Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Review

Rituals Of Kali Chaudas Include Visiting Crematorium or Smashaan. Also One Has To Kill Evil And Laziness.

I Visited Karan’ Johar Movie At The Theatre & Was Disappointed Today By Bollywood’s Laziness. Karan Johar Was Trying To Be Brave In Exploring Mature Relationships But Was Confused & Stuck To Several Stereotypes. Invoking Too Much Bollywood Nostalgia Was Sign Of Weakness.

Anushka Was Good – The Dependable Rahul Dravid. Fawad Was Definitely Wasted. Ash & Ranbir Will Need To Work Harder To Come Out Of The String of Bad Movies – Karan Johar Does Not Help Them.

Foreign Locales, Stunning Lifestyle, Great Music – Was All There But Something Was Missing. The Movie Sounded Fake. The Only Saving Grace Was The Title Song.

I Think Raj Thackeray Actually Was Helping Promote The Movie…….

Ajay Devgan’s Shivaay Was Already Doomed & Cannot Gather Courage To See It….The Movie Poster Always Tell Us Something…

I Saw ‘Court’ & ‘Dhanak’ On Flight A Few Hours Back And Now This…I Pray That Bollywood Kill Laziness & Become More Courageous….Happy Diwali


Titli – Dark & Daring


Titli has been one of the most amazing films of 2015. It was a part of my top movies of 2015. Here is the detailed review.

Titli Review:
Happy times sow the seeds of darkness.

Dark times sow the seeds of hope.

Titli is a film about these seeds of hope after a lifetime of darkness.

The setting of the movie Titli is black…very black
– A family that takes you down.
– A life that is only dismal darkness
– A life that has no hope
– All the family members live in their own hells. And the way of dealing is with this hell is to make the life hell for the others.

Titli introduces us to the under-belly of the national capital region. It is about those areas that we know that exist but we choose to ignore them. We refuse to see them.

The movie revolves around the father and his three sons. It is a very patriarch driven and crime-driven family. The youngest son is the protagonist and is named Titli. He dreams of leaving the family and setup his parking business – to upgrade his life. But the family gets Titli married to Neelu and add the innocent woman to the crime gang and leverage her to dupe people. Neelu is their passport to additional revenues. But Neelu has her own demons and her own version of hell.

Everyone acts out of selfish interest and use each other. The family of Rajshri and Karan Johar does not exist – here everyone is out to make life miserable for each other.

But Titli and Neelu want to escape the life of violence and poverty. They yearn for a better life.

Ranvir Shorey as the elder son has given his best performance till date. A superb screenplay, excellent direction and great acting. A must-watch. It is a different world. Bollywood’s growth continues in the shadow of blockbusters.


The Best Of Bollywood – 2015


Its that time of the year again! The year 2015 delivered unexpected gems, pleasant surprises, formula films and big letdowns. As an optimist, I am happy that real gems were discovered and Indian Cinema is going beyond select camps and limited talent pool. This is the only way for Indian Entertainment to reach its global potential.

The movie connoisseurs lapped up Masaan, Titli and Dum Lagaa Ke Haishaa. It was heart-warming to see Bajrangi Bhaijaan becoming a Universal Hit like 3 Idiots. Bahubali was literally the giant epic of box office and showed the scales we can achieve.

Formula movie stuck to their brand promise: Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Dilwale, Bajirao Mastani, Dil Dhadakne Do, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, ABCD2, Welcome Back

Bombay Velvet, Tamasha, Byomkesh Bakshi were a disappointment to many. Hollywood’s Jurassic World touched the 100 crore mark in Bollywood.

Here is my take on Bollywood’s Top Movies for 2015.

Best of 2015:

1. Masaan: Poetry, pain and beauty against the multicoloured Varanasi. Neeraj brings heart and art into cinema and showcases four lives stuck in Varanasi. Tu Kisi Rail Si Guzaarti Hai – Just Wow ! Subhash Jha rightly mentioned that see Sanjay Mishra in Masaan and then in Dilwale to see how Bollywood kills talent!

2. Titli: A dark cinema about about Delhi’s under-belly and about the dark lanes that we see and we miss. Story of the a father and this three sons who act of self-interest alone. A superb screenplay, excellent direction and great acting. Ranvir’s best performance of the date.

