As far as my limited cinema knowledge goes, I think there is a big difference between a trailer and a montage. And as the trailer of Bollywood – The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (Who thought about this title?) was out, it was a perfect #Facepalm (for lack of better expression) moment. It even forced Screeny to come out of his slumber and puke out this rambling post. Read on…

Respected Sir,

I’m a Big fan of Mr India, Masoom & Bandit Queen. Have been following your blog on and off. Untill today when I saw the trailer of the documentary which has been produced by you and co, and directed by the “acclaimed director” (have seen him at conferences and am sure he regards himself as one, for having gifted the people of this country THE seminal film – Rang De Basanti) Mr Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra.

Needless to say, I was thoroughly, thoroughly disappointed.

Why? Because the trailer (so is the film I’m sure) is- as usual- selling Bollywood exotica la-la land to the west. The incestous, celebratory, mutual admiration society which regards Aishwarya Rai and Katrina Kaif as ‘icons’ who will talk about Hindi Cinema to the “goras” and tell them in effect – “One billion people are enjoying this. See, this is so special. This is India! This is Indian Cinema! Come, Watch it. And fall in Love. NAMASTE. Achcha Lagta Hai.”

The first half is virtual showreel for the Bachchans, another attempt to sell Aishwarya to the west. The same song and dance routine which we are (in)famous for. The DDLJ clip, the rain, the matrix style shots, the same ghisa-pita bakwaas.

And of course, it contains generous footage from the magnum opus Rang De Basanti. After all Rakeysh (Is the spelling correct? Am a bit confused) Omprakash Mehra is the co-director & UTV is the producer. And the exact same clip when people land up at the India Gate with candles in their hands (the prophetic subtitle below is “This country will change. We will change it”). Yes sir, we will.

I wish you had produced a 2 hour documentary on Kerala or Goa Tourism instead.

Or helped produce any of the films from the “new wave” of Indian cinema, which I’m sure you must be more aware of than me.

At a time when Indian Cinema is taking baby steps towards maturity, and managing to gain a foothold in the international arena, slowly changing “their” perception of “our films” by coming up with IN COMPETITION FILMS like Udaan, Peepli Live, Dhobi Ghat, Harud, Gandu, Shor in the City, Gabhricha Paus, Aranya Kandam, Paruthiveeran, Subramanipuram, the new Wave Tamil & Marathi Cinema; this self congratulatory AV on Bollywood films actually is taking us two steps back, reinforcing the stereotypes. Forcing us to be still perceived as the audience which enjoys 3 hour long musicals embellished with the garangutan setpieces, laughable action sequences & antics, titillating item numbers and melodramatic rejoice.

I was hoping to find some echo in the comments section of this post but clearly, I’m the minority here.

I shudder to think how I would react if I would ever meet a “gora” who sees this film and recognises by my skin tone, that I’m an Indian. Will he be overjoyed at what I’m embarassed at ? Will he be like the Japanese tourists from Munnabhai who only want to shoot “dirty, hungry, poor Indians” ? Will I be asked to dance at the Visa interview if (and when) I travel to Europe ?

My nightmarish thoughts aside, I request you to read a post written by you, Sir. Your blogpost on Black Friday and why it is the film which should have gone for Oscars submission instead of Paheli.

Yours disappointed,


(PS1 –  Have you heard about a documentary film called Videokaaran? Watch it.)

(PS2 – Screeny forgot to mention that if the film turns out to be any good, he will be the first person to say it and will apologise for the post.)

(PS3 – Screeny’s previous posts can be read here, here and here. )

  1. Neo says:

    You’re just upset Anurag isn’t featured.
    How is a show reel for Bachchan’s. Aishwarya is featured prominently and there are reasons for that. She is the most well known Indian actor around the world and she has done the work. She is an icon.
    Agree Katrina featured is a mystery.

    • screeny says:

      Neo. You miss the point of the post when you say that. Anyways, if a 200-300 odd word long post didn’t convince you otherwise, I doubt if a 20 word comment would.

      • Gyandeep says:

        Well said,

        And let’s just say that the trailer is a sign of a bas film to come. I, too, will eat my words if the film turns out to be anything but bad.

        Great post, Screeny.

        Echoes almost everything I thought after watching the trailer.

