The Kerala Story, Movie Review

One difference with this movie ‘The Kerala Story’ is, one sees crowds in the theatres. I’m pointing to this now, but soon many will notice, and hopefully complain, that the movie booking apps in certain circumstances behave like a fixed-cricket match. While I was buying the ticket for this movie on the app at noon for a 12:30 show, the app showed an empty theatre. I wondered if I was the only one attending.

But no. There was a sizable crowd to watch The Kerala Story. This experience was contrary to what happened during the Movie Pathaan, where, even though all the seats looked booked online, the auditorium was nearly vacant when I arrived. I’ve heard that Shah Rukh’s upcoming movie Jawaan’s release has been postponed. I believe he needs to give the audience time to recover from the trauma caused by Pathaan’s deceptive selling tactics.

Anyway, back to The Kerala Story.

The Kerala Story portrays the international Islamic plan of employing naive Hindu girls as sexual captives. Islamic clerics teach young Muslim males to control Hindu women, extort them to convert to Islam, and whisk them away on a “vacation” where they are kept prisoner to fulfill the sexual desires of jihadist fighters.

Those who need validation on the idea that Muslims are worse and Hindus are great will find this movie satisfying.

Depth, substance and balance are a necessity for any good storytelling. The movie misses out on all the mentioned three fronts, and openly opts for a one-sided approach. Although international jihad is indeed an increasing threat and India is at a critical juncture, adopting a defeatist attitude, as portrayed in the movie, is a feeble response.

I belong to the North of India and there are talks about Love-Jihad. Yes, Love-Jihad exists. But one should know why it exists. In North India, a Hindu wedding of a girl drives the father and the family into penury. The father even takes huge loans to marry off his daughters and remains in perpetual debt till death. Under these circumstances, if some Hindu families can get one daughter married to a Muslim and affordable expenditure, then what is the problem?

The Uttar Pradesh Government has come out with a bill on Love-Jihad – or a Law against forcible conversion. But I hear of no news of Dowry Laws or any promotion of reasonably priced marriages. Mr. Modi is seen on camera sweeping the streets for his “Clean India” campaign. Similarly, the Chief Minister of U.P., should be visibly advocating for modest weddings, and a “clean-custom” campaign.

If Hindu Girls are leaving the religion and marrying ‘outside en masse’ then, in this case, the Hindus have a problem with their own religion rather than some other religion being a problem.

Conversions via Love Jihad could be minuscule. But since it’s a live-wire political issue, the crescendo is more than credible.

Going back to southern India and the film The Kerala Story, what I mentioned above can also be true down south too. There may be social, societal and financial problems arising out of having marriageable girls in Hindu families. I suppose the same problem applies to Indian Hindus throughout India.

Hindus have a problem with the girls’ marriage. Dowry is a problem. So, Hindus (and the government) need to attend to and reform social and societal issues, rather than pointing fingers elsewhere.

The Kerala Story is an uninteresting and outdated experience. When the scene moves to Syria, they should have shown some action. You expect to see terrible things in bad-land, so show me something truly awful. Instead, they show a beheading and a hand-cutting, which you can easily find on the Internet. And the protagonist, Adah Sharma, is always craving for a mobile phone.

The movie ends abruptly. One second I was looking at visuals and the next I had to transition to reading text on big screen. The movie makers had a chance to show the subject in video and sound, but they didn’t do it well, so writing words on the big screen won’t be enough to make up for it.

Creators should show both sides of a story. If there are vulnerabilities exploited, how did those vulnerabilities appear in the first place?


Bholaa Movie review

The movie Bholaa is about a journey from point A to B on a truck. It’s a tumultuous journey of a truck caught in an ambulance’s role.

Ajay Devgn disembarks the vehicle at junctures, to deal with crowds of villains road-blocking the truck. Tabu’s job is like the audience. To sit and watch the action. Occasionally she shoots. I wish they had given the audience this facility. PVR would have more shells than popcorn to clean.

This movie is an example of a forcefully manufactured story, where the efforts to whip suspense are obvious. Added to this is some foolish CGI and one sexless song and dance.

There are billions of dollars of confiscated drugs in the police station with no one but a few rookies to guard. In order to make things even more convenient for the story, all police officers in police stations were fainted and loaded in the truck. Did they overlook the existence of an ambulance?

The bad guys are depicted as buffoons. Dawood will be most unhappy to watch his ilk shown as morons. Instead of attacking the unprotected police station and taking back their drugs, waves of dick-heads chase the truck to kill Devgn and Tabu, who is trucking in some wilderness with truckloads of policemen on a sleepover.

Finally, Devgn gets back to the police station and picks up a rotary machine gun that only a helicopter can pick-up, sprays bullets continuously all over and villains after villains compete among themselves to get shot by Devgn. Mercifully, there are enough bullets to end the story.

My heart skipped many beats when the movie failed to end here, but continued till they showed Abhishek Bachchan with a “White Walker” type of look threatening – to be continued…

There are only two actors who left an impact. Deepak Dobriyal and Sanjay Mishra. Deepak Dobriyal’s costume and looks in the movie will remind many of Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Ajay Devgn has star qualities and is also helped by his own people in the industry to create a product that packages him well. But who will help Deepak Dobriyal and Sanjay Mishra. The big screen is merciless towards talent and the skill of the performers. They are really lucky to be effective on screen.

As one Hindi idiom (might) state, once anyone shows themselves on the cinema big screen, milk becomes milk and water becomes water.

Cocaine Bear – Movie Review

The movie Cocaine Bear shows us one thing (and only one thing) – the filmmakers did not let the emotions of innumerable human death cloud over the humor of the bear on cocaine. Every dismemberment of the human body by the bear is soon accompanied by some cartoonish behavior by the survivors, and the audience is sheltered from mourning. This is a good manipulative device in the movie to know – how to control the audience’s emotions and guide it the moviemaker’s way.

Overall, the story of the cocaine bear is weak, the acting is so-so. The movie is pretty stale.

Based on a true story, the subject is unique. A bear feeding on cartons of cocaine air-dropped from the sky and thus become aggressive and go on a human killing spree.

But once the movie-makers show the bear snorting cocaine in excess, they showed diversion from the original story. Which means the horizon of the story is limitless and they can show more of whatever is probable and improbable. But after laying down the ground rules that they are on a binge, the movie-makers seem to cower down and be afraid of something.

The bear was “humanized” in some shots and in one scene is humping a tree. The picturization of this shot is timid. They kept the camera at a long shot and the viewers don’t experience the emotion or the fun of it.

Then another time, there is a scene where the bear sleeps on top of a male character. Precious moments pass and nothing happens. The camera is basically fixed. If ever there was a time for a surprise – it was here. But, this was a major lost opportunity. The scene ends with a banal remark like: “Her vagina is on my ear.” Either the dialogue is incorrect or I missed a metaphor, either way doesn’t matter to me.

This movie is “woke filmmaking.” The filmmakers seem afraid of being cancelled. They could have created an outrageous bear with outrageous acts of blood and gore. Instead, they made a tame lukewarm movie, pussyfooting every opportunity the idiosyncratic subject presented to them.

The Movie Cocaine Bear needed more cocaine in the story than the bear.

Selfiee – Movie Review

This movie has an engaging story and a cast of very impressive actors. Yesteryear romantic hero Emraan Hashmi has showed that, unlike his early movies, he does not need to kiss in order to make a lasting impression on the screen. His transition into a character role that requires a firm presence has been a smooth one, and he has done a great job of adapting. Akshay has not just lived up to his name but has also given us what we expected from him, a bankable superstar through his performance in the movie.

Noteworthy among the actors is Abhimanyu Singh, who is also worth mentioning. All shot featuring this actor had made a memorable impression and left a mark on the audience. Unfortunately, no one in the Hindi movie industry will be willing to put forward the necessary funding and story for Abhimanyu to be able to showcase his talents.

