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Ep 234: “Parts like these aren’t written for women in India” – Richa Chadha talks Fukrey Returns

This week’s episode is filled with tons of goodies!

We speak to the amazingly talented Richa Chadha about Fukrey Returns which is the Hindi theater release from last Friday.

I do keep mistakenly calling the movie “Fukrey two” which is not the name of the movie- my bad!

We talk about:

  • Shooting and fun on set
  • Lady Gaga
  • Leveraging Indie success to the mainstream
  • Why Bholi Punjaban is angry?
  • When to speak against social injustice

We also have a sneak peak of our new podcast series “The Khandaan Podcast” before the show, have a listen so you know what the fuss is all about.

Keep an eye out on our social media feeds so you are all caught up on when the new show drops.

Of course if you subscribe below in our iTunes feed, you definitely wont miss it.

We also have an amazing new theme song, created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!

Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.

Fukrey Returns is currently playing in theaters!

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

Or you can subscribe to our iTunes page and never miss a show

We would love it if you can rate or write us a small review on iTunes! Just click here.

The Hateful Eight and X-Files Upodcast

A Tarantino way to start the new year and an obvious choice for UPOD.  The boys are back in the hotseat and talk about 2 highly anticipated events: the return of the X-files (are you under the age of 30?  Does the X-files mean anything to you?) after a seriously long lay-off and Quentin Tarantino’s snowbound epic The Hateful 8.

If you’re Martin you’ve now seen all of Tarantino’s movies in the cinema in January and are begging to see the full roadshow version on the biggest screen possible.  We talk about the merits of the 70mm Panavision screening whilst Ahmed is made to feel inferior for having to get by with such a small screen – thank you Belgian distributors…

From the wintry evil of The Hateful 8, UPOD turns its attention to the X-files.  Throwing you straight back into the action, the writers clearly didn’t fancy hanging around and throw the viewer back in to the action at a pace, using the world’s events in the past 15 years to enhance the paranoia of Mulder and Scully and take us in a slightly new direction with a 6 part mini-series.

You can listen/stream/download the episode below.

Or subscribe to us in iTunes and never miss an episode.

 

 

Anupama Chopra Talks Jio Mami Upodcast

We got the chance to speak with Anupama Chopra, Festival Director, 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival With Star India about why these movies and the festival is important, which movies you should watch out for and how they dealt with some of the issues that happened during last year’s festival.

Listen/download/stream the episode below

JIO MAMI VISION 2015

The Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival is an inclusive movie feast. We showcase the latest cutting-edge, independent cinema – art house fare alongside genre movies from Bollywood and Hollywood and cult international movies. We offer the best of world cinema to the people of Mumbai and we offer the best of Indian cinema to the world. The festival is run by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image popularly known as MAMI. This is a space where we revel in the sheer pleasure of cinema, the joy it gives us and how much it enhances our lives. The goal is to nurture and ignite a passion for movies. We want Jio MAMI to be shorthand for excellence in cinema.

 

ABOUT JIO MAMI

Mumbai – the financial capital of India is also the epicentre of the Indian film industry. The city plays such a major role in production and dissemination of Indian films and television programmes that it is widely known by its acronym ‘Bollywood’. In 1997, a group of film industry stalwarts headed by late Hrishikesh Mukherjee founded the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) as a not-for-profit Trust. Their main objective was to organise an annual International Film Festival which the film industry and the country could be proud of. MAMI has been organising the festival for the last 16 years and aims to foster a climate of good cinema. MAMI engages people from all walks of life across the city and country who enjoy and love good cinema. It is Mumbai’s only film festival that is entirely created and run by film professionals and a group of members from corporate India. Appreciation of good cinema, stripped off all the limiting labels of art and commercial, can only come about through exposure to the best of films the world has to offer. The Festival is the first step in that direction.

 

In their Mission Statement in 1997, the MAMI Board of Trustees said, “We feel it is the need of the hour to disseminate and inculcate good cinema among Indian audiences. The only way to achieve this is to celebrate cinema by hosting an International Film Festival in Mumbai, India ‘s film and entertainment capital. MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Image) is committed to start Mumbai’s first independent international film festival organized by practicing film makers.”

