Monday Morning Questions! What Do You Want to Know Today?

Happy Monday!  Time to distract me as I start a full week of work for the first time in a month.  On the tragedy!!!!  Working 5 full days, without any time off for being super sick, or the holidays.  How will I possibly go on?

As always, this is the place to ask me anything you want from the personal (“what was the first Indian film you saw?”) to the specific and factual (“what was the first Indian film ever?”) to the general discussion (“what should be considered the start of the modern era of Hindi film?”).

The only rule is, you have to let me answer first!  The discussion just goes better that way.  So if you have something to say in response to a question, just be patient, I will answer as fast as I can, and then you can leap in with your ideas.  I hope you will, I like it when this turns into a fun general discussion post.

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50 thoughts on “Monday Morning Questions! What Do You Want to Know Today?

    • They were popular in America too!!!! I wasn’t alive back then, and I am not a fashion historian so I can’t be sure, but it feels like for both India and America they became popular as an in between of the super natural and super styled hair. In America, super styled hair, like you would get it done once a week at the hair parlor and then not touch it in between, became sort of the norm for “proper” ladies in the 1950s. And then in the 1960s, the rebellious young people went natural, let their hair grow out and didn’t get it styled or anything, just washed it. Basically what Indian hair had always been like. The bouffant was an in between, you could have this styled look on top of your head, and then a long tail.

      But in India film, it seems like the bouffant was the statement of rebellion. That you were modern and western and not letting your hair be totally natural. Although still a little Indian, since your hair was still long. Maybe it was because of the 1960s move towards modernity and secularism and all those Nehruvian values? The heroines wore bouffants and cat eye make-up, and also had jobs and wore swimsuits and flirted with men.

      But all of this is just speculation, because I wasn’t alive then and it’s not my area. Very much hoping one of our more qualified commentators will jump in.

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      • True. “good” girls didn’t (don’t) get their hair styled (still)! natural=pure. Oddly, we do have the rebellion through hair here too but it can still be spun as a conservative thing too. At the same time.

        Like, if you get a pixie cut, you can be both the ultra modern vixen and also clueless tomboy who’s too innocent to keep flirty long hair! I guess it depends largely on who is talking about your hair and to whom, isn’t it?

        Interestingly, after the bouffant rebels, we had the hippie rebels and then the saadgi brigade (the art house and theatre people) came and they made a statement by not doing anything with their hair at all. Then the rebellion was the perm. Then Kajol-style super long, untied centre parted hair. Then heavily colored hair. Then chemically straightened hair. Now everyone’s doing everything. One week of #allnatural #nofilter and then #cysteineislife the next!!!

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        • Have you seen Grease? There was a very brief period in America, early 60s, when extreme bouffants and make-up were the rebellious thing. “Good girls” had the slightly toned down version, still make-up but “nice” make-up and hair that looked slightly more natural. But the bad girls had crazy high bouffants and tons of make-up. And then it switched to the hippy look being the rebel one, and bouffants being establishment.

          Now all my cool city friends have just absolutely insane hair (as it looks to me). Pink or blue or purple, with little shaved bits. My friend who has bright pink hair that is shaved up to midway up her head is planning a trip to India in the spring (she did her study abroad there a few years back), and I cannot wait to hear what everyone makes of her. She should maybe just tie a scarf around her head the whole time.

          On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 11:38 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • As you know already, we aren’t really good at keeping rude comments and looks to ourselves. Good luck to your friend though! Maybe she’d visit when it’s too cold to not wear a scarf or too humid for styling products to work so she doesn’t have to leave with memories of judgemental Indians. Yikes!

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          • Well, she’s also traveling with her very butch girlfriend, so really I think they are in for funny looks no matter what.

            On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 11:53 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • She worked with an LGBTH NGO when she was doing her study abroad, so I think she has a sense of what does and doesn’t go. Also, she does a lot better with being starred at then I do, so that’s good. Most importantly, she promised to bring me anything I want while she is there, so I want her to get Shahrukh Khan and bring him back to me.

