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Is Bollywood ashamed of India?

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By: The Cinema Cynic
In the wake of the unfortunate performance of Rock On 2 at the Box Office, I began re-reading many of the so-called critics reviews of the movie and was astonished to find that one of the areas that these self-proclaimed movie experts mocked was the use of Shillong, the beautiful capital city of Meghalaya as a backdrop. Besides being an absolutely idiotic reason for criticizing a movie, it got me thinking as to what has become a rather irritating trend in Bollywood – the use of foreign, rather than Indian settings.
Is Bollywood ashamed of India? For all its grit, crime, trials and tribulations, India is as beautiful and wonderful place with an allure that captures the heart and, I dare say, soul of anyone who is willing to open themselves up to its charm and look beyond the surface. Mother India has inspired artists, poets, writers, composers of music and singers yet it seems to be unable to inspire Bollywood to rise beyond its mediocre fare and penchant for foreign locales. The legends, folklore, history, mythology and spirit that suffuses so much of the Indian identity is now conspicuous by its absence from Bollywood films as if that branch of Indian cinema is content to pander to NRIs and a minority audience seeking foreign climes.
It is not enough that some of Bollywood ’s actresses think that getting mediocre roles in nonsensical Hollywood production is the epitome of success – their loyal chelas in the media being quick to stroke their enormous egos – but Bollywood produces and directors now deliver more of a view of Paris, London, Corsica, Budapest or even Istanbul rather than Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati or Amritsar. Even Delhi and Mumbai only get a decent showing in arthouse cinema while it took a distinctly unconventional, albeit excellent movie like Udta Punjab to give us a good look at that state while the equally unconventional but undoubtedly brilliant Haider gave us a good hard look at Kashmir. Rock On 2 did well to showcase Meghalaya and one wishes more films would be made in the North-East I say nothing about Chennai Express as some of its stereotyping made me distinctly uncomfortable. While most Bollywood films are still set in India, one does not get the visual feast of India’s wonderful scenery.
Bollywood was not always so fond of foreign locales. From its inception, it offered a stylized but nonetheless often stark view of India – rural and urban – from the 1940s to the 1970s. Even the period 1980 to 2001 offered everything from a touching tribute to the Indian railways in The Burning Train to Sunny Deol at probably his best in 2001s Indian. However, it is interesting that from the 1990s onwards, the “aspirational” middle and upper-class films are all set abroad as if the ultimate goal for an Indian is to leave India. There is certainly a place for such films but why is India itself still so unexplored by Bollywood ’s producers and directors? Is not the India-based middle-class with their aspirations, idiosyncrasies and the more mundane aspects of their lives not worthy of more exploration? Is not the beautiful scenery of India not worth being used as a backdrop for stories more often? I suggest the answer to both is a definite yes.
What is much more disturbing is a parochialism that dominates Bollywood casting. From the obscene whitewashed casting of Priyanka Chopra as the Manipur legend Mary Kom (instead of an actress from the North-East) to the equally offensive casting of Deepika Padukone as a Tamil woman in Chennai Express, one wonders if Bollywood appreciates that there are other people in India other than Punjabis and Maharashtrians? It is especially galling as many of the regional cinema industries are producing cinematic gems with excellent actors who can be gainfully employed in Bollywood to enhance its pan-India profile.
Even thematically, outside a few genres and excluding arthouse films, Bollywood films are increasingly operating in a cultural and inspirational vacuum. Is it not time that Bollywood delve more deeply into Indian history, art and mythology for a new generation of films? That being said, its initial foray is this regard – Bajirao Mastani and Mohenjo Daro among the more recent examples – were truly embarrassing in their portrayal of society, people and even the intrigue of their respective time periods. Nonetheless, there is such a wealth of material that a talented producer or director would be spoilt for choice. Perhaps it is a lack of will that is at play?
Commercially, it is not entirely clear that foreign locales do anything to enhance box office takings and certainly do much to increase the cost of a film. The abysmal Tamasha gave us a beautiful view of Corsica and increased the cost of the film exponentially while doing nothing to enhance the quality of an appalling film (and some pretty poor acting from Deepika and Ranbir Kapoor). Perhaps some home-based fun films are the need of the hour, celebrating the beauty of India, the ups and downs of its people and the richness of its culture. India is an experience – a wonderful one for those open of heart and mind – and Bollywood should not be shy of showcasing it to its audience.
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Why On  Earth Is Sushmita Sen Smoking A Cigar In Aarya’s First  Look?

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Aarya

Season 3  of Aarya is being shot as  you read this, and naturally Sushmita Sen is  super-kicked about it, so kicked that she has put  out a  video where she is seen  in the  best Lady Boss version of herself.

Alarmingly, she is seen puffing away at a  cigar, to  complete her Badass Lady Boss image.

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 There was a  time when women smoking  cigarettes  in Hindi cinema signaled vampishness. If a female actor was  shown smoking it meant she had evil designs  over the  hero, and life in general.

 Sushmita being Sushmita, a cigarette won’t do. A  cigar it is, to go with her formidable image. The last Bollywood actor I saw smoking a cigar  on screen was Premnath in the 1970s. Back then so  many  people didn’t die of cancer  by smoking.

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 These are  different far more dangerous  and deadly times.

Sushmita is an iconic  actor.She  needs to be more careful about the image  she projects . Smoking  a  cigar doesn’t  enhance a woman’s(or a  man’s) muscle power. Nor does it make her look cool.

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About shooting for the third season of Aarya  Sushmita says, “Aarya is synonymous with my name.  I have lived as Aarya for two whole seasons and the love received by the audiences has only encouraged me to do more. Walking on the sets of Aarya Season 3 makes me feel at home and gives me  a sense of empowerment. I’m grateful to the entire team at Disney+ Hotstar, Ram Madhvani Films and Endemol Shine India for the vision of creating Aarya and taking it to newer heights with every season.”

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Shah Rukh, Deepika, John Will Meet The Media  On Monday At 4 pm(But There’s  A Catch)

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Pathaan

Pathaan has effectually discredited the  efficacy  of media interactions to promote  a  film. The  film’s lead actors Shah Rukh  Khan, Deepika Padukone  and John Abraham did not conduct any  press or portal interviews  to  promote the  film.

And  yet Pathaan  is  a blockbuster.

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 This  weekend  the Pathaan producer Aditya  Chopra  of  Yash Raj Films  took a call on behalf  of  the Pathaan team  to do one media  meet at the Taj Land’s End in Mumbai  on Monday January 30 at 4 pm.

The  three principal actors  and  director Siddharth Malhotra  will address  the  media.

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 But  here’s the catch: the media will not be allowed to ask any questions. There will be no  Q& A s or  one-on-one  interactions.This  basically means that the  Pathaan  team will  have an opportunity to  say what it wants  to the media. But the  media will have no say.

Make what  you will of this  one-way traffic.

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A  source close  to Yash Raj informs  me that this is  the   pattern  regarding the media that  Yash Raj will follow for  future  releases: no  press meets  no promotional  engagements.

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Fake Projects of Pathaan Director Being Planted In Media

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Pathaan

Siddharth Anand Denies Considering  Any Project With  Deepak Mukut

A  word of caution to those marketing and publicity wizkids  who think  it’s okay to  plant fake stories  on (fake) projects  with the Pathaan director.

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 It is  not.

Such baseless announcements  are meant only to  raise  the equity  of the  producers  with whom Siddharth   Anand’s name is  linked. One  such  producer whose name  has cropped up after the  spectacular success of  Pathaan is  Deepak Mukut.

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There were  reports  everywhere that Siddharth Anand’s next would  be with Mukut.

Turned out to be a false rumour.

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A  source in the  know informs, “Siddharth now has to complete Fighter  starring Hrithik Roshan and  Deepika Padukone  for Yash Raj.Then  he  is   committed to direct the sequel to War 2 for  Yash Raj films.  They will then start  work on the  next film in the Pathaan  franchise. There is no scope  or  room for any outside  projects  for Siddharth Anand. So every announcement  that  you read of a  new film  to be  directed by Siddharth Anand  for an  outside  producer is likely to  be  a hundred  percent fake.”

When I asked Siddharth Anand  about the  supposed project  with  producer Deepak Mukut he promptly replied,  “NOT AT ALL.”

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Pink Director’s Next  Featuring Yami As A Crime Reporter To Stream From February 16

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Yami

Anniruddha Roy  Chowdhury whose  Pink  featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu was one of  the  most important  films of  2016, is all set to  release his  next  Hindi film.

Entitled LostAnniruddha’s film , based on true  events, will see Yami Gautam Dhar(that’s  what the actress calls herself after her marriage)  as a crime journalist. LOST is an emotional social thriller that represents a higher quest, a search for lost values of empathy and integrity.

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Inspired by true events, Lost is a story of a bright young woman crime reporter in her relentless search for the truth behind the sudden disappearance of a young theatre activist.

Lost

Lost

Says Aniruddha  “The shoot of LOST has been an incredible journey. I have been eager for the release of our hard-worked venture. The film is a realistic highlight of media in a social context and I am sure that it will give the audience a compelling watch. I am curious about its release and see the responses it shall get. I hope they will welcome it with open hearts.”

Yami Gautam Dhar  who plays  the lead  of  the  crime reporter  says,   “I can’t be happier and more proud of the film’s selection for the opening night at CSAFF. I feel like its one that the people will connect to and will be the one that you cannot miss, especially in the current age and time. I have loved playing this role because it was such a special experience, it allowed me to explore so many layers of emotions as an actor and the entire team has worked really hard on it. I genuinely cannot wait for the film’s release, especially to see the reactions of the audience to it.”

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The crime investigation  drama boasts a stellar cast. Along with Yami, the film will feature Pankaj Kapur, Rahul Khanna, and an ensemble of younger talent, including Neil Bhoopalam, Pia Bajpai, and Tushar Pandey, in pivotal roles.

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