Category Archives: Indian Movies ALL

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
Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoonon Twitter:

@tanejamainhoonon Instagram:@tanejamainhoon,
on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon

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.

Advertisements

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!”


Follow the blog on your left and like The Tanejamainhoon Page on FB: /tanejamainhoonpage
Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoonon Twitter:
@tanejamainhoonon Instagram:@tanejamainhoon,

on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon

Liked/disliked the profile? Leave your comments below!
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.

THE 2016 POP CULTURE CALENDAR: WHAT TO WATCH & WHEN

#ICYMI:
THE 100 MOST AWAITED FILMS OF 2016: http://goo.gl/KLHbTP
THE 35 MOST AWAITED TV SERIES OF 2016: http://goo.gl/b20Hr7
THE 50 BEST TV SHOWS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/exsraC

THE 30 BEST INDIES OF 2015: http://goo.gl/xfRuOk
THE 35 BEST FILMS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/Z796RR

For your sake and mine, here’s the ultimate pop culture calendar of long-form fiction watching including Indian films as well as Hollywood films and TV shows. I’ll keep updating this through the year, as and when new release dates get announced. Bookmark this, this could well be the handy guide of what to watch, when, and where.

Key:
MOVIES are in Red
THINGS I RECOMMEND are in Bold


JANUARY

Jan 1 – Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (BBC)

Jan 3 – Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life (FOX)
Jan 3 – Downton Abbey (PBS)
Jan 4 – Superstore (NBC)
Jan 4 – Telenovela (NBC)
Jan 5 – New Girl (NBC)
Jan 5 – Grandfathered (FOX)
Jan 5 – Brooklyn Nine Nine (FOX)
Jan 5 – The Grinder (FOX)
Jan 6 – American Crime (ABC)
Jan 8 – The Forest
Jan 8 – Wazir
Jan 8 – Chauranga
Jan 10 – 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards
Jan 10 – Shameless (SHOWTIME)
Jan 12 – iZombie (CW)
Jan 13 – Second Chance (FOX)
Jan 14 – Colony (USA)
Jan 14 – Workaholics (COMEDY CENTRAL)
Jan 14 – Idiotsitter (COMEDY CENTRAL)
Jan 14 – Shades of Blue (NBC)
Jan 15 – The Hateful Eight
Jan 15 – Ride Along 2
Jan 15 – 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Jan 16 – Sesame Street (HBO)
Jan 17 – Billions (SHOWTIME)
Jan 17 – Mercy Street (PBS)
Jan 18 – War and Peace (BBC)
Jan 19 – Agent Carter (ABC)
Jan 19 – The Flash (ABC)
Jan 20 – Arrow (CW)
Jan 21 – Baskets (FX)
Jan 21 – Legends of Tomorrow (CW)
Jan 21 – London Spy (BBC)
Jan 22 – Dirty Grandpa
Jan 22 – Airlift
Jan 22 – The 5th Wave
Jan 22 – Jugni
Jan 22 – Mad Dogs (AMAZON)
Jan 23 – Beowulf (ITV)
Jan 23 – Black Sails (STARZ)
Jan 24 – The X Files (FOX)
Jan 25 – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW)
Jan 25 – Lucifer (FOX)
Jan 25 – Jane The Virgin (CW)
Jan 25 – The Magicians (SYFY)
Jan 26 – The Outsiders (WGN)
Jan 27 – Suits (USA)
Jan 28 – You, Me And The Apocalypse (NBC)
Jan 29 – Kung Fu Panda 3
Jan 29 – The Revanent
Jan 29 – Saala Khadoos
Jan 29 – Jane Got a Gun
Jan 29 – The Finest Hours
Jan 29 – The Originals (CW)
Jan 29 – The Vampire Diaries (CW)


FEBRUARY
Feb 2 – American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson (FX)
Feb 2 – Fresh Off The Boat (ABC)
Feb 2 – The Muppets (ABC)
Feb 3 – Madoff (ABC)
Feb 5 – Hail, Caesar!
Feb 5 – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Feb 5 – Dad’s Army

Feb 5 – The Choice
Feb 5 – Regression
Feb 5 – Misconduct
Feb 5 – Ghayal Once Again
Feb 5 – Vice (HBO)
Feb 5 – Animals (HBO)
Feb 5 – Sleepy Hollow (FOX)
Feb 9 – Vinyl (HBO)
Feb 9 – The Walking Dead (AMC)
Feb 20 – Love (NETFLIX)
Feb 11 – Scandal (ABC)
Feb 11 – Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Feb 11 – How To Get Away with Murder (ABC)
Feb 12 – Deadpool
Feb 12 – Zoolander 2
Feb 12 – Tumbledown
Feb 12 – How To Be Single
Feb 12 – Fitoor
Feb 12 – Sanam Re
Feb 14 – Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
Feb 15 – Better Call Saul (AMC)
Feb 15 – 11/22/63 (HULU)
Feb 16 – The New Yorker Presents (AMAZON)

Feb 17 – Broad City (COMEDY CENTRAL)
Feb 18 – Vikings (HISTORY)
Feb 19 – The Witch
Feb 19 – Race
Feb 19 – Viral
Feb 19 – Risen
Feb 19 – Neerja
Feb 19 – Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive
Feb 21 – Girls (HBO)
Feb 21 – Togetherness (HBO)
Feb 25 – Prey (BBC)
Feb 26 – Aligarh
Feb 26 – Triple 9
Feb 26 – Eddie the Eagle
Feb 26 – Gods of Egypt
Feb 26 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (NETFLIX)
Feb 26 – Fuller House (NETFLIX)
Feb 28 – 88TH Annual Academy Awards
Feb 29 – Gotham (FOX)
Feb 29 – Blindspot (FOX)


