Posted in Film, Friday, Personal Observations

#Friday 20.0: Netflix Movies: Turbans and Profanity

Each week I will (try and) share a small segment of something useful I learnt. While this is for my own amusement I hope it resonates with my lovely readers.

I spotted lots of Turbans

I recall watching the movie Inside Man a very long time ago, a film that I have watched many times over. But what added more delight for me was spotting a Turbaned Sikh appearing in the movie. That man was actor and producer Waris Ahluwalia. Here is a scene from the movie. I can’t explain the delight whenever I see a Turbaned Sikh on screen. It’s a joy many immigrants must have experienced in Britain whenever a Turban wearing Sikh was seen on television (which wasn’t very often).

Over the weekend we were flicking through Netflix and came across an old movie called The Terminal. I’d seen most Tom Hanks movies so not sure how this one escaped me, but I’d heard it was a good family movie. So we all made a movie night of this one. I won’t spoil it, but highly recommend this one if you haven’t seen it. By the end of the movie, not only were we glad for the main character in the film but overjoyed that we may just have spotted the most amount of turbaned Sikhs in the movie. If I wasn’t mistaken, we counted 7. That’s the most I’ve seen in a Hollywood movie…see the film…was I right?

Tom Hanks masterful as ever

AK vs AK

So another Netflix movie session, how else do we fill the time during Tier 4 restrictions here in the UK. This time we come across the following movie:

This Bollywood movie follows the spat between director AK and movie star Anil Kapoor. In the film the disgruntled director kidnaps Anil’s daughter and then follows him with LIVE camera as Anil frantically tries to find his daughter. On concept I’d give the film 7/10 but that drops sharply because of the amount of swearing in the movie. As the movie goes on, profanity such f***(+ er) and m*****f***** become common place – it’s overload. I had a similar complaint when Sacred Games was released on Netflix a few years ago, the use of profanity was excessive. Come on AK, just because it’s Netflix, you don’t have to swear!

Have a safe and healthy 2021 peeps

Posted in Personal Observations

“Lights, Camera, Kirtan” – When Bollywood came to Gravesend

The large well-lit marble floored lobby area, usually a stopping ground for a catch up was covered in a wash of even brighter lights pushing out volumes of heat surrounded by white gigantic cinema style screens. The Sangat (congregation) had made a semi-circle which started at one end of the staircase and reached over like a long arm to the staircase on the opposite side.

If I wasn’t mistaken the scene unfolding in front of me had onlookers mesmerised, similar to those who sat in the famous courtroom watching hundreds of reflections of Madhubala in the film Mughal-E-Azam.  I was still searching for quick answers when I noticed Ratna Pathak (plays the mum in Kapoor & Sons) in a peach Indian suit marching towards a gora (white chap) dressed in a kurta pajama (male Indian dress) and giving him a right good thapper (slap) across his face.  One thing was for sure, I had obviously been living in exile for sometime because the majority of the Sangat in Gravesend was here to see the shooting of a film called #Mubaraka. Not to say Ratna Pathak wouldn’t have visited Gravesend Gurdwara (Sikh Holy place of worship) on any other given day, but she didn’t come across the type to let her right hand fly across someone’s face, on several occasions.  In all this sudden commotion I realised I had come to the Gurdwara to pray, but now the sight of #Bollywood blockbuster and long serving star, Anil Kapoor, had sent me spinning with excitement like a catherine wheel.

Note from author: Before anyone labels me a hypocrite, I’m already owning up to my weakness of not prioritising my visit

Now realising it was high time I partook in what I was really here to do, I proceeded to walk upstairs to the first floor.  As I looked up, I could see arms and heads peering over the banisters and rectangler wooden balconies, like those punters (excuse the London slang) with the cheapest tickets at a theatre production.  The demographic understandably varied; the younger generation interested in the action unfolding, (I told my kids Anil Kapoor was a bigger celeb then Tom Cruise, which they connected well with having just seen MI:4 – Ghost Protocol, for the umpteenth time), the sightly elder folk fretting with excitement of the man they had been watching on their screens for the past 30 years and the very older segment just shaking their heads in amazement.

Note from author: I fall into the slightly older segment

On finally reaching the Divan hall (room where Sangat can pay their respects to Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Sikh Holy Book) and listen to hymns) I could see the in-house raagi’s (Sikh priests) singing hymns to a handful of Sangat – granted the numbers were never high on a Thursday evening but attention otherwise had been divided.  Having sat in the Divan hall for a while, I ventured back out, walked halfway down the stairs and perched myself against the wooden banister, watching a particular scene being re-shot over and over again.  The extra’s being hurled to stop, then start again, they themselves recounting their steps time and time again, the production team making sure they got their money’s worth at £80 per official extra.  I then asked one of the security chaps when the crew arrived and how long they were staying for, today and 1 week.  That made me choke, this was some filming!

While the producer or director, I didn’t know which shouted for silence, the sound coming from upstairs resonated around the whole Gurdwara, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji was being taken from the Divan hall to their room for rest, the cast waited patiently.

Note from author: This sounds bad but I avoided going to the Gurdwara for most part of the week that pursued, to avoid all this commotion, however my resistance was broken

Filming had moved to the first floor and it was the second to last day of shooting, and boy was the whole surrounding area upstairs packed to the rafters.  There was a moment when I was going to test out my high jump skills to get from the Divan hall back downstairs, however I refrained and politely asked a lady to move over to allow me to get through.  Today Arjun Kapoor was also present performing his role, cutting his lines, I was once again engulfed in all this.  Leaning against one of the walls, I looked to my right and noticed Anil Kapoor heading in my direction, smartly dressed in a kurta with a brown tightly wrapped Dastaar (turban), was I going to just stay motionless?  To hell no, I stepped forward, called out his name and told him I loved his films, he responded with a polite Thank You.

