Category Archives: Features

Oscars So White… and Dull #OPENMAGAZINE

For the second time in two years, all twenty acting nominees at the Oscars are white, and the controversy surrounding that has given consequence to the 88th Academy Awards that were set to be all but inspid

Note: This piece was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoonfor Open Magazine. An edited version of the piece can be found here: https://goo.gl/DdV02l

On February 28, 2016, all eyes will be on Chris Rock, as he takes the stage to host the 88th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California, in what has, over the last month-and-a-half, turned out to be the most talked about Oscars of this side of the 21st century, but for all the wrong reasons.

African-American standup comedian Rock’s opening monologue will have to pull no punches, mostly on the ceremony itself, if the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, that runs the Oscars, wants the 88th edition to be remembered for the right reasons, or perhaps one: six-time Oscar-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio potentially winning a compensatory Best Actor Award after 22 years of near-misses, heartbreaks and internet memes.

The story of this year’s awards, which were touted to be the most boring Oscars in a decade since the 78th edition, when Crash inexplicably won over Brokeback Mountain among snooze-fest Best Picture nominees including Capote, Good Night and Good Luck and Munich, unexpectedly became significant, when, on January 14, it so turned out that for the second year in a row, all 20 actors announced as nominees in the four acting categories were white.

Not since 1998 had such a thing happened at the Oscars, and the fact that it has now happened two years in a row, opened the floodgates of controversy surrounding the Academy, as well as Hollywood’s, Achilles heel: its severe diversity problem. There had already been an outcry from Hollywood and beyond in 2015, when the snubs to award shoo-ins David Oyelwo, who portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Best Picture nominee Selma, and the movie’s director Ava DuVernay, gave rise to the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, causing much embarrassment to the Academy. The hashtag trended again, immediately after this year’s announcements, compounded by a lengthy post by two-time Academy Award nominee, director Spike Lee, on Instagram.

“How is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the acting category are white?” Lee passionately appealed, “And let’s not even get into the other branches. Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all. We can’t act?! WTF!! (sic)” Lee has since refused to attend the ceremony this year to collect a Honorary Oscar that was presented to him for his contributions in filmmaking at the Governors Awards in November.

In a year where two of the biggest original blockbusters came in the form of F. Gary Gray’s biographical drama on the hip hop group, N.W.A., collecting $200 million at the box office on a $28 million budget, followed closely by Ryan Coogler’s Creed, that earned over $170 million on a $35 million budget, the reactions towards the nominations and Lee’s comments were swift and no-hold-barred. On last count, Jada Pinkett-Smith and husband Will Smith, David Oyelowo, Tyrese Gibson and Michael Moore were among the other prominent names who wouldn’t be going – or watching – the Oscars.

Besides them, all of Hollywood, from George Clooney, who said that the Oscars are “moving in the wrong direction”, to Best Actress nominee Charlotte Rampling, who added fire to the debate by saying that the controversy was “racist to whites”, has weighed in on the issue, with even President Barrack Obama stating, “The industry should look for talent and provide opportunity to everybody. Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?”

The controversy has put Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first black president of the Academy, centre stage, and Isaac has already set a goal of doubling the number of women and diverse members by 2020. She also put out a statement saying, “While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.”

These changes, which include expungement of voting rights for inactive members of the Academy, are crucial for the 6,000-plus-member group that runs the Oscars that is, according to a 2012 Los Angeles Times Survey, 94% white and 77% male, with a median age in the mid-60s, not only because of its diversity issues, but also because it needs to stay relevant to younger audiences, who are all but tuning out of the Awards each passing year.

The audience for last year’s ceremony, which saw Neil Patrick Harris valiantly try to entertain in his underwear, dropped to 36.6 million in 2015, nearly 15 percent from 43 million viewers in 2014, a year remembered for Seth MacFarlane’s unfortunate segment, ‘We Saw Your Boobs’. It has long been time for change, and for that reason, David Hill (a former Fox executive) and Reginald Hudlin (Oscar-nominated producer of Django Unchainted) were appointed in 2015 to take over producing duties and make the show more engaging.

Their first call to action was getting Chris Rock back on as host after his 2005 Oscar-stage debut, in a pre-nominations move that has now become especially momentous, in the wake of the diversity controversy. In fact, Rock, who is said to be writing a monologue to “specifically” address the issue, responded to the #Oscarssowhite hashtag with the tweet, “The #Oscars. The White BET Awards. (sic)” referring to the Black Entertainment Awards that honour African Americans and other minorities in entertainment.

Besides Rock, Foo Fighters’ founder Dave Grohl is another veteran entertainer who may infuse some much-needed positive momentum and bring more eyeballs to the Oscars. Grohl is slated to perform at the ceremony, although the specifics of his act are being kept a secret. He’ll be a welcome addition to the other notable performances including Best Original Song nominees Lady Gaga, Sam Smith and The Weeknd, all of whom will attempt to keep audiences interested, entertained and awake through the four-hour-long Oscar night.

There will also be a noticeable change in format this year with Hill and Hudlin introducing a ‘Thank You Scroll’ at the bottom of the screen for home viewers, aimed at keeping the winner speeches shorter and more emotional, by taking off the pressure of having to say lengthy ‘Thank Yous’. All this may end up making the ceremony memorable, at the very least, or a game-changer, at best, especially if the #OscarsSoWhite drama carries out on stage through its diverse presenters including Quincy Jones, Kevin Hart and Kerry Washington. This is all very well, since the awards themselves are nothing exciting to speak about.

For one, besides Mad Max: Fury Road, none of the eight Best Picture nominees have managed to accumulate any sort of feverish fan following or emotional connect with the audiences, as opposed to last year, when Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma as well as Whiplash, each had its own cult following, or the year before, where 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, Her and The Wolf of Wall Street were all popular choices for Best Picture.

This year, if you don’t count The Martian’s $609 Million worldwide gross, the collective gross of five other nominees, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Room, Spotlight and The Big Short, stacks up to $370 Million Dollars, the amount nearly grossed by two other nominees, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, themselves. The numbers are but an indication of how many people have watched these films or for that matter, really care about them, and they paint a sorry picture.

