Category Archives: Bollywood

Celebrity Vs Common Man

This is one of my old articles but always relevant in India

My Thoughts

Shahrukh’s recent brawl with the MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) staff and the security personnel has made the headlines all over. It seems as though the film personalities cannot keep themselves away from the media albeit for the wrong reasons. I was obviously not at the scene of the incident nor do I know what exactly happened and who was at fault. But in India justice and law is different for celebrity and for a common man. Everybody starts judging the common man based on the arrest. Common man probably loses his job for his antics. His life gets turned upside down.

Common Man:

Common man’s kids play on the ground. Security personnel man handles them (According to what Shahrukh told the press). Common man gets angry, screams at them using lots of expletives and pushes them around. MCA staff comes in gets a mouth full from the common man. Police…

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Isn’t it just common sense?

People talk about creative freedom, secularism but for me it boils down to just common sense. The things that have been happening in Tami Nadu are unfair on the brilliant creator that is Mr Kamal Hassan. I am a big admirer of Kamal Hassan’s work. Let me be clear I am no fan boy. I love good cinema and Kamal Hassan has provided that in abundance.

When Viswaroopam released and when I learnt that it deals with terrorism I did not expect it to create such a furor. We have had countless movies releasing in India on similar themes, so I thought this movie will be considered one among them but that is not to be. Viswaroopam was banned by Tamil Nadu government and subsequently by other governments in India and abroad.

I can’t believe that in this day and age people actually believe that a movie can cause security issue. It is sad that one of India’s finest creators has to suffer due to some political agenda.

Kamal Hassan has talked about moving out of Tamil Nadu and even the country if the justice is not served. It will be a shame for the nation/state if such a thing happens. Creative people like Kamal Hassan are nation’s pride. The kind of jewel we all need to cherish and celebrate. India is the only country where their legends are treated with so much contempt. The government needs to wake up and put an end to this madness.

The creative freedom on an actor and creator needs to be upheld. It is sad to see the great man talking about bankruptcy and losing his home. It is even astonishing that the government hasn’t done anything to avert this situation. The perplexing thing is that the Tamil film association has kept mum on this issue. Few actors including our superstar have voiced in their support but as an association they should have stood behind their own.

It is nice to see the support of the fans for the movie. I hope that everyone continues to support the movie and keep our beloved icon in his home state. I hope that the Supreme Court intervenes and overturns the ban on the film. An icon like Kamal deserves better and we cannot let the constitution down.

Kamal Hassan is one of India’s finest actor/director. He has given us numerous classics and is very much responsible for taking Indian cinema overseas.

Satyameva Jayate has its heart in the right place

Aamir Khan’s Satyameva Jayate previewed last Sunday


Aamir Khan’s “Satyameva Jayate” has for sure been the talk of the town since the first episode aired last week. The show obviously has the heart in the right place. Aamir Khan’s show is just trying to create awareness and nothing more than that. There have been various shows in the past on the same lines but this is the first one with a premier star hosting it. Vijay TV (Star TV’s Tamil network) had a similar program with actress Lakshmi at the helm. It had the same concept but obviously not as high profile as Satyameva Jayate.

First things first we need to appreciate Aamir for taking such a show to venture into television. At least he has the intention to take the already known problems to the living rooms of the people. At least this will get the people thinking. There have been lots of articles online about the show and there have been criticisms. The criticisms are unwarranted as this is a TV show with a social message. Take what you can from the show and if possible change the way you look at the issue or else just consider it as an awareness show. Don’t expect Aamir Khan to be the messiah to save people from their troubles. No TV show or movie can accomplish that. It always lies in the hands of the individuals.

This is the problem with the Indian society, we are extremely defensive. If someone points out an issue in the society we will not believe and if someone points that out with the statistic we expect them to do more than that. It is always someone who has to change things. Life is not a movie where a hero will come in and abolish all the social evils that exist. The TV show is supposed to make people aware and since it is hosted by a celebrity it will grab the attention of the big leaders too which might actually help the people affected. The message will also reach the masses as at least they will watch this to see their star Aamir Khan hosting it.