Abhimanyu Singh, is a happiness center of the movie.

Diana Penty, one of the two female leads, is an adornment, although I just have a feeling that she has potential, which just needs some lucky script. But she adds glamor and can match Akshay in height. Nushrratt Bharuccha is effervescent presence, but lacks glamor quotient, unlike Diana.

It is difficult to comprehend why the media is giving an inaccurate representation of the story and production of Selfiee. It would be unwise to depend solely on Social Media posts for an opinion that is not influenced by any outside factors. Generally, one can anticipate established print media to give accurate reviews in their written material. Nevertheless, a certain slant can be seen in their analysis of the movie.

Hindi movie viewers are not obligated to understand the details of the original Malayalam movie. Comparing the Hindi version, Selfiee, with the Malayalam version, Driver’s License, is unnecessary. To the Hindi audience, the most important criteria for rating a movie is how well the movie has been adapted into Hindi. Point to be noted is, the Hindi name, Selfiee is trendier than realistic sounding Driver’s License.

Selfiee is definitely a movie worth watching and is quite an interesting story. When movies with negative media coverage come out in theaters, they often struggle to recover due to the limited amount of time they have to rely on word-of-mouth. By the time people gain knowledge that the movie was really good, and they make the decision to watch it, it has already been taken off the screens.

Good, but low-profile Hindi movies unfortunately do not get the benefit of word-of-mouth advertisement. In Multiplexes, it just has a week or two to get out the word and get in the crowd.

As Disney+Hotstar are promoters of the movie, it is likely that the movie will be available on their platform in the near future. This movie has the potential to do very well on OTT platforms and will have watcher who will enjoy the show.

It is certain that those who have watched Pathaan must be feeling deceived. The promoters began spreading fake previews on Social Media, with numerous video clips of huge crowds of fans filling cinemas and dancing in the Theaters. The promoters of Pathaan also bought tickets of their own shows worth crores of rupees, falsely creating the illusion of a bustling crowd and making it seem like the movie was really good. These tricks created a false sense of hype and enthusiasm, something that would have made the infamous Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels very pleased.

Now, this is how it works.

People who buy tickets online need to select how many tickets they want prior to seeing the seating layout. Prior to visiting this page, you’ll need to click on the “Time” of the show, which will be in Red and display as “Filling Fast.” When you pick the type of ticket and quantity of tickets, most of the seats will become red. If you select 4 tickets, those 4 seats will be shown as a group, and you can buy them right away. But when you enter the theater, you find that most of the seats are almost empty. They have cheated you with red empty seats all around.

To decide to watch a movie and then finding it unsatisfactory is bad. But to rush to see a movie, like Pathaan, touted as the movie of the century and then finding it an absolute crap is distressing.

The Pathaan promoters have cheated on you and also the sellers have cheated on the viewers via all the online ticket selling sites on the net or the app.

In my review of Pathaan earlier, link here , I noted that these cunning marketing devices, which cheat the public, demoralize the movie goers. A visit to any multiplex is expensive, and when viewers experience a disappointment, it can have a negative impact on the reception of other movies, even those that are quite watchable.

The marketing ploy adopted by the promoters of Pathaan will be a punishable offense in any other businesses like Banking and Stock Market.

The movie Selfie is will get gradual success despite its poor quality reviews. Selfiee is much, much preferable to that Pathaan trick. This review is my way of spreading the word about the movie and encouraging people to go see Selfiee.

Despite all the negative you have heard and read about Selfiee, this movie will not disappoint you. In fact, it will surprise you that you will let out a few genuine laughs after a long time.

The Whale – movie review

We know Brendan Fraser through his movies like The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, Bedazzled, to name a few from his long body of work. I like his work in Bedazzled, where Fraser is in multiple roles, paired with the beauty with a British accent Elizabeth Hurley. Fraser’s action-oriented movies, like the Mummy Series, do not showcase his acting chops to a great extent, but this humor movie – Bedazzled – has certainly shown his range.

The Whale – opens with Frazer teaching an online class on how to write. The anomaly is, while all the students are visible on screen, Frazer’s place on the screen is dark – for he has closed his laptop camera on the pretext that it does not work.

The reason for Frazer’s dark spot is that he does not want to show himself, for he has grown fat and ugly, and he fears his students will judge him cruelly in his abject sorry physical state. So Frazer knows he is practicing hypocrisy. On one hand, he is instructing his students to be real and authentic in their writings while he, as a teacher, is hiding behind a lie.

Frazer is guilt-ridden about his lies and also onetime in the past, he had had a same-sex relationship with a student for which he has abandoned his wife and daughter. His partner now dead and Frazer now alone to wallow. He comforts his guilty conscience by re-reading an essay, incidentally written by his rebellious daughter, who, in the essay, has trashed the book Moby Dick, a classic written in 1851 by Herman Melville.

Frazer identifies with the irreverential essay on Moby Dick by his daughter who, in her essay, has alluded that the author, Herman Melville, as Ishmael, has had a same-sex relationship with another character Queequeg, and the book is a guilt-trip by the author who tries to atone his guilt by the singular focus to search and kill a white Whale.

Frazer identifies himself with the subject of the essay, as it is true of his own same-sex relationship and he is as fat as a whale. Also, he finds the writings of his daughter coming “straight from the heart” with true feelings. He concludes this as true writing, which he conveys to his students finally after he opens his own camera and comes clean of his hypocrisy.

The movie ends with Frazer’s partial reconciliation with his family and daughter, and full disclosure to his students on how he looks on camera.

They show Frazer character as monstrously fat, probably a wonder of CGI or makeup or both. The belly protrudes from the body and droops. That looks real when compared to how fat people look. Contrast this with actors in many other movies who appear fat by wearing paddings underneath their clothes or costumes. Their fat belly appears blown out and up. This looks contrived and fake. Gravity works on everything, including a protruding belly.

The movie gets the looks and the atmosphere right. Appropriate to the subject of the story; the guilt, the abandonment, the lonesome existence, the immobility of Frazer, and the imminent doom of such a life and living, the art directors of the movie have created an air of gloom. Most of the shots are indoors and in low light. Even if when the camera shows the outside, it is just the porch or through the window – either way; the climate is heavy and dull.

With – The Whale – I think Brendan Fraser wants to turn a corner, away from actions and humor. His latest attempt successfully adds one more genre to his repertoire. It is a commendable attempt, not only by Brandon Fraser’s acting but also by all who helped in creating this movie.

The Whale is a movie lover’s delight, for it is a lesson on character creation, set design, cinematography, and music, besides deftly using an allegory of an allegory as underpinnings of the story.

Two movies, three actors.

In the movie – Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat, the character of DJ isn’t necessary, except if that character is a device to hold some intervening narratives and help in the story’s culmination.

‘Almost Pyaar’ packages a surprise – Aalia F, who is a gifted actress. After years of watching 30-plus-old actors and actresses masquerading as 20-year-olds, here is one fresh and comely face who is actually in the mid-’20s and as time and opportunities present themselves, she can be the one rising star of this decade of the ’20s.

Aalia F is talented and has star qualities.

‘Almost Pyaar’ is a well-shown story. It uses the concept of parallel lives and weaves two plots that play in tandem. At first, this way of storytelling in Hindi movies might confuse the viewers, but as the scene progresses, things get clearer. I liked the fact that the writer and director of the movie, Anurag Kashyap, did not consider his viewers as idiots and dumbed down and over-explained everything.

‘Almost Pyaar’ is almost there as intelligent storytelling and good acting, and, thanks to who-so-ever chose the actress, she is the star of the movie and a star in the making.


I did think that ‘Gandhi Godse Ek Yudh’ will be a refreshing watch. For one, the director is Raj Kumar Santoshi, a filmmaker with a good pedigree. And two, this is a what-if movie with lots of curiosity factor.

The best thing about the movie, which I would like to state right off the bat, is – Gandhi. I have watched Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982) several times, and Ben Kingsley as Gandhi had become a standard in movies. In fact, whenever Ben Kingsley acts in any other movies, as an Indian, one cannot escape seeing a Gandhi in him.

But Raj Kumar Santoshi’s casting director got the best Gandhi to date. This Gandhi is the exact Gandhi. The actor Deepak Antani not only represents Gandhi to the tee, but is able to project Gandhi as one sees Gandhi in the old newsreels.

Deepak Antani is the best Gandhi.

The character of Godse does not look like Godse, which we see in the old pictures, but Chinmay Mandlekar is an accomplished actor who fulfilled a hard task – much more difficult than Gandhi – at least in this movie.

We limit the violence of the character of Godse to just firing three shots at Gandhi. But when the character of Godse gets extended, as in this movie, the source of violence has to come from the demeanor and the eyes. And mind you, when the compromise occurs at the end, the same Godse who has portrayed violence, has also to portray the pathos in the end.

So, one can see Gandhi’s character traversing a straight line. But Godse’s character has to start at a point and rise to some boiling point where he shoots Gandhi, and thereafter in the “what-if” part of the movie, the character has to descend the temperature and lock steps with Gandhi.

Though I regard Deepak Antani as the best Gandhi, both in looks and acting, to date, equally and slightly more, I consider Chinmay Mandlekar as a wonderful actor who had the most difficult part in the movie and which he delivered.

Deepak Antani breaks Gandhi’s portrayal yardstick, but Chinmay Mandlekar establishes Godse’s portrayal yardstick. And Aalia F silently steps in as a new face of the ’20s.

Pathaan – Movie review

The average age of India’s population is 28. Also, the Indian schooling system is abysmal. And to top that, most Indians have very poor reading habits. And the icing on this cake is – over indulgence with social media; a place for people with very limited attention span.

If any Indian movie maker considers these attributes, they will not make movies like ‘Inception,’ or an ‘avatar’ etc., but will prefer lifting snippets from various Hollywood movies, and string the assortments together to fix a movie. The idea is to make a movie for a mind of a 12-year-old kid.

Pathaan is a movie made by a mind of a 12-year-old.

And that is what ‘Pathaan’ is. Elementary or slightly less than that.

I was prepared to leave the movie at the interval. Probably the makers guessed that some would do this. But the interval happened with betrayal and suspense. And I waited just to see what was on offer post-interval. They betrayed me.

The movie ‘Pathaan’ chief promotion was the controversy over a few shots in a song sequence in the movie. Well, to me it was a damp bluff. They promoted the song as if is oozing with sex. Actually, it is a badly pictured song and contains none of the electricity with SRK and Deepika had shown their first movie together – On Shanti Om (2007). The idea may have been to re-create the six-pack magic again. But this time it’s pretty stale. This is not because the pair and the persona are repeated after 16 years. It is also not because SRK is now 2 years short of 60 and Deepika is now unfortunately married. The plain and simple reason which I could sense is – the song is bad, and the choreography is tacky.

The ‘controversial song’ Besharam Rang is neither ‘Besharam’ (shameless) and nor has any ‘Rang’ (colour).

Activism is also a paid profession. Once Mr. Modi used a word in his speech – Andolan-jivi – (आंदोलन जीवी) – people whose profession and livelihood are activism. Probably the makers of the movie paid a few vocal social media influencers. Even the Chief Minister (CM) of Assam made a killing. SRK called the CM and may have offered a generous campaign fund. The CM took to the tweeter and announced the august interaction with the superstar which occured strategically at 2 AM in the night.

Moota-Mooti, (roughly) key people (activists and a CM) promoted ‘Pathaan’ and did their jobs pretty well. They may have also earned pretty good too, besides saving much budget for promotions and advertisements. Great curiosity was generated, and before people became wiser about the movie, the makers made hay within days.

I grudge the fact that this drivel will earn 400 to 500 crores. Even more, who knows? And the common understanding of the movie trade is that these earnings by a movie cannot happen again for a long time now. If earnings and revenue are the aim, then ‘Pathaan’ has done its job. But movies like ‘Pathaan’ also leave disappointment in its wake. And the audiences are not all forgiving for long.

Also, there is learning from the movie. Ironically, some awful movies teach well. Next time, whenever there is a song controversy or story controversy about a movie, people will get smart and not fall for it. The makers/promoters of that movie could try to get cheap attention. It certainly worked with ‘Pathaan.’ It will work a few more times before such ploys lose steam. Then, not even a Chief Minister can save that movie.

None of the Pathaan stars have any presence. What has earned the movie attention is viral social-media.

Ambani’s Jio destroyed Football Word Cup 2022 and media is silent.

On the morning of 20th Nov 2022, I got the Jio Cinema app installed on my Amazon Fire Stick. It was great to have this facility, FREE. But the app opened with a few football clips that did not play. Also, the app did not have any dedicated tab for “Sports.” But the match was starting at Nine Thirty in the night and so I moved to another ‘very important’ things.

Come Nine or so in the night, and I prepared for myself for another 4-yearly football watch. For, India is the only country in the world that does not follow football, but is religious about watching the world-cup. I am exaggerating, but this is quite true in most of the cases.

Anyway, nine pm and I fire up the Amazon Prime and click the app JioCinema. Wow, an app update! So I update. And Lo! The specific tab for “sports” has appeared. I bless Ambani for hearing my inner voice. It has been long before anyone heard and implemented my suggestions on app enhancement.

Strangely, all the clips on display were probably JPEG files. One may be a GIF for it moved a fraction with each click. In 30 mins a grand show is going to start and THIS!

Nine Thirty confirmed my nervousness when the show started. But again, everything seemed sluggish. The picture moved in a way that seemed like a video game played with a bad internet connection. Players moved on screen as if jumping from pixel to pixel. I doubted my internet connections and so restarted my router even when my speed showed 53 mbps.

I am not a Jiocinema watcher. I am most of the time with Netflix, Hotstar, YouTube and Amazon. This Jio experience was the first and if things don’t improve, this will be the last.

In distress such as this, one looks for affirmation. So, off I go to twitter to find out if others too are facing the same. Nothing in “Trending,” nothing in “Sports.” Twitter appears pristine. So I enter the search “Jio.” and there is everything, all the affirmations I needed.

I still struggled with the show, but my eyes starting straining. Having watched quality all the time, this “buffering” watch was exhausting. By Nine Forty pm was done with the world cup for the day.

I went to sleep thinking about waking up to a storm in the media. I imagined all the newspapers carrying the front page caption on how “Jio” or “Ambani” “destroyed the World cup Football.” There is going to be a virtual “furore.” Thus was my “pipe dream.”

Next day, today, 21st Nov, I woke up with a picture of “Ambani” being pilloried. But nothing. I have a membership to Magzters, which has all the major newspapers in the world and one by one I opened all the India ones. I could find not a word in any of them. Total Prime-Time Media Silence.

Though on Google is one search with “Jio” “World cup” “buffering” and so forth, once gets the news and the apologies by Jio, but they are never in the front. They are not even in most of the notifications one gets on mobiles and tabs. I subscribe to some news notifications and I did not.

This is called propaganda success. Complete control of the media. Complete control of the government. So, what people see and read is what they permitted by whosoever controls the medium.

There is nothing bad in here. People in power and position will control. But, it is always important to realize that what you are being dished out is by design or intention, or both. That is all a powerless can do for their safeguards.

I have worked in an aviation company who, in their prime, exercised great controls on the media. There was an incident where an aircraft entered an “unused” runway and rammed on all the barricades while on a take-off run. Have you ever heard of this? Hardly. Another time, the pilot landed the aircraft so badly that the left wheel went into the left wing. The media diluted the narrative the first day like “aircraft blocks runway” and by the second day, they relegated it to a minor news-item.

Though traditional media may do “news-control” via their own PR medium (personal relations, and Ambani will not be short of this), a new “news-control” is happening via the AI – Artificial Intelligence. This AI subtly and surreptitiously can do what a PR manager might do with, say, ‘1000’ phone calls and negotiations.

Recently, KRK – Kamal R Khan got arrested, and I wrote a piece on him and tweeted it. This is before the Elon Musk era. The tweet refused to show on my account. It disappeared the moment I tweeted. I understood that the Algo (algorithm) was at work. Later, the tweet appeared, but the tweet analytics were suppressed. It was only recently, and with the ‘Elon Musk era’, that the tweet showed on the main page and the analytics are visible.

My this piece is a test on the ‘Elon Musk Era’ besides being my angst with Jiocinema which the Indian media have suppressed. I understand I can get the world cup on Tata Sky or Cable, but that investment is superfluous. I am not that a fanatic about football. In the end, what has actually happened is that Jio has taken an important event and reduced it to match with its own culture.


I’ve been reading movie reviews for a long time. I also blog about movies which I find interesting. There is no better method of practising one’s writings than to write about something which one sees and experiences.

This reading of movies and writing on them presents one with an interesting insight. I can claim that most movie reviews in India – particularly in Hindi movies – are ‘stage managed.’ And they have to be, for most of the magazines which carry movie reviews also carry movie advertisements. So, a magazine cannot run down a movie and expects businesses to pay for advertisement space. It’s that simple.

Besides, most movie reviewers live inside the movie ecosystem. They have to meet and greet the same people to who they have to reach out to get tidbits of news they need to fill up their magazine space and sell to the people and advertisers. To expect a realistic analysis of any Hindi movies (I’ll restrict myself to what I see and know) by any reviewers will be unexpected.

Amid these, there thrives (until yesterday) a Hindi movie reviewer who gave a damn to the establishment. Kamal R Khan is famous because he is famous. He produced and acted in a movie, which is a ‘masterclass’ on how not to make a movie. So he knows how. At least he is correct in most of his reviews. His reviews are on YouTube.

Kamal R Khan is famous because he is famous.

But his words are not apt. Most of them are ‘beepable.’ The flip side of his reviews is – he runs down, almost contemptuously, the actors along with the movies. Had he concentrated only on movies, his analysis is very near correct. But his use of words and phrases against people of show business reduces the quality of conversation. It entertains – but I won’t second his opinions on people.

There is a story of one Angulimal who used to loot people in a forest. One day he trapped a person who, before being looted and killed, put down a strange proposition – Anguli should go back home and ask his family if they subscribe to his trade. If they agree, then Anguli can have all the loot (and his life). Anguli returns from home disappointed. For everyone did agree to partake in his earnings but none were ready to back his trade, and thus face the fate that awaited such enterprise. The person emerged to be a great saint, Buddha and later made Anguli also a great saint.

The above story is famous and retold, yet they point to one moral thought: Are you willing to back someone, irrespective? Your friends and colleagues could be entertaining, and they also have ethical issues. You would choose to take only the ‘entertainment’ and leave out the ‘unethical.’

Choose to take only the ‘entertainment’ and leave out the ‘unethical.’

The virtual absence of the KRK issue in the media and ‘trending’ shows that people loved to listen to his rundown on other stars and movies, but the majority do not subscribe to his demeaning use of words. KRK is right and has a right to his opinions on movies, but he is not right to be defamatory to people.

KRK is right and has a right to his opinions on movies, but he is not right to be defamatory to people.

KRK could have used his popularity and resources to get better drafters to his comments on YouTube. After all, better words and better vocabulary affect better. KRK is commenting on YouTube for many years. Had he used his opportunity to improve himself, as he has improved his own channel and personal presentations, his content would have matured and aged better.

I hope, and we should all too, that he gets back revived and improved and we don’t miss the truth about Hindi movies. After all, he saves lots of our money (and time). He can do the same with a better vocabulary. Now.

Bollywood Flops

For people who have lived long enough (like me) one has the advantages of history and noticing patterns.

There was a time when we were young and stars old. Then came a time, when we were young and stars young. So we can catch the time when we transitioned from the old to the contemporary. There was an age when we ceased to identify with Amitabh, Dharmendra, and Jeetendra and moved over to many Khans.

We know the effects of identification. Say, at age 20, Aamir’s romance made more meaning than the same by Dharam or Jeetendra, who were still very active in 1988. By the onset of 1990, the Hindi film industry had established hit stars who were in their early or mid-twenties. The mass audience, mainly the young guys, moved over to the young stars, but the old stars were still there doing their work, but they had a select audience. I still remember the day when I saw Bachchan’s romance in ‘Suryavansham,'(1999) and oh, what a pain it is to watch that.

Life is repeating, but not resonating. Those fresh-faced 20-something stars 30 years ago are now 50 plus. When I was 20, my stars were 20 plus. Just imagine, folks born, say in 1988, are today 34 years old. These poor chaps are watching the old hags for the last 2 decades at least. No wonder they don’t even bother to visit the theatres – Covid or no-covid.

This is the problem of business, and not of stars.

Before there were single-screen and after the year 2000, gradually, most of the theatres turned to multi screens. In the pre-streaming era (before Netflix, Prime etc.) the business booked all screens for a new movie for at least a week across India. This means the audience has no option but to buy the ticket and get forcibly entertained – spend time. The business is just concerned with money. No quality, no taste, no esthetics – only money for tickets, and yes, popcorn. (MNS party in Maharashtra took objections to this, so they kept 1 screen available for regional films.)

The movie business settled for this model for decades. It’s a dumb model, but effective. It got the money, what in movie parlance is called – opening. So, no talent gets developed to write good stories because there is no need to attract the audience via a good, wholesome movie. All that is needed is to fix up some show. The business took care of the rest – put the movie in the theatres and block all screens for a week and collect the ‘ransom.’

With the movie business, they also focused the theatre business on maximizing how much each visitor spends rather than maximizing the audience attendance through making good movie products.

Improving the audience ‘Experience’ got limited to the look and feel and ambience of the theatre like plush seating, cozy restaurant and bars, etc., but the primary product, the Movies, got the back seat.

Instead of writers and directors, it seems, yield management experts are running the movie business.

Now, even when streaming (OTT) is available, they cannot exploit this medium in India. The people who are making for the screen are also making for the OTT. They are the same old guys. There are no new talents to exploit, face-wise, acting-wise, writing-wise, and direction-wise. The business model of blocking the screen for weeks and sucking money out of the system has left the film ecosystem talentless.

The business model of blocking the screen for weeks and sucking money out of the system has left the film ecosystem talentless.

There are almost two generations of the young crowd with no motivational bonds with the Hindi Film Industry – no actor to root for, no actress to fall for, and no songs to sing. This is really an awful state of affairs.

The recent failures of Hindi films have nothing to do with star children, nepotism, and so on. They are just plain dreadful stories. To top it all off, the stars are not in phase with time. The median age of Indians is 24 years, the stars are more than double that age. Imagine a 60-year-old romancing a 40-year-old and both dressed and trying to appear as a 20-year-old. It’s pretty nauseating.

Imagine a 60-year-old romancing a 40-year-old and both dressed and trying to appear as a 20-year-old. It’s pretty nauseating.

The stars are not to blame because the business comes to them. No money is moving to a new face. The old still command huge fees. The old (and experienced) stars will not turn the other way when someone puts huge money on the table. And if one turns away, there are others to step in, so no one wants to lose.

The only corrective to any business is disruption. A string of failures will alert the business toward more prudent decisions on filmmaking. We need fresh talent, in writing, direction and acting. And the recent flops and audience apathy have shown that the time has come for a change. It will surprise one if Aamir Khan can make another movie soon.

Film stars are a social necessity. Like sports celebs, they motivate, encourage. There must exist characters with beauty, a style akin to the age, for the youth to aspire.