Tag Archive for 'Bollywood'

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Hum Dono in colour

Yes, ‘Hum Dono’ is back. In colour. Dev Anand’s cult classic is out in colour.

The Kingdom of Khan

They have ruled Bollywood for as long as you can possibly remember. Plain coincidence? Shubhangi Swarup in Open:

Before the release of 3 Idiots, Aamir Khan came up with an unusual marketing gimmick. Since the movie was built around two friends searching for his character Rancho, Aamir would lose himself in different parts of India, and leave fans guessing where he could be. On one such trip, he announced he was off to see his mother. But instead of going to Pune, where she now lives, he went to Banaras, in search of her ancestral house. He didn’t know her maiden name. “All I knew was that the house was in a locality called Telia Nala, and the name of the house was Khwaja Manzil,” he says.

Aamir had disguised himself as an old man and had little hope of finding the house. He went to a teashop and asked for help. Suddenly, there was what he calls an entire ‘paltan’ on his side. “Somehow, in that locality, people were very helpful. They took me to all the old people; they were probably thinking ‘Inki ammi yahaan dus saal ki umar mein rehti thhin, toh bahut pehle ki baat hai (His mother lived here when she was ten—that’s a long time ago).’ I was taken to Banney miyan and Nawabsahib, who must have been 89 or so,” he says.

His mother was also on the mobile phone giving him directions. “I told her I’m in your mohalla. So she said ‘Go to the Shia masjid’.” Thrice did she guide him like this, but he couldn’t find the house. Aamir remembered her telling him that when they moved out, the house had been sold to a Sikh family. “So I asked, ‘Yahan koi Sardarji rehte hain? (Does a Sikh live here?)’ They said ‘yes’. It’s a Muslim mohalla. Only one Sardar family lives there. They took me to the house.” More:

No country for old artistes

Do artistes and penury have some sort of tragic, karmic connection? In Hindustan Times, Namita Bhandare looks at the plight of 95-year-old veteran actor A K Hangal to see the same story being repeated, again.

Because Subrata Kundu had been fairly regular on the page 3 circuit at a time when I was a fairly regular journalist on page 3, his passing recently caught my eye. You couldn’t miss him, that man with a broad smile and thick mop of hair. Then, suddenly one day, the photographs stopped and newbies with names like Kitty, Monty, Thenny, Ronny took over. I failed to notice that Kundu seemed to have faded away.  

I did not know that Subrata had taken a serious hit when the art market nosedived during the recession. I did not know that he was suffering from liver disease. I did not know that he had tried to kill himself. I found out all of this one sad day in September when I read with shock that this 51-year-old artist had been found unconscious in a temple at Ranaghat, Kolkata where he had been living. He died a few days later.

I remembered Subrata again when I read in the papers of the hard times that have fallen on actor AK Hangal. Bedridden with kidney disease and asthma, this 95-year-old actor who has entertained us in over 125 films, including as Rahim chacha in Sholay, must now depend on the kindness of his few remaining friends; Asha Parekh, for instance. Bills for medicines alone amount to R15,000 a month. And the only family member left to look after him is Hangal’s 74-year-old son, Vijay, a retired photographer. more

In Times of India, which broke the story about Hangal’s plight, Bharati Dubey has some good news as aid comes in from the industry and from outside sources. Read that story here.

Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan: Married to movies

Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan on making a film together, who gets to be the boss on the sets and a love story that started with a pair of earrings. Harneet Singh in The Indian Express Sunday magazine Eye:

When a husband-wife team works on a film set, what’s the equation like?

Aamir: Same as home. She’s the boss!

Kiran: Yes, my love, if that’s how you really feel. Personally, I had trouble with the new equation. We still struggle with it, don’t we?

Aamir: See Kiran, it’s like this — when you are close to a person, you have a tendency to take him/her for granted.

Kiran: Yes, we don’t need to wear the mask of politeness. We get impatient with each other.

Aamir: If I’m working with another director and we have a difference of opinion, I’ll think of the right words to express myself. Like if it’s Rakeysh Mehra, I’ll be like, “Look Mehra, it doesn’t work like that.” But with Kiran, I can be like, “Arre, you don’t know anything.” Likewise, Kiran is more careful and patient with other actors while with me she can just say, “Keep quiet, yaar.”

Kiran: When I get irritated with him on the sets, I can show that irritation to him.

So who says sorry first?

Kiran: Whoever has messed up. On a film set, the meter is always ticking so we can’t afford to sulk. We thrash it out in two minutes. I think we work well. I value his mind.

Aamir: I agree. As an actor, it’s important for me to have complete trust and faith in my director. I feel safe in Kiran’s hands.

