Hooray For Bollywood, Part 2
Get ready for the Indian Macbeth, Mumbai noir, and the best of contemporary Bollywood cinema. YAZDI: If I got to see BADHAAI HO every year, I will happily die. Cinema Junkie The Theme bump 1 (drums) Welcome back to another edition of listener supported KPBS Cinema Junkie. I’m Beth Accomando. And today we continue our celebration of Bollywood! (:05) Cinema Junkie The Theme bump 1 (Horns) For part two of my month-long tribute Hooray for Bollywood I am again joined by Moviewallas podcasters Yazdi Pithavala, Rashmi Gandhi and Joseph Djan. In Part One we define the intoxicatingly over-the-top style of classic Bollywood cinema and the unabashed way it embraced its particular form of melodrama. Plus we heard the irresistible music that fuels these films. And I’m still smelling the incense Rashmi had burning when I arrived at the Moviewallas’ home studio and still savoring the flavors of the Delhi Chaat and samosas, the intermission snacks she had out that are almost as key to Bollywood cinema as the musical numbers. (:38) Music theme bump out When you go to see a Bollywood film it’s an event. It takes a good chunk of your day and requires sustenance halfway through since running times can be three or more hours. And that perfectly dovetails into a new feature of Cinema Junkie, which is the YouTube Geeky Gourmet videos. I’ll have some Bollywood intermission snack videos so you can plan your very own Bollywood night at home…. with food. In both the previous episode and this one, we are going to give you some suggestions for films to watch, but you don't have to have a pen or pencil poised to jot down titles. Because we are going to put these lists on the KPBS website at kpbs.org-slash-cinema junkie. Because you are going to want to keep this as reference as you work your way through the catalogue of Bollywood Cinema. Or, if you are already well-versed in Indian film maybe this can be a reminder to revisit some of these films with fresh eyes. Earlier, we discussed the golden era of Bollywood cinema and now we’re going to define what the term Bollywood means today and recommend some recent titles to seek out. But before we do that, I need to take one quick break. And to take us into the break with a “Share Your Addiction” is Ryan Bradford, who may have the perfect chilly obsession to beat the summer heat. SHARE YOUR ADDICTION: RYAN BRADFORD Thanks Ryan. Snack on a little Bollywood popcorn and then I’ll be back with Part Two of Hooray for Bollywood. BEAT FADE MIDROLL 1 [currently at 3:30] BEAT Welcome back to Cinema Junkie’s celebration of Bollywood. Let’s pick up with Rashmi looking to what marked the end of Bollywood’s Golden Era. RASHMI: Yeah for me, Beth, as I mentioned in the last podcast, I think the slump really happens mid to late eighties. For me, it feels like it's the advent of VHS and a lot of Indian films being put out on VHS versus releasing cinema cinema is a dying. And so there's. Place to actually watch these big epic movies that we were used to seeing. And in addition, I think the quality and the availability of Indian TV, both in the UK and in India starts to get much better. So now, instead of getting the three hour movie, we get the 20 part series and the dramas are really good and they start to have storylines that families care about. YAZDI: Yeah, I would agree. I think, uh, video piracy combined with availability of good television kind of brought that coordinate to an end. And also I think that there was this whole generation of exalted filmmakers who just kind of wore out and there was nobody, nobody left, you know, to ably take their place. At least in that early eighties timeframe. And when we were talking about Bollywood cinema, one thing that was interesting is that Rashmi, you were in London and Yazdi, you were in Bombay. And yet some of what you're talking about in terms of the experience of these films and watching them are very similar and they're very much tied to food and to families. YAZDI: Yeah. I think the films to this day continue to be almost surgically constructed so that anybody who has any kind of emotional connection to India, that it'll elicit that reaction from you even now with movies that are being made, there are some betrayal. You know, very explicitly catered towards the, uh, non-resident Indian population. Whereas there some others which are catered towards the more rural dynamic in India. So I think these are very positioned made and they are made in a very calculated way to kind of get that reaction from people. Regardless of geography. RASHMI: Yeah. Yazdi and I are always surprised by how similar our experiences of movie watching Bollywood were, even though we were growing up in, on completely different continents. And I think exactly what you said, Bollywood is a family time. Most Bollywood movies are rated such that grand mark and watch it with toddler. And so I think that's how we connected as a family growing up. Now do you see the term Bollywood is still being a useful term now? Do you still refer to contemporary films coming out as Bollywood cinema? Is that still accurate in any way? YAZDI: I do not. For me. It's all blended. Now it's either good cinema or bad cinema. Um, I, I mean, I will occasionally see a movie, which is, it's not very ambitious and it's just meant to make a quick buck. And I almost use that terminal slightly derogatory fashion now where I'm like, oh, that's just a typical Bollywood movie. It's meant to just, you know, make a quick buck. And, you know, even one of my favorite movies is. Formulaic as it gets as within that box structure, but it's done so brilliantly with so much creativity that it just, it kind of, you know, transcends the genre, so it can be done. You can still do it, but then the confines of that structure, you know, for me right now, I don't consciously think of, you know, Indian cinema as necessarily being Bollywood. For me, it's all kind of blended in. RASHMI: Yeah. And I'm the same as Yazdi. I think of Bollywood now is pop. You know, the, like how we would think of a large Hollywood summer movie. That's what I would class as a Bollywood movie. Everything else is good. Indian cinema. Yeah. And so now, do you see Indian cinema as kind of, or recently, do you see Indian cinema is kind of going through a resurgence or a new one? YAZDI: I do. And I think, you know, this new generation of authors, if you will have come to the fore in the last 10 or 15 years, and in my mind at least created this second golden age of cinema where they've kind of challenged, you know, the shackles of the typical formula of, you know, your 60 seventies Bollywood movie. And. They have been, you know, kind of breaking the norms in terms of the kinds of stories they tell the kinds of actors who are in it, uh, in taking on very difficult subject matter, et cetera. And I just love that. You know, sometimes I'm besides myself thinking that not 15 years ago, you know, it was taboo to watch, uh, you know, two people kiss in Indian cinema was a huge taboo. RASHMI: Well, that's why trees were created. YAZDI: Yeah. I mean, and there was so much suggestive symbolism in those movies and that, that symbolism itself was far more vulgar than. Two people kissing and, you know, there would be like these trains going into tunnels and you know, these flowers are shaking at each other and there's the, all this kind of, and then… RASHMI: you know, hiding behind the trees is when I said the trees. YAZDI: Yeah. And then, you know, they would do these. Very suggestive dance numbers where, you know, the street Davies, varying the thinnest sari. And it's raining. She's completely drenched. And that was okay, but, but you know, no, no kissing, but, um, just, that was just 15 years ago. And now all those, uh, lines have been crossed. And, you know, I, I honestly look forward now to a well-regarded Indian movie, as much as I do to a well-regarded movie, you know, in any other language or including Hollywood movies. I, and I have favorites. Um, directors, I have favorite actors I'll watch anything with . I will watch anything with Yvonne Khan who passed away recently. So they've created a new kind of age for Indian cinema where they're pushing the boundaries and I can't have enough of it. RASHMI: And I think also women directors go Gurinder Chadha, Mira Nair. Out of India stories as well. Like Bend It Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice, Monsoon Wedding, Kama Sutra, all of these movies that cross the boundary of the Indian sub-continent I think have also helped to propel Bollywood as we thought of it. CLIP Bride and Prejudice The rest of this episode is dedicated to recommending some recent and readily available films that you can seek out. Since Joe was a little quiet on the first podcast since he came to Bollywood cinema more recently than Rashmi and Yazdi I’ll start with Joe’s first recommendation. Since Joe was a little quiet on the first podcast, cause he wasn't really is involved in the, uh, classic era of Bollywood cinema. Let's start with you, Joe. And tell me about a film from recent Indian cinema, that really has stood out for you that you feel people need to see. JOE: Sure, yeah, mean, I think like many people I found. The Bollywood concept, the idea of going to see a film that was Bollywood, just almost a bit tiresome. Like the idea is going to be very long, very time-consuming. It would be what you did that day. And so I was kind of resistant for a while to seeing them in cinema. We'd watch them at home, which was great. You had the pause button, but we went to see a movie a few years ago called Joda Akbar. Joda film clip And that was a huge epic movie. They played it actually locally here in San Diego. Cinema in Poway that does play big, uh, Bollywood films. Um, and I kind of went into it with eyes, rolling thinking, oh, here we go. And it's gonna be. Yeah, all singing, all dancing Bollywood number and it kind of, it was three hours and 33 minutes in length, but I enjoyed every single moment of it. And I think one of the things that really worked well for me, it was just the scale of it. And I think it was just, it's a very classic tale. It's a, it's a tale from history. Uh, it set in Roger Stan, which is, you know, a very historical kind of land of Kings part of India. And. You know, that movie was just, it had everything, it had the songs, it had a great soundtrack by AR Ramon who does so many of the modern Indian theme tunes. It had know it wasn't necessarily an all singing, all dancing kind of Bollywood, but it was, it was just very big and it's themes, big battle scenes just for me. I think it. Reminded me that Bollywood could do big, big Hollywood Buster style things, which I think in my mind, I had at the time, most of them were kind of, you know, seventies kind of slightly chintzy special effects that were a little suspect and, you know, added sound effects and dubbing things that didn't quite work for me that felt very kind of cheap filmmaking, but this was big. It was epic. It was well produced. It was beautiful to look at and just, just a stunning movie. Yeah. I mean, I think, uh, this movie is a great example of this new batch of filmmakers and this has made by Ashutosh Covar Tucker, who also did Legon, which I think a lot of vested audiences may know it was nominated for best foreign film, about a decade or so ago, you know, he's made, uh, so they switched to another movie and him along with lab and Sally they're great estheticians. They just aesthetically create these. I can do for you. It just, I mean, when you're watching it, you don't know where to look because there's so much beauty on the screen. Part of it comes from their selection of ridiculously gorgeous actors. I mean, I'm like, where did they find them? I mean, it's kinetically the glare of their faces. It's just too much to take. You got to kind of move, you know, move your head away. But yeah, I mean, it's just amazing that this filmmaker has made a name for himself for the visuals. Beth: Well, I think that for me, one of the things that does define Bollywood cinema is that visual appeal. I mean, the sense of just explosions of color and just people and clothes and settings that are just spectacularly Beautiful to watch. I mean, that sense of escapism, I think is really there. You do, like for that three hours are entering a completely other world. Uh, in brush me, you want to start with one of the films that you would like people to seek out? Absolutely. And it's the complete opposite of what the, and Joe just described and it is the phone called the lunchbox Lunchbox clip and it was written and directed by Ritesh Batra.And it's a beautiful love story that never is. And it's about. And you asked the, I love your stories about when you grow up, when you had a lunch box that was delivered. So in Mumbai, and this has been studied by MIT. This is a slight down the rabbit hole, but there is a system, um, Basically a lunchbox gets gathered and then it reaches your destination. Yeah. So you tell the story way more eloquently than I do. Yeah. I think it's probably listed in textbooks as one of the most complicated logistics ever handled for anything in the world. Like within a period of one hour because the, the moms and the, and. Cooks in the home will only have their food ready at 11 o'clock in the afternoon, and they want to make it hot so that it gets to the person in their office by noon. So within this one hour timeframe, lunchboxes get picked up from everywhere around the city and they get delivered to the right person. And their rate of error is like 0.0, $0 or something. Ridiculous. So they almost never make them. And so the story, the lunchbox is about that 0.00001 time that the lunchbox gets delivered to someone who it shouldn't go to and what happens as a result. Lunchbox Clip 2 But I love this movie just because, and it's got no smell. No, no Bollywood numbers. So it's not traditional in that sense. It's truly modern day, but it's just a beautiful unfolding of family, of expectations of who you are as a person what's expected of you. It's just a beautiful love story. It just, it breaks my heart every time I watch it. And it's just stunningly told Lunchbox Clip 3 Beth: And Yasdi, I know you have trouble pairing down your list, but where would you like to start with your recommendation? How many pages do you have out now? Um, just going to mention a few movies, which are all available on Netflix and Amazon prime legally. So for, you know, whoever wants to make that first inroad into contemporary Indian cinema can pick any of them. So Javi met they'll Tarek noodle, Capoeira and side. They'll charter her three idiots and under dune. Those are all on Netflix. And then Dave does, but Marva and year Giovanni had Devani are all on Amazon prime. I would, without a doubt recommend any of them to anybody, no matter what kind of background you're stepping into. Some of. Are just amazing fairytales. Other ones are more contemporary settings and some are full-out historicals, but they're all incredible in their own way. Uh, the one I want to pick to talk about is not from that list. It is from that list….I have a hard time tearing down as we all do. The one I want to pick is a they'll charter him, uh, which translates to what the heart wants. What The Heart Wants Clip 1 It was directed by a foreign actor, uh, who subsequently went on to direct many of the movies. And he himself has been a lead actor in many movies since, but because he was, I think maybe in his late