Don’t Call It Bollywood House Style

Periodically readers will ask me why I do this or that thing, and rather than offering the same explanation over and over again in comments, I thought I would create a post I can direct you back to any time these questions come up.

First, as of November 2020, this is NOT an Indian Film Blog!!!! I did 5 years of very consistent posting, treating this like a professional website. And then I officially stopped. This is now more of a personal blog, about whatever interests me. Often that will be Indian film, but not always.

The purpose of a House Style is consistency.  The most important part of the rule is to have a rule, nothing else.  And to keep it in place.  So, first,

I will be very slow to change any of these rules.  And if I do change them, it will be for all posts at once and in future, not just for one here or there.

Now, the DCIB rules!

Names of actors will be used instead of characters in film reviews (the thing I get asked about the most)

There are 3 reasons:

  1. If people are new to the films, it is very important to learn who all the actors are, so I am hopeful that using actor names will help them to do that.  And will help promote the actors to new audiences.
  2. And then for long time views, using character names often would be more confusing than star names.  For instance, imagine trying to discuss Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham saying “Rahul” “Rohit” and “Yash” instead of “Shahrukh” “Hrithik” and “Amitabh”.  Especially if you are reading about a film you have not yet seen, you want to know what happens to “Salman Khan”, not some character whose name you don’t really know.
  3. Finally, for many films (not all, but many), the actors are more playing themselves than any particular character. This is not necessarily a bad thing, a familiar star persona can add to a narrative.  But it also means that specific character names versus star names become even less important.

There is a very rare exception to this rule.  When a character is so notable that it overshadows any actor.  In that case, I will use the name, as a tribute to the writer, the director, and the actor in what they have accomplished.  For instance, “Kattappa” in Bahubali.  However, generally, I will use the actors’ names instead.  This will make more or less sense for some films, but again, the goal is consistency above all.

Public figures will be referred to by first names, nicknames, and honorifics interchangeably with full names as is standard in Indian press

  1. Again, if you are getting used to the films, you should learn all these names, it is important, and my using them will help you.
  2. I want to be respectful, and so I will use the naming convention of the culture these people are from, not my own culture.  Therefore “Dilip Sahib” not “Mr. Kumar”
  3. There is a reason for these nicknames and honorifics.  It is not the same as “Brangelina” in the American gossip press, it tells you something about the status, the personality, the background of the person being referred to.  For example, “Dilip Sahib” is a nod to Dilip Kumar’s Muslim identity, his refined demeanor, and his history of playing aristocrats onscreen.
  4. Finally, and more practically, considering the handful of last names shared through out the Hindi film industry in particular, nicknames like “Bebo” are a lot more specific than “Miss Kapoor” or “Mrs. Khan”.

SPOILER System: Isolated reviews, or only in the second half of a review

  1. If it is a new movie, I will post two reviews.  A No SPOILERS one for people debating whether or not they want to see the film, and a SPOILERS one for people who have seen it and want to discuss in detail, or are not able to see it in theaters but want to know what happens.  The SPOILERS review will begin with a brief summary of the entire film before going into more detail
  2. If it is an older movie, I will have one review split in half by spoilers.  Therefore, there will only be one review.  The first half will deal with general themes and comments just in case you are unfamiliar with the film.  The second half, separated by a row of “SPOILERS” warnings, will go into a detailed discussion with an assumption you have seen the film.

Grammar, spelling, etc.

I write very fast and I write a lot.  Which means there isn’t much time to go back and check for grammar and spelling and other typo kind of issues.  Rest assured, I can actually avoid those things if I try, in fact in “real life”, I serve as editor and proofreader for everyone from my work supervisor to my friends’ academic articles.  But right now, I would need to choose between only writing one perfect post a day, or writing 3 with the occasional problem, and I opt for the latter.

Shahrukh versus Shah Rukh

13 years ago when I first “met” Shahrukh, somehow the combined spelling was the first one I ran across.  In the years since, I got used to using it, even though I know it isn’t what he prefers, or even accurate.  So think of this as a little personal tip of the hat to teenage Margaret when she first discovered SRK.


I love comments! And I try to reply to each and every one. There are only three guidelines for comments:

  1. If it is a general topic unrelated to a specific post, please put it on one of the three posts I put up every week for general discussion: Monday Questions, Wednesday Watching, or Saturday Small Talk. DO NOT simply put it on the most recent post or on the most recent post with a semi-related topic. This is for people who will come later, I don’t want them reading a review of a movie they just watched on streaming and finding the comments hijacked with discussion of a gossip story that is unrelated and now out of date.
  2. No politics, keep the blog a Happy Place. This is more of a judgement call on my part, and your part, than anything else. If you have something to contribute like “this film star just donated money to an orphanage, isn’t that great?” do it; if you want to say something like “this film star just tweeted support for a political issue I do not like”, don’t say it. I won’t censor the comment, but I will gently remind you of the rules. I believe productive discussion comes when people are calm and take the long view on big issues, and that can only happen if we have happy safe places.
  3. No hate speech, no abusive language. I have blocked two commentors out of hundreds in the 4 years I’ve been running the site, one for hate speech and one for abusive language. Abusive language is obvious, if you use a word you wouldn’t say in front of your grandmother in reference to myself or another commentor, your comment will be blocked. If you do it again, you will be blocked. Hate speech, that is a judgement call on my part. I will explain my reasoning if it ever happens again but there is no appeal.


