Tag Archives: indian

Kung Fu Yoga: Why Indian film industry can’t forget Jackie Chan-starrer in a hurry

Early reports indicate Kung Fu Yoga is not doing well commercially, in spite of Jackie Chan’s popularity. A newspaper article states that just 14 viewers watched the film on its release day (3 February) in a Mumbai multiplex. According to a film industry representative, it is expected to do better in south India than the rest of the country. However, its overall performance is unlikely to be impressive. The impact of Kung Fu Yoga on India’s film trade is going to be limited. At worst, the importer and his distributors stand to lose money. Small change, for an industry that routinely fails to recover production costs from the box office. Nevertheless, Kung Fu Yoga is not a film which the Indian film industry can afford to forget in a hurry. Because it was a part of an ambitious — and potentially game changing — plan by the Chinese and Indian governments.

Jackie Chan and Sonu Sood in 'Kung Fu Yoga'

The film has been panned by Indian critics too. Kung Fu Yoga’s failure on critical and commercial fronts in India is a pointer to a larger problem that Indian and Chinese film industries face all the time. Ironically, this film was meant to address the very problem that it now stands as the latest example of. A majority of Indian and Chinese films earn their revenues from viewers who are of Indian or Chinese origin, as the case may be. Both industries struggle to realise value from markets beyond the overseas markets where there is a significant presence of expatriates. Of course, we need to expand our understanding of the expat to include the South Asian diaspora and “Three Chinas” (Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong) plus Singapore, with reference to Indian and Chinese cinemas respectively.

Kung Fu Yoga’s poor showing in India is not for the want for effort. Apparently, Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif were approached, but were unavailable. As a result, the final lineup of Indian actors, which includes Sonu Sood, Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur, is not exactly stellar. Undaunted, Jackie Chan charmed his Indian fans and local media representatives alike during his much publicised promotional tour in the run up to the film’s release. I do not wish to go into why it didn’t work — several reviewers have done that already. Instead, I would like to draw attention to two points. First, the film worked for Chinese audiences and critics alike. Second, this is a failed Indo-Chinese co-production.

Kung Fu Yoga earned US $ 138.8 million (around Rs 940 crore) at the box office in China alone during the first week of its release. That is double the estimated cost of the film. Notably, the film’s takings are already way higher than the worldwide collections of India’s most successful film, Dangal. More importantly, it reminds us of the size of the Chinese market and the drawing power of Jackie Chan.

Released during the Chinese New Year (CNY) weekend, which usually witnesses the highest footfalls in theatres during the entire year, Kung Fu Yoga emerged as the second highest grosser of the season, after Journey to the West. The success of this year’s CNY releases is said to have cheered up the Chinese film industry, which had a dull year in 2016. Incidentally, Journey to the West is directed by Tsui Hark and produced by Stephen Chow (of Kung Fu Hustle fame), both of whom are Hong Kong industry stalwarts.

China’s quota system ensures that access of foreign companies to its enormous film market is severely restricted. At present, only two Indian films can be released in China annually, according to the website China Film Insider. This number is unlikely to increase in a hurry. In 2016 the quota for foreign films, a bulk of which are Hollywood productions, stood at 34. The only other way Indian production companies can enter this market is by making co-production deals with Chinese companies. Everyone in the film business knows this but, as always, the devil is in the detail: whom to work with, with what stories, and so on.

Watch: Deepika Padukone, Indian sportswomen feature in inspiring #JustDoIt campaign

Deepika Padukone stars in an inspiring new video with Indian female athletes for a Nike campaign. Taking off from the brand’s tag line: “Just Do It”, the video sees Deepika training hard in the gym and on the badminton court as other athletes  like hockey player Rani Rampal, footballer Jyoti Ann Burrett and cricketers Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandana and Shubhlakshmi Sharma are also visualised pulling off their jaw-dropping feats.

Deepika in a still from the Nike #JustDoIt campaign video. Screengrab from Facebook

Sharing the video on her Facebook page, Deepika accompanied it with a post on how sports has helped her through difficult phases in her life:

“When I was growing up my father said to me, ‘To be the best, always remember the three D’s — Discipline, Dedication and Determination. Follow your heart. Do what you are passionate about.’ Sport has taught me how to handle failure. It has also taught me how to handle success. It has kept me grounded. It has taught me humility,” Deepika wrote on Facebook.

She also referred to her (now commonly known) battle with depression, and her efforts to overcome it.

“Two years ago I struggled with depression,” wrote Deepika. “I was sinking. I almost gave up. But it was the athlete in me that gave me the strength to fight and never ever give up!”

She goes on to exhort everyone to open their eyes to the power of sport, and its ability to make a positive impact on individual lives, and society.