As a director, what is her special quality?

Aamir: She views things with great delicacy and gets to the heart of the shot.

Tell me an Aamir Khan quirk.

Kiran:: I don’t know if it’s a quirk but he’s a very generous actor. He is very considerate about his crew and co-actors. Even if it’s something simple like putting a mic on his shirt he’ll think of the crew. He’ll tell my technician, “I should put the mic on this side so that it doesn’t rustle, otherwise you’ll have trouble.” It’s an amazing quality. More:

The Munni-Sheila sisterhood

Nikhat Kazmi in The Times of India:

2010: The year when men might have truly been on Mars. For, when it came to grabbing headlines, it was women all the way, all the year through. Be it politics, business, sport or entertainment, it was She-La ki Kahani that had the twists and turns, despite all the brouhaha about Dabangg He-men making old-fashioned comebacks.

They may be branded as mere item numbers but Munni Badnaam Hui and Sheila Ki Jawani have become the exultant cry of a breed of post-feminism femme fatales who are determined to celebrate woman power like never before. If a risqui Munni saw nothing wrong in becoming a Zandu balm, or an item that’s aam – in short, totally badnaam – for her paramour, then Sheila seemed to be totally self-sufficient with her uber sexuality.

In a blatant display of narcissism, she declares she wants to hug and hold herself: Ab dil karta hai haule haule se, main toh khud ko gale lagaun. Kisi aur ki mujhko zaroorat kya, main toh khud se pyaar jataun…Read between the lines and see how the traditional stereotype of the woman gets busted with something as simple as Bollywood lyrics. Enter the new singleton who doesn’t necessarily need a husband, a boyfriend, to define herself. On the contrary, like Krishna Verma (Vidya Balan), the spirited and unencumbered protagonist of Ishqiya, she prefers a world where options exist and the straitjacket of conventional morality has been blown apart. More:

Chittagong Uprising — the movie

Trailer of Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, a Hindi film about the Chittagong Uprising of 1930. The movie is based on journalist Manini Chatterjee‘s book Do and Die and is directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, starring Abhishek Bachchan and Deepika Padukone in the lead roles.

UK man in starring Bollywood movie role: BBC

In The Telegraph, conversation with director Ashutosh Gowariker and journalist Manini Chatterjee

A Bollywood in-flight list for Obama

From the Wall Street Journal:

The first movie is India’s nominee for the Oscars this year: “Peepli Live.” If nothing else, this movie will prepare the President for India’s rambunctious press corp. While the U.S. has three cable general news channels, India has more than 20 and they compete fiercely for news stories.

Peepli Live explores how Indian news channels manufacture news to gain ratings. In the movie, a farmer contemplates suicide as the only way out of his family’s crushing debt. Unfortunately, the story is familiar to Indian audiences, as there has been a scourge of farmer suicides because of mountains of debt.

It’s the flip side of emerging India, the India that used to be written about: poor, hungry and destitute. That India still exists. And Mr. Obama will probably miss most of it visiting Mumbai and Delhi. Hundreds of millions of Indians still live on less than $1.25 a day and many have a hand to mouth existence.

For many Indians — and potentially Mr. Obama — Peepli Live was a vivid reminder of how far India still has to go and how important it is that the Indian economic miracle succeed.

The next is “3 Idiots.” More:

Malaika Arora Khan — the ultimate Bollywood spice girl

Harneet Singh in The Indian Express Sunday magazine Eye:

Malaika Arora Khan is not an actor, never mind the odd itsy-bitsy role in the odd forgettable film. Yet she has lasted in the film industry for over a decade. “I’m pretty much peripheral in terms of Bollywood, but yet in a way, because of the family I am married into, and my songs, I am Bollywood,” she says.

She is, rather, Bollywood’s Shakira of item numbers, the

Item No. 1. A 35-year-old mother of a seven-yea-old son, and still the stuff of male fantasy: when she teases a small town in Uttar Pradesh to distraction as Munni in Dabangg, the front-benchers and multiplex janta both go wild. She is also, by the way, the producer of Dabangg but Malaika will forgive you for letting that fact slip. “With me it’s always the songs… it’s for my item numbers that I’ll be part of this country’s cinema library.”

