Thursday, May 31, 2012

Releasing June 2012



Psst... everything you want to know about the book (and even some of the stuff you don't) are there on the Bollywood Book page.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

SRK Bong Bang

This is not my post. It is a translation of a brilliant Bengali post by Tanmay Mukherjee, who decided to give Shah Rukh Khan some advice after the star was roped in by West Bengal's Chief Minister to 'promote' the state.
Essentially, it is a set of ten handy pieces of instruction for SRK. Since the instructions were in Bengali, it is obvious the star hadn't read them and had flouted them even. Therefore, my stilted translation...

*** *** *** *** ***
Shah Rukh-babu,
If you don't want to your brand ambassadorship of Bengal to go the same way as Hindustan Motor's Ambassador, you have to make some personal adjustments. Quickly, take a piece of paper and a pen. Note them down.

1. Learn to pronounce Kolkata. Right here, right now. (Trans: For the greater common good, it is Coal-Kaa-Taa with the T soft.)

2. Knight Riders without Sourav and Bongo without Poshchim is the same thing. If you want to dance the Bengal jig, you need a partner - Dada. Just as you need Thackeray to tango in Mumbai, you need Dada for Eden.

3. Read Lenin. Recite Ma-Maati-Manush. And avoid the stammer, please.

4. Have not seen any press release about your love for mishti doi and roshogolla. Give one, pronto.

5. Please sir, ditch that Korbo-Lorbo song. Its become a national joke.

6. Stop blowing kisses every second minute. We are an intellectual race, not SoBo sweeties.

7. Walk into a couple of appearances in Bengali films. Let our poor Tolly-wood also make a penny or two.

8. Next Durga Puja, do the traditional dhunuchi naach (ref: Sanjay Dutt in Parineeta) at Maddox Square and claim semi-Bengali citizenship.

9. No "Kimon achho Kolkatta" tweets please. We will make fun of it for the rest of our lives.

10. And yes, of course - Bengal is not Pepsi.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Have you felt a Silk lately?

Starting from the Kuch khaas hai zindagi mein, Cadbury has done a stellar job in getting chocolates out of the kids' domain and making it 'cool' for people of all ages to enjoy. Be it the girl who danced onto the cricket pitch and into our hearts or the college kid who asked an unknown girl for something 'meetha' before doing something shubh, they became our favourite people. 

Cadbury now seems to have adopted a strategy of replacing the traditional Indian mithai in traditional situations - the after-dinner dessert, the mandatory meetha before beginning anything. 
So, a horny (but cutely so) guy is initially disappointed to hear about karela for dinner but then asks 'meethe mein kya hai?'. 
And then a sexy (but cutely so) girl practices breaking news of her pregnancy to her husband (or boyfriend? Why is she apprehensive?) when the guy offers her some 'meetha' instead of 'khatta'.  
To my mind, this is happy, safe territory. And no complaints because Cadbury's Dairy Milk is a happy, safe brand. It is an immensely feel-good snack and by keeping it in the enjoyment-celebration domain, Cadbury is doing absolutely the right thing. 

I always felt that when they launched Silk - a smoother, creamier chocolate (yes, I read the pack) - they should have positioned Silk as the choice of more devoted chocolate lovers and made the advertising a little more 'edgy'. It should be something I would be willing to give up a lot for. 
Instead the launch ad was a slightly unreal scenario of two Bharat Natyam dancers not going on stage so that they could finish off a bar of Silk. And a positively irritating ad about a mentally deficient boy who can't eat chocolate properly. (Statutory Disclaimer: I am a baby girl's father.)   
How is Silk good? A smarmy guy like that would do anything to be with a cute girl. He would even be okay with sharing Haldiram's chiwda, if that's what gets him lucky. 

I always felt that the Silk ad I liked best was never aired. 

You are happy. You have chocolate. What are you giving up for that? Nothing. Okay, cool. 
But here, the brand is saying, "Bugger, this Silk is so bloody good that you won't want to pick up your wife's call."
Wow. Like WOW! That's a claim worth sitting up and taking notice of.
And I also knew why they didn't air it. Because it was too edgy. It said all the wrong things. Abandoning your wife for some gooey chocolate? Hawww... 
I wouldn't have run this ad if I were the Cadbury Silk Brand Manager. But as a Cadbury Silk fan, I can watch it again and again. 
And call my wife back as soon as I finish the chocolate. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Mothers' Day Post... Mandatorily

My mother is happily on Facebook, making a list on the best courtesans of Hindi cinema. To those of you who were wondering where I got the idea of writing a 'book of Bollywood lists', I hope you have got the answer. She's the one who ignited and fanned my near-obsessive love for Hindi cinema.
I have made a couple of Mothers' Day posts in the past about the Most Memorable Moms of Bollywood. And every time I wrote something about Mothers, I thought this was the last time as I must have surely exhausted my reserves. But as it goes, Bollywood doesn't let mother content finish. Ever.

This year, I thought of my five favourite 'Mother' scenes. Coincidentally - or naturally - most of them are big hits with her as well.

I had written a post on her birthday once (six years back, incidentally). That post was triggered by a Sunday viewing of Karan Johar's super-weepie, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.
KJo had exaggerated a mother's intuition manifold and yet created a bloody effective scene (see from 1:50 onwards) in which SRK entered a mall and Jaya sensed his presence from afar. By intercutting the scene with images from SRK's entry scene of the movie, Karan Johar managed to create a scene that never fails to grip me (however much I hate the other parts of the film).

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na had Ratna Pathak Shah as the ultimate cool mom. Being a single mom is nowhere close to being easy but she managed to maintain a perfect balance between being a mentor and a confidant.
As she lay on the sofa reading Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth, her son entered whistling and obviously happy with the first flush of love. She managed to capture the emotion with a wonderful line - "Honthon pe seeti, chaal mein uchhaal. Maajra kya hai?"
Nothing could have explained the mother-son relationship better than this one scene. (Watch from 1:08:40 onwards.)

Reema Lagoo in Maine Pyar Kiya was the first 'cool mom' of Bollywood. She understood her son and knew about his love perfectly well but decided to play a small prank on him. Despite it being slightly contrived, I had watched the scene so many times that I could recite the dialogues without a thought or a pause.

The most iconic mother film of all times - Deewaar - had several scenes where Nirupa Roy had the best lines and was the centre of attention. Though funnily, the most famous mother line in Hindi cinema - "Mere paas maa hai" - doesn't have the mother present.
Neither does my Mom scene from the film. As Nirupa Roy remained unconscious in an ICU, her atheist son climbed the stairs of 'her' temple for the first time in his life. And did something we never imagined possible - he vented his anger at God. In the most touching display of a son's devotion toward his mother, Amitabh Bachchan told God that he was willing to turn himself in if only he gave him his mother back.
Whenever - in the last 37 years - Amitabh Bachchan has gone on a world tour, he has been asked to perform this scene. And for the last 37 years, there hasn't been a dry eye in the audience.

Aradhana was the first film that she recommended that I watch (preferably unblinkingly). And I obeyed her and understood the charisma of a filmstar for the first time. Especially in this scene.
Sharmila had just been released from prison and she was taken to an Air Force base by her foster-niece, who wanted Sharmila to meet her fiance. As a side-actor (called Subhash Ghai) announced the arrival, the familiar background score of the film reached a crescendo, the mother saw the smartest Air Force officer walk towards her.
You know the context. You know the scene. Let me not spoil it with my blabbering.

And while I am at it, I might as well link to this exquisite P&G film.
When I first saw this, I - quite strangely - did not think of my mother but my wife. Probably because my sister and I were such angels (koff koff) that my mother's job couldn't have been the toughest in the world. My wife - on the other hand - has her task cut out with two of the world's naughtiest kids. Hopefully, they will end up on an Olympic podium one day.

Happy Mothers' Day! 

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Prince vs King


Today, the Prince of Calcutta takes on his erstwhile kingdom in – what is being called – the most anticipated match in this year’s IPL. Calcuttans and Bengalis the world over have chosen this match to teach Shah Rukh Khan a lesson for treating our Prince badly.
Today, I am in a minority among Bengalis (and Indians) as I support KKR – like I have done for the last five years.

I hate Sharad Pawar. I hate N Srinivasan. I hate whoever the Chairman of selectors is. But I don’t support Australia when they play India. I have a million grouses against the way Indian cricket is run but I still scream my lungs out when Dhoni plays the helicopter shot to hit a six. And I share this hate-love emotion with a billion Indians. I cannot think of a single Indian – except probably Srikkanth – who loves BCCI.

Strangely, Bengalis and Calcuttans have chosen to do the opposite. Probably because IPL is not real cricket and more of a carnival. I am sure if Sourav goes on to coach, say, New Zealand, the same people will not cheer for them when they play India.

Since the grouse is against the owner and not against the city, the anger should also be directed that way.
Don’t buy KKR jerseys. Don’t buy the products SRK endorses. Boycott brands which sponsor KKR. Most importantly, don’t buy the stadium tickets. By paying big bucks to go to Eden Gardens (and cheer for Pune), you are actually strengthening the franchise (and thereby reducing the chance of someone else buying it out).
Support Kolkata, not SRK. 

I love Sourav Ganguly. But not more than I love Calcutta.
This is my city and my team. And I will not let a stammering ham take it away from me.

Go Kolkata!