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Ranting about Bollywood

There are two somewhat disturbing things I heard with reference to Bollywood recently. And since I am not one to wallow in sorrow alone, I’m spreading it to others as well!

The first is about the Toronto International Film Festival, (which I just heard is “the world’s premier film festival”), and its plans to include more and more of Bollywood in their schedule. Now, I am not against inclusion of Indian cinema in international festivals, but the point of dismay is what they want to include. This year, apart from whatever it is that Nandita Das seems to have made, there will be Anees Bazmi’s Singh is Kinng in the Toronto Film Festival. I accept all criticism that labels me a snob, but I shudder with horror and shame that that was what they deemed fit for an international film festival. I haven’t dared to watch the film, but word is out that in spite of hoards going to watch it, it is a film that not only reinstates illiterate stereotypes, but also indulges in the worst kind of humour – very laughter challenge inspired!!And that I can vouch for because I did catch some promos.

Any development made in popular Hindi cinema has thereby been ignored and worse still, negated, as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Great work!!

For more on the enlightened festival director, go to

http://movies.ndtv.com/newstory.asp?section=Movies&id=ENTEN20080063649

Now, for worse news. No analysis, just information – the very talented Bollywood director, Priyadarshan, who not only has great films like No Entry to his credit, but also a whole host of plagiarism charges to his worthy name, has decided that he is great enough to remake Majid Majidi’s masterpiece, Children of Heaven. Needless to say, he has roped in the child most in demand right now, Darsheel Safary of Taare Zameen Par fame. Here we go again, not being able to think of a decent original idea, and hell-bent on ruining everything worth anything.

4 comments

1 Keith Brown { 09.02.08 at 1:45 am }

I guess this goes against the received wisdom on the growing popularity of Bollywood films!

2 Kishore Budha { 09.02.08 at 1:55 am }

Keith: Yes. With the massive support of economic bodies such as FICCI and a fairly strong contribution by Bollywood films into the film economies of Canada and UK, I guess this is a way of sucking up to Bollywood.

Though Kuhu sounds like a modernist, by not valorising the “hybrid” nature of the native culture, she is taking a risk here indeed. Bollywood filmmakers are known to plagiarise entire films including plotlines and shots. There is no attempt at adapting the story to India.

Despite claims made by filmmakers and over-enthusiastic nationalists, the bigger picture in Bollywood is bleak indeed. It is highly doubtful Bollywood films will travel outside the diasporic spaces and the odd explorers.

3 Kuhu Tanvir { 09.02.08 at 8:27 am }

Well, the popularity of Indian films is going nowhere and is in fact multiplying by the second. And that’s great. But quality control is an issue, as is the age-old question, who decides what is good quality. But there has to be way to sieve out what should represent our cinema at international forums.
By the way Kishore, why modernist?

4 Kishore Budha { 09.03.08 at 12:50 am }

Kuhu: Looking back at what I typed, doesn’t make sense. Blame my lack of sleep. (I think) I was trying to argue that you seek modernisation of cinema. Not stylistic or aesthetic modernity but having some level of intellectual, political, and aesthetic modernity. Something that challenges our minds rather. Singh lacks sophisticated at all levels.

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