldn’t take anymore!!
    Enough of this ‘tribute’ nonsense!!
    If I was in the place of AA (anil ambani)
    I would take Steven Spielberg to a corner
    Look chum “I’m gonna stop giving u anymore finances”
    Condition(s): start some ‘off shore’ facilities at my backyard in Bombay (infact at my pad) where things are done at the business end of movie making not the ‘accessory’ stuff!
    Negotiate territories better and also deliberately interfere in the creative aspect
    Get more productions involving India/Indian actors not primarily due to patriotism but bcos that’s where my strength lies. I won’t bloody pay Steven to strengthen his already strong infrastructure & demand -supply chain!!
    Ps: but that aint gonna happen bcos that AA is anil ambani not me :-)

  23. “Untidy suit” of AB compared to tidy one of Ben Kingsley’s was the most disturbing sight for many in “Teen Patti” teaser put up by AB himself on his blog and that displayed of colonial mentality had evoked strong words of disapproval from AB.
    It is not just to say that he is completely devoid of it. There is a bigger issue-namely divisive thinking and most certainly he can’t escape from that. It’s quite evident in more often display of an “Indianness” and falls pride attached to it.
    There are hardly any good communicator in Indian film industry or rather none-I most certainly don’t want to see KJO in conversation with Steven or for that matter even RM doesn’t come across as good communicator.
    Now, it is futile to compare Kanal-Ang Lee conversation with this as Kamal clearly seems to have language issue and communication skill issue which obviously AB don’t.
    Besides that still AB seems very programmed, scripted (WIKI and/or Reliance media writers/image makers) during this entire conversation. He seems to carry along KBC approach in this too.

  24. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Duel, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Jaws, ET, Color Purple, Indiana Jones Series, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, Munich, Tin Tin, Warhorse, Lincoln…. Spielberg surely is one of our most versatile filmmakers of our times. What I like about his range is that he makes thinking film, he makes emotion film, he makes spectacle films, he makes political films, he makes moral and ethics films. I think the only genre Spielberg has tried but not been able to crack is the feel good man-woman romance genre. ” Always and ‘ Hook’ were both sub-par.

  25. I was cringing at the bit when Spielberg said he wants to get better acquainted with current Hindi cinema. He’d be better off getting DVD’s of Bimal Roy and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Current films are mainly an embarrassment, unless somebody very careful selects what he is going to be shown.

    • Cringing. When these people visit India and see impoverished faces, slums, dirt, traffic chaos, potbellied policemen, filthy rich immune to all the poverty around them all these things are more cringeworthy than our movies.

      • Hehe, agreed but my comment was particularly in response to Amit asking him about why He/America aren’t better acquainted with Hindi cinema – it inherently implied that maybe they ‘should’ and that’s why I was cringing cos then Spielberg might have to pretend he likes what he sees. Surely his taste can’t be as poor as Amitabh’s…

  26. Agree with Satyam. Very awkward BigB, with his “hmms” and “ahas” in between.. and a couple of times of interruptions to perhaps finish a rehearsed question. The questions asked were biographical, as if Spielberg is an unknown person to the audience, who were all part of cinema! Obviously, we do not have even a Leno or Letterman; so expecting a Charlie Rose out of Amitabh was a bit far-fetched.

    • Agree nykavi -the ‘hmms’ & ‘ahs’ were off-putting. But as mentioned earlier, it was a bit disappointing bcos bachxhan can do much better even as an interviewer where /when he really wants-here there were some issues (mentioned above)
      @ salim-about someone ‘selecting films’ for Spielberg. He is not a babe in the wood!
      Also in this world of www, a half brain dead person can/should wiki etc
      Btw India lacks proper ‘lobbying firms’ & media management for Bollywood abroad ESP for America could be better-not for ‘impressing’ them but go gettin better partnership /joint production deals etc

    • Awed & intimidated stance was Satyam’s main and almost proprietary summery of this conversation and it doesn’t make any sense to take away that proprietorship. Let him enjoy that exclusivity..

  27. in which spielberg sings paeans to my fav scorsese
    ok, i like him again :)


    Five movies Spielberg connects with
    E.T. The Extra Terrestrial: A search for the father in myself, as well as a catharsis film for me after my parents’ divorce.
    Saving Private Ryan: A homage to my dad.
    3 Idiots: I’ve seen it three times, loved the emotional undertones.
    Jaws: The hardest movie I ever made in my career. I wanted to give up movie making after that.
    The Godfather: Nobody could have directed this movie better than Francis Ford Coppola.

    • he has already signed anushka sharma for a project he wants to shoot in himalayas – aamir khan please?

    • He does not know that there are camps and intense rivalry here. If he praises movie from one camp, the others will hate him.
      He was just being polite. He cannot turn critic and say what he really thinks about our movies. I wonder why he did not mention SDM and what he thinks about it? Seems no one wanted to raise the topic.

      • The only Indian film he mentioned was 3 Idiots, and he probably saw that because Reliance was one of the producers (something I didn’t know before), and Ambani probably told him it was the highest grossing Bollywood film in history. So it makes sense for him to see it.

        As was said in Filmi Girl’s blog yesterday, if Spielberg does make an “Indian” film, one thing for sure is that the lead role(s) will not be played by Indian actors (just like in Gandhi). None of the big male stars will be interested in playing a supporting role. So as you said, it’ll be Irrfan into the breach once more, or perhaps Anil Kapoor. :)

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