3. Bajranji Bhaijaan: The power of Salman meets meaningful cinema. Clean and Universal hit like 3 Idiots scores on all areas – story, performances, entertainment. Had a prop called Kareena – the laziest actor of late! The movie did more for Indo-Pak relations than official government diplomats.

4. Piku: Deepika-Bachchan rule with great support from Irfan. Beautiful Bhadra-lok and nuances of relationships. Heart-warming. Motion Se Emotion Se Box-Office Collection! Shoojit Sircar brings biology to Bollywood – like Vicky Donor!

5. Baahubali: Lord Of Rings meets Indian Cinema Heroes. Best advertisement for Indian talent. Almost touched 500 crores. The whole India is waiting to find out why Katappa killed Bahubali? Epic in every sense.

6. Dum Lagaa Ke Haisha: Love in times of patriarchy and arranged marriages. Discovering love. Kumar Sanu and Anu Malik relive the magic of times and add the right flavour to Ayushman-Bhumi acting.

7. Tanu Weds Manu Returns: Kangana’s Haryani accent and swagger was a hit across the board. Anand Rai re-created the magic with Madhavan and Kangana.

8. Bajiao Mastani: The grandeur of Bhansali movie with Ranveer’s powerful acting. Only Bhansali can do this!

9. Drishyam: Ajay Devgan and Tabu shine in the Thriller Drama. The remake of Mohanlal starrer created the right impact.

10. Margarita With A Straw: Kalki and Revathy bring the life of a teenager with cerebral palsy. Talk’s struggle with achieving her physical and emotional aspirations with dignity. Emotional experience.

Honorable Mention:
Shamitabh: Homage to Amitabh’s baritone. Dhanush shines in this egoistic battle movie. Piddi Si Baatein…trust Balki to be different!

The Blockbusters List:
1. Bahubali – 470 Crore (All Versions)
2. Bajrangi Bhaijaan – 320 Crores
3. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo – 190 Crores
4. Tanu Weds Manu Returns – 150 Crores
5. Dilwale – Still Collecting…
6. Bajirao Mastani – Still Collecting..
7. ABCD2 – 106 Crores
8. Welcome Back – 97 Crores
9. Tamasha – Still Collecting…
10. Gabber Is Back – 86 Crores

The Forgetful 2015:
MSG: Messenger of God – No Comments!
Roy: First – It is more Ranbir movie than Arjun Rampal movie! Nothing memorable except Chitiyan Kalaaiyan:
Bombay Velvet: Anurag tries to create larger than life Bollywood movie. Perfect paper movie. Forgiven.
Hamaari Adhuri Kahaani: Adhuri ? There was zero Kahaani. Once upon a time Emraan and Vidya used to be…
Ek Paheli Leela: Leveraging the asset called Sunny Leone.

Related Lists:

The Bollywood Watchlist – 2015 Version

The Best Of Bollywood – 2014

The Best Of Bollywood – 2013

The Best Of Bollywood – 2012



Dream Like Ronnie !

The Trio of Ronnie Screwala, Zarine Mehta and Deven Khote got my attention early in life. I was in school and Doordarshan was a staple diet. United Television came across as a different company – production, content and overall packaging. The logo of UTV was stuck in mind.

Since then UTV and Ronnie Screwvala and his team have continued to impress us. India’s first soap – Shanti was a big step at that time. It continued to grow in leaps and bound. In-flight entertainment business, post-production, IPO, broadcasting, VAS business etc. It ventured into the movie business via movie distribution and soon turned into production as well. I am sure each milestone had its share of challenges.

Everyone sees the success and the limelight. Especially in the glamour business. Ronnie’s UTV was sold to Disney – a watershed moment for Indian entertainment industry. It was a great and a heartening story – a company that its Indian entertainment brethren and camps did not take seriously initially was bought by one of the biggest and iconic entertainment companies in the world.

Ronnie has played an important role in India movie business. During the course of my doctoral thesis on the role of modern management in Indian Film Industry, I came across many exemplary practices of UTV. I have documented them and they are a part of my thesis.

UTV gave special importance to movie marketing and production values and content.


