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Themes dominating Indian Films

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Unbelievable but true - Indian filmmakers, criticized for promoting ills like smoking and violence through their films, actually churn out more movies endorsing social and family values than other genres. Of the 1,146 movies made last year, a whopping 870 were ’social movies’ - meaning basically clean fare meant for family viewing.

All might not have taken up burning social issues, but by definition of the genre, they have inscribed traditional Indian values.

Overzealous social activists may see many evils in Bollywood films, but according to the information and broadcasting ministry’s own admission based on the movies certified by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Mumbai’s tinsel town makes the highest number of social genre films.Taare Zameen Par

Almost half its total annual production is directed towards the family audience - movies that can be watched by all, irrespective of age and gender. Such films produced last year include ‘Ta Ra Rum Pum’, ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and ‘Namastey London’ - all telling different stories but meant for family screening.

Tara Rum PumDespite an increasing young movie-going population, family audiences still constitute 60 percent of India’s cine-goers. Keeping this in mind, most filmmakers consciously attempt to cater to family tastes with varying degrees of success.

“When we make films, we borrow heavily from society. The fabric of Indian society is so closely structured that everything one does makes an immediate impact on the other,”Namastey London says actor-director Anant Mahadevan.

“The films only reflect the interplay of emotions the impact brings forth. Even if I make a suspense film, there is bound to be some reflection of society. So you can’t see a suspense film, an action film or a thriller in isolation,” Mahadevan, who directed films like ‘Dil Vil Pyar Vyar’ and ‘Dil Maange More’, said.

The CBFC certified a total of 3,700 movies for screening in India last year. Apart from the 1,146 feature-length Indian movies, it cleared 361 foreign features, 313 foreign short films and 1,873 short ones from India.

Interestingly, as many as 2,575 received the ‘U’ certificate while only 663 got ‘UA’ and 462 were categorized as ‘A’ films.

Among the Indian movies, the CBFC accorded ‘U’ certificate to 629 movies, ‘UA’ to 310 and ‘A’ to 207.

However, producer Pahlaj Nihalani says that the definition of social films has changed over the years.

“There will be few takers today if we make the kind of social films our predecessors made in the 196os. In these days of stiff competition, we will have to go by the market trend. Even when making a family drama, some amount of masala needs to be added to make the film audience-friendly,” he said.

Mahadevan echoed his views. “The films we make today look different from those in the past because our social values are changing.”

According to information and broadcasting ministry report, India made only 64 movies based on crime last year and only 44 were action flicks.

Of these much-criticized action movies, almost half were produced in the south while Bollywood showed its predilection only for thrillers and comedies. It made over 35 thrillers and 23 comedies in 2007.

“The films we make are intrinsically on triumph of good over evil. How one narrates it makes one film different from the other. Conflict is the key word. Only the depiction varies from film to film,” explained producer Mukesh Bhatt, whose latest movie ‘Jannat’ is currently doing good business.

Though in previous years Bollywood had produced quite a few patriotic films like ‘Border’, ‘Gadar, Ek Prem Katha’, ‘Sarfarosh’, ‘Rang De Basanti’ and ‘Swades’, it produced none last year.

Except one in Kannada, Indian filmmakers avoided this genre.


De Taali: Bollywood film review

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

De TaaliThe funniest moment in the sporadically amusing ‘De Taali’ is when all torture fails to intimidate a kidnapped Riimi Sen. Then Riteish Deshmukh fishes out a copy of ‘Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag’ and she screams in agony.

That’s much the best in-house joke I’ve seen in a Hindi comedy. E. Niwas not only assisted Varma, he also made a semi-sparkling comedy ‘Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega’ for Varma before branching out.

Contrary to the promotional campaign, ‘De Taali’ is not a boys-will-have-fun kind of raunchy comedy we had expected. Yes, there are two boys - Aftab Shivdasani and Riteish -both in spirited form as friends, one rich and the other an unselfconscious parasite. They remind you of Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna in ‘Namak Haraam’.

Rest assured, De Taali doesn’t aspire to be a serious study of spaces that separate capitalism from serious exploitation.

So relax. Put your feet up in the empty chair in front and let that popcorn do all the talking. Here’s a film that goes from goofy definitions of asexual bonding to purely corny sexual bonding.

The tree-house bonding among Aftab, Riteish and Ayesha Takiya (in ever-sprakling formDe Taali and showing terrific timing in both the light and serious moments) is punctuated by spasms of satire on bonding among a trio that seems to have borrowed its primary rules of friendship from Karan Johar’s ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ and then turned it on its head.

Somehow the bondings never get deeper than the shallow and skittish. The dialogues are deliberately casual and trendy. The first-half delivers some tangy tendrils of narration that never quite grow into trees of titters.

The second half, where Riteish and Ayesha kidnap the gold digger who wants to marry their naively sentimental rich friend, gets out of hand and finally runs out of breath. Niwas’s penchant for black humour gets the better of the plot. By the time poor goofy Aftab realises he loves the girl on the tree-top we’re well past the stage of caring.

The sequence where Riteish visits Riimi’s monstrously malfunctional family is so over-the-top you wonder which came first - the family or its psychosis. The jokes on Alcoholics Anonymous are hopelessly inadequate and better left alone.

The talented Pavan Malhotra, who was powerfully perched in Niwas’ ‘My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves’, makes a cameo appearance as a lecherous tutor who gives Riimi lessons on the dining table while she licks an ice cream with suggestive languor - a bit of Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Bemisaal’.

The Big B pops up ubiquitously throughout the narrative, which includes a fancy-dressDe Taali party where everyone dresses up as a character from a Bachchan film. And Aftab’s character is even named Abhishek.