Adding to this dreary trend, is the fact that the acting winners are all but set in stone. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brie Larson have swept the Best Actor and Actress Awards respectively at the Golden Globes, The Screen Actors Guild Awards, The Critics Choice Awards and the BAFTAs, so it would take some doing for them to be left empty-handed (here’s looking at you, Leo!).

There are two favourites in both Supporting categories – Sylvester Stallone (Creed) and Mark Rylance (Bride of Spies) among actors and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) and Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) among actresses, as all four have won two awards each so far. But seeing how the Academy favours experience over craft, it is likely that Stallone and Winslet may win, but the only ones getting robbed here would be Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) and Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), who didn’t score a nomination at all.

Inside Out is certain to win Best Animated Film while Spotlight and The Big Short are likely to win Best Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay respectively, as both The Hateful Eight and Steve Jobs were shut out of the nominations.

It all eventually boils down to Best Picture and Best Director, which would be interesting only if Mad Max: Fury Road and its director George Miller stood any chance of winning, but given the Academy’s penchant for being blind to what or who has really wowed audiences, Alejandro G. Inarritu is probably going to win Best Director for the second year in a row, whereas Best Picture will be a close call between Spotlight and The Revenant, both award-season favourites, although no one would really bother if either of them or any of the rest won, as long as DiCaprio took his trophy home.

And if your heart is made of stone and you aren’t excited about seeing DiCaprio finally take the Oscar stage to receive a trophy, even as animators elsewhere in the world are creating arcade-style video games called ‘Red Carpet Rampage’ in tribute (check it out), there is still something for you to watch out for: Indian-origin director Asif Kapadia, is, in all likelihood, winning the Best Documentary Feature Award for his film, Amy, on the life and death of late singer, Amy Winehouse. Plus, Priyanka Chopra will be presenting on stage, and as long as she doesn’t give a shout out to Mother Teresa, at least India will have something to write home about.

 

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Note: This interview first appeared in Open Magazine on February 26, 2016
Link: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/art-culture/sisterhood-of-the-angry-young-women
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

 

SCARE WARS: THE RISE OF INDIE HORROR #MOVIES #THEJUICE

Note: This piece was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) in December 2015 for The Juice. An edited version of the piece can be found here: http://goo.gl/YEmZT3


There’s one thing common between the directors of the Spider-Man reboot (Jon Watts), Aquaman (James Wan), Doctor Strange (Scott Derrickson) and Star Wars: Rogue One (Gareth Edwards), some of the biggest upcoming summer films of the next few years: they started out with indie horror.

Watts debuted with gore-laden Clown, Edwards’s first film was a horror film titled Monsters, while Wan and Derrickson are scare-a-thon legends now, with Wan having helmed the Saw series, Insidious and Conjuring, and Derrickson having kickstarted the Sinister franchise as well as directing a bunch of other horror films like Deliver Us From Evil and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. The four of them aren’t exceptions to a rule, in fact, they are the new rule – the offsprings of the ‘rise and rise of indie horror’ trend.

Directors with an indie horror background are now being picked to helm money-spinning, extravagant franchises because of their proven track record with low-budget, high-concept horror, even as new directors are readily filling those places with fresh and terrifying takes on a genre as old as the movies itself.

Take some of the biggest successes of the last few years, purely based on return of investment, and it is only original takes on horror that stand out – from home invasion thriller The Purge (cost $3 million, grossed $83 million) to supernatural horror Mama (cost $15 million, grossed $146 million) to haunted house The Conjuring (cost $20 million, grossed $318 million). There’s been no better time to experiment with unique, edgy horror, and no better time to be a horror movie fan.

The genre’s most successful producer, James Blum, whose production house Blumhouse Productions is behind everything from The Paranormal Activity to Insidious to The Purge, in a Nerdist.com interview reveals that indie horror has worked so well recently because as compared to old school tropes of VFX trickery, his films have been ‘grounded’ and ‘reel-feeling’. He’s got three main reasons on why indie horror is booming: “Horror is scarier without special effects, you don’t need movie stars in it and you need locations where you feel vulnerable, like your house or particularly, your bedroom. The more claustrophobic it is, the scarier it is.”

Blum’s methodology is just that simple: smart, inexpensive filmmaking, with legitimate ‘filmmakers’. That’s also why indie horror has been moving away from werewolves, vampires and zombies or slasher, splatter and body horror, and has recently gifted us arthouse horror, helmed by auteur directors of the future, with the focus just as much on nuances, details and superior filmmaking, as it has been on thrills. These are the very same directors who are now getting picked up to showcase their artistry on the big screen.

Take the example of last year’s most buzzed about indie horror, ‘It Follows’. Sitting at a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 96% ‘Fresh’ (contrast it with The Shining, that’s at 91%!), it was counted among several critics’ year end list of 2014’s Best Films. In an interview with Indiewire.com, RADiUS-TWC CEO Tom Quinn reveals how director David Robert Mitchell – who is Hollywood hot property now – had put together a book of visual references and had a strong sense of style, character and place. Quinn decided to produce the film because it’s a horror film that’s “character driven” and “has a real director’s point of view, which is so rare.”

Australian writer-director’s Jennifer Kent is a similar story. Her strong storytelling in last year’s The Babadook, won over Hollywood to the extent that she was in the running to direct DC Entertainment’s ‘Wonder Woman’. And then there’s this year’s The Witch. One of the first indie horror films to have got its director (Robert Eggers) a Sundance Film Festival Award for Best Direction in the Dramatic category, The Witch, scheduled for release in 2016, has had distributors lining up to bask in its reflected glory, for the spooks its offers as well as the meticulousness with which director Eggers created 1630s’ New England, where the film is set.

This trend has now resulted in several genre movie fests coming up all across the world, with Texas’ Fantastic Fest, being a horror movie fan favourite. There’s also Canada’s ‘Toronto After Dark Film Festival, UK’s ‘Fright Fest’ and LA’s ‘Screamfest’. India also jumped into the mix with the Mumbai Film Festival announcing an ‘After Dark’ section in this year’s edition, which will screen films post 11 pm and is being curated by Jongsuk Thomas Nam, a veteran curator of genre films.

