March 29, 2006


David Chute and I couldn't disagree more on movies, but he loves Bollywood, and that counts for a lot these days when Bollywood seems intent on making itself harder and harder to love.

Over on his blog he's considering the irony of the fact that just as Westerners are starting to embrace Bollywood's differences, Bollywood is falling all over itself to Westernize and eliminate those differences. I'd have to agree that this seems to the biggest problem with finding Bollywood movies I actually like. The stuff I can't stand is cloned from Western films, or shows a distinctive lack of charm and craft: THE RISING, TAXI NUMBER 9211 and ZINDA are three recent examples that spring to mind.

But at the same time, slavish devotion to the past isn't doing it for me, either. The Yash Raj formula is looking increasingly threadbare and the fun on display in movies like BUNTY AUR BABLI feels cheaper and tackier with each passing year. I still hold our hope for Mani Ratnam, although his YUVA really didn't do much with its musical numbers. Ram Gopal Varma seems to have eliminated songs from his movies entirely, and Sanjay Leela Bansali has done the same with BLACK.

So where does that leave us? Well, RANG DE BASANTI is a movie I'm still hoping to check out, and KRISSH. Apart from that, is there anything on the horizon that is new, but still contains that chewy nougat center of yummy Bollywood goodness?

March 29, 2006 at 01:43 AM in News | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference WHITHER THE NEW BOLLYWOOD?:


why does your interest in indian movies restrict itself to bollywood?

Posted by: jevya | Mar 29, 2006 4:30:02 AM

It's not just restricted to Bollywood, but there's three reasons I happen to like Bollywood so much:

1) It's the first thing I saw. I stumbled across DIL SE years ago and was just blown away. I'm fan of musicals and was really moved by the way melodrama, musical conventions and suicide bombings had been molded together into one great package. Bollywood really made an impact on my brain and it's hard to shake it off. The West just doesn't make movies like this.

2) It's more accessible. There are dozens of stores in New York that sell Bollywood DVDs, copies of Filmfare, and theaters that show Bollywood movies so I've been exposed (maybe over-exposed) to Bollywood and its stars.

3) Although a lot of the regional cinemas have a great deal to offer - and I've really liked some of the Telugu cinema I've seen - I have a hard time with parallel cinema, which is the second most available kind of Indian cinema in the US. While I can appreciate the value of the parallel films I've seen, for the most part they wear their social agendas on their sleeves and that often turns me off. There's something about selling India's poverty to a Western filmgoer that makes me feel dirty, the same way as those "It's so miserable to live in China" movies can be as great movies, but I'm suspicious over why they're available in the US ahead of more entertaining, less socially concerned fare.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Mar 29, 2006 4:59:06 AM

"regional cinema" -- as if bollywood wasn't regional! but it just seems odd to me, considering that there are way more good tamil and telugu movies coming out these days -- on dvd, with subs, available in new york, even in movie theaters (sometimes, more often mallu movies tho).

Posted by: jevya | Mar 29, 2006 6:03:25 AM

Well, I guess Bollywood gets to be the big dog and situate the other industries in relation to itself since it's the biggest and richest regional industry in India. Sort of the same way Hollywood is the de facto mainstream industry in the US, even though there is a strong NY industry, and an independent and straight to video industry as well.

And I'd love to hear some Tamil and Telugu recommendations. Maybe I don't go to the right stores, but I rarely see DVDs on sale and the ones I do see I have little to no idea about. And is there an online retailer you'd recommend?

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Mar 29, 2006 7:59:04 AM

Yeah--is there a good online retailer for Indian stuff? A Yesasia of India would be great.

Posted by: Justin Slotman | Mar 29, 2006 1:51:12 PM

not really, bollywood is very regional, as i'm sure sales figures show. online retailer -- anytamil.com though it doesn't have yesasia's level of user-friendliness. new movies are available same places in new york that hindi movies are, but it's cheaper to get them online i think.

recommendations --

virumaandi, rashomonesque anti-death-penalty rural thriller with great photography and acting, and a gorgeous heroine.

anukokunda oka roju, skilful thriller about a singing coed who's slipped a date rape drug, good songs and woven in very nicely.

kaathal, unsentimental and unglamorized teen romance.

gudumba shankar, goofball comedy with some fights and some parodies of heroic action movies. didn't do that well at the box office but it's quite fresh and fun.

pithamagan, dir. by bala, who is perhaps the johnnie to of tamil cinema. silent sexton falls in with a con man and a ganga-seller.

