New round-up time! There’s a lot of things I’ve let slip through the cracks over the past few days, let’s see if I can run through them all!
First, the thing I find most interesting (because I am a dork for industry news), and the reason I actually decided I should do a round-up: Sunny Deol’s new movie is being held up by the censor board and may never be released! It’s about Varanasi and the commercialization and touristization (is that a word?) of the town. Apparently, the trailer featured Sunny using really really bad language to talk about tourists and fake religious leaders. Which is doubly shocking, both because it is really bad language being used for a religious festival/location, and because it is Sunny! Who never swears on film.
(Also odd seeing Sunny looking so peaceful and intellectual)
Rediff, because they are awesome, points out that there is a good chance the Censor Board is never going to pass this film, because the whole plot is about how horrible Varanasi is now. And of course, Modi has represented Varanasi in the past, so he’s not going to be too thrilled with anything that talks about it in an unflattering way. I am less interested in what is going on with Modi, and more curious about what is happening with Sunny.
Back when Ghayal Returns came out, I mentioned how he has had this odd career, where his fanbase has remained the same, or even grown, but because of the way the industry has been re-structured in the past 3 decades, his northern male urban poor and rural audience is no long enough to guarantee a “hit” film. Now, you need to be able to play in the multiplexes and overseas, where the tickets are 10 times the cost of those his traditional audience could afford.
So, is this how he is going after that audience? Taking the success of PK and OMG and giving that kind of story the Sunny twist? Only, once you put in the blunt power of a Sunny Deol instead of the light touch of an Aamir or Akshay, is it just too much for the Censor Board to ever pass?
The Sunny news hasn’t been reported much, but what is being reported all over the place is Amitabh Bachchan’s name in that report on people with assets in Panama’s tax haven. I want to be clear here, because a lot of articles haven’t been, none of this is illegal. The only objection is that, possibly, he is exploiting the laws to avoid paying taxes in India. I say “possibly”, because the way it is set up, it makes it really hard to tell. But really, I am pretty sure he is avoiding paying taxes. Just like a bunch of other rich people from all over the world are. But, in the international press, there is a bit of blowback about this, and meanwhile in India “I Stand With Amitabh” was trending on twitter.
I think it’s probably combination of people feeling really loyal to Amitabh, and really not liking the Indian government/tax wallahs. I mean really, we all know that film people hide assets, right? There’s a reason the tax officials are always raiding them, and a reason that producers tend to give “gifts” like a new car, instead of officially signing a contract with a star. Finding out he is hiding money in Panama instead of in cash under his bed just makes it kind of classier.
(End result of a tax raid on a film distributor’s office in Tamil Nadu in 2013. See how much fancier it would look if this was all just numbers in an overseas account instead of big wads of cash!)
Meanwhile, another dorky industry news story, remember how Star Wars opened a week late in India to avoid clashing with Shahrukh and Dilwale? Well, Disney did it again! Everywhere else in the world, The Jungle Book is coming out on April 15, the same day as Fan. But in India, it’s releasing tomorrow, a full week early to avoid clashing with an SRK release. Which just makes me jealous, because I want to see both movies, but I won’t be able to see The Jungle Book until like the 22nd at the earliest (after I have finished my requisite 4 viewings of a new SRK film).
And then finally, the story I’ve been avoiding because it is so sad, 24 year old TV star Pratyusha Banarjee’s suicide. But now I have gotten sucked in, because it is turning into an interesting court case. Just like with Jiah Khan and Sooraj Pancholi, her grieving family is trying to use the Indian suicide laws to punish her boyfriend for her death. In America (in case you don’t know), suicide is suicide. It’s illegal to actually help someone with it, like hold the gun for them, but so long as it is clear that the actual act was done alone, that’s the end of it. So it’s odd for me to see that in India, there are laws to address a whole range of culpability.
I think with Pratyusha, things are a little complicated, there is some question about whether her boyfriend may have moved the body or arranged the scene or in some other way had a physical involvement with the crime. Even in America, there would be legitimate reasons to investigate him. But in Jiah’s case, the argument was that Sooraj broke her heart, forced her to have an abortion, was generally a really terrible boyfriend, and human being. And she left a handwritten note outlining all his actions. But, she took the actual step of killing herself entirely on her own. In America, there would be nothing her family could do to Sooraj. But in India, they can file a police report against him. I honestly don’t know which option is better. In America, there is no way to assign blame, families have to move on from vengeance to grief because there is no other option; in India, they can choose to go another way if they wish.
Oh, and two big date updates, Bips confirmed her wedding date as 4/30/2016. And Salman confirmed that he will be producing a movie directed by Kabir Khan to be released on Eid of 2017.