            On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 11:57 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Well her visit could come just in time! Shashi Tharoor (who I think should be India’s next PM) is raising the question about decriminalising homosexual relations and a recent judgement dubbed privacy a right so the cause may be getting serious thought in public again! The sexual minorities’ cause. Not your SRK abduction cause! 😂

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          • My SRK abduction cause deserves serious thought in public as well! Who will speak for the SRKosexuals?

            On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 10:40 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Plan!! You get your friend to abduct SRK for you. They tell Aryan to pose as him since he looks a lot like his dad. Gauri is probably too busy to notice. Aryan tells the family his dad is on a secret mission!

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          • AbRam goes to college in Aryan’s place! No one notices.

            On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 11:01 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  1. With your personal experience of India, do you think our films are a good representation of the place and the people? What other film industries, do you feel, represent their respective cultures the best?

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    • I think of films as, ideally, representing the dreams of the place not the reality. It’s easy to see how successful an industry is in representing the dreams based on how many people are buying tickets for their films. Most of Europe, for instance, Hollywood dominates more than in India because the films made by their local industries do not reflect what the people want to dream about. In America, right now, the public is turning more and more to TV and streaming options because those seem more accurate to our experience. Something like the TV show Empire, it’s not that everyone in America is a powerful successful music mogul, but we are more likely to dream of being one than to dream of being yet another troubled white guy hero.

      Indian film, I think, is struggling right now partly because it has lost that sense of what people want to dream about. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, for instance, is a fairy tale. But it is a fairy tale that you want to escape to, a fantasy version of royalty and wealth and all of that. That feels like it is a good representation of the place and people, of their fantasies. Golmaal Again would be another one, a fantasy version of land disputes and hill stations and orphans. But something like Fitoor, not so much. A fantasy of being a mixed media artist in some rich people’s land that is kind of bleak and colorless, just doesn’t work.

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  2. Awards season has started in the U.S. Is there any point in the South Asian industries attempting to break into that system? With film markets becoming more international, will the “awards” (both east and west) become more international?

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    • Oh, I have an answer already written! The awards in the US, in general, involve a lot of elaborate campaigning in a variety of ways. You have to get your film into the “right” festivals, distributed in the “right” theaters, make sure their are screeners going out, etc. etc. Generally it is the distributors who take the lead on that, and Indian, and other established non-Hollywood industries like Nigeria or China, have their own distribution system already, they aren’t being taken on by mainstream distributors the way films from France or Iran or other less established film industries do since they don’t have their own system. Unless Yash Raj or Reliance or one of the other North American distributors really gets serious about playing the game and investing in getting their film noticed, Indian films will continue to not be at awards.

      Anyway, here’s the whole post: https://dontcallitbollywood.com/2016/02/26/india-and-the-oscars-why-do-they-never-ever-ever-win/

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    • I just saw that, and I think it is a terrible decision. Not because of Padmavat versus Padman, but because it means once again all the big releases are clustered. I think that weekend is also when Anushka’s new film is coming out, which will be dubbed in multiple languages.

      I was much happier when Padmavat was supposed to release in February. A big film like that, it will create it’s own audience, no need to shoot for a holiday weekend and drive other films out of theaters or split the audience between films. More importantly, it means that there will be no profit for theater owners in February!!!! Nothing big coming out because everyone is clustering in January. It’s just dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb. As dumb as when Bajirao released opposite Dilwale. Yes, both films did well, but Dilwale had that weekend set for months before Bajirao swooped in, just like Padman has had Republic Day (and is a great Republic Day release, mildly patriotic and good to watch with the family, but not a total big blockbuster like a Diwale release would be when you have the whole family in). Bajirao doesn’t fit perfectly anywhere, because it is so unusual, I think it should just release some weekend when nothing else is happening.

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      • Well maybe they wanted the earliest release date possible, for the hype to remain. I think it will do better than Padman, consider that it’s a movie which is meant to be watched in the theatre. Padman is the sort of movie you could watch at home.

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        • It seems logical, but then the Padman-type movies have consistently been solid winners. Remember Rustom versus Mohenjo Daro?