“I want to say to every girl and every boy and every woman and every man…play a sport…because it changed my life…and it will change yours too! Sport has taught me how to survive! It has taught me how to fight! It has made me unstoppable!” Deepika added, before signing off with “‪#‎JustDoIt”.

The video by Deepika for Nike comes in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics at Rio, and is sure to generate even greater support for the Indian contingent as they head for the Games. It had 895,286 views within just seven hours of being uploaded by Deepika.

Why I admire Kangana Ranaut: She’s an example of new Indian womanhood

She is a three times National Award winner after all and she is not even 30 as yet. But I wouldn’t know. Fed on a diet of Satyajit Ray and Rittwik Ghatak from our childhood we were taught to sneer at Bollywood very early on. And Kangana Ranaut’s mega box-office triumphs with such cringe-worthy names as Tanu Weds Manu are, from all accounts, brazen money-making missions achieving their goal hand over fist.

Kangana Ranaut. Image from IBNlive

Yet, I am her fan, a zealous, devoted fan at that. For what she stands for in her person rather than what she enacts on screen. As was revealed in her spell-binding double act on television on 3 May, the day she was awarded her third National Award. I was glued to the idiot box all through, enthralled till the very last minute of her two interviews on two channels. She looked stunning of course and being the actress she is, making her presence felt must be second nature to her. But it was what she said that was so exhilarating, so electrifying.

Admittedly, told not very well. Without scripted lines, her words didn’t quite flow, without someone hollering “cut” she didn’t know when to stop. She kept repeating herself, going on and on saying the same thing in the same words over and over again. Yet, nothing could detract from the substance of what she said, so prettily, with such ease and with such quiet confidence.

To be able to declare so openly, knowing that the interviews were being beamed straight into people’s living rooms and bedrooms across the country, that there is “Nothing gross about our period blood, Why do we need to tell women that period blood is gross?”; to talk so freely about “bodily fluids” of men and women; to admit publicly about being “sexually active” without a hair or hide of a husband in sight; to be so unapologetic about her many flings (“It’s very hard for me to find any sort of shame or blame in my life); to dismiss the name-calling she’s been subjected to (‘whore’ and ‘witch’ being the more innocent ones) as “very old-fashioned, it won’t work” — who was this woman, Kangana or Madonna?

Precisely. If it was Madonna and Shakira in the West some years ago, it is Kangana and Sunny Leone in India in 2016. Sunny Leone, who burst onto our consciousness at the beginning of this year, refusing to beg mercy for her stint as a “porn star”, maintaining her poise and dignity despite the interviewer’s desperate efforts to name and shame her. Together they are busy breaking moulds, shattering images, sending out of court the cherished fantasy that the “ideal bharatiya nari” is one who values her chastity belt more than her life. A proud Sunny Leone not only acts in a film named One Night Stand but also unabashedly admits to such one-nighters during her days as a single woman.

What’s your favourite beverage? an interviewer had once asked Kangana. “Coffee!” she had promptly replied. “I can drink it any time. And red wine. Over the years, I have bought a whole load of fine red wines from Paris.” Even a few years ago, our most successful heroines would romp about half-naked on screen but when it came to their off-screen personas they wouldn’t be caught dead in any such attire or with a drink in their hands or a cigarette dangling from their fingers. Kangana received her third National Award from President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday dressed not in the regulation Kanjeevaram but in an off-shoulder dress, very Western but very Indian too.

Evidently a new Indian womanhood is being scripted and Kangana and Sunny are the prime but not the only examples of this phenomenon. Just look at the enormous outpouring of support for both these women on the social media where the new India lives and plays. It is clear as daylight: More and more urban Indian woman are refusing to subscribe to the belief that you can’t be a true Indian woman unless you live by certain age-old norms. The sexual revolution is here to stay and for women too.

Ironically, the women are racing ahead but Indian men are unable to keep pace. In the Kangana-Hrittik Roshan kerfuffle it is Roshan who has gone out of his way to project a sati-saddhvi holier-than- thou image, not Kangana. As for one of her other exes, Adhyayan Suman, the mind boggles.Someone who by his own admission has studied in London and New York and got his dream car BMW7Series for one of this birthdays, turns to mummy’s pundit-ji with his girlfriend woes.

“My mother was very worried,” Suman told an interviewer, “and she called the family’s Panditji to come home and meet me. The first thing he asked me was: ‘Khana banati hai tumhare liye?’ When I said yes, he said, ‘Apna impure blood milati hai khaane mein black magic ke liye’… The same Pandit later on came on Salman Khan’s Dus Ka Dum also and he looked at Kangana in the middle of the show and said ‘Aap pisachini hai.’ She treated it as if it was a joke. It’s there on national TV.” In what century is he living in, I ask you.

Come on Indian men, grow up. Or be prepared to be left behind while women not only enter heretofore forbidden temples and mosques but dance on your foreheads too.