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Blog posts December 2018

Why Hollywood is Better Than Bollywood?

Warning: The following article is not for the faint of heart. If you cannot take any sort of criticism directed towards your favorite actors, movies or an entire movie industry, please do not proceed, and leave the website.

Premise

We all know that Bollywood is a copying machine of Hollywood in the Subcontinent that produces a few good eggs every now and then. These good eggs are on top of a heap of movies that are poorly directed, written and acted. What’s wrong with Bollywood? You’ll have to dodge the answers that comes your way like a shower of arrows in Kurukshetra. Because anybody that are at a spitting distance from you will throw random words at you as soon as you ask this question. So, get ready to get to know the top three reasons (I feel) that are keeping Bollywood in an imaginary cage that is far behind Hollywood. And you’d be surprised to see Nepotism isn’t one of them.

#3 Shitty Stories

No surprises here. Bollywood is full of’em. When it comes to stories, Bollywood is like a scrap merchant that don’t like new stories at all. The same ‘girl falls in love with a guy’ stories are in every theater that I can’t even watch good movies in this genre because of this fucking half-assed recycling. Thugs is the largest movie produced this year! This statement should either be wrong or all the Raj's, Kapoor's and Khan's should realize that they are actually watching the world in a VR headset that feels beautiful but actually is not. Writers shaped our civilizations. We were writing stories since there was ever writing. From the guy who carved the first stone tablet, the guys who wrote the (un)Holy Books, the guy who wrote the code for this website, the guy who wrote the constitution that gives us freedom of writing. We always had the inspiration to write new things. We just gotta find it without raping every story with the idea of this superhumans that we have in our imagination as STARS.

Tummbad - Now that’s what I call a true Bollywood movie. The movie is an artform that should be taught at Kher’s academy. It has a genuinely intelligent story that doesn’t require more than a handful of cast, definitely didn’t needed any ‘once a big star’ cameo and it is an instant classic. The story of Tummbad is so captivating that you know what’s gonna happen next, still you’ll jump from your seats in excitement when it happens. The satisfying sense of ‘I told you so’ was mixed in a right dose for this movie. If you don’t think the movie isn’t that good, think again. You’re gonna regret it after 15 years when it’s gonna be a classic and your offspring talks about it. It’s our greatest flaw (as humans) that we don’t recognize greatness or lunacy even if it’s right in front of us. We let Hitler rose to the power, we are belittling Elon Musk now. That’s how we run.

#2 RIP Producers

Not actual death… more like a demise of their power or say in the movies. Disney, Yash Raj, Rama Naidu, Dil Raju… these are the successful producers who arguably has the more success to failure ratio in Indian movie Industry. Why Hollywood is better than Bollywood Disney owns the Box office. Many might (not) know that ‘Marvel Studios’ is a part of Disney. Yash Raj… the iconic producer of the last century made YRF possible. Dr. Rama Naidu built a Film Studio for the newly shifted Tollywood and produced many hits for the now legends of Tollywood. And Dil Raju is undoubtedly the best producer Tollywood has seen in the past two decades. Producer is the first guy who asks the basic question “Hmm. should this movie allowed to be made”. Not only because he has the money, but also he has the best interest of everybody that works for him. Recognizing a director’s potential is the best characteristic you can find in any good producer. Producer is the guy that gives the artists money to improve their skills while making them work. Stories, all-star cast, foreign locations, 30 vehicles destroyed in a 30 second chase, a movie can have all of these and still fail. So it’s the producer’s judgement that counts if the director can actually deliver what he has promised?? Or if the director’s just painting a dick on his forehead.

#1 Indian Audience

Where should I start???? Everything is wrong with the Indian audience. And I mean EVERY… FUCKING…. THING!

From the guys we hail, to the songs we sing. Pick anything about an average Indian audience, I can show how depraved and fucked up it is at core level. So starting with the largest reason they watch movies…. Hero. A guy hunts majestic animals for fun, publicly hits his girlfriend at a party, gets drunk and drives on footpaths (allegedly) and still he’s being Human-ely, awesomely, surprisingly called "BHAI!" by everyone. His movies are blockbuster even though most of them are straight up lifted from Tollywood or any other wood that don’t matter. What does this say about an Average Indian Audience? I really am dumbstruck to find the words (if any) at all.

