Archive for April, 2011

Upcoming Bollywood horror films are integrating some technical savviness in a bid for frights.

Haunted 3D

The Bollywood horror genre has changed significantly since the days of women screaming in bikinis and a sign of the times is the incoming fright flicks, armed to the teeth with new technology such as 3-D to scare the pants of the modern audience.

One such advocate is Haunted 3D, that is credited asIndia’s first stereoscopic 3D film and masterminded by horror maestro Vikram Bhatt. The director boasts just under 30 years of experience but still regards the film with precedence, “Haunted is my most challenging and fulfilling movie. It was all new, the style was new, the technology was new. It is a unique milestone in Indian cinema,” he proclaims.

Leading man Mahaksahy Chakraborty attests to the change in requirements of shooting in 3D, “At first it was difficult to cope with 3D standards; you have to change how you talk, how you stand, and your body language. It was ten times tougher than a normal film.” According to Chakraborty, the hard work paid off. “Haunted is absolutely revolutionary, it’s ten leaps ahead by being in 3D and five leaps ahead in the Indian horror genre.” He believes the film’s themes are a far cry from the blood and guts of Bollywood’s Old School horror, which had earlier populated Bollywood. “Haunted is very eerie, there are a lot of silences and it thrives on the emptiness of horror, leaving the audience guessing ‘what’s going to happen next’,” he describes.

Also on the horizon is Ragini MMS, featuring a couple on a romantic getaway that is terrorized by a supernatural spirit. The producer, Ekta Kapoor, had described its original presentation, “the way the film was run is a grabbed footage feed.” This style means the footage appears like an amateur home video. The method, which involved 24 cameras positioned at various angles in the house, is pioneering in Bollywood. The appearance of the footage as raw makes the story more believable because it downplays the presence of a movie crew and suggests it had happened in real life. Kapoor had further stoked these fires saying, “The footage is based on a true story.”

Though novel to Bollywood, Ragini’s has drawn comparisons with the Hollywood counterpart Paranormal Activity because it was filmed in a similar format and even has the same storyline. Although admitting Ragini was inspired by the way Paranormal Activity was filmed, Kapoor had denied any further likenesses.

Ragini is another example of Bollywood filmmakers revolutionizing the horror genre by adopting innovative practices and Kapoor was reportedly optimistic for success, stating confidently, “Ragini MMS will be the scariest movie to date in India.” Trade analyst Komal Nahta believes Haunted 3D will benefit from the novelty factor of being the first Indian film shot in 3D, but says horror films cannot count on technology alone for frights. “Everyone is relying on technology to add to the horror but first and foremost the subject of the film must be horrifying, it needs a good story.”


Tune into the frequency of Mumbai’s hottest DJs and get the low-down on the summer’s biggest anthems.

DJ Janux

DJ Janux In his ten years on the decks, local DJ Janux spins psytrance, progressive and tech house. His music has crossed waves toAmsterdam,London and NYC amongst others. DJ Janux’s ideal venue would be The Shaman Sorcery Summit in the Amazon back in 3077 B.C. But for now the mixer must content himself with a summer tour to Nepal, playing at the ‘Mountain Madness’ three-day outdoor festival and then onto Factory club in Katmandu for Nepali New Year.

The DJ’s ideal tour partner would be Stevie Wonder, “so that I could tell him there are 20,000 people on the dance floor and he wouldn’t know the truth” he exclaimed. And if he had to hear one song on loop for a whole year? “The would be Maybe next year by Meiko” the mixer joked

DJ Janux’s summer picks  “Sad Movies by Orca. A party-busting and iconic track with samples of 1950s movies combined with driving dance floor beats.”

Quench by Golong. “Twister and melodic track that moves through several spaces. It has lots of samples and loony sounds.”

Teleporter by Avalon. “Great track to play at outdoor parties during the day, superb groove and psychedelic melodies.” 

Welcome to Summer by Artist Headroom. “Clean groovy positive track with a lot of power.”

DJ Sa Credited asIndia’s premier hip hop spinners, DJ Sa packs hip hop, reggae, dancehall, and mash-ups in his arsenal. The DJ packs a political punch too. “I would love to have DJed during political activist Gandhi’s fight for freedom. Since he preached non-violence, music with a political message could be used as a different approach to protest.”

