Archive for Bollywood

Cobrapost’s Operation Karaoke

Posted in the ugly with tags , , , , , , on February 22, 2019 by Qalandar

On a lighter note, one of the more striking aspects about this affair for me was that anyone is willing to pay for these folks’ opinions!  🙂  – qalandar

“In an investigation, Cobrapost exposes three dozen Bollywood celebrities who are ready to promote a political party by posting favourable messages on their social media accounts to help create a buzz in the run-up to 2019 elections, all for money. Among these celebs are directors, actors, singers, stand-up comedians and dancers: Noted playback singers, Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Kailash Kher, Mika Singh and Baba Sehgal; actors Jackie Shroff, Shakti Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi, Sonu Sood, Amisha Patel, Mahima Chaudhry, Shreyas Talpade, Puneet Issar, Surendra Pal, Pankaj Dheer and his son Nikitin Dheer, Tisca Chopra, Deepshikha Nagpal, Akhilendra Mishra, Rohit Roy, Rahul Bhat, Salim Zaidi, Rakhi Sawant, Aman Verma, Hiten Tejwani and spouse Gauri Pradhan, Evelyn Sharma, Minissha Lamba, Koena Mitra, Poonam Pandey, Sunny Leonne; comedians Raju Srivastava, Sunil Pal, Rajpal Yadav, Upasana Singh, Krushna Abhishek and Vijay Ishwarlal Pawar; and choreographer Ganesh Acharya and dancer Sambhavana Seth. This is almost who’s who of the entertainment industry, both film and TV.

While we saw all these celebs succumbing to the lure of money and agreeing to indulge in this unethical and unlawful practice, there were some notable exceptions, though. When we approached Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi, Raza Murad and Saumya Tandon with our proposition, these celebs chose to go by their conscience and straightaway refused to play ball.”

Read the complete piece HERE

Qalandar Reviews MANMARZIYAN (Hindi; 2018)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2018 by Qalandar

This review contains spoilers.

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Manmarziyan opens with a shot of the Golden Temple, the sort of thing that in recent times has been one of the lazier clichés in Hindi cinema: if Sikhs are involved (and sometimes even when they aren’t), Amritsar’s sacred shrine is a given.  However, the vantage point here is a bit different, enabling the viewer to take in not only the iconic building, but also an incongruous neon sign perched on top.  One is almost tempted to say it doesn’t belong, except that in India, it sort of does.

That opening shot, if re-visited after the end credits have rolled, tells you a lot about director Anurag Kashyap’s aims in taking up one of the most hackneyed Bolly-genres of all – The Love Triangle – and in trying to give it his own twist.  That is, Kashyap scrupulously adheres to the genre’s conventions in several respects Continue reading

How Pa Ranjith’s Kaala changes the way we imagine the city (THE CARAVAN)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2018 by Qalandar

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Sadly, I still haven’t seen Kaala but it is definitely on the list!  — qalandar

Excerpt: “Across India, the dominant story of any megacity is untouched by the stories of the marginalised communities that live there. You could be a Pardhi tribal living in and around the same street corner in Mumbai for the last three generations, but your story would always be of the “migrant in the city” or “the homeless in the city”; it would never be the story of the city. This is precisely what makes the Tamil film-director Pa Ranjith’s films path-breaking. When Ranjith tells the stories of Vyasarpadi or Dharavi—auto-constructed neighbourhoods laden with histories of oppressed castes—he is insisting they are the stories of Chennai and Mumbai. Drawing from legendary anti-caste thinkers, Ranjith is moving us towards a greater understanding of a new third-world urbanism.

