Friday, May 09, 2003

TCM: Bollywood: update

Here's more about what's in store on TCM in the Bollywood sense: India's film industry - called Bollywood in a fusion of the names Hollywood and Bombay (the city now called Mumbai)- is the largest in the world, producing almost 800 Hindi-language films per year that are viewed by roughly 11 million people per day. Producer-director Ismail Merchant, one half of the distinguished filmmaking team that comprises Merchant Ivory Productions, acts as co-host with TCM's Robert Osborne in presenting a dozen representative Bollywood productions. These movies are known for their high concepts, ethnic flavor, rich emotionalism, vivid colors and sensuous music - often wrapped up in the boy-meets-girl formula of classic Hollywood. Ranging from thrillers and murder mysteries to action movies and costume dramas, Bollywood movies are credited with having had a huge influence on India's culture, fashion and lifestyles. Their impact extends to the international film scene, as evidenced by such Bollywood-influenced films as Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge. The highlights in TCM's Bollywood festival include Mehboob Khan's Mother India (1957), which has been called "the cornerstone of Indian commercial cinema," "India's Gone With the Wind, and "arguably the most popular and influential movie ever produced in India," and Mani Rathnam's Bombay. (1995).

For those interested in the movies and schedule, it's available online. The movies slated for telecast (this is for the really really lazy among us all): DDLJ, Bombay, Amar Akbar Anthony, Rangeela, Dil Chahta Hai, Sholay, Pakeezah, Junglee (what??? They have this and no Mithun or Rajnikant. Shame!!), Awara, Mother India, Do Bigha Zameen and Pyaasa.

On the sad side: The prints came from Channel 4 in London (predictably, getting them from India was a problem!). Also, some films have ended up in graveyard slots thanks to bad print quality (this is when I should have still been in school. Now I can't really stay up late, because I have to get to work the next day!).

On the bright side: no $10 for seating in a semi-decent theatre hall filled with people spouting enough makeup and accents to kill your sense of smell. And no commercial breaks (aka no more detergents, scooters, pain balms, bathing soaps, sensual coffee, chingum (aka chewing gum)). And the choices come from Nasreen Munni Kabir. This may mean nothing to those who haven't heard of her or read her books, but if you are acquainted with her work, the selection makes sense in a different sense (but no Mithun??).

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