Monday Morning Questions Post, 4th of July Week!

Happy Monday!  I only have to work one day, and then I get tomorrow off, yay!!!  And then I work 3 more days and it’s the weekend, yaaaaaaay!  But, in the meantime, I still have to get through this day.  So distract me with questions!

As always, you can ask questions varying from the personal (“What is your favorite American set Indian film?”) to the specific factual type (“Why are so many Indian films set in America?”) to the general discussion question (“Should there be more or less American-set Indian films?”)

The only rule is, you have to let me answer first!  Because it’s more fun for me that way.  But after I answer, feel free to jump in with your own answers and join the discussion.

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41 thoughts on “Monday Morning Questions Post, 4th of July Week!

    • I can track! The vast majority of views come from India and America, like 90% of all views. And then the remaining 10% come from all over, anywhere from Japan to Russia to Australia.

      Most of the time it is about 50-50 between India and America. But depending on content, there might be a sudden spike on one side or the other (for instance, my Bahubali posts really spiked in India). More often, that spike is on the Indian side of things rather than the American. So I guess I would say, overall, my readership is about 60% Indian, 30% American, and 10% everywhere else.

      When I was researching my Masters Thesis, I interviewed a handful of bloggers, and they reported the same figures. Slight majority Indian, then American, then everywhere else in the world.

      On Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 8:13 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Thanks Margaret. I was just curious because of your earlier reply to Asmita (about getting comment alerts before you go to bed).

        I wish you more success!

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        • Yeah, I’m kind of thinking maybe I should start scheduling posts for the middle of the day India time instead of American time? It doesn’t seem fair that the majority of my readers are waking up to 3-4 posts all waiting for them, instead of having them measured out over the day. But then I would have to figure out the time difference to make it work, which would be super confusing for me.

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      • Do you know how many of your readers are also regular commentors? Also, are the people that comment split in the same way as your readers or are there more Indian commentors?

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        • The problem is, I can’t really tell who is a regular reader if they don’t comment. I have my “followers”, but I am pretty sure at least half of them are just trolling to get me to follow them back. And then otherwise I can see total number of Visitors for a day and total number of views for a post, but I have to sort of guess how many of those are people who actually came to my site on purpose, versus people just googling stuff like “Bahubali kiss scene!” who came and left immediately.

          Okay, I guess here’s what I can say. Every single post I put up, even the really really unpopular ones, gets about 30 views within the first 24 hours. So I’m going to guess I have about 25-30 readers who will read absolutely everything.

          Which isn’t that far off from my regular commentators!

          Oh, and the comments used to be weighted toward America a little bit (we do like to talk!), but since the Bahubali posts, it’s been more half and half. Which is really noticeable for me since I wake up to a bunch of comments that were posted in the middle of the night my time/middle of the day India time. (I don’t actually get ip address tracking for commentators, but I can tell where people are usually by the time they comment or things they have said.)

          On Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 12:10 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That’s what I thought about the comments. I was expecting it to be about half and half since Baahubali.

            Based on your readership would you say that a good amount of the people that came for Baahubali have stayed and continued reading your other content?

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          • A good amount, yes. I’m very glad I decided to do the scene by scene and analysis posts. A massive number of people came swooping in for the original SPOILER review. But if they stuck around long enough for the scene by scene to start, I think that gave them a better idea of what my writing is really like and if they wanted to keep reading. So maybe 5% of those original readers have stuck around.

            Plus, the Bahubali posts gave me a big boost in search engine levels, so now if you are searching for, like, DDLJ review, you are much more likely to see my blog on the second or third results page instead of the 20th.

            On Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 12:30 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  1. I’ve been waiting for a clear indication of who will replace the three Khans (plus Hrithik) as the big male stars of the future. Do you think there will be a similar star(s) dynamic and if so, who?

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    • The big question is if anyone will replace the Khans. That is, if the studio structure has become dominant enough that it will crush any attempt for a new star of that level to appear.

      The whole star system in India first reached this level because the studio structure was wiped out post-war and replaced by these little fly by night “banners” with a few strong studios that still weren’t at the level that Hollywood studios were/are. It was kind of the wild west, and the star power ended up being the only thing people could really rely on.

      Now, thanks to the industrialization of the industry and the liberalization of the economy, studios are getting more and more powerful, which means stars are getting less and less powerful. And possibly no star will ever be allowed to reach the heights of power that our current crop have.

      That’s one argument, the other argument is that the corporate studio experiment is failing in India. Give it another 5 years, and they could all be dead (I don’t mean Dharma, Yash Raj, Excel, those are family firms. But UTV/Disney, Sony, all those other really big international ones). Which means we would be back to a position where star power is paramount.

      However, right now, we are definitely at a point where the Khans are the only ones at quite that level. Ranbir came close, but has definitely failed. So has Hrithik. They are at a high position in the industry, but they missed their shot, they can’t climb any higher. Varun and Ranveer, at the moment, are the ones in the best position to rise to a Khan level. They are making connections and getting a good reputation in the industry, and also really spending the time to learn things in a way that Hrithik and Ranbir never did (Varun is sitting in on music sessions, Ranveer is designing his own promotional campaigns, etc.).

      On Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 8:33 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • All this would be fine if you said “HIndi film” instead of India, and even of that I am not so sure. There were certainly stars as big or bigger than the three Khans in the pre and post WW II era even in Hindi films, so I’m really not sure where you’re coming from.

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        • The answer is in two parts. For the general “why stars are bigger in India than they are in America/other film industries”, I believe it is true more or less for all Indian industries. Because the laws limiting import/export and investment options would have been true for all film industries and, from what I have read, they all reacted by focusing on star power in their own individual ways.

          For the specifics of the Hindi industry, I’m not saying the Khans are the biggest ever, but there is an argument that they may be the last of the big ones. Going all the way back to Dev-Raj-Dilip and forward to the Khans, there have been many stars of the “we run the whole industry” level. But there may not be any more after the Khans, because of how the industry has changed. Or maybe there will be.

          On Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 11:14 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Good morning. I just watched ‘Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum’ this weekend and I really enjoyed it. The team of ‘Maheshinte Prathikaram’ lead by director Dileesh Pothan have done a great job once again. I’ll give you a rough plot: A couple decide to sell(or rather offer as a security) their wedding necklace as they are in urgent need of money. It is pickpocketed by a thief(Fahadh Faasil) while they are in a bus . He is spotted immediately and has no other option and swallows the necklace.He is taken to the police and what happens afterwards forms the rest of the movie.This is one of the most realistic movies I’ve ever seen and has been highly appreciated by Kerala audience and critics.Probably the career best performances by Fahadh and Suraj Venjarammudu. Might release in US pretty soon. Try to watch it.

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  3. Now that you’ve got some experience in watching films from different language industries in India, what is your favorite? Or, to put you less on the spot, how would you characterize each industry in terms of its USP (unique selling point)? What other languages do you think you need to explore to understand the full gamut of Indian film?

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    • Fun question! I will be brave and not duck the “favorite” question. It’s still Hindi. Not as a quality judgement, just sentiment. Hindi films are all tied up for me with 14 years of memories, they have a sentimental bond that no other industry will ever have for me.

      But I am awfully fond of Telugu and Malayalam films now. The big industry I really need to learn more about is Tamil. I’ve seen Ratnam and Balachander, but I don’t feel like I have a real good sense of where the industry is today. Kannada is another one that I keep hearing exciting things about and need to try out. And Bengali of course has always been a major industry and I only know about it academically, not from seeing the films.

      For Telugu, I love the kind of gusto of them. I don’t just mean the big fight scene type films, but even the more kind of family films have a sort of unembarrassed all in quality that I don’t get in Hindi films. Like, Manam, with the commitment to the reincarnation plotline and everything around it, I don’t think you would see that complete lack of cynicism in Hindi films. And it feels related to the fight scenes, and the big song numbers too. And the fantasy/history/Puranic films. Just kind of an “all-in” quality.

