Links: Items, The Great Gatsby OST, Khan

Time to update. Actually, I should have updated yonks ago, which is why there will be two update posts today, but, well… *insert shrug/eyelash flutter* (whatever works for you).

So here we go:

1. Why does Priyanka Chopra want to be an item number?

It’s not that I don’t get item numbers. For those not well-versed with the term, it’s a song in which an actress who doesn’t have any part in the film makes a cameo, all dolled up. Item numbers can be fun, they’re a good publicity package for a starlet, they help a film’s word of mouth publicity. But even so, THREE item numbers in a gangster flick like Shootout at Wadala is just unnecessary. Plus, what I don’t get is one of Bollywood’s  I get dancing because you love to dance. I get doing an item number because the director has promised you you’ll look fabulous in it. I don’t get opting to do a song that is pretty unmemorable and agreeing to perform choreography that’s just tacky as hell. It’s not like the costumes and make-up were fabulous either.

So obviously, I ranted.

In one, Sunny Leone plays a kothewaali (i e, a dancer-prostitute) and in a remarkable reversal of roles, her clients do more dancing than she does. She does, however, have an incidental part to play in the plot: she’s the reason Manya Surve (John Abraham) meets Zubair Haksar (Manoj Bajpai) who goes on to play a critical role in Surve’s career as an honest-to-badness gangster. In another item number, Sophie Choudry is given the job of dancing on tables and trucks at Surve’s favourite haunt, Horseshoe Bar. Her real role though has nothing to do with her choreography. The fact that Surve doesn’t have sex with her despite her singing and dancing skills is a sign that Surve is a one-woman guy. (Let us not get into how his display of masculine passion for the love of his life – Kangana Ranaut as Vidya – teeters disturbingly towards rape; that’s another matter.)

But the tour de force of the item numbers in Shootout at Wadala is Babli Badmaash Hai, which doesn’t have even the flimsiest tie-in with the film’s plot. However, it does have Priyanka Chopra, who not only agreed to appear in a song that’s quite obviously trying too hard to follow in the footsteps of Munni Badnaam Hui but also trotted out a spectacularly tacky bit of choreography. Perhaps because there’s been so much gyrating and grinding passing off as dance in recent times, choreographer Ahmed Khan decided that he was going to make sure we didn’t miss the fact that this song is an item number, i e a track that has the singular purpose of reducing its star performer to a sex object. So, the trademark move ofBabli Badmaash Hai has Chopra thrusting her breasts out with finger guns strategically positioned next to said breasts. In case you missed that part of her anatomy in tighter-than-skin-tight clothing, her fingers are there to direct your attention. Add to that the phallic symbolism of guns, and you’ve got to wonder how Chopra thought this was a good idea.

The rest of the post is here.

2. A review of The Great Gatsby OST

This soundtrack is just superbly used in the film. On its own though, a lot of the songs don’t quite hold up. Curiously, the songs that do work well when you listen to the soundtrack aren’t the most memorable so far as watching the film is concerned. Anyway, the review is here.

What could Luhrmann do to the crackling energy of the jazz music that was so lovingly woven into the novel by Fitzgerald?  Bring in Jay-Z as executive producer, for starters.  Luhrmann said in interviews that he felt jazz was now almost classical while hip hop has that edgy rawness that characterised jazz in the Roaring Twenties. “Gatsby was intoxicating everyone in New York with Champagne and music, drawing them into his Venus’ flytrap,” Luhrmann said in an interview to the Los Angeles Times. “Now there’s another form of African American street music — hip hop — that speaks in exactly the same way to our lives.”

3. His Name is Khan, and he’s Benedict Cumberbatch

A whiter shade of brown?

Have you ever watched Sherlock and thought, “Man, that Benedict Cumberbatch. There’s something a little desi about him…” No? Me neither. Clearly, JJ Abrams did though because he cast Cumberbatch as an Indian superman, aka Khan Noonien Singh. Honestly, if he had used Cumberbatch better, I wouldn’t have minded. But when the role’s acting climax involves him throwing himself on a dashboard and howling, as though he’s auditioning for a sci-fi version of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (maudlin Indian soap, for those who are lucky enough to have escaped it), I don’t see why Hrithik Roshan couldn’t have been cast as Khan.

Though what I found interesting was that Abrams had chosen to depict Khan as an almost home-grown terror, rather than a completely foreign hand that wreaks terror upon the American people. It’s interesting to see that definition of the terrorist especially since there’s continuing debate, rage and soul-searching about the Tsarnaev brothers who didn’t stand out as different until they carried out their attacks on Boston.

Just imagine, had Abrams given Issar or Govinda a call, Star Trek Into Darkness could have relaunched their careers the way Slumdog Millionaire did Anil Kapoor’s.

If vintage isn’t JJ Abram’s thing, then he could have considered Hrithik Roshan, who played a superhero in Krrish (2006). In fact, as Krrish, Roshan has done that smoulder-and-stride walk that is similar to Cumberbatch’s pose in the Star Trek Into Darkness poster. And then, to confuse the bejesus out of all those who follow Bollywood, Roshan could have said, “My name is Khan.”

But no, Abrams didn’t look east. Instead of boldly going forth to Bollywood, he went with Cumberbatch. Here’s what’s interesting about the choice that Abrams made: the man named Khan who reduces skyscrapers to rubble and terrorises Americans is a white man and not a bearded chap with an olive complexion who may be considered suspicious by airport security personnel in large parts of the world. He is, as Cumberbatch said in an interview, a “home-grown terrorist”. He doesn’t seem foreign, he’s doesn’t look like ‘the other’; in fact, he looks no different from the others who make up the American majority. But his name is Khan and he is here to wreak terror.

The complete post is here.

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