Thursday, October 31, 2013

Filmi Fridays: History of Computing in Bollywood

My Yahoo! Movies column, first published here.

As Mickey hopes to go ‘viral’ today, it might be a good idea to look at the times Bollywood has used computers to catch thieves, impress women, get a job and kill villains. Bollywood has always been more partial to hand-pumps than hard-drives but here is a small selection from the history of computing in Bollywood.

The first time a computer was mentioned in Bollywood was way back in 1978 – in Trishul.
When Shashi Kapoor returned from abroad, he called Raakhee (his father’s super-efficient secretary) a ‘computer’ ek aisi machine jo har sawaal ka theek jawaab deti hai! Clearly, this ‘computer is always right’ notion was before GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) was coined. Rakhee’s ability to remember cement quotas, her boss’ appointments, design files – while remaining unflappable all the time – was the reason for the nickname.

The computer made a reasonably high-profile entry in a high-profile film, starring a Tam-Brahm engineer – Roja.
Arvind Swamy was the good boy (presumably a computer engineer from IIT) who had a computer at home, which was quite a big thing in 1992 when the movie released. He turned out to be a ‘cryptologist’ who was hired to crack codes in Kashmir and he did so with a computer which had wildly blinking signals on the screen. From his facial expressions, we didn’t know if he cracked the code because he retired to sing songs in the snow with his wife immediately afterwards.

Sooraj Barjatya’s films are full of heroines who start off ambitiously on the academic path before settling down in happy domesticity. In Maine Pyar Kiya, heroine Suman (Bhagyashree) stood first in her Inter(mediate) exams by scoring 87% but instead of attending college, became a house-guest at her father’s friend’s house. 
In Hum Aapke Hain Koun, heroine Nisha (Madhuri Dixit) had moved with the times and was studying ‘Computers’ but no device was visible in her vicinity.
By the time, Sooraj Barjatya made his next film – Hum Saath Saath Hain – Alok Nath had graduated to tinkering with computers and staring at long sheets of dot-matrix printer output.    

Probably the first online banking transaction in Bollywood happened in Ajnabee.
In typical Abbas-Mustan style, an elaborate cat-and-mouse game played out between Akshay Kumar and Bobby Deol as the former tried to make off with a fortune by framing the latter. The climax happened in a cruise ship and Bobby finally pulled a fast one by transferring back the $100 million Akshay had got as his dead wife’s insurance payout. How? Hacking was still some years away in Bollywood but smart ol’ Bobby just guessed the nineteen letter password. Everything was planned, you see.

Hacking came into age by the time Om Jai Jagdish was made in 2002 (the year after Ajnabee).
In Anupam Kher’s directorial debut, Abhishek Bachchan was the ‘ethical hacker’ who illegally entered his college’s website to leak exam papers for his friends. After he was rusticated for his troubles, he became a pizza delivery boy in Bangalore and tried for a job in India’s leading software film – Softcell Technology. By finding out who hacked the company’s website in 100 seconds, he got himself a deal to make anti-virus software. And in true Bollywood style, he named the software Om.

A Wednesday was full of gadgets we use in our daily lives that can be transformed into deadly weapons of terror with a bit of information from online tutorials. Terrorist (Naseeruddin Shah) used a combination of changing SIM cards and a laptop to create a web of fear. When the regular efforts by the police cyber cell failed, a cool dude – who turned out to be a college dropout – was brought into trace the calls being made. In an interesting shift of power, the heroic police force was left to do the brawny things (fighting, chasing, interrogating) while the young hacker did the delicate tech tinkering.

When the personal computer revolution reaches a peak, you need people to sell them. That was exactly what a shady computer company called AYS Corporation was doing. They were doing the standard computer industry practice of over-promising and under-delivering till Harpreet Singh Bedi joined them and questioned them all.
After a lot of software, Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year was about the computer hardware industry with its aggressive sales managers, porn-addicted maintenance guys and exasperated customers. The whole activity of closing a sale, assembling the order and delivering it was shown wonderfully well.

Computer games came to the forefront when geeky game designer – Shekhar Subramaniam – invented a super-villain called Ra.One. The game was created to please his gaming addict son, who went by the online name Lucifer and who could beat even the super-villain. But in a fantasy twist, the super-villain got livid at losing and came out of the game into the real world. All hell broke loose. Till a super-hero called G.One emerged out of the game as well.

Himesh Reshmaiyya starred in Radio as a RJ with Radio Mirchi, who was probably Hindi cinema’s first socially active character. As RJ Vivaan Shah, he chatted on Facebook while his less-enlightened colleagues were still figuring it out (‘Yaar, yeh Phesbuk hota kya hai?’). His relationship status was ‘complicated’. His listeners complained about boyfriends on porn sites. And he was supposed to be super-cool.
A more complicated take on Facebook happened in Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, which poked a lot of fun at the practice of cyber-stalking and online-despogiri. What Bollywood sidekicks have been failing at since time immemorial – wooing heroines – suddenly became very easy with assumed online identities. A complicated love polygon ensued when people posed as each other on Facebook (or something like it) and fell in love with online avatars and out of love with offline ones!

A South Indian woman came to Kolkata to find her missing husband and landed up at the Kalighat Police Station to file a missing person report. The officers turned out to be grappling with the Kolkata Police Database software they had to install on the police station’s computer. When she saw them getting hassled by the beeping ‘System Error’ message, she effortlessly moved in and helped them out. Her knowledge of the computers would come handy later in the film when she had to extract some information clandestinely. After all, she was a software engineer just like her husband. Except her husband turned out nothing like what she had said.
And that was the Kahaani

UPDATED TO ADD:
My friend Asha (also an acclaimed VO artist, who has worked in Dibakar Banerjee's Shanghai) has this to say: "All those fancy glowing and beeping buttons in Shaan and Mr India were computers too. Just that we did not know it then. And you deliberately missed the image of a CPU-hugging Emraan Hashmi running to safety in a riot-affected, curfew-declared wannabe-Shanghai?"
Whatay brilliant addition!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Filmi Fridays: Boss Kaun Hain?

My Yahoo! Movies column, first published here.

Joke of the day: Why did the Communist parties condemn Akshay Kumar’s latest movie? Because the Boss is always right!
Today’s theme is based on the latest movie from Action Kumar a.k.a. Khiladi Kumar a.k.a. the Boss. Who are the bosses of Bollywood?

Sujoy Ghosh’s debut film was a feature-length tribute to Sholay and the Boss. As two music-crazy ad guys went about writing copy for condoms, managing wives and mothers-in-law and practising for a music contest (called Jhankaar Beats), we were introduced to their Boss. The head of their ad agency was Vijayendra Ghatge. He wasn’t the Boss. Sanjay Suri’s wife was Juhi Chawla, a perfectly sweet woman. She wasn’t the Boss. His mother-in-law was a bossy, pain-in-the-ass. But she wasn’t the Boss either.
Boss kaun hain, maloom hain kya?
Oh come on, you know who the Boss is! He is the one who makes you listen to him. Riiii raaaaa tu ru tu ru tu ru tu ru tu ru tu ru...

Shah Rukh Khan was looking for a fast track to success. And he was prepared to be all sycophantic and shady about it. In short, he was saying Yes Boss every step of the way.
In Aziz Mirza’s morality tale about a sleazy boss (Aditya Pancholi) out to sleep with a girl (Juhi Chawla) his subordinate is in love with, SRK was the young, upwardly mobile upstart torn between his boss and his love. Add to that a heart-patient mother, the boss’ wife and a superhit soundtrack by Jatin-Lalit to get a very popular film that took SRK to stardom.

Sleazy bosses looking for a bit of a sex on the side are not in short supply in Bollywood.
Kay Kay Menon in Life In A Metro was one such character, who was sleeping with Kangana Ranaut in his subordinate’s (Sharman Joshi) flat. The subordinate was happy to let out his flat for his superiors’ amorous adventures till he realised that he was in love with the girl who was coming in with the boss.
This twist is obviously the same as Billy Wilder’s classic film, The Apartment, though this is not the first time it has been used in Bollywood. Amitabh Bachchan starred in Raaste Ka Patthar in 1972, in which he also played the bachelor executive who let out his flat to his boss (Prem Chopra).

Not all bosses make out with your lady love though. (To be fair, most bosses don’t.) However, Bollywood bosses are shady if not sleazy.
In Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, SRK was a junior architect who was coerced to cover up his firm’s incompetence by his firm’s big boss (Naveen Nischol) and his daughter (Amrita Singh), who seemed to have a soft corner for him. Aziz Mirza directed this morality tale which explored the favourite Bollywood theme of innocent hero losing his honesty in the big bad corporate world.
Abhishek Bachchan did a similar role, playing an upcoming executive in a media company owned by big boss (Jackie Shroff) and the voice of boss (Sushmita Sen). The name of the film was Boss Itna Sa Khwaab Hai. (Ahem.)

Bosses and secretaries are drawn to each other like a moth to flame.
In the definitive canon of this genre – Pati Patni Aur Woh – Sanjeev Kumar eschewed the charms of wife Vidya Sinha and tried getting cosy with secretary Ranjeeta, weaving an elaborate web of lies to garner sympathy, though not sex!
Hrishikesh Mukherjee borrowed the plot of Pati Patni Aur Woh for his comedy, Rang Birangi, in which Amol Palekar was the boss. He tried to bring in a spot of spice in his boring married life by wooing secretary Deepti Naval and repeating the same wooing techniques with wife Parveen Babi.

Basu Bhattacharya’s Griha Pravesh was a more serious take on the boss-secretary relationship as Sanjeev Kumar (yet again!) strayed from his seemingly happy marriage with Sharmila Tagore to seemingly fall in love with Sarika. The couple’s quest to buy a house for themselves hit a roadblock as Sarika wanted to enter her boss’ life formally while the boss was not completely sure if he wanted to let his family go.

As a tail-piece, it might be frivolously apt to invoke the abusive boss – DK – from Delhi Belly.
Okay, okay... you nitpickers can keep cribbing that he is actually a Bose and not really a Boss but we aren’t really writing a PhD thesis here, you know? This Boss is wildly popular in many parts of the Hindi heartland, his name is taken sometimes abusively, sometimes reverentially and by all accounts, the mention of his name is a sure-shot warning to take cover. Bad-ass boss, he is!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

More Conversations with Mother

Ding dong o baby sing a song comes on the car stereo.
My mother breaks off mid-sentence from another conversation and says, "This fellow's son is about to join films."
I say, "Yeah, Tiger."
My mother says, "After Mithun's son, I am always scared about star son's debuts."
<pause>
Now, my mother changes track and says, "Amrish Puri became a top villain after this movie."
Me: "Yeah."
Mom: "Was Shakti before this or after?"
Me: "Shakti would be before."
Mom: "Yes, so Shakti and this would have made him into a star and after Mogambo, there was no looking back."
Me: "He did the Indiana Jones film also around the same time."
Mom (murmuring): "Pasha ki bhasha... Pasha ki bhasha..."

By this time, my wife has fallen asleep and my mother starts recounting - pretty much line by line - an interview of Biplab Chatterjee (a Bengali actor known for his negative roles) where he praised Amrish Puri and called him the only villain who could match up to Amitabh Bachchan.

Do me a favour. Check out Amrish Puri's filmography on IMDb and realise the Kya cool hain hum song was actually written for me and my mother.
And read this post. The phrase We are like this only was also written for us. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Filmi Fridays: Amitabh Bachchan's Many Jobs

My Yahoo! Movies column, first published here

Today, India’s biggest star and best actor turns 71. His versatility has been demonstrated in many ways and I look at it by looking at a few of the most popular professions he has played. Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy... what did he play the most?

Police Officer
This is a no-brainer. Amitabh Bachchan has been an upholder of justice (on the right side of the law) in nineteen stupendous films. The first time he played a police officer was in Zanjeer, which was something like Sachin Tendulkar scoring a 49-ball-82 the first time he opened. As Inspector Vijay Khanna, he took on villainous smugglers and large-hearted Pathan outlaws with a silent aggression, hitherto unseen in Hindi cinema.   
After that, there was no looking back and he was a police officer in The Great Gambler, Ram Balram, Parvarish, Dostana, Barsaat Ki Ek Raat, Mahaan, Inquilaab, Geraftaar, Aakhree Raasta, Shahenshah, Indrajeet, Akayla, Insaniyat, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Aks, Khakee, Dev and Bunty Aur Babli.
Incidentally, five of these films have him playing at least one more role apart from being a police officer. In The Great Gambler, his twin was – well – a great gambler. In Mahaan, his twin was a comic actor and their father was a fugitive tycoon. In Aakhree Raastaa, the police officer was after his vengeance-seeking father. In Shahenshah, he was corrupt policeman by day and crime fighter by night. And in BMCM, his alter ego was a con-man causing many mistaken identities.
Surprisingly, he has last played a police officer in 2005 (Bunty Aur Babli) and we haven’t seen him in khaki ever since.
In Jagdeep’s Soorma Bhopali, he played a police officer in the guest appearance he did.

Armyman
Be it the domestic front, be it the country’s borders, a tall and earnest figure inspires confidence. Amitabh Bachchan is that inspiring figure that leads jawans to war and gives confidence to civilians.
He first played a jawan in Roti Kapada Aur Makaan – the patriotic paean, where the common soldier lost his arm for the cause of the motherland. From a jawan, he was promoted to Major Saab in his next Army outing as he went about disciplining cadets at the NDA. He was also a Major and prisoner of war in Pakistan in Deewaar: Let’s Bring Our Heroes Home. He got a promotion to become Colonel Damle in Lakshya (where he led forces in Kargil) and Col. Balbir Sodhi in Kohraam (where he rebelled and went after corrupt ministers). He was promoted yet again to become Major General Amarjeet Singh in Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo, where his son and grandson followed his footsteps into the Army.
Apart from these active Army roles, he was referred to by ranks in Kaante (Yashvardhan ‘Major’ Rampal) and Ek Ajnabee (Col. Suryaveer Singh) suggesting Army antecedents there as well.

Criminal
If he upheld the law really well, he broke it with equal panache. Now, there are several shades to his unlawful activities.
He played an extra-constitutional power in Sarkar and Sarkar Raj (as well as Department) who did not think twice about breaking the law to uphold justice but the role was clearly heroic.
He was an out-and-out villain in Don while his role of an underworld boss in Boom was largely comical. He was supposed to have been a fearsome villain in Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag but that film ended up making everything in it comical. He was a Mafia boss in Family: Ties of Blood as well though nobody noticed that film.
Different types of crime – without much seriousness – have been his calling in Bbuddah Hoga Tera Baap (a sharpshooter), Mr Natwarlal, Shaan, Do Aur Do Paanch, Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan (con-men), Sholay (petty criminal) and Kaalia (smuggler of indeterminate goods).
In two films, he has been a murderer on the run – Faraar and Aakhree Raastaa – but both were acts of righteous revenge.
Quite surprisingly, he has looted banks in two movies – Kaante and Aankhen – though the former was a more positive role while the latter had him as a complete villain. Probably his baddest role has been in Parwana, where he murdered a man and framed his rival for it – showing virtually no remorse till the very end.
His iconic anti-hero roles were, of course, Deewaar, Shakti and Agneepath – which are still the gold standards of anger in Indian cinema.

Poet / Author
If Vijay was Amitabh’s angry young avatar, Amit was his soft, sweet, poetic persona.
Most famously in Yash Chopra twin romances – Kabhi Kabhie and Silsila – Amitabh was a man of the arts. In the former, he was a poet whose stirring verses won him many admirers. In the latter, he was a playwright out to woo the world with his words.
Early in his career, he was an author in Bandhe Haath (in one of his two roles in the film) and a poet in Ek Nazar.
In the later part of his career, Baghban saw him become an author after he retired from his regular job and penned a brilliant novel that won him the Booker Prize.
He is no stranger to literary prizes since he won a prestigious one for his book in Anand. While the book was based on his diaries, he was also a poet in the film. Right from his college days (where girls were majorly impressed with his verses), he ended up contemplating death in the final scenes – Maut, tu ek kavita hai...

Doctor
Talking of Anand, we have to remember it for his most famous doctor role – the dour cancer specialist faced with the impending death of a patient, whose zest for life was infectious. The role pitted him against the reigning superstar, Rajesh Khanna, and he came up trumps in a silent but impactful role.
The doctor roles did not happen during his super-successful phase as he was required to fight and sing songs (not something medicos are usually called upon to do). It came back in Mrityudaata where he played an eccentric surgeon, who could operate only when he was deliriously drunk. (For the record, he soon transformed into a vigilante in the film and even managed to sing a song with Daler Mehndi while on the run from the police. As you can see, Dr Bachchan is called upon to fight and sing songs.)
He played an altruistic doctor in Armaan who wanted to build a hospital for the poor and passed on his dream to his son, Anil Kapoor. In Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin, he was a psychiatrist who was entrusted with the task of treating Mafia don played by Sanjay Dutt – somewhat reminiscent of Analyse This (starring De Niro and Billy Crystal). In Aetbaar, he was the doctor father of Bipasha Basu but there was very little medical stuff in this tale of John Abraham stalking his daughter.  

Professor / Teacher
With a voice and screen presence like that, Amitabh Bachchan is a shoo-in for the post of any teacher anywhere in the world.
He kicked off his teaching career with Chupke Chupke where he played a professor of Literature masquerading as a Botany professor, grappling between Julius Caesar and the functions of a corolla. Soon afterwards, he was a mild-mannered professor of Hindi in Kasme Vaade but most of his time was spent in breaking up fights of his belligerent younger brother, who was a student in the same colleges.  After that, he was Master Dinanath in Desh Premee but he did very little teaching and was gainfully employed in maintaining communal harmony in the slum he was a resident of. (Master Dinanath became the name of his father in the classic, Agneepath.)
He made a solid impact when he played the principal of Gurukul in Mohabbatein, a stern disciplinarian who had to deal with a flower-throwing, poetry-spouting music teacher and three students not sold on to his concept of anusashan.
In two films, he played a Professor only by name. In one short film of Darna Zaroori Hai, he was Professor – visited by a student but their academics were disturbed by supernatural goings-on. In Teen Patti, he was a professor of mathematics who spent more time in casinos than classrooms trying out a ‘theory of probability’.
In two films, he was a true teacher. In Black, he was the eccentric, ill-tempered teacher of a triple-handicapped girl who showed her the light at the end of the tunnel. In Aarakshan, he was idealistic teacher who didn’t mind giving up his job and teaching needy students for free.

God
The final ‘profession’ in the list is a full-time job, which many aspire for but only Amitabh Bachchan can stake claim for being one.
In Hello Brother, Amitabh Bachchan did not make a physical appearance but was heard as a ‘Heavenly Voice’ who urged angel Salman Khan to come to heaven. The role became bigger with yet another Salman Khan-starrer, God Tussi Great Ho (a remake of Bruce Almighty) where Amitabh Bachchan was the God who let a madcap run his universe. In both films, he was the epitome of looks, philosophy and voice that convinces you of Amitabh Bachchan’s divinity.
Apart from being a religion-neutral God, he has also played Indra – the king of Hindu Gods – in Agni Varsha, a play in which Indra’s blessings were sorely required due to a drought threatening a village. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Filmi Fridays: Newcomers as Mega-Villains

My Yahoo! Movies column, first published here.

This week, we look at the several occasions where a newcomer (only a few films old, if not the debutant) was given the role of an over-the-top villain in a lavishly mounted saga – often pitting him against established stars of the times. The unpredictability that a talented newcomer brings to a role probably overcame all the resistance in going with an unknown name.

The best example of this trend is obviously, Gabbar Singh in Sholay.
When the Sholay script was complete, it was unanimously agreed that the most pivotal character was going to be Gabbar Singh – the daku who was nothing like the on-screen dakus seen till then. For this role, Danny Denzongpa was signed on but he had to drop out because he had already committed to do Feroz Khan’s Dharmatma. Since none of the villains of the day fitted the bill, Ramesh Sippy decided to back a newcomer called Amjad Khan. Amjad had a strong grounding in theatre but there was much scepticism in pitting him against three of the country’s top actors. Amjad himself was very nervous about the role and the industry found his unusual voice to be unbecoming of a fearsome villain but the audience of Sholay thought otherwise. Gabbar Singh went on to become the most popular villain of all times, fearsome and magnetic. And the role turned Amjad Khan into one of the top villains (and later, character actors) of the industry.

Ramesh Sippy repeated the same trick in his next film, Shaan.
For what was going to be one of the most expensive films made till then, he chose Kulbhushan Kharbanda to be Shaakaal – a villain who seemed to have walked straight out of a Bond film, complete with island hideouts, pet crocodiles and ambitions of world domination. Kharbanda shaved off his hair and delivered sadistic lines with his customary clenched-teeth-relish (“Dheere dheere yeh zehreeli gyais...”). Prior to this, Kharbanda was only seen in arthouse cinema and this role brought him bang in the middle of Bollywood.  
Like in Sholay, the villain was pitted against three top stars of the industry. Like in Sholay, he played a version of the Russian Roulette (with rotating chairs instead of rotating gun chambers). And poured untold misery on the entire cast. But somehow, the magic of Gabbar was missing. You could say it was the curse of Sholay that everything about Shaan was compared to its predecessor and found wanting. Shaakaal was no exception.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda did not do too many negative roles after this but became one of the better known character actors in mainstream and parallel cinema, a career that is still going strong.

It is somehow difficult to conceive that a character actor as well-recognised as Rajesh Vivek would have been a debutant at some point of time. He looks older than time itself!
But he was ‘introduced’ in Joshilaay as Jogi Thakur, yet another dacoit who went about killing people as if it was a game. The standard daku territory of Chambal ravines changed to the rugged terrains of Ladakh as Jogi Thakur was chased by the garrulous Sunny Deol and laconic Anil Kapoor – each having a different reason for getting to him.
Joshilaay was written by Javed Akhtar – one of the men who created iconic villains like Gabbar and Shaakaal (who were also played by newcomers) – and the character of Jogi Thakur had the same crazy unpredictability that distinguished those characters. His flowing mane and imposing frame gave out a frisson of menace whenever he appeared on screen and it was a style which Vivek would borrow from several times in the future.
Rajesh Vivek’s innings in Bollywood has been a stellar one with important roles in films like Lagaan and Swades – which started as a mega-villain in Joshilaay.   

When Rajkumar Santoshi made China Gate – his version of vigilantes-defending-villagers involving disgraced Army officers and a manic daaku, he borrowed a trick out of Sholay too. His villain – Jageera – was probably madder and more brutal than Gabbar and played by a rank newcomer, Mukesh Tiwari.
The actor with pitted against thespians like Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Amrish Puri but he managed to come out with flying colours. His matted hair, unruly beard, stained teeth, dirty clothes and an eccentric diction were carefully cultivated over a significant period of time and the effort showed on screen.  He got a lion’s share of the catchy dialogues (that won the award for Best Dialogue at Filmfare Awards) and was by far the most memorable character in an otherwise underwhelming film.
Mukesh Tiwari – after his bloodthirsty debut (“Mere man ko bhaya, main kutta kaatke khaya...”) – has transformed into a versatile character actor with successful comic (Vasooli in the Golmaal franchise) and dramatic (Bachcha Yadav in Gangaajal) roles under his belt.

Post Satya, Manoj Bajpai’s stock was at an all-time high and his next film – Shool – received a lot of attention despite being a rather grim, low-budget take on the violent world of Bihari politics.
He played the upright police officer up against a corrupt system, which was represented by Bachchoo Yadav - an infuriatingly nasty politician. The role was played by Sayaji Shinde (in his first major role). His staccato dialogue delivery, manic laughter and crazily lurching eyes became a sort of a template for all ‘nasty neta’ roles in the near future. The character borrowed several traits from various real-life netas and created a solid impact, holding his own against Bajpai’s histrionics.
Sayaji Shinde became a regular in the supporting cast of Hindi as well as Marathi cinema, often repeating the Shool template of the nasty politician.

Priyadarshan – before his brainless comedy phase – has done some excellent dramatic films with moments of high entertainment. Gardish was one such film.
The villain of Gardish – the fearsome local don, Billa Jilani – was played by the hulking Mukesh Rishi, who had just appeared in a few bit parts till then. In Gardish, he was given a build-up like no other villain of recent times. His entry scene in the film was orchestrated to a crescendo as we kept seeing his villainous acts and their terrorized aftermath – but never himself. When he did – in a fight scene with hero, Jackie Shroff – ‘Billa’ had already arrived. Rishi’s towering frame was used to maximum effect as he dwarfed everyone in the vicinity and remained ominously soft-spoken throughout the movie.
Mukesh Rishi went on to become a major villain of the 1990s including the iconic Gunda (where he played Bulla, of ‘rakhta hoon main khulla’ fame). He even made a well-noticed detour into character roles by playing Inspector Salim in Sarfarosh

It is not often that someone playing an out-and-out villain gets the Filmfare Award for Best Debut. In fact, it has happened only once – with Vidyut Jamwal for Force.
He played the younger brother of drug lord (played by Mukesh Rishi, of Gardish fame: see above) and managed to put up a very scary opposition to John Abraham and his cohorts. His sculpted body, deadpan expression and very slick action moves made him a worthy adversary to John’s police officer. As Vidyut took off shirts to John’s provocations (of also taking off shirts), he gave some serious competition to the other doyen of shirt-taking-off – Salman Khan.
While the movie did not do too well, Vidyut’s villainous turn was noticed and rewarded with awards for newcomers. He has kicked off his action-hero career in Bollywood with Force and has started to appear in heroic roles as well. After all, it would be a shame to waste those many abs on a villain!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Filmi Fridays: Road pe...

My Yahoo! Movies column, first published here

As The Lunchbox was all ready to go on a trip to LA, in came an unknown story from Gujarat and broke many hearts. Just as last week’s tribute was towards ‘food movies’, this week’s tribute is dedicated to The Good Road and ‘road movies’.

Bombay To Goa – India’s favourite leisure drive – was immortalized by a girl (Aruna Irani) escaping from gangsters out to kill her for witnessing a murder. She got on to a MP Travels bus bound for Goa and a lanky stranger who was following the girl also joined her in the bus and created such a ruckus that we still have his song buzzing in our ears. Dekha naa hai re…

Three friends took the same drive from Mumbai to Goa in a Mercedes convertible and made promises to make the same trip many times together. Farhan Akhtar made Dil Chahta Hai – which isn’t entirely about journeys – but it egged many people to get into a car and zip southwards from Bombay along the Konkan coast. 

Pooja Bhatt ran away from home to marry her beau who was after her father’s money. She met a smartass reporter on the way. He helped her to get an exclusive. They fell in love. They got separated. Eventually, all got settled and the heiress ran away again – this time, with her new lover.
Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin was a rip-off of Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (which was also used to make Raj Kapoor-Nargis starrer Chori Chori).

Vivek Oberoi and Antara Mali eloped to avoid her father’s wrath in the first ‘official’ road movie of Bollywood – Road. Their plan was to get to Jodhpur, get married and get back to pacify the girl’s dad. This was seriously jeopardised by an increasingly demanding hitchhiker (Manoj Bajpai) and the search party sent out by the girl’s dad.

A business heir was trying to escape his unsuccessful life when he met a bubbly girl in Jab We Met. They started from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus but they had missed the train at two successive stations, thus ending up spending a night at Hotel Decent. Soon they had shifted to state transport buses and singing songs before tripping into Kareena’s home in Bhatinda.

Two college-mates were looking for their best friend when a despicable batchmate landed up and claimed that he had found Rancho. Farhan and Raju immediately got into the car and during the drive, they remembered the great time they had as 3 Idiots.
But the man they met in Shimla wasn’t the man they were looking for. They got an address in Ladakh and zoomed off, ending their trip on the banks of Lake Pangong of Ladakh.

In Anjaana Anjaani , two strangers met while trying to commit suicide. After multiple attempts, they decided to have a twenty-day binge that would end with their suicides on 31st December. 
They drove from New York to Las Vegas in a classic red Ford Falcon and the drive became, literally, a song. They went from the snowy, windy climes (Priyanka in woolens) to the sunny, sultry weather (Priyanka in hot pants), giving lifts to all sorts of hitchhikers and their own moods.

A banker from London, a businessman from Mumbai and a copywriter from Delhi met in Barcelona for a pact made in college. The pact was that each would choose an adventure sport and the other two would participate unquestioningly. That was the trip they took in Spain for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. The three friends went from Barcelona to Seville via Costa Brava in a sky-blue Convertible through scenic roads, with scenic girlfriends, in their super-scenic car.