It is a known fact that India only listens to celebrities. The two journalists who took so much risk in exposing the doctors running these centers did not receive any help from the government. This is absolute appalling and the fact that they are made to run around to different courts in Rajasthan is even more ridiculous. As soon as “Satyameva Jayate” aired on TV Rajasthan chief minister took action on the sonography clinics, shows how even the politicians listen only to movie stars. But we can be happy that something came out of the show.

The only thing I would say that female feticide is a serious issue in India and Satyameva Jayate has just brought it to light and obviously the seriousness of the issue. There are many other social issues which need to be tackled in our country and these sorts of shows are the need of the hour. Instead of criticizing the show I would be happy if the people try embracing such shows by trying to bring some change in the society. We don’t need to question the intention of the show but just look at the good things the show might do. It is like this when some celebrity or a millionaire does some charity we don’t appreciate them because we think that it is done to save on taxes, but we need to think that at least they did charity and the money went to some good cause. How many of us will even do that?

We think that life around us is rosy and nothing is wrong with the society around us. There is no need to get defensive about our country. Unless we embrace the issues we cannot eradicate them. The country grows and improves only if the issues are tackled. India as a country for ages has always ignored the serious issues and we always want to live in a fantasy land. If we see a video of child labor in India we cry and then complain why that video is even put online instead of thinking of ways to help those children in some way. We only think why someone posted that video to disrupt our great, smooth life. We don’t want to even think about issues faced by others nor do we want to help anyone. The only thing we can do is write some articles to criticize someone who is at least doing something. He might not eradicate female feticide, Child labor or various other issues in India but at least he is trying to educate people.

Satyameva Jayate is a show which is the need of the hour. Take the show for what it is. Try to think that the show is to educate people rather than a one which is started to make sweeping changes. There cannot be a Robin Hood who will come in and eradicate all the problems and especially a TV show which will never accomplish that. I like the show and I think it deserves all the accolades it is getting and definitely does not deserve the criticism. I would like to ask all the writers who have questioned the intention or the effect of the show as to what they have done to tackle the social issues in India, have they even written about it before the show was aired? Think about it and you will get the answer. As of now Aamir has done as great job with the first episode and I hope that he continues to tackle more such issues and people living in defensive mindset realize life isn’t as rosy as they think. This is not a movie, this shows real life and real people and we need to realize that these people are around us.

Shahrukh detained at the airport is not a National calamity

I posted this 3 years back and it seems like this issue has resurfaced again. It is funny how our celebrities can do anything to be in the news.

My Thoughts

No news has grabbed the headlines in the past few days more than Shahrukh’s detention at the US airport. Even swine flu had to take a back seat on the Indian media. Was the Indian superstar making a huge deal of the incident to promote his upcoming movie which is based on the same theme? May be, but Shahrukh has denied such claims. Yeah it was bad that Shahrukh was detained at the Airport for couple of hours but it’s not a National disaster. It was funny when a famous Bollywood actress claimed that Shahrukh is a “World” figure and should not have gone through such treatment.

The above statement is all that is wrong in India. If she had said something like any Indian should not be subjected to such treatment based on his religion or race, I would have had more respect for her sentiments but that was…

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It’s not an English writing contest

My Thoughts

In recent times reading some movie reviews has become a tedious exercise. A normal movie buff looks only for certain things in a review, the positives and the negatives, performance of the lead actors and the music. Basically an outline as to whether the movie is to his/her liking or not. This information should as far as I am concerned be expressed in simple understandable language. In the recent times when I read reviews written by certain writers I feel that it’s an essay for an English literature class. The reviews are extremely complicated to understand and for sure is not in simple language.

I sometimes cannot understand what writers are trying to prove by writing such complicated reviews. No one wants to break their head in trying to understand what is written and for sure none of the readers are here to appreciate your command over English. If your…

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Great year for Tamil cinema

This is not something we get to write that often. The Indian film industry is synonymous with Bollywood aka Hindi film industry and South films hardly get the recognition. 2011 in a way broke that trend and it will be fair to say that Southern Industries ruled this year. Not only did the south films (Malayalam and Tamil) dominate the National awards earlier this year but the Bollywood box office was dominated by southern remakes. It was a year when the Southern Industries got their day under the sun in India.

