Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bring it on Bollywood.....!

Guys, I am off to the Turin Book Fair tonight. The focus is on India and I am so looking forward to one particular session in which Kiran Desai and I will be in conversation with readers and the media. My last book , 'Superstar India...." will be launched at the Fair in its Italian edition. Wish me luck!! The volcanic ash has spared Turin so far. Chances are my flight won't be cancelled. Sorry.... no laptop. So, blogging may not happen. Bear with me for a few days.... lots of masala on my return.


My Bombay Times column....

This is the deliciously loony season for Bollywood blockbusters of every conceivable hue – call it mid-summer madness, but the box office is going crazy with the most idiotic movies raking it in. After I survived ‘Housefull’ , I asked myself if I was ready for more lunacy. I was! If I possibly could have, I would have made it to the first day, first show of ‘Badmaash Company’. But my daughters decided to save it as my Mother’s Day treat. They asked me sweetly what I wanted to do by way of a fun celebration, and it took me under ten seconds to tell them nothing would please me more than to watch ‘ Badmaash…’ And that’s when they looked at me a little strangely. They’d been planning a chic girlie brunch…. perhaps a soothing spa treatment, or something equally posh. Forget it, I answered jauntily, let’s go watch a full on Bollywood masala film. Nothing serious, nothing arty, nothing pretentious . Just the real thing with absurd situations, fabulously choreographed ‘item’ numbers, hot bods performing impossible stunts , lots of catchy remix tracks, an OTT storyline, implausible plot developments, politically incorrect gags that offend various interest groups, cheap humour, sexually ‘out there’ innuendos, out of the world locations, garish styling, and most importantly – no logic. I’d define that as a perfect formula for stress busting – better than any hot stone , deep tissue massage. Nothing gets me to unwind as wonderfully as a tacky Bollywood film! You can call it a case of full blown Bollywooditis. I am hopelessly hooked and may require rehab. But not just yet.
The two other movies on my ‘must see’ list are ‘Ravaan’ and ‘Rajneeti’ , even though both remain strictly outside the realm of rubbishy yet compulsively watchable films. This has to do with the star cast, the respective premises and the hugely talented directors helming both projects. Let’s call them ‘quality Bollywood products’, not necessarily designed for mass consumption. Going by the slick promos, both movies promise a lot, but since our audiences remain frustratingly unpredictable ( just like our voters ) God knows how they’ll fare at the box office. The magic Bollywood ‘formula’ everyone talks about, has not been bottled so far. Had that been so, every second dhoom dhadaka film would have scored at the box office. Nobody has cracked this elusive formula – nobody can. But as the annual movie jamboree rolls out its red carpet at Cannes, it is important for India to assert itself on its own terms. I happened to run into the Hinduja brothers at a wonderful dinner hosted at the Raj Bhavan by our Governor. They are Cannes veterans who are known to throw lavish parties. We got talking as to why Bollywood has still to make its presence felt at this mecca of moviedom, where film makers from across the world gather to cut deals, hustle, flog their latest films, net work, schmooze, party. One of the Hindujas mentioned our lack of co-ordination and mainly the absence of clout. We are not taken seriously enough, which is a sad comment given the size of our film industry. We also do not present a cohesive, coherent picture of Brand Bollywood, nor do we have the foresight to hire the top P.R. people to advise us. Because of this, we lag behind much smaller countries like Taiwan, Iran, Hong Kong or Korea. It is time to stop being apologetic about our films. Bollywood will soon be recognized as a legitimate genre – like those old spaghetti westerns from Italy or the perennial kung fu films from Hong Kong. The world must accept us on our own terms – we make the best masala movies on earth. That is our brand equity. Why dilute it? The day a ‘Housefull’ receives international recognition and outgrosses a Hollywood romcom ( come on….. what was ‘The Bounty Hunter’ if not a Bollywood film in English?), we will know that we have truly arrived.
How I loved Hema Malini’s candid admission in her open letter on Mother’s Day to her daughter Esha, that all she wanted for her was to have a man in her life! “ Find the right guy,” urged Hema. How disarming and genuine that sounded compared to all the gyaan given by other celeb moms to their celeb daughters!


Sudhir Kekre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sudhir Kekre said...

Hi Good Luck.

btw amitabh mentioned your article in his blog.


Dr. Chandana Shekar said...

all the best..

anamika said...

