The film industry has changed, pitching its wares to an ever-narrower (and wealthier) group of people, excluding entire demographics and social groups that, until quite recently, constituted a staple of the Bollywood audience
UMAIR AHMED MUHAJIR
I havenâ€™t seen Kurbaan yet. I certainly will, and it might well be a pretty good film too. But what I wonâ€™t be doing is going into the theatre with any kind of enthusiasm. Chalk that up to the ad campaign — and Iâ€™m not talking about Kareena Kapoorâ€™s â€œbacklessâ€ poster pic with co-star and real-life boyfriend Saif Ali Khan either. You see, it was the other posters and trailers that dampened my enthusiasm. For when I saw the shots of the Jama Masjid, heard the â€œShukranAllahâ€ song playing in the background, and saw Kareena sporting a head-scarf, I just knew the film was going to be about Some Topical Issue.
The point isnâ€™t that Kurbaan is yet another film about Muslim terrorists — unlike a decade or so ago, Bollywood has actually become reasonably liberal with respect to that issue, and far more likely to eschew crude stereotypes. The problem today is a more subtle one. For Kurbaan is yet another film conflating symbols of Indo-Islamic identity with the rather distinct phenomenon of contemporary terrorism. Shots of the Jama Masjid? A qawwali playing in the background? Why, this must be a â€œtopicalâ€ story about extremism. (Its refusal to go that route was one reason why this yearâ€™s Delhi-6 was quite welcome: in that film, the Jama Masjid was simply the Jama Masjid, a â€œnormalâ€ location where people pray as a matter of course.)
The point is a broader one, however, and is not limited to cinematic representations of Indiaâ€™s minorities. Quite the contrary. The representation of minorities is merely symptomatic of a broader issue: in the new dispensation that rules Hindi cinema, â€œtraditionalâ€ cultural practices and symbols are themselves, more often than not, problematic, and even the majority is marked in one way or another. For instance, the Hindu temple, once a staple of Hindi film moments ranging from loversâ€™ trysts to quarrels with God, is conspicuous only by its absence in contemporary Bollywood: the only recent films that even featured anything like a temple or a religious festival are the afore-mentioned Delhi-6; Ghajini, and Wanted — and the last two are remakes of, respectively, Tamil and Telugu films, and hence products of far more rooted cinematic cultures. The dargahs and mandirs that dotted the landscape of Hindi movies in decades past have all but vanished; to the extent any divine intervention is needed today, the more â€œmodernâ€ confines of a church — almost always abroad — have become Bollywoodâ€™s preferred houses of worship, at least since 1995â€™s Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge.)
Fame and peace can never be bedfellows. You invite fame into your life and tranquility bids you a hasty farewell. Fame, the fugacious guest, surreptitiously hides behind it infamy, which monster like grows with each breath of adulation , waiting to expose its gargantuan self at the appropriate time. The latest victim is Om Puri the thespian who has achieved accolades beyond Indian shores. The shocking part is that in this case his wife turned out to be Brutus.
In a biography penned by Nandita Puri, the sexual life of Om Puri has been dealt with in great detail much to the embarrassment and chagrin of the actor, who reveals that he had no knowledge of the manuscript prior to its publication.
Omâ€™s main reason for being upset is Nanditaâ€™s revelation that he had sex with his maid Shanti at the age of 14. She has also exposed Omâ€™s longstanding liaison with a woman named Laxmi with whom Om was sexually and emotionally involved.
The world is finally waking up to Bollywood. After doing well theatrically abroad, mainstream Hindi films are finally being invited to the worldâ€™s top film festivals. Even if the screenings are out of competition.
First up is the Venice Film Festival, where not one, but three Bollywood films have been invited. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehraâ€™s Delhi-6 will be shown in the Midnight Movies category of the festival. Rakeysh will show his directorâ€™s cut, which not only has a different beginning from the theatrical release but also has Abhishek Bachchanâ€™s Roshan dying in the end.
Perhaps Indian cinemaâ€™s biggest moment this year is the fact that Anurag Kashyap has been invited to be part of the festival jury in Venice. Not only will he be hobnobbing with Ang Lee, the jury president, but two of his recent films â€” Dev D and Gulaal â€” will be shown at the festival.
â€œI am really excited… itâ€™s a huge honour and I would like to make the most of it,â€ Anurag told t2. â€œTo be selected for the jury of a festival like Venice is truly a huge thing.â€
EK – THE POWER OF ONE
By Aakash Gandhi
Reviewer’s Rating:Â 5.5/10
EK â€“ THE POWER OF ONE is vintage Bollywood masala, flooded with action, drama, comedy, and of course romance. Unfortunately, like most in its category, it fails to leave any lasting impact thanks to a very familiar tale wrapped in an oversimplified script.
The story chronicles the split life of orphaned criminal Nandu (Bobby Deol), who is hired by Maharashtran Opposition Leader Anna (Sachin Khedekar) to stage a fake assassination attempt in order to gain sympathy from the masses. However, before Nandu is able to pull the trigger, another fateful shot takes the life of Anna, transforming a slimy political trick into a full-on murder case.
With the police fresh on his trail, Nandu escapes their grasp by catching a train to Punjab where he runs into Puran Singh (Akshay Kapoor) â€“ a down-to-earth twenty-six year old on his way to reunite with his estranged family after eighteen long years. At one of the stops, an officer spots Nandu and takes a shot that accidentally strikes Puran, killing him on the spot. Nandu reaches Puran’s village to deliver the grave message, but before he can say anything the family mistakes him for their beloved Puran. Unwilling to break their hearts, Nandu continues the charade and is soon enveloped by the family’s warmth and love. All the while, witty CBI Inspector Rane (Nana Patekar) is hot on Nandu’s trail. Will Nandu surrender his true identity to the family? Will Nandu be prosecuted for a crime he did not commit? These are some of the burning questions that develop throughout the film.