As far as Tamil cinema goes it was yet another great year. It was the continuation of the good work which started in 2010 and carried over to 2011. The year 2011 is when the Tamil cinema broke the language barriers and reached to nook and corner of the vast country. The year which began with Tamil cinema dominating the national awards along with Malayalam making it a very southern awards, ended with Dhanush’ s “Kolaveri Di” winning CNN international song of the year.

Dhanush was the year’s biggest star and he was part of couple of good movies this year. The biggest success of Tamil cinema this year has been the success of small movies such as “Engeyum Eppothum”. A movie which was Fox Star’s foray into Tamil cinema, sans top stars and with a new director at the helm was a super hit. Appreciation of good scripts and attempts by the audience has always been the success of Tamil cinema which was again in view in 2011.

This year had releases from Suriya, Dhanush, Ajith, Vikram and Vijay. This year also saw Ajith take over a bad guy role and pulling it off with great panache. Vijay shifted his path from masala genre and signed movies with big directors. Suriya and Dhanush once again confirmed their status as good actors. This year also marked some path breaking movies such as “Aaranya Kaandam”. A movie which received praise from all quarters was a great addition to the gangster genre. The movie did rounds in the International film festivals and won some awards.

Even though some great movies were made this year and some remakes were extremely successful in other languages, this year belonged to Kolaveri Di. The song broke the language barrier to be accepted by all the music lovers.

South cinema comprises of some of the best talents in the country and makes some wonderful movies and this year was really a testament to that fact. Hindi blockbusters like Bodyguard, ready, Singham and Force were all south remakes. The year 2012 promises to be a fine one for Tamil cinema and hopefully will have some great movies. As 2011 comes to an end, here is wishing a great 2012 for Tamil cinema and its audience.

Ra.One – A colossal disappointment

Making a Sci-Fi movie in India is difficult. It is not something for which we have references from the past from our own industry. When director Shankar conceptualized Endhiran (Robot) in 2000 with Kamal Hassan in mind, he had to drop the plans due to lack of funds for a movie of such scale. The reason behind not many movies of this genre gracing Indian screens. The scenario in the recent times has changed a lot. Hindi movies aka Bollywood has always enjoyed more money than the other industries in India owing to their popularity and reach. So when Ra.one was announced my expectation was automatically raised.

When Endhiran came in 2010 (a year before Ra.One) people had nothing to compare it with in the Indian film history. Obviously it is a beaten to death genre in Hollywood where countless such movies are made and are way ahead from what Shankar and Anubhav Sinha could offer. Endhiran had its flaws but was entertaining. The movie had an experienced director at its helm and one of the greatest entertainers in Indian cinema playing the lead. The movie was a super hit and was loved by all (Well mostly). Endhiran had an advantage which Ra.One did not, it was the first movie of its type to grace the Indian screens and did not have too many Indian movies to be compared with (Even though in 2002 Upendra had already made a movie in similar theme).

Ra.One had a lot to live up to. It had to be better than Endhiran in every department. It was being made at a larger scale; it was being made in 3D and had one of the biggest superstars in Indian cinema starring in it. The movie released with lots of hype and Shahrukh went out of the way in promoting Ra.One. When I watched the movie I had lots of expectation. The concept of the move was interesting but the execution was amateurish. The special effect was obviously great but the story and screen play lacked substance. Shahrukh’s act as a Tamilian also was also in bad taste, I am not sure how many years Bollywood is going to stick with Mahmood’ s version of Tamilian from the 70’s. It’s boring and it is kind of irritating to say the least.

When Shahrukh went to Chennai to promote the movie I actually thought that his Shekhar Subramaniam might be different than the normal Tamil caricature Bollywood movies have but it was not to be. That was only a part of the issue with the movie as thankfully Shekhar dies within 30 minutes into the movie. The Game (Ra.One) used as the premise to move the movie forward made no sense. I will be surprised if anyone in their right mind would buy such a game. Starting from the presentation at the start of the movie in a UK gaming company which was surprisingly in Hindi with a host of English people in the crowd, the movie had gaping holes which was hard to look past.