  2. Searcher says:

    Eegads! I’m honestly tired of answering, “So why did they start singing?” or “How come everyone behind them knows the steps of the dance?” or even “How come you guys keep remaking Hollywood films?” Yes, we sing, we dance, we steal things… But we are NOT Aishwarya Rai singing Dola re.. nor are we Rang De Basanti, a god-awful film about stupid (and i use the word correctly, not for lack of a vocabulary) urban kids living in a deluded world…

    And I belong to this industry. It’s downright depressing.

  3. loy says:

    Well these type of films are a mojor part of bollywood, you can not deny that, if you are making a film on bollywood, you must show the stuffs that are shown in the trailer, but…yes…we are evolving, a new wave of cinema is on the rise here…the trailer nd the film should have also talked about films like udan, dev d, no smoking, and some of the other films you mentioned in your letter…
    Thats what I think.

  4. varun says:

    Dear Kapoor uncle,

    हिंदी पढते हो तो आगे का पढ़ लेना. (अगर नहीं पढते हो तो ऐश्वर्या राय को बोलना…उसे ज़रूर आती होगी. या कटरीना कैफ को.) आप की सुविधा के लिए point-wise लिख रहा हूँ. वैसे भी इन्टरनेट पर point-wise लिखने से argument करना आसान होता है.

    १. ये घिसा-पिटा बॉलीवुड ९० के दशक में ही खतम हो गया था. DDLJ के बाद जो ३-४ फिल्में आई भी, वो एक तरह से post-climactic चीख थी. आखिरी साँस. फिर वापस उसी १६ साल पुराने फार्मूले पर जाने का मतलब एक ही है – आप कटोरा लेकर बाज़ार में खड़े हो गए हैं. “मेरी माँ बीमार है” बोलकर लोगों से दया की भीख माँग रहे हैं. जबकि सच ये है कि माँ बहुत साल पहले मर चुकी है.

    (इसी ट्रेलर में – DDLJ के बाद की जिन फिल्मों के shots हैं, वो या तो फ्लॉप फिल्म्स हैं, या उस फोर्मुला पर नहीं हैं जो आपकी ‘documentary’ का थीम है.)

    २. अगर आप इसे documentary कह कर निकलना चाहते हैं तो इस trailer में ऐसा कहीं नहीं लगा. Documentary और glorification में फर्क पता होगा शायद आपको. (Victorian भाषा की आपकी समझ अच्छी है.) और अगर glorification किसी ऐसी चीज़ का हो जो fundamentally corrupt है (जैसे कि ‘शीला की जवानी’)…तो आप वही कर रहे हैं जो propagandist करते हैं – agenda-driven PR. इसमें पूरे देश और २ billion लोगों को घसीटने की ज़रूरत नहीं है.

    ३. आप किस बॉलीवुड फोर्मुले की बात कर रहे हैं? वो फोर्मुला जो ७० के दशक के पहले था ही नहीं और जो ८५ के बाद लगातार रंग बदलते-बदलते, लुढ़कते-गिरते ९९ तक खतम भी हो गया. कैसे वो फोर्मुला हमारे फ़िल्मी इतिहास का इकलौता representative बन गया? गुरु-दत्त, राजकपूर, विजय आनंद, बिमल रॉय, हृषिकेश मुखर्जी…ये सब नाम आपके अंग्रेजी पेंदे के छेद से बह कर निकल गए क्या? (और आपके contemporary या सन २००० के बाद के सिनेमा की तो बात करना ही बेकार है. उसमें तो मेहरा चाचा ने reservation ले लिया है. कुछ नहीं तो राजकुमार हिरानी को आप कैसे नकार सकते हैं.)

    ४. मुझे ऐसी कोई उम्मीद भी नहीं है आप ‘acclaimed’ लोगों से किसी serious analysis की. ठेठ भाषा में कहूँ तो आपको एक ही जीभ से western idea of Bollywood और Bollywood की power-coterie को चाटने का अद्भुत मौका मिला है और आप उसे गँवा नहीं रहे यही आपका बडप्पन है.

    फिर भी कभी, जीवन के सांध्य-काल में कभी, हमारे सिनेमा पर कोई ढंग का discourse देखने-सुनने का मन करे तो अपनी किसी डायरी के आखिरी पन्ने पर ‘Videokaaran’ नाम की फिल्म दर्ज कर लें. पता छोड़ दें यहाँ तो हम भिजवा भी देंगे. उसे देखें, और फिर अपना ये ट्रेलर देखें, और फिर जाके शीशे में खुद को देखें. अगर आँख नीचे ना झुके तो आप वही आप होंगे जो इस समय इसे पढ़ कर हँस रहा होगा और अपने अंग्रेजी चोगे के अंदर शुद्ध हिंदी में कह रहा होगा ‘साला चूतिया!’

  5. Katrina and Aishwarya icons? You mean plastic and more plastic are icons? Sorry!

    Loved this post too much and sorry Shekhar…you need to go back to the table and see what you have done here.


  6. Sachin says:

    yaar yaha comment karne se kya honga..ab toh ban gayi..aur jo trailer mein chutiyape hain wahi documentary mein bhi hongi..Baat toh tab hain jab yaha pe bakchodi karne walon mein se koi woh banake dikhaye jo hamare aaj ke cinema ko darshata hain..aur videokaran ke baarein mein kaafi suna hain..dekhunga kal..

  7. ajay singh says:

    I don’t understand why the “revolutionaries” on this forum are creating such a fuss about a documentary that celebrates Bollywood the way it is – inelegant, loud, at times melodramatic yet hugely popular! Something that brings all the NRI uncles and aunities together under one roof. Something that even unites religions and warring asian nations (at least as far as piracy goes!) Frankly, are you so delusional to think that majority of people in the world who bond over Indian cinema care a fig about arthouse or the new wave.

    So what’s the problem in making a documentary about such a subject! Eeks of a burgoise mindset, the way Dharavi embarasses the sophisticated Bombaywallahs. If Shekhar Kapoor can promote good cinema like Black Friday, then he also has the right to make a documentary on what’s not so good cinema! Maybe your problem is with the Bachchans or whoever.. but the truth i the trailer looks unapologetic and absolutely right on the money as far as BOLLYWOOD goes.

    For everyone else, Vieokaaran is alway there!

  8. Rasik says:

    ‘Will I be asked to dance at the Visa interview if (and when) I travel to Europe ?’…Killer Line!

    Sad that Shekhar Kappor of all people has produced this.

    • extremist says:

      why is it sad? what has he done really for bollywood? All he has to show in a career spanning close to 3 decades is a Masoom, Mr. India and a Bandit Queen. I have never been able to understand the fixation we Indians have for him.

  9. Hi Screeny,

    We agree that Videokarran is a great example of the new wave of Indian cinema. In fact this film is being screened tomorrow in Mumbai as part of an initiative known as Projector Friday (

    For more details on the screening please visit

    We would love for you and your readers to come enjoy this film.

    Projector Friday

  10. Fatema says:

    Sorry to say this but the fervour of the ‘meaningful’ cinema lovers is becoming a little nauseating. Ajay has said most of what I wanted to say but would like to add that Bollywood and the mythical proportions it always had is not your Udaan, Peepli Live or LSD (Btw, LSD got a producer not because it was trying to do something new but cause it had lots of sex in it. And it made money not cause of Dibakar’s brilliant story-telling and detailing but cause of the sexual overtones). Bollywood IS ghita-pita song and dance, rain sequences and RDB. It is celebrated because it is hugely popular and profitable, which, in the film industry means a lot. You may hate it, hate it by all means but denying it its huge fan following is merely burying your head, ostrich-like in the sand. Bollywood IS a great love story of those millions and all over the world, expats and foreigners alike. Its really no big deal if Shekhar Kapoor is making a docu on this phenomenon because how muchever we may hate to admit Bollywood has gained phenomenal proportions. Agree it is for reasons to do with anything but quality but that doesn’t negate the fact that it is big and it is the predominant system that works.

    About the quality of the docu and choice of films to represent this myth, we will have to watch the film.

    The question to really ask is what is Shekhar Kapoor trying to do here? What does he stand for? Anything beyond that is strictly myopic. Tomorrow even if an Anurag Kashyap wanted to do the same it would be ok, simply because Bollywood is big and pervasive and there is nothing criminal about showing that off. Showing that off as the only defining cinematic identity we have is surely criminal but Kapoor is nowhere doing that. So what’s the problem really or have I missed the point too?

    About Katrina and Ash being the icons of Bollywood, sadly they are. They are piddling icons in comparison to what we used to have in the likes of Madhubala, Meena Kumari, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi but then the docu is talking about present-day Bollywood that NRIs world-over and native Indian simply love. If they didn’t it would have died long back.

    Sorry mfc but this was the silliest post (and comments that followed) I’ve read here.

