Sunday, 1 July 2012

Eleven mysteries over 100 Bollywood years

By now you are up to your ears on the best, the landmark, the “how fantastic our movies are” spiel
Here’s my list of 11 mysteries of Bollywood over the last 100 years:
1)     100 years and yet no Oscar?
Sure you can say we don’t need endorsement from the west, but lets face it, its more credible than the IIFA’s of the world. So when Bosnia, Iran eta al with virtually no industry or budgets can win, what stopped us?  WE who produce the most movies in the world can’t produce ONE in a century? There is something seriously wrong here. In movie sensibilities, in selection, in promotion....
2)     Why does India produce film family mafias?
Almost 80% of actors and directors today have filmy lineage. Which country in the world has this percentage? It is’nt just about the public wanting it, otherwise Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar would have never made it. But to have only 1-2 top actors in every generation from outside? There is serious shutting out of talent here. Chief offenders in the past 100 years: The Kapoor family (all the brothers who survived flop-after-flop till they made it big), the Chopras (Uday Chopra OMG), Karan Johar (when was the last time he did a film with a non-star kid cast?).Our oh-so-principled Aamir Khan too is not above promoting a wooden nephew, and a wife with directorial skills which every second FTII grad has. The less said about the Jacky Bhagnanis the better. Nowhere do such patently uncharismatic /talentless star progeny get a chance the way they do in India.
3)     Why the growth of crap PR?
Everyone knows flop actress Aishwarya Rai is PR made . You can look at it as brilliant PR or as a con trick. I believe the latter. Like Shahid kapoor. His PR about how he’s having affairs with the actress of the day and how he is considering offers with hot-shot directors (none of which happens).So maybe these highly paid PR guys are there to just ensure endorsements by keeping their clients in the news. 
4)     Why Indians became “Haw-jee-Haw cine viewers” :
Kissing has become acceptable on screen only in the last five years. Shameful. Our censors post-independence decided that “Angrez chale gaye, lekin Victorian values chod gaye”(The British left India but the censors upheld Victorian values). Likewise for cusswords. Like they don’t exist. Hence kisses and curses were censored and Indians became generations of “Haw-jee-Haw” viewers. We believed that such movies would “spoil” the kids. Which brings me to the next point...
5)     Why does Bollywood not produce enough children’s films?
Because our regular films are childish and simplistic. No layering or shades of grey. No nuances (is there even a Hindi word for ‘nuances’?). Just silly movies which makes the whole family laugh....Look at the recent Rs.100 crore “hit” films and you’ll see what I mean.
6)     Why the Holy cows?  
Like almost every aspect of Indian public life, there are certain holy cows who can do no wrong and are subject to idle gossip but NEVER is their ability questioned or character flaws highlighted. E.g Sachin Tendulkar, Mahatma Gandhi and in Indian cinema Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan(possibly the most phoney among actors). I mean is this the best we produce? People who play larger than life, have set mannerisms and can never hope to be anything in international cinema. Sure they are popular, charismatic and talented but finally they are caricatures of themselves....
7)     Why no shame in copying?
In Hollywood an A class director makes a successful film and he is copied by C-class wannabes . In Bollywood A class directors make successful films and which are then copied by themselves and then by other A class directors. So Yashraj will repeat their formula till it fails. Ditto Sooraj Barjataya. Ditto Karan Johar. Ditto Kunal Kohli. Ditto all the Dabangg wannabe’s. Ditto all the item numbers stuffed into every movie.
8)     Why no original scripts?
Which gangster film has been made which is’nt inspired by the Godfather? Why do we have super hero concepts imported from the west when we can do a far better job adapting Hindu Mythology? Why do we find our best movies have been inspired by the foreign films-any foreign films (Sholay for that matter, though it was an improvement). Why are script writers cronies of top stars/ directors and not well paid professionals. The strange thing is that for an industry which worships “opening weekends” ”Rs.100 crores” etc can’t figure out the returns they can get on a great original script (Kahaani and Vicky Donor made ten times the invested money)
9)     Why do we never retire until we are kicked out by the seat of our pants?
Again, its a peculiar Indian trait. In politics, sports, movies. So we have to suffer a doddering Rajesh Khanna/Amitabh Bachchan who refuse to ride gracefully into the sunset, till the producers go bankrupt. Over-the-hill actresses just marry Richie rich guys who they would never have looked at in their heydays when the real eligible guys were chasing them. Kajol is possibly the only exception who married when the world was at her feet.
10)  Why so wannabe?
Our filmmakers shoot abroad or in some la-la land where everyone speaks Hindi or is an Indian. Goras in minor roles are the guys the director must’ve chatted with on the plane and said “Hey, wanna do a Bolly film for fun?” The movies cater to NRI’s who want to see Indians as glamorous people and “good Bharatiya ” values. (Yes, the same set up they left behind for better options). So we have the entire KJo lot of movies, the Anjaana Anjaani  type unbelievable road film crap, Agent Vinod, Teri Meri Kahani, Cocktail- hundreds of such movies with a success rate of 5%.Wake up and smell the coffee folks. Be proud to be in India with cosmopolitan sensibilities.
11)  Why do we object to being called Bollywood?
The industry is just a parody of what real movies should be. All song and dance with exceptions being three movies out of several hundred in a YEAR. The film fraternity throws a red carpet welcome for every has-been celebrity from the West, even though most Indians don’t care for them at all. So when we don’t take our craft and audience seriously, why get so offended?
We can stop patting ourselves on the back and get down to some serious introspection.

