More news!!!! Yaaaaaay! Lots of little things that are interesting to keep an eye on and see how they pan out. And of course Padmavat, the story that will never die.
Emraan’s New Movie
This is exciting! Another film from Ellipses and T-Series! I love this collaboration. An artist lead small and flexible banner getting funding from a cautious and experienced media company. And most of all, an INDIAN media company! One who really fully understands all the forces of how the Indian film industry works and how it is different from other industries.
The film also sounds like it is closely Indian in structure. And very similar to their last hit, Tumhari Sulu. A familiar name leading it surrounded by experienced but not famous actors, and most of all a story that is intriguing and relevant to the audience. The film is called “Cheat India” and it is being promoted as about education reform, specifically related to testing. That’s all we know so far, and I LOVE IT!!!!! Tests are such a huge part of Indian society, in a way that is fairly unique, and turning the light on that system and how it works and doesn’t work is a great idea for a film that will have a nice solid reach among the local audience.
(Also, I am excited to see Emraan in another one of his occasional films where he actually acts)
Ajay’s New Movie
Also exciting! Ajay and Tabu and Rakul Preet Singh are confirmed to be in a movie together, a rom-com, also produced by T-Series. And I am FINE WITH THAT. If T-Series wants to take the “deep pockets moneyman” role away from Reliance, Viacom 18, and Disney-UTV, more power to them!!!!! Because those other 3 are idiots. That is, they keep pouring money into obviously troubled productions. Whereas T-Series has been very very cautious in all their moves. Even when funding the boss’s wife’s films, they’ve been cautious, giving limited releases with small name stars.
Right, this movie! Sounds like it might be a love triangle with Ajay and Tabu and Rakul, which is a delightful idea! Rakul is being promoted as “a feisty and super confident urban girl”, so I think we can all agree that means “sexy and loose”? Especially since it is Rakul, who seems to specialize in “sexy and loose”. Which would make me uncomfortable if Tabu weren’t also in the cast and being promoted even more heavily. I am guessing either a Seven Year Itch kind of plot with Ajay and Tabu as a married couple, or Ajay as an aging bachelor torn between the age appropriate love interest and the other one. Which, great! An age appropriate romance is what we have all been calling for, plus a return of Tabu. And Rakul isn’t totally untalented, she is light and good with comedy and romance. Oh, and here’s my favorite part of the story! October 18th release date THIS YEAR. Finally, a small film being filmed, edited, and released all in the same year. None of this bigger and bigger and bigger nonsense until we are all tired of hearing about the movie and don’t even want to watch it any more.
(also, look how cute they were together back in the 90s!)
Mouni Roy Joins Brahmastra
Speaking of movies that go on and on until we are all tired of it, more news on the Ranbir-Alia-Ayan Mukherjee superhero film! A villain is cast, Mouni Roy, apparently a beloved and famous TV actress specializing in saintly roles. She will be playing older, and playing a villain, in this. This film, which now has a release date of Independence Day 2019. I remember when it first started shooting, 2 years ago. Meaning the release date will now be almost 4 years after filming started!!!!!!!
I suppose at some point in the distant future I will stop blaming Jagga Jasoos for everything, but this is not that day. IT’S ALL JAGGA JASOOS‘ FAULT!!!! Jagga‘s disaster messed up the filming dates for Sanju, and now Sanju is jockeying for position with Brahmastra, and everything is going to be late late late.
Okay, it’s a little not Jagga Jasoos‘ fault. This is also the biggest of the Big Movies. A trilogy, with massive special effects, that will take up all the time of one of the most promising young actors for the foreseeable future. The only way I won’t be mad at this film is if it turns out to all be a cover for Ayan and Ranbir’s mad passionate love by giving them an excuse to spend a solid decade in pre-production and post-production and so on.
(Aren’t they adorable together?)
Soorma, Veere Di Wedding, Pari, Aiyaari, Race 3, Sanju, and THREE Southern Films Jockey for Position
Let me see if I have this straight. Because Padmavat moved, Aiyaari moved two weeks out. Because Aiyaari moved, Pari (Anushka Sharma produced and starring thriller) moved. So now the late winter is Padmavat/Padman, then gap, then Aiyaari, then gap, then Pari.
Moving on to the late spring, everything is defined by Eid/Salman. Eid is Mid-June this year, so nothing wants to come out for two weeks before or after, since Salman and Race 3 are taking that date. A solid crowdpleasing franchise with the biggest Eid star, no one wants to be in that shadow.
So when Sanju ran over time again, it had to move all the way to two weeks out after Race 3, June 29th, if it couldn’t make May before Race 3. But June 29th was already the date Soorma was taking, Diljit Dosanjh’s sports biopic. So now that has to move somewhere, yet to be determined.
Meanwhile, Veere Di Wedding continues to hiccup it’s way to theaters, moving to the last open weekend before Eid, June 1. With a great poster and a lot of excitement, from me at least, I hope it does better than people are expecting and proves Sonam’s producing skills (again). Oh, and it is now coming out on Tusshar Kapoor’s son’s birthday, which is nice since Ekta is one of the producers.
(Sure I could have put in a picture of the Veere Di Wedding poster, but would you rather have that or Ekta and a baby?)
But all of this isn’t the big story, the big story is shaping up down south. And might be why all these Hindi films are jockeying for late winter and early summer and ignoring the spring. Coming April 27th are THREE major major major films that will be released in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.
Vishawaroopam 2 is potentially releasing on April 27th. Which has already been announced as the release date for Robot 2.0. AND for Saaho!!!!!! Certainly there’s plenty of audience for all 3, so long as nothing else releases in any of the 3 major film languages. My little local theater, for instance, can keep Veere Di Wedding on one screen and still give 1 and a quarter screens to each of the other 3. Although I would be a little nervous about Kamal and Rajni fans coming to blows in the lobby while Prabhas fans watch from the sidelines congratulating themselves on their divide and conquer strategy.
The real problem would be if any of the 3 films get one of those crazed distributors, like the ones who picked up Spyder and Agnathavasi, who tries to take very screen in the world plus renting out more. There just literally are not enough screens for that in existence, not 3 films at once. But then, that could be a good thing. Forcing all 3 films to lower the size of their release to manageable levels because nothing else is possible.
Censor Board Update
Well, the censors are still struggling! But the strange thing is, everyone seems mostly fine with them. I’m not seeing complaints about over censorship or anything like that. Which maybe is the problem, they are trying to actually do their jobs and realizing for the first time that they don’t have enough people or time to do the job as it is supposed to be done. I don’t think the new board has even had an appeal filed against them yet.
Especially with the last board chair, there were rumors of random stopping of films, ordering scenes cut on impulse, blackmailing filmmakers to include certain elements if they wanted a certificate (like a pro-Modi film attached to Dilwale). The thing is, with that obvious crazed corruption, it is very easy do your job. Just follow your gut and wildly approve or disapprove of films as you go along. Now, they are trying to actually watch, with a quorum of members, every film up for censorship and give reasoned requests.
(Or you could do what Rakesh Kumar did, board chair before Pahlaj Nihalani, and just sell certificates straight up)
Right now they are struggling to view and approve Vodka Diaries, which is supposed to be releasing this Friday. And Padman still hasn’t gotten it’s certificate, despite being submitted in late December last year. But like I said, no one seems that upset. This is the comment from the Vodka Diaries director from bollywoodhungama:
“We went to the censor last year. We will get our certificate this year,” jokes Shrivastava. “But no complaints. The CBFC has its compulsion. It is only doing its job.”
What I find most exciting is that the message coming from the Censor Board, consistently, has not been anti-film or anti-film industry, but rather anti-the whole idea of censorship. That this process is just too difficult, and mostly pointless. Rather than previous boards who have had a strong message of “the film industry is a cesspool of immorality and if only they made decent movies, we wouldn’t have to exist.” Here is the current leak from the board, criticizing not the films but rather the guidelines forced onto the board:
“What can we do. We are short-staffed and driven by guidelines that are obsolete,” says a helpless CBFC panel member.
(Rakesh Kumar, meanwhile, came in with interviews about how he was “shocked SHOCKED” when he went to see Shuddh Desi Romance with his little daughter and discovered sex in it, what has become of our morals, etc. etc. etc. So the damage wasn’t just selling the certificates, it was creating a narrative where the censor board “had” to be there as the gatekeepers of morality)
Oh and in terms of Padmavat, I still agree with all their censorship. By the way, if you saw the “300 Cuts!!!!” report a few days ago, I didn’t even bother to report it because it was so clearly false, going against statements by the people directly involved. It’s not 300 cuts, it’s 300 instances of geographic locations given that needed to be corrected. No stranger than “Running Shaadi.com” being changed to “Running Shaadi” with no “.com” at the last minute, for instance.
They also are making Padmavat add a new disclaimer clarifying that the place names such as “Delhi” do not refer to modern locations. I’m kind of okay with that, it’s another reminder of what is “history” what is “present” and what is “fiction”, 3 concepts that seem oddly blurred in public discourse in India today.