It all started on top of a train. The year was 1998 and the film Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se. Malaika did the Chhaiyya chhaiyya with Shah Rukh Khan and we all know how that turned out. Twelve years later, the “item number” is alive, though perhaps not flourishing, and she is still at the top, offered “a song a day toh pucca”. It’s a fact of the business: if an item song is the masala your film needs, Malaika is the go-to girl. In an industry where leading ladies turn into wallflowers in less than half a decade, what’s the secret of the dream run? “She’s sexy, she’s beautiful and she’s a very good dancer,” says choreographer and director Farah Khan, “but then so are a lot of girls out there.” The difference, Farah says, is in the way she has planned her career. “Malaika has an edge because she has chosen her assignments wisely, maintained her exclusivity and is extremely professional. That’s the reason she has lasted so long,” she says. That, and the backing of one of Bollywood’s most powerful film families. More:

Robot — A Tamil sci-fi movie

From The Times of India:

Why would someone go to a theatre at 5am to watch a Rajinikanth movie? Because tickets were not available for the 4am show. Chennai shut shop early on Thursday over worries on which way the Ayodhya verdict would swing, but now it seems it was only to queue up before daybreak for the first day, first show of  ’Enthiran (Robot)’.

Thousands jostled for an elusive ticket as theatres in Rajini city began screening the film on Friday before the crack of dawn. While the first show at the city’s Rakki Cinemas in Ambattur was at 4am, it was at 5.45am at the AGS Cinemas in Villivakkam and 6 am at Kasi Theatre. Even national exhibitors like PVR cinemas and Inox began shows in Chennai around 8am. Tickets were reportedly being sold in the black market at up to Rs 5,000 each.

Even in Mumbai, Bollywood took a backseat as thousands of Rajini worshippers lined up outside Aurora theatre where prints of the film were brought after being taken to a temple in a chariot. More:

Interview with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in The Indian Express

Rajini fever grips Chennai: in The Economic Times

How to clone a superstar: What went into making the Rs60 crore Rajinikanth lookalike in India’s most expensive film yet: in Mint Lounge

A slumdog birthday cake

Shabana Azmi's slum birthday cake

A cake designed like a slum for film star Shabana Azmi’s birthday exposes the hypocrisy of many in the Bollywood elite. Parvez Sharma at the Guardian’s Comment is Free:

India’s Bollywood elite turned out in force for a 60th birthday bash in the Juhu area of western Mumbai on Saturday night.

The birthday girl in question, Shabana Azmi, is almost as old as independent India, having been born just three years after the British Raj ended.

She comes from a prominent Muslim family: her father was a well-known poet and her husband, Javed Akhtar, is Bollywood’s best-known lyricist and a member of the upper house of parliament. For the last two decades at least Shabana Azmi has been noted for her social activism.

Controversially, she starred in the 1996 film Fire, as a middle-class Delhi housewife having a sexual relationship with her sister-in-law. Rightwing Hindus were up in arms about it: her character was called Sita (also the name of a Hindu goddess) and to them a Muslim playing a lesbian woman called Sita was – well – a bit too much to digest.

But back to the birthday party. Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood’s biggest star and eight years Ms Azmi’s senior, sent out a series of tweets as the festivities progressed. Here they are, in order. The last one reveals the reason for this article. More:

Slumcake Millionaires: Manjula Padmanabhan in Outlook: People of conscience must know in their hearts whether or not they’re using a symbol appropriately.

The meaning of being Salman Khan

Salman Khan reinvents himself in the role of a tough cop in Dabangg

Shoma Chaudhury with Rishi Majumder in Tehelka:

It’s early evening on Rakhi day. Salman Khan is sitting at his sister Alvira’s dining table in Bandra Hill, surro unded by family and the remains of a festive gathering. The house is small, the camaraderie is big. Salman is red-eyed and stubbled and has a towel slung over his shoulder into which he periodically blows his nose. He’s been running a fever and it hasn’t been easy to track him down. Now it’s a fresh struggle to get lone time with him. “What’s the difference?” he says. “Isn’t this interview going to be published? Aren’t people going to read it? This is just family.”

Doggedness is not only his domain. “Let me turn the conversation into art first,” I say, “this is like watching someone dress in the green room.” The faintest hint of a chuckle escapes him. The family withdraws into other rooms. Big steaming mugs of coffee appear. (Someone had said, “Everything is open and big-hearted in the Khans’ household: the hugs are big, the coffee is big, the table is always laden with food. It’s a typical Pathan home.”)

Salman’s very first answer presents a man nothing has quite led one to expect. It’s on the legacy question. On what he thinks his years in the limelight have added up to. “It’s simple,” he says. “Some fathers want their sons to grow up to be like me. Other fathers say, grow up and be anything, but just don’t ever be like that man. Either which way, it’s good.” More:

Bappi Lahiri tribute to Michael Jackson

Bollywood music composer and singer Bappi Lahiri’s tribute to Michael Jackson:

Also read.