DJ Sa is following the ‘I am Music Tour’, featuring hip-hop superstars Nicki Minaj, DJ Khaled, Ace Hood, Young Money, and Lil Wayne, with envy. “I would love to be on the ‘I am Music Tour’ right now. Waynehas some of the craziest energy-driven live shows.” However Sa has his own plans, “I’m just about to go to Pune to open for the R&B singer Akon’s performance, then songster T-Pain’s concert afterwards. I am then the official tour DJ for rapper Hardkaur on her world tour aroundMauritius,USA,Canada,South Africa, andAustralia.”


DJ Sa’s summer picks Bow Chicka Wow Wow by Mike Posner ft Lil Wayne. “This slow R&B tune is addictive and with a magic hook, plus it feautures the biggest name in hip hop, Lil Wayne.”

All of The Lights by Kanye West. “Massive club banger, whatever Kanye touches turns to gold!”

I Need A Doctor by Dr. Dre & Eminem. “Eminem provides some very personal lyrics and the song is taken from the most-anticipated album of the century, Dretox.”

Yeah 3x by Chris Brown “This is a return to form for Chris Brown since his peak when Forever came out, similar tempo and catchy hooks.”

Black N Yellow by Wiz Khalifa “This guy is on fire right now and, with the help of hit producers Stargate, is one of the biggest tunes of the year.”

 Cool off this summertime with some tasty cocktail recipes from Mumbai’s trendiest watering holes.


What? Pommegranza Where? Lalit Bar

Ingredients: 60ml pinky Vodka, Pomegranate seeds and Grenadine syrup.

How: Muddle the Pomegranate seeds in a Margarita glass and put Vodka and dashes of Grenadine syrup in the shaker with ice cubes. Then shake and strain in a chilled glass.


What? The Garden Where? Bonobo Bar

Ingredients: 45ml Tanqueray Gin, 200ml Tonic Water, 1/2 Cucumber, 1 Lime, Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Mint.

How: Put small portions of the Basil, Thyme, Rosemary and Mint together, five-six slices of Cucumber, and one lime cut into six-eight pieces all into a cocktail shaker. Lightly muddle until the aromas are released. Add the Gin and Ice then top with Tonic and stir. Take a tall glass and rim it with a mixture of Salt and Pepper then pour the mixture into the glass. Top with Cucumber and Herbs as Garnish.    

“The cocktail has a limey taste and is an instant cooler with a refreshing feeling.” –Head Bartender Sandeep Singh.


What? Gooseberry  Where? Red Zen Bar


Ingredients: 30ml Grey Goose Vodka, 30ml Jose Cuervo White Tequila, 90ml Cranberry Juice, 30ml Pineapple Juice.

How: Mix together in a shaker, then strain over fresh ice in a chilled Hurricane glass. Serve chilled and topped with a garnish of pineapple slice.

“Adding Elderflower cordial adds a tasty level of sweetness for the drink and serving the Gooseberry with vodka sorbet is a perfect summer option.” –Barman Kevin.

What? Whisky Crusta Where? Bonobo Bar

Ingredients: 60ml Whisky, 5 Lemon rind strips, 5 Orange rind strips, 3 drops of Bitters, 1 teaspoon of sugar.

How: Pour Whisky into a glass along with Sugar and Lemon andOrange rinds. Burn the outside of the glass then slowly tilt the glass and bring the flame to the top of the drink and apply the flame to the drink. Let the drink burn slowly for about 20 seconds then blow out the flame and add three drops of bitters then stir.

What? Bubblegum Martini Where? A Bar

Ingredients: 45ml Gordon’s Gin, 15ml Martini Extra Dry, 10ml Bubblegum Syrup.

How: Mix together in a shaker with ice, shake well then pour it into a Martini glass.

 “This fainted pink martini has a unique, sweet flavor which excites the taste buds and lets the bubblegum flavor come through. It is very easy to prepare at home for a house party,” -Barman Rajkumar.



Bombay Mary(right) & Blueberry Basil Martini(left) Trilogy.

What? Bombay Mary Where? Trilogy

Ingredients: 45ml Vodka, 5 dashes of Tabasco sauce, 3 drops of Worcestershire sauce, 2 pinches of Pepper, 1 pinch of Salt, 1 scoop of ice, a wedge of Lime, Guava juice and Chili powder.