Ronnie has recently penned his journey in his book – Dream With Your Eyes Open. Trust him to do the same with his book. Indian non-fiction does not get great attention. But Ronnie is trying a lot of things here as well. Check his list to redefine this space:

1. Great Marketing Campaign Around The Book – Unless You Are Lost In Hawaiian Vacation, Very People Will Miss The Book Launch
2. Ranbir Kapoor Launches The Book – A Perfect Launch
3. Testimonials From Captain Of Indian Industry & Disney
4. Testimonial From Narendra Modi
5. India’s First Television Ad For The Book
6. An Active Social Media Campaign, Website

The success of the book is important as it helps to promote the message of Entrepreneurship. He says the books is about “It can be done” and not “I did it” Great. The message of entrepreneurship need more ambassadors. Importance of failing. Importance of taking risks. Dreaming Big! May thousands of Ronnie bloom !


Related Links:
Book Website – Dreams With Your Eyes Open


Get Ready For The ‘Happy New Year’ Marketing Juggernaut !

Get Ready For The Happy New Year Marketing Juggernaut !

The Marketing for SRK’s ‘Happy New Year’ has already started. If ‘Om Shanti Om’ and ‘RaOne’ and ‘Chennai Express’ experience is considered, expect a mega publicity drive.

It started with the full page advertisements at the start of the year. The latest one is the ‘Happy New Year’ auditions for acting with SRK on Groupon. It is designed to create lot of ‘user engagement’. By being part of the movie, the user will be more connected to the movie. The people who applied for the auditions will have an emotional stake in the movie. People are being gifted certificates etc.

Expect more innovations and more visibility campaigns from SRK. Expect to read more and hear more about SRK and its cast. There will be overt and covert approaches.

Smart move !




Honey Singh & The Blockbuster Strategy

Anita Elberse’s Blockbusters is one of the must read books in the entertainment world today. It makes a refreshing and a strong argument for the cause of Blockbusters.

Anita Elberse is an award-winning scholar at Harvard Business School. She teaches a course on Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries, covering the businesses of entertainment, media, and sports. Her book ‘Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment’ is awarded Amazon’s “Best Books of 2013” in the Business and Investing category.


According to Anita, the blockbuster strategy ensures higher success rate at box office and reduce risk. Blockbuster strategy of investing in big potential winners reaps rich rewards across industry segments – movies, sports, video games, music bands, hotels, restaurants, electronics. She uses examples of Warner Brothers, Beyonce, Argentinian Soccer Clubs, Jay-Z etc to drive home the point. For example, Warner Bros. earned more than 40% of revenues from the top 10% of films produced from 2007 to 2011. In 2011, 102 music tracks, 0.001% of the eight million tracks on offer that year, sold more than a million units, representing 15% of total music sales. That’s up from 36 tracks with more than a million units sold in 2007, representing 7% of sales. At the other end of the curve, 94% of all tracks in 2011 sold fewer than 100 units, and 32% sold only one copy.

Blockbuster Strategy is exploiting the “winner-takes-it-all” strategy. Studios should focus on more Blockbuster movies and produce less movies.

If you think more about, the strategy is clearing shaping the world around us. The energies that are behind launching mobile phones are example of Blockbuster strategies. See how Samsung launches its new phones.

In Indian context, the same phenomena are clearly visible. The biggest Indian movie of recent time was Dhoom 3. It was the first movie to reach near INR 5 Billion (85 Million USD). Incidentally, Indian movies first reached the 1 Billion INR mark only in 2010 onwards. India’s biggest sporting league is Indian Premiere League (cricket). It mimics NFL. India’s top singer is Honey Singh today. He has taken over the imagination of India. He is our equivalent of Beyonce and Jay-Z strategies.

Honey Singh in Studio Latest Pics

Infact, India is under the election fever. And the front runner for PM Post has emerged as his party favorite using the Blockbuster strategy. What he did in his party, he is doing at the national level.

Finally, Blockbuster Strategy is carpet bombing the masses. It is mass strategy. The world is also moving towards more customized experiences. The world is moving towards niches. Toward slow movement. It could be the big challenger to Blockbuster strategy.



500 Crores – Not An Impossible Task For Bollywood !

In the last 2-3 years, the Indian Film Industry had got a new aspirational goal – 100 Crores. Suddenly 100 crores was the new benchmark of success. With each passing year, the number of films in the 100 crore club grew. And it will continue to grow. The rationale is simple.

India’s population is more than 100 crores. Even if 2% of Indian population watches a movie, it is 2 crore people watching a movie. Multiply it by the average lowest price of Rs 50, and we have 100 crores !


Movies were always popular in India and hit movies made good money. A few important changes have happened in the Indian Film Industry and that has contributed to the 100 crore movies:

1. The revenue leakages are getting reduced due to multiplexes and digital technologies.
2. Multiplexes have increased the number of screens. They have also increased the ticket prices and hence the yield.
3. Strong marketing strategies ensure carpet bombing of the movie. Maximum people watch movie within 2 weeks.
4. Modern management has ensured a good template for the success of a big size movie.

Inspite of the above facts, India has less number of per capita screens. The movie watching audience will continue to swell and we will soon move to new benchmarks. In fact, 200 crore is the new 100 crore with three movies already clocking more than 200 crores in 2013. The day is not far when 500 crore will not be an impossible feat in Bollywood.

Indian Film Industry is bullish in outlook. The only challenge is to ensure high quality content with global best practices. It can then make a bigger dent in the global entertainment order !



Bollywood’s Top Movies 2013

The End Of The Year – Time To Review. Time To Reflect. Time To Relive.

2013 Was A Mixed Year For Bollywood – India’s Film Industry.

The 100 Crore Club continued to welcome new members and three movies rocked even into 200 Crore club – Dhoom 3, Krrish 3 and Chennai Express.

At Half Year mark, I had commented: “The content and treatment continues to win. The new talent is getting better results and traditional stars are being challenged. Good times for Bollywood continue!”. It still holds true at the end of the year. (See Bollywood 2013 Half Year Mark Review)

Ranbir tasted first failure when he let money to precede our his cinematic choices. Though Yeh Jawaani Hai Dewaani was no great cinema, it balanced commercial and contemporary cinema. The same treatment was dished out to Himmatwala, Once Upon A Time In Mumbai 2. Ranbir’s Rocket Singh is yet to be bettered, Barfi not withstanding.

Ranbir got a challenger in form of Ranveer with Ram Leela and Lootera showcasing his talent. Sushant Singh Rajput is the new talent where banks are betting their money on ! Parineeti and Alia Bhatt are the new ladies to watch for ! Nimrat Kaur seems promising !

Deepika was the actor of the year with 4 hits – Race 2, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Chennai Express and Ram Leela. Behind the beautiful face and awesome acting is an intelligent mind – who redefined herself. Sonakshi and Shahid Kapoor need reinvention for sure – they can learn from Deepika.


I still feel the best film of the year was Ship Of Theseus. It was seconded by The Lunchbox. Ship Of Theseus showcases the best of Indian Cinema and so does The Lunchbox. A R Rahman still rules in the music department. Though Aashiqui 2 brought new challengers.

Top 5 Films:

1. Ship Of Theseus
2. Lunchbox
3. Kai Po Che
4. Raanjhaana
5. Shahid
6. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
7. Shuddh Desi Romance
8. Special 26
9. Aashiqui 2
10. D-Day

Other Honorable Mentions:
1. Madras Cafe
2. Ram Leela

Top 5 Movies That Did Not Work !:
1. Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobara
2. Himmatwala
3. Besharam
4. Zanjeer
5. Phata Poster

Top Grossers Of The Year:
1. Dhoom 3 – 250 Cr +
2. Krrish 3 – 250 Cr
3. Chennai Express – 225 Cr
4. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani – 190 Crore
5. Ram Leela – 110 Cr

I am pleased to note that Bhaag Milkha Bhaag crossed 100 Crores – 100 Crores is not an elusive number anymore with even Grand Masti touching the magical figure.

Ram Leela Poster


The LunchBox – Food For Thought – Watch It !

The Lunchbox is a moving story of two lonely individuals in a big metropolis, who accidentally get connected and developed a liking for each other. It is a simple love story made with lot of care and attention to detail.

Mr Saajan Fernandes is a widower on the verge of retirement. Ila is a neglected wife busy with her daily routine. Ila sends lunch to her husband via the Mumbai Dabbawallas. The lunch box reaches Mr Saajan instead of her husband and this is where their connect starts. They exchange notes and get some solace from each other.