 

For more information on MAMI and the upcoming 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival scheduled to be held from 29th October- 5th November 2015, do visit our MAMI Website, Twitter handle, Facebook Page, Instagram and YouTube as follows:

 

Website: www.mumbaifilmfestival.com #MAMI2015Twitter:/mumbaifilmfestFacebook: /mumbaifilmfestival Instagram: /mumbaifilmfestival YouTube: Mumbai Film Festival

Nirbashito Review LIFF 2015

Debutante director and lead actress Churni Ganguly’s semi-biographical take on controversial writer Taslima Nasrin is absolutely soul stirring. In Nirbashito (Banished), even though the protagonist has no name, and is always referred to as Lady, or Madam, the resemblance to Nasrin is unmistakable. The story circles around this controversial figure – a female writer who has caused a stir amongst the powers to be with her literary works that question the patriarchal society that is deeply rooted in religion. As a result, she has been deported from her residence in Kolkata, to the cold and dreary interiors of Sweden. Her exile away from home, and her struggle against the loneliness that comes to haunt her is what Nirbashito is all about.

On paper, that does sound like a very uncomfortable and miserable watch. But Churni Ganguly’s portrayal of “the Lady” turns it into an unforgettable and personal journey that makes for compelling drama. She conveys the complex layers of this real person effortlessly. The dark circles under her smokey eyes show the lethargy in her – the sort that you perhaps get after a strenuous long flight. In this case, she is tired of being dragged from port to port, of having no home to call her own, and with no clear sign of where it all ends. And the constant irritation of not being able to speak with someone in one’s own language or eat the food that one likes in a foreign land – her banishment punishes her every day in a new way. And yet, against all odds, she continues to channel her struggle and turn it into the most lyrical prose. Ganguly’s portrayal is absolutely note perfect.

And on the other side of the spectrum, are the ones who are handling “The Lady”s cat – Baaghini. Saswata Chatterjee (Kahaani, Bhooter Bhabishyat) plays the compassionate friend who is looking after the cat, and is also juggling his own daily drama – a pregnant wife who feels deprived, and the circus of bureaucracy. This parallel story line provides the much needed comedic relief in this otherwise bleak tale. Supported excellently by the ensemble cast that includes Kaushik Ganguly (Churni Ganguly’s husband in real life), Raima Sen, and Martin Wallstorm (Mr. Robot), Nirbashito received the National Award for the Best Bengali Film, and much deservingly so.

Nirbashito’s empty wide shots of nothingness conveys the deafening silence of loneliness, and leaves you feeling the pain that one goes through when freedom of choice, and speech are snatched away from you. Amongst all the human drama, it highlights one of the most burning topics of today. The Lady says to her friend, “It is a fight between the pen and the sword. And the sword always wins”. Truer words were never spoken.

Check out more of Sujoy’s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

Follow Sujoy on Twitter: @9e3k

Nirbashito still has a screening on the 22nd of July at the London Indian Film Festival.

Head over to http://londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/programme.htm for more info and tickets.

 

American Sniper Review and Oscar Predictions

’tis the season to be Oscar.  Asim and Martin take aim and set their sights on Clint Eastwood’s latest target, American Sniper.  The most successful war movie of all time has taken America by storm, smashing box office records left, right and centre.  And of course yet more potential Oscar glory for its esteemed director.  Released this week in the UK, it remains to be seen if it can repeat its performance overseas.

Starring Bradley Cooper – looking super-manly with beard and huge muscles – and a barely recognisable Sienna Miller, American Sniper is based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle a US Navy SEAL who served multiple tours of duty in Iraq.  Taking to life in the armed forces like a duck to water, it’s the hum drum of everyday family life that asks the most difficult questions of our leading man.

This movie probably works best if you’re completely out of the picture as to our sniper’s life, both in and out of the SEALs, but we shall let you know if it hits the bulls eye or if it’s wide of the mark.  OK, That’s enough shooting related jokes for now.  Check out the trailer below!

Listen/download/ Stream the episode below or subscribe to our feed in iTunes and never miss all the goodies.

The Other Woman: An Unlikely Trio featurette

Bringing together a very promising cast of Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka the King Slayer) and actor- writer- director Nic Cassavetes, The Other Woman might just be one of those movies that rises above the formulaic studio comedy by just having awesomely likeable people on screen.

 

The Other Woman is in UK Theaters, the 23rd of April.

 

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The Monuments Men Review

If you’re wondering what kind of war film George Clooney has made in The Monuments Men, it can be easily summed up a third of the way through the film. Two American soldiers share a cigarette with a German solder and the only words they share in common is ‘John Wayne’. And that’s what this is; a John Wayne – 50’s style war film. Full of brave heroes with gallows humour wit, no dissent amongst the ranks and the loss of a fellow soldier is encapsulated by the short but sweet term “hell of a thing.” Don’t expect much in terms of the wider scale of the tragedy. Briefly mentioned in places, there really isn’t much time for that.