Now, Songs! I understand Music has a really big part in our history. From the times when we were tribesmen and we used to sit around the fire and dance Kumbaya, till we upgraded to Dandiya or some other shit. But, songs don't have a place in a movie unless it is beautifully placed like ‘Hakuna Matata’ in ‘Lion King’. One or two? I can understand. I don’t about others, but, I certainly don’t have time to waste on how the character is feeling when hers pet dies or when his girlfriend leaves him. Finish the fucking movie already!!! I have other shit to do... I understand I might be being insensitive to a large majority. But please ask yourselves, if the actor can’t act out his feelings properly, he has to sing or dance in a weird way to express himself when anything remotely interesting happens in his very exciting “life”, is he worth his salt?

Why Hollywood is Better Than Bollywood?

And the list goes on…. elaborate fights, lengthy conversations that end up as fucking highways for a punch dialogue, angry villains, clingy moms, creepy uncles, nosy neighbor. These people should be filtered out before they it make to the silver screen. Even if they make it, it’s your duty to filter down the pissy rain they call movie releases and watch the ones that deems worthy of our time. If not, you might not have any credibility when you bitch about how Dhoom 17 movie sucks.

Conclusion

The most useless tool we have to filtering things down is prejudice. We take on the world of information everyday while shielding ourselves with prejudice. For a change, leave your prejudice at home once. The interesting new things out there might surprise you. Relate them to the genre you want. Watch foreign movies too. Movies won’t change unless the targeted audience does. So go out there and watch some new shit. You’ll see the picture more clearly. I (can’t) guarantee it!

-An Editorial by Suhel Abdulla
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Marvel Cinematic Universe Trivia

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Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Review: Forgettable!

Starring – Christian Bale and Benedict Cumberbatch
Director – Andy Serkis
Genre – Fantasy / Adventure
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Been in pre-production since 2012, even before Disney's The Jungle Book (2016), Andy Serkis' ambitious extravaganza Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle geared up for a theatrical release by Warner Bros. Pictures until the online streaming juggernaut, Netflix, acquired the rights of the film to release on their platform on December 7, 2018. Led by an enormous star cast including  Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris, Serkis made clear about how his adaptation is very much distinct from the Disney version, and the final product adheres to that promise. Unlike the 2016 version, this film focuses more on the character of Mowgli, his trials and tribulations in order to get accepted within the Jungle's Wolf Pack, his issues with Shere Khan and his friends, and also his association with human beings and their lineage.

Rationalization

Taking a left turn and distancing itself from its counterpart's version, Andy Serkis' Jungle Book adaptation impresses when it comes to it's lush and kaleidoscopic visuals (for the most part). The vivid detail of every jungle creature/animal when it comes to the features, skin/fur and the battle scars were distinctly designed and executed as the final product. The camera work by Michael Seresin was also equally impressive, the lush green wilderness and the arid sierras in Southern Africa were captured precisely with beautiful panoramic shots, and after multiple renders, the outcome only looked breathtaking on the TV screen.

Continuing with the avant-garde tradition, the realistic and the gritty look of the film made me believe that these characters, Bagheera, Baloo, Shere Khan, etc. were veterans of the jungle and looked like real animals living in the no-man's land. Attributes like violence, fear, fright and survival did not take a step back in regard to complimenting the scene and the film's tone as Serkis unhesitatingly displayed the aggressive and crude of animals and human beings in different circumstances.

But, dug deep in the abyss of creating a visually perfect film, Serkis, by and large, failed to constrict the emotional connection between the audience member and the film. The storyline, in particular, felt boring and messy at times, creating an uneven and forgettable experience, and is also a prime example of trying to manipulate human emotions without actually earning them.

Conclusion

Overall, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle felt like a visual treat impaired by a cluttered plot and poor storytelling. The super-talented cast and the post-production crew did their best to elevate the movie's standards, but, it will sadly be forgotten in a day or two.

Rating - 2.75/5 | Grade - C+

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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Kedarnath - Honest Movie Review

[This Movie Review was first posted on Anurag's The Filmy Basti]

This week’s release, Kedarnath, brings an interesting collaboration between two contrasting film personalities – director Abhishek Kapoor and writer Kanika Dhillon. I say contrasting because if you have followed Kanika Dhillon’s work, she gives a distinct voice to the female protagonist and requires abled filmmakers to bring that out beautifully. Abhishek Kapoor, though extremely ambitious in his scale and execution, slightly falters in building his characters emotionally. And both these traits are visible in Sara Ali Khan and Sushant Singh Rajput starrer, Kedarnath. Unfortunately, it is not a great blend.

Verdict - "High and Dry!"

The story was predictable from the trailer itself – an inter-faith love story set against the backdrop of the devastating Uttarakhand floods of 2013. Mandakini ‘Mukku’ (Sara Ali Khan) is a feisty, confident and a frank girl, born to a Pandit’s family in Kedarnath. Belonging to a well-to-do family that runs lodges in Kedarnath, she is an outlier. She cusses, picks up petty fights, has a sharp tongue that does not even spare her opportunistic father and openly woos the guy she likes. As one would expect, she falls for a Muslim Pitthoo (the ones who carry pilgrims on their back), Mansoor Khan (Sushant Singh Rajput). The love blooms in the backdrop of a picturesque Kedarnath, till the deluge hits them and wipes the city off.

As I mentioned, the story has a distinctive Kanika Dhillon stamp. Her stories always revolve around the female protagonists and includes a third wheel. Third wheels like Simran (Sonal Chauhan) in Size Zero, Vicky (Vikky Kaushal) in Manmarziyaan have had strong roles in her stories. Interestingly, while we do have a romantic antagonist in Kedarnath, I felt Brinda (Pooja Gor), who plays Mukku’s elder sister was the third wheel in this case. The writer deserves another brownie point for creating a sub-track on the friction between the two sisters, which adds to the main love story. Also, like Sweety (Anushka Shetty) in Size Zero and Rumi (Taapsee Pannu) in Manmarziyaan, Mukku is a girl who lives on her own terms. It was refreshing to see a female lead eyeing the male protagonist and wooing him. It could have looked awkward, given the rural setting, but the dialogues (also by Kanika Dhillon) give us some endearing moments. The progression of their love story, while taking Pitthoo rides from Kedarnath to Rambada have been developed well.

Making her debut, after repeated delays, Sara Ali Khan appears confident and makes a promising start. Dressed in best of the clothes, which seem out of place given where the movie is set, Sara looks comfortable in the character and delivers a variety of emotions, though she needs to work on her romantic lines. It is a well written role for an actor to make her debut with. Complementing her well, Sushant Singh Rajput, delivers a strong performance. His shy demeanor and hushed smiles in reply to a flirting Mukku, are a delight to watch. There are a few sequences where the religion of Mansoor and their communal difference are touched upon, but these never come out convincingly.

Director Abhishek Kapoor’s 2013-hit, Kai Po Che, set against a communally fragile Gujarat riots had a better weaving of the story of three friends in a communally disturbed environment. Here, it seems rather forced because during the development of the love track between Mukku and Mansoor, their different faiths never really comes out. Again, this is the fallacy of Abhishek Kapoor, where he assumes the audiences are emotionally connected and hence keeps certain things unsaid. And this is how the movie starts to crumble in the second half, where suddenly a love story is meddled with religion at first and then an overdrawn sequence of the Kedarnath floods. The tonality of the movie changed completely in the last 10 minutes, when it seemed more like a documentary on Kedarnath floods and not a love story that it began as. Not to mention, the graphics and VFX used for creating the flood scenes looked very mediocre. Giving credit where it is due, the music by Amit Trivedi and Cinematography by Tushar Ray are beautiful and bring Kedarnath alive. I almost packed by bags to visit this picturesque place!

Kedarnath had way too much cramped in a run time of 2 hours– a beautiful love story, inter-religion troubles, the rampant urbanization and the devastating deluge! If not for the strong performances by the leads, despite the deluge in the end, the movie may leave you high and dry.

My Rating – 3/5 | Grade - B

-An Honest Movie Review by Anurag Rao (@The Filmy Basti!)
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Top 5 Overrated Bollywood Actors

The following article doesn't connote to offend any fan group/individual. We only wish success and progress for all the five Bollywood actors listed below, and we're not disrespecting the profession that they opted to pursue. Take it with a grain of salt, and enjoy the editorial.

Related - Top 5 Overrated Bollywood Actresses [Part 1]Top 5 Overrated Bollywood Actresses [Part 2]


5. Arjun Kapoor

Following a similar career graph of Siddharth Malhotra, Arjun Kapoor, the young macho-man of Bollywood, made his debut in Bollywood with a notable hit, 'Ishaqzaade', but expeditiously went downhill with regular debacles like 'Aurangzeb', 'Tevar', 'Mubarakan' and the most recent one, 'Namaste England'. With no movies which are a total 180 compared to the ones that he did before, Arjun Kapoor remains one of those talents who is a bit overexposed in Bollywood with talent not being the top attribute.


4. Siddharth Malhotra

Commencing his career with the polarizing Karan Johar directorial 'Student of the Year', Siddharth Malhotra, at the speed of light, became the sweetheart of Bollywood forging ahead to a Superstar status. But, his career to a large extent is underwhelming so far. Regardless of a few box-offices hits, his acting skills, by and large, has not stood out unlike his SOTY brethren and pal, Varun Dhawan who shaped his career with a good mixture of widely-appreciated commercial and also experimental films. Malhotra's recent box-office disaster 'Aiyaary' is surely a clear indication of where his career is heading, A Brick Wall! Sucks to see an actor with such a high-profile debut crumple into the pits of the forgotten stars.


3. Tiger Shroff

Making his debut alongside Kriti Sanon in the 2014 romantic-drama 'Heropanti', the action guy of Bollywood or should I say the prolific remake star of South Indian movies, Jai Hemant Shroff, is spectacular as far as action sequences and dance numbers go. But, if you've ever seen him act, he is most probably one of the worst performers out there. One remake after another, watching him act is either cringe-worthy or unpleasant, but, he got producers lining up for him to make movies because of his ability to pull massive box-office numbers, despite the fact that the online critics never gave a single positive review to any of his five movies until now.


2. John Abraham

“I don’t want to (act) with John Abraham because he is expressionless.” - Kareena Kapoor Khan

Well, she may not be wrong, because the model turned A-List actor, John Abraham is well-known for his six-foot height, sexy looks and the six-pack body, but, not for his acting skills, which should be the top priority if your profession is acting. With plentiful disasters throughout his filmography, Abraham maybe following Akshay Kumar's route by making patriotic movies since the past few years, but, there are no colossal improvements with regards to his acting performance and I don't see him fixing it anytime soon.


1. Salman Khan

The most eligible Bachelor, the box-office star and most importantly, The Bhai, Salman Khan tops this list for all obvious reasons, in particular, his underwhelming talent in acting. Although his charisma, body language and commercial films garnered him millions of fans worldwide, even barring a few emotional movies, he's not the kind of actor who impressed his audience with remarkable performances, but, with his shirtless scenes and peppy dance numbers. Moviegoers never remembered him as an incredible talent, but as a commercial movie star who makes movies that only do well at the box-office.

-A Top 5 List by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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The Most Underrated Trilogy That You Probably Missed Out!

Before Sunrise (1995)

Directed by Richard Linklater, Before Sunrise is by far the most realistic take on the romance genre. Travelling through Europe by train, two strangers Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet each other, develop an instant chemistry and decide to spend the rest of the night together, walking through the streets of Vienna, before Jesse has to catch a plane to go back to America the next morning. The movie is mostly dialogue-based and the strength of the movie lies in its brilliantly written screenplay, the amazing performances by both the lead actors and direction by Richard Linklater. It is essentially a series of really long takes, which makes you feel that you are watching an improvised play. That is a plus point for the movie because it requires two immensely talented actors to pull it off and Ethan and Julie certainly gave their best performances. Before Sunrise is a must watch for everyone, even if you do not like romantic movies. And thanks to its equally brilliant sequels i.e. Before Sunset and Before Midnight, we get to see how these characters are affected by each other since their first encounter. These three movies are one of the best romantic movies which you can watch again and again without getting even slightly bored.

Before Sunset (2004)

The second movie in the trilogy, Before Sunset, takes place in Paris nine years after Jesse and Celine first met, where they encounter each other again on Jesse’s Book touring in which he wrote about their night together from nine years ago. The movie essentially takes place in real time, which is noteworthy. During these 90 minutes,s, Jesse and Celine talk about how their life has changed and what they have been up to in these nine years which is not as boring as it sounds because these characters are very interesting and you can relate to most of the things these characters talk about.

Before Midnight (2013)

The third movie, Before Midnight, takes place after eighteen years since their first encounter. They are in Greece and Jesse and Celine are now married. They are in the phase of their marriage where they need to realise if love is still there in their relationship. I have never enjoyed two people just walking and talking around the city as much as I did in these three movies. And these movies are officially my favourite romantic movies of all times. I hope they continue making these movies and take the story of these two amazing characters forward.

-An Editorial by Chinmay Chawade
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Is Bollywood Changing and If So, How?

Move over melodramatic movies, it is time for a reality check now!

Over the past few decades, our nation has been through a lot; ranging from emergencies, change in the political rule, geographical changes and many more. But one thing that hasn’t changed in India is Bollywood and its unrealistic need for romance. If you notice, most of the movies in the 80s and 90s had to have a love story centre stage. The posters did justice in portraying these monotonous ideas where the lead actors and actresses are seen looking at their bleak romantic future while the angry dad or a bearded goonda is preparing to kill the hero for unfathomable reasons which only differs from one movie to other.

Maybe it is just ‘No Shave November’! for the villain.

Doesn’t the poster give away the whole storyline? We watched these cheesy movies only for the dance numbers and the dishoom-dishoom fights!? The parameters were simply swapped as and when required – “Rich girl vs poor boy”, “Rich Boy vs Poor Girl”, “College Story vs Family Drama”, “Angry Hero vs Chocolate Hero”. Although innovative themes were introduced like Dance, Music, life-threatening deadly disease there was a lack of freshness as they all had to have a love story as the main thread while other aspects of the characters would be wrapped around gingerly.

The change, however, was brought by Mr Karan Johar. With his wave of brightly coloured fashion accessories, matching sarees with background orange trees, foreign location settings, humour mixed with emotion and drama, a perfect blend of friendship and romance (Pyaar Dosti Hai?!); these movies hit the right sweet spot in our hearts and the love-dovey-ness lasted over a decade. While glamour was redefined, there is a desperate need of redefinition now and thus biopics were introduced.

Common themes like college love triangles, what happened at the border were thoroughly used in scripts and have been recurrently rewritten in the past decade, last few years have seen a major change.

One might say that it started from Sanja Leela Bhansali’s 'Devdas', the most expensive Bollywood film ever produced and played by Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the lead roles which had enchanting sets and luxurious mansions set in the year of 1990s. Thus followed more movies of historical figures ranging from 'Ram Leela', 'Bajirao Mastani', 'Padmaavat', 'Airlift', 'Lagaan' etc.

Biopics are a new rage. Yet there is romance brewing somewhere. The likes of ‘A Wednesday’ or ‘Dangal’ and a few others are examples where there is absolutely no romance involved. Although there have been many movies where the main theme of the movie is not focused on romance and the limelight is taken by terrorism, patriotism, a social stigma; not much can be achieved in Bollywood if you remove love story out of the equation.

Hardly a few countable numbers of movies don’t have romance as their main storyline. These days, there are braver directors and much braver actors who are ready to shed clothes at a moment’s notice; who don’t resort to tried and tested scripts but choose from controversial taboo topics like those from movies 'Vicky Donor', 'Pad Man', 'Badhaai Ho', 'Tumhari Sulu' and 'Grand Masti'. The audience too is not encouraging monotonous dramas and prefer simplistic movies with great content. Not just the directors, but commercial actors too are taking a turn to accept roles with controversial scripts and are headstrong about it on social media and support campaigns which depict their stand against social crimes.

While movies like 'Drishyam' and 'Ghajini' are remakes on South Indian movies as original and were critically acclaimed, 'Talvar' and 'Manjhi: The Mountain Man' were movies based on real-life incidents. There were a lot of horror movies from RGV earlier, the new trend is that of horror/comedy movies like 'Stree' and 'Go Goa Gone'.

Yes, Bollywood is changing; but are we ready to get over mediocrity? Only quality movies can tell.

-An Editorial by Anusha Shanbhag
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