So where do we go from here?  I’d say the large majority of people really enjoyed the week-long activities that took place in their Gurdwara, I mean they could have shot the film anywhere in the world, but they chose the UK, and in that they opted for little old Gravesend.  There was, as always is, a small segment that found this all too much, that things dragged on and it bordered on becoming a full-scale circus.  They commented on seeing people who otherwise wouldn’t come to the Gurdwara, I recall responding to that one, stating that on a positive note, it dragged out people and as a result they, if only briefly, sat in the presence of Waheguru (Sikh reference to God).  But for me…seeing Anil Kapoor and being able to atone for my sins through worship all in the same place was a unique opportunity.

Question from author: If you were at Gravesend Gurdwara during this period, how did you feel?

 This segment covers the period 8th March through to 16th March 2017

Posted in Film

More “Item Songs” in Bollywood mean India is getting raunchy then ever!

“An item number or an item song in Indian cinema, is a musical performance that has little to do with the film in which it appears, but is presented to showcase beautiful dancing women in very revealing clothes, to lend support to the marketability of the film” Wikipedia definition

For those reading this post, who have little or no knowledge of Indian Cinema (now referred to as Bollywood), you will be pleased to know that by the end you will have learnt something new, the growing trend of “Item Songs”.  This is not a history lesson in Indian Cinema, but merely my observation and the bravery (or stupidity) of directors to gradually push the boundaries

As a young lad, I recall sitting with my parents watching Bollywood movies (nothing wrong with that) and left wondering why a certain women would do a song sequence and then never appear in the rest of the film.  I recall that at that time, it was Helen who was the most popular women to appear in these so-called Item numbers.  Now Helen never looked like your typical Indian filmi chick, why, because firstly she was not full-blooded Indian and secondly she had apparent brown hair that was very continental looking.   The images below may support my observation.

I have to admit that watching Helen back then was just what a growing boy like me appreciated, something to catch the eye, get the chemicals flowing (steady on potato).  However, Helen was very elegant and graceful in her performance, she kept her dignity.  Also, she suited performing the “item number” sequence, it was just so her.  To those new, here’s a glimpse, to those experienced like me, here’s a quick trip down memory lane:





Recently the flood gates have opened in terms of “item songs” and what’s more interesting is how raunchy they have become and how they are being performed by reputable actresses within the industry. 

Back in 1993 when I was in India, I recall there was a widespread ban on the song Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai from the film Khalnayak.  The ban was the result of female college students up and down the country complaining about their male counterparts singing the song to them in a very provocative manner.  I saw the movie when I came back and had to admit it was so gracefully pulled off by the fantastic Madhuri Dixit.  It was however, the start of things to come.

When I went to India just this February, the most popular song on the dance floor was “Chikni Chameli”, from the movie Agneepath.  Now I hadn’t seen the video to this song but instantly fell in love with the song [singing it now].  When I saw the video, I was amazed, some of the dance moves and close up shots were a little naughty, see for yourself.

In today’s climate, I would say that the past consistency of Helen has now been replaced by the very popular Malaika Arora.

You can look past a nation which openly illustrates a passion pushing the boundaries in a legitimate way, for it’s all there above the surface and the inhabitants are very open about it all.  However, there is something very sinister about a nation who does not tolerate the freedom to express one’s body and emotions in public, but fuelling those burning passions through their film industry.

So here’s to all those street traders, rickshaw drivers, 3-wheeler drivers, foot-path rouges, gunda-Don’s who line up the front seats of the cinema hall, whistle and dream to their hearts content at the Indian beauty strutting her stuff across the screen while being watched with hungry eyes.

 Here are some picks from 2011 and 2012, you will see a common theme.

Posted in Movies

What Bollywood needs is another Spaghetti Western

Here’s a typical line from Bollywood film directors: this film has a bit of romance, some fighting, boy meets girl and they fall in love, you see, something quite unique.

Well in the last so many years, on the whole, there hasn’t been too much in the way of uniqueness.  Bollywood just doesn’t seem bold and brave enough to change the angle a little.  When was the last a Spaghetti Western Bollywood movie hit our screens?  Are audiences no longer interested in a different genre of movie, just actors and actresses revealing almost all while neglecting their acting skills?  I think it’s time for a shake-up and Bollywood directors need to look back at those classic horse-riding and gun slinging movies that wowed audiences up and down the world.Let me take this opportunity to mention three of my favourite Bollywood Spaghetti Westerns. Continue reading “What Bollywood needs is another Spaghetti Western”

Posted in Music

The Song is worth Translating

A few days ago I posted an article around a song that I hadn’t heard for a very long time.  In true style I do what I do best, listen to it throughout the week and as that time before, the song grows on me again.

The lyrics are so nice that I thought for all my non-Hindi speaking/understanding bloggers, I would post up a translation, not word for word, as it would sound odd, but 99.9% close.

For all those hindi-speaking/understanding bloggers, please listen to the song again and if I have missed out any vital words, let me know.

In life everyone falls in love

Even if I died my love, I would still continue to love you

When I met you, it is then that I realised

That my age, for love, is too less

So whatever breath I have left, I have reserved for you

I will sacrifice myself for you

Even if I died my love, I would still continue to love you

In life everyone falls in love

In order not to play with my emotions

Like the heart, I have placed you within my heart

So that I don’t contemplate the thought of separation

I have therefore stolen you from the lines of fate

Even if I died my love, I would still continue to love you

In life everyone falls in love

I continuously meditate on your name

Thus lighting the candle of my dreams

Whenever you come, magic seems to descend

Whenever I touch you

Your scent engulfs my entire body

You truly are the master of my world

In life everyone falls in love

Even if I died my love, I would still continue to love you

In life everyone falls in love.