It starts out at a pace – like the Indiana Jones 4 we all wished we’d seen, a parade of Nazi’s driving through 1943 occupied Paris, arriving at the National Gallery and hand picking great works of art to be presented to the Fuhrer himself. A quick jump across the Atlantic and we are in a darkened government room watching slides of famous relics of art that have been seized by Hitler. The man giving the presentation,  jacket, beard and spectacles all in check is George Clooney. What does he want? To assemble a group of art historians, architects, and other likewise experts-come-unlikely-heroes, land on the frontline and save the western world’s most important cultural and historical artefacts before they are hidden away for good, or worse; destroyed.

Through the opening credits he assembles his team, who are basically some of the best actors to have worked in Hollywood over the past 30 years; Murray, Goodman, Damon are all plucked along for the ride. “You want to get in the war?” “Sure do!” Is the response and suddenly its feeling like a high art version of the A Team – and perhaps that isn’t too far off what the real Monuments men were like. But that’s where the similarities end, this isn’t an Indiana Jones movie where the Nazi’s are shooting at the protagonists all movie long, although there is a bit of that. This is a film based on real events, based on real people who risked their lives for the sake of keeping our culture and history alive and not eradicated into extinction by the Third Reich.

And because of this it’s a hard story not to like. This is an incredible chapter as yet to be told from the single most documented event in modern history. Clooney has set us a very important question; is art, is culture, is the expression of what makes us ‘us’ worth the price of a human life? It seems to me this is the crux of going to war when our freedom is threatened. If not for this, then what else? And Clooney has found a story which encapsulates this perfectly and turns it into a much smaller, neater story. The trouble is, it still isn’t small enough.

There were some 370 Monument Men in reality. Here, a stellar cast of eight try to tell that story, and although it’s a bit of a dream team of talent, by numbers alone, we don’t get to see enough of them. Split across Europe, in search of lost treasures, we are bounced about from one scene to the next, never with enough time to stop and indulge in their chemistry. I could have watched just a couple of these guys go at it for far longer. They are not together as a unit enough and in the scenes they are, the dialogue and chemistry is magical.

Stand out performances have to go to Bill Murray and Kate Blanchet. Just when you think everyone is playing to their strengths, Murray turns everything on its head with a moment halfway through the film that is just seconds long, but shows us something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen from him before. Blanchet, who seems to have a never-ending array of interesting performances up her sleeve, plays the mis-trusting Parisian gallery employee with brilliant initial distain for Matt Damon’s Monument Man; a women who needs him to prove he’s not just there to steal the artwork for the Americans. Of course he’s not and this is a big part of the film; this being the only time in history the spoils of war were not kept by the victors, but returned to their rightful owners.

And that’s what makes Monuments Men such an interesting and important film; if not the most remarkable.

UK Release:   14th February 2014

Director:          George Clooney (The Ides of March)

Written by:      George Clooney & Grant Heslov (The Ides of March), Based on a non-fiction book by Robert M. Edsel

Producers:      George Clooney & Grant Heslov (Argo, The Ides of March)

Cast:               George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Hugh Bonneville

 -

Paul Mcghie is an Award-Winning Screenwriter, Director, London Lift-Off Film Festival Judge and git. You can check out his feature project here. His work is on Vimeo or you can follow him on twitter @DirPaulMcGhie

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Bad GrandPa “Cinnamon” Clip

It’s always hilarious to see kids act and say inappropirate things. The Jackass team behind Bad Grandpa are very aware of that and I assume quite a bit of their forthcoming release is centered around that premise.

Here is the clip, a new poster and a synopsis.

 

 

86 year-old Irving Zisman is on a journey across America with the most unlikely companion, his 8 year-old Grandson Billy in “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”. This October, the signature Jackass character Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) and Billy (Jackson Nicholl) will take movie audiences along for the most insane hidden camera road trip ever captured on camera.

Along the way Irving will introduce the young and impressionable Billy to people, places and situations that give new meaning to the term childrearing. The duo will encounter male strippers, disgruntled child beauty pageant contestants (and their equally disgruntled mothers), funeral home mourners, biker bar patrons and a whole lot of unsuspecting citizens.

Real people in unreal situations, making for one really messed up comedy.

 

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa crashes in to UK cinemas on Wednesday 23rd October

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Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa Poster and trailer

Here’s the new poster and a first trailer for Jackass’ spin off movie Bad Grandpa, starring Jonny Knoxville as Irving Zisman.