How: Pour into a cocktail shaker, add ice, Vodka, Pepper, and Salt. Top up with Guava juice,Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce then stir. Strain the liquid into a high ball glass rimmed with Chili powder then serve. 

“My signature cocktail is something refreshing that can be served with brunches. I took inspiration from the Guava with Salt and Chili powder sold on Mumbai’s streets.” – Keenam Tham, co-owner.

What? Blueberry Basil Martini

Ingredients: 60ml Vodka, 20ml (half sugar syrup, half lime syrup), 20ml Blueberry syrup, 30grams Blueberry, 3 leaves of Basil.

How: Grind the Blueberry and Basil leaves together. Then put all the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker, shake well, pour and serve in a Martini glass.

“Mumbai summers can get unbearably hot and humid and the concoction of basil and blueberry can be extremely soothing. The sweet taste of blueberry and a slight hint of basil guarantees a refreshing coolness.” –Keenam Tham, co-wner.

Meet India’s new Government cabinet, plucked from the ranks of Bollywood.


Activist Anna Hazare’s recent anti-corruption campaign attracted voluminous support from B-town. The Twittersphere was set alight with stars’ words of encouragement and exclamations of triumph. This begs the question, how would our very own B-towners fare, should they decide to hang up their acting boots for a dabble in politics?

Abhishek Bachchan Proposed position: Minister of Law and Justice

In movies such as Dhoom, Bachchan junior proved adept at playing a tough-talking cop dishing out cold slices of justice. After Bachchan tweeted on April 8, “Support MUST be in deed not just in thought”, what better way to lead by example than take up a position as Minister of Law and Justice?

After all Bachchan has already cosied up with the Narcotics Control Bureau. “The Bureau has been speaking to me for a long time to come and work with me,” Bachchan stated. The actor is not short of political motivation. “I believe in change, I believe in standing up for rights”, concluded the lawman.

Bipasha Basu Proposed position: Foreign Minister

Bipasha & Josh

Glamorous actor Basu has been following Hazare’s cause and the web was atwitter with her support. On April 9 Basu tweeted, “Corruption is our enemy… V need more leaders like Anna Hazare!” After her highly-publicized rapport with American star Josh Hartnett, Basu appears promising for overseeingIndia’s foreign relations.

The duo was recently spotted getting chummy on the set of Basu’s upcoming film, Singularity. Basu has already worked her magic. “Since Josh is an American he doesn’t know about cricket but I think we have him hooked and we watched the India-Pakistan cricket game together” she exclaimed. Anyone able to sell cricket to an American pledging their allegiance to baseball has my support.

Genelia D’Souza Proposed position: Minister of Propaganda


Actor D’Souza’s success in trending her new film Urumi across Twitter with tweets such as “Im goin 2feel urumi thru d ppl cant wait”, makes her a potentially valuable asset to the government in communicating with the public. She retweeted a link on April 6 described as “ a vry sensible & balanced take on Anna Hazare’s fast…” to show support.

“I think Twitter is the best medium to stay in touch with your fans and actually get a real-time response from people. It’s fast, convenient and very easy to use,” D’Souza advised. Hope you’re taking notes, Dr. Singh.

Priyanka Chopra Proposed position: Minister of Education

Chopra with Unicef

UNICEF Ambassador, a former Miss World; beauty Chopra appears the ideal role model for young Indians. On April 6 she tweeted applauding their participation, “What’s remarkable is the uprising of youth of our country in support of Anna Hazare”.

Chopra’s first port of call would be to encourage voting. “How can you just sit and complain the government is bad, you are educated and can steer the country the way you want. When I turned 21 the first thing I did was vote,” she urged.

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh had this to say of actors’ political prospects. “There have been many instances of Bollywood actors going into politics but I still feel that most Bollywood politicians aren’t as impactful, as they still maintain their work in Bollywood”, he concluded.

Mumbai’s new cast of International Chefs get on the griller as they divulge their cooking creeds.


Chef Alex Sanchez, Executive Chef, The Table


Who: Alex Sanchez,
Restaurant: The Table,
Cuisine: International

The range of Sanchez’s cooking style reflects the cultural diversity of his hometown, San Francisco. He is dedicated to preserving the integrity of his ingredients, be it a carrot or an expensive cut of meat. “Cooking is about spontaneity, sensuality, and the giving of pleasure,” he declares.