With Anurag Kashyap’s Phantom Films having made a deal with Blumhouse Productions last year for a multi-year and multi-film deal, exciting times are ahead for Indian horror film buffs as well, even as they continue lapping up international indie horror films each month. As horror movie specialist Raven Banner Entertainment’s James Fler puts it in an Indiewire conversation, “What’s funny in the US might not be funny in Asia — but scary is scary everywhere.”

 

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Note: This piece first appeared in The Juice in the December 2015 issue. An edited version can be found here: http://www.jabong.com/juicestyle/magazine/film-indie-horror/
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

THE ORIGIN OF BOLLYWOOD SOUTH PARK #THEJUICE

Note: This piece was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) in November 2014 for The Juice.
Like all things, Bollywood South Park started quite arbitrarily. Sagar Taneja used to work in a digital media company in Mumbai and was handling the digital strategy of Shahrukh Khan’s Don 2. When asked to come up with a “different” idea to promote the film, he thought for a day and then went on to create a South Park avatar of SRK’s character! “I’m a huge fan of South Park,” says Sagar. “My inspiration was avatars of famous celebrities like Russell Crowe, Sylvester Stallone and Tom Cruise that have featured in South Park episodes, because I found them so brilliant.”

The SRK avatar was received well by the movie’s fans and Excel Entertainment. Some of the staff of Excel even changed their profile picture to the avatar.  That’s when Sagar knew that he may have something special.

It wasn’t until Dhoom 3 released that Sagar tried this again; and the reason was quite similar to why he made the first one. “I’m also a big fan of Aamir Khan!” he chuckles. “I realised that I really enjoy doing this, so I made avatars for Aamir’s characters in Fanaa and Rang De Basanti too. Since the response from friends was so great, I started making avatars of iconic characters from cult Bollywood films, like Crime Master Gogo from Andaz Apna Apna and Gabbar Singh from Sholay.

Sagar makes avatars of movies where the characters have an interesting look; it’s his way of paying tribute to distinct looks or iconic characters of Bollywood. It typically takes Sagar a day’s work to make the perfect avatar, because, he says, “I need to get all the smallest details right too.

“My approach to the avatars is that I don’t want them to be just cartoonish verions of the characters. I try to make the avatars as close to the characters as possible, else they’d just be another cartoon and that really wouldn’t be cool.”

For example, in the Khalnayak avatar, Sagar ensured that he got Sanjay Dutt’s blazer perfect. It had stripes on the left and checks on the right, polka dots on the tie and there was a heart on the collar.

Sagar’s only just started taking his hobby seriously by starting a Facebook page for the avatars. With over 500 likes in a week already, Bollywood South Park has begun to flirt with virality. The next step? If there is enough demand, possibly do a couple of short animated videos of the same, every once a while, because “that would be the best tribute to Trey Parker and Matt Stone possible”

Check out all of Sagar’s Bollywood South Park avatars on www.facebook.com/BollywoodSouthPark and www.twitter.com/_sagart and www.instagram.com/BollywoodSouthPark

 

Follow the blog on your left and like The Tanejamainhoon Page on FB: /tanejamainhoonpage
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Liked/disliked the piece? Think there are more great shows that I’ve not covered? Leave your comments below 🙂
Note: This piece first appeared in The Juice in the November 2014 issue.
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

SISTERHOOD OF THE ANGRY YOUNG WOMEN #ANGRYINDIANGODDESSES #OPENMAGAZINE #PROFILE

Finally a ‘female buddy’ film that explores what it means to be a contemporary Indian woman. The cast and crew on the journey…


Note:
This profile was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) for Open Magazine. An edited version of the profile can be found here: http://goo.gl/INiyWG


There were 399 films from 79 countries screened at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the 40th edition of one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.  473,000 film fans attended the festival over 11 days of the festival, including 5,400 industry delegates from 80 countries.

For the 38th year, a majority of the half a million attendees voted for their favourite film as part of ‘Grolsch People’s Choice Awards’ that has often been an Academy Awards predictor, with past winners including Slumdog Millionaire, The Silver Linings Playbook and 12 Years a Slave. Among this year’s favourites were big-ticket names like Ridley Scott’s The Martian (starring Matt Damon), Scott Cooper’s Black Mass (starring Johnny Depp), Brian Helgeland’s Legends (starring Tom Hardy) and Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl (starring Eddie Redmayne).

While the top prize went to Lenny Abrahamson’s emotional thriller aiggRoom, a little Indian film beat all the aforementioned names, and hundreds of other star-studded films to win the first runner’s up prize. The journey of Angry Indian Goddesses, director Pan Nalin’s third fictional narrative and his ninth feature film in all, featuring an eclectic cast of Anushka Manchanda, Amrit Maghera, Sarah Jane Dias, Sandhya Mridul Singh, Pavleen Gujral, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Rajshree Deshpande, was just getting started.

It’s been over a month since the prize, and the film, being called ‘India’s first female buddy film’ has now travelled to the Atlantic Film Festival, the Zurich Film Festival and the Rome Film Festival, been sold to distributors all over Europe, South America and even the Middle East, and is drumming up all sorts of noise for its India premiere at the Mumbai Film Festival in October-end, and a likely Diwali release, alongside Sooraj Barjatya’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, starring Salman Khan.

A FILM ON FEMALE BUDDIES
“Seems like a good decision to go with Salman bhai,” laughs Nalin, as he’s fondly called, with his signature top hat firmly in place, “He is back, but our marketing is that we aren’t back; we were always there. The Goddesses are omnipresent, you just never saw us.”

It is quite something that an industry that produces over 1500 feature films each year in various languages hasn’t yet been able to give us a memorable film – or any film perhaps – about female ‘buddies’. It took Nalin, who is based out of Paris and Mumbai and shuttles between the two for work, a couple of years just to get the film financed. “When I wrote the first treatment of the film, producers asked me, ‘Who will watch this film?’ They said that the audiences are not ready… ek ladka daal do (put a boy in it). When Kahaani worked and I went to them again, they said, ‘That’s a fluke’ or again, ‘get 4-5 stars and maybe then it will work’. But I believed the Indian audiences are ready for good content, and with every rejection, my belief became stronger.”