          I still think it would have been better to wait until February, any advantage from the controversy buzz is going to be balanced by splitting screens with Padman, and if the film is as big as they say it will be, it won’t need controversy or buzz. Bahubali came out in the middle of April, no holiday or anything, and it did fine.

          On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 10:20 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I just watched the funniest video from a Pakistani page and i think it would make a great fanfic prompt!!

    So this news item was about a young Pakistani lad who married a young girl. They must have been barely out of their teens. The girl missed her cousin and BFF and she went over to meet her a few weeks after her wedding. The cousin insists that she stay. The new bride couldn’t bear to be parted from her BFF so she had her married to her husband. Now both the girls’ families are pressing charges against the boy.

    If this were made into a film, I’d want Aryan with Sara and Jahnvi. They’re middle class kids studying at a not so posh boarding school. They fall in love and decide to get married right out of high school. A few weeks after her wedding, Sara who is now considered a grown up in her own family (she’s the oldest kid) and in her husband’s family too (she’s the oldest bahu), she sets up he’d honeymoon trip in a country where an obscure law allows men of all religions and countries to take multiple wives and somehow the entire world recognizes this second marriage as legal too.

    So Aryan and Sara arrive from their honeymoon with a new bride for him!

    I haven’t figured out the rest. I definitely don’t want a lesbian relationship in it because that would be too obvious. Lemme pm you the video on fb

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    • Totally Chori Chori Chupke Chupke! Or, Daag. You know what would make it a really cute story? If the new “bride” is in some desperate situation, maybe she is an old friend of the heroine and is a young widow with no escape from her terrible in-laws, so the heroine suggested a plural marriage since then they will have the right to take her away from her home and out of the country and so on. But it’s just a paper marriage so that they can bring her to the safety of their household. There is upset when she arrives, but our hero and heroine put their foot down, and the hero is a really stand up guy about it, and slowly she starts to recover from her PTSD and stuff over what happened in the evil in-law household (let’s just assume she was raped by her brother-in-law, because that’s always what happens to widows in Hindi films), and becomes happy again. But then she falls in love! With maybe our hero’s brother? Or best friend? And it is all very awkward and scandalous and they can’t speak their feelings. And then other stuff happens that I haven’t worked out yet.

      On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 9:26 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Yes! Heck, that could even be part of the plot, the second wife is underage in whatever country she is in so her in-laws are her guardians and they can send the police after her to drag her back. But if she marries the husband, it means he has legal authority over her and can take her out of the country. So they just do that without really thinking about it. Maybe the original couple is so young and innocent that they don’t even fully understand what “marriage” means, they think it just means getting their own bedroom and eating whatever they want without someone yelling at them and going to places without chaperones. So the rest of the movie could be the original couple slowly learning what “marriage” really is, at the same time that the new wife starts to feel feelings she doesn’t fully understand for the husbands best friend.

          I am picturing something like Anil in Lamhe, the husband is only 19 but his parents are dead and he is the head of the household with only an old nanny who raised him, he falls in love at first sight with the heroine and proposes when her family is about to marry her off to a much older man who she doesn’t know, and then they are completely in love and happy just spending time together and meet her best friend/cousin who wasn’t able to escape marriage to an older man and is now a widow and miserable and abused. So she confidently suggests that her husband just marry the best friend too and save her from a miserable marriage like the heroine was saved, and they can all live together and have such fun.

          On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 10:56 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yes, but we’ve seen that before! That’s just Daag! What I want, for my fictional version, is for them to be happy and fight for acceptance, and then a twist at the interval when they have to shake everything up again.

            On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 11:27 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I have a feeling the only ones that can make this unobnoxious are nivin and DQ. everyone else would make this look preachy. I’m leaning towards a heavily bearded smiling nivin. DQ has started to look too serious to be able to pull this off!

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          • Or else the dream cast, Aryan and Nyssa and Navya Naveli.

            On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 11:50 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Aryan would look too angry with the plot twist you have. I almost want a Pakistani comedy type fluffy but not mush lightness to it. Like Jane bhi do yaaron if it wasn’t depressing. Like chasm-e-bad’dur!!