MARCH
Mar 2 – Hap and Leonard (SUNDANCE)
Mar 4 – Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Mar 4 – Me Before You
Mar 4 – Zootopia
Mar 4 – London Has Fallen
Mar 4 – Knight of Cups
Mar 4 – Jai Gangaajal
Mar 4 – Zubaan
Mar 4 – Do Lafzon Ki Kahani
Mar 4 – House of Cards (NETFLIX)
Mar 6 – The Family (ABC)
Mar 6 – Quantico (ABC)
Mar 6 – The Last Man on Earth (FOX)
Mar 7 – Bates Motel (A&E)
Mar 7 – Damien (A&E)
Mar 8 – Fresh Off The Boat (ABC)
Mar 8 – Agents of SHIELD (ABC)
Mar 8 – Of Kings & Prophets (ABC)
Mar 9 – Underground (WGN)
Mar 11 – 10 Cloverfield Lane
Mar 11 – The Lobster

Mar 11 – Anomalisa
Mar 11 – The Brothers Grimsby
Mar 11 – The Other Side of the Door
Mar 11 – Flaked (NETFLIX)
Mar 11 – Bosch (AMAZON)
Mar 16 – The Americans (FX)
Mar 18 – Kapoor & Sons
Mar 18 – High Rise

Mar 18 – Midnight Special
Mar 18 – The Bronze
Mar 18 – The Little Prince
Mar 18 – Allegian: The Divergent Series
Mar 18 – Miracles from Heaven
Mar 18 – Daredevil (NETFLIX)
Mar 20 – Elementary (CBS)
Mar 24 – The Catch (ABC)
Mar 25 – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Mar 25 – My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Mar 25 – The Disappointments Room
Mar 25 – I Saw The Light
Mar 25 – Rocky Handsome
Mar 25 – Great Grand Masti
Mar 30 – The Path (HULU)
Mar 30 – Empire (FOX)
Mar 31 – Rush Hour (CBS)


APRIL

Apr 1 – Ki and Ka
Apr 1 – Green Room
Apr 1 – Keeping Up With The Joneses
Apr 1 – Rings
Apr 1 – Collide
Apr 1 – The Ranch (NETFLIX)
Apr 1 – Banshee (CINEMAX)
Apr 7 – The Odd Couple (CBS)
Apr 8 – Demolition
Apr 8 – The Boss
Apr 8 – Before I Wake
Apr 10 – The Girlfriend Experience (STARZ)
Apr 10 – Fear The Walking Dead (AMC)
Apr 10 – House of Lies (SHOWTIME)
Apr 13 – The Last Panthers (SUNDANCE)
Apr 15 – Fan
Apr 15 – Everybody Wants Some
Apr 15 – The Jungle Book
Apr 15 – Elvis & Nixon
Apr 15 – Criminal
Apr 15 – Amityville: The Awakening
Apr 15 – The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (NETFLIX)
Apr 19 – The Night Manager (AMC)
Apr 22 – Keanu
Apr 22 – The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Apr 22 – A Tale of Tales
Apr 24 – Game of Thrones (HBO)
Apr 24 – Silicon Valley (HBO)
Apr 24 – Veep (HBO)
Apr 24 – Rebellion (Sundance)
Apr 25 -Turn (AMC)
Apr 29 – Mother’s Day
Apr 29 – Nine Lives
Apr 29 – Same Kind of Different As Me
Apr 29 – Baaghi: A Rebel For Love
Apr 29 – Special Correspondents (NETFLIX)


MAY
May 1 – Penny Dreadful (SHOWTIME)
May 5 – Marseilles (NETFLIX)
May 6 – Captain America: Civil War
May 6 – Going in Style
May 6 – Grace and Frankie (NETFLIX)
May 13 – Mirzya
May 13 – Snowden

May 13 – Money Monster
May 13 – The Free State of Jones
May 13 – Kidnap
May 13 – Last Days in the Desert
May 13 – Azhar
May 20 – The Nice Guys
May 20 – The Angry Birds Movie
May 20 – Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
May 20 – Maggie’s Plan
May 20 – Sarabjit
May 27 – X Men: Apocalypse
May 27 – Alice Through the Looking Glass


JUNE

Jun 3 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Jun 3 – Conner4Real
Jun 3 – Jagga Jasoos
Jun 3 – Raaz Rebooted
Jun 3 – Housefull 3
Jun 3 – Outcast (CINEMAX)
Jun 10 – Warcraft
Jun 10 – Now You See Me 2
Jun 10 – The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist
Jun 14 – Orange is the New Black (NETFLIX)
Jun 17 – Udta Punjab
Jun 17 – Central Intelligence
Jun 17 – Finding Dory

Jun 17 – Shut In
Jun 24 – Independence Day: Resurgence
Jun 24 – The Shallows


JULY

Jul 1 – The BFG
Jul 1- The Legend of Tarzan
Jul 1 – The Purge 3
Jul 4 – Bastille Day
Jul 8 – Sultan
Jul 8 – Raees
Jul 8 – The Secret Life of Pets
Jul 8 – Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Jul 15 – Ghostbusters
Jul 15 – La La Land
Jul 15 – The Lake
Jul 15 – Stranger Things (NETFLIX)
Jul 22 – Star Trek Beyond
Jul 22 – Ice Age: Collision Course
Jul 22 – Lights Out
Jul 29 – Bourne 5
Jul 29 – Genius
Jul 29 – The Space Between Us
Jul 29 – Dhishoom


AUGUST

Aug 5 – Suicide Squad
Aug 12 – Mohenjodaro
Aug 12 – Rustom
Aug 12 – Ben-Hur
Aug 12 – Sausage Party
Aug 12 – Pete’s Dragon
Aug 12 – The Shack
Aug 12 – The Get Down (NETFLIX)
Aug 19 – Arms and The Dudes
Aug 19 – Kubo and The Two Strings
Aug 19 – Life on the Road
Aug 19 – Bad Moms
Aug 19 – Project XX
Aug 25 – The Flying Jatt
Aug 26 – Mechanic: Resurrection
Aug 31 – The Infiltrator


SEPTEMBER

Sep 2 – Dhoni: The Untold Story
Sep 2 – Patient Zero
Sep 2 – Solace
Sep 9 – Sully
Sep 9 – Baar Baar Dekho
Sep 16 – Bridget Jones’ Baby
Sep 23 – The Magnificent Seven
Sep 23 – Storks
Sep 23 – A Cure For Wellness
Sep 30 – Deepwater Horizon
Sep 30 – Masterminds
Sep 30 – Besties
Sep 30 – Delirium


