“Perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the centre are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.”
Cate Blanchett, Best Actress Oscar acceptance speech, March 2014.
It is weird that Cate behen was talking about Hollywood when she could easily have been talking about Hindi cinema which seems to be in the grip of a similarly regressive mind set. Those naysayers would do well to observe the happenings of the first quarter of 2014 – our talented ladies are changing the same ol’ same ol’ For-Mula with a chutzpah and class that looks set to write the next chapter of Hindi cinema. Following the era of the rise and fall of Heroine No 1 (thankfully not a Madhur Bhandarkar film – oh wait), get ready for the Premiere League (Humblebrag alert: I predicted this years ago!) where we have not one but an actual group of actresses, all of differing abilities able to command critical acclaim and box office openings plus endorsements and other swag.
The first quarter hosted some interesting examples of the Premiere League in action. Pleasingly, one doesn’t need a 100 crore to enter this league – instead talent, spirit and a desire to challenge norms are all that are needed. This is why a Sonam Kapoor who feels Kangana Ranut needs English lessons has yet to gain entry (nepotism will only get you so far) whilst Kangana runs things like a queen (and is better dressed in my opinion). But I digress! If there is posturing and bitching in this club, then it is on the downlow – the Premiere League of heroines keeps the cattiness to after school as this is all about the sisterhood supporting one another (see how DPad praised Kangana for Queen or Parineeti commended Alia for Highway – for those under 25, this is called camaraderie) and promoting a new and exciting brand of film.
So what next for the Premiere League? Here’s a few pointers from an ardent well wisher:
– Take a creative risk: Push the boundaries further for the quintessential Hindi film heroine – she doesn’t need the hero to get shit done, the hero needs her and that’s exactly how we like it.
– Bring money to the kitty: Once those sexist producers see how much money a good female centric film makes, this should see a seismic shift of sorts where the budget set aside for yet ANOTHER 100 crore debacle with a
willy waving bracelet wearing laconic macho man actually goes to an intelligent and entertaining film with a strong woman at its heart.
– Dedication to the cause – No turning back to how things were please; what worked back then was of its time but the world has changed and so should what we see on screen. If anyone can bring about this long overdue change, it is our current crop of actresses – good night and good luck ladies!
So here are the films of the first quarter that you should have seen – and no, you can’t be in the cool kids club until you have seen them!
Dedh Ishqiya – Sisters are doing it for themselves! No literally, Mads and Huma brought sass and class (say class to rhyme with glass to get the full effect) to the follow up to Ishqiya and in doing so, set the agenda for 2014: Sisterhood > Bromance. Plus Madhuri’s dancing was worth the admission price alone. See here for my review.
Gunday – Yes, Ranveer and Arjun need to get a room. Yes, there are historical abominations galore and a script that took Throwback Thursday far too seriously. And yet this was a fun watch with a wicked soundtrack plus Priyanka Chopra was rather good. See here for my review.
Hasee Toh Phasee – Stupid title, brilliant film. I almost avoided this because of the cucking frazy marketing spiel but the Universe knew otherwise and I’m glad I saw this delightfully offbeat offering. A smart film wandering around in designer clothes with a bitching soundtrack, we saw Parineeti steal the show and the strongest case yet for Siddharth to not wear a shirt ever and not to dance in his films. See here for my review.
Highway – This had more expectation heaped on it than an exam results day but Imtiaz stuck to his guns and gave us a beautiful film to look at and to think about. Randeep Hooda was superb and gave an earthy gravitas but the real revelation here was Alia Bhatt who seemed to undergo a metamorphosis of sorts in front of us – already one of my favourites of the year. See here for my review.
Gulaab Gang – Two screen legends brought together was always going to be a must watch despite a weak script. Mads also seemed disconnected but came to life when face to face with Juhi who gave one of the best performances of her career as the ruthless politician. In fact, watch this just to see Juhi as you have never seen her before. See here for my review.
