Browsing All Posts filed under »Op-ed«

Taking a stand

December 1, 2016

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The Supreme Court’s ruling on the national anthem is yet another instance of the movies being a soft target for tokenistic measures. Why is it always the movies? Take smoking. There are many ways to bring down cigarette and liquor consumption. You can stop the sale of singles, force people to buy a pack every […]

Fact? Or rah-rah fiction?

October 6, 2016

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The problem with the recently released biopic of Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the problem with many biopics of the famous: the flaws make way for fawning. MS Dhoni – The Untold Story is a terrifically entertaining sports saga, but is it a biopic, a “biographical picture”? On the evidence of dictionary definitions, it probably qualifies. […]

Cinema, society, chicken, egg

July 6, 2016

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We need to rigorously study the impact of cinema on society before blaming films for every shocking headline. At least for a while, the case that shocked Chennai played out like a Tamil movie. A dark-skinned boy (Ramkumar) from a small town set eyes on a fair-skinned, upper-class girl (Swathi). He fell in love. He […]

In search of Kryptonite

June 8, 2016

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Looking back at those two games in the fourth and final set of the French Open, when it seemed Superman might be invincible after all. There was a point during the French Open when I discovered how badly I wanted Andy Murray to win. I wasn’t rooting for him when he won the first set. […]

A legend walked into a bar…

June 1, 2016

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Tanmay Bhat has every right to mock Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar. But a little sensitivity wouldn’t hurt. Is comedian Tanmay Bhat’s video-spoof depicting a trash-talking Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar cause for offence? Before addressing this question, we may have to ask another one: Is it funny? The video shows Bhat playing Tendulkar and […]

A star in a strange role

April 27, 2016

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Salman Khan is in the middle of another Olympic-sized controversy. But why is he in it in the first place? Is Salman Khan qualified to be Goodwill Ambassador of the Indian contingent at the 2016 Rio Olympics? His father Salim Khan certainly seems to think so. In a tweet battle with Milkha Singh, who objected […]

Not a black-and-white issue

February 10, 2016

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The racism controversy around the Oscars cannot be addressed by just nominating a few black actors. When Mary Kom was released – actually, right from the point the film was announced – a lot was said and written about Priyanka Chopra playing a Manipuri boxer. “Why not cast someone from the North East?” was the […]

Trials and starry tribulations

December 14, 2015

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So what is the long-drawn Salman Khan trial all about? Baradwaj Rangan wonders. The Salman Khan trial isn’t just about an actor who may or may not have done the things he’s been accused of, the things he’s now been acquitted of. (Whoever was driving that car has, by now, become as mysterious an entity […]

Lives in transit

December 7, 2015

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As trains thunder overhead, a flood-displaced family waits to return home. It’s Saturday. The sun is out. It has been out for a day or two now, but today’s sun feels different. It’s brighter, warmer. It feels like a promise. Some of the streets are dry – they’re dull and grey, the way we like […]

The side-effects of speaking one’s mind

November 26, 2015

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Why should everyone, including Aamir Khan, say the most perfectly worded, politically correct, lawyer-vetted things in public, even if they may think otherwise privately? Before Aamir Khan, there was Kamal Haasan. Frustrated by forces that were preventing the release of his mega-budget production Vishwarooopam in Tamil Nadu, the actor said he was contemplating leaving the […]

It’s complicated

September 18, 2015

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Facebook has announced that they’re working on an alternative to the ‘like’ button. But is there a single button, a single word, that can contain the spectrum of negative human emotion? For a while, September 15 was like any other day. Large numbers of Indians, unsurprisingly, celebrated Engineer’s Day. Fans of old-fashioned murder mysteries remembered […]

Headline news

July 27, 2015

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What is a newspaper’s responsibility? To tell a story? Or draw eyeballs to that story in the first place? I’m not one for pop-motivational quotes on calendars and posters, but I love reading stories about people who inspire through their lives. Many of them, unsurprisingly, are sportspeople. For most of us, that level of control […]

In Salman, they trust

May 8, 2015

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A fascinating documentary shows us what Salman Khan means to an India that’s not quite shining. One of the more perplexing moments on Season Four of Koffee with Karan was when Salman Khan made an appearance – his first on the show – and declared, “I am a virgin.” He added that he was going […]

Caste and class in popular Tamil cinema

April 23, 2015

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Observing and interpreting class or caste markers in the discussion of a film isn’t the same as celebrating them. I co-wrote a screenplay some years ago, and we named the hero Rahul. We hadn’t thought about Rahul’s caste.  The only thing he was, in our minds, was young – and Rahul sounded like a young […]

Freedom of speech: an alien concept?

January 2, 2015

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The protests against ‘pk’ bring up the question: When the people themselves don’t mind, why are self-appointed people’s representatives getting all hot and bothered? Centuries ago, a Hindu named Vatsyayana wrote a treatise that, if filmed, would never clear the Censor Board today. The erotic imagination of another Hindu named Jayadeva, whose Gita Govinda depicts […]

Seeking unity in diversity

January 29, 2014

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In a country as diverse as ours, how do we prevent the ghettoisation of the regional film industries? Subtitles could be a start… When an Elizabeth Taylor or a Paul Newman dies, all of America grieves. One reason, of course, is that these stars belonged to a time when we had to go to the movies, like […]

Ayyo, Rama, what’s aappening?

June 24, 2013

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What is the appropriate response to stereotypes in cinema? Well, that depends on the kind of film, doesn’t it? When I reviewed Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar, an update on the Heer-Ranjha legend that situates its heroine in Kashmir, a Kashmiri reader wrote back in angst: “The problem (likely only for me)… is that no Kashmiri girl […]

The mirror behind the screen

July 24, 2012

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When the events of fanciful popular culture make ugly inroads into our lives, the problem lies with us, and within us. Christopher Nolan couldn’t have dreamed up a better title for his new Batman movie. The Dark Knight Rises. With the merest of alterations, it transforms into a newspaper headline for the day after the […]