OCTOBER
Oct 7 – Gambit 

Oct 7 – The Girl on the Train
Oct 7 – The Accountant
Oct 7 – Half Girlfriend
Oct 14 – A Monster Calls
Oct 14 – Inferno
Oct 14 – Underworld: Next Generation
Oct 21 – Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Oct 28 – Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
Oct 28 – Shivaay
Oct 31 – Shuddhi


NOVEMBER

Nov 4 – Doctor Strange
Nov 4 – Bastards
Nov 4 – Trolls
Nov 11 – Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Nov 11 – Rock On!! 2
Nov 11 – Why Him?
Nov 18 – Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them
Nov 23 – The Great Wall
Nov 23 – Bad Santa 2
Nov 23 – Moana
Nov 25 – The Founder


DECEMBER

Dec 9 – Let It Snow
Dec 16 – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Dec 16 – Chicken Soup for The Soul
Dec 23 – Dangal
Dec 23 – Assassin’s Creed
Dec 23 – Passengers
Dec 23 – Sing
Dec 25 – Jumanji
Dec 25 – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children


#ICYMI:
THE 100 MOST AWAITED FILMS OF 2016: http://goo.gl/KLHbTP
THE 35 MOST AWAITED TV SERIES OF 2016: http://goo.gl/b20Hr7
THE 50 BEST TV SHOWS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/exsraC

THE 30 BEST INDIES OF 2015: http://goo.gl/xfRuOk
THE 35 BEST FILMS OF 2015: http://goo.gl/Z796RR


Follow the blog on your left and like The Tanejamainhoon Page on FB: /tanejamainhoonpage
Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoonon Twitter:

@tanejamainhoonon Instagram:@tanejamainhoon,
on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon

Liked/disliked the piece? Think I’ve left out some release dates? Think I’m awesome or really, really not? Leave your comments below 🙂
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.

MASAAN (2015) REVIEW #HUFFINGTONPOST

Note: This review was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) for Huffington Post in July 2015.


Masaan and the Idea of India

The idea of India has always been fascinating to me. Because, to me, India is – and always has been – more a utopian idea of what a country can and should be, whereas the reality has gotten rather lost in translation. Think about it: India is probably the only country in the world where there is not a single thread that unites every man, woman and child. Be it caste, colour, community, religion, language, race, or ideology, the people of India indeed have nothing in common with each other. It’s often said that Bollywood and cricket are the only two things that unite the country, but Bollywood stops being relevant beyond the Hindi-speaking regions, and cricket’s days of glory effectively retired with Sachin Tendulkar.

This seemingly disjointed modern India may not be easy to classify in any of the traditional ways, but that is because it is an India that is trying to break out of such classifications. The truth is, there is no one idea of India and perhaps no one India either; India is remarkable because there are several Indias within the idea tussling with each other, and within themselves, to stride through the remainder of the 21st century with some core belief system.

In this tussle, this struggle, lies a deep-rooted ambition, within the cities, towns, villages and all of its varied and diverse people and culture, to define themselves and to find meaning, which has been aided largely by the technological revolution that is still seeping in its every nook and corner, possibly not fast enough. YouTube has invigorated the young, Facebook has helped them learn free will, while Google has been their guide in navigating life, love and lust.

This is the complicated backdrop and landscape that Masaan, a film by debutant director Neeraj Ghaywan, is set in, and the layered protagonists of the film traverse through its various complexities. Winner of two Cannes awards, including the FIPRESCI Prize, given by an international federation of film critics, Masaan is a tale of two Benarases, both weighed down by its heritage and both trying to escape it by any means.

There is one story about Devi (Richa Chadda), who, as a liberated young woman, has pre-marital sex with a fellow student, only to be caught by the traditionalist police and blackmailed into shame. The second is a love story of a young couple, Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) and Shaalu (Shweta Tiwari), belonging to different castes, and hoping to surmount the barriers presented by it.

In both stories, technology is an accomplice in seeking progress, and by sharp contrast, in one, it is a weapon used to threaten conformity too. Both stories are also driven by the ambitions of the protagonists to not be held prisoner to the milieu, conditions and the masaans (crematorium) they are born into, and that are born out of them. But reducing the stories to themes and metaphors would be doing a disservice to the soul that runs through them and the love, loss and longing that they so beautifully capture in the quiet chaos of the ghaats of Benaras.

Ghaywan, in his very first film, creates a deeply affecting world that devastates and uplifts at the same time, and that becomes a part of your world long after the film is over. The deftness with which he captures emotions of hope and young love (in the romance of Deepak and Shaalu), prejudices and old mores (in the relationship between Devi’s father and the inspector that blackmails them), aspiration and rebellion (through Devi) and death (in the stunning scene between Deepak and his friends), deserves much lauding. He has been proficiently supported by a wonderful script and heartfelt dialogues by the inimitable Varun Grover, through the earnest lens of Avinash Arun, who recently debuted as a director himself with the fine Killa, and the moving music by Indian Ocean, whom we cannot get enough of.

But the film’s true winner are the fantastic performances that Ghaywan has extracted from its lead cast. From a poignant and memorable Vicky Kaushal and the endearing warmth of Shweta Tripathi (both of whom have huge things ahead of them) to the intricate depth of emotions that Sanjay Mishra (who is clearly on the path of being a legend) as Devi’s father brings, to the confident, tender and touching performance of Richa Chadda that the film is anchored by, to the striking cameos by Pankaj Tripathi, Bhagwan Tiwari and Nikhil Sahni, Masaan is a masterclass in acting.

This is another winner by Phantom Films and Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment and as good a beginning as any by Manish Mundra’s Drishyam Films that, much like the film, is to be watched out for. An Indo-French production, if Masaan is (deservedly) successful at the box office, it may also help get further international funding to tell more such stories about the heart of what makes modern India. But these are not the reasons you must watch Masaan for.