Queen – The must see film of 2014 which demonstrates why heroines are awesome and deserve far more than the eye candy roles they are assigned. A powerhouse performance, fabulous script and a desire to watch endlessly – do not miss! See here for my review.
The Taz Adarsh Star System
For those who don’t know, in a secret building in Bombay, one powerful man sits alone in an oversized butterfly chair, munching
thoughtfully on a jelabi as he thinks about how to use his power to make and break careers overnight. His power is absolute, his desire knows of no boundaries and his side parted hair needs its own Twitter handle – can anyone stop him?
You can, dear reader, you can. After risking life and limb to bring you the true meaning of Taz’s box office terminology glossary last year, this franchise now has a sequel as we look to what Taz Uncle’s star ratings given to a film actually mean. That’s right – where a five star review can be a kiss of death and a no star could be a cruel barb against one of the greatest films of our time, Taz plays a wicked game with us all Chris Isaak style – until now. Read on for the truth…
* SoBa – South Bandra, the Beverly Hills of Bombay.
No star – Two things could have happened here. First, the producers in all their excitement about making a film forgot to pay for a review (rate card available on request) and therefore, they must be punished. So whilst the hapless producer will find his first genuinely-deserving-of praise film will receive a no star review, when he sells his grandmother to pay for a review for a second film, suddenly, there is “buzz” around the project and the unnecessary item song/soujourn to Europe is praised as box office savvy . The rule here? Pay up or shut up.
For the second reason, we must go back in time to when Taz was a 15 year old teenager
with a centre parting who wrote his weekly magazine (endearingly titled Trade Guide). Taz wanted to hang around with the boho crowd in school but those cool SoBa kids cruelly rejected his Normcore style (all the rage now FYI) his magazine and sadly, him. Fast forward to present times, anyone from SoBa taking a creative risk and committing to their vision gets their comeuppance with a no star review. That’s right, Taz IS Snape from Harry Potter.
One Star – All these star ratings have two meanings. With a one star, the first is, Taz wanted to HATE this film – he really did. It has unnecessary clutter like a strong script, well written roles and a powerhouse female performance. But gosh golly darnit, Taz was won over by the
box of jellabis production sent charm of the film and kind of wants people to see this but not love it as this would mean Taz would actually have to watch decent films ALL THE TIME.
The other meaning? This is a good film. And inside Taz lurks a tortured artistic soul who is locked away with the ALL TIME RECORDS box. But every now and then (approx every Full moon), this side surfaces – and gives out a one star review. If Taz gives it one star, remember, this isn’t Taz but the artist trapped within calling for help…
Two Stars – Here come the crores! Two stars is serious business and is only given after full and final payment is received. It allows Taz to pretend to have credibility and pocket a nice little commission
to get some hair gel and jellabis. Also, two stars is a film FOR THE PEOPLE. This means the fate of the film has nothing to do with the the review and for Taz, this is win-win – if the film flops, well he told you it was for the people and if it does well, he told you it was for the people. Told you so.
Three Stars – No one likes to be ignored at parties, especially by a celebrity. So even though it hasn’t been paid for (don’t worry, Taz will recover lost profit through his TV work – phew!) Taz chucks in an extra star – this means said celebrity will retweet Taz’s tweet on Twitter, say hello to him at Soo-Ciety parties and make him feel included and even praise that avant-garde
Govinda reject three piece suit he picked up from a Film City Wardrobe Clearance sale.
Even those SoBa snobs will throw a “whassup?” his way with a three star review. Best of all, Taz secretly hated the film but you wouldn’t know it and think he isn’t such a loser after all – more likes for his Facebook page then. Meanwhile you filmi types just got played.
Four Stars – This is the end of the road for the star system – Taz may have loathed with a passion the film being reviewed from the First Look he tweeted about a nano second before the
stalkers fan-clubs but has to say nice things about it thanks to a significant remuneration package by the production powerhouse. Plus he got an invite to the premiere but has two outfit options he can’t decide between – what’s a girl to do? Easy – wear one to premiere and then one to the success party where he will also get the red carpet treatment for a generous review. Plus in true uncle style, he can claim he “helped” the film become successful. Wah Taz Uncle, tussi great ho.
Four stars could also mean he really loved the film. But if you believe that, you probably got paid to like the film too.
Five Stars – Taz rarely gives out five stars. First, it costs a s***load to purchase (price by consultation only) and isn’t really that much different to the four star review package. Secondly, it is rare for Taz to wholly like a film – if it satisfies the box office, then it isn’t creative enough. And if it is a creative masterpiece, it won’t satisfy the box office. And Taz needs to tell those SoBa mean girls they can’t have it all so the five star review will always point out a lack of something.
So the next time you read a Taz uncle review, remember, the rating he has given it has f*** all to do with the actual content of the film.
My advice? Go see the film yourself and make up your own mind – if a film is worth seeing, you’ll know it.
Fashion Round Up
Fashionista of Quarter 1: 2014 – Sushmita Sen
Now before you call the Fashion Police on my ass and accuse me of favouritism, stop and read this first, THEN overreact
or I’ll taser gun you. Yes, Sush does not always get it right with her fashion choices. Sometimes, the woman has left me huddled in a corner shaking with horror as I wonder which stylist needs a slap and a Kool Aid for allowing her to wear that unflattering cowl neck high hemline jersey mesh thingy.
That poise. That grace. That confidence. That I don’t care what you think of what I am wearing attitude. Can you imagine being the centre of attention, all eyes on you, critiquing you, demanding you behave in a certain way to appease a certain way of thinking? Be honest, it is not easy and it takes industrial strength guts to be true to yourself and be strong in such circumstances. Yet this is the vibe Sush gives us time and time again and it is a wonderful quality to behold.
And when she does get it right, you better put a cushion under your jaw because yowzah!
BTW – I am now going to watch this video from 0.16 onwards before a night out on the tiles or an important meeting or just everyday. See also Angrezi Beat from Cocktail.
Others of note this quarter include:
Kangana Ranut – These Herve Leger dresses are soooooo over (I use mine as a headband in the gym since you ask) but K-Ran makes me want to wear it for evening once more as she looks gorgeous with fine fresh fierce on lock. Lovely colour, worn with the correct attitude and event appropriate. LIKE.
Deepika Padukone – Holy headpiece Batman, as if we need another excuse to gaze upon that beautiful mukhda, now we have head piece envy.
Sonakshi Sinha – Oh girl, why you so pretty?
Outlook on Quarter 2
So as we go on to Quarter 2, here is what to watch out for – sync those diaries up now yo….
2 States – Yes, I know – Chetan Bhagat is a chump etc. But I read this when on vacay in India in 2010 and thought it would make a good film (shut up, that is a valid reason to watch it). Plus Alia and Arjun were both good respectively in Highway and Gunday. Plus it’s a Dharma production and I need ideas for wedding season so I’ll be watching this.
Revolver Rani – K-Ran with a gun and queen in the title. Anyone who is not planning on watching this should just go live with Taz Uncle in his lair
paid for by his reviews of dhoom of doom and make his jelabis and tea for him. Cannot. Wait. For. This.
Dawaat-E-Ishq – This looks like it will have silly marketing phrases but the cast are likeable and I love Urdu titles so I’m going to commit to this one.
Ungli – Great cast, this is either going to be a hot mess or a damn good film – here’s hoping for the latter.
The Villain/ Creature 3D – Ridiculous titles and ridiculously hot cast members. Let’s hope Sid doesn’t dance in Villain and gives washboard stomach inspiration once more instead. We’ll pretend Ritesh isn’t there (get chopping Censor Board!)
Meanwhile, Creature has Bipasha Basu in 3D and is from the Bhatts (so awesome soundtrack/minimal wardrobe assured)- that’s all anyone needs to know
and quite frankly, I would have funded this film myself had I been aware of the Kickstarter campaign for it.
And that’s your lot for this quarterly – feel free to chime in with your thoughts below!