P.S. Notable exceptions:
The future of cinema will be people like Anurag Kashyap, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Zoya Akhtar, Ranveer Singh, SRK(How he started, not his current  trap with the filmy baba log ), a few pathbreaking moves by pucca commercial makers like Aditya Chopra ( Band Baaja Baarat and his inputs for movies like Kahaani ), scriptwriters like Juhi Chaturvedi, pure hearted film makers like Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Raju Hirani. The rest of the proposal makers will have the occasional hit but will on an average get a lower return on investments than the aforementioned.

Wishing BOLLYWOOD all the best for the next 100 years.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Satyamev Jayate: Hazare meets Winfrey

Why Satyamev Jayate is as superficial as the “breaking news” channels and Aamir Khan
Aamir Khan introduces the show in a messiah-like tone. The irony of a film star fashioning himself as another Anna Hazare would be lost on the TV audiences where the equivalent of the word “irony” does not exist in the Hindi dictionary. The teary-eyed Oprah Winfrey look is a nice touch though.
Social networking sites will be flooded by people impressed by a movie star being so “responsible”, judging the show as shallowly as the program itself.
Why I hated the show:
First and most important : If there is a woman watching , who is being forced into having her female foetus aborted, the show tell her NOTHING about what she can do as an individual.
The show highlights that the system is helpless in acting against erring doctors even though the PM declared that firm action will be taken against them. So what hope does the individual have?
In all its superficiality, it completely ignores the social reasons why educated people abort and the fact that the poor, uneducated person does not because they simply don’t have the means to do so.
And if the educated people are doing it, then clearly lack of education is not the reason. So can the show give the cure and not just talk about the disease?
And please, supporting fast track courts is school kid stuff, not cures or solutions.
All this show promotes is neighbourhood activism where people endorse a petition. (Oh Star will make a lot of money for charity given that Indians vote for anything right from Indian idol to Little Champs)
So what really helpful stuff can be shown that really could make a difference?
For example, in the immediate term, how about legalise prostitution so those frustrated men get an outlet? (Oh I forget – this show is TRP driven so Star TV may alienate the sobbing women watching)
Why not give contact details of NGO helplines or law bodies for distressed women? (No point because the channel needs immediate quantifiable results to show the sponsors) So what if it helps some poor woman watching and wishing she knew whom to turn to.
What is the mid-term solution ?
How about an RTI for district collectors of the worst affected districts? Details on how they are preventing female foeticide? (Oh no, too troublesome. Who the hell wants to go through all that?)
What is the long-term solution?
Complex. Because its all about social conditioning . Only when  people are ostracised for this crime and the law becomes uncompromising can there be a change.
In the meantime the holier-than-thou attitude is really annoying when the anchor gets Rs.3 crore per episode and its clearly a commercial show . I mean if Aamir felt as strongly, would he have hosted the show free ? So we’re all making money, its just that the brand proposition is different.
And like I said, shallow. Apart from the twitterati, chatterati, glitterati, literati and arty-farty, I see majorly falling TRP’s by the third episode.

August 2012: As predicted Satyamev Jayate has seen drastic falls in TRP's and is not even among the 10 top rated shows. Even Zee "Dance India dance" has higher numbers. Despite Star's entire network telecasting the episodes. To make things more embarrassing for Star, Aamir has said that "TRP's are not a true reflection of viewership". This, when Star TV sells ads at premium rates claiming the highest TRP's!! OOPS , what a sorry figure their ad sales people cut when they meet advertisers who are now demanding ad rate reduction due to non-deliveries!! Clearly their house is not in order. In the meantime Sony got TRP's of  11 plus just because Salman Khan appeared on the show. Yeh public hai sab jaanti hai. Being Human  puts its money where its mouth is, SMJ just pretends to.

See India Today link on this: