Lessons learned from Ra.1, or whither Ra.2?

Amitabh Bachchan acted in Ajooba in 1991 (almost 22 years after his debut) and that, along with other misfires, marked the end of his thriving career as a superstar. Continue reading

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What should the STAR be doing?

Should he be looking for new and pathbreaking roles?  Playing to his strength?  Being laid back and in the mode that got his fans to love him in the first place?  One can think of Jack Nicholson – loved by all, fine actor.  And then we got too much of the good thing and Jack became a caricature of Jack.   I am grateful that Aamir and SRK have not fallen into that trap.  If anything I would say that Salman is playing laid back with Wanted and Dabangg, in roles tailor made for him, and reaping rewards.  But does that stretch his acting mettle?  I still think his best may have been as the bumbling idiot in Andaz Apna Apna!
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Is My Name is Khan timely or out of sync with the times?

A specter is haunting the world, the specter of radical Islam! Yes there is centuries of history behind this, and we can do all the ‘they did, we did’ that we want, but don’t you think at some point someone has to stop and say “This is here and now!! I do not care about the Crusades or the Shaka, Hun, Kushan and Moghul invaders. Why? Because we are supposed to learn from history, and not treat it like a vendetta record book.”
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Dulha Mil Gaya – fluff stuff that was not half bad!

The film promised exactly nothing, for what can a film with Fardeen Khan in a lead role promise? Yes there was Sushmita, but what has she done since Main Hoon Naa that worked? She has the rare distinction of being an intelligent, talented and exceptional looking woman whose career has gone nowhere. The director, Mudassar Aziz, a debutant, seems like a kid out of high school and Vivek Vasvani, the producer, had earned some negative press for roping in Shahrukh Khan to do a cameo that got more and more extended and hyped by Vasvani (SRK’s best role ever – really?). Then there was an unknown girl, Ishitta Sharma, playing the naive Samarpreet (though I could have sworn I saw a glimpse of her in Dil Dosti etc). But I decided the brave the film nevertheless.
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My Name is Khan – theatrical trailer, Sajda song!

The dust has settled on the MNIK theatrical trailer that was unveiled a couple of weeks ago and another promo “Sajda” has come out recently. So here I am to share my thoughts on both!

First up is the theatrical trailer:

It is 3 minutes long and seems to reveal most of the story. Here is what people have pieced together. An autistic boy, the young Khan played by Tanay Chaddha, (Asperger’s is part of the autism spectrum of disorders) is told by his mother that people are either good or bad based on the deeds they do. Cut to the grown up Khan telling us that he is different, but he is VERY SMART! The way he taps his forehead as he says it makes that scene for me.
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Oye Rabba! review of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi…..


The general public was expecting a DDLJ, SRK fans were just praying really really hard that they not get another Mohabbatein (the others can fill in the blanks for what they were hoping for). So after an 8-year hiatus what exactly did SRK and Aditya Chopra deliver? As the film began with shots of streets and surrounds in Amritsar I saw Akki Narula’s name flash by as costume designer and I began to get anxious. What on earth would Akki be designing in a supposedly down-to-earth film? But then a train chugged into a station and we saw a pair of sneakers on trousered legs and I relaxed a bit. The opening scene instantly set the stage for a not quite right marriage – and also a deconstruction of DDLJ where Raj holds out his hand and Simran runs and grabs it as he pulls her onto a train. Here a gauche and awkward man holds out his hand and she ignores it as she steps off the train! (and a child asks – papa yeh kaun hai, Papa replies – Shahrukh, and kid says nahin Papa!)
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Update on MNIK – bits of gossip really!

As I was waiting for the MNIK shoot in Healdsburg and listening to chatter around me, a few things came up that are worth recording.

1. A lady showed up – turns out she was the former mayor of the city and she said about a year ago someone reported that some Indians were driving around her house! Later they showed up at her house, told her they really liked her house and would like to use it for their film. They took interior pictures and recreated a set in Mumbai for the film. Then they came to Healdsburg to shoot the exterior shots.

2. Another lady was there and told us her friend leads the Choir. First they wanted children in the choir, she gathered children then she was told that they would prefer teenagers. A song was picked and she told the MNIK folks to make sure they get permission to use it. Later they called her and said how about Amazing Grace. She said – no, the kids practiced that other one, so make sure you have permission. They kids were too far away to hear what they were singing, there were some strings but no real orchestra or any background music. They were dressed formally and it all looked quite professional.

3. Some people asked the name of the film, the name of the “famous” (is he really like the Brad Pitt of India? – that is what the local newspaper had reported) lead man, and the name of the film. When I told them, a gentleman found it strange that a guy named Khan was acting in a film named Khan! He had to be told that Khans were like Smiths and Joneses in India! I was actually quite surprised at how little American people know of the world that is not American.

4. Some of the extras came and chatted with those of us on the other side of the tape – the regulars thought the film looked interesting and the actors were doing a good job.

5. Karan Johar seemed mostly at the monitor and all the shoot nitty gritty was being handled by some AD.

6. They brought in the most enormous white balloons – turned out these were lights and the semi-opaque white was to diffuse the light – the balloons were helium filled I think because they would rise or could be lowered by cables.

7. The policeman on duty loved the Indian food and Chai that they were told they could have!!!!
Who wouldn’t?