Global Views
   Middle East & Africa
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 English Teaching
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
Pans & Tilts
An Indian Film on an American Power Plant
By Gautaman Bhaskaran
South Asia Editor
Ram Gopal Varma's "Sarkar Raj" opened worldwide June 6, 2008.

Ram Gopal Varma's "Sarkar Raj" opened worldwide June 6, and it is an entirely Bachchan family affair. The Senior B, the Junior B and Mrs Junior. What more could have Varma asked for. The director, badly bruised by the terrible flop of "Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag" (a film, he should have never attempted in the first place, for it is foolish to take on classics like "Sholay" — and "Aag" was a remake of it), must be hoping that his latest work would be seductive enough to draw audiences to theatres.

"Sarkar Raj" is a sequel to the critically acclaimed 2005 "Sarkar," loosely based on the life of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. It caused controversy, and naturally, for Thackeray is a powerful politician, and despite having been a great cartoonist is touchy about criticism.

"Sarkar Raj" is no less controversial. It is reportedly based on the infamous Enron power plant project in Maharashtra that did not take off because of political interference. The movie has a character strongly resembling Thackeray's nephew, Raj, whose animosity to the Bachchans is well known. While Raj has been questioning the Bachchan loyalty to his State, the same family plays characters who fight for Maharashtra's welfare. An interesting dichotomy.

One of my most vivid off-screen images of Indian cinema has been the anointing with milk of Tamil film star Kamal Hassan's larger-than-life wood cutout by his fans outside a Chennai cinema. Now that his Dasavatharam is set to open on June 13, not June 6 as earlier announced, the scene may well rerun. Such fan frenzy affirms the enormous appeal of Indian actors.

The star system has demolished the importance of studios and directors. Studios and banners, such as Prabhat, New Theatres, RK, Gemini, AVM, Navketan and Guru Dutt among others, may not have exactly perished, but their glory has faded. Once, audiences thronged theatres because of a studio or banner: they knew what to expect from an RK or a Gemini.

In India, the studio/banner system gave way to the Director's Chair. Guru Dutt or Raj Kapoor or Vasan began to dwarf the system they had created. However, things changed, and Dutt's Kaagaz Ke Phool traced the decline of not only the studio system in India, but also the director. The movie signalled the rise of star power.

Dev Anand became mightier than Navketan, Raj Kapoor eclipsed RK and institutions like Gemini, Vijaya and AVM fell by the wayside, forced to play second fiddle to colossus like Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan and M.G. Ramachandran. Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan rose to tower over the men who directed them.

Dasavatharam's release may start another round of milk shower and madness.

The first casualty of movie stardom is professionalism. Often, celebrity actors and actresses throw humility and etiquette out of the window. They get hasty and haughty, throwing tantrums and making the most unreasonable demands. They refuse to report on time, leading to huge losses for producers, and enormous inconveniences for the rest of the crew.

South Indian star Prakash Raj has been banned by the Telugu Film industry for "his unprofessional ways." It is reported that he did not honour his commitment to Sidhu. Principal photography was held up because the actor refused to shave his moustache for his part in the movie.

This move is clearly an exception. For, Indian cinema's slavish reverence for stars is often shameful. They are treated like demi-gods, and usually paid such vulgar amounts as fees that there is little left for production. It is, therefore, not surprising that most Indian films look so shoddy.

I strongly feel that the Indian cinema industry must take a cue or two from Hollywood, where the biggest of stars are being cut to size. They would now take home smaller salaries. Indian cinema must make it a rule that not more than 40% of the budget would be allocated for star fees.

But giants like Bachchan and Rajnikanth among others dwarf producers into submission. And we do not have Hollywood's power producers like David O'Selznick or Louis B. Meyer to rein in some of our wild stars.

Tailpiece: Damsels are in distress. Hollywood diva Sharon Stone, whose seductive performance in "Basic Instinct" enslaved men, now finds herself in steaming hot broth. At the recent Cannes Film Festival, she made a harmless comment, which most Tibetans themselves would make. She said the earthquake in China might have been Karmic. I would probably agree with Sharon. It is only a belief. It is personal, and there is nothing rational or logical in feeling so.

But Beijing was livid. It has banned the actress from the Shanghai Film Festival, which opens June 14. French fashion label Christian Dior decreed none of Sharon's advertisements would appear in China. All this despite the diva's virtual grovelling! She said she was even willing to help in quake relief.

Women are targeted often unfairly, and they could be in America or Europe or India. Some time ago, Tamil star Khushboo was dragged to the dock because she told a journal that she found nothing wrong with premarital sex. If a woman desired it, so be it, and men should not be obsessed with virginity. Hell broke loose in Madras (Chennai), and now her case is the country's Supreme Court.

Women are particularly vulnerable to this kind of malicious attack. Whether it is a Sharon or a Khushboo, society seems bent on shackling them. So much so that, they are not allowed to voice an opinion, let alone, perhaps, think. Are we still living in the Dark Ages when men fettered women in chastity belts?

