Archive for qalandar

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

The Universalist (NYT Mag Profile of Asghar Farhadi)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2019 by Qalandar

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Asghar Farhadi, the most successful director in the history of Iranian cinema, may have little interest in global politics, but global politics are interested in him. On Jan. 27, 2017, less than a week after “The Salesman,” Farhadi’s seventh feature film, was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign-language movie, President Trump signed Executive Order 13769, more commonly known as the Muslim ban. Under its terms, citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, Iran among them, were barred from entering the United States for 90 days — apparently the time it would take the new president to figure out “what the hell is going on.” For Farhadi, a connoisseur of human particularity whose nuanced, open-ended films about the cultural fault lines within Iran have been embraced by audiences around the world, Trump’s order was an offense both moral and intellectual. Continue reading

What the Movies Taught Me About Being a Woman (Manohla Dargis in the NYT)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , on December 1, 2018 by Qalandar

“I was a movie-struck kid, and I learned much from watching the screen, including things about men and women that I later had to unlearn or learn to ignore. I learned that women needed to be protected, controlled and left at home. I learned that men led, women followed. And so, although I loved Fred Astaire, I merely liked his greatest dance partner, Ginger Rogers. I was charmed by her sly smile and dazzled by the curve of her waist as she bent in his embrace. But I saw her as a woman in the great man’s arms, a message I didn’t learn just from films. … In the wake of Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo, I have been thinking a lot about what movies have asked me to dream, including the image of the forced kiss and all that it signifies about women and film. I’ve been thinking about what else I learned from them.”

 

Read the complete piece (embedded clips et al) HERE

Nicole Kidman Married Tom Cruise for Love — and Got Protection

Posted in the good with tags , , , , on October 18, 2018 by Qalandar

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Excerpt: “…That said, I got married very young, but it definitely wasn’t power for me — it was protection. I married for love, but being married to an extremely powerful man kept me from being sexually harassed. I would work, but I was still very much cocooned. So when I came out of it at 32, 33, it’s almost like I had to grow up.

Of course I’ve had #MeToo moments — since I was little! But do I want to expose them in an article? No. Do they come out in my work? Absolutely. I’m open and raw. I want to have my well of experience and emotion tapped into, used — and I’m not just talking about sexual harassment. I’m talking about loss, death, the full array of life. But it has to be by the right people so it’s not abused again. I’m making a movie with Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie about Roger Ailes. [Kidman is playing Gretchen Carlson.]” Continue reading

Aravindha Sametha trailers (updated)

Posted in the bad with tags , , , , on October 2, 2018 by Qalandar

thanks to Sanjana…

Continue reading

Bollywood Connection in Trump Hacking Story (NY TIMES)

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , on September 21, 2018 by Qalandar

Excerpt: “At least 19 of the hackers’ targets were senior officials or prominent citizens of the U.A.E., including diplomats whose emails have previously been leaked to the public. At least 15 of the targets are senior officials or diplomats from Egypt, a close ally of the U.A.E. and a foe of Qatar. Among the Egyptian targets was Gen. Abbas Kamel, now the director of the Egyptian Intelligence Service and previously the chief of staff to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. … The Bollywood targets — including the stars Aishwarya Devan, Anushka Sharma, Meghanna Raj and Nikki Galrani — suggest the hackers may have been fans, the lawyers said. “My guess is this was a frolic of the hackers,” Mr. Wolosky said.””

Read complete article 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

A noir indie film set in Meghalaya (Indian Express)

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2018 by Qalandar

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Everything about Wanphrang K Diengdoh’s latest film, from the locales (the rain-washed Northeastern hill station of Shillong) to the music (“street”) to the protagonist (an out-of-work-detective trying to track down ‘stolen objects’) to the language (a blend of English, Hindi but also, Khasi), screams exotic. Add Adil Hussain into the fray, and the enigma is undeniable. However, for 33-year-old Diengdoh, Lorni — The Flaneur, set to be released at the end of the year, strictly stays away from “romanticising, exoticising and creating a spectacle out of the area/people.” And there are multiple ways how.

Read the complete article HERE

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

My Requiem for Test Cricket

Posted in Refugee, the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2018 by Qalandar

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It’s best to begin with a series that isn’t taking place right now, and on a note you’ve heard before: a few months ago, Australia canceled a home test series against Bangladesh  on the grounds that it wasn’t “commercially viable” out of season.  (The ACB’s logic is nothing if not circular, since the country isn’t exactly falling over itself to host Bangladesh during the regular cricket season either; Australia has company, of course: India and England, to name the two other wealthiest cricket boards, barely host tests against Bangladesh either.)  Coming on the heels of England’s recent announcement of a 100-ball format, Australia’s undisguised cynicism is merely the latest reminder that international cricket boards are doing their best to hasten the demise of test cricket: the newest entrants, Afghanistan and Ireland, cannot count on more than occasional one-off tests for the foreseeable future, irrespective of how many spirited performances they might put up (indeed, Ireland pushed Pakistan far more than England did in the recent Lords test between the two countries). In fact, the extent to which test series today do not account for the quality of the match-ups is striking…

Read the complete piece HERE

How Superheroes Made Movie Stars Expendable (New Yorker, May 28, 2018)

Posted in Refugee, the good with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2018 by Qalandar

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[A thought-provoking and informative piece (with far broader implications than its title might suggest), that ties into several themes that have been the subject of discussion on this site over the years — Qalandar]

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Excerpts: “…When movies were mostly one-offs—and not spinoffs, sequels, reboots, or remakes—they had to be good. A little blunt, too, maybe. Conjuring a universe out of nothing, bringing it to crisis and back again, all in under two hours, required, if nothing else, craftsmanship on a level admired even by European snobs. Continue reading

Mammootty to Star in Bio-Pic on YSR

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2018 by Qalandar

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“In the upcoming biopic Yatra, Mollywood superstar Mammootty will be playing the role of the politician YS Rajasekara Reddy. A teaser from the film was released to celebrate the birth anniversary of YSR which falls on Sunday. Dressed in trademark politician white clothes, Mammootty makes a striking entry as the late Chief Minister.”