Maybe not the most popular of Jackass characters and certainly not my favourite, but they seem to have mixed in real people with their pranks into a narrative reminiscent of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat.

It certainly seems to work and the trailer looks hilarious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BAD GRANDPA which hits cinemas in the UK on October 25th

@asimburney

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2 Guns Trailer

After quite a successful release in the US, 2 Guns is prepping arrival at our shores on august 16 with a brand new trailer.

Denzel Washington is probably the most reliable actor on the planet and the odd couple teaming up with Mark Wahlberg seems to be good combination although some of the scenes veer in to The Other Guys territory.

You could call this “comfort cinema” if you’re in the mood for it, I doubt you would come out unsatisfied out of the theater.

 

Academy Award winner Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star in this explosive action comedy that tracks two operatives from competing bureaus who are forced to run together. But there is a big problem with their unique alliance – neither knows that the other is an undercover federal agent.

For the past 12 months, DEA agent Bobby Trench (Washington) and US naval intelligence officer Marcus Stigman (Wahlberg) have been reluctantly attached at the hip.  Working undercover as members of a narcotics syndicate, each man distrusts his partner as much as the criminals they have both been tasked to take down.

When their attempt to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel and recover millions goes haywire, Trench and Stigman are suddenly disavowed by their superiors.  Now that everyone wants them in jail or in the ground, the only person they can count on is each other.  Unfortunately for their pursuers, 2 Guns prove they’re better than one!

2 GUNS is released in UK cinemas 16 August 2013

@asimburney

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Olympus Has Fallen: New Clips, Trailer and Behind the Scene Featurette

Basically looking like Die Hard in the White House, Antoine Fuqua’s next starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart looks kinda fun. He’s not a director I anxiously await a next release but when I do stumble across his movies, they usually tend to surprise me.

The new clip is hilarious, every actor manages to keep a straight face whilst we get a summary of Gerard Butler’s particulart skill set.

He is the best we got DAMMIT!

Let us know in the comment section if you can watch any of these clips with a straight face!

 

 

 

 

 

When terrorists take over the White House, a disgraced Secret Service agent attempts to rescue the president of the United States in Olympus Has Fallen, an electrifying and ingenious action thriller from acclaimed director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day). A small group of heavily armed, meticulously trained extremists launches a daring daylight ambush on the White House, overrunning the building and taking President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his staff hostage inside an impenetrable underground presidential bunker. As a pitched battle rages on the White House lawn, former presidential security officer Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) joins the fray, only to find himself the last Secret Service member alive in the besieged building.

 

Banning uses his extensive training and detailed knowledge of the presidential residence to become the eyes and ears of Acting President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and his advisors. As the invaders begin executing hostages and threaten to kill more unless their outrageous demands are met, Banning tries frantically to locate the president’s young son, hidden somewhere in the building, and rescue the president before the terrorists can unleash their ultimate, terrifying plan. As the body count mounts and the clock ticks down, it becomes clear that Banning is America’s only hope of avoiding utter annihilation..

 

Olympus Has Fallen releases 17th April 2013 from Lionsgate

@asimburney

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Ep 40 Pan Am TV Show Bonus Episode

Upod goes flying for its next podcast; a one-off special with guest reviewer Reena Mumbai, aka Mumbai Mango from twomanoges.com or @r2the from twitter (you can also catch her on her blog at Reena.Me)

Unfortunately, this episode comes with a warning of some turbulence so you’ll have to fasten your ears into their seatbelts for some bumpy audio.

The latest US show to ape the look and feel of the early sixties, Pan-Am focuses on the airline of the day: Pan American world Airways.  In the decade when business class was economy and first class was first class the show seeks to blend a bit of women’s liberation with cold war espionage.  All the while looking supremely glossy.

Produced by Sony TV and aired by ABC in the US, Pan-Am has some heavyweight names attached to it: writer Jack Orman of ER fame and director Thomas Schlamme of The West Wing behind the scenes, and Christina Ricci (’nuff said) and Margot Robbie from, erm, Aussie soap Neighbours.

So is it worth paying the airfare?  We flew Pan-Am for 2 to 3 episodes so you can find out and episode 6 airs this Sunday.  Wait, how did I get this far and not mention Mad Men?

Listen to the podcast below!

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Ep 37 Vidyut Jamwal Interview Exclusive – playing the villain in Force

Force is this week’s big Hindi release and we had a chance to have a conversation with Vidyut Jamwal, the surprise package and debutant villain pitted against a very buffed up John Abraham, in the remake of South Indian Kaakha Kaakha which originally starred Surya and Jyotikha (find our review here).

