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Bollywood’s foreign fan brigade

May 7, 2012   1 Comment  

by ASHWIN AHMAD

SRK in Berlin

Greta Kaemmer can really grill you. Hurling questions with rapid-fire velocity, Kaemmer, who is better known as Memsaab, astounds you with her encyclopedic knowledge of Indian cinema. Sample this: How were Mehmood and Meena Kumari related in real life? Don’t know. In which Hindi film do two actresses play the same character? Duh. And in which film does Shammi Kapoor do a nautch girl number? I’m logging off…

Memsaab is part of a growing group of foreigners who love Indian cinema as much as any Indian. Accomplished in ‘Hinglish’, these men and women are passionate about all things Bollywood. Take Maria, a German blogger and diehard fan of Shah Rukh Khan who was so upset with the lack of a German release for Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna in her country that she flew to New York to watch the film: First day, first show. Or Bastet, another German blogger who writes, “Being a Bollywood fan in Germany is not easy. We undertook a 200-km-long trip to Amsterdam (to see KANK). At that moment, we didn’t mind that the film was in Dutch and not in English subtitles.” [Read more →]

Melodrama of Melancholia

January 4, 2012   No Comments  

by Priyaa Ghosh

Freeze the time and slow down its passage, I am mourning my own death;  I am afraid to meet with the moment…cripplingly alone. This is what I took home from Melancholia,

I AM DEAD BY MOURNING IT.

From Terminator to Day after Tomorrow, Hollywood had already churned out a gamut of “end of the world” films playing out the threat of natural disasters and invasion of the aliens on our planet. Lars von Trier takes off from that legacy, but does he really propose a trajectory to the great threat to human existence, advancing the  American obsessive fear  of being wiped out, the fear of the limitations in putting things under control.  Perhaps for the film, the approach of the planet melancholia, only partly emanates from this discourse and the rest of the deeply entrenched nihilism emanates from a shadow of the self, looming large and threatening. It is  a disintegration of the Nietzschean figure of the all controlling superman.  Melancholia is in us, a part of us, which is sent to retreat in the unconscious depths of the mind, by the exuberance of an assurance of rationally generated happiness, wholesomeness and a well being predicated on visibility and control. The impossibility of sharing the suffering of death is the primary predicament which sows the seeds of futility and decay in the film. The impossibility of meaningful communication aggravates the suffering to a state of paranoia and neurosis. [Read more →]

Teen Behenein: A Response

November 5, 2011   7 Comments  

By The GigglingGirls

Does being astounded by the mediocrity and didacticism of a morally suffocating film on dowry deaths; mean that one is insensitive to the idea of women struggling against systems of power? Is there only one prescriptive way to respond to all films that speak of ‘social evils’?  Is there no space in political imagination where one can collide with narratives of violence against women?

Further, is there no conception of progressive politics where satire and laughter can function as modes of critique? Perhaps the only person in the Bombay film industry who was able to suggest irony and laughter as potent modes of critique was Kundan Shah whose dark comedy Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) remains something of a benchmark in social and political satire in Hindi films. It is therefore disappointing that he made a journey from the nuanced execution of a film like JBDY to an over-simplified film like Teen Behenein (2005).

While we were surprised by the scope of this film—which we will take up in a moment—what was more troubling was the response it generated. Teen Behenein seems to have become one in a long line of films that receive praise despite fatal flaws at nearly every level (script, dialogues, acting, direction) merely because it takes up a topical social issue. Not unlike the reviews of a prescriptive and ultimately badly made film like Taare Zameen Par (Khan 2007), some of the responses to Teen Behenein conflate the intention, the issue at hand and the final film product[1].  And any response that dares to criticize the film is quite easily branded unaware and insensitive. [Read more →]

Mildred Pierce: The (Re) Making of an “Event”

October 11, 2011   No Comments  

By Ramna Walia

The current economic recession in the United States of America and world over has led to a literary resurgence of an odd kind as the writings of economic theorist Karl Marx started selling in record numbers. Marx has now been accorded the status of the “comeback kid” of the present financial crisis.[1] Such spacio-temporal travels of past forms testify to the retrospective view of historical narration, one that is recounted through the gap between the moment of first encounter and the moment of recounting. Revivals, adaptations, and remakes have often been seen as cultural symptoms of this echo of history. Released among a web of inter-textual as well as inter-historical articulations, Todd Haynes’s multiple Emmy award winning mini-series Mildred Pierce (2011) strategically places itself along the nodes of a faithful adaptation of James M. Cain’s 1941 depression era novel and a reflective remake of Michael Curtiz’s inventive noir adaptation (1945) of the same.  Riding on the success and cultural memory of Curtiz’s film and socio-economic resonance of Cain’s novel, Haynes builds his version of Mildred Pierce as a mega television event which uses historical memory as a means to explore and expand generic possibilities of a remake, while simultaneously foregrounding its travels through the mediums of literature, cinema and television. [Read more →]

Review: Phas Gaye Re Obama

February 11, 2011   1 Comment  

by Neha Bhatt

There is so much to love about Phas Gaye Re Obama that it’s a wonder there was barely a whimper about it at any of the recent award ceremonies this season that claimed to have recognised and appreciated small films like Udaan, Peepli Live, Love, Sex aur Dhoka and Band Baja Barat. For, surely, a satire as subtlety crafted and clever as this deserves to be lauded?

Debutant director Subhash Kapoor engages us with characters that are so warm and impossibly sincere that you can’t help but root for them right from the start, even though they’re unashamedly on the wrong side of the law.  Wannabe goon Anni (a fantastic Manu Rishi, as always) who is earnestly taking English speaking classes with Obama ‘s ‘Yes we can’ on his lips desperately wants to migrate to’ Amreeka’. His guru, kidnapper chief Bhaisaab (Sanjai Misra) is so utterly bankrupt that the outgoing on his phone is [Read more →]

Taming by Nidal Aldibs

November 17, 2010   No Comments  

by Latika Padgaonkar

You leave the cinema hall slightly unsettled after viewing Nadal Al Dibs’ latest film Taming. Like having experienced the real and the unreal. The film had its world premiere at the recently concluded Abu Dhabi Film Festival as was part of the Narrative Competition. Set in Damascus to begin with, the film moves into the desert, and you begin to wonder whether the magic of the desert haunts the senses of the characters or the viewer or of both. [Read more →]

Interiorising Bangla cinema and its decline

November 7, 2010   No Comments  

by Suruchi Mazumdar

Uttam Kumar passed away thirteen days before I was born. For the uninitiated, he was the matinee idol of popular Bengali cinema of post-Independent era. As the news of the star actor’s untimely and sudden death spread, my heavily pregnant mother – nonchalantly risking my impending arrival and ignoring my helpless father’s vain objections – wobbled through a swelling and maddening crowd to catch a last glimpse of the hero of her youth and childhood. [Read more →]

DevD: Horny okay please

March 2, 2009   2 Comments  

“Love is not the greatest glue between two people in love. Sex is.” Tarun Tejpal says in his debut novel The Alchemy of Desire. Anurag Kashyap seems to agree. Kashyap’s DevD, a modern-day avatar of Saratchandra’s flawed but enduring Devdas, says at the end of the movie he never loved Paro. He hadn’t even seen her properly. It’s Dev’s moment of truth. Dev and Paro had never slept together, they made out yes, but never fucked. Was it then unfulfilled desire cut short by a conflict of egos masquerading as true love? Maybe. And therein lies the rub. DevD is not a film on love. [Read more →]

Slumdog Millionaire: Are you sure this is it?

January 29, 2009   7 Comments  

The Toast of TorontoSlumdog Millionaire, darling of the international festival circuit and on Tuesday nominated for ten Academy Awards, hit Indian shores this weekend. I watched it on a sold-out Friday night; the movie is packing shows deep into the week. I see that over at The Times of India, Nikhat Kazmi has pronounced Slumdog Millionaire “a piece of riveting cinema, meant to be savoured as a Cinderella-like fairy tale, with the edge of a thriller and the vision of an artist.” And here is Shubhra Gupta, writing for the Indian Express: “One look at Slumdog Millionaire and you know that its spirit and soul is flagrantly, proudly India: the Empire has been finally, overwhelmingly trounced.” Film criticism in the Indian press has been gone to the dogs for a while; it is now en route to the slumdogs. [Read more →]

Review: Dil Kabaddi

January 2, 2009   2 Comments  

dilkabaddi

Pic from Now Running

Guest Blogger: Abhimanyu Goel

Hindi cinema is generally considered lacking in nuance when dealing with the theme of infidelity and Anil Senior’s Dil Kabaddi is a fine example of this inability to deal with the issue in a sophisticated and subtle manner.

Irfann Khan, in an interview, stated the film is about the ‘kabaddi‘ that love makes an individual’s heart play. The game involves tagging an a player of the opposing team and returning to one’s playing side while avoiding being tackled by the opposing team. Completely lacking in irony, the film plays [Read more →]