It was perhaps an idea whose time has come. In the current climate, where films about kickass women protagonists are doing wonders at the box office (This year alone, Kangana Ranaut’s Tanu Weds Manu, Anushka Sharma’s NH10, Deepika Padukone’s Piku, were all hits), it was inevitably time for a ‘female Dil Chahta Hai’, as the film is being called by critics.

“It started with a coffee shop where a bunch of young, urban girls were chatting,” Nalin, best known for his award-winning film Samsara (2001), a runaway hit internationally, and his critically acclaimed documentary, Faith Connections (2013), among others, recalls. “I told my associate director, Dilip Shankar, to observe them; there was something in their body language, and their friendship, that wasn’t ever explored in films. For some reason, we’ve always represented women in the rural sides or women suffering. But I wanted to be friends with these girls!”

A REGRESSIVE CULTURE
As much as the idea of a film about female bonding excited him, at first, Nalin wasn’t completely certain that he would be the right person to direct the film, because “he’s a man”. But his background egged him to give a shot. Having grown up in the Gujarat countryside, Nalin was privy to the treatment meted out to women in small town India. When his parents, who couldn’t read or write, decided they wanted a better future for their children, and sent their daughter, Nalin’s elder sister, to study in Ahmedabad, they were faced with violent opposite by the town and were the subject of much derision.

“I remember my mother would come back from the temple crying because someone gave a taunt that your daughter must be a prostitute in the city, else how could she be surviving with no money? My parents had brought us up as deeply spiritual individuals, so seeing the inequality, I always felt the need for creating strong woman characters in my films. And when I was a bit unsure of directing an all-women cast and started looking out for a female director, I found out that even they were directing men! So that was that.”

But it wasn’t all that easy for Nalin and Shankar to pull this off on their own. Besides the fact that the film needed to be authentic to the point of view of young, feisty urban women, the duo, who started observing women closely wherever they went, were often midunderstood as letchers. “One time in Kolkata, I almost got beat up too,” Nalin laughs. It was then that they brought on board two women writers, Subhadra Mahajan and Arsala Qureishi, to research in the media about Indian women, with a single focus: to find out positive stories of women of India succeeding.

The stories they dug up helped Nalin’s team give an overarching structure, but they decided to keep the screenplay loose, since they wanted to build the story organically. Their starting point were the auditions, where 200 girls from all over India were tested, but in a unique manner. Girls were called to the casting office, where Nalin and Shankar spoke to them, for up to an hour each. The questions varied from ‘How was your childhood’ to minute details of how they were treated by their families. There were two big learnings for Nalin in this process.

CASTING THE ANGRY GODDESSES
One was the phenomenon of the ladies loo. “Have you ever cried in the gents toilet?” Nalin asks rhetorically. “Probably none of us have.  But we once met a girl who told us that she worked in a big call center in Malad with 900 other girls, and that she could guarantee that each one of those girls had cried in the toilet at one time or the other. They would cry about problems at home, sexual harassment, unsupportive spouses, or anything else. When we did our first test screening through a top ad agency in Mumbai, I asked the girls in the test audiences if they cried in the loo too. Slowly, all hands went up.”

pan nalinThe other thing that struck Nalin and his team was the unconscious inequality that was being created at each girl’s home through another woman: the mother. “We may have the illusion of a patriarchal society but the mother is very powerful,” says Nalin.

“A mother may not mean it, but when you scratch the surface, a secondary treatment towards women is visible. For example, a hot chapati at home would go to the son instead of the daughter. If it’s hot and the mother has only one cup, she will give it to the son and not the daughter. Somewhere, I felt that this is ingrained deeply in the psyche of mothers in India, and if they made a change, we would have no issues in 50 years from now. So I decided to incorporate both these behaviors, and several other things I learnt from the audition process into the film to keep the story real.”

“What I gathered was that they were not looking for actors, but for people who had the courage to expose themselves and be real, explains Mridul Singh, the senior-most actor among the ‘godesses’, who runs a casting company herself and was among the first to be cast.  “They wanted women who had the courage to reveal the truth, be themselves and have some sort of a fire in their bellies to fight. I had been long disillusioned by this industry because the brief was either that of a vamp or ‘two kissing scenes and six songs.’ I felt vanquished when this film came along. “

ORGANIC FILMMAKING
Even the way Nalin approached the characters was “organic”, once he had chosen a group of goddesses he called “magical”. “So we did four weeks of intensive workshops with these girls, but not for acting,” says Nalin. “We had sessions of yoga, meditation and the inner journey, where we asked the girls to think, feel and liberate themselves. In these weeks, the girls must have cried at least 50 times. They probably couldn’t believe they had come for a film and not to see a shrink.”

“I have always kept acting separate from the person, so if I’m howling in a scene, I’ll be laughing the moment there’s a cut,” elaborates Singh. “But in this film, I couldn’t do that. If I was crying in a scene, I continued to cry, until I vomited outside, lit a cigarette and then came back. It was an emotional rollercoaster. We cried a lot, laughed a lot, and went through a lot, but invariably, we had each other. Most of us didn’t know each other, but one week into it, there were no egos but open, glaring insecurities, vulnerabilities and joy.”

“The atmosphere on the set was one of trust,” says musician and rocker Anushka Manchanda, who is making her debut with the movie. “We were hanging out on the set, wearing what we wanted to wear, smoking, talking, abusing, discussing about sex and orgasms at lunch. There was no need to censor ourselves. I was like, ‘acting is so enjoyable, yaar!’ and the other actresses would scream saying ‘this doesn’t ever happen’!”

Nalin and Shankar created this safe environment for the girls to push them even further, by asking them to create their characters themselves and giving them activities like talking like their character, sitting like them, eating like them, and even collectively going out in the evening for dinner as their characters.

A THERAPEAUTIC PROCESS
“They made us draw the route from our houses to our schools and what we see on the way as our characters,” says Manchanda. “We were asked to write a letter to our fathers when we were 16. When we gave our first shot, we had a ready background as those people and a shared history too.”

