Desi Talk

29 November 24, 2017 ENTERTAINMENT – that’s all you need to know By Shilpa Jamkhandikar F inally, someone in a Bollywood film lives inVirar. This far-flung and much reviled Mumbai suburb and its peo- ple have been wholly ignored by India’s popular cinema, whose scope usually doesn’t extend beyond the tried-and-tested urban milieu. Sulu (Vidya Balan) lives inVirar in a cramped and decrepit flat, wears cheap, synthetic sarees, but never stops dreaming of a better life. A portly, upbeat housewife, Sulu doesn’t let her middle-class existence, her lack of qualifications or her interfering elder sisters come in the way of her deter- mination to make it big someday. One day, she’ll spot a female taxi driver and decide she wants to own a taxi fleet; on another day, she’ll dream of becoming a caterer. Her good-natured husband, Ashok (Manav Kaul), and son Pranav go along with whatever catches her fancy, nodding sagely every time she proposes a new busi- ness idea with an earnest “Main kar sakti hai” (I can do it). A chance encounter with the head of a radio station fuels the idea in her that she can be a radio jockey. The station head, Maria (Neha Dhupia), is at first dismissive. But when she realises that Sulu’s quirky personality and honesty could make for a good combination, she gives her a shot by letting her host a late night call-in show. All kinds of people call in, from auto drivers wanting love advice to lonely men just wanting to talk to someone. In one particularly moving scene, Sulu talks to a widowed old man who shares the same name with her. As she speaks to him, we see the man in a long shot throwing his head back and weeping, grateful for this connection across air waves. It is this affection for characters that makes Suresh Triveni’s film such a winner. There is genuine warmth in the way he tells his story, capturing the little details that make up these people and their lives. From Sulu’s overbearing, meddling sisters to Ashok’s obnoxious boss, Triveni rises above the clichés that these peripheral characters often succumb to in Bollywood. Aided by Saurabh Goswami’s luminous cinematography, we see scenes like Sulu emerging in slow motion from the mist, like age-old heroines did, except that it’s a haze of mosquito repellant being sprayed on the street. This off-beat humour pervades the first half of the film. In the second half, it moves smoothly to a more serious tone as Sulu begins to find her feet in the outside world, realising that the one she built at home might be crumbling. Triveni underscores how difficult most working women have it in India, especially those who find a career late in life. Manav Kaul is pitch-perfect as Ashok, the wound- ed husband who means well but whose middle-class conservatism cannot cope with the fact that his wife speaks to strange men about love on radio. Neha Dhupia as the station head and Vijay Maurya as Sulu’s cynical show producer are also wonderful in their roles. But if this film has a beating heart, it is Vidya Balan. She is in every scene and lights it up with her sheer screen presence. This is an author-backed role, but she makes it so much more by adding layers of empathy and vulnerability to make Sulu a character that will stay with you long after you have left the theatre. -R EUTERS he producers of “Padmavati” - a Bollywood movie based on an epic poem about a Rajput queen - said on Sunday they had indefi- nitely delayed the release of the film, which has been accused of distort- ing history and has sparked protests. The movie, which was due to go on release in India on Dec. 1, has led to protests in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and other states. It has also faced a delay in approval from the Indian censor board. The studio behind the movie, Viacom 18 - a joint venture betweenViacom Inc and Network 18 owned by Reliance Industries - said on Sunday it had “volun- tarily deferred the release date of the film.” “We have faith that we will soon obtain the requisite clearances to release the film. We will announce the revised release date of the film in due course,” the com- pany said in a statement. The film ran into trouble earlier this year when a Rajput caste organisation, the Rajput Karni Sena, attacked director Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the set in Rajasthan in January. The Sena, based in Rajasthan, has been critical of the film, saying it would offend the Rajput community, and that Bhansali was deliberately distorting history. Based on an epic poem by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, the film tells the story of Padmavati, the queen of the Rajput warrior clan and Mughal conqueror AlauDDin Khilji. India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party had also warned the federal government that there would be law and order prob- lems in Uttar Pradesh if the film was released. -R EUTERS Release Of 'Padmavati' Delayed After Protests T Abhishek N.Chinnappa/ Reuters Reuters Affection For Characters Selling Point Of 'Tumhari Sulu' Demonstrators chant slogans as they protest against the release of the upcoming Bollywood movie 'Padmavati' in Bengaluru, India, November 15, 2017. By Shilpa Jamkhandikar R ohit Shetty's record in Bollywood was impeccable - he made mass entertainers and was good at them. Whether it was an action film like "Singham" or the "Golmaal" comedy franchise, Shetty's films routinely exas- perated critics and delighted audiences. But with 2015's "Dilwale", a multi- starrer with Shah Rukh Khan in the lead, Shetty faced his first big failure. The film didn't do well at the box office and faced protests over Khan's com- ments on intolerance in India. Almost two years later, Shetty says he has moved on. His latest film, another edition of the “Golmaal” franchise, is Bollywood’s most successful film this year. It grossed more than 2 billion rupees ($30 million) at the box office. The director spoke to Reuters about his latest success, what happened to “Dilwale” and what Bollywood’s prob- lem is. Q: Congratulations on the success of "Golmaal Again". Was it expected? A: We always knew it would do well, but on this scale, it is madness. People are watching it multiple times. Q: Why do you sound surprised? You are used to successful films. A: Yeah, but... (laughs) there is always 10 percent of doubt - whether this will work or not. Q: What was your state of mind after “Dilwale” released?What were you thinking? A: I wasn’t thinking anything. You saw the film, and you knew something has gone wrong and then there were so many issues and controversies going on, it was better to leave it all and move forward. That is how we started work- ing on “Golmaal”. You know what you are doing, but the industry just comes out with speculation and everybody has their own point of view. It is better to start working on your next (film) as soon as possible. Q: Did you question your way of film-making after “Dilwale” didn’t do well? A: No, if you go wrong sometimes, you analyse it - that we should have stuck to the original draft and not changed the script. Q: Is that what went wrong? A: Yeah, yeah. That, we realised when it released. Again, there were so many things happening with the film. -R EUTERS Too Much Nonsense In Bollywood, Says Rohit Shetty Reuters