Related Articles
    Tiger Man Mike Pandey
    Egypt's First Edition of El Gouna Film ...
    El Gouna Film Festival Opens with Sheikh ...
    New Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival to Add ...
    India Stands Shamed after Racial Attacks near ...
    The Dashing Pedro Almodovar to Chair Cannes ...
    Korean Cinema Comes to Chennai in India
    The Horror of Custodial Death
    Modi Is the Man We Need in India
    Mumbai’s Child King
    The Cocktail at Cannes
    Cannes Film Fest Begins on a Hollywood Note
    Mumbai Terrorized Again
    Venice Lines Up Impressive Jury
    Cannes Film Fest Begins on a Delightful Note
    No Indian Movie at the Festival
    Meaningless Film Censorship
    This Bloody Life!
    Mumbai and Pusan Film Fest Establish Ties
    On Road, in Rage
    India Picks Wrong Films for Oscars
    Robert De Niro to Head Cannes Film Fest Jury
    Someone Killed Jessica, But of Course!
    Middle Eastern Cinema Hits Hard
    Dubai Film Fest Opener
    Dubai Film Fest to Unravel Diverse Selection
    Indian Police Cut Corners to Tackle Crime
    Goa Festival Not God's Own
    "West Is West" Sets IFFI Sailing
    Fine Cinema at the Coming Dubai Film Festival
    "The King's Speech" to Set the Fest Rolling
    Abu Dhabi Film Festival a Fantastic Mix of ...
    "Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema" ...
    The Venetian Storm
    Frieda's Venice
    Jafar Panahi's Music Soothes Souls
    "Black Swan" Opens Venice Festival
    Festival to Bounce with Youthful Energy
    Shame and Scandal Plague Commonwealth Games
    Child Needs Compassion, Not Cane
    A Beast Called Beauty
    Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema
    Bhopal Gas Tragedy: A Crime Called Bhopal
    Honour Killings Are India's Shame
    Cannes Film Festival And Poetry
    Cannes More Art Than Glamour This Time
    An Indian Pilgrimage to Cannes
    Maoist Rebellion in India
    Asians to Carry the Torch at Cannes
    Cannes Film Festival and Probables
    "Robin Hood" to Open Cannes Film Festival
    Persecution of Artists
    The Only Two Real Races This Year
    Curry Bashing in Australia
    US Director Tim Burton to Lead Cannes Jury
    India's Car Boom Creates Its Own Chaos
    Making Idiots Out of Men
    Indian Girls Find Paris Hilton’s Shoes Too Hot
    Mexican Film Wins Top Prize at Marrakech
    Ben Kingsley Hopes to Be an Envoy for Cinema
    Movie Director Hopes Obama Would Solve the ...
    Nandita Das on Marrakech Jury
    A Decaying Film Festival
    Marrakech Festival a Boon for Local Cinema
    Panorama Selection Questionable
    IFFI to Open on a Note of Visual Lyricism
    South Korea to Be Focus at the Film Fest
    Dalai Lama’s Tawang Visit Vexes Beijing
    Why Mumbai Film Fest Scores over Goa
    Mumbai’s Young Movie Critics Ready to Tear ...
    India Is Still Hungry for Food
    Honor Killing through Lens at Mumbai Festival
    11th Mumbai Film Festival to Open with Matt ...
    Film Festival to Showcase Some Gems
    Can India Host 2010 Commonwealth Games?
    A New Irritant in India-China Ties
    The Venetian Sorrow
    The Tiger War
    Israeli War Film Wins Venice’s Top Golden Lion
    Politicians Livid over Festival Movie
    "Bad Lieutenant" Creates Bad Blood between Two ...
    Clooney and Damon Star Attractions at Venice
    Muslim Bashing Must End
    Mumbai Film Festival Prizes to Be among the ...
    An Indian Juror in De Sica Land
    India's Gays Can Now Love without Fear
    Moore's "Capitalism," 70 Other Films to ...
    An Indian Summer at the Lagoon City
    Festival May Be Strong on European Fare
    A Tamil Film with a Difference
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: But ...
    India Is Racist Too
    Hollywood Bungles in Bollywood
    The Tragic Tale of the Indian Tiger
    Cannes Jury Honors Chilling Tales
    Lars Von Trier’s Sex and Horror
    Gems and the Cannes Film Festival
    Market and the Cannes Film Festival
    Keats Poetry, Campion’s Reading
    Lou Ye’s Controversial Disaster
    Clash of Titans on the Croisette
    Sexy Sirens and Political Propagandists
    Is Sharmila Tagore the Right Choice for Cannes ...
    The Stars in Cannes’ Dark Skies
    Cannes Courts Controversy
    Indian Elections: A Circus of Villains
    Festival Unveils Lineup of Masters
    Beyond Bollywood’s Melodramatic Mishmash
    India's Infrastructure at Breaking Point
    Guessing the Festival Goodies
    Kate Winslet the New Face of Brilliance
    Tarantino’s ‘Basterds’ to Spit Fire at Fest
    Animated Film, Up, to Open Festival
    Smoking Screen
    Oscar-Rich Penelope Set to Master English
    Cannes Honours Clint Eastwood
    Renowned French Star to Chair Cannes Jury