“I couldn’t sleep for three days trying to write that letter,” adds anushka sandhyaSingh. “My father had passed away when I was 15 and I had blocked those memories. So when I had to write a letter to my father a year after, I somehow did it, and then called my mother and howled on the phone. Reliving our childhood memories brought out the truth in us, and that was the point. It was a cathartic experience for us. Gaurav Dhingra, our producer, would joke that the biggest production expense on the shoot was Nutella and peanut butter sandwhiches, and tissues. The girls would cry, use the tissues and then eat those sandwiches. It became a routine, but we were all one at the end of it.”

Nalin, whose past work is characterized and admired for its deeply spiritual themes and ideas, led the entire exercise to create a ‘spiritual bond’ between the “goddesses.” Why Goddesses? Because “women are attractive and sexy, from the anglo definition, and they are ‘devis’, from the Indian one,” explains Nalin. “But what I like most about the word is the connection of Goddess to Kali and Rudrani, the goddesses who would take a ferocious form to create a new world order whenever they would get angry. The goddesses in this movie are angry because of Nirbhaya, sexual harassment, corruption, bad partners, and more, but this anger is fueling change. And this film’s spiritual depth is rooted in that change.”

A UNIVERSAL ISSUE
Actor Tannishtha Chatterjee, who has an extended special appearance in the film as one of the goddesses, puts things into perspective: “On one hand, we call women goddesses, and on the other hand, they are raped, abused, and stripped of dignity, just like everything else we call ‘mother’, like the environment or several animals. Our anger is against this system. This is the first generation of India where every woman is aspiring for a career outside of being a mother and a sister, or fulfilling our professional and personal desires. We are free and liberated, and ready to explode if we are subjugated.”

And this is evidently a feeling that has resonated with audiences worldwide, as the film continues to roll its punches with standing ovations in all screenings. At TIFF, where initially, the AIG team was supposed to do only 8-10 interviews, the cast and crew ended up doing over a 100 interviews in a week, even as the goddesses were stopped on the streets for selfies “with their tongues out, just like Goddess Kali,” says Tannishtha.

And this is not limited to the Indian diaspora, in fact, most of the people who voted for the film and came for the multiple screenings were not Indians. “Greeks told me that this is a Greek film, the Brazil distributor told me that I’ve made a film on Brazilian women, one American girl came and thanked me for giving her a voice,” smiles Nalin. “We didn’t expect the response to be so universal. In fact, men are loving the film too! One man told me that the women in the film reminded me of his mother and wife at various times. I’ve not strived to make a film about issues but a film where, if you are entertained, then you may just get inspired too.”

“I think Nalin has cracked the code,” Singh says. “Women don’t want solutions, they just need to be heart. And this film gives them a voice. This is no man hating film, in fact we are sure men will love it.” “I really believe that men would come from this film thinking, ‘Wow, I learnt so much about women today,” grins Manchanda. “And women will come out of theaters saying, ‘F**k yeah!”


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Note: This interview first appeared in Open Magazine on October 23, 2015
Link: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/art-culture/sisterhood-of-the-angry-young-women
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

MOVE OVER, TELEVISION. YOUTUBE’S HERE! #TV #THEJUICE

Note: This piece was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) in November 2015 for The Juice. An edited version of the piece can be found here: http://goo.gl/VnU3Xk


The story of the birth of The Viral Fever (TVF), one of India’s only two independently owned YouTube channels with over a million subscribers, is stuff of legend amongst content creators today. When TVF’s founder and CEO, Arunabh Kumar’s, original TV series pitch to MTV India went south, Kumar put out a spoof on YouTube, called ‘Rowdies’, a piss take on MTV’s biggest show, Roadies, that went on to amass 3.5 million views (and counting).

That was three years ago, and YouTube in India was used primarily by broadcast and film studios to put out trailers, songs and the odd TV content. When ‘Rowdies’ went viral, it gave birth to a whole new medium of pop culture in India –  YouTube. As the video content-streaming site celebrates its 10th year anniversary, it’s amassed 60 million unique subscribers in India (as per comScore), and is today, arguably, the prime source of entertainment consumption amongst the youth in India.

In an Interview with Forbes Magazine in March, Head of Content & Operations of YouTube India, Satyanarayan Raghavan said that within the last two years, India’s climbed up to be in the top five content countries for YouTube globally. And a whole lot of it has to do with original content creators like TVF and All India Bakchod (AIB), as much as it has to do with youth channels like MTV India and Channel [V] struggling to stay relevant with tried-and-tested, ‘safe’ content.

Where the internet wins over TV, and even movies, is that there is no fear of censorship on it. Content creators can write biting satire and push boundaries in terms of genres, ideas, formats and even lingo (All India ‘Bakchod’ and Bollywood ‘Gandu’ are two of the most popular YouTube channels). So it’s not a surprise that the list of the top 10 videos on YouTube India in 2014 included ‘Bollywood Aam Aadmi Party’, a TVF satire on politics, ‘Ali Bhatt – Genius of the Year’, an AIB satire on Bollywood. These are themes that you’d be surprised to see being made fun of by archaic broadcast networks.

What has also certainly helped is the rise of content-sharing websites like Buzzfeed and Scoopwhoop, that make discoverability of good and ‘viral’ content much easier. Today, brands are grappling to be associated with AIB, TVF and other comedy groups like SnG Comedy and EIC, as well as individual talent like Kanan Gill and Aditi Mittal. eCommerce portal SnapDeal tied up with AIB for an undisclosed amount, while rumour has it that online real estate site CommonFloor paid almost a Crore to TVF for its original fiction series, Permanent Roommates, which has amassed around 7.5 million views over 5 episodes.

If the sold-out YouTube fan fest this year that saw thousands of screaming teenage fans go nuts over YouTube stars like Gill and Indo-Canadian Superwoman, is anything to go by, edgy comedy has broken the Indian internet and it may just be too late for youth TV to play catch up.

Five Must-Watch YouTube Series in India so far (Click to watch)
1. Baked (ScoopWhoop)
2. Bang Bajaa Baaraat (Y-Films)
3. Man’s World (Y-Films)
4. Permanent Roommates (TVF)
5. Pitchers (TVF)

Disclaimer: I’m the Associate Producer of the Y-Films series, Man’s World and Bang Baaja Baaraat and hence, they are not mentioned in the piece (conflict of interest!)