Freida Pinto on the cover of NYT Style Magazine

The latest cover of T: The New York Times Style Magazine's Women's Fashion issue

Horacio Silva in The New York Times Style Magazine:

Freida Pinto is not one to shy away from a grand gesture. “As my friends and family are quick to remind me, I have always been a big drama queen,” Pinto, 26, recalls over breakfast in a Midtown hotel suite. “As a child, I would stand in front of the mirror and pretend I was this or that person from television. All I needed to do was realize it and recognize what I wanted to do.”

For Pinto, the epiphany came at 11, when India’s Sushmita Sen won the 1994 Miss Universe competition. “The country was really proud of her, and I was like, One day, I want to do the same,” Pinto says in her clipped, slightly accented English, which betrays her middle-class upbringing in the suburbs of Mumbai. “It wasn’t just the glamour of it all because I think at 11, I could hardly understand what glamour was. I really wanted to be like her — appreciated and a source of inspiration. I think that’s what made me go into acting.”

Fortunately, Pinto’s genetic gifts meant that having a career inspired by a beauty queen was a possibility. (Before her crossover success as Latika, the female lead in the 2008 hit “Slumdog Millionaire,” Pinto was a model and the host of a television travel show.) And although she is an eloquent interview subject, her responses occasionally sound like the platitudes you might hear from a contestant being grilled in a beauty pageant.

But Pinto is ever the good sport. After it is pointed out to her that she has a habit of answering in evening-wear-competition oratory, she checks herself a couple of times and allows, “There I go again, sounding like a Miss Universe contestant.” It’s a candor that is also evident when she is asked about her appearance in Woody Allen’s latest London-based ensemble film, “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” to be released next month. In a case of art imitating life, Pinto’s character, Dia, a gorgeously exotic musicologist — is there any other kind? — leaves her fiancé for another man. (In January 2009, Pinto called off her engagement to Rohan Antao and started dating her “Slumdog Millionaire” co-star Dev Patel.) More:

Sholay, the beginning

Hindi cinema’s biggest blockbuster officially completes 35 years this 15 August, but it was actually born in 1973 in a small room. Screenplay writer Salim Khan remembers how Sholay was conceived. In Open magazine:

When Javed [Akhtar] and I wrote Ramesh Sippy’s Andaaz and Seeta Aur Geeta, we weren’t partners. We worked on it as part of the Sippy story department’s team and received a salary of Rs 750. We had to fight for credit, and when we didn’t get it for Seeta Aur Geeta, we left the Sippys. Writers had no izzat (respect) those days. I still remember how posters of Zanjeer didn’t have our names. So we hired a man with a jeep and got him to paint Salim-Javed in stencil font on all the Zanjeer posters from Juhu to Opera House. The man probably was a few drinks down, so he painted Salim-Javed on Pran’s face or Amitabh’s [Bachchan] hands!

After six months, we again got in touch with GP Sippy and [son] Ramesh, but now as the writing team of Salim-Javed. We had two narrations for them. One was the four-line idea of Sholay and the other the complete script of Majboor. GP Sippysaab wanted to make a film with a large canvas. When he heard Majboor, he said, “Film chalegi (it will work), but there’s no sense in making this in 70 mm and with stereophonic sound.”

We said, “If that’s what you have in mind, listen to Sholay.” Most of Sholay was inspired by Magnificent Seven and also Dirty Dozen, The Five Man Army, Once Upon A Time In The West—a lot of Westerns. Ramesh was more attracted by the fact that Majboor was a complete script with dialogues. But Sippysaab said no. After Andaaz and Seeta Aur Geeta, the company was doing well; he wanted to take that risk. We demanded credit and Ramesh agreed. We then sold Majboor’s script to Premji; it was our first script that sold for Rs 2 lakh and Ravi Tandon went on to direct that movie. For Sholay, we were paid Rs 1.5 lakh. More:

The magestrial clout of two Indian epics

Even as it modernizes, India has carved a place for its mythic past, as witnessed by recent films — Raavan and Raajneeti — that draw on the two great epics of Hinduism. Somini Sengupta in the New York Times:

Can an epic poem, composed more than 2,000 years ago and transcribed in an ancient language that only a handful of people can read, thrive in the age of Twitter?

In India, yes. And not just one epic but two.

The most talked-about movies in India this summer are based on the two great epics of Hinduism: the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

It isn’t just Indian cinema that is smitten with those two works. “The Difficulty of Being Good,” a recent book that uses the Mahabharata to examine contemporary business and politics, has become an unlikely best seller here. This year India’s law minister, M. Veerappa Moily, who has written a new reinterpretation of the Ramayana, credited its chaste, long-suffering female protagonist, Sita, with having inspired a women’s rights bill. In Bangalore, India’s technology capital, a contemporary-dance company recently performed a piece based on the principal women of the epics. The myths are retold too, in children’s cartoons and comic books.