The outstanding performances of Irrfan, Nimrat and Nawazuddin light up the movie. Aunty’s voice is the fourth lead in her own way. Irffan delivers another stellar performance after Paan Singh Tomar . His body language, his eyes, his his walk, his sadness, his smoking, his dilemma – Irrfan is the finest actor in the country. Nawaz is a strong match to Irrfan and he shines as Irrfan’s junior. But the heart of the movie is Nimrat Kaur – her effortless acting and her portrayal of the neglected and cheated wife moves you. You want her to be happy – you want to make her smile. Amazing act ! What a find !

The movie shines by capturing observations of Mumbai city and humans trapped in the city. The Mumbai Dabbawallas are the backbone of the movie. The Dabbawalla refuses to acknowledge the mistake and claims that Harvard School and Prince Charles have come to study their famed delivery – how can they go wrong? Mr Saajan is a Catholic and is disturbed that he will get a vertical burial. “I’ve spent my life standing in trains and buses,” he says, “now I will have to stand even when I’m dead.”

Nawaz’s Act, Playful Children, Ila’s Mother’s Loneliness, Ila’s Husband’s Adultery add strong shades in this colorful painting. Orient Fan, Streetside Painter’s Paintings, Ila’s Seduction Attempt, Banana Eaters are the other rich textures.

Go watch it ! One of the best movies of the year !

LunchBox is Food For Thought but somehow it makes you hungry after the movie !


The Good Road Controversy – Let Us Look At The Road Ahead !

The recent nomination of Gujarati Film ‘The Good Road’ for the Oscars In Best Foreign Film Categry has created lot of controversy. It is all fire and rage against the movie.

Let us look at the issues.

1. Better Films Lost Out – The Ship Of Theseus And The LunchBox !

Lot of people believe that films like ‘The LunchBox’ and ‘The Ship Of Theseus’ and ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ would have been better choices. I also agree that ‘The LunchBox’ and ‘The Ship Of Theseus’ could have worked better. But this happens every year.

Year 2012 : Barfi was India’s nomination. Everyone felt that Paan Singh Tomar, Kahaani, Deool, The Dirty Picture were better films and could have better chances.

Year 2010: Peepli Live was our choice. Udaan was definitely a better movie.

Year 2007: Do you really think Eklavya was the best choice? Chak De India, Gandhi My Father, Guru or Dharm could have given more teeth to Indian representation.

Year 2005: Paheli was the Indian choice in 2005. It was selected ahead of Parineeta, Swades, Page 3, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. I would rooted Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi or Swades.

My all time favorite – Jeans in 1998 !

So it happens every year – nothing new.

2. Wrong Depiction of Gujarati / Indian Culture

As Vidya Balan said in The Dirty Picture, films are made for entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. Not all Oscar nominations are made only for social message.

Also, The Good Road’s depiction of certain issues could be a reality which we may want to ignore. Did SlumDog Millionaire represent India correct? Does BA Pass represent India correctly?

I understand that movies with universal message and human stories appeal to the Oscar jury. The Good Road has struck a chord with Indian jury – it might also strike a chord in foreign shores. Also, apart from the message, there are also the marketing and lobbying efforts that determine the Oscar victory.

3. Political Angle

No comments here !

Overall, I think it was very sad to see the negative publicity around ‘The Good Road’. I believe that it is natural for ‘The LunchBox’ team to be disappointed. It is a great movie – one of the best movies in recent time. Even ‘The Ship Of Theseus’ is a class apart. Maybe they would have been great choices. But now that choice is made, let us stand behind it. Let us make it win !

The bright side is that all these three movies are made by first time film-makers. It give us great hope. The Indian Cinema is lucky to have these gems. They have more movies left in them and this critical and commercial acclaim will only encourage them to take bigger risks.

Second, NFDC produced ‘The Good Road’ and ‘The Lunchbox’. It represents another positive note. Kiran Rao picked up ‘The Ship Of Theseus’ and Karan Johar picked up ‘The LunchBox’ after the production. It means studios are willingness to support good cinema and give it a wider release. A great victory for all.

So – Let us look a the road ahead. Let us support this movie. Let us help it win ! It is now India’s case !