Bombay

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maximum-cityIn Suketu Mehta’s book Maximum City, I recall a part where he speaks of the wonder of the Bollywood film industry, since it’s a place where all types of people come together and work. Mehta‘s take on the recent events in Mumbai and its relation to Bollywood is beautifully said and worth a read:

Just as cinema is a mass dream of the audience, Mumbai is a mass dream of the peoples of South Asia. Bollywood movies are the most popular form of entertainment across the subcontinent. Through them, every Pakistani and Bangladeshi is familiar with the wedding-cake architecture of the Taj and the arc of the Gateway of India, symbols of the city that gives the industry its name. It is no wonder that one of the first things the Taliban did upon entering Kabul was to shut down the Bollywood video rental stores. The Taliban also banned, wouldn’t you know it, the keeping of songbirds…But the best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever. Dream of making a good home for all Mumbaikars, not just the denizens of $500-a-night hotel rooms. Dream not just of Bollywood stars like Aishwarya Rai or Shah Rukh Khan, but of clean running water, humane mass transit, better toilets, a responsive government. Make a killing not in God’s name but in the stock market, and then turn up the forbidden music and dance; work hard and party harder. If the rest of the world wants to help, it should run toward the explosion. It should fly to Mumbai, and spend money. Where else are you going to be safe? New York? London? Madrid? So I’m booking flights to Mumbai. I’m going to go get a beer at the Leopold, stroll over to the Taj for samosas at the Sea Lounge, and watch a Bollywood movie at the Metro. Stimulus doesn’t have to be just economic.

(Read Mehta’s full article from the New York Times HERE.)

Mehta’s other Bollywood related articles include:

Bollywood Confidential and Welcome to Bollywood.

Hey Minneapolis! Here’s something to be thankful for: A Thanksgiving Bollywood Film Festival!

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Now here’s something to be thankful for…

An Exclusive Thanksgiving Holiday Event:

Bollywood Film Festival in the Twin Cities.

If you missed any of these great blockbusters, here is your chance to watch them again on the big screen! At only $2 a ticket, these movies are worth watching over and over again!  All are showing at the Brookdale 8 Cinemas at 5810 Shingle Creek Pkwy, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Phone: 763-566-6721 

Om Shanti Om – Thur, Nov 27th, 9:00 PM
Starring Shahrukh Khan in one of the biggest movies of all times. Brought to you by the team of Main Hoon Na, Om Shanti Om is a riot of colors, chart busting music and entertainment. For any avid hindi film viewer, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Jodha Akbar – Fri, Nov 28, 9:00 PM
ing Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, Jodha Akbar is an epic romance made by the director of Lagaan.  

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na – Sat, Nov 29th, 9:00 PM
Introducing Imraan Khan (nephew of Aamir Khan), this is the biggest movie for the Generation Y. This movie will make you feel young again. Music composed by maestro A R Rahman.

Taare Zameen Par – Sun, Nov 30th, 2:00 PM
Starring Aamir Khan who is also directing the film. Taare Zameen Par is the heart warming story of a little boy and is hailed as the best movie of the year.

Spread the word and bring your friends for a fun night-out at rock bottom prices!

DIRECTIONS

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) It’s not Bollywood, but it stars Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan!

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288644Just what does this remind you of: tragic mothers, slum scenes, orphans, trains, police interrogations, a love story, coincidences galore, super bad gangsters, great music, and references to Amitabh Bachchan. Sounds like Bollywood, hai na? Well almost. In my recent drift to not Bollywood but almost, (The Pool, Heat and Dust) I followed the recommendation of Renegade Eye to go check out Slumdog Millionaire (2008). The movie is based on the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup. Shri Swarup-ji’s website has lots of great information about book’s transformation into a movie. From an interview with the film’s director, Danny Boyle:

‘It’s called ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’, It’s based on a true story, and it’s about a kid from the slums of Mumbai, who has nothing – he’s ill educated, he’s illiterate – and he goes on the Hindi version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ and wins it. And they can’t believe that he’s done it. They think he’s cheated. They think he’s getting signals from embedded chips in his body, or that there are people coughing in the audience, but he won it. ‘What’s clever about the film is that the structure shows you how he knows the answers. Certain things have happened to him in his life and they happen to ask questions about those things. But the real reason he’s on the show is to get in touch with the girl he loves but has lost in the chaos of Mumbai, and all he knows is that she watches the show religiously. So he’s not even there to win the money, but that’s when you win I suppose, when you’re not even trying.’ (source)

I was lucky enough to get tickets to the premier of the film, and just like when I watched  The Pool ( 2008 ) in a theater recently, I was surprized that this movie had some Bollywood stars, but this time I didn’t cry out “Anil Kapoor! Irfan Khan!” when I saw my familiar Bollywood friends on the big screen and avoided being shushed. Phew! There are several other fantastic Bollywood character actors in this film that my Indian Film Industry fans will recognize, like the inspector, Saurabh Shukla. I love a film on the big screen, but there are definately perks to watching at home where horrific scenes can be muted or fast forwarded and this film has a couple of those, so be preparred. I nearly walked out, but was glad I stuck it out and stayed. I loved the tribute to Amitabh Bachchan within the film and I wonder if Amit-ji has seen it. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s really a very sweet honor paid to Mr. Bachchan and I’d love to hear his reposnse to it. Ifran Khan is also fantastic as the police inspector, but who am I to say since I love all his work.