 

Force is already getting rave reviews (our review will be up shortly) and this is probably due to a large part to Vidyut’s performance. And I am sure as soon as the ladies (and some gents-apparently 10-12% of the male population) will get a look of Vidyut’s six-pack, they will turn into goo.
Vidyut was raised in an ashram and has been training in various different styles of martial arts since a very young age so he is definitely a good match for John’s bike lifting shenanigans.
Check out some of the stunts he did for the media at a press event.

 

 

Source: Fox Star India
We had a very nice time speaking with Vidyut, he seems like a genuinely nice guy and has that gusto that new comers have, plus he complimented me a few times so that always gets you brownie points.

The interview happened on the phone so there are a few things that gets lost in translation but I am sure you will have a great time listening to our chat.
Let us know what you thought of our interview in the comment section below (or even better leave us a review on iTunes)

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EP 27 X Men First Class, E3, WiiU, Hangover 2, Green Lantern Emerald Knights, Priest

Episode 27 of Upodcast is indeed a true geek feast ladies and gentlemen.  In fact there was too much for the three of us so we brought in occasional guest “Loops” (aka Louis Francois) to ably assist us in our round up.

Wii discuss and digest the latest and greatest from E3 for U all and of course get stuck into some movies.  First up is Hangover 2, the one the critics love to hate!  Can the team repeat the successful recipe for needing painkillers the morning after or should we all  just ditch the monkey?

In the midst of a comic book laden year of films, we also talk about 2 adaptations, one Korean and one American: Priest and Green Lantern Emerald Knights.  Which needs our prayers and which is a shining beacon?  You’ll have to listen below or download our Podcast and find out.

We give you a low down of the E3 conference in LA from Playstation to Micrsoft and where the biggest announcement was the Nintendo‘s WiiU.

Here is a handy InfoGraphic the guys over at IGN made:

Last but by no means least, we unleash our collective critical beast on X-Men First Class. Matthew Vaughn‘s latest movie has a cracking trailer and a talented cast, but does it leave us travelling in economy?

 

Here are the trailer of the movies we reviewed:

 

 

You can follow Loops on twitter, or check out his travel photography on  tumblr or his nostalgia blog.

Let us know what you thought of the show in the comment section below!

 

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Jersey Shore: The Video Game

Probably the crassiest show on television at the moment but for many a guilty pleasure. What if Jersey Shore was an 8bit video game? The Guys and Gals from College Humourhave answered that question. I dno’t watch the show enough to get all the references but still funny to see Snooki and The Situation in this old school avatar! Check out the funny clip after the jump!

Let us know what you thought of the vid on the comment section below!

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Preview: Outsourced! Offensive or Funny?

So it seems Yemrika (the evil twin of America) has decided that desis need to start laughing with/at themselves and to aid poor brown people develop a sense of humour there is a new show on it’s way called Outsourced. Is this new NBC-show, programmed for their Fall line-up, supposed to be funny or just plain offensive, check out the clip after the jump!

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Episode 15: The Vampire Movie- Let The Right One In

Twilight be Damned! This week Upodcast goes back  to Sweden and tackles the Vampire movie Let the Right One In andwe discuss its forthcoming American remake “Let Me In” directed by Matt Reeves of Cloverfield fame and Chloe Moretz (Hit Girl). We have a spoiler free discussion on Chritopher Nolan’s latest masterpiece (or is it?) Inception and the latest version of The Karate Kid starring Jaden Pinkett-Smith and Jackie Chan. In Geek News we discuss Nokia‘s comeback woes, New car technology coming towards us (if your’re rich that is) and the announced line up the much awaited Avengers-movie at Comic-Con. Check out the full show after the Jump!

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The Secret to success for women in the workplace with Marrion Cottilard

Oscar winner and all round amazing actress Marion Cottillard introduces a new tool for women to be successful and be taken seriously in an office environment with the guys from FunnyorDie.

Maybe not suitable for everyone but still pretty hilarious. And I follow the general rule of thumb in life… The more Cotillard, the better.

Check out the clip here!

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Friday rant (only just)

Well well, it’s been quite some week, batting illness and the effects of an insane partying weekend in Sweden. However, here I am for another little shout from my soapbox. And in some ways, last weekend shapes the nature of the blog / rant this week.