DE!!!! I was planning for the movie today.Saved again but aren't you a boring mom ...i mean who wants to go for movie in place of Spa man.


Anonymous said...

How much time is spend for script/s?
no matter writer or director??
3/6/12 months???

Dee said...

Have a great time and best of luck.

My favortie bollywood actor

Anonymous said...

Have a lotta fun !!

krish said...

Hey ma

have loads of fun and enjoy



Unknown said...

we will miss you...eagerly waiting for your return to read more masala...

All the best

Pooja Rathore said...

Good luck. Wear brown for Confidence. All the best.

Anil Kumar said...

I am adding a blog url which shows cruelty towards animals. I happen to be in Tamilnadu and was baffled to see the kind of cruelty inflicted on animals their. It may be true in other state also.

Just look at the pictures of goats butchered on the street in front of their eyes.

This says a lot about the people of this state. Shame on those authorities who allow this to happen every single day.


Will you pass this on to someone in Tamilnadu who can get rid of this practice. This is DISGUSTING to say the least.

Anil Kumar said...

I am adding a blog url which shows cruelty towards animals. I happen to be in Tamilnadu and was baffled to see the kind of cruelty inflicted on animals their. It may be true in other state also.

Just look at the pictures of goats butchered on the street in front of their eyes.

This says a lot about the people of this state. Shame on those authorities who allow this to happen every single day.


Will you pass this on to someone in Tamilnadu who can get rid of this practice. This is DISGUSTING to say the least.

Divya (Virmani) Chadda said...


ekta khetan said...



hello shobha,
waiting to hear your comments on the newly elected prime minister of great britian and their coalition government

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Marco Scala said...

Hi! I was in Turin this afternoon at Castello del Valentino and your presentation was really interesting and fascinating and gave me a new sights of today's India.

I'm looking forward to read more from you, your columns and books.

Hope your staying it Turin will be good,
Marco Scala

sunil golcha said...

wait a minute dont call it your last book

Buzzintown Blogger said...

Didn't watch Houseful though but i agree that Bollywood masala films will get international recognition one day.
Bollywood movies are like "You don't like them either but you can't live without them even" :)

Cool you have Rajneeti and Raavan on ur list but what about Kites? Y it is not there in ur list?

Fun Events and Entertainment Bangalore
Hindi movies in Delhi

Another Kiran In NYC said...

A fun and enlightening time will be had by all in Turin with you and Kiran Desai in attendance.

All the Taiwanese and Korean films being bought and sold like so much Bhindi and Kaddu in Cannes, are made with an International audience in mind. The attitudes, look, cultural icons represented, even the food the characters are shown eating is already familiar to western audiences. Kimchi is simply better known than Panchranga!

Hindi fillums are truly not made for an audience which is not in sync with desi cultural mores. So lets revel in what we have and continue to sell to Russia and Chad and Algeria. There is plenty of money in that. Diluting our brand to make our films palatable to the west results in anemic khichdi which is neither Risotto nor Congee.

No amount of networking and PR is going to help a product, the basic underpinnings of which, the audience cannot identify with.

Lets get real about exactly how popular bollywood is amongst the mainstream western audiences....if it were not for the huge desi diaspora with its insatiatable nostalgia led appetite for desi entertainment and a small percentage of bangle and bindi sporting goray log... KJO and Co would be still shooting songs in Mettapalayam and not Manhattan. KJo is certainly not making films for the Lisettes and Jacobs and Buffys in my town. These folks actually buy tickets in the local multiplex. And they aint buying tickets for Kites either!

sagar said...

Oh this was a real blog for bollywood fans like me. Thanks for sharing such beautiful posts.


leopiya said...

Hello Mam,

Saw u on IBN Lokmat yesterday. Your words were awe-inspiring.
And thank you for giving that 'tip' to the young-n-budding writers - I'll write more! :)

-Priyanka (Just another fan)

Momo Mafia said...

This is how great India is.


Total abuse of power by the new rich of unemployed young adults.
Shobha I know you care deeply for the country just as much as I do being a Tibetan refugee who grew up most of her life in India. With every advancement in India, I feel proud. But this video shows inequity at its worst. The bitch totally deserved the slap even though I dont condone violence. However what followed the slap was more disturbing. We dont want another Rakhi Sawant. We want to end the Rakhi Sawant phenom.

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Unknown said...

"It is time to stop being apologetic about our films."

Despite most of them being apologies? Another case of 'nationalism' having overtaken good sense...eh?


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