Posts Tagged ‘Bollywood’

Sherlock Holmes is everywhere!

October 1, 2012

My entire childhood days were spent watching Jeremy Brett playing Sherlock Holmes in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a British TV series based on the short stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I would eagerly wait for Sundays just to see this show. I specifically loved the character Sherlock Holmes and his astute deductions of human behavior based on simplistic and detailed observation. His being socially inept and rude had no bearing on my admiration for him. I realized that observation alone is of no use without logical deduction and timely action.

I guess this was the seed that was planted in me to rejoice thrillers and mysteries even today, especially, where there are detectives and lawyers slicing and dicing the evidence. Even medical enigmas like House MD! So far in my adult life, I have been catching the re-runs of Sherlock Holmes on PBS and even Agatha Christie’s character Hercule Poirot. And, among the newer and relevant thrillers, I love Monk and CSI. I also am an avaricious reader of John Grisham, Michael Connelly, Mary Higgins Clark, Robin Cook and more recently David Baldacci.

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The character is a consulting detective to Scotland Yard and is known for logical reasoning using observation, deduction and sometimes forensic skills. He was also known for using perfect disguises to solve many cases. He lived at 221B Baker St.

221 Baker Street - Sherlock Holmes

Dr Watson was his partner, friend and chronicler of all his cases. Sherlock is eccentric and arrogant. But at the same time he never took credit for solving cases. In fact, this character is the backbone even today, to all the fictional detectives that get created. If you look at Monk, Dr Gregory House, and even Poirot, they all are eccentric and socially awkward. While one of them is an OCD, the other is an addict and a narcissist. But one common thread connecting them is their observation skills.

However, this character is seeing so many makeovers and versions recently. Check out the actors who have played Sherlock Holmes.

The year 2009 saw a mega movie with Robert Downey Jr playing Sherlock Holmes and what a perfect choice. The character was further exaggerated with extreme eccentricities and humor. The plot itself had a great combination of action and drama.

Sherlock Holmes

Seeing this success and the guaranteed ROI, we have some new shows in TV now. BBC came out with their short series and a new interpretation. Their Sherlock, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is a modern day young detective and a consultant to the cops. He has a cell phone which further helps him in his logical deductions.

Not wanting to be left alone, American TV has thrown in its hat into the ring to create “Elementary”. The Sherlock Holmes in this show has just come out of rehab. After being kicked out by the Scotland Yard, he comes to New York to assist NYPD. It is also modern and relevant to our times but has a twist. Dr Watson is a woman and to top that, an Asian. Gender and Race change, awesome! I know that many literary purists are quite shocked with this interpretation but I quite liked this version. Lucy Liu has the chutzpah to counter Sherlock. I already love her comebacks like “You are full of it” or my favorite where she points out that Holmes doesn’t have any mirrors around his apartment because he knows “a lost cause when he sees one”. Touché! But I hope they build on this chemistry and not make her just another female eye candy.

So, what more is left? Are we going to get an animated version or a 3D movie with Robert Downey Jr?

And, to my Indian friends, what about an Indian Sherlock Holmes? Since Bollywood loves to copy, why hasn’t anyone thought about this yet? Indian TV is still synonymous with “Karamchand”, a popular detective show of the 80s which was the first of its kind and still the best. So, maybe it’s time for something new even if it is an old wine in a new bottle.

Bu if Bollywood were to make an Indian twist on Sherlock Holmes then my bet would be on Vishal Bhardwaj to direct it, after all he succeeded in making Indian adaptation of Othello and Macbeth. My next bet is on Farhan Akhtar because his modern take on Don was not bad at all. But who do you think can play this role? In my opinion, Abhishek Bachchan will be a great modern day commercial Sherlock. In fact, Irrfan Khan will also be a great choice. What do all think?

 

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Bollywood Movie Remakes

March 7, 2012

I was completely disappointed with the remake of Agneepath and surprised that it became a hit. Well if you have read my blog about how I like my Bollywood then you will know that I am not much for melodrama or should I say mocktails. Agneepath came across to me like trying out a rich dark chocolate cake in a vegan style only to see it fall flat. (If done right, some vegan cakes are amazing!)

Let me tell you why. The basic story was a literal copy. However it lacked the thrill of retribution like the original where the angry young man vindicates his father’s wrongful death by becoming the underworld don of Mumbai, Vijay Deenanath Chauhan and defeating his enemies.

Okay, so the remake had a twist just like Farhan Akhtar’s remake of Don where the hero is the villain. Here Karan Johar made his victim the perpetrator. Apart from colossal loss of lives including his own there was nothing really gained at the end. And then there was Sanjay Dutt. I love this guy but I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry looking at his persona in the film. He was just an oversized “human” version of Gollum. Remember him? Sorry Sanjay but if you are a fan of “Lord of the Rings” I am sure you won’t be offended as Gollum was quite awesome.

Sanjay Dutt in Agneepath

Honestly friends, I am not much for remakes and that too of movies that are still fresh on our minds and still relevant for many generations to come. Think about it, do you really want to see Godfather again without Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro? Guess not. Do you really want to see Sholay without Dharmendra, Amitabh, Hema Malini, and Amjad Khan in those very roles? Now I am fine with parodies or spoofs. Yes you guessed it, I am a die-hard fan of Amitabh and I choose to overlook his lapses. 🙂

Anyway, the trend for remakes probably started with Devdas. Now this is a very old movie and I really enjoyed watching it again in the grandiose settings of Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Then came the remake of Don. But kudos to Farhan for giving a great twist to the story and hitting a home run with the masses and critics alike, including me (a critic among the masses). But what did not work for me is his choice of the actor. Shah Rukh Khan may have done well as Devdas but he failed in the first remake of Don. He desperately tried to copy Amitabh and failed. In fact Farhan should have completely stayed away from the original dialogues and scenes. Even Kareena Kapoor’s dance was disgusting and cheap when compared with Helen. So true, “See, Helen never looked vulgar while doing all those cabaret songs.” – Pandit Birju Maharaj, in Times of India.

My husband says to not compare and to look with fresh eyes. If so, then there should be none of the original scenes, dialogues and dance sequences. For example I was quite impressed with Shah Rukh Khan in Don 2. He was his original best.

Coming back to Agneepath, one thing that worked for me was Hrithik. He did not imitate Amitabh even remotely and gave a fresh take on that character. But I wish this was Farhan’s project because Karan Johar as always, got carried away by his super-duper love for melodrama which was disgustingly portrayed very well at the end. Spoiler Alert below!

If a body gets pierced with a weapon penetrating through and through, there is no way that one can survive. To top that if the weapon is removed from the body then one will bleed out completely within minutes. Yeah I know, I watch CSI too much but isn’t it common sense. Well, our wounded hero went on to fight for 20 minutes or more overpowering a man two times his size and even lynching him single-handedly. Really? Not even Rocky Balboa could have pulled that off. C’mon Karan! What were you thinking? Are you testing the intellect of average Indian public? Or, you thought the chikni chameli dance will blindside this lapse? Lucky for you it worked.

On one hand Bollywood makes commercial yet very realistic movies like Zindagi na mile Dobara and then we have movies that are so ridiculous.  This is yet another classic Indian paradox that afflicts our society, our minds and obviously our taste in films and film-making. My earnest request to all the directors and producers, please don’t make fun of Bollywood legends by making such poor remakes. Exaggerating of facts is fine but it should be within sanity. In fact please take creativity classes if you have run out of ideas or just take a walk into real India and you will get your script or even a fresh talent perhaps.

Adios Amigos!

Is Bollywood sexist?

July 18, 2011

In the recent Aishwarya Rai – Madhur Bhandarkar controversy a fierce debate of whether Bollywood is sexist or not became a topic of our discussion with friends one afternoon and thus gave me a much needed topic for blogging.

More on this controversy a little later but first I want to share some scenarios with all of you to set the premise behind this allegation and leave the decision for you to make.

Bollywood has several male actors in their 40s and 50s still playing lead roles alongside actresses who are barely 20. But one doesn’t get to see female actors getting this opportunity. Forget the age factor but the moment they get married and have kids their opportunities start to dwindle. Or does it?

