As this year in India draws to a close, I thought I would take some time to discuss media related things that happened this year. Basically the following will be a list of interesting media events or a version of a best of list.
Best Bollywood Films I saw when in India this pasted year:
1) Dev D
This movie is not so much "Bollywood" as it is "parallel cinema" (Indian movies that usually do not have the singing and the dancing and have a small budget, roughly the equivalent of an indie film in the USA). The film is an undated version of (based on) the book Devdas, which has been adapted into films by Bollywood in the passed. This version taking place in the present with Devdas now called Dev (played by a wonderful Abhay Deol). Not only is the film beautifully shot, but engrossing, well written and tackles some not so nice events and things that affect India and the world. The film is gritty and dark and reminds me of Easy Rider, not because its narrative is in anyway similar but because the film's music, cinematography, and mood make the film. Dev D was hailed as a new kind of Bollywood film when it came out, lets see what comes after...
2) Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!
Another not so much Bollywood film, and again staring Abhat Deol a Lucky (he had a good year). This film centers around Lucky, who is a con man and thief. An off color comedy, the film is memorable for its zippy dialog, great actor performances, and fun portrayal of Delhi culture.
3) Luck By Chance
A conventional Bollywood film, but a good one. Great dance sequences, interesting plot (even if its on Bollywood's favorite subject: itself), and memorable characters, make this movie about the pit falls of Bollywood and fame a great watch.
Bollywood is out in full swing in this film, everything is glossy and bright, and all the actors are incredibly good looking (or at least half naked). Although, it looses itself after intermission this film is funny and enjoyable and follows two guys who pretend they are a gay couple to be able to live in a fabulous apartment with a hot girl. The movie has some good laughs (if you are not too pc about everything), but the gay jokes are certainly not any worse (maybe even better) than American movies. As always Kiron Kher steals the show as one of the "gay" guy's mom.
Okay I will be honest, I am not in love with this movie. It's pretty much, ok. But it stars a woman (she is not purely someone's love interest or a prop) and an almost all female cast. Its themes are not innovative- girl wants to become a model- the industry is not very nice- she gets famous- turns into not nice person- does she become nice again and reclaim her career? But it's entertaining enough, well done and has some good moments and well played "evil" characters.
Enough of the movies, lets look at some other media achievements:
Best Media Events (mostly TV):
1) The Second Season of the IPL (Indian Primier League)
Think Major League Baseball but with Cricket played 20/20 style (See previous Blog on the IPL). The second year/season of the IPL was great TV magic, although all the games took place in South Africa and not in India because of the elections, it was still fun to watch the action. Who knew Cricket could be this much fun. All I have to say is: Go Mumbai Indians!
2) The Elections
Every 5 years India goes to the polls in national elections, this year the Congress party won an unprecedented victory over everyone else (BJP, Communist party etc). The elections were everywhere in the media (especially on news channels and there are tons of news channels), Rahul Gandhi is the new media darling and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is really that short.
3) Rakhi Ka Swayamvar
This TV series staring Rakhi Sawant (a sexy TV and movie actress), is modeled on the Bachelorette (the American TV series). Here some strange guys try to win the actresses heart with strange tasks and family visits. The season (series?) finally is on Sunday, who will Rakhi pick? Will the guys pick her over the money? What does this mean for the institution of marriage in India?
The Idea mobile service campaign. These ads usually feature Abhishek Bachchan as a "normal person" who comes up with ideas that use the mobile phone as something that can create change. For example people voting on a proposed government construction project via phone. The ads are fun, up lifting, and different.
The Bajaj motorcycle ads featuring a genie, who grants a guy a house, a wife and a motorcycle. Its funny, and well done.
Most overrated advertisement and media thing:
Vodafone mobile service Zoozoo campaign. These ads featured strange looking characters doing stuff, that was irreverent and funny but ultimately pointless.
I am sure I have missed something, but this is what I remember from a year in Indian media.