Few Thoughts on Haider

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I, like many others of my generation, grew up on an oily diet of Kashmir masala films.

Roja. Which, besides introducing this guy called A R Rahman, gave hope to boys like me that you could have a physique like ArvindSwamy but still get to curl your fingers around the shapely waist of a Madhu, if you play the marriage cards right or if the script-writer writes that in the script for you.

Pukaar. Where sinister plots from across the border are spoiled by Anil Kapoor’s verdant chest hair.

Mission Kashmir. A convicted Bombay Blast accused played a patriotic cop and where the man who single-handedly wiped out polio played a terrorist.

Countless other action films, their names a-blur, typically starring Sunny Deol, in which all laws of physics and common sense could be violated as long as Pakistani ass was being mausichi-ed.

The rhetoric was simple. Pakistan was evil, India was good, Kashmiris were misguided and all would be well in the end if the pesky Pakistanis and their agents were demolished.

When I came out of the theater after seeing Haider, I was happy I had seen a film that had flipped the formula. I was happy that finally the censors were letting audiences decide what was wrong and what was right and that there were no bans or stay-orders or any of the other silliness that has so stifled the free expression of ideas in India,  a fact that was doubly surprising given that our wise mediwallahs had been prophesying a dystopian Hitlerian Bharat of suppress-oppress-depress ever since that man took over.

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Red Rose—The Review

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[Has spoilers]

Winston Churchill had once said about Russia, “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.

The Red Rose, (a scene-by-scene remake of a Kamal Hassan and Sridevi Tamil movie) is a Russia, wrapped in Russia, inside a Russia, so convoluted and complex it is, with its nested riddles, mysteries and enigmas.

Is Red Rose, with its themes of  perversion, voyeurism, gratuitous gore, sexuality, verdant chest-hair and mammaries (only Om Shivpuri’s is shown) , an Indianized tribute to the Japanese pinku eiga or the Hong Kong Cat III or the Giallo genre of Italy?

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Ragini MMS 2—The Review

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One of the many things I do not understand about the world is why people would pay money in a theater to see Sunny Leone  in a half state of undress doing tepid things that would pass through the sieve of Indian censors when they can see her fully RTI-ed online doing bahoot hi krantikaari stuff for free.

It’s like someone getting a business class upgrade and then sitting coach-class right next to the lavatories, where the seats don’t even go back.

I never get it.

Because that’s all Ragini MMS 2 is.

Sunny Leone in lingerie and baby dolls and a song that has the words “baby doll”.

The first Ragini MMS was a passably good horror Hindi movie, given the severe restrictions of the Indian horror genre, stuck as it is in the scantily-clad lass in peril mode since the days of Ramsays. There were some nicely done moments, Rajkummar Rao is always good in whatever crappy role he is put in, and Kainaz Motivala’s demurely voluptuous charms captured through strategically-placed cams I at least understood the artistic reason for.

But Ragini MMS 2, with Sunny Leone playing a character called Sunny in the same way Himesh Reshammiya plays characters called Himesh (Himesh’s gratuitous cleavage being a horror movie in itself), is a disaster in every sense of the term.

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Gulaab Gang—The Review

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I have known the director of Gulaab Gang, Soumik Sen, for years now through my blog and have had the good fortune of meeting him at the reading of “The Mine”. When his movie came out, I knew I had to go see it but the problem with seeing anything done by a friend is that it is difficult to be totally unbiased. Also you are kind of afraid of not liking it. What do you do then? Pretend that you didn’t see it. Be brutally honest and say the truth? Since I write books and my friends read them, I am intensely conscious of the same dilemma that I put them in and always wonder how much knowing me affects their perception of the book.

Anyways, I went to see Gulaab Gang, trying to be as fair as possible, determined to tell the truth no matter how it turned out.

My verdict?

I loved Gulaab Gang.

Of course, I will accept my bias here, not for Soumik but for Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla.

I grew up on them. I lived QSQT and Tezaab. I will also accept my bias for old school Bollywood, sans the nauseating wannabeness of what has come to sully its good-name, a  Bollywood of larger-than-life characters and conflicts, script-writers who could craft memorable lines and actors who could deliver them. Dilip Kumar. Raj Kumar. Shotgun. Amitabh. Sunny. Dharam. Prabhuji. Gulaab Gang stays true to the spirit of that masala Bollywood. And in a refreshing departure from current fashion, it is reverential to its roots rather than mocking in the way the Dabangg, Singham  and that Rohit Shetty-Akshay-Kumar-Ajay-whatever-how-he-spells-his-last-name-as-now school of forty-feet-jumping trucks is, where the conventions of classic Bollywood are extravagantly exaggerated and played for comedy and nothing else.

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Dhoom 3—The Review

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In 2004, two initiatives were launched to pass off mediocre blue-blood Babalog as superstars, while making a shitload of cash for their stakeholders.

One was the UPA government. The other was the Dhoom franchise.

In both these, the trick was essentially same. Smoke. Mirrors. Hype. And for smarter people to hold up the halo for the mediocres.

By 2004, the powers-that-be had tried, with no success, to pass Uday Chopra, the scion of one of Bollywood’s richest and most powerful families, off as a romantic hero. But after the spectacular tanking of his solo “Mere Yaar ki Shaadi Hai”, the writing was on the wall.

It was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it was to make Uday Chopra’s fantasy of being an A-list hero comes to fruition.

But they didn’t give up.

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Krrish 3—The Review

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The nation needs a superhero. Some try to bring one back from the pages of history, make a big statue and, through it all, generate political capital. Some create a superhero from imagination, make a big statue of him on film, and from that generate actual capital.

Like Rakesh Roshan. And his immortal “Krrish” (the only superhero with a numerically correct name) franchise, which may miss a number (Krrish 1 is followed by 3) but never an opportunity for nifty surrogate advertising. Products dot the landscape of Krrish 3, like pictures of Gandhi, Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi at a Congress convention, and had not the movie been so stupendously original and exciting, one might have thought that more attention was given on product placement than things like plot, characterization and dramatic conflict.

Fortunately, that is not the case. Krrish is stupendously original, in every sense of the term.

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