News Round-Up: Ranbir and Madhuri and John Abraham All Have Movies

News/trailers/posters round-up really.  There are some new movies talked about that we should all be aware of and give our opinions of, because I know we all LOVE giving opinions.

Ranbir Kapoor is Handed Things, Part the 500th

I’m sticking with my baseline of “nepotism is how the industry functions, and not inherently evil”.  But I recently added on to it the “problem of the 3rd film” and the “problem of concentrated power”.  The “3rd Film” problem being that you are offered not just your launch movie, and your follow up movie building on the launch, but then a 3rd movie which could go perfectly well to any actor, and yet force of habit and conditioning means it is offered to you.  And the “concentrated power” problem being that only two studios essentially run the industry now (Dharma and YRF) and those two studios are only pulling from the very small pool of talent they like to work with, as though they were still tiny little storefront shops, instead of branching out.

And that brings us to this RIDICULOUS announcement.  Ranbir Kapoor, in a massive big budget action movie produced by Yash Raj.  Ranbir, who has not had a solid hit to his name in FIVE YEARS!!!!!!!!  Whose last big budget film (Jagga Jasoos) was such a disaster it KILLED A WHOLE STUDIO (Disney India, RIP).  And that’s after he also headlined Bombay Velvet, biggest flop in the history of Hindi film.

I’m not saying Ranbir isn’t a talented charismatic actor.  But this particular film is both too much and not enough for him.  Too much, because it is a whole lot of money to bet on a very unreliable horse.  And not enough because Ranbir shines in introspective character parts, and this looks like a big swashbuckling action thing.


YRF could have cast any other young actor in this role.  Ranveer Singh, their in house hero, would be more acceptable.  At least he has action credentials.  Sushant Singh Rajput, same, Raabta may have failed but it did give him action training.  Or bring in some new face to headline it, Jim Sarbh, Vikrant Massey, someone with experience enough to lead a big film but still hungry for fame and willing to do whatever it takes to get it.

The only reason to use Ranbir is that “3rd film” issue, giving him the movie because you never think to look outside the usual list.  And the “concentration of power” issue, Dharma and YRF are now BOTH working on a big action film with Ranbir in the lead for no particular reason beyond them knowing Ranbir well.  And that’s in addition to Karan Malhotra, a Dharma discovery and trainee, now working at YRF.  The two studios are getting way to incestuous, it’s not good for the industry as a whole, and it’s also not good for the two of them.  They need to either officially merge, or come up with more distinctive flavors.


Madhuri Gets Exactly What She Deserves

Now, this is the alternative side of things, a film that truly could only have this particular lead and she is getting a well-deserved chance.  Madhuri, in Bucket List in Marathi.  A film built around a strong central female character played by a strong actress/star.

Madhuri has struggled with her “comeback”, Aaja Nachle was great but failed to connect, Gulab Gang after a long break also failed, and now she is trying something completely different, instead of a larger than life character she is playing a very human level one, in a very human level industry, the small Marathi language industry instead of the big Hindi one.

I should clarify, Marathi films have a heritage that goes back almost as long as Hindi films (like, within a few years of the first Hindi film, the first Marathi one came out).  It has had ebbs and flows like all the industries, but there is a distinctive artistic tradition it is drawing from, one that goes back to Marathi stage plays, a kind of earthy character based humor and social commentary.  And right now, Marathi film is on its way up.  Partly because Hindi film has gotten so dull and repetitive lately (see above comments).

But that very excitement in Marathi films is also a sign of how small they are, because small also means flexible.  And experimental.  And different.  There isn’t a set formula for success, so they are still trying different things in a way that Hindi film seems to have forgotten how to do, at least when they are handed a big star.  They get scared and cautious, or try to go over the top and be too big.

But this movie, this is just right.  Human-sized, not “epic”, but also not afraid to leave the rough edges in place and trust it’s lead not just as a Star, but as an actress, to find the heart of the character.

The plot seems simple, if I am understanding it, Madhuri received a heart transplant from a young woman.  And she takes it upon herself to finish the young woman’s “bucket list” of things she wanted to do before she died.  But it’s not treated in a saccherine fashion, there are jokes about Madhuri’s mother-in-law disapproving of what she is doing, the young woman’s dreams aren’t all perfect and angellic, and most of all it struggles with the question of what Madhuri’s character (a middle-aged housewife) might also want from her Bucket List.

Oh, and can we all take a moment to admire the complete perfection of Madhuri’s eyebrow arch?


John is Proved Right (also me)

Remember when this story first broke, a dispute between John Abraham and KriArj films?  And KriArj tried to spin it as John being a stupid “unprofessional” artist who didn’t know what he was doing and didn’t understand high finance?  And I said that was idiotic since John had already produced two movies under his own label and KriArj had only been around for a couple of years, and besides the people running KriArj had even less credentials than John, they just looked right (western style suits, and so on)?