Masaan deserves to be watched because it a rare film that holds a mirror to that deep-rooted ambition that runs through the pulse of this modern India: to break out of the boxes it’s been holed into, to overcome the circumstances it was born into, to rise above the demarcations that were set in its outdated texts and its archaic traditions, and to have the liberty and choice to be whatever and whoever it needs to be… to not just live, but to truly be alive.
Agree/disagree with the review? Leave your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Follow the blog on your left and like The Tanejamainhoon Page on FB: /
tanejamainhoonpage
Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoonon Twitter:
@tanejamainhoonon Instagram:@tanejamainhoon,
on Youtube: /tanejamainhoo

Note: This piece first appeared in The Huffington Post on July 25
Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.in/nikhil-taneja-/masaan-review-a-fine-film_b_7869922.html
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.

Interview: Manish Mundra for Open Magazine

THE ‘VIJAY’ OF INDEPENDENT CINEMA
How Manish Mundra become India’s indie scene saviour

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/lgPf8B

Before he heads to the 68th edition of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in the French Riviera, where his fourth production, Masaan (co-produced along with Macassar Productions, Phantom Films, Sikhya Entertainment, Arte France Cinema and Pathé Productions), will be screened in the Un Certain Regard section, Manish Mundra is taking a two-week long detoxifying break at an Ayurveda Center in Bangalore, to ring in his 42nd birthday by himself.

While there, he’s received a script from an aspiring Indian writer-director he’s not familiar with, in his email, the address of which he had publicly given out a few months ago, inviting any and all potential screenwriters and directors to send across their original screenplays. Even between his hectic schedule of meditation, yoga, detox and Ayurveda sessions, Mundra’s already found time to read the script and admits that he was ‘swallowed into it’ the very first time he went through it. “It’s such a wonderful story that it made me cry,” says the soft-spoken Mundra. “I wrote back to the writer to come meet me in Bangalore. He’s coming tomorrow, and I’m making his film.”

Manish Mundra
Manish Mundra

That’s all it takes for Mundra, the producer of last year’s acclaimed Indian indie, Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi, which was screened as the opening film of the Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival in August, to make a film. There’s not been a method or formula or returns-based calculation that has led Mundra to wholly fund five completed films so far, and the four other films in development.

“If a script I read connects with me and lingers with me after I’ve read it; if it’s a film set in reality and depicts human behavior and relationships in a way that you and I can relate to, because hamare saath bhi aisa hua hai, ya ho sakta hai (it has happened with us or can happen with us), then it’s a good film according to me, and I decide to make it,” Mundra explains. “It’s not a science for me, it’s instinct.”

How it all began
It’s this remarkable instinct possessed by Mundra, who, till a couple of years ago had no connection with the Indian film industry but led his life as the CEO of a Nigeria-based multi-billion petrochemical company that he built ground-up, which has seen each of the four projects he’s backed be selected and/or win a prize at a major international film festival last year.

Before the official selection of Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan this year, multi-director anthology X – The Film screened as the opening film of the 2014 South Asian International Film Festival, Prashant Nair’s Umrika won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak won The Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus international Jury for the best feature-length film at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival.

With Ankhon Dekhi, his first production and his foray into the world of films, it took even less than instinct for him to part way with his own income: it took a tweet by Rajat Kapoor. The story is already the stuff of legend among India’s fledgling but strong-willed and gifted indie film community. Acclaimed theater and film actor Kapoor, who had also directed four feature-length films, was looking to finance his fifth film but after doing rounds of various independent producers and studios, was headed nowhere.

Letting out his frustration on the social media platform of Twitter, where he had over 130,000 followers at the time of tweeting, Kapoor lashed out against ‘Bollywood’ and said he was putting his script on the backburner and going back to doing theater for a while. Mundra, who was among his followers on Twitter, tweeted back to him saying that he was a fan and that he would like to produce the film. After a brief but rather funny back-and-forth where Kapoor was initially hesitant suspecting some sort of a hoax (Mundra being based out of Nigeria, the country most famous for internet hoaxes, could not have helped), Mundra flew down to Mumbai, signed a six-page agreement at face value, and immediately transferred a chunk of the film’s approximately Rs 9 Crore budget to Kapoor, and went back again, leaving Kapoor to make his film the way he wanted it.

It was less a calculated risk or investment for Mundra, but more the culmination of a long-cherished dream, to one day put his money where his heart is: in the creation of ‘cinema’, his first love. “It’s all a plan of God,” smiles Mundra, “so if not for Rajat’s tweet, some other tweet would have happened. I had been tweeting to other filmmakers without any luck, but I didn’t have any other connection to the film industry. My objective of joining Twitter was to be connected with filmmakers and to get into films.”

Being ‘Vijay’
From as long ago as he can remember, Mundra has been obsessed with films. Growing up in the era of the potboiler ‘80s cinema led by the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha and Mithun Chakravarty, as a young boy, he ‘lived movies.’ “Watch a movie on the big screen was the ultimate experience for us at that time,” he fondly reminisces. “Films were like a celebration; the entire family would get together to watch a film and post it, spend the next 6-7 hours in storytelling and discussions around it.

“The films of the ‘80s made you feel like the hero. You didn’t just want to be besides Amitabh Bachchan on the big screen, you felt that you were Amitabh Bachchan and you were Vijay. You lived like Vijay and even talked like Vijay (mimics Amitabh Bachchan’s voice as he says this). I don’t think I ever missed any Amitabh film after I passed standard 10th. And I was motivated by that euphoria to make it in life. The idea of people knowing you, clapping for you and saying that you’ve done something big, was the charge I needed to be successful.”

So it’s not a mere coincidence that Mundra’s life trajectory has mimicked that of ‘Vijay’. At the time of his birth, Mundra’s father was a successful businessman, but soon lost his money, having taken a few missteps. Growing up in Rajasthan, in a state where he was unable to pay his school fees at times, Mundra decided to take inspiration from ‘Vijay’ and be a ‘somebody’.

“I grew up with a patch on my back that I was a ‘poor’ guy,” he recalls. “There was a time when we would struggle for food and I spent sleepless nights crying and wondering why I was poor. But that inspired me to make something of my life. From class 9th, I began earning for my family. In the mornings, I would go to school and in the evenings, I would sell soft drinks from a roadside stall so I could afford the fees. During my graduation, I sold curd for two years and did various other odd jobs too.