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Veere di Wedding trailers (updated)

Posted in the bad with tags , , , , , , on May 28, 2018 by Qalandar

thanks to Sanjana…


Continue reading

Qalandar on MAHESHENTHE PRATHIKAARAM (Malayalam; 2016)

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

EXCERPT: “The charms of Maheshenthe Prathikaaram, Dileesh Pothan’s 2016 directorial debut, cannot be reduced to its plot, fresh though this is: the tale of everyman Mahesh Bhavana (Fahadh Faasil), worried about his father’s advancing age, passed over by the woman he has long loved in favor of a groom with better prospects, publicly humiliated in an un-related village brawl, and Mahesh’s vow to forego slippers until he has avenged his insult, never lost my interest as it wended its way through the contours of its lead protagonist’s life, and on to a resolution. More importantly, the plot never becomes farcical, not even that last bit about Mahesh’s vow: in the context of the film, it seems quite organic, the self-inflicted wound of a modest man at the end of his tether.

Pothan intuitively grasps that for contemporary Malayalam cinema to thrive, it must be …”

Complete review HERE

Park Chan-Wook — NYT Profile (Oct. 21, 2017)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2017 by Qalandar

EXCERPT: “He recalls a James Bond film he saw in the theater as a boy — he doesn’t remember which one, but it excited him so much, he began imagining his own Bond films. But not just the stories: He saw them in his head, shot for shot, thinking of how lighting, angles and editing told stories, and he began formulating his own. When I asked him if he felt anything was lost in translation, he shook his head. “I still understood them,” he said. “When I finally watched some of them again, with subtitles, I knew I had understood the faces, the things they did.” He credits this kind of watching — only being able to grasp expressions and actions, not language — for developing his sense of visual storytelling. There is a well-known anecdote of how Park was inspired to become a film director after seeing Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” in college, and this is true, but he was already thinking like a director long before that, thinking of how to tell stories on film — image by image, face by face, not outside of language, but with more than language”

Read the complete article HERE.

Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories (New Yorker)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , on October 10, 2017 by Qalandar

It’s hard to believe that this sort of conduct could remain out of the public eye for this long if it weren’t part of a wider problem in the industry, and the forms of exploitation that we all know have formed part and parcel of the film industries all over the world.  Even as we digest the allegations against Weinstein, we would do well to remember that this offers a glimpse into the system, and should not interpret this simply as an aberration — Qalandar

Excerpt: “…For more than twenty years, Weinstein has also been trailed by rumors of sexual harassment and assault. This has been an open secret to many in Hollywood and beyond, but previous attempts by many publications, including The New Yorker, to investigate and publish the story over the years fell short of the demands of journalistic evidence. Too few people were willing to speak, much less allow a reporter to use their names, and Weinstein and his associates used nondisclosure agreements, monetary payoffs, and legal threats to suppress these myriad stories. Asia Argento, an Italian film actress and director, told me that she did not speak out until now––Weinstein, she told me, forcibly performed oral sex on her—because she feared that Weinstein would “crush” her. “I know he has crushed a lot of people before,” Argento said. “That’s why this story—in my case, it’s twenty years old, some of them are older—has never come out.””

Read the complete article HERE

Kumail Nanjiani in The New Yorker

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , , , on July 25, 2017 by Qalandar

I found “The Big Sick” enjoyable, but also overrated (and its portrayals of desi women were, in particular, quite problematic) — the New Yorker recently ran a profile of the lead, Kumail Nanjiani.  Qalandar

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Excerpt: “In 2009, on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” the comedian Kumail Nanjiani walked onstage, wearing a boxy black suit and a cordless mike, to do a standup set. The band played a few bars of “Born in the U.S.A.,” an allusion, presumably, to the fact that he wasn’t. The first anecdote of Nanjiani’s set fell flat. He stood stiffly, swallowing hard, his hands clasped tightly in front of his chest. Then he told a joke about theme-park attractions with excessively convoluted backstories. “It’s like a story line to a porn movie,” he said. “I really don’t care what all your professions are. I’m just here for the ride.” It wasn’t the cleverest punch line in Nanjiani’s act, but it received a big laugh and a ten-second applause break. He exhaled audibly, relaxing his hands. His next bit was about the Cyclone, the rickety roller coaster on Coney Island. “The Cyclone was made in the year 1927! Let that sink in. They should change the name of that ride to 1927, ’cause that fact is way scarier than any cyclone,” he said. “And the whole thing is made of wood . . . you know, that indestructible substance that NASA uses for its space shuttles.” The bit could have been delivered in the nineteen-sixties, by Woody Allen or Mort Sahl, with one exception: Nanjiani said the ride was “the scariest experience of my life—and I grew up in Pakistan.””

Scroll on Censor Chief Pahlaj Nihalani

Posted in the good with tags , , on July 25, 2017 by Qalandar

Central Board of Film Certification chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani has issued his latest and by no means his final directive: actors can henceforth not drink or smoke on the screen. This is only the latest in a long line of diktats conjured up by the producer and distributor to purify Indian cinema for the sake of national interest.

He became the board’s chairperson on January 19, 2015, reportedly as a reward for having directed the Har Har Modi video ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Soon after taking over the censor board from Leela Samson, Nihalani made his political leanings clear when he told NDTV that he is proud to be a “BJP person” and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is his “action hero.”

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