Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Reading and Watching and Thinking and Listening To the Week Before Thanksgiving?

Shoot, Thanksgiving is an America only holiday, isn’t it? Oh well, American culture so dominates the world, I am sure you all are aware of it at least.

I’ll start!

Reading: I have to admit, I didn’t actually read these two links, but they both look interesting so I am passing them on. This first one is from rediff and Miss Braganza: https://www.rediff.com/movies/special/the-best-200-indian-films-of-the-decade/20191113.htm

The second is from Film Companion and Claudia: https://www.filmcompanion.in/fc-decades/pages/hindi.html

Meanwhile, I’m reading my second Elizabeth George novel, because I’m classy (it’s still 50/50 romance versus murder).

Watching: Cheers! I’m going around again for the third time, it’s just the perfect winter show. So warm and cozy feeling. And I am considering The Crown, but that seems like a lot of commitment. Last time a season released I watched it while home sick with a cold, I may just wait for another cold. Or else do it over Thanksgiving break. Oh, and a final thing that puzzles me, what kind of crazy animal would click the Netflix “skip intro” option on Cheers???? It’s the happiest theme song ever!

Thinking: How can I make it so my windshield wipers don’t break in the ice again this winter? I had to get them fixed 3 times last year, and the “pull them out at night when you park” trick doesn’t work with the way my car is designed. I am considering getting a dopey cloth thing that is supposed to go over the front window, but I don’t know if it would work. Thoughts from those of you who also park on the street in temperate climates?

Listening: In honor of this week, I’ve got an all 2010 playlist going! Really a remarkably good year for music. And surprisingly, it is the I Hate Luv Storys soundtrack that I keep coming back to. Every song is good! Listen to this lovely “I’m missing you” song:

Now, question for you! Our lovely commentator Niki’s birthday is coming up, and as a special birthday treat, I thought we would give her pushy needless advice. She is considering attacking the Star Wars movies, What order do you recommend for Star Wars?

I went with 4-5-6-1-2-3-7-8-9 (original trilogy, then the prequels, then the recent releases). And ignore all the one off products or else you will lose your mind. But you could also do 4-5-6-7-8-9 (original trilogy and current films) and never watch 1-2-3 (prequels that aren’t closely connected to the current films). Or, the most complex, 4-1-2-3-5-6-7-8-9. That is, start with A New Hope, then watch 1-2-3 as a flashback, then come back for 5-6-7-8-9.

Sub-question, Is Young Amitabh as Han Solo, or Old Amitabh as Obi-Wan better casting? I need to know in case I ever get a time machine and infinite filmmaking powers but only one shot at remaking the series.

Oh, and this makes me think of an Indian film related question. SRKajol films, what is the order you would recommend for a new viewer?

I usually do K3G-KKHH-DDLJ-MNIK-Dilwale- (Karan Arjun-Baazigar). Following the theory that K3G is the easiest film as an intro, KKHH is still pretty light, by DDLJ you have to be all in on their chemistry, MNIK is a very hard watch and you need your faith in SRKajol to get you through, and Dilwale is just not very good either as a film as a whole or an SRKajol showcase. And then Karan-Arjun and Baazigar are optional because the SRKajol magic isn’t really there yet.

Or maybe Dilwale isn’t that bad? This fan video makes a strong case for it:

52 thoughts on “Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Reading and Watching and Thinking and Listening To the Week Before Thanksgiving?

  1. Here for your Star Wars question. Definitely 4-5-6-7-8-9, 1-2-3 as optional of you’re into the universe by then and you want more. 1-2-3 are clunky and wooden and just a terrible misuse of some great actors. They got carried away with having fancy special effects and forgot to care about the writing. 4-5-6 still has magic and is the best way in. The new movies are derivative but very well done – special effects + good writing and acting, and potentially going interesting places with the whole rebels vs. power narrative structure. 1-2-3 the script is just very bad, but if you want to know all the things it’s just barely worth slogging through 1 and 2 to get to the climax in 3, the creation of Darth Vader.

    Agree with your SRK-Kajol order except I’d put Dilwale ahead of MNIK, at least for Americans. Dilwale is an OK action movie at the end of the day, and the SRK-Kajol bits are the best part. MNIK has so many stretches that are extremely tone deaf about the US that you have to be very forgiving to not get hung up on those parts.