8 thoughts on “Don’t Call It Bollywood House Style

  1. `
    That’s interesting about names. In Sholay, I have a hard time remembering what Amitabh’s and Dharmendra’s characters are named. But Basanti will always be Basanti (as she clearly tells us!).

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I always wondered why you used the actor’s names. Good to know and it makes sense.

    Have to admit though that it really confuses me to sometimes. For example, if you say some actors have great chemistry, sometimes I wonder if it’s about their acting talent or are you referring to the characters in the movie? No biggie. What you say about name familiarity makes sense.


  3. Margaret, you are Sivagami of this blog, so your word is the law regarding naming convention. Even I find it easy to use actor’s/actress’s names because we use it almost everyday and remember them. For example, I have already forgotten character’s names in ‘Ninnu Kori’ movie but still remember Niveda and Nani.

    But for movies such as Bahubali or some other historic/mythological movie, using character’s name makes more sense. In my comments, using the name ‘Anushka’ was ackward and I preferred using ‘Devasena’. But I respected your rules and sticked to them in my comments. I hope you will make this exception to folktales/historic/mythological movies in future. Just my two cents!


    • first, no need to stick to the rule in the comments! It’s just for people reading the posts so they can follow easily post to post.

      I considered changing the rule for Bahubali and a few other films, but then I get back to the “the most important thing is consistancy” problem. Plus, especially with Bahubali, that reason number one was really important. A lot of people were seeing these actors for the first time ever, and I wanted to make sure they knew who they were.


  4. In response to your ‘rare exception’ rule, I offer a list of nominees for the ‘rare exceptions’ hall of fame for Hindi films:
    1. “Bidya”, Bob and Rana from Kahaani
    2. “Datto”, Jassi, Omi, Pappi, Payal and Tanu from Tanu Weds Manu Returns
    3. “Poo” from Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham
    4. “Karishma” and “Raveena” in Andaz Apna Apna
    5. Ahuja, DeMello and Shobhaji from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
    6. Amar, Akbar and Anthony from Amar Akbar Anthony
    7. Anshuman, “Daadji” and Geet from Jab We Met
    8. Baban from Tezaab
    9. Bachchu Yadav, Manjari and Samar Pratap Singh from Shool
    10. Bhanu, Dadi, Kavya, Poplu, Mr. Sharma, Mr. Singh, Mrs. Chibber, Mrs. Singh, Professor Shastri and Swati from Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania
    11. Bindu and Guruji from Padosan
    12. Birju from Mother India
    13. Bunnu and Gaurishankar from Aankhen (helps solve the double role hassle, in a film that has two double roles, a dog and monkey and a Chunky; all bow before the genius of D. Dhawan)
    14. Circuit, Lucky Singh and Simran from Lage Raho Munnabhai
    15. Dr. Ghungroo, Isha, Ishika and Majnu from Welcome
    16. Gabbar Singh from Sholay (this list’s top seed)
    17. Gulabo, Juhi and Meena from Pyaasa (FYI, pronounced Pyaasaa, given the Devnagri script vowel used in the title, meaning the thirsty one; there was some ambiguity on this point in one of your postings)
    18. Harman and Titoo from Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana
    19. Harpreet Singh Bedi, Girish, Koena, Nitin, Mr. P.S. Bedi and Mr. Sunil Puri (“the” CEO) from Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year
    20. Ila and Shaikh from The Lunchbox
    21. Jack Braganza from Bobby
    22. Kamini in C.I.D.
    23. Kishen Khurana from Khosla Ka Ghosla
    24. Mogambo from Mr. India
    25. Munni from Bajrangi Bhaijaan
    26. Munni from Dabanng
    27. Phoolan Devi from Bandit Queen
    28. Prem Pratap Patailawale from Who Saat Din (perfect casting, so there may be a doubt on whether there was a serious effort at acting or was it simply the actor effortlessly playing himself)
    29. Purshotam Kashinath Sathe and Shiva in Gardish
    30. Samar Pratap Singh from Raajneeti (possible recognition for the namesake in Shool)
    31. Sher Khan, De Silva, Teja and … drumroll please … Mona from Zanjeer
    32. Shruti in Barfi!
    33. Subodh from Dil Chahta Hai
    34. The dacoit named Mangal Singh from Kaala Patthar (just because a ‘daaku’ called Mangal Singh should be on any list of names)
    35. The drunk driver in Rocky (played by K. Mukherjee who appears around the 54 minute mark in the film)
    36. The moustache of Nathulalji from Mr. Natwarlal (so that hipsters can feel smug because something like this made the list)
    37. The Singhs Sattar, Ikhatar, Bahattar and Tehattar from Khiladi 786; the sequel will probably have Chohattar, Pacchattar and Gramma Unsatth; or “70, 71, 72, 73” … “74, 75, 69” when subtitled in anglicized Arabic numericals
    38. The young version of Lucky from Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!
    39. Umrao Jaan in Umrao Jaan
    40-ish. Had A. Kumar’s character not been named Ashok in Gumrah, that would be a this list of suggestions.
    Regards and thank you, once again, for your efforts.


  5. I too use Shahrukh rather than Shah Rukh. My thought was and is that this is what his mother named him.

    I, too, first encountered the Shahrukh and thought the Shah Rukh was an error. But what did I know.

    Then I thought this may be one subtle way that he has of separating the self (Shahrukh) from star (Shah Rukh) but what can I know as I am not inside his head.


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