Some examples of male actors are Salman Khan (45), Sanjay Dutt (52), Aamir Khan (46) and Shah Rukh (45). Just recently Jackie Shroff (51) has refused father roles. They all show their age but yet get meaty roles. In fact the only guy who looks fit and young despite his age is Akshay Kumar (43).

Bollywood Actors

Or, take a look at Rajinikanth (60), how he is in real life and how he looks in reel life –

Rajini

But for a lot of actresses, marriage and motherhood translates to early retirement from films. Some have chosen to stage a comeback much later when they are gray and old and take on “mother” roles while some don’t.

Then there is Raakhee who, despite age and motherhood received great opportunities. But then she surprised everyone by taking on the “mother” role for a lead actor (Amitabh Bachchan) with whom she had successful onscreen romantic pairing and since then her fate was sealed. The same goes for Hema Malini but at least with her it was not until her late 40s that she started playing more matured roles. Clearly this shows that Bollywood is not sexist.

Look at their counterparts from Hollywood like Diane Lane (46), Jodie Foster (48), and Julianne Moore (50), they are still sexy and they are still in demand. The key is that the Hollywood actresses understand what it takes to be successful in their profession and hence they get into all kinds of fitness and beauty regimen to remain bankable. Who cannot but get impressed with Meryl Streep even today.

Hollywood Actress

So if actresses don’t maintain their looks then why should the producers put their money on them? So is it really fair to say Bollywood is sexist?

Here is now a tricky part. What about Madhuri Dixit (44) and Sridevi (47)? They are still very beautiful and extremely fit. Why are they finding it hard to land a role?

I think it is purely a business decision. Rajinikanth is still in demand because the brand “Rajini” is imperishable.  But these actresses are out of touch with reality due to a very long break that they took from their career. Simply put their brand is no longer relevant albeit still popular. For example melodrama that was at its peak during their time has very little role to play in today’s movies.

So the second part to this conundrum is actresses taking a long hiatus from their career. Most Hollywood actresses remain true to their professions. Here are  more examples:  J Lo (42), Halle Berry (44) or Angelina Jolie (36). They had kids and they were back in form in less than a year looking as sexy as always. Their name, their body and their face is big money and they know that.

The only actress in Bollywood to have worked through marriage and motherhood is Kajol (36). She looks as beautiful as always although some fitness regimen will not hurt her. We might be at an early stage of change where our actresses don’t look at marriage and motherhood as roadblocks but just as a part of life while continuing to hone their brand image. A lot depends on the next generation of actresses (Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, Priyanka Chopra, and Konkona Sen Sharma).

Now to the topic of Aishwarya Rai! I don’t think Bollywood or for that matter Madhur Bhandarkar is anymore sexist than Aishwarya Rai being completely unprofessional. A true professional will never walk out on a commitment. In fact I have heard of actresses being  dropped from projects because of pregnancy. Even Meryl Streep lost out on “Thelma and Louise” to Susan Sarandon because of pregnancy but it did not stop her from being a successful actress or from being a mother to 4 children.

I am happy Madhur is moving on. He is a great director and there are great actresses equally beautiful who can do justice to his script. He has nevertheless settled the issue with Aishwarya and now looking at Priyanka or Kareena.

It will also be interesting to see what Aishwarya (37) would do. Will she let the brand “Aishwarya” to fade away by following the footsteps of her mother-in-law or whether she will come back looking just as beautiful and stunning in a year’s time or will she stick to matured roles like many other married actresses like Juhi Chawla for one. Whatever it is she should not be forced into it either by family or the industry or the audience.

The day we start seeing female actors in Bollywood enjoying a success like Hollywood’s Meryl Streep or like our own ageless legend Amitabh Bachchan then yes we can stop debating on this issues. For now the case rests.

*Ages as referenced in Wikipedia

Best of Both Worlds!

January 8, 2010

This is in continuation to my previous post. So, I finally reached Bangalore, India. I always strive to blend into the local life although sometimes it is tough and I can’t help feeling out of touch. Things keep changing so fast from clothing styles to one-ways on roads and even the general landscape that it is hard to keep up. This blog of mine is devoted to showcase these new changes in India which may tempt a lot of us to actually go back which seems to be the trend these days anyway.

