Bond takes on Salman
If James Bond had to step back for the might of Salman Khan last week, the reverse is true this week. Sony Pictures pushed the India release of the latest 007 film, Spectre, to November 20 to give Sooraj Barjatya and Khan’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo an undisputed run at the box office during the long holiday weekend. The strategy paid off, with the film crossing Rs.100 crore in its first four-day run. The only Hindi release this week is a modest indie that showcases the directing abilities of a mix of filmmakers and film critics-turned-directors, X: Past is Present. So it looks like Bond will still have to contend with Khan at the box office this week.
An interesting list complied by the European trade journal, Screen International, examines the foreign language film share for 2015 in the United States. Interestingly, out of a list of 40 films from January to November (released in USA and Canada), a large percentage is Indian films—with 18 films being from the Indian sub-continent and four Indian films occupying top 10 berths in terms of box office collections. While computer-animated family comedy Un Gallo Con Muchos Huevos from Mexico occupies the number one position, the Salman Khan blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan is at number two and Baahubali comes in at three. Also in the top 10 are Dil Dhadakne Do and Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Some of the others following lower down in the order are Piku, Welcome Back and Detective Byomkesh Bakshy. The article goes on to suggest that an Oscar selection can have a positive effect on the collections of foreign films, and give them an added boost. With the list of final five for this year’s Oscars due to come out in the middle of December, India’s entry, Marathi film Court, has stiff competition from frontrunners Hungary’s Son Of Saul, France’s Mustang, Argentina’s The Clan, Taiwan’s The Assassin and Brazil’s The Second Mother, among others.
Despite the conservative tag being pasted on the arts, and the film industry in particular, the Directorate of Film Festivals selection committee took filmmakers and the media by surprise when they announced the Indian Panorama films list. The non-fiction category includes an LGBT documentary. Sridhar Rangayan’s film Breaking Free looks at the impact of the draconian Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code and the court’s flip-flop over its abolishment. The feature-length documentary includes interviews with activists and advocates, as well as testimonies of gay and transgender persons, who have been victimised or exploited by police, family, law and society. Breaking Free will be screened at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa next week.
Snapped at the beach
Bollywood stars always hope that their holidays remain private. While they are over-zealous in posting pictures of their daily work-outs, meals, selfies and cutesy pictures with their friends, wives and significant others on social media, they go silent—or certainly discreet—when they vacation. But as we know, Bollywood fans are everywhere. Recently, during the Diwali holidays, a high-end, elite resort in the Maldives hosted two Bollywood stars. First Shahid Kapoor, clearly needing to shake off the debacle of Shaandaar, was spotted having a romantic holiday with his wife Mira. Perhaps this was the long overdue honeymoon we had been reading about? And soon after, sandwiched between the trailer launch of Dilwale and Diwali, Varun Dhawan checked in for a little R&R. Now that Diwali is over, and with no big releases on the horizon, this weekend Bollywood and fashion will meet, greet and celebrate producer Madhu Mantena’s marriage to fashion designer Masaba Gupta. Some of the stars present shall certainly look sun-kissed and rejuvenated.