Ranjith’s first film to buck the trend in urban portrayals was 2014’s Madras, a film about a rivalry between two political parties in Vyasarpadi. …  In this, Ranjith’s ancestor seems to be the American writer James Baldwin, who wrote in his Notes of a Native Son: “The story of the Negro in America is the story of America. Kaala does for Mumbai what Madras did for Chennai. Ranjith gives us a quintessential Mumbai film, except through the eyes of a lower-caste Tamil basti in Dharavi fighting to keep its land, which is under the threat of seizure from a politician. …”

Read the complete piece HERE

Qalandar Reviews PHILLAURI (Hindi; 2017)

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2017 by Qalandar

There is a certain magic to Phillauri, Anshai Lal’s directorial debut for actress-producer Anushka Sharma, and it isn’t because of the supernatural element (Sharma plays Shashi, the ghost of a woman from 1919 who haunts nervous Kanan (Suraj Sharma), on the verge of his wedding to Anu (Mehreen Peerzada) a century later in the same village).  It’s because the old-fashioned virtues of focused storytelling, memorable characterization, strong casting, and above all fresh dialogues and lyrics by Anvita Dutt, elevate what could so easily have been the hackneyed Punjabi love story of Shashi and Roop Lal (Diljit Dosanjh), making of it a story about two individuals, not mere instances of the Bollywood hero and heroine, and in a particular time and place, the Jalandhar village of Phillauri on the verge of the Indian national movement.

Unusually for Hindi films, both members of the pair (not just the male half) are imbued with strong personalities, and this isn’t accidental.  A gentle current of feminism runs through the film, brought to mind by an initial effacement: Continue reading

Why I Have Nothing to Say on Dangal

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2017 by Qalandar

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I more than enjoyed Dangal: it was fantastically well-made, uniformly well-acted, and pulled off the difficult feat of making wrestling interesting, even deeply engrossing – that’s creditable, when you consider that most sports movies rely on the built-in appeal of sports that are already popular, with great cultural resonance. Heck, to even make a sports film – i.e. a film in one of the most hackneyed genres – half decent, let alone excellent, is pretty darn impressive.

And yet, when I (more than once, and over a period of a few months) sat down to write a review of Dangal, I found I had nothing to say. Which might make this piece nothing more than a narcissistic exercise in my writer’s block, but I’d like to believe there’s more going on here. The “nothing” is symptomatic of a wider issue, namely that Dangal is a very impressive film – just not a very interesting one. Continue reading

How Bollywood Shuts Out the Poor (The Caravan, July 2016)

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , , , , on October 26, 2016 by Qalandar


Junior artistes, formerly known as “extras,” occupy the lowest rung on the Bollywood-actor ladder. They appear in the background—in scenes shot in railway stations, busy streets, bus stops; they are a villain’s henchmen, soldiers in a hero’s army, or corpses inside a morgue.

EXCERPT: “The geography of Bollywood stardom corresponds pretty much exactly with Mumbai’s geography of wealth.”

Read the complete article HERE

the BOmbay report (2016): 15th Jan–21st Jan

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2016 by abzee

It is week 3 of a Box-Office experiment that attempts to understand Box-Office beyond the numbers, and hopes to arrive at the less tangible, but perhaps more genuine, indicator of how well-liked and well-received any film is/was.

We will be taking into account all the screens in the Mumbai region, inclusive of Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan-Dombivali as well. The films will be assigned points based on an algorithm that takes into account parameters such as- a) how many screens did the film open on; b) the capacities of these screens; c) the occupancy in comparison to the capacity; d) daily sustenance/growth/drop in the occupancy; e) change in the number of screens in successive weeks; f) change in capacities; g) occupancy in relation to changed number of days and screens; h) occupancy in relation to newer and existing releases; and so on.

These points, the Audience Interest Index (AII), encapsulate buzz, desire to watch translating to actual occupancy and finally acceptability… and that most prestigious of all goals- trending.

 

Top Ten Films In Mumbai (15th January 2016 – 21st January 2016) 

A staggering 28 films released in Mumbai this week, of which those in the Marathi language numbered the most with 5 releases, while there were 4 releases each in English, Hindi and Tamil. Of the English releases, The Hateful Eight also released on IMAX screens. Wazir, which had released last week, also expanded to IMAX in its second week. Bhojpuri and Telugu had 3 releases a piece.

With 13 films ending their run, the total number of films playing at the cinemas this week was 44! If you count Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge which resumed screening at Maratha Mandir this week, that number is 45.

More films did not mean more viewers however. The overall AII for this week is 89.69 compared to last week’s 133.62, a drop of 32.87%. With lesser viewers and an incredible amount of new releases, Wazir still remained the number one choice, even if the number was low. In fact many films operated in the middle range this week, so much so that this week’s 15th ranked film has earned twice as many AII points than last week’s number 10 film.

Honourable mentions then to the Tamil film Rajini Murugan and the Telugu release Nannaku Prematho as both put up impressive AII numbers despite not making it to the top ten.

Rajini Murugan performed the best of all the Tamil releases with 105 AII points, while the Telugu language Nannaku Prematho did even better with 119 AII points. Continue reading

the BOmbay report (2016): 08th Jan-14th Jan

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2016 by abzee

Week 2 then, of a Box-Office experiment that attempts to understand Box-Office beyond just the numbers; and hopes to arrive at the less tangible, but perhaps more genuine, indicator of how well-liked and well-received any film is/was.

We are starting only with Mumbai for now. We will be taking into account all the screens in the Mumbai region; that is inclusive of Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan-Dombivali even.

The films will be assigned points based on an algorithm that takes into account parameters such as- a) how many screens did the film open on; b) the capacities of these screens; c) the occupancy in comparison to the capacity; d) daily sustenance/growth/drop in the occupancy; e) change in the number of screens in successive weeks; f) change in capacities; g) occupancy in relation to changed number of days and screens; h) occupancy in relation to newer and existing releases; and so on.

These points, the Audience Interest Index (AII), hope to be an all-encompassing indicator  of buzz, desire to watch translating to actual occupancy and finally acceptability… and that most prestigious of all goals- trending. As this is a new experiment, we may get a true picture only as we go along.

 

Top Ten Films In Mumbai (08th January 2016 – 14th January 2016)

10) CHAURANGA (Hindi)

  • New Release
  • AII Points- 45

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the BOmbay report (2016): 01st Jan-07th Jan

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2016 by abzee

I’ve admittedly never been a Box Office kind of guy. While I’ve enjoyed the spirited Box Office debates and arguments looking from the outside in, rarely have I engaged with it as passionately as many members whom I admire and loathe do. Anyway, the idea for this weekly post (at least that’s the plan for now) came by way of a rather random exchange that I had with one of the esteemed members of this blog- Qalandar, an individual I am proud to have as a friend as well.

During his visit to my place during the Ganesh festival in September this past year; we were talking about Bahubali, and he casually remarked how he would like to see it on the big screen again. And I, just as casually, remarked that it was still playing at few cinemas, a long run at the cinemas which he was pleasantly surprised to learn of. That conversation stayed with me. Box Office figures tell you about opening days, first weekends, weekly nett and grosses and so on. But surely, the perception of a film and its acceptance cannot be arrived at only by how much it has made. Yes, the numbers matter… but there must be a meter to gauge a film’s continued ability to attract moviegoers and keep a steady flow coming in of those wanting to see it. In these times when new releases eat up all screen space, if a liked film from the previous weeks has come down to but a few screens, it will naturally have a ceiling on how much it can make with those amount of screens. But if it sustains those screens, and keeps churning out the numbers on the lower end consistently… surely that is a phenomenon in itself that cannot be ignored.

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Qalandar on BAJIRAO MASTANI (Hindi; 2015)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2015 by Qalandar

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There are really two films in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani: Continue reading

NYT: ‘Masaan’ and Other Indian Films Steer Away From Bollywood Escapism

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2015 by Qalandar

Not a huge fan of this sort of piece, with its neat (perhaps even imaginary) “before/after” dichotomy, and its lack of any nuance in writing about popular cinema (not to mention the pretty explicit, and inaccurate, classist assumption that the upwardly mobile are leading this revolution; or the notion that being “in tune with the movements and language of global cinema” is the only respectable way — that way lies the illusion that we are telling new stories, about different people, but unfortunately the stories are increasingly being told in the same way the world over), but hey, can’t NOT post this 🙂  — Qalandar

EXCERPT: “At the Cannes Film Festival this year, “Masaan” won the Fipresci Prize, awarded by international critics, and the Promising Future Prize in the Un Certain Regard section, becoming the first Indian movie to receive two awards at Cannes since the Oscar-nominated “Salaam Bombay” in 1988. “Masaan” is the surest sign yet that a fresh crop of filmmakers is ushering Indian movies in a new direction in tune with the movements and language of global cinema.”

Read the complete piece HERE.

Irrfan & AIB Destroy B’Wood Party Songs…Forever

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , , , on August 4, 2015 by Qalandar

[Agyaat, you made my day.  “Kyunki, yeh gaana hai / censors will let it go” — Qalandar]

 

Qalandar Reviews BAAHUBALI (Telugu/Tamil; Hindi (dubbed); 2015)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2015 by Qalandar

EXCERPT: “What makes Baahubali striking is precisely this “world-making”, director S.S. Rajamouli’s ability to imagine the particulars of every scene to such a degree that this make-believe world becomes real for the audience, even plausible.  Plenty of other filmmakers can focus on the battle scenes and grand sets, but absent this eye for the little, it can all seem a bit lifeless … In Baahubali, this eye is seen everywhere: think of the bales of straw the castle’s defenders use to try and prevent Sivudu from riding out of Mahishmati’s capital on a chariot; or of the hollow (wooden?) tube the hero uses to hold the green snake he’s going to release on Avantika while she’s taking aim atop a tree … or the way in which Mahishmati’s rulers discuss the battle plan in the film’s second half.  At every step, Rajamouli and writer Vijayendra Prasad seem to have thought long and hard about how such a world might work if it existed — and because they have done so, that world comes alive for us.  Compared to Baahubali, even the best of Bollywood’s grand fables –think Lagaan — seem airbrushed, most historicals superficial in the face of its thoroughness — Jodha-Akbar comes to mind, or Asoka — and the less said about wannabe fantasies (like Krrish) the better.  In this it is inspired by the best of contemporary American TV (and, much like Game of Thrones, ends with a sensational cliffhanger). Walking out of the cinema after the film I had a stupid grin on my face, the sort that meant: This too is possible.”

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Qalandar on BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN (Hindi; 2015)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2015 by Qalandar


Excerpt: “Everyone deserves a second chance, and in retrospect, Ek Tha Tiger was the appetizer to the main course that is Bajrangi Bhaijaan: and a damn good meal it is (and, it must be noted, one not without some Andhra spice, written as it is by K. Vijayendra Prasad, a man credited with more blockbusters – including the continuing phenomenon of Baahubali — than most have hits). By now everyone knows the plot — good-hearted Hanuman bhakt Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi finds a mute Pakistani girl lost in India, and resolves to cross the border to re-unite her with her family — but let’s pause to acknowledge that this itself is a welcome relief from the nauseating flood of routine love stories packaged as something different; or the clothes, fashion, and lifestyle ads that masquerade as films in Bollywood. And then there is the question of the social milieu the film is set in: I found myself rooting for the fact that this film isn’t populated by people toting D&G and acting as if progressive cinema consisted of ripping off off-beat American filmmakers, rather than plagiarizing other sources. In Bajrangi Bhaijaan, people take the bus, eat at dhabas, drink tea from roadside stalls, not because the director is trying to tell us something (in far too many contemporary Hindi films, these representations would mean either that we are talking about the hinterlands of UP and Bihar, with crazy violence sure to follow; or that it’s a question of a film about some “them”, made for some “us” that is assuredly not “them”), but because that’s simply where his characters live and how they commute to work. It’s delightful because it’s so normal. (That I have to make this point at all testifies to the sad pass the industry has come to.)” Continue reading

Walking Manto’s Bombay

Posted in Refugee, the good with tags , , , , , , , on May 13, 2015 by Qalandar

Related post HERE.

