It's Saptami today. And the moon is looking beautiful! Last evening, entirely on the spur of the moment, I went to my old haunt, Waman Hari Pethe at Thakurdwar. And fell in love with a Devi Mangalsutra. I missed Ashaben, who used to run the store with great gusto, is now at the factory. Young Aditya Pethe runs the show from Juhu. I recall dealing with his grand father in the old days. What a personality Baba Saheb had.... and those three, major rocks glittering from the handsome gold ring on his long, elegant finger. To say nothing about his emerald shirt buttons. The manner! So old world, refined and courteous.... and then came Subhash Bhau. And now young Aditya!
After the mangalsutra, came the buying of gajras from the old phoolwali who sells them from a topli. A topli full of fragrance! A kilo of mogras now sells at a thousand bucks. A gajra, for thirty-five. Yellow champaks at ten rupees each! I missed my mother - I used to buy gajras for her from this phoolwali's mother.... the fragrance remains unchanged!
Happy Pujo! Ashtami tomorrow...
This appeared in Bombay Times today...
Why Bollywood needs more gutsy film makers….
By all means fall back on the Khans and Kapoors when all else fails. But guys… take a good look around you. Things have changed. Audiences have changed. Today’s movie- goer wants a mezze platter, not the standard murgh makhani at the multiplex. In any case, the multiplex experience has transformed the way Indians watch films. It is the total package that counts. And that package comes with a hefty price tag. Going to the movies is no longer the cut rate, weekend ‘family outing’ it once used to be. Which is also why film makers willing to take a chance with modestly budgeted movies are doing well and walking away with the applause. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s richly erotic, cleverly twisted take on a classic (“Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster’’) is bound to find an audience large enough to make a respectable amount of money. He will also receive enough critical acclaim to attract financiers for his next project. In the bargain, the audience wins. This is essentially what the movie business is all about – a win-win situation for both - those who produce films, and those who shell out good money to watch them.
SBAG is a great example of what happens when a team takes chances with a potentially strong subject and goes ahead boldly, without worrying about signing up a star cast that does not feature marquee names. Jimmy Shergill, to all appearances has everything going for him as a ‘typical’ Bollywood hero from the old school – he is tall, fair and fine featured. His voice is strong. His screen presence, pretty effective ( remember him in ‘Manu weds Tanu’?) . And his acting abilities are far superior to those of some of his more successful contemporaries. And yet – here’s the bad news - Jimmy is not seen as a ‘star’. Which means, his name alone is not enough to attract canny financiers. Jimmy needs a set up in order to bag roles and showcase his considerable talent. If his performance in SBAG doesn’t do it for him, nothing will. Jimmy’s Bollywood story is a little like Vivek Oberoi’s. Vivek also had what it takes to make it big in the film industry ( including fantastic breaks). But Vivek was foolish enough to antagonize the BBBs - Big Bad Boys of Bollywood - after taking a panga with Salman Khan ( during his Aishwarya phase). That was it. Bollywood closed ranks and effectively choked Vivek’s career. Jimmy is different. So far, he has minded his own business, kept his head down and got on with his roles. With no known patrons or godfathers to back him , Jimmy has done it on his own. Good for Jimmy.
And good for Randeep Hooda, who wasted his early years in showbiz playing a dumb role – that of Sushmita Sen’s boyfriend. He was outstanding in SBAG, bringing the right mix of villainy and vulnerability to a tough role. But at the end of the day, a good movie works because of a great script. Period. SBAG may be seriously flawed on some levels, but Dhulia was working with great material – a crackling script. That is more than half the battle won in this crazy business. The real test will come with his next project. The audience is already panting in anticipation!
Happy Navratri! Let those ghagras swirl…