Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Reading and Watching and Thinking and Listening to This Week?

Happy Wednesday! This is the place to talk about how we are spending this very very snowy week. Or at least, snowy where I am.

I’ll start!!!

Reading: I started the Shashi Kapoor bio and so far he is just as decent and kind and wonderful as we all thought. And also, very very handsome. Sharmila Tagore had to ask the director to make him leave the set when he visited Kashmir Ki Kali because she couldn’t concentrate on acting when she could see his face. Oh, and I also stumbled across this article that is vaguely related to Gully Boy and I thought it was interesting: https://thewire.in/caste/art-music-rap-caste-divine-raja-kumari

Watching: I have been such an industrious movie watcher lately! The massive snowstorms helped, I was snowed in all day Saturday. Well, “snowed in”, I could have gone out, it just would have been very hard and unpleasant. Anyway, I now have a whole other Malayalam film finished for next week, plus a Telugu film for tomorrow, plus A Death in the Gunj. And besides Indian movies, Midsommer Murders. I’ve already seen them all, but that almost makes them better background watching. Oh, and the new season of Grace and Frankie.

Thinking: Would I rather wear lots and lots of layers and a light coat, or my freakishly heavy coat and normal clothes underneath? It’s supposed to drop to around 0 degrees again tomorrow, so a plan is needed.

Listening: Divine songs! So, yaaay for the Gully Boy movie, it achieved a good thing already by bringing stupid head in the sand people like me who only pay attention to big new Hindi films in as a new audience for Divine.

Now, question for you (partly inspired by Maria Gill who is in this situation)! Were you to be snowbound, what movies would you binge watch out of all Indian film? 

I think, were I to be snowbound, I would binge on Shammi Kapoor movies. Because I have seen so few of them, and they all seem like the kind of happy silliness that I wouldn’t get tired of quickly.

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41 thoughts on “Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Reading and Watching and Thinking and Listening to This Week?

  1. Swap your snow for the 45 degrees Celsius we are heading for tomorrow (that’s about 113F). We had 43 today and we had to go out in it, Thank goodness for good aircon in the car. I’m so over summer…

    Watching – recently, Andhadhun (excellent – add it to my vote for best 2018 movies), a Bangladeshi movie An Orange Boat (or Komola Rocket) on Netflix, Baazaar also on Netflix. And I’m working my way through Little Things.

    I have started to check the windfall DVDs to see whether the ones that say they have subtitles actually do have subs. Some do, some don’t. Some are really bad quality video. The awards night videos look as though they have been recorded from the TV. There is an original boxed DVD of Paheli which is great because my original copy seizes up half way through. So yay! A replacement.

    Thinking – bring on Friday’s cool change ( which will be around 35 C).

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    • I am on my 3rd Paheli DVD. I think there most have been a flaw in the manufacturer, I have never had so many problems with a DVD before.

      Bazaar! You can vote on today’s poll as to whether Chitrangda Sinha deserves the award for “best performance in a badly written role”.

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  2. Got to see Stree and it was just OK. I was expecting more. I liked Rajkumar Rao (he runs really funny in that opening scene though!) and loved Pankaj Tripathi. I actually found Aparshakti Khurana grating in this and in his other film I saw recently, Rajma Chawal (nepotism doesn’t always work out…though he seems to be getting decent films). I didn’t think the feminist message of this film was all that intentional and it was simplistic at best, and I found the scene where Rajkumar strips down to placate the ghost very problematic. The best part of the film was how I could try to overlay a Buffy narrative over it. And, maybe I’m stupid, but I didn’t quite get the ending.

    I don’t think you’ve done a KWK for Abhishek and Shweta, yet? One of my favorites of the year because they all felt so comfortable together and Abhishek continues to be one of the funniest guys in Bollywood.

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    • I like your idea of a snowy Shammi Kapoor binge. I think I’ve only seen Junnglee of his and it has that great snow scene. Oh and I’ve seen An Evening in Paris…another fun one. I’m pretty certain already that he’s my favorite of that generation. Next time I’m snowed in, I’ll finally watch The Professor, one I’ve been meaning to watch. He’s kind of like a cross between Elvis and Jerry Lewis, with a little Rock Hudson thrown in.

      Liked by 1 person

    • If you are stupid, I am too, because I also don’t get the ending. There is supposed to be a sequel, so I guess we aren’t supposed to “get” the ending and be willing to come see the sequel to find the answers. But that’s a gutsy gamble, that you will actually get to make your sequel and give us the answers instead of just ending at this open point and leaving everyone confused.