“But I believe that if you pass through tough times, they should happen in your teens because that teaches you how to survive throughout life and makes you fearless. Since I had nothing to lose, I made very clear and precise plans of what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to do an MBA when others were doing IPS and IAS so I could become a CEO by 32, so I could earn enough by 40 to leave the business world and join films somehow. That was always the plan.

“Sometimes I failed and didn’t achieve my goals, sometimes I over achieved and crossed it. But by 32, I was a CEO and by 40, I produced a film. I still continue my job on the side though, but that is only because I want to continue funding films completely from my own money, and not depend on external support for P & A or distribution. I also want to continue giving back to the society that gave me so much because at the end of the day, you don’t want to die rich, you want to die satisfied. And that’s what drives me.”

Drishyam Films
Mundra, who runs a non-profit school in Jodhpur that provides free education and funds for over 250 students every year, is now writing a book based on his life to inspire the youth that “even if you have nothing in your hands but big dreams, you can achieve anything. If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” But before he helps shape the dreams of others, he now has a bigger dream, rather vision, for India’s unstructured independent film scene – to turn it into a self-sustaining, content-driven industry.

The first step in this process has been to establish his company, Drishyam Films, which would solely be focused on the curation, production and distribution of independent films. Mundra has already set the ball rolling with it, by appointing industry veteran Srinivasan Narayanan, the outgoing director of the Mumbai Film Festival, as the Chief Mentor, and the dynamic Shiladitya Bora, who until recently ran indie distribution outfit PVR Rare to much success, as its CEO. An office has been setup in Mumbai, and a team of cinephiles as young as 32-year-old Bora, has been brought on board for the specific tasks at hand: to focus on international film festivals; to ramp up the digital, social media and publicity arm; and to develop the line production outfit; apart from a CFO to manage the commercials. The ultimate aim is singular: “To create a platform where fresh, new talent with the courage to say, ‘I can make a film’, can actually be given the resources to make it.”

“When you look back, even mainstream films of the ‘80s had realism,” says Mundra. “You see a Laawaris or Muqaddar Ka Sikandar today, and they make you feel. A film like Guide, which was perhaps the first film that made me fall in love with cinema, is relevant even today. In that era, we had great filmmakers like Govind Nihalani, Prakash Jha or Shyam Benegal making meaningful cinema that was also celebrated. But around the 2000s, we deviated majorly and now we only care about making money. Apart from Marathi cinema, no other Indian cinema has managed to create a space for parallel cinema to exist or prosper in the last 20 years.”

Mundra has a solution to this problem. The solution is all heart, but he explains it through business terminology: “As I see it, for an indie film to do well, it only needs an audience of around 300,000 people in the first 3 days, which is not a huge target. To get that audience, we’ll have to do something called ‘Market seeding’. The idea is that without working backward from the point of view of turnover or profit margin, at this time, we only need to invest in films with good content and good stories. The investment must include money for promotion as well as social media so that an awareness is created and an audience is cultivated over 15 such films in the next 3-4 years.”

“So that’s what we are trying to do at the moment with Drishyam,” he continues. “I will invest as much money as needed in seeding good films, and then hopefully, if we have two more years like this, where our films circle big international film festivals, and in India, we are able to get the films across to the maximum audiences, then in four years, we will have enough traction to invite more investments and more importantly, more filmmakers to get the conviction to make good films, because by then, we’ll have both the platform for good films to thrive and prosper and the audience in place to watch it.”

Since Drishyam is only in its nascent stages, Mundra has also partnered with the renowned Sundance Institute’s Screenwriter’s Lab and invested over a Crore to the ‘Drishyam-Sundance Screenwriters Lab, which will curate scripts and mentor aspiring screenwriters every year, with Mundra picking up the best scripts to produce through his production outfit. The next goal is to open offices in Europe and America, and attract co-producers internationally, not for investments at this stage, but to give the right kind of exposure to these films in the international markets. Mundra also plans to produce films in the Middle East and in Europe, to further establish the brand of Drishyam Films, and to create new channels for exhibition and distribution too, and unite the whole market with India as its base.

Ask Mundra what he can bring to the table in the international market, and he proudly says, “We are not looking for profits and that’s what makes us unique. Our philosophy is only to make good films, and I’m committing money to see them through to the release. Masaan cost Rs 3 Crore to make but I’ve put in Rs 5 Crores so I can release it myself, and not be dependent on anyone else. Whoever wants to join in, is welcome to, because I don’t want to be the Amitabh Bachchan or the lone ‘Vijay’ in this case. I want to be Naseeruddin Shah, and join hands with everyone to create a prospering independent film industry.”

Having already put his massive vision into action, this year will see the release of all four of Mundra’s upcoming films, with Masaan slated to release in June, following by Dhanak, Umrika and X. There’s also Anu Menon’s Waiting, starring the very same Naseeruddin Shah Mundra speaks so highly of, and four other films in different stages of pre-production. Ask him if his next aim is to work with his idol Bachchan, and Mundra chuckles and wistfully says that it will happen when the right script comes along. “But for now, the next aim is to bring home an Oscar for India. It’s high time,” he smiles.

Liked/disliked the profile? Leave your comments below!

Follow the blog on your left and like The Tanejamainhoon Page on FB: /tanejamainhoonpage
Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoonon Twitter:
@tanejamainhoonon Instagram:@tanejamainhoon,
on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon

Note: This interview first appeared in Open Magazine on May 15, 2015
Link: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/art-culture/manish-mundra-scene-saviour
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.

On Bombay Velvet: How internet is killing the movie and the curse of being Anurag Kashyap #NotaReview

This is not a review of Bombay Velvet. Because whatever I say about Bombay Velvet doesn’t matter to you at all. You’ve already made up your mind about how you feel about Bombay Velvet, even especially if you haven’t seen it, because you have read gossip about the film’s edit issues before its release, or you’ve read Komal Nahta’s tweet about how two shows of the film got cancelled in the morning, or you’ve read a review of the film by critics who were ‘let down’ by this film.

For that matter, you have decided that no matter what others say, you will like this film because you are a Ranbir fan, an Anushka fan, or an Anurag Kashyap fan (are there any left though?). You may like it because everyone’s disliking it and you are a hipster, or you may like it because of the amazing irony of how a Rs 100 crore budget film has become an underdog. You may just like it because your expectations were lowered by the reviews of critics or your friends, and now you don’t find the film *that* bad.