Indian modernity is beguiling. In this fast-churning, seemingly Westernizing, increasingly English-speaking nation, the mythic past is also very much present. For ages the epics have been told, retold, fiddled with. They still resonate, in new but recognizable ways.

“The Mahabharata and Ramayana, they sort of permeate our consciousness,” said Bibek Debroy, an economist who published the first of a 10-volume unabridged English translation of the Mahabharata in April. “The stories are deeply ingrained in the minds of Indians.” More:

The Curse of the Cobra Goddess

This is not new but we stumbled upon it recently at Sepia Mutiny. “Hisss” is directed by American Jennifer Lynch, daughter of the famous David Lynch, and stars Mallika Sherawat.

If you liked this trailer, you might also enjoy the movie’s website.

Bollywood’s script thieves

The Hindi film industry is notorious for lifting stories. Rahul Bhatia in Open:

When Manoj Tyagi gave up a career in banking to join the ranks of film writers in Mumbai a decade ago, he was introduced to what he calls “DVD meetings”. Tyagi, who wrote Page 3, Corporate, Jail, and directed Mumbai Salsa, recalls gatherings where producers, directors, and writers “sat around and talked about movies they had watched the night before”. The purpose of these meetings was to plot stories and lift ideas from the DVD or portions of the movie they’d just seen.

Tyagi says that when Indian filmmakers see a successful foreign film—or a music video—they think they can remake it. “They believe it will work because seeing is believing. Not many people can visualise a document.” He imitates them when he says, “Yaar, maine dekha, yaar, aur box office ka result bhi saamne hai. Iska pata nahin kya hoga, kaise hoga. Iss se achcha tu ye bana de. Ek star bhi ready hai karne ke liye.” (“Dude, I saw this movie, and it worked at the box office. I don’t know about the script you’ve got, but you could remake the movie I saw. There’s a star ready to work on it.”) If it wasn’t a DVD, it was a screenplay. Usually, someone else’s screenplay. “The first time we copied was when we made Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin,” says the writer Robin Bhatt, who formed a successful association with Mahesh and Mukesh, his brothers. “Aamir gave Mahesh a book called 20 Best American Screenplays, and asked him to read the first one, It Happened One Night. Mahesh very conveniently passed it on to me. I read ten pages and said, ‘Mahesh, this is Chori Chori.’ But I realised that Chori Chori did not use the climax of the screenplay. I told them that we should take the entire thing as it was. Let’s not fuck with the original script.” Bhatt says he couldn’t procure the movie when he adapted the script. But in a remarkable coincidence, he says, he finally saw it on a hotel channel while the movie was being filmed in Ooty. Aamir and Mahesh rushed to watch it with him. More:

Aamir Khan: The box-office economist

Sanjukta Sharma in Mint Lounge:

Okay, there’s one thing that unsettles Aamir Khan. The stock market. “The stock market? No!” he exclaimed, and looked nonplussed when I asked him if he followed market trends. Leaning forward on the couch he was sitting on, he explained why, without choosing his words as he usually does: “I have no idea how it works. I have tried to understand it. When you say somebody is worth 3,000 crore, I’d like to think he has Rs3,000 crore. I am corrected, I’m told his shares and investments add up to that much. So then, if he sells everything, will he have that much? But no, if he sells them, his worth will immediately fall. So what does he actually have and why is he worth 3,000 crore? The market is all fantasy and illusion, you believe me.”

Khan’s public persona is crafted cool. He has a disarming candour, the kind which, for the short while you are sitting next to him, strips him of star trappings. He measures his words, but not in an obvious way—like all stars, he wants to be perceived as a good person or an interesting person. His sense of humour comes across as self-deprecating. He can also be a natural mimic. And unlike many stars, actors even, he looks at you intently, and listens to every word you say. More:

A new label’s mission: Indian music

From The New York Times:

Could there be more global hits like “Jai Ho” in the future? Universal Music thinks so. “Jai Ho,” the Academy Award-winning song written by the Indian composer A. R. Rahman for “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), raced up pop charts worldwide as its catchy dance beat shimmied across borders with ease. And Universal, the largest of the four major record companies, believes that Western audiences might have an appetite for more music with an Indian flavor.

Universal says it has agreed to team with Desi Hits!, a company that promotes South Asian entertainment on desihits.com, to create a label for musicians from India or with South Asian roots. The goal is to reach a global audience.

“There’s a huge amount of amount of opportunity, given that it’s relatively untapped,” said David Joseph, chief executive of Universal Music U.K., referring to South Asian pop music. “It’s far from a vanity project for us.”

Anjula Acharia-Bath, chief executive of Desi Hits!, which is based in New York, said the new label, called Desi Hits! Universal, is going “to give this genre a home.” More:

Manohari Singh, maestro of the saxophone: 1931-2010

Samanth Subramanian in Mint:

In 1969, a group of musicians from Mumbai accompanied Kishore Kumar on a three-month tour of performances, visiting the West Indies, the US, and the Netherlands. It was during this tour, when the troupe hit New York, that Manohari Singh purchased his adored saxophone—a Selmer alto sax, plated in gold. “He was in love with that sax,” says Kersi Lord, a fellow musician, a colleague in R.D. Burman’s extended orchestra, and a close friend. “He would never even let anybody else carry it.”

Love affairs between musicians and their instruments aren’t unusual, but they are nevertheless memorable, and this one more than most. Singh, whose exuberant saxophone lit up classic film songs such as “Roop tera mastana“ and “Mehbooba mehbooba”, and even films as recent as Chalte Chalte and Veer Zaara, passed away on Tuesday after suffering cardiac arrest at the age of 79.

Like his father, who played for Calcutta’s police bands during the British Raj, Singh started his career with the key flute, and he never deserted it entirely. Even in 1967, well after he became famous for the distinct sound of his sax, Singh contributed a flute strain to the song “Ek haseen shaam ko”, from the film Dulhan Ek Raat Ki—a sweet snippet that seems to respond playfully to the plaintiveness in Mohammad Rafi’s voice. More:

A beloved Bollywood extra draws Indians

After years of seeing the pristine backdrop of Switzerland in Bollywood’s films, middle-class Indians are now earning enough to travel there in search of their dreams. John Tagliabue in The New York Times:

The young couple knew that the scene had been shot on location in a church in the small town of Montbovon, a couple of hours drive from this Alpine village of winding streets, low chalets and abundant geraniums. But which church?

The first church Mr. Purohit, 24, spied had the sharply pointed steeple that he and his wife recognized from the film, but the interior was not right. The altars were different, the vaulting not rounded but sharp. Disappointed, they left the church and returned to their tour bus, where a tour guide helped solve the puzzle.

The exterior scenes in the film had been shot around this church with the sharply pointed steeple, he told them. For the interior shots, though, the director had chosen the church of St. Grat, a short distance away. Delighted, Mr. Purohit and his wife bounded over to the second church with its familiar interior and struck poses for honeymoon photographs, aping the Bollywood stars they so admired.

For years, Bollywood’s producers and directors have favored the pristine backdrop of Switzerland for their films. The greatest of the Bollywood filmmakers, Yash Chopra, is a self-professed romantic who has made a point of including in virtually all his films scenes shot on location in this country’s high Alpine meadows, around its serene lakes, and in its charming towns and cities to convey an ideal of sunshine, happiness and tranquillity.

In the process, they have created an enormous curiosity about things Swiss in generations of middle-class Indians, who are now earning enough to travel here in search of their dreams. More:

‘Sholay’s’ whip-wielding Gabbar now a masseur

Arlene Chang in the Wall Street Journal:

Ramgarh village, approximately 50 kilometers southwest of Bangalore, is set to undergo an image makeover and become a swanky lifestyle resort. That will be a far cry from its previous incarnation as the rustic rocky refuge of feared dacoit, Gabbar Singh, in “Sholay.”

Ramnagaram, which was renamed Ramgarh in the 1975 Bollywood classic, was immortalized in cinema by the scene where Gabbar (Amjad Khan), whip in hand, paces around watching Basanti (Hema Malini) dance on shards of glass to save her lover’s life.

Visitors to the under-construction resort can be sure they will not see Gabbar wielding his whip or bellowing against the rocky backdrop: “Tera kya hoga Kalia?” (What will happen to you, Kalia?)

Instead, Gabbar – or a staff member dressed as him – will provide you with a relaxing massage and serve you beverages from “Gabbar ka Adda” (Gabbar’s den).

In this clip from the movie though, the dreaded bandit enjoys some evening entertainment by his campfire. More:

Bollywood star Koirala to marry Facebook friend

Yubaraj Ghimire in The Indian Express:

The Koirala family that plunged into grief after family patriarch G P Koirala passed away in March is preparing to host a joyous occasion next week — Manisha Koirala, Bollywood actress, will marry Samrat Dahal, a businessman, on June 18.

The wedding will be a three-day event to which almost everybody who is a somebody in Nepal, friends in India and a select few from Bollywood have been invited.

Koirala and Dahal, who is seven years younger than her, apparently met on Facebook, fell in love and decided two months ago to marry. The “swayambar” will take place on June 18 at the Gokarna forest resort on the outskirts of Kathmandu. The rituals will follow the next day. Parents Prakash and Sushma Koirala will host a reception at Hotel Soaltee Crown Plaza on June 20. More:

How Bombay made Hindi a heroine

Mukul Kesavan in The Telegraph:

We do, however, know one remarkable fact: historically, before Bombay became the epicentre of Hindi cinema in India, it had already established itself as the beating heart of the subcontinent’s commercial Hindustani theatre. Remarkably, this Deccan port, a thousand miles from heartland of Hindi-speaking India, remained the hub of both commercial Hindustani drama and commercial Hindi cinema for a hundred-and-fifty years. It’s not a coincidence that India’s most successful repertory theatre and its most profitable film industry were both incubated in Bombay and that the medium for both was Hindustani.

Bombay’s history brought this about in two ways. As one of the principal sites of colonial rule in India, the city hosted English stage plays in the late 18th and the early 19th centuries which helped create a hybrid commercial theatre that drew on both European and Indian theatrical traditions. But this wasn’t unique to Bombay; the same could be said of Calcutta. What was peculiar to Bombay was the presence of a merchant elite from elsewhere that was willing to experiment with commercial drama in any language that would fetch a return. Parsi theatre happened in Gujarati, Marathi, Urdu and even English, but given the currency of forms of Hindi/Urdu/Hindustani in northern and even some southern cities, it was a cheerful and robust Hindustani that found it the largest audience.

And while the Parsi theatre as a mobile repertory form wasn’t confined to Bombay, it is in Bombay that many of the major companies were centred. It was Bombay that provided much of the entrepreneurship, and many of the patrons, financiers, managers and performers who helped the Parsi theatre create the largest ticket-buying audience in Indian stage history. More

Bollywood to make Hitler film

Ben Child in The Guardian:

He is a stalwart of Indian cinema who once played Gandhi on the small screen, while she is a former Miss India best known for her romantic comedy roles. Together, Anupam Kher and Neha Dhupia are to play Adolf Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun in a new Bollywood film set in the last days of the Third Reich.

According to reports, the curiously titled Dear Friend Hitler will centre on the relationships between the Nazi dictator and those who were close to him, including Braun, his long-term lover who he married in his final days in the Berlin bunker. “It aims to take the viewer into close quarters with the enigmatic personality that Hitler was and give a glimpse into his insecurities, his charisma, his paranoia and his sheer genius,” a source told the Mumbai Mirror newspaper.

Kher, who was chosen by the film’s director, Rakesh Ranjan Kumar, for his apparent resemblance to Hitler, told reporters on Sunday that he was looking forward to the challenge. “I already have an image, I am a known actor, so it will be doubly hard work for me to take away that image,” he said. “He’s one of the most interesting characters of our times.” More:

Playing Hitler will be challenging: Anupam Kher

From DNA:

“For me… I already have an image, I am a known actor, so it will be doubly hard work for me to take away that image, and an actor likes taking challenges,” said Kher.

Actress Neha Dhupia would be playing the role of Eva Braun, Hitler’s lover, and said she is very excited to work with Kher.

“I am really looking forward to working with Anupam Kher, and it’ll be exciting, it’ll be educative. I’ll learn things on the set everyday. We are going to be doing some workshops together to make sure,” said Dhupia.

The director of the film, Rakesh Ranjan Kumar, said that the film would be released in both the Indian and international cinemas.

He added that Hitler was the most successful loser of the twentieth Century and he wants to interpret the reasons for that. More:

‘Slumdog’ composer A.R. Rahman seeks global pop stardom

Jacob Adelman, Associated Press:

With scores of dancers moving in unison atop trains, singing amid ancient ruins and running across cricket fields, the average Bollywood production is a grand spectacle.

Taking such a show on the road would seem to require significant downsizing. Not for A.R. Rahman, who garnered worldwide exposure with his Academy Award-winning score to “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The Indian film composer is trying to orchestrate his own rise to international stardom by making his production even bigger to dazzle audiences in massive concert venues across the Western Hemisphere with elaborate stage shows teeming with dancers, acrobats and high-tech lighting.

The tour begins June 11 at New York’s Nassau Coliseum and wends through North America and Europe before ending at London’s Wembley Stadium in late July, with ticket prices for the roughly three-hour-long shows ranging from $45 to $1,000.

Through the concerts, Rahman is attempting something many performers from outside the English-speaking world have tried and failed to do: transcend a regional, ethnic niche and become an international mainstream superstar. More:

Bollywood’s real poster boys

The Art of Bollywood / Taschen

Through interviews and rigorous research, a beautifully illustrated new coffee-table book documents 70 years of Hindi film poster art. Arun Janardhan on The Art of Bollywood (Taschen, Rs 1,800):

It’s a story that epitomizes the glamorous ruin that Bollywood led to a couple of generations ago. The artist Gopal Kamble, who came to Mumbai in the 1930s from Kolhapur to work as a banner artist, had impressed K. Asif. The film-maker handed over to Kamble the bulk of the publicity work for Mughal-e-Azam, an epic that took nine years to make.

The story goes that Asif bought all the Winsor & Newton paints in Mumbai shops and when these ran out, raided Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai, spending Rs6 lakh in all. Though Mughal-e-Azam was a hit, Asif could not pay his dues to Kamble, who was ruined, lost his health and eventually returned to Kolhapur.

The Art of Bollywood, which mentions this episode from an artist’s life, is not a book focused on films. It’s about artists who worked on film posters, banners and other publicity material from the time cinema began in India till the 1990s, when digital artwork brought an end to hand-painted imagery. More:

The character actors of Bollywood

Aakar Patel in The News:

Mac Mohan died of cancer this week, and he was famous for saying one line.

Actually only three words: ‘Pooray pachas hazaar’, in reply to Gabbar’s question: ‘Arre O Sambha! Kitna inaam rakhe hain sarkar hum par?’

This was of course in the 1975 movie Sholay, which many think is the best film Bollywood ever made. Mac Mohan was Sambha in the movie, and though he did more than 150 other roles, it was as Sambha that people knew him.

Trim and identifiable by his splash of white hair, Mac Mohan (a Sindhi whose real name was Mohan Makhijani) got only villain’s roles though he did not radiate menace. Amitabh Bachchan remembered him as actually being quite gentle. Mac Mohan was a polished and restrained actor and did not get the sort of parts that he deserved.

The character actors of Bollywood have always been more interesting than its stars. This is because the actions of heroes and heroines in our movies are predictable. Character actors in India are defined by their quirk.

Salim-Javed were excellent at writing in characters, and when they had the space to do this — as they did in Sholay — they sparkled. More:

Mac ‘Sambha’ Mohan

From The Telegraph:

Mac Mohan, who with just three words as Sambha in Sholay immortalised the role of Gabbar Singh’s sidekick, passed away today after a long battle with cancer.

He was 71. “He had been suffering from a tumour in the right lung and breathed his last at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital this evening,” said Manjiri, one of the actor’s two daughters.

Born as Mohan Makhijaney, Mac Mohan is survived by his wife, daughters and a son. He was the maternal uncle of actress Raveena Tandon, whose father Ravi Tandon was a film director in the seventies and eighties. Mac Mohan was a classmate of actor Sunil Dutt in Lucknow from where he hailed.

Mac Mohan starred in close to 200 films in a career spanning 46 years, but has always been known for his role of Sambha in Sholay, Ramesh Sippy’s 1975 blockbuster.

Mac Mohan’s only line in the film was: “Poorey pachaas hajaar,” but Sholay’s unprecedented success ensured instant recognition wherever the actor went. More:

How English erased its roots to become the global tongue of the 21st century

From The Guardian:

The India of Hobson-Jobson has also found a new global audience. A film such as Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding is typical of the world’s new English culture. The Indian bridegroom has a job in Houston. The wedding guests jet in from Melbourne and Dubai and speak in a mishmash of English and Hindi. Writing in the Sunday Times, Dominic Rushe noted that Bollywood English is “hard to reproduce in print, but feels something like this: “Yudhamanyus ca vikranta uttanaujas ca viryanavan: he lives life in the fast lane.” Every English-speaking visitor to India watches with fascination the facility with which contemporary Indians switch from Hindi or Gujarati into English, and then back into a mother tongue. In 2009, the film Slumdog Millionaire took this a stage further. Simon Beaufoy’s script, a potpourri of languages, adapted from an Indian novel, was shot in Mumbai, with a British and Indian cast, by Scottish director Danny Boyle, but launched worldwide with an eye on Hollywood’s Oscars, where it eventually cleaned up.

India illustrates the interplay of British colonialism and a booming multinational economy. Take, for instance, the 2006 Man Booker prize. First, the result was broadcast on the BBC World Service from Delhi to Vancouver. The winner was The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, an Indian-born writer who had attended writing classes in New York. So far removed from any English experience, though steeped in its literary tradition, was The Inheritance of Loss that, finally, the British critic John Sutherland was moved to describe Desai’s work as “a globalised novel for a globalised world”. The writer herself is emblematic of the world’s new culture: educated in Britain and America, she wrote her novel in her mother Anita Desai’s house in the foothills of the Himalayas, and boasts on her website of feeling “no alienation or dislocation” in her transmigration between three continents. More: