Romantic Comedies in Hollywood and Bollywood

Assumption: The median age for marriage in urban India is much lower than the median age of marriage in urban United States of America

Hence, romantic comedies in hollywood, usually end up having characters who are older than corresponding comedies made by Bollywood. Thus, Hollywood romantic comedies can be made to be more mature than corresponding Bollywood romantic comedies.

Data point: Serendipity was remade as “Milenge Milenge”. I was watching the latter movie a few days back (couldn’t sit through more than five minutes of it, as I kept comparing each scene to the corresponding scene in the original). In Serendipity the protagonists are around 35, and thus show a maturity that corresponds to that age. You can see that in the way they behave, go about things, etc. And here, in Milenge Milenge you have Shahid Kapur and Kareena Kapoor singing and prancing around like Jackasses. You can’t watch too much of that, can you?

Tailpiece: My all time favourite romantic comedy (across languages) remains Ganeshana Maduve, starring Anant Nag and Vinaya Prasad. I’ll talk about the virtues of the movie in another post but I can’t think of any other movie that even comes close to this one. Meanwhile, if you haven’t watched this movie, get hold of a subtitled copy of it and watch it. Now.


o!!! (super) is indeed a super movie. It is so awesome in so many different dimensions, that it’s hard to capture it all in one post. I guess in this post I’ll simply stick to the economic aspect of the movie.

So basically the premise is that in 2030 India is the most powerful country in the world. Bangalore is clean and green, with whites working as chauffeurs and sweepers, with 70 pounds to the rupee, and so forth. The movie is a fairly elaborate nested story about how this transformation is brought about.  (rest of post under the fold. spoilers are there)

Continue reading “o!!!”

Ganeshana Madhuve and Challenge Gopalakrishna

Scenes from these two movies were enacted out at our wedding.

So in certain cultures (such as my wife’s; this isn’t practiced in my mother’s house at least) there is a uniform that brides need to wear – a white or off-white sari with a red border. I think this uniform is there in my father’s family also, but I’m not sure. I’m sure this is not there on my mother’s side.

Anyway, Priyanka was in her uniform, in the “bride’s room” doing “gowri pooje” that is supposed to be done before a girl gets married. There were several other women around, and for the wedding, they had all chosen to wear their own wedding saris – white or off-white with a red border. This included mostly Priyanka’s aunts and cousins and one of my aunts.

So there is this scene in Ganeshana maduve where Ganesha (YG Rao) is told that the girl in red sari is Shruti (his “pen lover”). And he goes into the bride’s room to find that everyone there was in a red sari, so he has no clue in figuring out who Shruti is. Similarly, if someone had come to the bride’s room searching for one particular woman who was in the white-red uniform, they would’ve been thoroughly confused indeed.

Then there is this scene that is oft-repeated in the other classic Anantnag starrer Challenge Gopalakrishna (I’m not able to find the link on youtube). Whenever Gopalakrishna’s dad abuses him, he reminds him of his lineage. (translating) “Being the great-grandson of Justice Gopalakrishna (loud temple gong), being the grandson of Major Radhakrishna (another loud temple gong), being the son of Rotarian Muralikrishna (yet another gong) you dare to behave like this… “. This scene is played out several times in the movie, and towards the latter half, as soon as Mukhyamantri Chandru utters “Justice Gopalakrishna”, Anantnag runs.

So as part of the wedding rituals, the bride and groom are anointed as Lakshmi and Narayana (the gods). So while I was being anointed such, the priest chanted “Venkataramanasharma nautram, Suryanarayanasharma poutram, Shashidharasharma putram Shri Karthika Sharma … ” and similarly for Priyanka (that way I got to know her great-grandfather’s name). The first couple of times it was ok. But when this bit came up later on in the rituals, we couldn’t help but burst out laughing. Thankfully there were no temple gongs to punctuate the recital.

I’m not sure if Lakshmi and Narayana are supposed to laugh.

Rajkumar Hirani Copycat

Ok this post has nothing to do wtih Five Point Someone or its related controversies. Yeah, the story is inspired by 5PS more than the claimed 3% but I’ll let Chetan Bhagat and his army of followers fight out that battle. Copying from others is honourable, at least you are taking inspiration from someone. What is just not done is copying from oneself. It simply shows lack of creativity and laziness to come up with new ideas.

Maybe when Rajkumar Hirani made 3 Idiots, he assumed that the public would have forgotten Munnabhai MBBS. He assumed that Munnabhai MBBS would be so out of circulation that it would have gone out of people’s minds, eclipsed by the more successful sequel Lage Raho. What he didn’t bargain for was that Munnabhai MBBS was on the menu on the New York JFK  to Dubai Emirates Airlines flight, and that people like me would watch it within 3 weeks of watching 3 idiots.

The similarities are uncanny. Both colleges are “Imperial”, have Boman Irani playing the “big prof” (diro here, dean there), and acting similarly in both. Both have a nerdy Tam who comes 2nd in class, 2nd to the hero. Yeah, Chatur is caricatured in 3I while Swami is given a more positive role in Munnabhai. Both are about the system, about how the larger-than-life hero fights the system and makes the big prof realize that the way he has been running the institution is wrong. The hero’s love interest is the big prof’s daughter. And so on..  Just that Munnabhai and Rancho use different methods to achieve their goals, that’s all.

I suppose most of you would have watched 3Idiots recently. I urge you to pick up a DVD or a torrent of Munnabhai MBBS and watch it, again. And keep an eye out for the similarities. You will be convinced that Rajkumar Hirani is guilty of copying, from his own stuff. It is indeed sad to see a good director such has him stooping to Anu Malik* depths.

While on the topic of 3Idiots, my esteemed colleague Baada wanted me to do a stud-fighter post on the movie. I suppose all of you who have seen the movie will easily figure out why the framework fits. I don’t think it needs any more explanation from the resident stud-fighter expert, that is me. Also, if you recall, I had taken a vow that I won’t do any more stud-fighter blogging. Though I must mention that my book on the topic is going nowhere.

* Listen to the prelude music of Ae Mere Humsafar from Baazigar, and then to the title song of Ishq. Next, listen to the interlude music of Kitaben Bahut Si, again from Baazigar, and then to the title song from Fiza. The self-copy is obvious. And I must mention that I had used this concept in a quiz question, twice. Yeah, I’ve also been guilty of “petering” my own questions.

The Film Game

So today I was introduced to this “hangout game” called Film Aata (the Film Game). The rules of this game are fairly simple. Through a slightly complicated process, you pick a random letter in the alphabet. Everyone is given a certain amount of time (we played with five minutes), and in that time you need to write down as many films as possible whose names start with that letter.

It’s a fairly simple and fun (though can’t be played for too long or too often given that the number of letters in the alphabet) but what makes it interesting is the scoring system. You get points for each UNIQUE movie whose name that you have written. So basically if you’ve written down the name of a movie which at least one other person has written down, you get no points for it. So apart from knowing the names of lots of movies you need to know movies that others don’t know (and it’s useful to have a resource such as IMDB handy).

So basically correlation matters! If there is one other player in the group who has similar tastes as yours, you are bound to get screwed. For example, the two people with whom I was playing this game today are sisters, so there was a major overlap in the names of the movies that they knew, which meant that on a relative scale I performed better than I would have considering the length of my total list.

I found the game extremely interesting! Now, here is a modification that would make the game more interesting. Put a cap on the total number of movie names that a player can write, all other rules staying the same. Currently, with no limits, you will end up writing names of all movies that you can think of. There is no strategy per se involved in the game. It’s more a test of memory.

However, once we put a cap, that brings in an element of strategy to the game. Now you will need to pick and choose the movies whose names you want to put down – to choose the movies that you know other people won’t know. And in case the cap is really low, then to pick and choose the movies whose names you know others won’t write. Insane game theory scope are there!

This also makes the game more repeatable – you can play it more often with different sets of people, and each time you’ll be trying to read the minds of different people and that will make things fun. With the same set of people, you can play with different caps, giving a new strategy each time.

It’s a simple game. A kids’ game. Something that might appear to be all too simplistic on the face of it, but this simplicity allows easy innovation, and that can make the game extremely fun!

Movies and thoughts

I find Bollywood movies thought-provoking. No, seriously. The thoughts that they provoke may not have anything to do with the movie itself, but provoke they do. This is in total contrast to, say, Spaghetti Westerns or James Bond movies, which are excellent tools for escapism. The good movies of the latter kind totally immerse you, have you completely detached from the real world, and are excellent tools to get you out of NED.

Maybe the thing with the Bollywood movies is that they don’t engage you enough. They don’t engage you enough in order for you to be immersed in them. And that leaves you with enough CPU time to start thinking of other things. Then, it is easier to empathise (in some form; maybe some 10% empathy if not more) with certain characters in certain Bollywood movies, which is impossible to do in case of characters such as James Bond or The Man With No Name. And this empathy will end up directing your spare CPU time to thinking about yourself.

Bollywood movies also have a lot of “slow moments”. Passages in the movie where nothing really happens, and this includes the songs. Passages where nothing enough happens, and which allows you to be able to switch off and devote your entire CPU time to the other thing that you are thinking of. Also, the language is generally easy enough that even if you were to miss a few dialogues (when lost in thought), you are able to catch up with the rest of the movie.

Maybe it has to do with the intent of the filmmakers. Whether they intend to make a gripping movie that will help the audience go off on an escapist trail, or whether they want to purposely keep the movie light so that it doesn’t demand much brain power from the audience. Or maybe it has to do with implementation. It may well be the case that someone wants to make a gripping movie, but does such a bad job of it that the minds in the audience start meandering. Or maybe the filmmakers try to make a movie where the audience sees the movie through the eyes of a certain character. But the problem with that is that in such cases, there is the chance that the viewer equates himself with this character, and starts thinking of the similarities and differences, and focuses on himself rather on the movie.

It also depends upon the intent of the viewer, as to what he is expecting when he goes to the movie. Does he want the movie to present him a mirror so that he can see himself in the characters? Mostly not, I think. Does he go for general entertainment? Mostly yes, I think. Does he go to the movie for some sort of an escapist experience so that he can momentarily be detached from his normal life? Maybe yes, which I think signifies a higher fraction compared to “mostly not”.

I don’t see too many movies. Even those that I see are those that have generally been certified as hits. i don’t normally see art-house kind of movies – which are perhaps actually made to be thought-provoking. The last three Hindi movies I’ve seen (approximately) are Jaane Tu… , Jab We Met and Rock On. I have no clue what the intent of each of these movies was, though I would imagine they were made for general entertainment. Each of them ended up holding a mirror to me, and made me ask myself lots of uncomfortable questions while watching. Maybe the last Hindi movie that involved me enough to distract me from myself was Omkara. I wonder which of these movies I should regard as being better – the one that held the mirror or the one that made me detached.

Rock On

Finally saw the movie today. Was quite ironic that they end it with a message that says “don’t download the music. buy the CD”. and I was watching it on a DVDRip whose torrent that I’d downloaded.

Overall, I liked the movie. People have cribbed about Farhan Akhtar’s singing, but I think it’s ok. He’s not a great singer, but if he was, it wouldn’t have come out as being  too authentic for a band that didnt’ end up doing too well. Better singing (say Shankar had sung it) might have helped boost record sales (ok I think the record actually sold quite well), but in the movie it wouldn’t have come out to be too authentic. And then yeah, not having a bass guitarist was a bit inauthentic, but they do partly make up for it during some intros – when the keyboardist is introduced as providing the bass also (maybe inspired by John Paul Jones).