    • screeny says:

      “You may hate it, hate it by all means but denying it its huge fan following is merely burying your head, ostrich-like in the sand.”
      Nobody is denying it. But the docu doesn’t seem to be saying anything new. Most of those who will be seeing this have already seen a typical Bollywood film. So why preach to the converted ? Instead why not “introduce” them to the new changing face ?
      Do you realise how tough this will be for the “meaningful” cinema to travel across ? As it is for various reasons they do not get adequate patronage in India (high multiplex prices, insufficient PR, no stars), and the possibilty of “foreign markets” to be proseltysed to the non Bollywood-ish films will be very less. But I guess mainstream audiences, NRI film lovers, and many more don’t want to do that. And don’t see that as a noble cause.

      “Tomorrow even if an Anurag Kashyap wanted to do the same it would be ok, simply because Bollywood is big and pervasive and there is nothing criminal about showing that off. ”
      My bad. I shouldn’t have quoted the black friday article at all. I should have left him alone.

      “Bollywood is big and pervasive and there is nothing criminal about showing that off. Showing that off as the only defining cinematic identity we have is surely criminal but Kapoor is nowhere doing that.”
      Pray what else do you think Shekar is doing ?

      “then the docu is talking about present-day Bollywood that NRIs world-over and native Indian simply love.”
      My bad again. I didn’t know that was the intention. It’s not enough they are having a SIGNIFICANT IMPACT in the sort of films we make, now their influence is seeping into docus too.

      “Sorry mfc but this was the silliest post (and comments that followed) I’ve read here”
      My apologies for writing such a silly post.

    • moifightclub says:

      Agree. But this one is just yuck. See the trailer once again. I agree with Screeny on stereotyping and that’s just one part. The other part is it’s just a montage! The worst ever trailer i have seen of any docu film. And the last part, if it’s really “Bollywood-Greatest Love Story Ever Told”, then you just and must need Sooraj Barjatya, Yash Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan there. NOBODY comes close compared to their contribution in this context.

      And what’s UTV’s RDB doing there? And Raavan? Will you explain that? Also, TMK? These films didn’t make “Bollywood”. Half the trailer is UTV’s showreel ( count the number of films), another half is Aishwarya Rai. Only because both are in Cannes. That’s why it’s a fuckall trailer. And the trailer is not only shit but it puts all the wrong things there. And i have problem with every bit of it. As far as film is concerned, i hope you have read PS2.

      Also, the whole world knows what bollywood is, what we do in our movies, am waiting to see what new thing this film is going to tell. And that’s why, may be it would have been much much more interesting to do a film on the new voices, new cinema across the languages. We do exist beyond the “cliches”. The world still doesn’t know that. Shekhar K could have helped there but he decides to do dola-re-dola-re-dola.

  11. Do not forget that last year was a golden year for Indian cinema. The small budget movies were a great success and big budget star movies failed badly on BO.”Content is the King” has become the new formula of commercial success. Obviously, this is a desperate attempt to revive the lost glory of Bollywood and the fate of pathetic, non-talented stars.

  12. Arthi V says:

    So what is wrong in this? Damn, if one were to have only the films that are favoured here (and I prefer, I admit) the world wud sure be a crazier place…Heck, this so called art house and offbeat cinema carries weight only within a group and the discussions go on an on within this vicious circle. The man on the street cares a damn and has to have his dose of ‘gisa pita’ fare; even I do at times. The problem that plagues B’wood now is that even in this commercial setup, it isn’t able to serve some truly chatpata masala fare…
    And just because there are a handful of ‘meaningful films’ being made , why should this be brushed away and ostracized as something unwanted? Doesn’t this reek of elitism? Yes, the choice of B films , atleast from this clip, leaves a lot wanting but the true pic will be out once one watches the complete documentary. Btw, the videokaaran docu that is being lauded here left right and center, did that guy grow up on only arthouse grind?

    • screeny says:

      Arthi – yes we care very much about the man on the street. We should make more versions of Roadies, Emotional Atyachar, Indion Idol, invade pakistan, throw out muslims & north indians from the two big states, kill all maoists… And what else ?

      And yeah read this post

      Anyways, nobody is brushing the commercial cinema away. Read the post again pls. And how diff do you think the docu will be ?

      • jahanbakshi says:

        My question is: Where is the man on the street in this documentary anyway? Where does he figure? Is it for him? Is it about him? Does this feel like an honest attempt in any way?

        I guess you know the answer.