twenties, when he made this movie, when it came out. It was unlike anything you had seen and that it represented a more modern, a younger India. And it's the story of three friends who kind of are, are at certain crossroads of their individual lives and how they're kind of trying to navigate. Difficulties with contemporary India. It's so modern and it's sensibility. You don't have that, you know, sobbing, crying, mom, you know, trying to emotionally manipulate their sons. Instead you have more understanding, more mature moms. The settings are more contemporary and the whole thing just resonates with what felt to me like my story, like me growing up, there was an authenticity about it. And of course doesn't have. You know, great actors in that particular movie. So it doesn't really, you know, break any new ground, but just by virtue of it being a recording of how the younger generation in India is living their lives and what their problems are, it just does a remarkable job and gorgeous, gorgeous music. What The Heart Wants Clip 2 Yeah. I feel like this era of Bollywood movies. And again, we keep calling it Bollywood, but of Indian cinema was a turning point, even outside the Indian subcontinent because my parents were from east, born and raised in east Africa and migrated to England and they held onto a version of what they thought India was 20 years ago and felt like they wanted to Engulf us in that in some way. Um, and I feel like this era of cinema is really helping break that mold because unbeknownst to us India had moved on, but our parents hadn't because they had left a certain era behind it. Beth: Do you have another film that Rashmi, do you have another film that you would like to recommend? I do. So my next one is a movie called Gully boy, Gully Boy Clip 1 and it's about 2019. Um, it's directed by , who is also another infamous, um, director in Indians. And I love it because gully actually means Allie. Um, and this is a story about escaping from your, what you're born into a young boy. Who's born into a poor family in the alleyways of India and uses rap as a way to escape his life and better himself. Gully Boy Clip 2 So it's got a great soundtrack. It's very modern sensibility and really, really well acted by, um, Ranvir Singh who has become like the number one hero in Indian city. And Alia, but also stars. And she's this fearless actress who covers all sorts of topics. Great, great story. I think I made Joseph through this. No, you did it, it was brilliant. It was kind of like an Indian version of eight mile, but good. But it was actually, you know yeah. It had it surprised me in so much, so many ways, because I think again, we have a very specific idea of what Indian music can be. And this showed us that there's rock in India, there's rap in India. Those kinds of things were surprising to me even now. Um, because again, India has such a, a specific image that you conjure up. When you think about Indian classical music or classical movies. Gully Boy Clip 3 I need to take one more break and then the Moviewallas crew and I will continue our Bollywood list of Bollywood favorites. But first, I need to share my own Cold Turkey because I have a rant I have been dying to get off my chest. COLD TURKEY Beth OK I feel better. Enjoy this micro Bollywood intermission and I’ll be right back. MIDROLL 2 Welcome Back. We’re gonna pick it up with another one of Joe’s Bollywood picks. Beth: And Joe, would you like to recommend another film for people? Yeah, the, uh, my second pick is a movie called the white tiger. Uh, this was released on Netflix last year. White Tiger Clip 1 It’s a movie based on a book it's, um, superbly acted by a guy called R dash Gorav who to me was possibly one of my favorite performances of all last year. I mean, I really feel that it’s just such a well done story. It covers so many themes of modern India, poverty, um, corruption. And it's not, it's not, again, it's an Indian movie without music, so it's not based on maybe, but it has this very epic feel to it. It's one of my favorite themes of any movies, which is, you know, justice and injustice. And so I watched it and I was literally. Blown away and moved to tears by the end of the whole thing. So, uh, just a very powerful movie available for anyone that has a Netflix subscription and really run, run. See this movie. White Tiger Clip 2 Beth: The way you're talking about the, the Indian films now and about the lack of music and some of them are the way music is different. One of the films that I discovered a number of years ago, or filmmaker too, is Rom Gopel Varma and company. And one of the things that I really liked about it is as a fan of film noir and grittier stuff. This is kind of what they refer to as Mumby noir. So it's gangsters and it's kind of this meal you that I'm familiar with and enjoy, and you still have the musical numbers, but they're kind of try to integrate them in a more realistic manner. So they go to a cabaret or a club and there's a number, but of course the number is. Like on a stage that could never possibly fit in any club anywhere. Mumbai Noir Clip 1 To me that felt like a transitional film that, you know, they're