      For Malayalam, I like the intellectual challenge of them. My brain kind of turns on in a special way when I am watching one of those films, because I know I have to really really concentrate.

      On Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 8:58 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. 1. Which is your favorite hairstyle and fashion accessory in Hindi films across the ages?
    2.How many instances of ‘Don’t call it bollywood’ have you come across? IIRC Dimple used the phrase in Luck By Chance. Amrita Singh-Sara-Harshwardhan Kapoor saga is now becoming eerily similar to Dimple-Isha-Farhan story in the movie.

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    • 1. Oh what a fun question! Now I have to really really think about it. I think I’m just going to keep it simple, favorite hair is Bhagyashree in Maine Pyar Kiya. Because OH MY GOSH. With runner up being Jaya in Silsila for similar OH MY GOSH. For fashion accessory, I used to hate those poorly fitting oversized jackets all the men wore in the 90s. But then I realized it was because sound stages weren’t air conditioned so they needed to wear the jackets to hide their MASSIVE SWEAT STAINS, and they had to be loose/poorly fitting so they could still do the dance moves. And after that I got a strange kind of affection for those poor hard working jackets.

      2. I don’t even know. I know I first heard it in interviews with Shahrukh and Amitabh back in the early 2000s. I think it was part of a general push back against the kind of “kitchifying” of the industry at the time. The vast majority of the audience was still watching the movies just because they always had, but there was this tiny minority that had a “hipster” mentality towards them and suddenly that tiny minority was driving the conversation. So Shahrukh and Amitabh and plenty of others started trying to redirect things away from the perspective of that tiny minority and back towards the real world, where Indian film was a major rival to Hollywood, not an imitation.

      On Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 9:31 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. More of a post idea than a question. I was looking at the list of invitees for Oscars. They had put up a list of actors along with two of their films that they are most famous for, according to the oscar committee. So, I was wondering if anyone had to pick 1 iconic film of all the major actors and actresses that truly defined them, what would they be? And why? So who better to ask than you? Please feel free to make the list as long as possible 😉

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    • That is a fun idea! Might be a good kind of discussion topic for Wednesday. I’d love to hear what other people had to say about it as well.

      On Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 11:50 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. Do you have some good suggestions for Hindi film that come from a novel, novella or short story?My colleague teaches an elective class to high school seniors called Lit and film and I thought it would be fun to have a Hindi film in there. She does Breakfast at Tiffany and Shashank Redemption which both come from wonderful stories. That sort of thing. Of course I have self interest here: I’d get the chance to come in and give some background on Hindu film!!

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    • I’m getting deja vu! I think you posted a couple of days ago that you might be asking this on Monday? Anyway, I couldn’t resist responding to that original post. So here are some ideas:

      1. White Nights (Dostoyevsky)-Saawariya

      2. The Idiot (Dostoyevsky)-Idiot (early Shahrukh TV movie)

      3. Shakuntala (classic play by Kalidasa)-Ram Teri Ganga Maili/Hero: Love Story of a Spy/ten million other things

      4. The Last Leaf (O’Henry)-Lootera

      5. Where There’s a Will (Shardindu Bandhopadhay)- Byomkesh Bakshy! (my first choice)

      I would highly recommend the Byomkesh option. It’s an Indian work and an Indian film, and it’s a very short story (definitely doable for a high school class).

      Next choice would be The Last Leaf, because it’s another classic short story. And the filmmakers openly said they were adapting it, it’s a conscious adaptation. But it’s not an Indian story, which feels kind of like cheating.