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          • If Aryan is planning a film career, he has GOT to learn to smile on camera!!!! Or really have any expression at all besides “grumpy teenager”. Which is probably why he seems to be heading towards direction or something else instead.

            On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 11:55 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. How is your search for a canine companion coming along? Why did you decide now is the right time for a doggy in your life? I went for about 15 years without a dog, and I was so happy when our life/work situation stabilized to the point when we could get another one. Her name is Bunny and she’s a medium sized mutt–she’s a rescue and as the cliche says, the question is, who rescued whom?

    @pramodsrkian posted this pic today–a Hugh Jackman, Vidya Balan, SRK sandwich–hope you’ll include this one if you ever do another TGIF sandwich post–cuz this one would be my top choice in all categories. 🙂

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    • I always kind of wanted a dog eventually, but not while I was living in a studio or while I didn’t feel confident that my financial situation etc. would be stable enough to let me commit to one. I decided it was time about a year ago, knock on wood and fingers crossed my job situation will stay stable (it’s looking good right now), and the blog had an effect too, if I am rushing home most evenings to catch up on blogging, it means I am going out less and spending less time with friends, and I was beginning to get a little lonely and stir crazy. Having a dog to sit next to me while I type, and nag me to go outside in the sunshine and walk 3 times a day, would be perfect. Anyway, I was planning a dog when I did this last apartment hunt, and then it was a matter of finishing moving in to the apartment and getting settled in my new life, and then just kind of feeling ready to start looking. Which is where I am now! Started seriously thinking and researching sometime in October, have been visiting shelters for the past few weeks.

      I’ll either completely fall in love with a dog, or just reach a point of being tired of looking and ready to be done and take home whatever dog more or less meets my restrictions (female, 4-8 years old, under 25 pounds, not a chihuahua).

      And yes to that photo! I think in the original sandwich post, I couldn’t resist and just did the whole video of the 3 of them dancing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your favorite Anupama Chopra is getting a lot of flak for her latest article. If you haven’t already checked it out, you may want to. 🙂

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    • I can’t find any information on this in my quick searches just using Anupama’s name. Can you steer me in the right direction in terms of content or something else I should be searching for?

      On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 10:41 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Well, that was a stupid article. Salman reinvented his star person back in 2009 when Wanted came out. And a little bit with Bajrangi Bhaijaan too. Anyway, the distance between his “Prem” and his “Tiger” is huge and he did Prem Ratan Dhan Payo just 2 years ago. The whole premise is flawed, Salman swings around just as much as any of the other top actors.

          Most of her other points are wrong too, Aamir has also reinvented himself. He started as a young lover lead in the same trashy young lover films as everyone else. He has had the same actor’s actor persona for several years now, but it’s not what he has been always, he had to do something new just like anyone else.

          And part of the disappointment with JHMS is because people wanted Shahrukh to do exactly what Salman is doing in Tiger, take his familiar persona and only slightly change it. People are applauding Salman for doing the same thing as always because it worked. They hated Shahrukh for doing the same thing as always because it didn’t. Or rather, it wasn’t the kind of same thing people wanted. The idea that Salman “gets away with” or “is forced to” do the same thing while Shahrukh isn’t doesn’t hold up. The public/media is fickle, both actors have been criticized or rewarded in equal measure for either doing something new, or not doing something new.

          And once again, I think Anupama is way way over-extending herself. Her early work, the stuff I like, was books that took her at least a year to research and write. Now she is probably trying to dash off content ASAP, had a half of a sort of good idea, and went ahead and posted it without thinking it through or even rereading it.

          On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 1:53 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Exactly. I did a post on this, didn’t I? Right, risk-reward in Hindi film. I pointed out that it is confirmation bias, you can create any trend you want if you pick and choose among the filmographies of the top stars, but it doesn’t hold up if you look at the every film they have done. Any time something comes out that is the same, the audience says “why do they keep doing the same thing?” Any time something comes out that is different, the audience says “for once they are taking a risk”. But if you add it up, there are just as many “risky” films in everyone’s filmography as “same” films, it’s just that people remember the “same” films.

            You could just as easily say “Bajrangi Bhaijan, Prem Rata Dhan Payo, Sultan, Tubelight, when will Salman try action roles?” or say “Ra.One, Don 2, Dilwale, Fan, Raees, Shahrukh is such a boring macho action hero! Why doesn’t he try some romance?” Or, “Dhobi Ghat, Delhi Belly, Talaash, Dil Dhadakne Do, Secret Superstar, will Aamir ever have another box office hit?”

            On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 2:49 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Just for this I love you, Margaret. 🙂 I wasn’t sure how you’d react, so thanks for being able to be objective. I’ll leave you with this comment on one of the forums. I think you’ll be able to get it. (this was a reaction to the general sentiment, “What is Anupama talking about?” as you have outlined above): “Kyunki AC bhi kabhi Fan thi.” 😀

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          • Her “fan” issues are, I think, why her Sholay book is so incredibly good because it was completely removed from her personal fandom. Besides being back in the era when she had editors and time and spent ages writing things, it was on a topic that she had no strange personal conflict about. Sure, it’s about Sholay being a great movie, but that’s not exactly a “fan” opinion. And she is able to be completely even handed as to the contributions made by all the artists, where they were in their careers, why they agreed to do this film, etc. etc., with objectivity.

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          • Thanks especially for calling out Anupama’s BS on Aamir. She’s not the only one, unfortunately. He’s pretty much got most of the audience and all the critics brainwashed. The funny thing is that I got into Bollywood after seeing Lagaan. So when I tried to learn more about him and his films, I kept running into article after article about how he is so difficult to work with, how he “interferes” a lot into the other technicians’ areas, etc. Now that same behavior is drooled over as “perfectionism”. I think the people using that term so freely don’t realize that psychologists actually consider that to be a drawback for a person. 🙂

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          • Yeah, I got into movies around the same time. I was going to DVD stores and watching whatever random thing was on the shelf. And the vast majority of his filmography was just terrible! Sarfarosh was good, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander was good, but he also did Ishq and Dil and plenty of other random things like that. It’s only since 2006 that he’s been considered this untouchable perfect guy instead of just another actor with the same hits and flops as everyone else, and the same strengths and weaknesses. I don’t mind that he is considered untouchable now, but it is really strange when people get this amnesia and pretend the whole first 15 years of his career didn’t happen.

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          • You know what else bugged me? And actually completely turned me off of Aamir? It was all the gushing (not only fans, but from media, too) about how Aamir always does something “innovative” and “path breaking”, with a list of suggested films. Well, I got all those films, and every single one of them was a copy (i.e., unauthorized remake) of Hollywood classic! What’s so “innovative” about that? Knowing where to steal the best stuff?

            And I also call BS on Aamir being a “great actor”, or, worse, “the greatest actor in India” (puke). He’s a good actor, sure, and has a few moments of brilliance in most films, but as I said before, he’s way too studied, and I don’t care for a performance where I can see the wheels turning behind it. Both Salman and SRK I consider better actors than him, because they both come off much more naturally, and make it seem effortless.

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          • The other thing about Shahrukh and Salman, and really all the top stars except for Aamir, is that they pick and choose when they will “act” as is appropriate for the film. Like, in Tiger, it wouldn’t have been right for the film or Salman’s character for him to have a huge emotional breakdown. So he played it very stoic the whole time, no obvious “acting” moments, because that is what the film required. In Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, he played it always sweet and innocent, because it was a fairy tale kind of a story, it wouldn’t have been right for him to be angry, or even really sad. But in Sultan, he played a bigger range because it was a more emotional kind of story.

            Whereas Aamir tends to gravitate towards films that will require him to do showy acting. And he works so little that he only makes those films. If Salman had only made Ek Tha Tiger, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, and Sultan in the past five years, which is about the rate at which Aamir has made films, he would be considered a “great actor” too. But he mixed in a whole bunch of other types of films too.

            On Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 8:36 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Thank you, Angie, for steering Margaret in the right direction. Remiss of me not to do so, but I thought she would check Anupama’s Twitter, where the article was linked.

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