American TV (see Friday rants passim) is currently held to be in somewhat of a golden age and generally speaking I have to agree, despite my protestations to the contrary. There is in my mind no doubting the sheer quality of a number of shows, from The Sopranos to The Wire, from Scrubs to Six Feet Under. But rather than focus on shows that I find to be merely crap and then tell you all that American TV ain’t all that good, I thought I’d draw your attention to something Anglo-Swedish – just to show that Europe still has a trick or two up its sleeve.

You may or may not have heard of Wallander, a Swedish detective show featuring Kurt Wallander as the lead role. Now, if you haven’t seen this programme, I’ll be honest; it’s a little bleak and a little dark, but then reality is little bit bleak and a little bit dark, so we shouldn’t complain greatly. First shown on UK screens in 2009, it accompanied the BBC remake of the same show. Fair enough you might say: a good cop show deserves a mention. But what is more interesting is not that the source material is good, but that the BBC has remade it for Brits in quite an interesting way. Rather than simply transplanting the show lock, stock into England and rather predictably London; the production – starring Kenneth Brannagh as Wallander – leaves the show in Sweden, with a host of good quality, jobbing British actors and a smattering of Swedish acting talent too.

The joy of this comes not only from it seeming more like the original, but at the same time in doing so (leaving the show set in Sweden) lends a far greater sense of originality (somewhat oddly). The remake by the Beeb succeeds where, alas, other remakes (UK version of CSI anyone?) fail in that the photography and feel of the original are maintained and we are allowed to see the lead character in situation as intended. BBC 4, you have once again done us proud.

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FilmBlog: Review My Name Is Khan

My Name is Khan… and I’m not a terrorist.

A line spoken many times in this movie by Indian Superstar Shahrukh Khan, playing a good hearted Muslim man suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, resonated with me in a very strong way. It’s a feeling that I have tried to utter many times but this movie manages to do so very simply.

I have been racking my brains on how to approach this review.

I could talk about it from a Muslim point of view, living in a country that is not my own and the struggles many of my similarly skin-toned brothers and sisters have to battle. Unfortunately I’m not that good of a Muslim so my arguments could be completely invalid and I don’t want to proclaim to be a victim when my own parents went through a lot worse in their days. I’m sure  Chris Rock has enough clips on Youtube to illustrate my point.

I could approach it from the angle of a Bollywood aficionada that can finally recommend a movie that is in general release thanks to Fox (apparently even the evil empire can do good sometimes…) and that the general audience can watch as maybe their first Masala experience (which Slum dog Millionaire wasn’t although it had brown hewed people in it dancing)

I could write as a critic of Hindi Cinema tearing down any inconsistency I was able to pick up on, be it the slowing of pace post-intermission, the horrible broad strokes that every non-Indian character is painted with or the lack of a riveting climax.

But whenever in doubt, I take a scattershot approach, try everything at once and fail horribly in the public eye. Yes, that is how I (Jelly-)rollz.

The route I choose to take is the one this movie tries to take… the human route, taking away all other details to bring things back to a core message, one that our protagonist is taught by his mother played wonderfully by yesteryear ( I do hate that word) actress Zareena Wahab.

There are good people in the world that do good deeds, and evil people that do evil ones. There is no further difference, be it religion, race, creed or culture.

I loved My Name is Khan for its message and intentions. It’s so good hearted it can be forgiven for its overt sentimentality, dramatic music and dialogue cue’s. This story of Rizwan Khan who has trouble connecting with the subtleties of day to day life (some may argue that this movie has trouble with cinematic subtleties but you did sign up to watch an Indian movie). Although he suffers from Aspergers he is a very bright and ingenious thinker, comparisons with Rain Man don’t hold up as he isn’t playing an idiot savant (plus his brother never kissed Mia Farrow). Forrest Gump would be a more apt comparison but only for the second half of the movie.

He takes his simple message to San Francisco moving in with his brother and Sister in Law. Where he meets and falls in love with Hairstylist/Single mother Mandira (played by the always delightful Kajol). The repercussions of 9/11 create a rift in their love story causing him to undertake the mission of going on a road trip to meet the president of the United States to tell him that one simple message… My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist. On his road his good heartedness affects a wave of people along the way leaving the audience a blubbering mess.

Shahrukh Khan is always entertaining; his charm (as recently seen on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross) carries this picture to an emotional but underwhelming conclusion. It’s the little moment of charm that make you fall in love with Rizwan Khan and you end up completely buying into his quest. You feel for his character, the frustration he feels of not being to express his emotions and the love he feels for Mandira.

Overall the performances are great by most Indian actors. I could watch Kajol read the news and I would be glued to my screen, both Jimmy Shergill (playing the role of Rizwan’s frustrated younger brother, this would be a character you would have in any other movie but Jimmy carries it off because he is that damn good) and Sonia Jehan (almost makes me want to see Taj Mahal, her first big screen appearance… almost) are great in their small roles and I would have loved to see more of their struggles. Mostly the focus lies on Shahrukh character and his wonderfully understated approach on a subject matter that might not be appealing from the get go.

Cinematography by Ravi Chandran is beautiful, costumes, art direction and music are of vey high quality but I won’t be putting this album on repeat, it’s just not that kind of album.(special mention to Sajda by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, hear me rave about him in episode 5 of UPODCAST)

The few points that work less for me are:

All performances by non Indian actors, or they ran out of budget and got actors that aren’t of a much higher caliber than an average porn actor or Karan Johar was unable to direct them in the proper manner.

Listening to Kjo’s interviews it does seem he is hands on with most actors except Shahrukh Khan( as Khan doesn’t want to listen to Karan) so I think the failure does lie with his character design. Another example of this is Kajol’s motivation in the second half of sending Rizwan off on his quest, which seems too abrupt and contradictory to me even if the tragedy she goes through is very real.

The stand out scenes for me where the entire romantic track between Rizwan and Mandira from their meeting until the interval point. There chemistry is still the strongest romantic pairing in current Indian cinema.  The segments of Rizwan growing up in India and the confrontation he has with some of the more violent Muslims in the US mosque are riveting.

It’s great to see a moderate voice take on some of the people that are usually the more vocal (and maybe “insane”) part of the Muslim community. And the words he says are onspoken by many of us have had but have not been shown this way on screen.

What works less is the CGI both in the Georgia flood scenes as in the key moment Mandira and Rizwan fall in love. It made me think of a discussion going on about Titanic and how after AVATAR James Cameron claimed he would do the entire movie in CGI.Even the sunset on that famous kiss scene between Leo and Kate would be CGI. I think if he was able to do so we would have lost out a lot of the power and exactly this power is what’s missing in the scene where Mandira decides to marry Rizwan and bring him into her and her teenage son’s life.

The ending doesn’t work for me because of the casting. The portrait of the president is very jarring. And altough the president of the US is never named specifically, the movie just looses steam.

But I would urge you to seek out this movie as since it’s been distibuted by Fox it does have a wide release and it’ s an unbelievably fresh approach to issues that really do affect all of is.

The message of hope it carries, needs to be heard, needs to be listened to…

My Name is Burney, and I freakin’ loved this movie!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ruf0iEMT6M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKV954bHZJY

If you manage to catch My Name is Khan, let us know what you thought of it on feedback@upodcasting.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ruf0iEMT6M
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Friday rant part three: Two and a half men

ANother Friday, another chance for American TV to get it in the neck from me…

This time and with due consideration that this is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel I have chosen two and a half men.

Tag line = Two adults. One kid. No grown-ups. Yeah, we’re rolling on the floor with laughter already. The description then goes on…

A hedonistic jingle writer‘s free-wheeling life comes to an abrupt halt when his brother and 10-year-old nephew move into his beach-front house.

…no. No it doesn’t. It’s always difficult to sustain a show based on a kids/adults relationship theme and this is why films like Home Alone or 3 men and a baby or Look Who’s Talking are short-lived successes, but ultimately fail to charm as time passes. In the end, we’re adults, not kids.

I know the whole “plot” doesn’t involve the adult / child interaction; but to return to my point above, there’s no real problem wth this type of thing, but why oh why does this show get 7+ seasons and pay its stars so much ($500k per episode)? Again, further proof that for every Scrubs, Dexter or 6 feet under; there is of course a TV exec willing to wantonly ignore the notion of good quality TV entertainment.

More in next week’s rant, where I may veer away from cursing US tv and start with other non-tv matters!

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Favorite Bollywood Movies of 2009

I’ve been meaning to write a little bit about Bollywood (I know some people hate the word as they feel it’s derivative of the term Hollywood and the colonial name of the City of Mumbai– I like using it as it just sounds better then the Mumbai Film Industry)  movies in more details then our occasional review of the genre but I worry about the cultural gap.

Like Westerns or Kung Fu movies, Bollywood speaks a different language and dances to a very different beat and it’s hard to criticize them with the same standards as we do maintream movies. Bollywood movies are supposed to entertain one of the largest audiences and make lots of money!