    Fable of Mr Benjamin Button: Riveting Cinema
    The Mangalore Molest
    Aamir Khan Film Is a Bad Copy
    It May Well Be the End of Agony in Sri Lanka
    Woody Allen’s "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
    International Film Festival of India
    Mumbai Terror
    Marrakech Int'l Film Festival Has Grown
    Marrakech Int'l Film Festival
    Marrakech International Film Festival
    Shambled Secularism
    Benegal’s Sajjanpur
    Venice Festival Blues
    Venice under the Hollywood Spell ?
    A Riveting Movie on Islam's Crisis
    Venice Festival a Haven for World Premieres
    Pakistani Films Come to India, at Last!
    Tamil Super Hero Rises Again
    The Comic Fantasy
    The Smoking Screen!
    Bollywood and Beyond at Stuttgart
    New Film May Spell Hope for Bollywood
    Indian Cinema Feeds Deceit
    India Not At Cannes
    Cannes Line-Up
    Writer Taslima Nasreen Forced Out of India
    India Inspires World Fashion
    Mills & Boon
    "Jodhaa Akbar" Creates Controversy in India
    Sania Mirza Subject to Ridicule in Native India
    Sarkozy and Bruni Love Causes Moral Outrage
    India and the Oscars
    Marrakech International Film Festival Reviewed
    Paranoid Park
    Cannes 2007: Killings
    The Spy Case
    The Good and the Not So Good
    Bollywood Superman
    First Kashmiri Film in 20 Years
    Chinese Influence Seems Unstoppable
    Cannes Film Festival 2006: Minimalism, Too
    Cannes Fest Prizes
    Cannes Film Festival 2006: Great Delights
    The Da Vinci Code
    Missing Tigers
    The Despair of Tibetans
    Trilateral Stratagem To Slow China's Growth
    Sri Lanka Crisis
    Hollywood Movies Doing Well In India
    Peace Pipe
    Mangal Pandey: The Rising
    Honda Clash
    Bush-Manmohan Singh Pact
    Satyajit Ray, Still India's Most Noted Movie ...
    Ban on Cigarettes in India
    "Match Point" Excoriated by Britons
    Crisis In India’s Hindu Nationalist Party
    Manmohan Singh’s One Year
    58th Cannes International Film Festival Begins
    Indo-Pakistan Cricket Diplomacy
    U.S. Visa Refusal
    The 7th Deauville Asian Film Festival Closes
    Seedy Film Journalism
    Indian Tigers Butchered in Broad Daylight
    No Oscar for Scorsese, Yet Again
    Nepal in Turmoil As King Sacks PM Deuba
    History Repeats in Struggle for Free Press
    India Could Have Prevented Tsunami Deaths
    Argue over Freedom on Internet
    "City of Gold" Dubai Stands like Oasis in ...
    Towards a Solution to the Kashmir Problem
    India & China Rising
    Bush Victory and India
    Indian Robinhood
    After 9/11, World Links Muslim with Violence
    India's Great Heritage Taj Mahal in Danger
    "Kashmir": A Never Ending Thorny Issue
    The Village -- A Silly Joke
    Jakarta Bombing Aimed at Aussie ...
    Millions of Indians Go to Bed Hungry
    Sri Lanka's Ethnic War Knows No End
    Over 600 Tibetan Monks, Nuns Should Be Freed
    India's Schoolgirl Killer Hanged in Controversy
    3 Kidnapped Indians Endure Agonizing Torture
    Musharraf's Sets Deadline on Kashmir
    Usefulness of Nepalese Monarchy in Question
    Temple of Learning Turns into Grave of Death
    AIDS Keeps Threatening the Poor in Asia, Africa
    Fearful of Dowry Parents Kill Newborn Girls
    Hot Discussion on Death Penalty in India
    India's Flag of Democracy Kept Unfurled
    Politics Dominates Cannes Int'l Film Festival
    Intolerance Grows before India General Election
    Fears of Strife Continue in Sri Lanka
    Torture, Rape Occur in Indian Classroom
    World Leaders Must Take Stand against Nukes
    India's Cities Prosper as Country Folk Starve
    India, Pakistan Form Friendly Ties
    Cell Phones Bring Joy, Sorrow World Over

Other Articles by Gautaman Bhaskaran
Tiger Man Mike Pandey
Egypt's First Edition of El Gouna Film ...
El Gouna Film Festival Opens with Sheikh ...
New Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival to Add ...
India Stands Shamed after Racial Attacks ...

Gautaman Bhaskaran is a veteran film critic and writer who has covered Cannes and other major international festivals, like Venice, Berlin, Montreal, Melbourne, and Fukuoka over the past two decades. He has been to Cannes alone for 15 years. He has worked in two of India’s leading English newspapers, The Hindu and The Statesman, and is now completing an authorized biography of India’s auteur-director, Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Penguin International will publish the book, whose research was funded by Ford Foundation.






The Seoul Times, Shinheung-ro 36ga-gil 24-4, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 82-10-6606-6188
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange