Monday Morning Questions: What Do You Want to Ask Me the Monday After Easter?

Happy Easter Monday! I had a lovely weekend, and now am back at work (blech!). But at least I still have some chocolate bunnies to comfort me.

This is where you get to ask me anything, historical backstory, language translation, where you can find a particular movie streaming, and so on. Any time you think of a question all week, just keep swinging back here to ask me.

And I have a question for you! Inspired by Easter and fertility and all that, Which baby animal is cuter, baby lamb, baby chick, baby bunny, baby pig or otherwise?

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Or, for an Indian touch, baby elephant?

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Or my personal preference, PUPPY!

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Or you could say “kitten”, but that would be wrong. They’re just baby cats.

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25 thoughts on “Monday Morning Questions: What Do You Want to Ask Me the Monday After Easter?

  1. Baby bunny!

    Beefcake Easter was a bit of a bust because most of the time einthusan was busy, but I’ve been mixing up beefcake with Poirot, because you revived my Poirot feelings. Man, I love it. I don’t know how it can be so extremely campy yet so extremely tasteful. Just the way the colours are combined so correctly in his suits gives me Jeeves-ian satisfaction.

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    • BBC period shows always make me picture the obsessed horde of BBC costume and set designers. Like, it’s not just “doing their job”, there’s a real unhealthy obsession there. And they are CLEARLY the ones driving the narrative. Why is there a random car chase? Because someone found a really amazing vintage car and forced them to include it. Why is there an episode on the Queen Mary? Someone was reading a book about it and desperately wanted to recreate the staterooms. It’s like a household items museum tour, that also happens to have some sort of vague plot included in it. You know the whole reason Jeeves and Wooster moved to New York for a few seasons was because the set designers wanted to spread their wings with an art deco skyscraper flat.

      And yes, Poirot’s clothes! Hastings too, in his own Hasting-y way. I am fascinated by how his jackets are cut to give him a figure. I think in reality he is kind of thin and stoop shouldered and with a pot belly, but those jackets! He looks like such a figure of a man once the shoulder pads and double breasted effect are put on!

      Oh and speaking of Jeeves and Wooster, in my head canon Poirot and Hastings and Jeeves and Wooster have a couples dinner every Saturday where they gently complain about each other and trade clothing tips.

      On Mon, Apr 13, 2020 at 8:50 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • lolol that is so spot on. I mean with other BBC shows it can be very hit and miss with the settings and costumes but Poirot is great all the way through. I also enjoy spotting which building in London they are in.

        30s tailoring was soooo flattering for men. The 40s too, beautiful.

        Do you think Jeeves and Poirot would get on or would they immediately get into a manipulative high-level mental cat fight? Bertie and Hastings would obviously love each other.

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        • I think Jeeves and Poirot would enjoy the mental stimulation of each other. Finally someone to talk on their own level about things like proper neckties, and also where the secret letter is hidden! They can trade little mental puzzles and try to outwit each other, and then go home with their dumb bunny trophy husbands. On the other hand, I think Bertie and Hastings would be a terrible influence on each other, driving the other on to more foolish expensive purchases, ill-advised love affairs, and sartorial mistakes.

          On Mon, Apr 13, 2020 at 10:05 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Yesterday I saw a little part of Zee5 movie Bamfaad with Shalini Pandey and Aditya Rawal, and OMG this guy looks just like his father!

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  3. That puppy looks exactly like mine, so I have to go with that!

    Now, question for you, I seem to remember that you generally don’t seem to like Indian direct to streaming movies, and just curious why? To me, I don’t like gory, gritty, violenc. For example, I will never watch Sacred Games or for that matter Game of Thrones. So, I do hate that most of the direct to streaming movies and series go that route and I will likely never ever watch those. But I do like that it gives some actors chanes to get recognized and showcase their talent that they might not have had before or learn to act in a smaller scale(e.g., Vicky Kaushal, Kiara Advani) It also, to me, allows directors to showcase things without the Indian censor board intervening. Again, I personally wish the directors wouldn’t take that to just mean gritty violence, but I like that they have the opportunity to be more creative without being censored.