    Reading: finishing up The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson. This is so exactly in my corner, I was really looking forward to it – love her as an author (Alif the Unseen was wonderful, and of course Ms. Marvel) and this story is set at the end of the Muslim empire in Spain, which is a fascinating moment in history. I’m enjoying it, but it’s a smaller story than I expected, just four characters for the most part. Took an interesting twist though, now I’m curious to see how it ends.

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    • I am so glad we have 7-8-9 now, because it feels even more legitimate to just start the story at A New Hope and continue from there instead of swinging backwards again to The Boring Times.

      Hmm. Maybe Dilwale ahead of MNIK. I guess it gets down to if the person has more tolerance for racism, or Jonny Lever.

      And once again you have me thinking “Gee, I really should get up to date on comic books again”. I still haven’t read Ms. Marvel. There was a period in college when I would spend my weekends at Barnes and Noble eating overpriced food and reading all the new comic anthologies. Ah, wild crazy youth!

      On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 8:09 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Ms. Marvel is fun. She has a new Wonder Woman out too. Alif the Unseen and The Bird King are prose novels and also fun, drawing on Muslim folklore like Jinn for their fantasy elements.

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      • P.S. meant to add: if you really like A New Hope and 4-5-6, then I think it’s worth seeing Rogue One too. it’s intense and a bit sad, but the ending is powerful. I happened to see A New Hope at home a few days after we’d seen Rogue One in the theater (I think we’d just gotten the DVD for Christmas or something), and realized A New Hope starts literally the minute after Rogue One ends. it’s really well done and it gives you a new perspective on the older movie.

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        • What I’ve heard about Rogue One is that it is agonizingly dark. Which works with it being a one minute prequel to A New Hope, because it means the title suddenly makes sense. But I don’t know if I am up for that, even so. I’ll wait until you go see the new Star Wars and confirm it is happy and optimistic, and then I’ll go watch that one.

          On Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 4:18 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Wait, I thought the prequels were still connected though?

    I finished Zero and I think it’s safe to say that I hated it. My biggest problem with it was that I didn’t really get why Anushka likes Shahrukh’s character. Or even why he likes her as well. I felt like their romance should have been more well established for me to get into the rest of the movie. I think the only part of the movie that I actually liked was Mere Naam Tu. Also Katrina’s part was pretty good but it felt out of place. Actually the entire movie felt kind of disjointed for me. So far, Raanjhanaa is the only ALR movie that I really liked so I’m going to assume I liked that movie due to my love for Dhanush and Sonam rather than ALR’s movies.

    I think I like your order for the SRK-Kajol films. The only thing is that I would probably remove Dilwale as well and add to the optional section.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The prequels are connected but they are booooooooooooring. And they are only connected to 4-5-6, not 7-8-9. So you can watch 4-5-6 and then 7-8-9 and forget the prequels exist. You also have my permission (especially after slogging through Zero) to try the first 20 minutes of 1 and if you are bored, just stop, it doesn’t get better.

      I also really liked Mere Naam Tu! One thing that came up in discussion here is that “Mere Naam Tu” was kind of a con on Anushka, and on the audience. Both of us were drawn in by this romantic fantasy, only to be hit by the reality of messy flawed humans. I don’t want messy flawed humans! I want the aspirational fantasy.

      Ouch! You are the biggest Varun fan we have here, and even you are saying forget Dilwale?

      On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 9:08 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I’ll keep that in mind!

        I was thinking about Dilwale in terms of only the SRK-Kajol parts when I said that but honestly, people seem to watch Dilwale and hate Varun in it. Dilwale will always be up there in being one of the biggest movie disappointments in my life but I tend to feel differently about it each time I watch it based on my mood. Sometimes, I feel like it’s fun enough to have done really well but other times I get mad because it could have been such a better movie.

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        • I’m one of those who didn’t hate Varun at all! I was really happy with his role and performance and connection with ShahRukh (and Kriti, too)! I loved all the parts except those including the comedy plot with Sharma and Mishra and Johnny (but I liked Boman!)

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    • I think ALR really hit the sweet spot for Ranjhanaa. The leads are flawed and unlikable but have moments of charm and a beautifully told story that’s a touch whimsical and dreamlike but not too out there. I actually feel like Zero had some similar ideas but the execution is nowhere as good.

