Archive for Bollywood

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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LINK

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

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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

Continue reading