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‘De Dana Dan’ – Anatomy of a Bollywood ‘Quickie’ December 8, 2009

Posted by southasiamasala in : Chemboli, Srinivas, India , comments closed

Srinivas Chemboli

A down-on-luck domestic help steeped in debt, a courier boy with dreams of stardom, a mafia don, a hired assassin, a lecherous businessman, and lissome lasses at every turn—these are just a few of the perquisites for a successful Bollywood ‘quickie’—and the list is not even half-done!

There’s ‘popular cinema’, and ‘cinema for discerning connoisseurs’ that proclaims grandiose ambitions of a ‘message’ sandwiched in ninety-odd minutes. And, there’s Bollywood cinema—defying any attempt at categorisation or classification, deplored by ‘intellectuals’ for incessantly pandering to the sensibilities of the ‘masses’. The Bollywood ‘quickie’ is an even stranger breed: commercial entertainment and quick return on investment are its selling points—nothing preachy or epochal. Yet, there is an undercurrent of sharp wit and social commentary that often goes unnoticed in most successful mainstream Bollywood quickies.

De Dana Dan is a thoroughly revamped and stylised remake of critically acclaimed director Priyadarshan’s earlier Malayalam movie, Vettom. The movie is packaged as a ‘commercial entertainer’, also known as a ‘feel-good movie’ in popular parlance.  Though the recipe is rather well-known and easy to replicate – zany characters, impossible situations, foot-tapping songs, and outrageously funny interludes – making it all work is ultimately down to the director. (more…)

Deconstructing Bollywood July 22, 2009

Posted by southasiamasala in : Chemboli, Srinivas, India , comments closed

Srinivas Chemboli

Colourful dances, swirling chiffons and over the top emotions – images conjured up at the mere mention of Bollywood, India’s entertainment capital in ‘maximum city’ Mumbai. But it’s not all song and play in the land of dreams and aspirations. Filmmaking in Bollywood is a serious and often heart-breaking affair, replete with drama and high jinks. What every producer ultimately seeks is the holy grail of the local film industry: the recipe for a Bollywood Blockbuster.

Bollywood Business


Making sense of the madcap mayhem of the Hindi movie industry is no mean feat. The year 2008 saw the release of around 209 films of a sizable budget (one in the range of 100 to 500 million INR), pegging a conservative minimum estimate of Bollywood investment at a staggering 20 billion INR. A gargantuan figure, if we consider that the average per-capita income in India for 2008-09 is estimated to be around 38,000 INR .