It’s a prestigious and long standing independent industry, which unfortunately doesn’t receive the respect it deserves. I have been force fed these mass-appealing entertainment juggernauts since birth but they have now become a part of my being. I can watch all the Korean, French or American movies I want. But nothing feeds the craving for all out paisa vasool (AKA your money’s worth) entertainment as Bollywood does! It’s like coming home to your parents and having your favorite dish prepared for you, served up with some mango pickles and lassi.

2009 wasn’t a great year for Indian Cinema although SlumDog Millionaire win at the Oscars did put the spotlight on the potential. But instead of being able to cash out on the limelight the country went into a producer’s strike that lasted and as with the Writers’ Guild Strike in 2008 in the US, it had long lasting impact on release schedules, marketing budgets, star salaries but most importantly the weekly hit of singing, dancing and dishum dishum that “Jo(-winder) Public” craved for.

Another trend that affected the industry, as it effected everything else in the world, was the Global Economic meltdown. Since the past few years corporate houses (e.g. Reliance group, BIG, UTV) saw investment possibilities in funding movies for a quick buck, the gamble paid off and actors and producers started charging enormous amounts.

Salaries were going through the roof, quality was nowhere to be found but when the US market crashed it, it deflated a lot of egos.

2010 already is proving a good year with some very exciting releases lining up, special mentions to Kites (redited by Brett Ratner), My Name is Khan (Distributed by Fox) and Veer(awesome Troy like epic).

So these are my favorite Bollywood flicks of 2009, some of these I have reviewed in more detail on my badly maintained personal blog but I would suggest, stop reading, go to Amazon and order these flicks!

Wanted:

Riding on the wave of 80’s nostalgia this movie revisits the classic Masala genre meaning you get everything in small doses, action, romance, singing and dancing.

All of this goodness is covered with balls out action and harebrained scenario. If you can identify with the character you are in for a thrill ride where you are the one shooting people in the face (in slow motion with Pecs gleaming in sweat). Girls are pretty, villain is evil and the Hero is awesome!

What more can a man ask for? Click here for the trailer.

Ps this is not the Angelina Jolie movie based on the comic from Mark Millar

Ajab Ghazab ki Prem Kahani

I got to admit I had very low expectation of this movie and it completely took me by surprise.

It’s a very funny (I hate to use the term whacky adventure as it makes me think of Scooby doo) romantic, it’s harmless and very well shot and it just flies by. The main cast is hilarious and both actors pitch in a performance that you really don’t expect seeing their past efforts. Ranbir Kapoor is destined to be the next big thing in Bollywood and this was the first proof how his appeal is able to draw crowds.

And I even liked Katrina Kaif for her performance for once. Oh and the songs were pretty catchy too!

3 Idiots

The Biggest Box Office in all foreign markets. 3 Idiots talks about so many different things which I am trying not to spoil as I want to have an in depth review with the guys. This was my favorite movie of the year, it had me laughing and it even made me shed a tear or 2.

But most of all it changed the way I think and how I will raise my children ( if one day I have them or  whenever they are able to track me down but bounty hunting ain’t what it used to be).

All iz well people… all iz well…

Kaminey

We’ve had a whole episode on this movie so you can always go back and revisit episode 1!

I got one word though

DHANTENAAAAAA

Love Aaj Kal

Together with Ajab Prem Prem ki Ghazab this were my 2 romantic movie pics of the year.

Love Aaj Kal is the story of how love has evolved from our parents generation to us.

I have to admit I haven’t revisited the movie since but if you want a great date movie for Valentine’s day, this is it!

Dev D/ Luck By Chance

The 2 movies that illustrate the changing face idea of Indian cinema.

Dev D is a modern take on the classic novel which was given the grand treatment a couple of years ago starring superstar SRK. Anurag Kashyap (the director of Black Friday,which was amazing but ran into problem with censors) had a very different take, he took Dev from the beautifully lit gondolas of Bengal to the gutters of LSD laced nightmares. A Bit over trainspotting, a lot of Leaving Las Vegas but all accompanied by an AWESOME soundtrack. My second favorite movie of the year and the one I have probably revisited the most. This is not a family movie!

Luck By Chance I reviewed extensively on my Things on my bheja. Although at the time I was not aware this would still be my favorite movie at the end of the year but it still stand outs for me.

All of this to say, if you haven’t ever watched a Bollywood movie, you can pick out one of these pics and be ahead of the curve or you can share Martin’s opinion on bollywood movies also in our episode1 and agree that most Bollywood is shit! But that’s probably coz y’all can’t dance 🙂

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