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Note: This piece first appeared in The Juice in the November 2015 issue. An edited version of the story can be found here: http://www.jabong.com/juicestyle/magazine/web-series/
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

EMMY AWARDS 2014: WHO SHOULD WIN AND WHO WILL #TV #SUNDAYGUARDIAN

– Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoonfor The Sunday Guardian

The Emmys are here and with True Detective debuting and Breaking Bad bowing out in the same year, this is one of the toughest years in a long time. My famous show this last season was Fargo (even though I LOVE Breaking Bad and REALLY liked True Detective), so I’ll be cheering for the Miniseries category like I was employed by the IPL. I’m also a little sad that in its final season, How I Met Your Mother didn’t even get a shoutout (here’s my goodbye ode to #HIMYM: http://goo.gl/VfkZmj)For the rest, here’s my take on who should win… and is usually the case, who will.

CATEGORY: DRAMA

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad | Downton Abbey | Game of Thrones | House of Cards | Mad Men | True Detective

Should win: In a year when three outstanding shows (The Americans, Masters of Sex and The Good Wife) couldn’t even make the nominations, you’d imagine Emmy voters purging each other to help their favourite show win. But it really comes down to a choice between the outstanding first season of True Detective and the EARTHSHATTERINGMINDBLOWINFANTASTICOMGAWESOME final season of Breaking Bad. Yup, you know who we support here.
Will win: Unless Emmy voters are as high as Rust Cohle, Breaking Bad’s got this, b**ch.
Would win in another category: Downton Abbey and Mad Men tied for ‘Best TV series that aren’t *really* the best, y’know?’

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) | Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom) | Jon Hamm (Mad Men) | Woody Harrelson (True Detective) | Matthew McConaughey (True Detective) | Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)

Should win: Jon Hamm will someday win an Emmy for Mad Men, but that day isn’t today. There also aren’t likely to be any shocks or surprises this time (Hey Jeff Daniels Imma let you finish but EVERYONE was better than you last year). It’s going to get right down to the wire between McConaughey and Cranston though, and our hearts are with Cranston because, you know, Mister White!
Will win: This is McConaughey’s moment and he’s going to win this, if only for spouting more philosophies than even our own Mahesh Bhatt does. But it’ll be reallllly close.
Would win in another category: Woody Harrelson for ‘Best Supporting Actor Nominated as Lead’

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex) | Claire Danes (Homeland)| Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) | Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) | Kerry Washington (Scandal) | Robin Wright (House of Cards)

Should win: You know who should win this? TATIANA MASLANY. NO, those aren’t words that we just made up because YOLO, but the name of the actress who’s fronting the best female-led TV series in years: Orphan Black (WATCH IT). Keri Russell (The Americans) would’ve been a fantastic choice too, but we’ll just do with the fact that the phenomenal (and haawwwt) Caplan made it in the noms and we’ll do a victory dance if she actually wins this – because she should.
Will win: Margulies in all probability because The Good Wife in its fifth season killed most television shows this year by just being THE BEST, unless Robin Wright gets this for being Robin Wright.
Would win in another category: TATIANA MASLANY FOR ‘BEST ACTRESS BETTER THAN ALL BEST ACTRESSES NOMINATED’. OK? OK.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) | Jim Carter (Downton Abbey) | Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) | Josh Charles (The Good Wife) | Mandy Patinkin (Homeland) | Jon Voight (Ray Donovan)

Will win: You know that it’s been a good TV year when Carter, Voight and Patinkin are nominated in the same awards category and they are far from favourites (Patinkin would’ve won hands down if it was Most Sexy Award for that beard). Charles would’ve won this in an easier year, but Dinklage pretty much ensured himself a win with that insane speech and the WTF climax in this season’s GOT. Search ‘Epic Tyrion speech’ on Youtube and we dare you to have another favourite! (P.S. Dean Norris, you are missed)
Should win: It’s really 50-50 between Tyrion (Dinklage) and Jesse Pinkman (Paul) but since the hearts of Emmy voters are made of stone, Dinklage will mostly win this in Breaking Bad’s goodbye year.
Would win in another category: (*Spoilers*) Josh Charles in ‘Best OMGWHYDIDYOUDIE!!!!!!!! Award’

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) | Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) | Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) | Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) | Christine Baranski (The Good Wife) | Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)

Should win: Lena Headey, hands down. Cersei’s range of emotions each season, from helpless mother to vicious queen to overall b**ch is amazing in itself, but with this year’s much-talked about abuse storyline, and the shock death (let’s just call them deaths now because it will be a shock if no one dies on GOT), anyone with half a brain should vote for her.
Will win: Anna Gunn, hands down.  For the super performance and Breaking Bad’s final year.
Would win in another category: Maggie Smith in ‘Most Badass in a single person Award’

 

CATEGORY: COMEDY 

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
The Big Bang Theory | Louie | Modern Family | Orange Is the New Black | Silicon Valley | Veep
Should win: Veep is easily the funniest f**king show on TV and also the one with most f**king swear words than all other stupid f**king shows on air combined (see what I did there?). But if we could give an award from the little money journalism pays us to a comedy, it would be to Silicon Valley, for being the most original, refreshing and hilarious new comedy since, well, Veep (and for featuring the best dick joke of all time – Youtube it).
Will win: Veep should finally break Modern Family’s unbelievable four wins (the show’s not funny anymore!) and if it loses, it can only be to Orange is the New Black because a) it’s a great show and b) it deserves brownie points for choosing to fight in the Comedy categories than the Drama ones.
Would win in another category: The Big Bang Theory for ‘Best Comedy that stopped being funny lightyears ago’

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Louis C.K (Louie) | 
Don Cheadle (House of Lies) |Ricky Gervais (Derek) | Matt LeBlanc (Episodes) | William H. Macy (Shameless) | Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)