Posted by: jevya | Mar 29, 2006 4:36:18 PM

hey justin, netflix has quite a selection of hindi films, although there are sometimes long wait times (it took me 4 months to get Kal Ho Na Ho)

Posted by: Millie | Mar 29, 2006 4:42:27 PM

Yeesh. That's about as long as it took me to get Kuch Kuch Hota Hai from Greencine.

Posted by: Justin Slotman | Mar 30, 2006 4:57:18 PM

A few years ago I entered an Indian store for the first time and saw all the DVD's for sale. The covers looked interesting and I bought a song compilation and after seeing the 1st song with all the colors,costume changes and camera angles on my 53 inch TV I was hooked. Now after hundreds of movies and probably 1000's of songs later, I find the new stuff coming out of Bollywood very boring. Every once in a while something will still be cool, but it's the Tamil and Telugu stuff that's hot.

Here are my suggestions of some cool Tamil and Telugu films:

1-KANDUKONDAIN KANDUKONDAIN-great musical numbers from AR Rahman and an early performance from Aishwarya Rai. This is actually a version of "Sense and Sensibility". It stars Tamil Superstar Ajith as a film director wooing Tabu who comes from a poor family.
2-Chandramuki-Superstar Rajnkanth(who is a little old in the tooth but still does a great job)as a professor who visits some friends who supposedly have a ghost in their house. Lots of colorful numbers and some cool special effects.
3- any films with Vikram,Ajith,Vijay,Arjun all all good

1-Anji-Chiranjeevi who makes lots of cool movies.It has lots of tacky and cool special effects and some really amazing dance sequences. It's sorta a cross between RRomancing the STone" and "Indiana Jones". Mani Sharma does great music.
2-Tagore-another Chiranjeevi and Mani SHarma film. THe version I have has no subtitles,but the song sequences are amazing.
3-any movie with NTR Jr in it. He looks like john Belushi but when he starts dancing you will be amazed. Most of his movies have Mani SHarma music in them. I have not seen a bad NTR Jr film yet.

....most of the Tamil and Telugu films are action packed with lots of special effects and Matrix-like filn\m sequences.

Hope this info was useful....

Posted by: NoVaDJ | Apr 3, 2006 8:42:16 PM

At last,
a chance to share my
"Baby, don't change - people love Bollywood as it is" bookmark collection:

Bollywood Works Its Charm as India Globalizes:

"Hou Wei's passion for Indian music has in fact transformed her home into the site for a non-stop Bollywood hit parade."

"The Hmong Yana Gupta?" - Ms. Mechi Yang of Sony's BOOGIE WOOGIE CHALO AMERICA dance contest:

A Bollywood number on Chinese televsion:

And yet,
the BBC review quote accompanying
the I DID NOT KILL GANDHI synopsis
on the 2006 Singapore International Film Festival web site
echoes Mr. Chute's observation:
"...the kind of thought-provoking, non-musical film Bollywood is capable of making but sadly rarely does"

Posted by: Niraj | Apr 19, 2006 4:00:54 PM

I wouldn't recommend Chandramukhi (thought it was kind of a bore) but Rajni's earlier Muthu is tons of fun.

I'd second the recommendations of Pithamagan, Virumaandi, and Kandukondain Kandukondain. Tamil cinema really has put out some of the best Indian films of the last several years, and just because it's not Bollywood doesn't mean it can't be frothy fun. Muthu is as goofy and cheerful a masala movie as you could ask for.

Posted by: David Austin | Apr 20, 2006 8:10:18 AM

I would like to express my sheer disappointment with Bollywood as a whole. All they recently seem to do are adaptations, however vague they may be,of Western films.
The plots seem to go on forever and for me, loose the audience completely.
The once infectious and creative music is now just a nuisence. Even, actresses are dressing less and resemble those scantlily clad ho's on MTV!
The language has, unlike most other foreign films, disinteregrated into semi English, "kitchen Hindi".
And the worst is the stars are becoming more self conscious & fake.

Such a pity that a country with so much to offer spiritually & creatively has to resort to this empty, insipid and quantitative form of entertainment to put our country on the map or as they call it reach a wider audience.

Posted by: Ritesh Hurdi | Sep 21, 2006 6:23:46 AM

Post a comment