Continue reading “Rock On”

Tenure matching and jab we met

ok this is one of those lazy posts. Takes two earlier posts and finds a connection between them. This is the kind of stuff that bad professors do – take two old papers, find a link between them and publish a third paper. I do hope to become a prof one day, but I don’t hope to write such papers.

if you remember my review of Jab We Met (which I wrote about a month back), I had said that I hadn’t liked the ending. I had said that if I’d written the script, I’d’ve made Anshuman a stronger character, and made Geet marry him; and have Aditya walk away into the drizzle. I had said that this was because Aditya and Geet had added as much value as they could to each others’ lives.

So, now, if you look at it in terms of tenure matching, things will become clearer. Both of them had their own problems, which needed solutions. And neither of them had a problem for which the solution involved marriage. Ok wait. Geet did have a marriage problem. She wanted to marry Anshuman, and needed to find an efficient way of eloping with him and marrying him. So looking at it from the scope sense, all she needed was someone to guide her in her efforts to do the same.

Aditya’s problems, too, weren’t something for which marriage was an obvious solution. He had put extreme NED at work, and was on the verge of killing himself. All he needed was someone to guide him out of NED. Someone to show him that life can be beautiful, and happy, and that he shouldn’t take any extreme steps.

Looking at the movie from this context, it is clear that marriage between Geet and Aditya wasn’t warranted. Ok it might have been a “no-so-bad extension” but it wasn’t required. It wasn’t a solution that fit in any way with the problems that they were facing in their lives. Which is why the ending stuck out like a sore thumb (and that excess song-and-dance and loudness and all that contributed in no measure) .

Ok now I realize that I shouldn’t be analysing Bollywood movies from a logical standpoint. but still…

Dreams, daydreams, movie scripts and Jab We Met

The last time a relationship I’d invested considerable time and energy in didn’t happen, my mother told me that it had to do with my dreams. And my daydreams. And the “movie scripts” that I would often make up and tell her. Most of these would have a similar ending. The boy and the girl will end up deciding they will just be friends. And to move on in life. Typically, the movie scripts would end with one of them walking away into the drizzle. Or both of them walking away in opposite directions in the drizzle. It was because of the kind of scripts I would “write”, my mother would say, that similar things were happening to me in life.

Two and a half years down the line, I don’t seem to have changed. I still feel the same about a number of scripts. I don’t daydream anymore, at least not as much as I used to a few months or years ago. I don’t write movie scripts for fun any more. If I think I have an idea for a movie script, I start thinking about it from a commercial aspect. And end up ruining it. And though I continue to dream, and dream heavily, I don’t seem to remember too many of them. However, I’m sure that this kind of script still occurs once in a while in my dream.

I was reminded of this when I was watching Jab We Met earlier this evening. I thought it was a fantastic movie. Though Shahid Kapoor was playing a Lala, I could fully identify with his character. The first half, or maybe three fourths, was brilliant. The way his initial exchanges with Kareena Kapoor have been written is awesome. The entire bit starting from the time he walks away from his car till he is back in his company was compelling. At that point, the movie held so much promise that I was kicking myself for not having watched it for almost a year after its release. (rest of the post below the post. spoilers are there)

Continue reading “Dreams, daydreams, movie scripts and Jab We Met”

Need stuff

I got a new laptop last weekend. And missed out on a great opportunity on Sunday in Bombay when I met Monkee, Mukka, Madness, etc. to get stuff. Now i’m in gurgaon and don’t know how to get stuff.

I basically need music and movies. Movies of all hues, in all languages (as long as there are subtitles for all non-English, non-Hindi and non-Kannada languages). Music – classic rock for bread and butter. Instrumental carnatic classical. Indian rock (downloaded Avial; too strong). Trance. Anything else you might htink i might like.

As it stands now i wont’ be going out of gurgaon for a month (except for the odd trip to delhi). So stuff should be procurable here. if you know any way in which you have some stuff i may like, and may  be able to give it to me, let me know. put a comment here nad we can figure out.