The Ra.One game was the most mysterious one as if either of the characters can only be killed in the third level why have the first two levels at all? Why was there a Ra.One suit at all when no one can play as him? If the either of the characters can only be killed with their HART’s on, then why Ra.One (The bad one) went searching for it in India when it could be killed having it? There are lots of questions which arose while watching the movie. The only silver lining was obviously the “Chammak Challo” song, but again not sure which kids birthday party will have skimpily clad women dancing. Shahrukh obviously put his heart and soul in to this movie and was sure one of the positives to come out of the movie.

But overall the movie was a great disappointment. With such a grand budget at hand the director/writer could have spent some time in writing a better script. I would like to laud Shahrukh for attempting such a movie but for sure could have chosen a better script and probably a better director to execute it on the screen. The movie might have run on the hype but for sure was way below par on content. Shahrukh has Don 2 coming this weekend and I sincerely hope that it is better than Ra.One. This time at the helm is Farhan Akthar who is for sure a director of better pedigree than Anubhav Sinha and I am sure that this will turn out to be a better outing for the superstar.

Southern Cinema dominates 58th National Film Awards

The 58th National awards were announced yesterday in India and the major awards were collected by Tamil and Malayalam movies. Dhanush won the best actor award for his realistic portrayal in the film Aadukalam along with Malayalam actor Salim Kumar who won it for his brilliant performance in the film Adaminte Makan Abu. The best feature film award went to Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu.

Aadukalam was the star of the National Film awards announced yesterday as it bagged 6 awards including the Best actor, Best Director (Vetrimaran), Best Original Screenplay (Vetrimaran), Best Editing (TE Kishore), and Best Choreography (Dinesh Kumar).

Saranya Ponvannan won the best actress award for the film Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru along with Marathi actress Mitalee Jagtap Varadkar for Baboo Band Baaja.

The best supporting actor award went to actor Thambi Rammaih for his excellent performance in Mynaa and the supporting actress award went to actress Sukumari for the Tamil film Namma Grammam.

Namma Grammam also won the award for costume design for Indrans Jayan.Enthiran also bagged couple of awards for best production design (Saby cyril) and Special Effects (V Srinivas M Mohan). Vairamuthu won the best lyricist award for Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru.

With all the awards going to the regional movies Dabaang winning “Wholesome Entertainer” award was kind of a consolation for Hindi films. Vishal Bharadwaj also won the Best Music award for the film Ishqiya. His wife Rekha Bharadwaj won the best Playback singer award for the same movie. Do Dooni Chaar won the “Best Hindi Film” award.Ishqiya also won the award for Best Audiography (Debajit Changmai).

The Best Backgound Score award went to Issak Thomas Kottakapally for the Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu. The Best Cinematography award went to Madhu Ambat for Adaminte Makan Abu (Malayalam).

Nargis Dutt award for the Best film on National Integration went to Bengali film Moner Manush. The Best Film on Social issues went to Marathi film Champions. Indhira Gandhi award for Best Debut Film of a Director went to Marathi Film Baboo Band Baaja.

So overall it was a great day for Regional movies this time. Tamil movies bagged 14 awards in various categories and Malayalam films bagged 6. The 58th National Awards was great one for the Southern Film industries and a particularly proud one for Tamil. Congratulations to all the winners and hope that the winners will strive to achieve greater success in the coming years.

Note – I haven’t published all the award winners, just a few of the important ones are mentioned in this post.

Music has no language

Recently I heard a Kannada song and got instantly hooked on to the same. Even though I did not understand much in terms of lyrics, the song was so addictive. This brings me to the question that why people put so much emphasis on language. I remember few years back when I was in college here in the US, I happened to go out with a bunch of other south Indian friends. I had just landed in the US, so I happened to have some movie audio cassettes in my mother tongue with me at that time. I took those with me during that trip and since no one had any other options, offered to play them. These were songs from a movie which was popular in all the languages but the guys were completely opposed to playing that cassette. They were ready to listen to the radio but not that song in any other language. The reason given was that they were not able to understand the lyrics and this was a song which was there in their language already. This is just an example and there are people from various languages who despise listening to any song which he/she does not understand.

That was very strange to me. The reason I am calling that strange is that, we hear so many international songs which we don’t understand. Take for example, Ricky Martin’s 1998 world cup soccer song or the “Livin’ la Vida Loca” song after that. Everybody was crazy about those songs at that time but very few actually understood what those songs meant. They enjoyed it because of the rhythm and the music in those songs. I have seen people listening to Spanish songs, how many of us understand or speak Spanish? We are ready to listen to Korean, Arabic, Spanish, German etc but not songs from other Indian languages. Is our so called diversity coming into play here too?

I feel that music is something which is beyond boundaries. I can hear to any song in any language and just appreciate the music and forget about the rest. I know there are lots of them like myself in that regard. India is varied and has different languages. Each language has their own style of music which is enjoyable in terms of their uniqueness. I listen and enjoy any song to which I am exposed to. It can be any language, any meaning I don’t care, if the music is good I will listen. Music has such a quality which brings down the barriers. How do you explain a Hindi song winning the “Best Original Song” at the Oscars? I am sure neither the international audience nor the jury had a clue what the song meant. That’s the power of music, it’s a universal language.

I currently have a CD with me which has Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada songs in them. I have an entire CD with just Hindi songs. Except Hindi the other languages I can understand a little bit when spoken but have no clue what any of those songs mean in the entirety. If I like a song from a language which I don’t understand I make a conscious effort to find out the meaning. In this day and age, technology also helps in bridging the gap as anything and everything is available over the internet. I always appreciate people who post comments on internet such as“The song is beautiful, can someone explain the lyrics please?” That shows that the person is a music lover and is making an effort to try and put meaning to what he is listening.

People in Indian speak about national integration and keep fighting over languages all the time but at least they can keep music out of it. I hope that this does not come out as preaching as it is not meant to be that way. I was just trying to make a simple point about how music can bring people together and we should not block ourselves out of that unity. If we do allow ourselves to enjoy and appreciate music from other Indian languages, we might actually grow to appreciate the varying cultures within our country. We might even see that our country might actually be able to give a meaning to the phrase “Unity in Diversity”, which I feel still exists only in books.

Please leave your thoughts and tell me what you feel about the topic.

Are news channels more interesting?

Couple of days back I was watching our legendary film director K Balachander (KB) on an interview on NDTV-Hindu. Balachander has always struck me as a person who has very naturally transitioned to the modern cinema and has not be caught in a time warp like few others from his generation. He has been pretty gracious in appreciating work of current directors and has often publicly praised them in the media. KB also was the first movie director who forayed into satellite television. He produced and directed various down to earth, high quality television serials.

His serials had the realism and were never over the top. So that brings me to the current topic, when the interviewer asked him about the current television scenario, he said that news channels are more interesting to watch than the mega-serials and reality shows. I kind of agree with him. If you think, aside from the sports channels and News channels, the rest of the programming can be categorized into, movies, serials and Reality shows.

The mega serials are over the top, hard to believe and mostly a cry-fest. The reality shows contrary to their name has hardly any realism and movie shows are well, movie shows. The advent of reality shows in Indian television has eaten into the primetime for most of the TV channels in India. The shows look like scripted and rehearsed with no realism. They are also sometimes inappropriate and not a “Watch with the family” types. So let’s look at what the news channels bring to the plate. They have the same star interviews, news around the world, debate shows, showcase sports and other talents across India.

To be frank I feel that a channel like NDTV-Hindu has much more interesting programming compared to probably a Sun TV or a Sony TV. The news channel interviews do not use the regular superlatives to introduce an actor, like probably a Karan Johar does on “Koffee with Karan”. The interviews are much more interesting to watch and actually give a better perspective of the person than watching them on a regular entertainment channel. There are few exceptions though like Star Vijay which has much more balanced programming. Having said that I believe that to each their own and respect individual preferences.

But do I enjoy watching a NDTV-Hindu more than a Sun TV? Yes I do and I totally agree with KB sir. He also said that he would be directing another television serial pretty soon and I am sure that he will bring the necessary realism to television which has been missing altogether in recent times.