        Watch ‘Videokaaran’ to know about what the man on the street really feels. And about the real magic of our messy masala movies. As the tagline of Himesh Reshammiya’s first film goes: this one is ‘The Real Luv Story’. 🙂

  13. jahanbakshi says:

    The problem is not just that this is ‘promoting’ the ‘old ghisa-pita’ Bollywood so as to speak. From the look of this trailer, it is not even a documentary but rather as Screeny rightly calls it- an AV, like a presentation/showreel. Most of the films featured are hardly even representative of the so called Bollywood magic. And then there is the ostentatious plugging of UTV, ROMP and a certain Ms Rai.

    Of course, without seeing the er, documentary, this loving ode to loving your lovings or whatever, all this can be dismissed as mere speculation. But then as said in the post, am sure Screeny will apologize humbly if the film turns out to be any good. Till then, tsk, tsk. 🙂

  14. varun says:

    “कोई उम्मीद बर नहीं आती…
    कोई सूरत नज़र नहीं आती.” – ग़ालिब

  15. Vineet says:

    Na to trailer dekha hai, aur na hi dekhoonga. Likhe hue har shabd se main sehmati bhi nahi rakhta, par achha likhte ho. likhte raho. keep puking

  16. moifightclub says:

    Looks like even the film is a montage and nothing else..gorgeous..

  17. moifightclub says:

    And there is something more….It was an embarrassment. It was almost like a Powerpoint presentation on Hindi films made by people living in Juhu and Bandra….

  18. Fatema says:

    The three main oppositions I seem to be deciphering here are – (And pls correct me if I am wrong)

    1) The docu in no way represents Bollywood as it is and is a mere showreel of people with agendas.
    2) The docu is being made by Shekhar Kapoor who has enough international clout and could have put it to better use by showcasing independent cinema which is creating ripples.
    3) The fact that a docu is being made to glorify Bollywood

    (There are more layers to each but this will suffice for the sake of my argument though)

    Pt 1 – Agree so no arguments there. But, and this is very important, this fact has nothing to do with the central argument which according to me is something else. (Again correct me if I am wrong)

    Pt 2 – Agree BUT and this is the point we miss out on in our fervour for meaningful cinema that Bollywood is big even if bad but more importantly the meaningful cinema we are raving about here isn’t enough (popularity, reach and form-wise,) to sustain itself leave alone be effective enough to ensnare that coveted eye of the phorener. More importantly (and very sadly though) our Bollywood really gives us a chance in grabbing eye-balls than the best of our indies. (I hate saying this but fact is we do lack real quality the international scene is used to) So even if I respect SK less than if he has championed the cause of a better cinema I don’t really see he had a choice. About the agendas, well, all I can say is, I don’t think anyone in Bollywood who is successful doesn’t hence I think its a little idealistic to expect him to and given the above facts a tad bit myopic too.

    Pt 3 – From the arguments I have made above this is the conclusion I have come to. The fervour displayed here for the docu being all wrong would have been a jubilation if it were an equally badly made film about representing indie cinema not because it celebrates indie cinema but the fact that it does kinda makes us blind to everything else. Similarly, the fact that Bollywood is being showcased is more of an irritant than anything else. The facts about the powers that be (esp the vulgar ones like AB Sr, Ash, UTV and ROMP) and SK’s involvement and the quality of the film are like jale pe namak but not the main contentions.

    Having shared all of this, I’d say I do share all the meaning in all your arguments but a cause has to be honest and I think that’s missing or getting confused here.

    • jahanbakshi says:

      ‘… Or if they want to show how the Bollywood film evolved over those years, again do so properly with an acknowledgment that such stereotypical characters as the boy, the girl, the villain and the mother are mostly a thing of the past…’

      Yaar itna to Kirk Honeycutt ko bhi samakh aa gaya. That, for me is the central contention here. Show the naach gaana stereotypes, fine- but in a correct, current and less self-congratulatory context at least.

  19. Anurag Kashyap says:

    From Cannes..
    Bollywood doc is the highest ever sold arthouse/feature/documentary ever from india.. it has sold and closed more territories than any film ever from here..worldwide..
    this is what the west wants to see from india.. we are the certified comic relief to the rest of the and forever..
    wild bunch is the sales agent that was raided by buyers after the screening..

  20. […] to Mister Anonymous and his A,B,Cs of the year. or should we call him good ol’ Mr Screeny (here & […]

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