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    • I’m sure ALR’s idea of Zero was to throw together the most expensive things he could think of and see what will happen. So he took the biggest and most expensive star, ambitious CGI, foregin locations, spaceships and half of Bollywood stars to do cameos and just filmed it all without adding some connections or emotions.

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      • And meanwhile he is producing little low budget gems. How is the same man responsible for all of this????

        On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 3:06 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I dare to disagree…even vehemently πŸ™‚

        It’s strange, every time I read the flak Zero (Aanand, ShahRukh, the writer) gets, I wonder why I myself see another movie in Zero. There is even the strange feeling that I can’t connect to/understand the arguments.
        In my eyes, Zero (the theatrical version more than the Netflix one) is just magic, a movie that gives hopes and understanding and is totally non-judgemental just showing what people can do/feel and how they can change through loving oneself.

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        • Everytime I’m going to write something bad about Zero, I remember you like it and I feel bad, but there are very few movies that made me angry like this one. I literally wanted to scream and punch somebody in the face when I finished it.

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  3. I’m watching Cheers too! Though for the first time. I’m also watching Twin Peaks and Gossip Girl so I guess you could say that I have varied taste. Baazigar may not be the most romantic film but honestly in terms of SRK/Kajol stuff I find it fascinating because they usually don’t get to play that type of dynamic.

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    • Yaaaay, another Cheers watcher! I have a fanfic going up later today, so at least one other person will be able to enjoy it. I have never tried Twin Peaks or Gossip Girl though, your tastes are far more varied than mine.

      Speaking of varied tastes, interesting point with Baazigar. One thing with that movie is that you can really see how the SRKajol chemistry just takes over the film. You come out of it going “wow, I would love to see these two together but in a movie that is just about their romance!” and then you can watch DDLJ.

      On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 9:52 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. The soundtrack is so stunning and I really loved how the song sequences were put together! Especially Tum Tak and Piya Milenge! I really feel like it’s ARR’s best hindi stuff from this decade. Mere Naam Tu is stunning but the rest of the zero soundtrack is kind of meh. Love Ajay-Atul but their Marathi stuff is better in my opinion

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  5. I watched star Wars for the first time few years ago and can advise. I started with prequels, then original trilogy and later the newest movies, and it was not a good order in my opinion mainly because of the huge difference between Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV – A New Hope. After all those good special effects and Lightsaber fights in Episode III, watching Darth Vader’s ridiculous fighting in the beginning of E. IV was painful. It’s better to start with 4, 5 and 6, and only then watch 1,2 and 3.

    Episodes 1 and 2 and so boring (especially 1), but worth watching for episode 3 (which I love).

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    • What would your opinion be on watching 1 and 2 at double speed with subtitles just to get the highlights and then slowing down and watching 3 onwards at regular speed?

      I watched them chronologically, so for me it was this massive dip in quality 6 to 1. Because 1 is soooooooooooo bad. I hadn’t thought about the issue of 3, the most decent of them, leading directly into the hinky bad special effects 1.

      On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 2:57 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • The hinky effects but also the fact part 3 finishes with this exhilarating fight between Anakin and Obi, and I was thinking: OMG what will happen when they will meet again, and really nothing happens.

        Watching 1 and 2 at double speed is an interesting idea. I would watch it normally but some parts of those movies are really bad and boring and deserve to be fast forwarded.

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    • Yes, and it took me longer than it should have to realize there are two women in Indian named Anupama who know Shahrukh, and Anupama Chopra is not, in fact, taking a second husband.

      On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 3:44 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • It requires a lot of attention, it’s kind of slow. It was my first film and I loved it, but I was watching it alone in a theater, no distractions. When I’ve shown it to other people in a party situation, they’ve been out of the room for important parts, or talked over lines, or whatever. I can’t really expect them to be all in on it with people they’ve never seen before.

      If someone came to me and said “I am really serious about Indian film and will pay attention and watch closely whatever you recommend”, then definitely DDLJ.

      On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 6:17 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Okay. I would consider myself a newbie, and I got it more from KKHH than from K3G. I saw K3G first, before I saw KKHH, but it was KKHH that stuck. And I only went back and really paid attention to their interactions in K3G when I saw SRK say in an interview that it was closest to their relationship in real life. There were so many characters in K3G, and Kajol just isn’t in most of the scenes. The very first SRKajol film I saw was Dilwale (thank you Netflix). From that film I didn’t understand the hype, but I was curious enough about all the hype to seek the other films out.

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        • Here is my system, tried over the course of many MANY intro movie nights. You show them K3G, they enjoy it, but they find themselves subconsciously eager to watch the SRKajol track more than all the rest and frustrated by how little there is. That’s when you hit them with KKHH, it’s fun and bright and there is loads of SRKajol in it. And finally, once they are completely swept away and in love with this couple, that’s when you bring out DDLJ and let them enjoy the loooooong sloooooooow build.

          But then, maybe I am just too cautious.

          On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 7:52 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Introducing the pairing of ShahRukh-Kajol would depend on the respective person, of the knowing about Hindi Cinema, ShahRukh, Kajol as part of this cinema…if the person is a complete newbie, I definitely would start with KuchKuchHotaHai because it shows the real relationship and the (maybe also really imagined) relationship that did not happen (ShahRukh clearly stated that if there hadn’t been Gauri…and Kajol did the same with if there hadn’t been Ajay).

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  6. I am one of those weirdos who has just never gotten into KKHH as a story, I just like it in decontextualized bits, and if it had been my first movie I would never have watched another one. But otherwise I agree. My first SRK movie was DDLJ, lent to me by a friend whose favorite movie it was (like, he took a trip to India specifically to go to the Maratha Mandir and watch it). And, you’re right, it’s a bit of a varsity-level movie. It took me about a week to finish, and when my friend asked me if I had finished yet I said, “I don’t know. I don’t see how it’s going to work out and it’s making me anxious.” And he looked at me very seriously and said, “Miss Braganza. This is a happy movie, and when you watch it, you’ll be happy.” And he was right and the rest is history.

    No clue about Star Wars. I watched the first one and it’s just not my thing and I don’t know why. I watched about four series and six movies of Star Trek, but Star Wars didn’t do it for me.

    I worked all weekend and watched nothing except a short film called Siblings, which is pretty depressing but Sheetal Menon is great, as is Shivani Tanksale who is one of those people who’s in a bunch of stuff and you can never place her.

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    • Yes, DDLJ being varsity level is completely right. It was a perfect first film for me, but then I was watching it in an art theater on the big screen, so I was in a mindset to pay attention and keep going. Otherwise I might never have finished that first watch. And by the way, I want to borrow your friend’s speech to get you to watch Udaan. It’s not as happy a movie, but you must get to the end and then you will be happy.

      On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 11:18 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. Watching: My oldest child and I just watched Raid. Ajay was good, but Saurabh Shukla was incredible, he stole the show. It was a good show.

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    • I love that movie! It’s just such a well-made film, it all holds together as a story, each performance is entertaining, and those moments of gold being revealed are so fun.

      On Thu, Nov 21, 2019 at 12:47 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Oh, and were you the one with the very moral children? If so, it’s the perfect morality film, right? Our hero never breaks a rule or does anything wrong.

      On Thu, Nov 21, 2019 at 12:47 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. Being with my family, my day-to-day watching/thinking/reading/listening to is always a surprise πŸ™‚

    I don’t have an inclination for serials (question of time) although I may be interested in watching them because of the subject. The kids, their thinking, feeling and creativity is far more important for me…playing with them, watch them live in their fascinating imaginary worlds or making them watch magical movies even when grounded in a real day-to-day background they can connect to that’s what belongs to the highlights of my life.

    The kids love ShahRukh although they – till now – only know songs and what I tell him about the film-context…so we watch ShahRukh songs whenever they feel like…otherwise I watch almost nothing (neither TV or a whole movie)…t h a t is a leisure I indulge in while on family-leave.

    Reading: the last Elizabeth George novel involving Barbara Havers (The punishment she deserves)…my books still are mostly thrillers (but not those to be bloody just for being bloody), crime novels or children books.
    Listening to: Audio books (very, very various authors) and to what the kids tell (oh boy, I should record them….so fascinating!)

    Star Wars…I read Science fiction but I’m almost a ‘zero’ in everything related to the Star Wars series (or Star Treck or the Batman series or GOT or X-Men or Avengers)…I think, I’ll discover them with the kids.

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    • Yaaaaay, Barbara George twins!

      Star Wars movies are just magical with little kids, the get into that same basic part of the brain as fairy tales. I look forward to you experiencing them someday through their eyes!

      On Thu, Nov 21, 2019 at 1:53 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. I have been traveling non-stop over the last few days (hense the lack of comments) and watching whatever I can find on the plane. But fortunately, there seem to be wonderful movies on the plane. Loved Late Night with Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson. It’s SOOO good. Also, really enjoyed the new Aladdin. I highely recommend it to everyone who has children and like a feminist twist in the end!

    SRK-Kajol order: K3G-KKHH-DDLJ–MNIK (even though it is waaaay too sad for me to watch again!)-Dilwale. I thought Dilwale was really fun and feel the exact same way as Claudia. Varun-SRK chemistry was so good. I loved Kriti in it. It was just a fun movie that I can watch when I need a break from thinking.

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    • Dilwale is such poor quality compared to their other post-DDLJ films, but on the other hand if they hadn’t done it we would have ended their partnership on the misery that is MNIK. I’m glad we got one last little SRKajol happy romp.

      On Thu, Nov 21, 2019 at 8:54 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  10. I saw Photograph today and it was lovely. Sanya Malhotra was brilliant, in my opinion she was the soul of the movie. I love when I watch the movie and I feel like hugging one of the characters. It happens rarely but it stays with me for a long time.

    And while talking about touching performances FC published a list of 100 greatest performances of the decade. I think you don’t like such lists but this one was a very nice surprise, because I agree with so many of their choices. They included all my favourites: Vikrant Massey in A Death in the Gunj, Avinash Tiwari in Laila Majnu (he needs and deserve a place on the list), Manoj Bajpaee in Aligarth , Viineth KumarSingh for Mukkabaaz (please watch it, you will like it), Joju George for joseph, SRK for Fan and a lot of others. But the biggest surprise was to see Suraj Venjaramoodu for Action Hero Biju. He played the man who discovers he is not biological father of his daughter. I’m so happy he is on the list.
    Nivin Pauly has been mentioned twice – for Premam and Moothon, and I just have to watch Moothon now because I want to see his acting.

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    • I hope Sanya goes on to keep doing really good things. I know at one point she was supposed to be in a dance movie, I hope that happens because I want her to have a good varied career.

      Is Moothon out yet and I missed it? Or is it still just on the festival circuit?

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  11. Just here to drop some news. BBC is doing two Bollywood-based episodes for Talking Movies. If you’ve seen it, it’s a great little serious film show. It airs worldwide but you would have to check your listings.

    First episode is the general India special that will apparently talk to actors and directors about the development of BW in the last 20 years, metoo movement and various things. It begins airing Nov. 29th.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000bzwn

    Second episode is an interview with SRK which will be filmed in front of a live audience. That begins airing Dec. 7th.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000c8d1

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      • He did give one interview to Rajeev Masand while he was in Australia but I think that was the exception. He has mostly stayed far away from the Indian media for the last year. I don’t think he will talk to them even when he announces a new movie – maybe when it’s time to promote it which would be at least another year away!

        It’s perfect in a way. He can make himself available for fans but still keep away from the silly backbiting and dumb questions about other actors that the local media would ask.

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  12. Since Tom Brooks/Talking Movies is doing an interview with SRK, I remembered that he’s interviewed SRK before too. This is their last interview, done at Mannat, if anyone is interested in seeing it.

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

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    • Found this bit interesting… talking about the ambition to produce a film that is successful in India and also crosses over to international audiences: “I think our screenplay technique needs to improve a lot more. …We are less brief in our storytelling than the western audience, I think that yes, if you want to sell a film, a dream, overseas, internationally, it will have to be initially written by screenplay writers from the West. The screenplay writing and telling technique – not the stories, the stories we have are fantastic, but that technique – will have to be adapted to the western style of listening to a story.”

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  13. Reading this article really made me want to go to Shimla.

    I feel the same way every time I see Shimla in movies, which is a lot. Question: what are your favorite Shimla movie sequences? Don’t think I’ll ever get over my first Shimla love in Jab We Met…

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    • I think Dil is my favorite Shimla sequence. The ridiculous college trip plot set-up, Madhuri’s swiss style dress, it’s all just so vacation-y and nice.

      Or of course there is Kapoor and Sons, which is far far too dark.

      Although I think if I had to rank Indian vacation spots based on film knowledge, I would go Kerala houseboat, Goa, and then Shimla.

      On Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 4:25 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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