Should win: Somebody PLEASE give Louis C.K. an award already! What more does that man have to do! He is only the most famous brilliant comedian on the planet right now, he is easily the smartest funnyman on television each year, even his interviews go viral on the net! Just GIVE THIS TO HIM. GIVE IT.
Will win: If any category can spring a surprise this year, it should be this one: Good ol’ Bill Macy could win this for being good and ol’. Ricky Gervais can win this for being the exact opposite of that. But it will mostly be Parsons again.
Would win in another category: Jim Parsons for ‘Best WILL YOU STOP GIVING ME THIS AWARD EACH YEAR LIKE IT’S AN IIFA? Award’

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Lena Dunham (Girls) | Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) | Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) | Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) | Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) | Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black)
Should win: Somebody PLEASE give Amy Poehler an award already! (Actually just read the Louis C.K. rant above and apply it to Poehler and you’ll get the picture, pretty much).
Will win: It’s between Louis-Dreyfus for the third time for being so f**king funny (did it again!) and Schilling for the best dramatic actress in a comedy category (also because she’s brilliant).
Would win in another category: Melissa McCarthy for ‘Best Who needs a TV win, I’m a movie star, bitches Award’

OUTSTANDING SUPPORT ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) | 
Adam Driver (Girls) |Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) | Ty Burrell (Modern Family) | Fred Armisen (Portlandia) | Tony Hale (Veep)

Should win: This is a toughie. Even our loyalties are divided between the fantastic Braugher who’s the most deadpan poker-faced black gay cop in the history of deadpan, black and gay comedy portrayals; Hale because he’s so consistently brilliant and Driver, because he’s the most watchable actor in a show called  Girls.
Will win: Hale will probably win this a second time in a row (and deservingly so) because, considering Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s solo nomination, Emmy probably doesn’t think it’s funny.
Would win in another category: Fred Armison for ‘Best Wait, Peeps know my show exists? Whaaaaaat? Award’

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) | Julie Bowen (Modern Family) | Allison Janney (Mom) | Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is the New Black) | Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) | Anna Chlumsky (Veep)

Should win: The only thing funny about The Big Bang Theory these days is how Mayim Bialik is being nominated for a third time in a row and is still not a favourite. If anyone else deserves it this year, it’s probably Mulgrew, because Orange is the New Black. We love Chlumsky but she’s got the nom because she’s the only supporting actress on Veep.
Will win: Janey is the hot favourite because she won the Guest Actress Emmy last week, for her role in Masters of Sex, and because she generally is the hot favourite in any awards category.
Would win in another category: All of the above in ‘Best Who are these people, bruh?! Award’

 

CATEGORY: MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE 

These awards usually less relevant than the Drama and Comedy categories because, you know, it’s Miniseries or TV Movie, lulz. But this year, there are big names in the running in its categories: American Horror Story is running again, because it practically owns the category, and so are Brit shows Sherlock and Luther, both of which are on par with any show anywhere in the world, except in number of episodes (three each). There’s also The Normal Heart, the heart-wrenching take on the HIV crisis amongst the gay community in New York in the ‘80s, starring a star cast that starts Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo, and end at Jim Parsons and Alfred Molina.

But if there’s one show that validates these awards this year, it is the best new show this year besides True Detective: FX’s Fargo. With a star cast that includes Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks and scene stealing Allison Tomlan, and a quality on par with the best dramas of any year, we’re rooting for the show to do a clean sweep of all the categories. Watch the show and you’ll know why.

 

Note: An edited version of this article first appeared in The Sunday Guardian on August 24, 2014
Link: http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/emmys-predictions-who-should-win-a-who-shouldnt

Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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Comic-Con 2014 Roundup: Winners, Losers and Others #SundayGuardian

– Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoonfor The Sunday Guardian

In an age where it is ‘normal’ for a fully functioning male adult to own superhero costumes and where there are more superhero movies lined up in the future than romantic comedies exist so far in life, if anyone still has a doubt that the geeks have, in fact, already inherited the earth, then they needn’t look any further for conclusive proof than Comic-Con International, San Diego.

A vulgar display of all that is geek, from comics to video games to comic-book movies to fantasy-themed TV shows, Comic Con is a convention that is geek-gasmic level of awesome for the kind of people who aren’t ready to give away their GI Joe collection even after they’ve birthed other people.

But that isn’t to say that Comic Con is only a place for ‘men’ who’ve had wet dreams to Wonder Woman and Princess Leia; this year, the convention that saw 130,000 people go nuts during the massive 4-day weekend from July 24-27, included a sizeable number of women fans who were there to cheer ass-kicking super-heroines in shows like Orphan Black and Game of Thrones, or go ga-ga over the dreamy superheroes in movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice; or just revel in some of the hottest and craziest cosplay outside of the big screen.

Here’s a roundup of the best and worst of Comic-Con 2014 in Movies that would make fellow Indian geeks excited:

MOVIES: #WINNERS

  1. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

How to win Comic-Con: Have a cast that includes the who’s who of big-ticket names like Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill) and Paul Bettany (Jarvis… yes, Jarvis) all turn up on one stage, with some of them dancing (and Downey Jr throwing roses at the crowd!). Add to the cast even more stars in new entries Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), James Spader (Ultron) and Josh Brolin (Thanos) wearing the much-talked about Infinity Gauntlet. Then reveal some mad concept art for the movie scheduled on May 1, 2015, and an extended first look that includes Iron Man fighting Hulk, Captain America’s shield broken, Thor crushing a tank, the appearance of Andy Serkis (without motion capture) and a devastating scene with some Avengers possibly dead… and as the geeks go bonkers, you know Comic-Con 2014 is yours to claim.

2. BATMAN VS SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

Where Avengers was the most anticipated panel of the Comic-Con, the Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice panel was Warner Bros’ surprise gift to fans, and what a surprise it was: Director Zack Snyder brought DC Comics’ superhero holy trinity in Ben Affleck (Batman), Henry Cavill (Superman) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) to wave at the crowd (no one was allowed to interact though); tweeted the first look of Wonder Woman, and revealed a minute of footage of Batman turning on the Bat signal even as Superman is waiting in the shadows with glowing ‘heat vision’ eyes (the leaked version of the footage can be found online). The result: madness! The movie, scheduled for April 28, 2016, had the most number of social media mentions at the end of the Comic-Con.