Excerpt: “This spring I went on a journey in search of Manto’s city with the journalist Rafique Baghdadi, flaneur par excellence of Bombay. Rafique himself could have stepped out of one of Manto’s tales. He lives in a tiny single room near Mazagon docks, surrounded by canyon walls of books stacked floor to ceiling. A narrow passage of floor leads to a table and chair by the window. Rafique not only has an encyclopedic knowledge of Bombay and its history, he has also walked all of its streets. He seems to know every shopkeeper in every quarter of the city, and he is steeped in the world of cinema.”

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Interview with NH-10’s Navdeep Singh

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2015 by Qalandar

Thanks to agyaat for pointing me to this interview — love Nh-10 or hate it, Navdeep Singh’s passion and bitterness does shine through here. The bit about the censor board’s elitism, determined to protect “the masses” from thinking for itself, convinced that only “educated” folk can be trusted with representations of violence, is not only absurd but ironic for those of us who have seen NH-10, given the mess the “educated” Arjun lands the leading couple in. — Qalandar

EXCERPT: “You had to fight with the Censor Board to get the film released. What were you told to cut?
Words like randi, saali, kutti were cut. We were allowed to show the word “randi” scribbled on the wall, but nobody could speak it. We were told to tone down the fights in the honour killing scene and when Meera (Sharma) gets beaten up in the sarpanch’s house. The second time when Meera sees the word “randi” written on the wall after her husband dies, we were asked to cut the shot from six seconds to three seconds. I asked the board members why we had to cut it the second time when it was allowed the first time in the bathroom scene, and the answer was that the first time she erases it. That’s so arbitrary! But the first time we went for the censor certificate, half the members wanted to ban the film.

Read the complete interview HERE

Manto on Ashok Kumar (OPEN Magazine, Oct. 20-26, 2011)

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , on October 29, 2011 by Qalandar

[This is a must-read for all those interested in, not just Hindi cinema, but Indian popular culture: an essay by arguably the most lauded (in our day; in his, the most controversial) Urdu prose writer of the twentieth century) on the first male numero uno of the Hindi industry. The reference to the “village” of Malad (now, very much one of Bombay’s mall-istans) is itself tremendously evocative. — Qalandar]

When Najmul Hasan ran off with Devika Rani, all of Bombay Talkies was in turmoil. The film they were making had gone on the floor and some scenes had already been shot. However, Najmul Hasan had decided to pull the leading lady out of the celluloid world into the real one. The worst affected and the most worried man at Bombay Talkies was Himanshu Rai, Devika Rani’s husband and the heart and soul of the company.

S Mukherjee, Ashok Kumar’s brother-in-law, who was to make several hit movies in the years to come, was at that time sound engineer Savak Vacha’s assistant. Continue reading

The Pornography of Violence (Abzee’s Review of RAKHT CHARITRA – 1)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2010 by Qalandar


Dir- Ram Gopal Varma
Cast- Vivek Oberoi, Abhimanyu Singh, Shatrughan Sinha, Radhika Apte, Zarina Wahab, Ashwini Kalsekar, Kota Srinivasa Rao and others
Rating- **

‘Rakht astra, rakht shastra, rakht shatru, rakht charitra’ blare the lyrics in the background as multiple men and women get killed in Ram Gopal Varma’s first installment of Rakht Charitra. The lines, aided by typically loud and harsh background score that you’ve come to expect from RGV’s films, do more than just underline the blood-curdling bloody gore being played out on the screen. It points to a sad but natural culmination of a filmmaker who once pioneered the shift from sappy romances and profligate wedding videos in the name of cinema to raw stories told detachedly but with great technical aplomb. Rakht Charitra is RGV’s most violent film to date yes… but it is more problematically a window into his mind. And going by what’s on display, he needs to be checked into an asylum without more ado!
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