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Anil Kapoor plays an arrogant host wearing a sleazy suit. He’s perfect! Get a taste of that HERE.

I LOVE the song Paper Planes by M.I.A. (Maya Arulpragasam), and was so excited that it popped up in this film, look:

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Bollywood popped up again in a scene where people were watching Aaj Ki Raat from Don (2006) with music by Shankar-Eshaan-Loy and playback singers Alisha Chinoi, Mahalakshmi, and Sonu Nigam. Since I was in an art house theater I didn’t scream out, “Hey that’s Priyanka from Don!” But I thought that! I also thought “Aaj ki raat means tonight, do you people know THAT!?”

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Just like many of the best movies India has to offer, this one has a score written by A.R. Rahman. Listen!

During the film I thought how it reminded me Millions (2004), and no wonder, because when I went home and looked up Danny Boyle, I saw that he also directed the sweet and beautiful Millions.

I’ve given you plenty of reasons to see this film, and if you’d like to see more, watch the Slumdog trailer.

p.s. Stop over the MemsaabStory for a review of the film.

p.p.s.  I had wondered about Amitabh’s reaction to his tribute in the film, which he has since commeted about in his blog, which I first read about in an article by Emily Wax.  Washington Post Foreign Service writer Emily Wax’s insightful article, Protests & Praise “Slumdog’s’  Mumbai Realism is Divisive contained a bit of Amitabh’s reaction:

 

One of India’s iconic Hindi film heroes, Amitabh Bachchan, whose likeness appears in the movie as the object of a slum child’s adoration, criticized the film for portraying a poverty-stricken India. Big B, as he is known in India, wrote in his blog that if the movie “projects India as [a] Third World, dirty under belly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky under belly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations.”

Bollywood Insider: from 10/31/08 and 11/7/08

Here to deliver Bollywood chugli is our favorite spunky correspondant, Suzi Mann, with her latest Bollywood Insider’s reports.

From November 7th, 2008:

Golmaal Returns makes UK Top 10 – Roadside Romeo Blues – Kat steals the show

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From October 31, 2008:

Kuch Kuch Haunting Hai – Dostana, Karan Johar on KKHH and Dostana

Click on Suzi to view:suzimann103108

 

I’d noticed that several of the Bollywood Insider reports posted in the past would become unavailable.  Then last week on once such post I was lucky enough to get a comment from Suzi Mann-ji herself:

Firstly thanks for posting our Bollywood Insider videos really appreciate the coverage given. Just to let you know we have contract terms of 30 days with youtube after this period the videos are removed. They are however available on MSN, Blinx, AOL, Bebo, My Space and a number of other sites independently. Many sites do still line them from youtube. BI is a weekly made for mobiles and online show therefore if you could kindly link it weekly that way you’re subscribers won’t miss out.  Enjoying the comments.

Kind regards

Suzi

How exciting to get the news about the best ways to link to the videos directly from Suzi herself!  And thanks to Suzi Mann for working hard to keep us all up on the latest Bollywood news!

Bollywood Balloons.

balloonsHey Bollywood, and India in general, I’ve got a fascination with your balloons. I’ve seen lot of balloons in your films and noticed their oval shapes. As a kid growing up in the US of A, the only time I saw balloons sort of like your fancy balloons was when I went to the circus, but more often I just saw regular balloons like these in the first picture. I have been meaning to collect screen captures of Bollywood movie balloons, but haven’t gotten around to that just yet. In the meantime, here’s and image to show you what I mean.

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Too bad about the advent of mylar balloons and balloon technology advances in general, because I prefer the festive look of these old fashioned rubber balloons, don’t you?

B.R. Chopra died today.

Mumbai: Legendary film-maker B.R. Chopra, who made immortal classics highlighting socially relevant issues and produced the popular Hindi TV serial ‘Mahabharat,’ died on Wednesday at his home here following prolonged illness. Baldev Raj Chopra, elder brother of another filmmaker Yash Chopra, was 94. Mr. B.R. Chopra had not been keeping well for sometime and the end came at 8.30 a.m. at his residence in suburban Juhu, family sources said. One of India’s most respected film personalities and an eminent film producer-director, Mr. B.R. Chopra is survived by his film-maker son Ravi Chopra and two daughters. Mr. B.R. Chopra was known for making films based on powerful off-beat themes such as Dhool Ka Phool (1959), Waqt (1965), Naya Daur (1957), Kanoon (1958), Humraz (1967), Insaf Ka Tarazu (1980) and Nikah (1982). Whether it was issues relating to adultery (Gumraah), the politics of rape (Insaaf Ka Tarazu), Muslim matrimony laws (Nikah), rehabilitation of prostitutes (Sadhana) or widow remarriage (Ek Hi Raasta), he always had a sharp, clear and effective non-formula tale to tell. He laid great emphasis on the story because he himself had started out as a writer. (The Hindu)

This Times of India article on Chopra is quite interesting. I just loved Chopra’s Naya Daur and Nikaah. The supplemental disc to Naya Daur contains a great interview with Chopra which I blogged about HERE. Now here’s a nice tune from Naya Daur to send off Chopra:

Credit for the B.R. Chopra film images posted above goes to the marvelous Karen’s Gallery. Stop over to Rough In Here to see some more videos from B.R. Chopra’s films.