10 – 20 years ago when I was living in India, there were a lot of things that I craved for but could not get my hands on them easily. A simplest of examples would be Coca Cola. It was not allowed to be sold in India until 1993. Computer and Internet at home was unheard of. It started to show up in a few affluent homes only by 1999-2000. But internet was through the telephone line and the downloading speed was so slow that you could easily have a nap. Yawn!

Despite growing up in a conservative South Indian family steeped in Carnatic classical music, I was hooked on to western music ranging from Pop to Classic Rock to some Hard Rock and Country. Music of this kind was not easily accessible then. I remember hunting down music stores who had a good collection of this music and paying through my nose to have them record it for me in metallic audio cassettes. Same with movies! We would get Hollywood movies only after 3-6 months of its release in the US and not all the movies made it.

Western clothes and shoes for women were hard to get even in the metros where it was mainly worn. All we had were small exports shops. I am sure a lot of my friends in Bangalore just like me have shopped at VT (Victoria Terminus) and La Bamba on Brigade Road. (FYI -the latter still exists). Once I started to work, I would eagerly wait for an opportunity to go abroad to shop. Singapore and Dubai were the nearest cities for our shopping needs. How excited we used to be for the Dubai Shopping Festival and I recall how busy the travel agencies and airlines were during those times.

You know, I sometimes wondered why we had so many local brands starting with a B – Bata (for shoes), BPL (for home electronics), Britannia (snacks), Bombay Dyeing (textiles)! Sumeet blender and Ambassador Car were either an aberration or a relief from this alphabet! 🙂

By 2003, we started to see a few American brands in major metros. But it was only in 2006 the Indian government took a monumental step ushering in a huge change. It started allowing single-brand retailers to own 51% of their business operations in India. That paved the way for a lot of American brands to enter the market like Subway, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Tommy Hilfiger, Subway and so many more on the way like Starbucks, Gap etc. My 5 year old nephew and I were so excited to see our favorite brand Crocs easily available in India this time.

Fast forward to 2009 and you will see that India has done a complete turnaround. With the economy booming despite the crisis in the western world, people have more money to spend and more people are getting hooked to urban way of life. But you can’t help notice that the old world charm existing side by side –

* There are malls everywhere housing not only American brands but also “desi” stuff.

* Cars have become a necessity now and almost all the brands that we see here are being driven there along with some unique ones designed for Indian roads.

* High-rise buildings and apartments are coloring the landscape everywhere. But can you really ignore the slums?

* The simple chai and coffee “addas” of my times co-exist with Coffee Day and Barista Coffee parlors.

* You have retail chain giants like Food World and Reliance but the small time vendors like Subamma angadi are also doing just fine.

* The wine industry is booming now and what a range of red wines and some of them as good and crisp in flavor as the Californian wines! Best part is they are from local vineyards that have mushroomed in the last 2 years.

* There is organic food now in India. There are not just stores selling organic vegetables that are locally grown but you also get jeans and tops made of organic cotton.

One of the main reasons a lot of us came here to the US was to enjoy the best of both worlds. As you can see the Indians in India are doing the same. On one hand they can be sporting foreign brands from head to toe and eat at Subway and love pizza but they can never divorce the masala dosa, Ayurveda or Yoga! They might watch all the Hollywood movies and be up to date with gossip but the ring tone in their cell phone would be the latest Bollywood song. Women who would never dream of wearing anything but the noble salwar kameez are comfortable wearing long tunics on jeans or leggings.

All this has happened in spite of the government. If the government had played hand in hand with this incredible change at every step, we would not be seeing a pathetic infrastructure barely supporting this progress.

This change is not only intrinsic but also global. The US companies are now doing a global launch of their new products as opposed to launching just in the US first. I can now go watch Avatar and so also my friend in India on the same day and we can talk about it in Facebook! I love it!

India today is a beautiful blend of the east and the west, the old and the new creating a unique identity for itself and I salute this new brand India!

 Jai Ho!