You could enjoy the spurts of wit that keep cropping up here and there. Soon it becomes hard to keep up with the improvisations and innovations in the script. The quartet of principal actors keeps the comedy afloat. Riteish is in specially good form, displaying a razor-sharp comic timing in a crowd of faces.

Yup, this guy has got the ‘it’ factor. The film misses the bus by a wide margin. But nevertheless makes us smile a while.

Latest bollywood movie: Haal-e-Dil

Saturday, June 21st, 2008


Whoever said Haal-E-Dil is a copy of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge is wrong. They have to be, because how can anyone make such a terrible copy?

Haal-E-Dil is a story of Sanjana Sharma (Amita Pathak), Rohit (Adhyayan Suman) and Shekar (Nakuul Mehta). Both the men are in love with the same girl. Yet, this is not a love triangle. Sanjana and Rohit study in the same college and are in love. One day, Shekar meets Sanjana on a train ride from Mumbai to Simla and falls in love with her. He tries to convince her to love him back, and even stands in front of her house for a week to prove his love.

The film has a lot in common with Aditya Chopra’s classic, DDLJ.

For instance, Kajol makes her entry in DDLJ in a song, dancing in the rain and then in the bathroom. Here, Nakuul makes his entry dancing a bathtub and then, under the shower.

Both films have a song, which sounds very similar to Mere khabwon mein jo aaye.Haal-e-dil

In DDLJ, Shah Rukh Khan gives Kajol a hand to help her board a train twice. In Haal-E-Dil, Amita gives Naakul a hand to board the train.

In DDLJ, Shah Rukh is always shown playing his mandolin. Here, Naakul keeps playing the guitar.

‘Haal-E-Dil is not similar to DDLJ’

In DDLJ, Shah Rukh tries to woo every girl he sees and here, Nakuul does the same.

In DDLJ, Shah Rukh goes to Kajol’s home to get her family to accept him. Here, Naakul goes to Amita’s home to make her accept him.

Haal-E-Dil is a poorly made film, shot in great locales. The story drags. Anil Devgan, who made disasters like Raju Chacha and Blackmail, does not impress once again.

Tanuja gets the worst deal in the film. She barely has any dialogue in the film, and when she does talk, she talks to the plants!

Amita performs decently but does not have it in her to become a heroine. She looks older than both the actors.

Naakul is a charmer. And this is really not the kind of launch Shekar Suman’s son Adhyayan deserved.

Haal-E-Dil is definitely not worth a watch.


Singh is Kinng: The story in pictures

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Singh is Kinng

This year’s eagerly-awaited romantic comedy, Singh is Kinng, revolves around a gang of crooks transformed by a good man and his selfless love for a pretty girl.Akshay kumar as Happy Singh

Lucky (Sonu Sood) is the ‘king’ of the Australian underworld. But far away, in his hometown in Punjab, there is someone even more notorious than him — Happy Singh (Akshay Kumar). The village decides to send him on a long trip, and bring Lucky back to Punjab, as his despicable deeds are maligning their image in Australia.

The village bumpkin embarks on his journey, where he goes through a series of adventures, meets Lucky, and even manages to find time for love when he meets Sonia (Katrina Kaif).

Singh Is Kinng is directed by Anees Bazmee of No Entry and Welcome fame.

Incidentally, the film found its title from the back of a truck!

Apparently, Akshay Kumar was driving through Jaipur when he spotted a truck with the words, ingh is King, printed at the back.

However, the film is not about any specific community.

One of the highlights of the film is Snoop Dogg’s number, which is part of the film’s soundtrack.

The video will be shot in Los Angeles.

The title track of the film is rendered by Bombay Vikings’ Neeraj Shridhar, and composed by Pritam.

Katrina is apparently charmed by Egypt, where she shot a song with Akshay.

“It’s among the most beautiful countries I have visited — the pyramids, the temples and the landscape are exotic. I even enjoyed the barbecue dinner on a boat on the Nile. We shot in a number of places and I’ve come back with fond memories of my trip,” she says.

The song, Jee Karda, was shot at 4 am everyday to capture the light.

The film is also shot in Punjab and Australia.

After her recent flops like Ek Chalis Ki Last Local and Rama Rama Kya Hai Yeh Drama, Neha Dhupia hopes to squeeze in a hit with Singh is Kinng.

She plays Julie in the film, a bold and beautiful girl in a gang of goons, headed by Sonu Sood’s Lucky.

Singh Is Kinng will release on August 8.

The door to India (-n mobile music)

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

So the new music service from Nokia has a name, Ovi, which means ‘door’ in Finnish. More specifically the music is part of the Ovi service which also includes some gaming and map options. The service operates through both the web and mobile. Nokia plans to roll it out in major European countries over the next few months.

The door to India (-n mobile music)

What is really exciting however is that Nokia is paying attention to the Asia market. On Wednesday of this week, a senior Nokia VP in Singapore announced that they will be rolling out Ovi in India in the first half of 2008. For the benefit of the North Americans reading this post, yes India is part of Asia.

In fact, Nokia has been taking India very seriously for some time. They recently announced that India has become their second biggest market after China and as of January this year, they had a 79% market share of handsets. This is a country with 185 million mobile subscribers growing at a rate of approximately 6,000 new subscriptions per month. You do the maths. Nokia is also manufacturing in India. It has produced 60 million handsets since opening a factory 18 months ago, half of which have been sold domestically.

So it seems that mobile music and other forms of mobile content are high on Nokia’s priority list. It also seems that Ovi is going to take care of the markets that iTunes has to date simply ignored. Get ready for ‘Bollywood music on the mobile’ - take that Mr. Jobs!

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