      I’ve lost the KWK eagerness and I think other people have as well, I was getting “when is it going up? When is it going up?” comments over and over for the first episodes, and now that we are in the middle of the season, it feels more “eh”. But you say it is fun and you would like a review, so yes! I’ll do it! Sometime.

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  3. This week (and for the last 4 weeks), I have been watching an old Malayalam movie called Gajakesariyogam. A true feel good movie in every sense AND it features an elephant. What I love about the story is that nothing crazy happens. A mahout wants to own an elephant – he loves them to the core. He gets a (circus) elephant, but the elephant doesn’t understand him because the elephant only understands Hindi! A love story between a man and his family, and an elephant in every sense of the word. Watch it – it’s one of those movies where literally nothing happens, nice people are nice people, and you also fall in love with an elephant!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I watched Raabta for the discussion on Sunday and then Veer-Zaara over the last few nights as my daughter did homework on the couch–she was kind of in and out of the story. I hadn’t watched it since way back when I was first getting into Shah Rukh (other than Lohri, which I watch on a regular basis–just love that song!) It is paced soooooooo slow! I’d forgotten how nice the scenes are when he’s eating the food that Rani’s mom made for him, and the scene between Shah Rukh and Kirron is just so over the top and awesome. I’d love to see the making of that scene-how do they turn intensity like that off again? Daughter and I had a fun discussion of how it can be so cheesy (the old people makeup is just so awful) yet so emotionally satisfying. It’s a mystery.

    We have binge watched Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and LOVED it. Even though they didn’t follow plots from the books (as far as I remember) they got a lot right about Douglas Adams’ humor and take on life (the universe and everything). I’m sad there were only two seasons because Shah Rukh and the producer were going back and forth on Twitter about Shah Rukh doing a guest appearance. Ah well…

    I tried watching Sacred Games again, just skipping the first episode. I’m finding it more interesting this time, mostly because of the supporting cast–Saif’s boss and underling (and the underling’s sassy wife)–and Nawaz’s gang–especially the woman who runs the restaurant. She is a total badass. I had a question–the sex they are showing so far is kind of ugly–lot’s of thrusting with very little indication of anything that would be pleasurable for a woman. Is that a comment on the toxic masculinity of the characters, or is that what the makers think the audience wants to see? I can’t decide if it’s just gratuitous and gross or there for a narrative purpose.

    Reading: just lots of work stuff. Listened to a thriller by Tana French, hoping I’d get into her books, but it didn’t really do it for me. I might re-listen to Ian Rankin’s Rebus books, which I adore.

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    • I haven’t read the Dirk Gently books so I am avoiding the series in my “it’s not right to watch it without reading the book first!” policy, but you are tempting me to break the rules.

      Good question about Sacred Games! I can tell you that Bhavesh Joshi (by the director of the present day sections) has a funny sweet and soft love scene. Nothing explicitly shown, but a couple laughing and mutually falling in to bed. But then, the present day section doesn’t have a sex scene, does it? Or am I forgetting something?

      Anurag, I’ve only seen a couple movies by him and both of them had sex that was kind of joyless. Manmarziyaan managed to put more softness and sweetness in Abhishek and Taapsee looking at each other in bed than in any sex scene. But then, that was on purpose, the sex scenes were supposed to be kind of shallow.

      So, I don’t know! I could go either way, that the makers think this is “shocking” and “real”, or that they are trying to convey something with the characters.

      On Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 3:10 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Hmm, I think the Dirk Gently books and series might be different enough not to count as cheating. Like home made macaroni and cheese and Kraft dinner, or home made vs instant mashed potatoes. Elijah Wood (the straight man to Dirk Gently) gets to do way more real acting than he did in Lord of the Rings. There are two well-rounded, satisfying main women characters, and a holistic assassin with sidekick which correspond to Dirk’s holistic detective with sidekick.

        Re: Sacred Games there are a couple of cute scenes between the chubby cop and his wife in the present day so far, otherwise all in the past.

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        • There’s a past sex scene with Nawazuddin which is supposed to be with a woman he “loves”, or at least cares about, and vice versa. And it is just as quick and explicit and gross as the others. Which either means Nawazuddin’s character and the world he lives in cannot picture sex any other way, or means Anurag as a filmmaker cannot picture it any other way.

          On Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 3:35 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Ok, watched a couple more episodes last night, so the sex stuff is making more narrative sense. Also, having decided not to watch the first episode I forgot about Nawaz’s messed up mommy issues. Still pretty bleak, but makes more sense.

            I’m also so pissed they killed off my favorite secondary character, and enjoying Neeraj Kabi a lot. Ever since Bomkyesh Bakshi I’ve been a fan. Even liked him in Hichki where he was stuck with a pretty 2 dimensional role.

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          • This was my big problem with the series, and I think is just a function of trying to turn a novel into a Netflix series with multiple seasons. They introduce and spend a lot of time on characters who end up being for one season only. It’s a bloodbath, and then next season they will be introducing all these other new characters for one season only and so on. I would rather have fewer characters all of which last the whole time than this large cast where they only get a one season commitment for most of them. And I can picture in the novel how these characters would either only get one chapter on them and then be done, or else would pop up here and there for a few scenes through out the book. But you can’t do just one episode for an actor so they have to stretch that one chapter all out. And you can’t have an actor commit to two scenes a season for who knows how long, so they combine all those bits and get them over with.

            On Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 6:33 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Last week I saw two movies I was waiting to see for some time:
    Padi Padi Leche Manasu – Sai Pallavi’s newest film. It has beautiful moments, and some bad moments, good and bad things, but Sai was awesome as always, and that’s why I can’t dislike it. This film also highlights that telugu filmakers can’t make 3 hours long movies. They should write 1,5 hour long scripts. Here right before the interval the story was concluded for me and I was wondering – why we can’t end it here? What they are going to show me in the remaining hour? And the answer is: a lot of unneccesary and dull stuff.

    Namaste England – the story is a little stupid, but it’s not as bad as people say and Arjun is hot and a sweetheart.
    I read some reviews on imdb and many of them are like: I only saw 10 minutes, but it’s terrible and the worst movie in my life. How you can rate a movie you haven’t seen? I would say: if you’re not Arjun fan – skip it! but if you are – watch it for his his large arms, and because he is sexy.

    I also finished Savyasachi after weeks of trying. The first half – now that’s what I call bad movie. There wasn’t even one good scene or one good actor. Maddy changes everything in the second half. I wish the movie was only about him.

    Reading: blogs about indian food. This week I already made: red lentil dal, aloo gobi and had roti for dinner today. I think my body needs a huge dose of turmeric or something.

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    • This is heartening news, I can watch Sai’s new movie and just fast forward from interval to end-end. Which is kind of how I felt about Fidaa too. Lots of lovely moments, but really it is the same conflict from interval to conclusion without much movement.

      I hate the “I watched — minutes and turned it off, terrible movie” comments!!!! That’s what really killed me with JHMS, you had people giving up on it based on posters, not giving it even ten minutes. Of course, I am all ready to hate Manikarnika with a mad passion this Friday based on the posters and trailers. But I like to think I would be open-minded enough to change my opinion after watching it. And I am actually planning to watch it.

      Jealous of your food! Except, I don’t want to cook it for myself, I want you to cook it for me. Food is no fun when I have to make it myself, I need someone else to give it to me.

      On Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 4:07 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I wish I had somebody who would cook indian for me. The nearest indian restaurant is 50 km from here, and the next one in Palermo (250 km), so if I want indian I must cook it.

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        • The nearest Indian restaurant is at the end of my block. I’m ordering from them tonight!

          On Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 4:13 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. If you haven’t seen it, Merchant Ivory’s movie, Shakespeare-Wallah, would be a good companion to your Shashi Kapoor bio. It stars Shashi and his in-laws, with an uncredited appearance by his wife, Jennifer. She plays the blond lady owner of the hotel, Glenoaks. And Shashi has to romance his sister-in-law, all under the eyes of her real life parents. The movie is on Amazon Prime but does cost $3.99 to rent.

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    • I just finished the chapter on it! And on all the other Merchant-Ivory movies. I’m a little more tempted by Bombay Talkies, but I should really watch at least one of them.

      On Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 4:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. I posted here a while ago about how I saw Praktan, the Bengali movie about a divorced couple who meet years later on a train, and I hated it because it was all the woman’s fault and the main couple basically scream their way through half the film. Hating Praktan was how I found Jatugriha, and I can’t believe that in 10 years of Uttam Kumar fandom I hadn’t heard of it. It’s so unusual for the time, and such a gem. It was produced by Uttam as well as starring him. It’s about a couple who are getting a divorce because she is infertile, but she is not blamed for the divorce–it’s the problems in communication with how they both handle it. Also, children are not presented as a magic bullet. The main couple’s friends are another couple who hate each other and fight all the time, but can’t divorce because of their son. The other foil for the couple is Uttam’s clerk, who is poor but has a happy family with two kids, but during the movie he has a moment of despair when his wife becomes pregnant again.

    It’s not, as you may have guessed, a super happy film, but I didn’t find it terribly bleak either. Both members of the main couple are sympathetic characters. Also, the artistry of the film as a whole was amazing. Uttam’s wife is played by Arundhati Debi, whom I’ve never seen before but she was wonderful in a really understated role. The film goes for realism to a great degree. Arundhati is not glamorous and is age appropriate for Uttam (both around 40), and they live in a regular apartment. It’s also interesting for the depiction of the minutiae of life in Kolkata in the 1960s–lots of gorgeous scenes of the city, and the film depicts the inside of the poor clerk’s bathroom, which is something I’ve never seen in an Indian movie. The visual symbolism is also interesting. Uttam and Arundhati’s apartment overlooks a nightclub, so overheard cheerful music is the background for all their scenes of silence and awkwardness. The last we see of their friends the dysfunctional couple is shot on a staircase from above, so the couple are circling further and further down into their endless argument.

    It’s amazingly modern for 1964! I found out when researching it that Uttam made two other films with Arundhati and the same director (who was her husband) so my mission is to find them as well.

    After that I wanted something light, so got a bit further into Little Things. It’s growing on me.

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    • This sounds fascinating!!!! Have you seen Abhimaan? That’s the only film I compare it to, in terms of how issues around fertility and pregnancy affect a marriage in unexpected ways. Totally different otherwise, but the same awareness that a marriage can crumble simply because the couple doesn’t talk about the feelings around children.

      I also really really want to know how it ends. Are you willing to spoil it? Do Uttam and his wife find a way to talk things out and stay together regardless?

      On Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 8:55 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Wow, except for the train this is completely different. I wonder which is more like the original novel?

        Yes, I also loved Abhiman. (I swear I don’t hate marriage, divorce just makes such a good plot point for mature emotions).

        Don’t mind spoiling it; here we go:

        SPOILER FOR JATUGRIHA

        So, they get divorced and go their separate ways. Seven years pass, and Uttam is away at an archeological dig (I think), and heading to a railway station to wait for his train home to Kolkata. He enters the first class waiting room and there in the corner is Arundhati, quietly reading. She’s going in the opposite direction, to the town where she now teaches school. They begin talking. She fusses over him and gets food and serves him. They talk and laugh like in the old days. They both ask indirectly about a spouse. Neither has married again.

        Their faces get tighter as the minutes tick away. Finally it’s time for them to get on their separate trains. Uttam settles in his seat and raises the window for a last look at her. He finds her just opposite, leaning out the window for the same reason. They confess they both have feelings. They could start again, Uttam says. She can come back to him any time. No, she says as her train begins to pull away. The same thing would happen again. No matter how they love each other, they can’t be together.

        The camera focuses for a minute on Uttam’s stricken face before a last shot from above of the two trains, heading in opposite directions.

        TLDR: No, they don’t get back together.

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        • And this is why I don’t watch Bengali movies!!!!!!!! I like nice clean resolutions to my stories. But wow, what bravery to use that ending! Not just forbidding a happy ending to the audience, but forbidding a cleanly tragic one as well. Making them both still single and unhappy and in love with each other, and yet not together is so much more painful than the Hindi version where she has remarried.

          On Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 6:01 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I’ll have to look up the Hindi one also. The ending really sounds like Praktan. (Just going to haul off and completely spoil Praktan). Rituparna and Prosenjit have had their discussion of the marriage and determined that, even though all of their problems were caused by the fact that he was a huge tool and would not accept that she makes more money, the end of the marriage was her fault for not compromising. The journey ends and they get off the train. And here comes Saswata Chattopadhyay! (Bob Biswas in Kahaani). He is Rituparna’s new husband, not as handsome as Prosenjit, but he lights up when he looks at her and clearly adores her. And they walk off hand in hand, but she’s looking back at Prosenjit! Which might be a good way to show that we regret our past loves even when we find a new one, etc., etc., except that we’ve just spent the last two hours mentally telling Rituparna, “Girl, go. Just go back to Mumbai.” It’s unbelievable that getting rid of Prosenjit wasn’t a huge relief.

            Ugh, honestly, I’m going to be salty about that movie forever.

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          • Kabhi Kabhi is that for me. I can only watch it if I assume the director’s intent was to show Amitabh as that terrible poet college boyfriend that you outgrow and come to kind of pity later on.

            On Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 8:18 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. I watched
    1. Padi Padi Leche Manasu – same feeling as Angie. If the director had watched the second half even once before releasing,I think he would have felt compelled to make some adjustments to make it a better,less stupid, confusing movie. The setting, music, costumes, performances are all so good but all just wasted for lack of a story. Felt like the director was trying a Mani Ratnam style but with no core to make something good or interesting out of it. Sharwanand is hot and SaiPallavi is adorable.That the lead actors can make even stupid,silly characters seem alive is a credit to their skills.
    2.Vada Chennai- I had heard so much about this movie and director Vetrimaaran and wanted to see what the fuss was about.lt started off slow and with way too many characters to keep track of but as the story progresses became really gripping. I don’t think it’s easy to make each of the innumerable characters make a mark and be a peg in the story but kudos to the writing, it does.The female characters in gangster stories are usually in the background but not in this movie. Dhanush is wonderful as usual and I am dying to see what happens in the sequel that is being promised.
    3.Seethakathi-again very very slow to start. It was promoted as Vijay Sethupathy’s film but he’s there only for first 40 minutes.The rest of the movie is carried forward by the idea of his character-a great old theater artist- whose soul comes back to act in movies after his death-YUP-crazy idea. It’s also a commentary about the commercialisation of art,the current state of acting and movies in Tamil and dying art forms like theatres.Theres a 10 min long drama scene enacted in the beginning that shows how the live performances in drama can never go for a cut or a second shot. It’s not a rousing watch but good one time watch.
    Phew,that’s a lot.

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    • Vada Chennai! That’s the one by the director who is going to be working with Manju Warrier and Dhanush in his next! Sounds like I am right to be excited about it.

      Okay, now I have two votes for “watch the first half and fast-forward the second” for Sai’s movie.

      On Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 10:55 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Watched petta…finally satisfied with a Rajni film.. I thought the Vintage Rajni is gone forever after watching his weak body language in recent films. but Karthik Subbaraj brought him back and Rajni is as energetic as ever.. Both Vijay Sethupathy and Nawazzuddin Siddiqui paled beside him.If you want to experience a real Rajnikanth mass film, don’t miss this in theatres..

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    • That’s good to hear!!!! I was torn between Petta, the NTR film, and the Malayalam movie last weekend. I picked Malayalam and I don’t regret it, but maybe if I have time this weekend I will check out Petta.

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  10. Awaiting for the time when I can see ELKDTA in theatres! The soundtrack seemed ok and pretty at first, but with the release of Good Morning its pretty much have to see and have list in music. It’s such a change from the usual flair by mere presentation, aching more to musicals than anything else. It’s just happy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Luka chuppi trailer is out and I LOVE IT. It’s like mix of Bareilly ki Barfi and other good funny movies together. + there’s “unofficial” wedding scene also. And the trailer is new but it already has subtitles! Another reason to like it.

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  12. MPK told me to read this interview with Karan Johar, and I tried but couldn’t finish. But you Margaret are a fan so maybe you’ll like it.
    He talks about a lot of things but also about how ADHM was a perfect movie and that he punished Anushka’s character because she didn’t love Ranbir (who in Karan eyes was perfect and should be loved). Basically he is telling that if somebody love you you have no choice but love him, otherwise you deserve to die. What a nice way of thinking in the country with one of the highest number of acid attacks and other ugly stuff done to woman. I thought I can’t dislike Karan more, but he proved me wrong.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/karan-johar-on-bollywood-sucking-up-to-modi-metoo-and-heartbreak_in_5c486af9e4b025aa26bec75a?utm_hp_ref=in-karan-johar

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the link! This was actually the quote I found most interesting, ” When the stakes are high, we leverage that excitement and sometimes the stakes are not high, so you take new talent. ”

      That’s what I’ve been trying to put my finger on with the “nepotism” debate. When you need a good release, one of the elements that can give you an edge is taking on a star kid who has a lot of buzz around them. When the stakes aren’t high (Vicky’s role in Raazi, Kiara in Lust Stories), that’s when you try new talent. It’s a basic business decision a lot of the time, and it’s why you see the same directors taking both star kids and outsiders, depending on the project.

      I am pretty sure he was joking about ADHM. I think he even says “I joke”. It didn’t come through well on the page, but his initial answer of “yes, sure, she didn’t love him back so she had to die” was a joke. I think it was the later answer where he said “I was like there’s no end to this film because there’s no way she could love him back …that would’ve been a cop out.” That’s the same problem I see when I think about the film, if you didn’t kill her than there would always be the possibility in the minds of the audience that she could love him back. It had to be a closed door for the story to work.

      It’s the opening section that I found most interesting, really pushing to get him to acknowledge his guilt in giving an implied approval to the BJP government. I can see what he isn’t saying too, that they (as an industry) had leverage at this moment because the BJP wanted the endorsement, so they could finally get the things they desperately needed passed through. But it really deserves a better answer than he gives, and I don’t know if there is a good answer, especially considering that the major Muslim names of the industry were not part of the lobbying (unless I missed something).

      On Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 4:20 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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