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    • Ugh, I hate direct to streaming stuff! Movies, I dislike because there really is a drop in quality and style when they know it will be streaming. Instead of being 3 hours, with songs and fight scenes and the whole Masala, it’s 2 hours of clever Hinglish dialogue for the upper classes to watch sitting on their couches. It’s losing everything that makes Indian cinema “Indian cinema”, it’s just small independent films that happen to be 50% in Hindi. If you saw that movie in a movie theater, you would feel bored and ripped off, it’s watching it sitting on the couch at home folding laundry that makes it seem high quality. There is this myth of “oh, if you watch it streaming, you have higher standards”. NO! OPPOSITE! If you watch it in a theater, you can’t pause and rewind or fast forward, you can’t distract yourself looking at your phone, you are just there with the movie. There is a massive immediate difference in how films are made when they know they will get a theatrical release, especially Indian films where the theater experience is so specific.

      And then there’s the “I am being a good feminist because I am watching a woman get raped” movies. Great, sit there in your comfortable western house and shake your head about the “rape culture” of India and feel good because you are feeling bad. Meanwhile the theatrical release films, the ones that would ACTUALLY BE WATCHED by the people most likely to be attacked, get worse and worse and worse in patriarchy and blind patriotism and no one cares because they are in their little isolation booth of their living room and the streaming shows that “everyone” (meaning everyone on the English language internet) is watching. Those movies/shows are super popular because everyone likes to feel they are doing something without actually feeling like they have to DO something. How many people who watched Delhi Crime or She went out and protested to get a marital rape law passed in India? Bigger question, how many of them MIGHT have done that if watching this film hadn’t lulled them into feeling like they had actually done something? You can be explicit because you are avoiding censorship, but does that matter if you are only talking to people who agree with you already? Isn’t it more important to release a censored version that can actually reach the people who need the message?

      And finally, let’s talk Vicky Kaushal and Kiara Advani! Kiara had a small role in a big film, Kalank. And a big role in a big film, Kabir Singh. That’s the kind of thing that, with a few years of hard work and patience, could turn into being a major star. It’s what happened with Anushka Sharma, it took some time and humiliation but she got there. Only instead of Kiara being rolled into the mainstream, and working hard to earn her place, she is getting streaming-tracked. It’s easy work and quick money, but in a few years where is she going to be? Forgotten and left behind. It’s shortening careers, the fame you get from the mainstream film release is being siffoned off into streaming and then it is gone and you realize you have squandered your chance. Where is Radhike Apte now? Two major films released in 2018, and then she switched to Netflix streaming and everyone said “oh great, finally people appreciate Radhike Apte”, and now just a year later she has no more major films signed, or Netflix serieses on line. Netflix doesn’t help careers, it kills them and eats them up and then moves on to the next target.

      Streaming doesn’t have to be like that, it’s just the big buzzy serieses that are a problem for me BECAUSE they are big and buzzy. That buzz is coming at the expense of the mainstream film industry that gifted the fame of the people involved, and the real life issues these shows are dealing with which no one is going to actually bother about in real life because they feel like the show covered it and fixed everything. Mentalhood had no big names beyond Karisma, and she hadn’t had a movie in years. It was a show where talented non-famous people could do good work, and it was a show that stood on its own, not based on the names of the people involved or some high profile real life story connection. Made in Heaven, Family Man, same thing. Talented people but no one famous, the shows got buzzy because they were good. Heck, even the issues weren’t used as a selling point! Made in Heaven wasn’t promoted as “a show about gay rights, watch it if you are a Good Person”. And of course movies that were initially made for theater and are now streaming, that’s different. And shows initially made for TV that are now streaming, also different. And Little Things, I love because it is a totally western style show, nothing Indian at all, but it isn’t pretending to be Indian and it is doing Western style stream of consciousness improve show better than a western TV show would do it.

      On Mon, Apr 13, 2020 at 10:24 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Wait, I’m so confused! Are you talking about movies or shows? Episodic shows have to be direct streaming because there’s no alternative, right? AFAIK, most Hindi movies which eventually went direct to streaming were made to be released theatrically, like Love Per Square Foot, Drive, Ghoul.

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        • I’m talking about movies and shows, which have some overlapping issues.

          There are many high quality satellite TV shows (a lot of junk too obviously) which have made the leap to streaming. The Pakistani TV serials are really really high quality and that comes out of Pakistani broadcast state supported television in the 80s which set a standard, and through to today when satellite TV allowed them to reach massive global audiences. I think quit a few of the Hindi TV shows now on Netflix and Prime were originally broadcast on “regular” TV. What I notice particularly is the shift in the art depending on who the expected audience is. So something like Delhi Crime or Sacred Games would not play on mainstream satellite TV, because it is so dark and gritty and explicit, and at the same time I feel like it uses shock tactics and of the moment politics to bring in a streaming audience, instead of worrying about building an audience who will return week by week to see new episodes. And then you look at Humsar and it is so sloooooooow and almost dreamlike, you fall into this whole world and can see why people came back week by week.

          For movies, I don’t think theatrical films are being sold to Netflix. Drive was a big deal when it was shifted to streaming, and before that Kaalakandi (I think) was a Saif movie that he went to bat for and insisted have a theatrical release. Love Per Square Foot was making the rounds of festivals, but no mainstream distributor wanted to touch it, it wasn’t going to be that kind of movie. And Ghoul was a Netflix produced original. The movies Netflix takes and promotes seem to be either movies they produced from the start, or film festival movies that were never mainstream style, or total failures that Netflix possibly forced edits to fit their streaming ideal (like Zero, because of that we know for sure the Netflix has the ability to force edits from a theatrical release to fit their vision).

          On Mon, Apr 13, 2020 at 4:36 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Oh, so you mean make it for TV and then to streaming? See that thought didn’t even occur to me coz that’s how bad Indian TV is! I haven’t watched any Indian TV shows in the last 10 years or so, even though I grew up watching TV in India. They don’t make shows in the limited episode format, it’s all soap operas which go on for years and years with regressive storylines, kitchen politics and what-not. And I was into some of them during my school years when that format (courtesy Ekta Kapoor) was all new. But I can’t stand them now! I really miss the earlier days of TV. Doordarshan (national channel) had some good shows when it was the only available channel, then came cable TV – I loved watching some sitcoms, thrillers and horror shows from 90s, now those should be picked up by some streaming site! But then the Ekta K-serial wave hit and that’s the template people are still following nowadays.
            Actually, there aren’t any Hindi ‘regular’ TV shows on Prime and Netflix and I’m not surprised! That tells you the kind of divide that exists between regular TV and web TV watchers, they don’t overlap. There is no space for Made in Heaven, Family Man, Delhi Crime and Sacred Games on TV for a variety of reasons. I’m so glad the creators and actors found a place to make those shows, so I guess I don’t understand your argument.
            I agree about the Pakistani dramas, and now that I’ve been watching Turkish and South Korean dramas – which are all limited series made for regular TV, I’m really saddened that Indian TV doesn’t follow this format! There are treasure troves of literary works in multiple Indian languages waiting to be adopted!

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          • There are some made for TV shows on Prime and Netflix, but not the kind you are thinking of, the never ending Saas-Bahu dramas. Those are on Hotstar which, last time I checked, still has by far the largest market share in India. Malgudi Days from back in the 80s, Razia Sultan, Jhansi Ki Rani, and a few higher quality limited soaps like Rab Se Sohna Isshq and so on. My understanding is that the Saas-Bahu dramas with the dozens of seasons and 100s of episodes mostly started in the late 90s/early 2000s? Before that you did have some high quality historicals and limited run adaptations on Doordarshan. And I think mixed in with those Super Success shows even in the satellite era, there were always the shorter run slightly more avant garde options. And the solid historicals and things. And now you have the kids programs like Chota Bheem, another Indian made-for-TV show that is on Netflix. Amitabh starred in a limited run series a few years back, Anil Kapoor is doing occasional limited run adaptations of 24, Anurag Basu just adapted a series of Tagore stories, there’s really good stuff out there and people are watching it.

