Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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INDIAN CINEMA

Cinema In General

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Pans & Tilts…Bollywood terror, Harry Potter, Naya Daur, Rani Mukherjee, Bipasha Basu…

When terror grips the world, so will it cinema. Bollywood has been quick to seek inspiration from the murder and mayhem that hoodlums have been unleashing on planet earth. With healers turning killers in Britain – and, worse, Indian doctors seemingly involved – and the siege at Islamabad’s Lal Masjid (where pro-Taliban militants were holed up for a long time before being flushed out) ending in a bloody massacre, Indian script writers, helmers and producers have not lost a minute before getting into the act. As one writer said, “terrorism is no longer just about fear and destruction, but it is also about mega flicks and big bucks for Bollywood”.

Karan Johar with Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan
I am told that nine films revolving around terror are being made in Mumbai. Nishikant Kamat is directing UTV-produced “Mumbai Meri Jaan” on the 2006 suburban train explosions in the city. Kamat traces the emotional turbulence among those who survived that bloody day or lost their loved ones. He chooses five couples to tell his story.

Mahesh Bhatt goes a little more into the past to capture the London bombings of 7/7, and narrates the events through the life of a disgruntled Asian Muslim family. Bhatt’s son, Rahul, debuts in this movie.

But the biggest of them all will come from Karan Johar, who is now scripting the agony and anguish of an Indian couple after 9/11 in New York. His favourite stars, Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan, will play husband and wife.

Anurag Basu, who gave us a rather insipid “Life in a Metro”, will now present UTV’s “Suicide Bomber”, where the director will try and analyse why a man turns terrorist. Basu uses the U.K. 7/7 as a peg. Jag Mundhra also uses the same background to tell us all about “Scotland Yard’s shoot-at-sight orders of Muslims” with Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri in the lead roles.

Well, the colour of Bollywood screen will soon turn blood red.

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This week clearly belongs to Harry Potter. The fifth in the celluloid series, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, has disappointed film critics, but this is not going to stop hundreds of thousands of “muggles” from trooping into cinemas screening the boy wizard’s antics. Sources say that online ticket bookings in the U.S. and Europe have surpassed those for “Spiderman-3” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”. The latest Potter potboiler, which begins with a spot of ugly feeling and ends with Harry facing the evil lord, Voldemort, could not have been more aptly timed. J.K. Rowling, who created Harry Potter, is all set to release her seventh and final book on July 21, and there are fears that she would end this saga by killing her hero. Anticipating this, there have already been hundreds of letters urging Rowling not to do any such thing. This reminds me of Arthur Conan Doyle’s attempt to bump off his hero, Sherlock Holmes. Letters beseeching Doyle to resurrect the detective eventually moved the writer, and he brought Holmes back to life. Potter fans may as well create such ruckus.

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Everybody expected tension on the set of Pradeep Sarkar’s “Laaga Chunari Mein Daag”, with Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee facing each other for the first time after he got married to Aishwarya Rai. But that did not happen. When Rani found Abhishek up to his old pranks, she dropped her defences, and the coldness on the set evaporated. Rani was once considered by the Bachchans as their “bahu”. But when that did not happen, Rani was not even invited for the wedding, and I am sure the poor girl must have felt devastated, first at having been dropped as Abhishek’s partner and, later, at being kept out of the marriage guest list.

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Now “Daya Daur” will celebrate 50 years by going colour. A black and white classic made in 1957 with Dilip Kumar (remember the famous tonga racing scene) and Vyjayanthimala has been recreated in colour. Ravi Chopra will release his father B.R. Chopra’s movie – a powerful study of man versus machine -- on August 3. But, I am not really sure whether it is a good idea to colour a black and white film. The old black and white movies have a certain regal appeal that can get easily lost in colour.

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Tailpiece: Bipasha Basu says that she has not split with boyfriend John Abraham. And to prove this, she is flying to Pondicherry to be with him, where he is shooting Nagesh Kukunoor’s “Aashaayen”. Why in the name of heaven must Bipasha and her ilk be so bothered about what the world thinks about their relationships. Must they perform outside their film sets as well? My sympathies for Bips and John.

(Webposted July 11 2007)