It’s beside the point that I loved the film and its characters and its setting and the outstanding music, it’s pointless reviewing Bombay Velvet because invariably, I must belong to one or more of the sects I mentioned in the previous paragraph, perhaps without even knowing it. Because clearly, no one’s reviewing movies anymore, everyone’s reviewing their expectations of it.

Expectations vs the Film
Let me attempt to explain: When was the last time we walked into a movie theater without any expectations from the film whatsoever? Even if we didn’t have high expectations of the film, we certainly didn’t have no expectations else why would we spend your hard earned money and our precious time watching the film?

The reason we had these expectations (as little as they may be) is because we liked the trailer of the movie, or we like the actors in it, or the director of it or because it came recommended to us by a critic or a friend. So the film ultimately either lived up to these expectations, or fell short of them, and our opinion on the movie is an outcome of that. That’s largely how it’s always been when it comes to movie watching but ever since social media has happened to our lives, our expectations have started getting skewed much more sharply than ever before. With the groundswell of opinions on every movie, especially if they are STRONG and LOUD (whether positive or negative), our expectations have *become* our review of the movie. Think about it, we now rarely feel any different after watching a movie from what is being said about the movie, or the opinion we formed about it beforehand.

We already liked Piku before we entered the theater to watch it because EVERYONE LOVED IT. We were already impressed by the excellence of Court because EVERYONE WAS IMPRESSED BY IT. We were already disappointed with Detective Bymokesh Bakshy because EVERYONE WAS LET DOWN BY IT. We were already blown away by Fast and Furious because EVERYONE WAS BLOWN AWAY BY IT. Perhaps you are one of the rare people who felt the opposite for every movie I mentioned or you genuinely liked/disliked the previous movies and that has nothing to do with ‘everyone’. The truth, as they say, is probably somewhere in between.

The curse of being Anurag Kashyap
Let me put it another way: What if Court was made by Anurag Kashyap? What is Piku was made by Sajid Khan? What if Byomkesh Bakshy was made by Chaitanya Tamhane? What if Fast and Furious was made by Michael Bay? What if Bombay Velvet was made by Anand Gandhi?  Just think over this for a second. Would we still feel exactly the same about these movies? More importantly, would the *critics* feel the same way about them? Of course we wouldn’t. Because somewhere, we can’t disassociate the filmmaker from the film and that is true even moreso for critics.

Prove me wrong by showing me a review of Bombay Velvet that does not talk about Anurag Kashyap’s ambitions with this film, the film compared to his other work, the film with respect to other gangster film, the budget of the film, the expected box office, the negative buzz around it, etc etc etc. You’d be surprised if you find a review that only talks about the film and nothing else but the film because Anurag Kashyap is intricately linked to this film, but is that really fair? Why isn’t it only about the film anymore?

If you completely disagree with me on this, here’s another perspective: What if Woody Allen, who has been accused of being a pedophile, gets convicted? You’d certainly not be inclined to revere him as a person but would it have any bearing on what you think of him as a director? But that’s actually immaterial, to be honest, because the only question that matters is: would it change the way you feel about his films? Will Annie Hall make you feel any differently or will you love Midnight in Paris any less, knowing that the director behind him may not be a very good man? It won’t and it shouldn’t because it *really* doesn’t matter who has made a film. Only your connection to it matters.

Internet criticism
But that may not be true in the case of critics in the internet age. I read the reviews of a few critics who found Akshay Kumar’s Gabbar mildly enjoyable and gave it around 2.5 stars. I saw the film and it definitely didn’t suck as much as every other south remake but 2.5 stars? Bombay Velvet has got 2.5 stars. Byomkesh Bakshy got 2.5 stars. Are Gabbar and Bombay Velvet/Byomkesh Bakshy at the same level in ANY way? I’m not trying to be a condescending asshole or a cacophonous fanboy (although that’s beside the point too because you’ve already made up your mind either way, haven’t you?). What I’m trying to say is: Did Gabbar make you FEEL for even one second? What did you take back home after watching Gabbar? On the other hand – are you saying NOTHING in Bombay Velvet or Byomkesh made you feel? You took back NOTHING after watching them?

I’m not at all comparing popcorn films with ‘cinema’ and trying to draw a fail parallel. Because I LOVE popcorn cinema. Absolutely LOVE it. Because the best popcorn cinema also makes you FEEL – it could any feeling from awe and joy to aww and joy. (If you get the time, please do read this piece by Sady Doyle on popcorn cinema; possibly the best written article on cinema this year: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/marvel-killing-the-popcorn-movie/). Gabbar didn’t make me feel, neither do any of the umpteen other South remakes. Avengers (not part 2) did make me feel though, as did The Fault in our Stars in the same way that a Dhoom 3 and 2 States made me feel *something*. They are the epitome of popcorn films but I took away something back home after watching them. I took away something from Bombay Velvet and Byomkesh too, but nothing from Gabbar. Yet they are all given a star rating of 2.5 stars and to be honest, that blows my mind.

I am not calling out critics too (I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions and how am I to say my opinion is better than yours?) but I do have a problem with criticism connected with expectations. Because I fail to understand how ratings can be flexible according to expectations. The reason Gabbar got 2.5 was because the reviewers went into theaters expecting to see an absolutely horrible film but were surprised that it didn’t suck THAT BAD. On the other hand, Byomkesh got 2.5 because the reviewers were expecting to be blown away but that didn’t happen; and Bombay Velvet got 2.5 stars because the reviewers expected to be let down and that’s exactly what happened. I admit, some of this is informed from my understanding of criticism because I was a ‘critic’ for a while for Firstpost.com and to be honest, I occasionally suffered from the same issues too.

It may have been JUST me and perhaps I wasn’t qualified enough to be an opinion-giver (‘critic’ is too strong a word to my liking), and I may be ENTIRELY wrong and presumptuous about internet criticism (because criticism without the support of the internet today does not exist). But the truth is, it was only after I left my opinion hat at home and started watching films as a filmbuff that I began to see them for what they are. My feelings towards any film, now, are based on what I feel *because* of the film, or if I feel because of it at all. It has nothing to do with the perception of the film or the cast and the crew.

Why Bombay Velvet cannot be left to die
I loved Bombay Velvet. I didn’t connect with it in the first thirty minutes at all, but then I was slowly pulled in by it and by the end of it, I had been wholly consumed by all the complexity at play – the class divide of Khambatta and Balraj, the love story of Johnny and Rosie, the angst of Balraj to rise above his so-called aukaad, the loyalty of Chiman, and all else. The music was the true champion of the film and Amit Trivedi’s OUTSTANDING score interpreted on film is reason alone to watch this film. I loved the world of the film created by its superlative cast (Ranbir, Anushka, Satyadeep, Karan and Kay Kay took my breath away) and crew, and contrary to what many have said, I felt that the film didn’t reach its full potential because of the edit, done by the great Thelma Schoonmaker and Prerna Saigal.

In the first thirty minutes, to give the film a certain pace and atmosphere, what I felt were crucial scenes of romance between Rosie and Johnny weren’t allowed to breathe and were cut off just when they needed that little pause for us to feel deeper. The uneven pace of the film throughout is its biggest downfall and somewhere, there is a director’s cut which could be 3 hours long but which I suspect I may love more. But I still love Bombay Velvet, but as I had mentioned upfront, what I think of the film doesn’t even matter.

The more time spent on the internet consuming about movies before watching them, is killing the experience of watching any movie for what it is. Remember the unparalleled pleasure of being in a cinema hall at one with a movie, and discovering it unfold one scene at a time, before the onslaught of teasers of teasers and trailers 2,7,10? Before Twitter and Facebook told you EVERYTHING you didn’t want to know about the film but would have liked seeing or deciding for yourself? Before opinions were jammed down your throat because you live on the internet and opinion-givers do too?

Hence my opinion of Bombay Velvet is immaterial. What matters is what *you* think of it. And the only way for you to decide is not by reading snarky comments about it on the internet but by going to the theater and watching it yourself. Watch it not because I or anyone else liked the film, but because such an intricately created and painstakingly mounted film is certainly worth your time – at least worth more than reading all the gossip about it. Whether you love, like or dislike it, watching a movie of this scale, design and feel isn’t an experience you get often in India cinema, and will certainly not get anymore if this film is doomed by the wrath of the internet and the curse of being Anurag Kashyap.

Do not let the internet kill Bombay Velvet. Do not let the internet kill movies.

Agree/disagree with the piece? Want to tell me how I suck and don’t know jackshit? Leave your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Follow the blog on your left and like The Tanejamainhoon Page on FB: /
tanejamainhoonpage
Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoonon Twitter:
@tanejamainhoonon Instagram:@tanejamainhoon,
on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon

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 2015 Big Summer Movie Preview #Hollywood #Bollywood

So arguably the most anticipated movie of 2015, the awesome Avengers: Age of Ultron, has already released and we’ve only just hit May. But summer’s only just begun which means we’ve only just got started. Here are the most exciting movies lined up for the rest of the summer and what makes them exciting (to me!):

MAY 8
Piku
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Deepika Padukone
Directed by: Shoojit Sircar

Because Shoojit Sircar is back and Irrfan-Deepika could be the quirkiest romantic pairing this year.

Maggie
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin
Directed by: Henry Hobson

Because this looks like the film that could do for Arnold Schwarzenegger what Joe couldn’t do for Nicholas Cage – give him a gritty, badass comeback.

Hot Pursuit
Starring:
Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara
Directed by: Anne Fletcher

Because Reese Witherspoon is back to doing comedy and this could be this year’s Heat.

MAY 15
Bombay Velvet
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap

Because with that cast and the music by Amit Trivedi and with Kashyap at its helm, this is easily my most anticipated film of the year now.

Mad Max: Fury Road
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Directed by: George Miller

Because it’s got the most massive, mindblowing, earth-shattering, trailer this year and in most years in general.

Pitch Perfect 2
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and more

Because after a fresh, inventive and super fun original, the coolest group of chickas are back, pitches!

MAY 22
Tanu Weds Manu Returns
Starring: Kangana Ranaut, Kangana Ranaut, R Madhavan

Because one Kangana is awesome and two Kanganas is THE BEST THING EVER.

Tomorrowland
Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie

Because George Clooney stars in a film written by the writer of Lost in a film by the director of The Incredibles, which also stars Hugh Laurie, btw.


MAY 29

San Andreas
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario

Because who doesn’t want to see The Rock saving the world!

Aloha
Starring: Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray
Directed by: Cameron Crowe

Because THE Cameron Crowe is back with a romcom starring Emma Stone; this could probably be my favourite film of the year.


JUNE 5

ENTOURAGE!!
Starring: Ari Gold, Vinnie Chase, ‘E’, Turtle and Johnny Drama (oh yeah)
Directed by: Doug Ellin

BECAUSE THE BOYS ARE BACK AND I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE, LOOK SO MANY EXCLAMATIONS!!!!

Dil Dhadakne Do
Starring: Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Farhan Akhtar, Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah
Directed by: Zoya Akhtar

Because with a star cast that awesome and a trailer that fun, and a director so brilliant, this could be the Bollywood film of the year.

Spy
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Nargis Fakhri
Directed by: Paul Feig

Because Melissa McCarthy is a spy and Jason Statham is a doofus and the film is by the director of The Heat and it also stars Nargis Fakhri!


JUNE 12
Jurassic World
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jake Johnson
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Because the dinos are back, this time with Chris Pratt!!!!! (Also this movie is directed by a guy who’s first film I *really* dug, Safety Not Guaranteed)

Hamari Adhuri Kahaani
Starring: 
Vidya Balan, Emraan Hashmi
Directed by: 
Mohit Suri

Because Vidya Balan is the only reason you need, although I’m really not sure about the rest of the cast and crew.

#Notraileryet

JUNE 19
ABCD 2 (3D)
Starring: Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, Prabhu Deva
Directed by: Remo D’Souza

Because the trailer in 3D looks actually looks like quite a blast.

Inside Out
Starring: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader
Directed by: Pete Docter

Because what a great cast and what a great plot!

Paper Towns
Starring: Natt Wolfe, Cara Delevingne
Directed by: Jake Schreier

Because
this film is written by the writers of of (500) Days of Summer, The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now (Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber), so if you love romcoms, this one’s NOT to be missed.


JUNE 26
Ted 2
Starring: 
Mark Wahlberg, Seth McFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson
Directed by: 
Seth McFarlane

Because the foul-mouthed teddy bear is going to be dirtier, raunchier and even more of an asshole this time… if only the censors allow his debauchery.

Big Game
Starring: 
Samuel L Jackson, Onni Tommila
Directed by: 
Jalmari Helander

Because it’s an action thriller featuring Samuel ‘Mothaf**a’  Jackson as The President of the USA… oh hell yeah!


JULY 1

Magic Mike XXL
Starring: Channing Tatum, Amber Heard, Elizabeth Banks, Matt Bomer
Directed by: Channing Tatum

Because this one’s for the ladies.

Terminator Genisys
Starring: 
Emilia Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney (WHY?)
Directed by: 
Alan Taylor

Because Emilia ‘Khaleesi’ Clarke gives you hope, otherwise this really looks like a piece of shit.


JULY 3
Hero 
Starring: Athiya Shetty, Sooraj Pancholi, Govinda
Directed by: Nikhil Advani

Because this has been the most talked reboot starring two star kids, since Saawariya.

#NoTrailerYet

JULY 10
Minions
Starring: 
Jon Hamm, Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton
Directed by: 
Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda

Because MINIONS.


JULY 16

Bajrangi Bhaijaan
Starring: Salman Khan, Kareena  Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Directed by: 
Kabir Khan

Because Kabir Khan is the only director who can make a Salman Khan movie cool.

#NoTrailerYet

JULY 17
Ant-Man
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily, Corey Stoll
Directed by: 
Peyton Reed

Because Paul Rudd is a superhero in the second Marvel movie of the year, and he better live up to it because I’m really not happy about Edgar Wright not directing this.

Pan
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Cara Delevingne, Garett Hedlund, Amanda Seyfried
Directed by: 
Joe Wright

Because this could either be fantastic or the best unintentional comedy of the year.

Mr Holmes
Starring: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney 
Directed by: 
Bill Condon

Because Magneto as an aging Sherlock Holmes and that’s just a sick logline.

JULY 24
Trainwreck
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, John Cena, Brie Larson
Directed by: 
Judd Apatow

Because it’s the coming together of two comedy gods with Amy Schumer writing and acting and Judd Apatow directing.

Pixels
Starring: Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan
Directed by: 
Chris Columbus

Because I never thought I’d look forward to an Adam Sandler film but this is directed by THE Chris Columbus (of Home Alone!), *really* looks like fun and it also stars Peter ‘Tyrion’ Dinklage and that can never hurt, right?

JULY  31
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames
Directed by: 
Christopher McQuarrie

Because let’s just be honest, the only reason Tom Cruise is still relevant is because he almost kills himself while doing the stunts in Mission Impossible, and everyone’s just curious to see how he managed to live.

Southpaw
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whittaker, Rita Ora
Directed by: 
Antoine Fuqua

Because Jake Gyllenhaal deserves an Oscar and the buzz is that this film could get one for him (although the trailer’s not promising)

Bangistan
Starring: Ritesh Deshmukh, Pulkit Samrat, Jacqueline Fernandez
Directed by: 
Karan Anshuman

Because the poster, name and cast is super fun and if it could match the spirit of a Four Lions, this could be a load of fun!

#NoTrailerYet

Drishyam
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Shriya Saran, Tabu, Rajat Kapoor
Directed by: 
Nishikant Kamat

Because Nishikant Kamat, otherwise really not excited to find out what Ajay Devgn will bring to *another* South remake.

#NoTrailerYet

AUGUST 7
Fantastic Four
Starring: Kate Mara, Miles Teller, Michael B Jordan, Jamie Bell
Directed by: 
Josh Trank

Because it’s got the freshest cast for a superhero movie after Guardians of the Galaxy, and because the director’s done Chronicle, the most twisted take on the superhero genre yet.

Goosebumps
Starring: Jack Black, Kumail Nanjiani, Karan Soni
Directed by: 
Rob Letterman

Because this really sounds like the fun, irreverent film that brings Jack Black back on the map.


AUGUST 14

The Man from UNCLE
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant
Directed by: Guy Ritche

Because Guy Ritchie, that cast, and have you even seen how much fun the trailer looks??

Brothers
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Siddharth Malhotra, Jackie Shroff
Directed by: 
Karan Malhotra

Because the original movie that this is a reboot of, Warriors, is an incredible film so fingers crossed, although hard to trust anything with Akshay Kumar attached.

#NoTrailerYet

Masterminds
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Zach Galifianakis
Directed by: 
Jared Hess

Because Kristen Wiig and that cast in a bank heist comedy sounds like the funniest film of the year already.

Straight Outta Compton
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Keith Stanfield, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins
Directed by: 
F Gary Gray

Because it’s the origin story of legendary hip hop group NWA and check out the trailer and tell me you don’t get the feels.

AUGUST 21
All is Well
Starring: JAbhishek Bachchan, Asin, Rishi Kapoor, Supriya Pathak
Directed by: 
Umesh Shukla

Because Umesh Shukla’s OMG was very well done and it would be interesting to see Abhishek Bachchan finally getting a good director to work with.

#NoTrailerYet


AUGUST 28

Phantom
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif
Directed by: 
Kabir Khan

Because Kabir Khan again, with another movie, with another Khan, could either be a double treat or… hmm, let’s just hope it’s that.

#NoTrailerYet

Hitman: Agent 47
Starring: Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds
Directed by: 
Aleksander Bach

Because Homeland’s Rupert Friend gets an action thriller of his own and that sounds terribly exciting to me.

Which movie are you most excited about? Do leave your favourites in the comments below 🙂
Follow the blog on your left and like The Tanejamainhoon Page on FB: /tanejamainhoonpage
Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoonon Twitter:
@tanejamainhoonon Instagram:@tanejamainhoon,
on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon

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.