Welp, John was right and I was right to say he was right.  He filed all his papers with the court, showing delay of payment and so on, and Prernaa Arora has been called to give an account of things.  And Prernaa is still trying to play the press, claiming it is all false and so on, but is clearly scrambling (more details here).

I just finished the Sanju bio, and this is reminding me quite a bit of the gangsters coming in during the 90s.  The corporate types are the new gangsters, using threats and outside connections to try to keep the film industry in line.  And the film industry has to choose if they are willing to take the money and bow down to the threats, or try to stand on their own.  So far there’s been a mixture, plenty of smaller studios opting for the “take the money and run” approach of scamming the corporate backers and delivering flop movies at exorbitant rates.  And then larger studios like YRF and Dharma are hedging their bets and being very careful in only taking a little money from outside partners in order to maintain their independence without seeming to be a threat.

Image result for yrf logo

(YRF: quietly becoming one of the largest fully privately owned business in India.  No outside stock sales, no foreign ownership, still owned outright by the same family that founded it.  At least, until casting the same 12 people in every movie kills their profits)

But now the corporations have crossed a line, trying to actual take films from filmmakers with empty threats and dead promises.  John is taking a stand, and I’ll be interest in seeing if the corporate groups are scared enough to just gently fade away, or if they come back stronger than ever in response.  Not KriArj, that seems like it might be dead any minute, but the other ones that have proliferated seeing a quick scam in taking money from multinationals and keeping it from the film studios, if other filmmakers will follow John’s lead in suing for false promises and taking their films back, and if the corporate partners will follow through on their threats of using contracts to kill films in response, just like the gangsters used to threaten to kill the children of those who stood against them.

21 thoughts on “News Round-Up: Ranbir and Madhuri and John Abraham All Have Movies

  1. Is this some Robinhood type movie ? :/ Ranbir doesn’t really do well in action, I think they’re trying to build him up on it with this and Brahmasthra. I think Tiger and Ranveer are giving all the younger guys some anxiety


    • Brahmastra I could tentatively accept, just because it was an Ayan Mukherjee movie, and he really “gets” Ranbir. But this? Why?

      Anyway, haven’t we learned from experience that only Akshay Kumar can mix genres? Otherwise stars have to stick in their lanes, if you are action you do action and if you are romance you do romance. Or at least, you don’t try to do a big budget movie outside of your genre.

      Unless Ranbir is trying a Salman-like total reinvention of himself, which seems a bit extreme. But I would also find it kind of hilarious if he went straight from playing sensitive manboys in love to exclusively touch action heroes.

      On Mon, May 7, 2018 at 3:22 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • I agree that actors like Ranbir are desperately trying to get that big impact hit because Ranveer is stealing everybody’s thunder! IThere are so many copycat hero moves out there…including my main man Arjun doing Panipat. I still have a lot of faith in Ranbir as an actor who can do pretty much everything. I thought he was brilliant in Bombay Velvet…that kind of moody action Al Pacino action hero just didn’t click with the Hindi film audience. I do think this film and the Dharma trilogy thing are really big gambles but I actually don’t blame the producers/studios for casting him. He is Bollywood royalty, has a huge amount of celebrity, and he has had many compelling screen performances (and is well-respected acting-wise by his peers).

      Many actors before Ranbir have had numerous flops that didn’t really stop their stars from rising…just little hiccups along the way. It is the safety net of the filmi fraternity and it sucks that newcomers don’t get more chances, but I don’t think it will ever change.


      • I’d let it go, except people are betting so much money on him!!!! If his Dharma trilogy fails, then the whole studio could come down, and this movie for YRF might be similar based on the EPICNESS of the poster. I don’t mind him being cast for ADHM and stuff like that, but don’t you want someone more reliable for a big film like this?

        On Mon, May 7, 2018 at 8:56 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



        • I think Dharma can survive an epic fail but I do worry more about YRF. Maybe if one of these fails a merger will happen to save them both!

          I guess I just don’t know what is reliable casting anymore. I would have thought that Hritihk in an epic Gowarikar film would have been phenomenal but Mohenjo Daro was god awful. And Varun in a sensitive role with a great director also seemed like a good idea but October kind of flopped. The only reliable casting for this Ranbir YRF film would have been Ranveer or even Hrithik (since Karan Malhotra knows how to direct him!). I agree I would totally like to see Rakumar Rao, Vikrant Massey, or Vicky Kaushal get a shot at a film like this (even SSR or Sid would have been preferable in some ways). Still I’m going to reserve judgment and see what we get. It does have a weird Abhishek in Drona kind of feel that worries me:)


          • Did you watch Drona? I didn’t, and I have a kind of sick curiosity about it.

            On Mon, May 7, 2018 at 9:53 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • I did try watching Drona once and I couldn’t finish it (as much as I love Abhishek in a headband!). It was pretty bad.


  2. My thoughts when I saw the poster of this new Ranbir movie: “Oh, wait is it the same movie that have Madhuri and Sanjay? Or different? The poster looks the same, but I’m not sure. Ah, it can’t be the same because it says it’s yrf, and the other must be Karan’s because there is Alia in it.”


    • Yep!

      I tossed off that “maybe they should merge” but now I am thinking more and more that is what they should do. They both started out as individual director labels, and that was fine so those directors could have total creative control, but now they are these huge studios and there is really no reason for there to be two of them. They are already (clearly) coordinating releases and sharing ideas and so on, just make it official. Have Dharma be the creative wing that nurtures talent, and have YRF be the huge slow moving studio that takes that talent and molds it into profits. They can keep their same offices and stuff, but it would prevent silly things like releasing first looks of identical movies within weeks of each other.

      On Mon, May 7, 2018 at 3:52 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. While we are at it did you see announcement of kjo new kargil movie based on captain vikram batra.

    Why is he trying to project alia /sid as patriotic etc. Does he want to become closer to bjp after adhm controversy.

    I have a bad feeling for raazi/this film. Will meghna gulzar be allowed to make her presence felt or will kjo over show alia


      • But which film of his was a hit. Aiyaari flopped big time. And gentlemen was a big Big disaster.

        I feel raazi would be a hit due to its content but hopefully it will not have kjo stamp.


  4. I’m excited about Shamshera.Especially since it’s been a long time since we had a genuine dacoit film.And I’ve just watched Sunil Dutt’s Mujhe Jeene do, which is the mother of all dacoit films and got approval of the (reformed)dacoits of Chambal.Either Ranbir or Ranveer can do a bang up job.But SSR nope.Too sissy.As for Vikrant Massey or Vicky Kaushal- they’re at the moment small fry for even being considered.Rajkummar Rao is considered too arthouse.They needed a big name star and Hrithik looks too foreign for the part.

    Just check out the following song from Mujhe Jeene do.Sunil Dutt plays the proper anti-hero as he leers at Waheeda who’s just so beautifully sensuous.


    • I wish we had more cast info, I feel like something as simple as knowing who is cast as the heroine, or best friend, or mentor, will give us a sense of what kind of Dacoit film this will be.

      On Tue, May 8, 2018 at 9:56 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  5. I’m so excited to see Bucket List. It looks like it has major tear jerker potential though. I hope it’s more of a wry situational comedy with commentary on the ephemeral nature of life, rather than a beat you over the head melodrama on the ephemeral nature of life with the occasional comedic lift.


    • Worst case scenario: Madhuri turns out to be dying at the end, rejecting the heart, and passes her Bucket List on to her daughter to complete.

      On Tue, May 8, 2018 at 12:47 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Worst case scenarion: Daughter dies unexpectedly and Madhuri feels guilty for taking up daughter’s last months helping her finish the heart donor’s bucket list instead of helping her daughter complete hers. Madhuri ends up a demented figure joylessly completing two dead people’s bucket lists. Too dark?


        • And then mother-in-law turns out to have been poisoning Madhuri all along, thus causing the need for the heart transplant, and accidentally causing death of daughter, Madhuri realizes that her life was never her own, belonging always to others around her and her own desires are meaningless, and kills herself. Her mother-in-law find and burns her bucket list on her funeral pyre.

          NOW it’s too dark.

          On Tue, May 8, 2018 at 12:57 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • Oooh, OR Madhuri could go full Anjaam on the mother-in-law, husband, and patriarchal society at large. Your suicide version is darker; this one would be kinda fun.


          • Really awesome movie, the spirit of the teenage girl who donated the heart was a secret avenger, Madhuri starts just finishing the simple sweet Bucket List, but it turns out that it is possessing her and she starts waking up with mysterious bruises and so on, until she realizes HER OWN MOTHER-IN-LAW is the nemesis of the dead secret superhero heart donor, and Madhuri ends up defeating her own mother-in-law in hand to hand combat.

            On Tue, May 8, 2018 at 2:43 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


            Liked by 1 person

          • Love it. Then Madhuri burns the Bucket List and there is an emotional good-bye between her and the secret superhero heart donor’s spirit a la Om Shanti Om. But Madhuri has secretly kept secret superhero’s mask, and has had another one made for her daughter. Mother-daughter secret avenger sequel!


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