            What irritates me about the streaming stuff is that, ultimately, it feels lazy. Instead of taking a vision of something high quality and finding a way to make it so that it will reach the masses through satellite, they are taking a vision of something high quality and adjusting it to sell to a streaming service and their very limited audience. It’s easy to appeal to 3-4% of the population, it’s far harder to reach 90%. And then of course they promote their stuff as though it is the only high quality option, as though that 3-4% are the only ones who matter.

            On Mon, Apr 13, 2020 at 9:00 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yeah I was referring to the saas-bahu ones and they started around 2000. I got to thinking about the shows I liked watching. There was a channel Star One which had a lot youth focused shows based in colleges, workplaces, armed forces, with varying mix of drama and comedy, many of them episodic with an overarching story running throughout. But all of them had soapy elements, the tone was light, even goofy. The shows you mentioned, Razia Sultan, Jhansi Ki Rani, Rab Se… none of them have less than 100 episodes. My issue is that any show which goes above like 50 eps will inevitably have unnecessary tricks and gimmicks (soapy elements) to extend it, which brings down the quality. Unless it’s Ramayan or Mahabharat maybe! The web shows, at 10 eps or so, are tight and contained and a big reason for their good quality.
            The Big B series, Anil’s 24 and Anurag’s Tagore Stories are more in the web show vein though, Pankaj Tripathi’s Powder is another one! I actually watched a couple eps of Tagore, it’s well done! Hey, you may consider reviewing it, as you were asking for suggestions! I didn’t watch further for personal reasons – being a Bengali, watching stories so entrenched in the culture of Bengal, it was jarring to hear everyone speaking Hindi! It’s like watching Pride & Prejudice in Cantonese or something! But I know why it has to be that way and I will go back to it.
            A big part of why those web shows can’t be on TV is how they tackle sex, politics, religion – the most uncomfortable issues today. I guess the argument is that that’s exactly why they should be more widely accessible. But they would have to be considerably modified for TV, would they then be as effective, I don’t know! The other thing, all the webshow creators are film directors, and traditionally in Bollywood, filmmakers have almost never ventured into TV. If streaming didn’t exist, they might never have made the shows. I can understand the temptation when Netflix, Prime gave them money and freedom to make shows exactly as they wanted without worrying about peripherals. Then the blame should lie on TV producers for not approaching the makers!
            The 90% vs 5% audience – I don’t know! Don’t we always complain that the stuff we like don’t work at the box office? Is it really easier to make a Thappad than a Baaghi 3 (haven’t seen either)?

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          • ” I guess the argument is that that’s exactly why they should be more widely accessible. But they would have to be considerably modified for TV, would they then be as effective, I don’t know!”

            That’s it exactly! That’s my problem. Is it better to have a pure vision that is only accessible to a few people, or a censored vision that is accessible to a lot of people? Just asking the question seems like more than most people who have access to streaming do. There is an assumption that this show is good and important because you are watching and liking it. But the world doesn’t revolve around the people who have Netflix, you know? My feeling is that it is better for creators to keep fighting and struggle to get their vision out to the largest number of people, rather than have a pure vision accepted by only a few. And streaming is bring in that pure vision to a lucky few without anyone saying “wait a minute, do we want another season of Made in Heaven if that means possibly losing a Gully Boy from the same creators which would reach 10 times as many people even if they had to censor the vision to get it out there?”

            Not to mention that as more talent goes towards serving the lucky few on streaming, it means only the dregs is left for the majority in theaters. Is that fair? For us to get the cream of the crop, while the people who can only see movies in theaters are left to watch Padman?

            On Tue, Apr 14, 2020 at 1:10 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yeah, I see your point!
            In general, isn’t this the age-old issue of art vs. mainstream film/filmmakers? The art filmmakers have this pure, strong vision that’s only accessible to few and they know and accept that? Do you think they should also try to mold their vision for wider reach? Like I haven’t seen any of Anurag Kashyap’s films but have immense respect for him. I can’t bring myself to watch a world of dark, twisted people but I like that he sticks to his guns, won’t compromise on the kind of cinema he wants to make, knowing it won’t reach masses.

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    • Talking about violent streaming movies – Netflix is promoting its new movie with Vir Das. I saw the trailer and found it disgusting. I don’t know who thinks it’s entertaining to watch a guy killing people just to be funny on stage.

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      • YES! Meanwhile, Kanan Gill’s special is also coming to Netflix and it is WONDERFUL and the opposite of Vir Das. I got to see them both live and Kanan Gill was so pleasant and smart and funny without being at all mean, and Vir Das was not so much.

        On Mon, Apr 13, 2020 at 12:29 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • I hate Vir’s sense of humour. I tried to watch one of his stand ups and it was so bad – he was only talking about masturbaiting. Why should I care? I’m not a prude, sex jokes can be very funny but c’mon you can’t talk about one thing all the time.

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      • I completely agree, Angie. I saw that trailer and just went. EW. Ugh. No. And I like Vir Das, so I am even more annoyed about it.

        Also Margaret, I loved your thorough response. I plan to respond to it but want to make sure I do it justice, which is just hard to do quickly while I am multi-tasking. But I promise to write back with my thoughts.

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  4. I have a different question. I reread your book the other day. (I needed a big dose of film and couldn’t watch one). Much of what you say then has changed. I wonder if you would consider adding a chapter (most of which you have written already) virtually that talks about what has changed in the Hindi Film industry in such a short time. For example, one would NEVER have predicted the failure of JHMS on the basis of what used to be true.

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    • I’ve been worrying about that a little with my book. But then, it is 5 years old now, it can’t be up to the minute. Anyway, yes! So much that would need to be updated today! although it is still a good snapshot of 2010-2015. And heck, if I added something to it for a reissue, that thing I added would probably be out of date within a few years 🙂

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      • No, it would be impossible to keep up with anything as volatile as film, but I was just thinking it would be fascinating to have you go back and look at your own words and talk about what has changed and why it has changed the way it has. Sadly, when you wrote it,it seemed like Shah Rukh would stay on top forever….

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        • Oh, that might be fun! I could just do it on the blog too, annotations chapter by chapter.

          On Mon, Apr 13, 2020 at 4:13 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I want to ask you to shine a light on the differences in the characters and representations of females in the heroines of Heropanti and Parugu. At first the heroine of Parugu seemed simpering and boring to me and then I realized she was actually doing a great job as an actress and the character fit with the setting and in a distinct difference to Heropanti, she wasn’t eye candy. And then I watched Heropanti again to see if my memory is correct abut the heroine, and while I haven’t finished it, my memory was only partly correct. The heroine in heropanti was more than eye candy, but I forgot because for so much of the movie she went around with this GIANT expanse of midrift showing that I, a female, didn’t take her seriously. And now I am wondering if I am a horrible person for not taking seriously an actress that is so obviously chosen for her appearance, especially as, of course, all actresses and actors are. And was her midrift at all connected to her supposed greater modernity than the heroine of Parugu… I’m pretty sure you haven’t seen Parugu as you’ve said you haven’t seen that many allu arjun films, but if you did see it, the differences are fascinating and I don’t have enough of a background to really understand them.

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    • I haven’t see Parugu, so I can’t really answer your specific question. I can tell you more about the Heropanti heroine at least. Kriti Sanon is the actress, she was in Heropanti, and then Dilwale, and then surprised us all (myself included) by giving a really good strong layered performance as the heroine in Bareilly Ki Barfi. And I’ve loved everything she’s done since then.

      So I don’t know if the added strength you see in Heropanti is the film, or the actress playing it that way? Actually, ditto the midriff! Kriti has a super long torso, maybe there is no character meaning beyond “this actress has a super long torso, let’s highlight that.

      On Mon, Apr 13, 2020 at 5:01 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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