      And then there’s Shakuntala, which is AMAZING. And a very quick read and readily available. The essential plot is something you have seen in tons of films, a prince falls in love with a beautiful woman in the forest, they are married with the trees as witnesses, but then he forgets her when he returns to his palace. She goes to live in the land of the Gods and has his son, he remembers her and is tormented by missing her, eventually they are reunited. As you can see, very very familiar plot. Anything with a rich guy meeting a poor girl, and then forgetting her/being taken away by his family/whatever while she faithfully tries to reach him and is rejected. Followed by a reversal in the second half with him longing for her while she has moved on to a new life. Taal, Chandni, they all work. But it may not be perfect for this, because most adaptations change quite a bit. Not a lot of forest nymphs and princesses in modern India.

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  7. YRF has announced two new movies in these past couple of days.

    – They first announced Sandeep Aur Pinky Farrar starring Arjun and Parineeti. It’s directed by Dibakar Bannerjee.

    – The next movie that they announced is Sui Dhaaga (“Thread and Needle”) starring Varun and Anushka Sharma! It’s directed by Sharat Katariya who also made Dum Laga Ke Haisha and it’ll be produced by Maneesh Sharma. Here’s more details:
    http://www.hindustantimes.com/bollywood/exclusive-varun-dhawan-anushka-sharma-set-to-team-up-in-sui-dhaaga-made-in-india/story-AiJIExzPsuUi2NTxszJpzO.html

    I thought it was really interesting that there was no rumors or reports before today about the film with Varun and Anushka. This was definitely a huge surprise 🙂 You already know which movie I’m more excited about, so which one is more exciting to you?!?

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    • ooo, I am excited about both of these! Dibaker Banaerjee can do no wrong in my eyes after Byomkesh Bakshy. And I am curious to see Parineeti with Arjun again. Although, I feel like they have sort of moved away from each other? Parineeti’s energy has gotten more and more manic while Arjun’s has gotten less and less so. also, there is kind of the odd visual effect of it looking like all her body weight somehow moved on to him.

      The other one is really interesting! I am a little nervous about it, feels like another Mere Pyari Bindu with Yash Raj thinking small and clever instead of big and ambitious. But the casting is fascinating! A big tribute to Anushka that we are all thinking of it as impressive for Varun to be cast opposite her. Although I guess her career is about twice as old as his, even if they are around the same age. And I am really curious to see their dynamic together! It could either be really good since they are both such strong energetic screen presences with kind of an athletic feel, or really bad for the same reason if it ends up being more sibling chemistry than romantic.

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      • I liked Byomkesh Bakshy but I didn’t like it so much that I wanted to see any of Dibakar Bannerjee’s other films. But this does seem worth following, especially since it’s a Arjun-Parineeti reunion. I am disappointed that Parineeti has once again signed a YRF film, they are only holding her back. She needs to work with other production houses if she wants to progress in her career. If she doesn’t have the connections to land a Dharma film or a Phantom film, she should at least try to get Priyanka to produce a film for her.

        I got the feeling that Sui Dhaaga was bigger than Meri Pyaari Bindu since they signed more established actors and since they already announced that the film will be releasing for Gandhi Jayanthi. The only YRF films that I know of being announced with a release date are those starring the Khans. Varun and Anushka did an interview for Anupama Chopra together to promote Badlapur and NH10 a couple of years ago. That was pretty fun though they do both have a similar strong screen presence.

        What did you think of Dum Laga Ke Haisha? I thought it was decent the first time but I really liked the movie when I watched it a second time.

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        • It took me a minute to figure out why Priyanka would produce a film for her. which is a good sign, I guess, that she has managed to establish enough of an identity on her own.

          I am really surprised that she hasn’t signed a Dharma film, after being part of the dream team tour. Everyone else was a little Dharma protege, and then there was also her. Plus Karan had her on Koffee for no particular reason. Although, Karan and Adi are so close, maybe there was a Dharma project planned for her and then it was put on the back burner after she signed her Yash Raj films.

          I have only seen Dum Laga once, and at first glance I thought it was a really nice little movie, but not quite a great movie. It was a little rushed in some parts (like, the resolution, I wanted one more conversation between them) and too slow in others (the failure of the marriage felt like it went on forever). Definitely a promising first movie, more than promising. But I am reserving judgement on the follow up movie. Sometimes it turns out these directors only have one good film in them and everything else is just a little worse (the director of Jhankaar Beats, so disappointed in his follow ups!), and sometimes it turns out they are just building up to bigger and better things (Dibaker Banarjee, for instance. Oye Lucky Lucky Oye was a big deal when it came out, and now it is just a “lessor” Banarjee film).

          On Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 9:52 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Check out the Anupama Chopra interview.Varun and Anushka had so much energy and were so happy zinging ideas across.I hope we won’t have them depicting any sad mopey characters.

            As for Parineeta not doing a Dharma movie, she was supposed to be in one along with Saif Ali Khan -her favorite actor.She even said no to Piku.The Dharma movie was shelved for some reason.There was a rumor going around that it was all part of KJo’s master plan to derail Parineeti’s career.This was during the early days when she was capable of giving Alia some healthy competition.

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          • Oh, I am remembering that now! But not from the Parineeti side, the Saif side. There was something funky that happened with the scheduling for one of the movies he was starring/producing in, and there was this whole domino effect with a bunch of other films losing their schedules because of it.

            On Tue, Jul 4, 2017 at 9:49 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I don’t think Parineeti really promoted herself using Priyanka’s name, at least she hasn’t since I have been following Hindi cinema. But I feel like she could easily collaborate with Priyanka and do a movie starring herself like Anushka making NH10.

            That Saif Ali Khan film that ended up being shelved was not a Dharma movie. It was supposed to be produced by Dinesh Vijan and Saif together but they had issues between them so the movie was shelved. But Parineeti did let go of Piku for that movie.

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  8. So, I’m running dry on my Indian film watching options right now. I have a few DVDs still to watch that haven’t interested me (Junglee, Daag, Devi). And there are no newer releases to find online (I’m hoping A Death in the Gunj pops up somewhere soon…it’s on Amazon’s Heera but I refuse to pay more to Amazon than Prime). And I’m really in the mood for a good straightforward romance!

    So I’m taking you up on the offer of some good Tamil/Telugu recs with good female characters and a strong romance! Ideally, they might even be available on einthusan?

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    • Oh boy oh boy!!!! You made me SO HAPPY!!!!

      Tamil: Mouna Ragam (Mani Ratnam early film), Geethanjali (another early Ratnam, the hero is dreamy), OK Kanmani if you haven’t seen it already. VIP has a cute romance, but it is more of a hero movie than just a romance. And I will let the other commentators fill in the other options!

      Telugu: So many options! Mostly because Niki has very similar taste to you and me and she recommended all her childhood favorites. Manam, first and foremost. It’s just the best movie. Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana is a super cute young romance, similar vibe to Maine Pyar Kiya and other ones like that. If you like that one, you should also check out Bommarillu. And then for slightly older options, Santhosham is a really sweet heavily influenced by Kuch Kuch Hota Hai but different romance, and Nenunannu is another sweet romance which I liked slightly better I think.

      On Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 9:37 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Thanks! The only ones I’ve seen so far are OK Kanmani and Bommarillu. I’ll look into the others this weekend! And Matnam’s recent is kind of a romance, I guess, but so far I like OK Kanmani the best. I’ve still had better luck finding good romance in Malayalam films (Charlie, Bangalore Days, Prenam, Ohm Shanthi Oshana, 100 Days of Love) which doesn’t surprise me since I like that industry’s films the best after Hindi films.

        As for Tamil and Telugu films, I liked some early Vikram romances like Arul and Maaja but they really were more hero movies, too. Also tried Siddharth and Ram Cheran, too, but neither really caught on with me. I think Arya has funny hair and I just don’t get the appeal but I really liked Size Zero and would love to see that remade in Hindi actually, mostly because it’s a classic “ugly duckling” plot and there aren’t enough of those in Indian stories, I think (and Deepika taking off her glasses in YJHJ doesn’t count). I know there are some good ones out there…doesn’t Prabhas have a classic modern romance film?