  1. INTERSTELLAR

Another huge surprise that fans weren’t expecting was the appearance of auteur director Christopher Nolan, who made his debut at the Con two years after the end of The Dark Knight trilogy, along with fellow Comic-Con virgin Matthew McConaughey, the star of his next, highly-anticipated film, Interstellar, to see “what the fuss was about”. A new trailer of the movie, scheduled for November 7, 2014, was shown to squealing fans, revealing first hand the fuss to Nolan. The trailer can now be found online. Watch the trailer here: 

  1. THE HATEFUL EIGHT

Quentin Tarantino was at Comic-Con to talk about an upcoming comic that’s a crossover of his film Django Unchained and masked crusader Zorro, when a fan asked him whether The Hateful Eight, the film that Tarantino shelved when its script was leaked online by Gawker.com, would ever happen. Tarantino replied in the affirmative for the first time since the debacle, to loud cheers from fans, and within the next couple of days, also released the official poster for the film, set for a 2015 release. Rejoice, fanboys! Check out the poster here: http://goo.gl/oSTrmZ

  1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

With over 8 million views to its YouTube trailer in less than 7 days, one movie that fans all over the world are suddenly dying to watch, as a result of the buzz that its ‘sizzle reel’ generated at Comic-Con, it is George Miller’s reboot of the dystopian Mad Max franchise, that first launched Mel Gibson as a bonafide star. Mad Max: Fury Road, releasing on May 15, 2015, stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron and with the maddest, baddest, biggest and loudest stunts (including an incredible car chase sequence) seen in a long time, wins the ‘Trailer of the Year’ award hands down. Watch the trailer here:  


MOVIES: #LOSERS

  1. SKULL ISLAND/JURASSIC WORLD

Another King Kong movie, you say? A prequel, you say? That may possibly have fan favourite Joe Cornish attached to it as director, you say? Doesn’t sound too bad, right? But for all the geeks who went for Legendary Pictures’ panel at Comic-Con hoping to get a first look at Jurassic World, the ‘surprise teaser’ that featured a jungle with an ape instead of dinosaurs, left everyone confused and slightly annoyed, because the reboot of Jurassic Park releases before next year’s Comic-Con, so why had the geeks paid $200 for this kind of betrayal?

  1. LET’S BE COPS/FANTASTIC FOUR

Another betrayal came at the hands of 20th Century Fox that stabbed fans in the back by choosing not to showcase any footage from its Fantastic Four reboot, instead having a panel on Let’s Be Cops, which is a comedy not inspired from a comic-book, which has no geek book or movie affiliations and which can only be considered fantasy if lead actors Damon Wayans or Jake Johnson are alien cops. This befuddling logic took away the buzz from X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn’s next, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE and THE MAZE RUNNER, both decent properties owned by 20th Century, which would have got a much better showcase if 20th Century Fox had appeased the fans. Watch the trailer of Let’s Be Cops and Kingsman here: 

  1. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3

Instead of giving any sort of a first look at any sort of a thing to do with the Spider-Man franchise or its various spin-offs in the works, Sony Pictures announced that the third part in the Amazing Spiderman franchise has been pushed to 2018 from 2016, and Sinister Six, its villain-centric spinoff, will arrive first in 2016. No news was given about The Amazing Spiderman 4 that was originally scheduled for 2018. All this added more fuel to the fire that the franchise is in trouble after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 failed to live up to the box office expectations and Roberto Orci, who had penned the first two films with Alex Kurtzmann, left the franchise recently.

  1. SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

Unanimously called the dullest panel of the Comic-Con, even with stars like Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson and Jessica Alba and fan favourites, directors Robert Rodriguez and Mark Millar participating, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For generated little to no buzz at the convention this year. This could be because the film’s sequel is coming nine years after the first one, or because bigger stars like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis were absent from the panel or perhaps because the movie’s marketing campaign included semi-naked girls gyrating live in different parts of the convention turned people off.  Watch the trailer here: 

  1. BLACKHAT

Legendary director Michael Mann made a surprise visit to Comic-Con to unveil the trailer of his new film, a cyberthriller starring Chris Hemsworth, but unfortunately, the only reason fans at Comic-Con were surprised was because had nothing to do with comics and Mann had no reason to be there.  The trailer’s not online yet so the damp squib of a reception that it received at Comic Con could possibly have to do with the genre rather than the trailer’s merits.


MOVIES: #THEOTHERS:

Production Studio Legendary Pictures revealed that GODZILLA will have a sequel, to nobody’s general surprise, but proceeded to tease that it will feature even more monsters than part one, including iconic Japanese monsters, Rodan, Mothra and Ghidorah, which are apparently bigger and more dangerous than Godzilla. At present time, no humans were announced as part of the film. Peter Jackson premiered the first trailer in the final part of the Hobbit trilogy, THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES. The epic trailer of the movie, which releases on December 17, 2014, can be found online but the movie’s panel, which featured a cast that included the most number of adored celebrities in a single film, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkin and director Peter Jackson, among others, is an equally awesome watch, especially because of the hilarious Stephen Colbert, who moderated the panel in a Hobbit costume. Watch the trailer here: 

Guillermo Del Toro, who is omni-present at the Comic-Con every year, had another brilliant year, as he released a teaser for his next, CRIMSON PEAK, featuring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hannum, that got loud cheers from the crowd; his upcoming animation film, THE BOOK OF LIFE and his TV series, THE STRAIN. THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART I also debuted its trailer as did PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, but it was the latter that stole the show amongst most big-budget trailer premieres, because its panel featured Cumberbatch, and everyone loves Cumberbatch, probably including Katniss. Watch the trailer of Penguins of Madagascar here: 

The one other movie that made a splash at Comic Con was ANTMAN that lost its long-term director Edgar Wright a few months ago, to general scorn from the internet community. Marvel Studios released a teaser poster for the movie that stars Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly, and is now helmed by Peyton Reed. It also showcased some test footage that was well-received, which is an indication that the movie will not ‘suck all balls’, as some internet comments have given us a reason to believe.


Note: 
An edited version of this article first appeared as The Sunday Guardian cover story on August 2, 2014
Link: http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/the-winners-and-losers-at-this-years-comic-con

Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoon, on Twitter: @tanejamainhoon, on Instagram: @tanejamainhoon, on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon