Archive for Amitabh Bachchan

Qalandar on Freedom

Posted in the good with tags , , , , on January 9, 2013 by Qalandar

I was recently asked to write a piece for an online journal called Pratilipi. The issue’s theme was “freedom”, and writers were free to define that term any way they wanted to. My take is at the link below:


The Resented

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , on July 22, 2012 by Qalandar


I’m in a distinct minority among my friends and acquaintances in the esteem in which I hold Abhishek Bachchan. To me, he’s one of the few understated actors we have, tapping into some of his father’s brooding iconicity in his dramatic roles, and possessed of a comic mode that, at its best, combines deadpan delivery with a kind of earnestness, a special talent there aren’t very many roles for in the contemporary Hindi film industry. But most people I meet are far more derisive. It isn’t that they disagree with me, and believe that he is a mediocre or poor actor — that would be unexceptional. No, what is striking to me is the extent to which people will, even if they feel I’m overdoing it when it comes to Abhishek Bachchan, go further than simply saying that he isn’t a good actor, or that he has many flop films. I’ve heard him referred to as “lazy,” “dheela,” “pathetic,” “un-smart,” and even “disgusting,” “dirty,” a parasite off his wife’s celebrity, as the beneficiary of nepotism and connections a sign of everything that is wrong in India, and a source of embarrassment for his parents. Moreover, at least some of the people I’ve met who have expressed these opinions agree that he has performed very well in this or that film, which makes the intensity of the reactions somewhat curious. Continue reading

Qalandar Reviews BOL BACHCHAN (Hindi; 2012)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2012 by Qalandar


Ah, it could have been great: when was the last time (since Proust, anyway) that anyone had drawn the connection between a religious minority (Jews for Proust; Muslims in Bol Bachchan) and homosexuality? More specifically, the parallel between the way in which a kind of public effacement might be demanded of each: in the case of the minority, the pressure often felt is of a political effacement, in favor of the “deracinated” identity preferred by modern, liberal nation-states; with the homosexual, the effacement is of homosexuality itself, a sexual orientation that is itself experienced by the status quo as a kind of obscenity. What is revealed in both cases is the centrality of the lie to the reigning order; the lie so that everything may proceed. “Ee galiyan ka dharam alag hai,” begins Amitabh Bachchan’s own fairy-song in Mahaan (I am indebted to Satyam for tracing the genealogy between that song and Abhishek’s turn in Bol Bachchan), but the red-light area his character inhabits in the song, the distinction between “that world” and the “normal” one, sustains a whole social order.

Continue reading

The Foothpath and the Skyscraper: The Pleasures of Deewar (by VINAY LAL)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , on December 2, 2010 by Qalandar

The book releases in December — Qalandar


“Moving as he does between the extremes, from the village to a global trade in smuggled goods, from the uniform of a mere coolie at Bombay’s docks to tailored suits, we should not be surprised that Vijay [Amitabh Bachchan] teeters between the footpath and the skyscraper. Deewaar has justly been described as a film that gives vent to the explosive anger of discontented young urban India, as well as a film that, while exploring, partly through tacit invocations to the rich mythic material found in the Mahabharata, the inexhaustible theme of fraternal conflict, provides an allegorical treatment of the eternal struggle between good and evil within oneself.”

“Compelling as are such readings, I would nevertheless suggest that Deewaar also puts on offer the dialectic of the footpath and the skyscraper Continue reading

On the Trail of Mani (Baradwaj Rangan on PAA)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by Qalandar

[Thanks to mansi!]


“‘EVER SINCE R BALKI BEGAN TO CROW about his stunt casting – father becoming son, son becoming father – I’ve harboured apprehensions about Paa, and the self-congratulatory trailers didn’t exactly help. From Amitabh Bachchan’s creepy-crawly laugh (after he announces the film’s title, or calls out to his paa, or perhaps both) to the supposedly life-affirming, heart-warming, throat-lump-inducing “monkey dance,” everything pointed towards syrupy disaster. . . . The major miracle of Paa is that this concern is rendered blithely redundant. It appeared, at first, just another cutesy gimmick that the promos proclaimed “introducing Amitabh Bachchan” – but sometimes, it seems, there is truth in advertising. Continue reading