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        • I think the closest Prabhas comes to a romance that isn’t also an action movie is Mr. Perfect. Which is so-so, but cute. His best “romance” is Mirchi. It’s really supposed to be an action movie, but the Prabhas-Anushka chemistry just lit the screen on fire and it’s all anyone remembers. Personally, my favorite Prabhas film is Bujjigaddu, which is an action movie primarily. But with a romance motivation in an odd way. It’s just an odd film!

          (I also think Arya has funny hair. But if you want the closest I’ve seen to a straight up romance from him is Happy. Cute “we have to be married for elaborate reasons” plot)

          On Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 10:40 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Happy is the film I’ve seen but I can never remember! I always get it confused with Bommarillu and Orange (all of which I saw in another attempt to watch more Telugu films). I think I’m going to watch Mirchi this weekend. Maybe I need to delve into the Prabhas filmography more.

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          • Mirchi warning: The second half is much much better than the first half. The first half is fun, but the costumes are a travesty and the romance is so so. But hold on, the second half is a whole different thing. Button shirts, fitted pants, strong heroine, life is good.

            Oh, and there’s a keytar. Just try to get through it.

            On Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 11:46 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • “(I also think Arya has funny hair. But if you want the closest I’ve seen to a straight up romance from him is Happy. Cute “we have to be married for elaborate reasons” plot)”

            You’re thinking of Allu Arjun here, not Arya (different actor), who acted in the Arya movies. Arya is a Tamil actor who you probably saw in movies like Size Zero and Raja Rani.

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        • I don’t think Prabhas has a straight up romance without any action in it. I really like Pournami of his as a romance though it does have quite a few action scenes. Darling is kinda silly but it’s cute and it only has a couple of action scenes; I think it has the least action out of all the Prabhas movies I’ve seen. The best romance is definitely Mirchi though the romance is a small part of the movie. I would recommend Mr. Perfect for sure, it’s one of my favorite Prabhas movies.

          Geethanjali is one Mani Ratnam romance that I would totally recommend. I just wanted to clarify that it is a Telugu movie though Mani Ratnam is usually a Tamil director.

          Make sure to watch Manam! One of my most favorite movies from the past few years. The lead in both Geethanjali and Manam is Nagarjuna so I’ll have a bunch of reccomendations for you if you end up liking him 🙂

          Pokiri is a Telugu action movie but it has a strong romance and a good female character. It’s the original to Salman’s Wanted but the Telugu version is much better.

          Also have you seen Eega?!? It’s my second favorite Rajamouli film and it’s really really good. I think the hindi dubbed version is on Netflix but you should see the original. I’m sure that it’s on Einthusan.

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          • Thanks, Niki, for the recs!

            I just started Mirchi and I already like it, despite the bad costumes Margaret warned me about…it’s the kind of fun masala film I was in the mood for, I think.

            I’ve not seen Eega yet…it just looks too out there for me, but I do love (and own a copy of) Magadheera and Baahubali: The Beginning.

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          • I avoided Eega for the longest time too, just seemed too strange. But it wasn’t strange at all! Very well done, and the romance portion was really sweet. Including one of my all time favorite love songs.

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          • I will definitely try to watch Eega someday, I promise! I just have such a block on it because I keep conflating it in my head with that weird Jeff Goldblum film The Fly!

            So I just finished watching Mirchi and it was AWESOME! Just the kind of film I was looking for…I know I said I wanted a simple romance but I realized that I hadn’t seen a true masala film with a HEA in a long time either. It was also just filmed really well and I appreciated that. Prabhas looked amazing at times and so thin! I think of him as the big Baahubali and he’s tiny in this. Anushka Shetty was a great feisty heroine. Now I think I’ll spend some time watching both of their filmographies!

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          • He is so skinny! I had the same reaction seeing him in mirchi and other stuff after Bahubali. Seems like his natural body is sort of tall and lean. He must have worked so hard to get the Bahubali shoulders!

            Oh, and so glad you liked Mirchi!

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