still acknowledging kind of. This, the place that, that Indian cinema came from and how appealing those elements are, but they're adding this kind of grittier, more realistic layer to it. And I seem to remember, I haven't seen the film in a while, but I remember there was a scene where some of the characters were like off on the periphery of a crowd and it almost felt kind of like, Hey, this is the new Indian cinema looking in on, uh, you know, the old Indian cinema. And it's a transition taking place on screen, you know, within the dynamic of the story, as well as externally, but his films, I really love. And I do love this whole notion of that Mumbai noir, which is, um, again, it's, you know, kind of a. A cinema that I am drawn to. And, um, and that's a pretty as a, I don't know if you would call it a genre, but a category of film that seems to be really growing in popularity. Now there's a whole genre of the crime underworld, you know, and predominantly set in Bombay. So many movies, especially in the last 10 years. Uh, Vishal Bhardwaj. Uh, who's one of my favorite filmmakers. He's made three movies, which are all Shakespeare adaptations. One is of Hamlet. One is of a teller and the other one is Macbeth. And there has been millions of interpretations of Shakespeare, but this is so contemporary set in India. If somebody didn't tell you this was based on our teller, you wouldn't even realize that are gritty. They are very, very rural, but with the nasty underbelly of violence and crime and so forth. Just flat out brilliant movies. Yeah. I came to that table very late under Yachty's recommendation and we just watched muck bull maybe about six months ago in, um, in quarantine and I was blown away. `So muck bull is, is the name of the Macbeth. Parallel so good. The production is amazing and the acting is just, it blows you away. And again, few songs, but very well-placed when they do come. So they don't feel strange. Beth: That's a really good recommendation yesterday. And do you have another official recommendation? Yazdi I do. I'm kind of struggling. I'm trying to, if you, haven't noticed, I'm trying to squeeze in as many additional movies while each of you are picking your own. Um, so I'm going to cheat and I'm going to mention just one movie, but, uh, um, I'm going to mention that, um, there's this actor called Ayesha man. And, uh, he actually was in on Indian television and he eventually made his way into movies and he has worked with different directors in the last five or six years and created this sub genre of movies, which are all about. A nuclear family in contemporary India, which are still very bound by tradition. So a smallish town where everybody is very bound by family and tradition, but it's still happening in contemporary India. And these movies are all just an absolute delight. They're very realistic. And the uncles and aunts and sisters, and brother-in-law no, no, I'm not going there. I know where you think I'm going, but. So the whole series of movies that he's been in, but the one I'm going to bring up is actually a movie, which I think is a very, very good entry in the Bombay noir scene, which is a undertone, which literally means blind tune. And it's this new Ornish tight movie. It's I think only 90 minutes long. And it's about a man who is blind Who perhaps has witnessed a murder. Bombay Noir Clip 1 and, you know, it's just full of double crosses and triple crosses, and it's meant to just make you giddy. And it's almost too smart for you. It's always trying to be ahead of you. It's I've, I've recommended this to so many people and they've all loved it. It's playing on Netflix. I would definitely read it. BEAT And what do you each see as kind of the future for Indian cinema? Is there something that you're particularly excited about or concerned about, or, you know, does the industry still seem strong? YAZDI: I'm just very, very happy about filmmakers who are. Challenging the status quo. And there's a movie which came out just a few weeks ago on Netflix called Sanjay or pinky Farrar. Sanjay Clip 1 And that whole movie is an exercise of turning everything backwards. Be it gender being, you know, what society expects of men versus women and all of this. And I. What just gives me a lot of hope is the writing, you know, the streaming, the availability of streaming content and the availability of cinema in there. We haven't even talked about television series, which are on streaming platforms in India, but it has allowed the good drivers to kind of rise. Uh, by virtue of their quality. And when I watch, you know, on one of our Moviewallas podcast, we recently talked about the movie PAGGLAIT, which Rashmi and I absolutely which we absolutely adore, but the writing and there is just so good. I feel like I am with that family, living with them, the kinds of things that they say. BADHAAI HO is the other one. That also has and notice how I'm throwing you're dropping names, but that's another movie. If I got to see BADHAAI HO every year, I will happily die. BADHAAI HO Clip 1 I mean, that movie just made me so happy. And you know, when you get irrationally deliriously happy by seeing a movie Represent where you came from and represent it well and kind of make you feel. Um, that this is as good as it can be that something amazing. So I, I have great hope for this new batch of writer, filmmakers who are making their own movies with not, not very big name actors and still being commercially. RASHMI: Yeah, I've always believed Beth, that movie has the ability to change people's way of thinking. And so I'm just thrilled that modern Indian cinema is challenging the way that the Indian public thinks. And if nothing else creates a platform for dialogue to move the country forward with respect to cost, religion, gender. So it really excites me when I see great actresses being given the opportunity to play the central role. And again, I'll mention Alia Bhat, Add Alia Clip? but she's kind of one of my favorites. Who's doing this fearless work and it just excites me also to see myself represented in some ways as well. And for those ideas to challenge my family's way of thinking. Um, so more of that, and I think also with the advent of streaming, our ability to get hold of not just Bollywood, but Indian cinema from the region, from the sub continent. And I think of films like Elizabeth Ekadashi Elizabeth Ekadashi clip , these are all great movies where children play a central role and it kind of shows what rural life is like. Um, outside of the major, major cities. More of that will be fantastic. Yeah. I mean, I'm still waiting for Indian movie to have it, you know, the, what was the category of Chinese films that came out to hero the Wilsher genre of movies that have supplying that? Cause we had crouching target. We had that moment when you know, the films from China and that part of Asia had the huge moment. So I'm still waiting for India to have that kind of moment where it crosses over into the mainstream consciousness. I still think that you have to. Go seek Indian movie right now you have to find Indian cinema. So, um, my hope is that, you know, in the not too distant future, we will have a moment like that where something, you know, maybe like Slumdog, but not necessarily, you know, made by a Western filmmaker, but something made by an Indian film that truly transcends, uh, you know, becomes a hugely popular here. Like a role model or a parasite. Yeah. Beth: Well for my final choice, I just want to mention a film that I think kind of bridges, both episodes we've done here. This is a ridiculously fun film called Bahubali part two. And it does not matter if you saw part one. Um, and technically I know this is not Bollywood. So anyone out there who wants to yell at me, it's the Tollywood version of, um, Bollywood films. Bahubali Clip 1 But this is a film that lovingly kind of with this wink, wink. Pays homage to the old, the golden era of Bollywood, but with CGI and massive battles and even more gorgeous stars and costuming and, you know, fans blowing the actor's hair perfectly. And, you know, it's ridiculous, but we showed this film at the digital gym cinema and people were just so overjoyed at seeing it. So, if you want to dip your toe in and have never gone this way before, this is a contemporary one. So kind of the, the cheesiness is a little more. Knowing and self-aware, and it is so much fun. So, um, that is my recommendations from 2017. And if you want, you can go back and watch part one, but honestly you can watch these films in any order and it doesn't matter. And I want to thank Moviewallas for joining me to talk about Bollywood cinema and this month of, uh, Indian independence and special. Thanks to Joe. Who's been my tech person on this, uh, coming out of quarantine. It's nice to have somebody here with four microphones. So thank you. And why don't you go ahead and tell people where they can find Moviewallas. JOE: Thank you. Yeah. Um, we are a podcast we've been going for 10 years. You can find it. Www.moviewallas.com.. but we're on all the good podcasting service. So Spotify, apple podcast. go to our website. There's links to subscribe there and. Yeah, we were on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all of the above. So find us, we're not that difficult to find, um, and love to hear you. Um, see you join. That wraps another edition of KPBS listener supported Cinema Junkie. I want to thank Moviewallas podcasters Yazdi Pithavala, Rashmi Gandhi and Joseph Djan for their wonderful knowledge of Bollywood cinema and for their hospitality in hosting this recording of Cinema Junkie. Remember to check out part one of Hooray for Bollywood as well as the new Geeky Gourmet video where I will introduce you to more Bollywood intermission snacks. You can find the video and the podcast at K-P-B-S-dot org-slash-cinema-junkie. I’d like to acknowledge the team that makes Cinema Junkie happen: podcast coordinator Kinsee Morlan, technical director Rebecca Chacon, and director of sound design Emily Jankowski. Coming up next, I look to representations of Asians onscreen and speak with Destin Cretton director of the new Marvel film Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. CLIP Find out what part I played in Destin becoming a filmmaker. So till our next film fix, I’m Beth Accomando your resident Cinema Junkie.
For part two of my month-long tribute Hooray for Bollywood I am again joined by Moviewallas podcasters Yazdi Pithavala, Rashmi Gandhi and Joseph Djan.
In Part One we defined the intoxicatingly over-the-top style of classic Bollywood cinema and the unabashed way it embraced its particular form of melodrama. Plus we heard the irresistible music that fuels these films.
Indian cinema is still often referred to as Bollywood but that term has in some ways become outdated. There are still ridiculously entertaining films with extravagant musical numbers but there is also an increasingly diverse array of films to choose from including the dark and gritty Mumbai noir, Shakespearean adaptations, realistic dramas, and even films that offer a different take on what Indian music is.
Moviewallas' Yazdi Pithavala pointed to one recent film that he loved: "If I got to see 'Badhaai Ho' [about a late in life pregnancy that catches a family by surprise] every year, I will happily die. I mean, that movie just made me so happy and when you get irrationally, deliriously happy seeing a movie represent where you came from and represent it well and kind of make you feel that this is as good as it can be, that's something amazing."
For Rashmi Gandhi, seeing actresses challenging traditional roles for women is an innovation she welcomes.
"So it really excites me when I see great actresses being given the opportunity to play the central role. I'll mention Alia Bhaat, she's kind of one of my favorites who's doing this fearless work and it just excites me also to see myself represented in some ways as well and for those ideas to challenge my family's way of thinking."
Joseph Djan said he is still waiting for that Indian film that really breaks through to the American mainstream: "I still think that you have to seek out Indian movies right now, you have to find Indian cinema. So my hope is that in the not too distant future, we will have a moment where something like 'Slumdog Millionaire' but not made by a Western filmmaker, but something made by an Indian filmmaker, that truly transcends to become hugely popular here."
Check out the new Geeky Gourmet and learn how to assemble Delhi Chaat, and make Indian papri and sev as your perfect Bollywood intermission snacks.
Recommended viewing list and clips used:
“Jodhaa Akbar” (2008) – currently streaming on Netflix
“The White Tiger” (2021) – streaming on Netflix
“The Lunchbox” (2014) - on Amazon Prime
“Gully Boy” (2019) – streaming on Amazon Prime
“Elizabeth Ekadashi” (2014)
“Pagglait” (2021)- streaming on Netflix
“Jab We Met” (2007) – streaming on Netflix
“Dil Dhakne Do” (2015) – streaming on Netflix
“Kapoor and Sons” (2016) – streaming on Netflix
“Dil Chahta Hai” (2001) – streaming on Netflix
“3 Idiots” (2009) - streaming on Netflix
“Andhadhun” (2018) – streaming on Netflix
“Devdas” (2002): rental on Amazon Prime
“Padmaavat” (2018) – streaming on Amazon Prime
“Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” (2013)– rental on Amazon Prime
“Badhaai Ho” (2018)
“Company” (2001) – rental on YouTube
“Bahubali 2: The Conclusion” (2017, you don’t need to see part one first) – streaming on Netflix
Vishal Bhardwaj’s trilogy of Shakespeare adaptations set in India:
“Omkara” (2006): Othello adaptation; rental on Amazon Prime
“Maqbool” (2004): Macbeth adaptation; rental on Amazon Prime
“Haider” (2014): Hamlet adaptation; streaming on Netflix
“Bhaji at the Beach”
“Bride and Prejudice”
“Bend It Like Beckham”