Craziest order you have received?
“In an upscale restaurant back in San Francisco we had a superstitious guest who refused to eat anything in even numbers. He ordered a salad, naturally, and I was in the kitchen counting every leaf, every herb, every garnish to make sure it was in odd numbers.”
You have 12 hours to live, what meal do you have?
“Hands down my mom’s lasagna or my grandma’s leg of lamb — either would allow me to relive my entire life in one bite!”

How do you rate Mumbaikar diners?
“It’s difficult to generalise but I’m learning they like bold flavours and large portions. Being largely well-travelled there is also an appreciation for some subtlety and nuance.”

Chef Praiwan Sripal, Thai Chef, Courtyard

Who: Praiwan Sripal,
Restaurant: Red Zen,
Cuisine: Pan Asian

Four months into his Mumbai culinary foray and Thai Chef Praiwan has assembled a menu drawing from Thai, Chinese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Indonesian influences. He cooks by six words, “Keep it fresh, keep it simple!”

Craziest order…?
“A guest once requested a dish that was ‘not dead’.”
12 hours to live, what meal?
“I’m a simple man with simple tastes so it would be a fresh, authentic meal, raw papaya salad, Thai green curry and steamed rice.”
Best thing since sliced bread?
In the Thai food world that would be the strong and aromatic fish sauce (Nam Pla) — the staple ingredient of Thai cuisine.

Alain Coumont, Owner, Le Pain Quotidien

Who: Alain Coumont,
Restaurant: Le Pain Quotidien,
Cuisine: European Continental

Having opened a Colaba branch of the international brand in January, Belgian Coumont believes dishes should be a combination of colourful presentation and flavourful ingredients.
Kitchen injuries?
“A friend was re-enacting a stylish tennis shot with a long slicer and took a piece of my finger off in the demonstration. I also broke my toe after dropping a six kilo frozen salmon I was holding by the tail.”
12 hours to live, what meal?

“The best bottle of wine for sure and fresh truffle, if I’m lucky enough to die in

Mumbaikar diners?
“There is a very diverse range in preference and demographics and, as diners, they are discerning, sophisticated and well-traveled.”

Gia Tong, Head Chef, Trendz

Who: Gia Tong,
Restaurant: Trendz,
Cuisine: Vietnamese

Vietnamese Chef Tong has been plying his trade in Mumbai for just one month and is determined to bring eye-catching and colourful dishes to the dining scene.

Craziest order?
“A customer wanted their braised spare ribs medium-rare but I had to go out and personally explain to them that, because the dish is cooked for six hours, that would be pretty hard!”

Kitchen injuries?
“I was using a Chinese chopper to cut up some chicken and was so busy listening to instructions I chopped off part of my thumb.”

Weirdest ingredient?

“I am used to using snails but when I came to Mumbai I was told to take them off the menu, clearly it’s not Mumbaikar diners’ cup of tea.”

A new batch of Mumbai’s International Chefs prepare for a roasting.

Ian Kittichai, Head Chef, Koh

Name: Ian Kittachi Restaurant: Koh Cuisine: Thai

Hailing from Thailand, Chef Kittachi is a man devoted to his ingredients. His dishes arive courtesy of influences from across the globe and capped off with Thai flavors, spices and herbs. Look out for his signature offerings, such as lamb shank slow-cooked for 12 hours.

What’s the craziest order you’ve received? “Some people who are spice intolerant expect me to do a Green Thai curry without any chilies. But one guest asked me to do a Som Tom without Papaya and I did it with tender coconut shreds instead, it went down well.”  

What’s the weirdest ingredient you’ve cooked with? “Lamprey, an eel-shaped fish with delicately-flavored but fatty flesh, it’s a challenge to cook but even harder to eat!” 

What’s your ideal song to cook to? “Music helps to keep you in the flow of cooking so anything soft and soothing works. I have yet to find if spatulas make good microphones or if my kitchen can be a dancefloor.”

Jihad El Shami, Head Chef, Mabruk


Name: Jihad El Shami Restaurant: Mabruk Cuisine: Lebanese

Lebanese chef Jihad El Shami ensures that hygiene and organization rule in his kitchen. “No one appreciates a meal cooked by someone with a sweaty brow and hair loss issues” he declares.

Cooking song? Classical tunes by Fairouz, a female singer from Lebanaon.

What is the best dish you’ve prepared? Fakhed with Riz (A leg of lamb with rice).

You have 12 hours to live, what meal would you have? “Has to be Tabbouleh, a Levantine salad traditionally made of bulgar, finely chopped parsley and mint, tomato and spring onion, seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil.”

Who is your cooking inspiration and what dish would you serve them? My grandfather, he was a complete foodie who loved the Samkeh Harrah (Lebanese Garlic Fish)

Thomas Wee, Head Chef, Spices

Name: Thomas Wee Restaurant: Spices Cuisine: Chinese and Japanese

Seven and a half years into his Indian culinary expedition, Chinese chef Wee has developed a cooking creed centered around health conscious and nutritious cooking.

Weirdest ingredient? “I’ve cooked with wild animals such as Deer, Python, Flying Bat, Squirrel and Turtle.”

Any kitchen injuries? “I was new in the kitchen and fell on a slippery floor right onto the BBQ griller.”

Best thing since sliced bread? Asian rice and noodles!

12 hours to live, what meal? To be honest I don’t think I would have the appetite to eat anything.

Mama Villie Van, Head Chef, Ocean

Name: Mama Villie Van Restaurant: Ocean Cuisine: Pan-Asian

Chef Mama is credited as one of the pioneers of Thai food in Mumbai, being in the city for over 19 years. Her cooking aims at creating authentic and ethic cuisine.

Best thing since sliced bread? The pressure cooker, it makes cooking so much easier.

Your best dish? Panaeng (Meat in Spicy Coconut cream).

Your cooking inspiration? My grand mother, I would serve her my personal version of the Tom Yam Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup).

What do you think about Mumbaiker diners? They are a spicy lot, over the years their taste buds have evolved but they always want quick service, spicy food, and lots of gravy.

London is a honey-pot for the unsuspecting tourist, make a wrong turn and you could find yourself entangled in a mass of camera-wielding sightseers,    fighting for air. Take it from a local, knowing the city’s best-kept secrets is half the battle.

Green Park

Acquaint yourself with the English summer in the woody expanse of Green Park. Situated five minutes from the heartbeat of London, Picadilly Circus, it’s a welcome escape from the crowds. If lounging around isn’t your idea of a sight-seeing holiday then worry not, this Royal park is steeped in history. Besides showcasing duels in Victorian times, it was used as a hunting ground by notorious British monarch Henry VIII. There’s also the small matter of the Queen’s residence, Buckingham Palace, a few minutes away.

Camden Town

A stomping ground for London’s avant-garde music folk, Camden Town is a sprawling mass of body-piercings, leather and bleached Mohicans. Its watering holes, and namely The Hawley Arms, have long been the haunt of supermodel Kate Moss and Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher. The vintage shops in Camden Market are home to biker jackets, flares and any of fashion history’s other forgotten garments while Cyberdog, which can be best described as a futuristic S&M shop, is a must-see.

La Fromagerie

Visiting a French-named cafe is hardly a way to crown an English holiday but this rustic cheese and wine shop is a stylish dining experience that personifies metropolitan London. Tucked away in London’s trendy Marylebone area, visitors are seated at earthy wooden tables before being given an impressive menu with offering taken from across Europe. The English Stinking Bishop is a soft cheese that lives up to its name and goes beautifully with the French wine, Chignin La Marechale.

Hoxton Hotel

Located in up-and-coming Shoreditch, this stylish offering is widely considered the best-valued hotel in London at 4,250 rupees a night. Owned by Pret A Manger co-founder Sinclair Beecham, it follows a no-nonsense mantra. The exposed brickwork and sizeable fireplace residing in the lobby are indicative of the hotel’s subtle and unpretentious decoration. But don’t be fooled into thinking you’re staying at a budget hotel, there are plenty of luxuries nestled around, including a free daily Pret A Manger breakfast.

DNA- Wax On, Wax Off

As an Englishman I have always held a paternal affection for the wiry hairs protruding from my chest. Their presence represents a rite of passage from pock-faced adolescent to cultured gent. After all, would Sean Connery’s James Bond have been able to charm the pants off female acquaintances without his sizeable chest barnet? I think not.

Yet having seen male actors such as Hrithik Roshan swagger around B-town, brandishing torsos as smooth and shiny as a freshly-waxed Rolls Royce I concluded the hair fest on my breast had to go. And so it was on an ominous Thursday afternoon that I found myself outside one of Mumbai’s finest waxing establishments, in the vain pursuit of Bollywood glamour.

“He needs to be waxed” declared my partner-in-crime to the owner, who then assessed me with suspicious displeasure, as if I’d just asked to date his mother. I was then cautiously led downstairs to an underground room, which had the metallic gadgets and surgical lights to make it the ideal set for the horror film Saw. “Nice and cozy”, I commented.

After awkwardly removing my shirt, I lay down on my back and a hot, golden substance was spread over my chest hairs. It appeared to be honey, but that would be wrong. The only time hot honey should be applied to one’s naked chest is in the privacy of the bedroom by a marital partner, not by a mustached forty-year-old in a dimly-lit underground basement.

With the wax applied, white strips were then rubbed vigorously into the hair-affected areas. This relative calm was shattered when they were viciously yanked away with the triumph of a wizard pulling a rabbit out of his hat. What remained was a barren patch of skin that had taken on an angry, red glow.

I didn’t blame its anger. The tearing off of strips was a painful affair. You knew the pain was coming so it was just a case of grimacing and awaiting the fateful and crunching rip. I wanted to keep up appearances so my face was contorted into an anguished smile, all to the delight of my torturer. He ripped the strips off joyfully as if Christmas had come early and he was tearing open his presents. No wonder Salman Khan prefers using a razor.

After desperately searching for any straggling hairs on my wretched chest as if each one were worth a small fortune, he relented. I was left with a ghostly white torso which resembled a freshly-skinned chicken with a bad case of rashes. My verdict? I may have a chest smooth enough to waltz down the catwalk, but I would happily accept the body hair of King Kong rather than endure that miniature hell every month.

Upcoming Bollywood action flick Zokkomon casts child star Darsheel Safary, 15, once more into the lime light after his acting debut in Taare Zameen Par aged 11. Child actors sometimes face a tough burden, being placed in the public eye early and potentially having their childhood disrupted.

A chirpy Safary sounded entirely unfazed. Of his experience working on set, “It was amazing, I had Jackie Chan’s stunt director (William Ong) directing my stunts”. Safary also kept up with school work and, despite the film’s commitments, performed well in his exams. “I had a teacher on set and my friends kept me up to date with the work I missed.”

Safary’s friends also played an important role in helping him deal with fame. “Sometimes I get annoyed with the attention in public and my friends and family help me out. My friends understand my situation and the best part is they never hype my presence.”

Director Amol Gupte, whose upcoming movie Stanley Ka Dabba features a cast of around five-hundred children, was careful not to disturb his child casts’ experience of growing up. He followed a policy of shooting only on Saturday to avoid coinciding with school, meaning the production took 18 months to film. He had advice for his youthful cast. “I cautioned them to treat this experience as knowledge and not as a route to stardom.”

Actor Jugal Hansraj, who was catapulted into fame aged nine in Masoom and starred as a child in later films Karma and Sultanat, has fond recollections of his child acting. “It was one of the greatest memories of my life, I didn’t miss any of my childhood and forgot about it when I grew up” he recalled.

Thanks to her parents, actor Sana Saeed, who starred alongside SRK when she was nine in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, had a similarly unobtrusive time as a child actor. “When you’re that small you don’t know what you’re doing so your parents play an important role. My mum made sure I didn’t miss school and I would only do movies in holidays and over weekends.”

Having acted from age three, Saeed, 23, treated her roles as a hobby. “Child actors are so small that they don’t think about it being a career. It gives you confidence and might be a crazy back-up option but I did an advertising diploma afterwards and worked in a client-servicing department. It’s only recently I’ve wanted to get back into acting.”

Hansraj thinks child actors benefit from pressure-free environments. “Kids should be treated like kids and not behave too much, they are playing their part as children and should act straight from the heart.”

With talented script writers and keener audiences, Indian animated films can be more than just a flash in the pan.

In 2011 Indian cinemas will play host to a number of animated films, including Rango, Rio, and Japanese manga offering Sinchan, Bungle in the Jungle. And, for another year, Indian animated films will remain conspicuous for their absence. In the context of India’s highly-developed capabilities for animation production, this appears strange. After all, Indian animation played its hand in global film franchises such as Star Wars and The Mummy. However the domestic market is proving a tough nut to crack.

According to Ram Mirchandani, CCO of entertainment giant Eros, compared to the West the Indian audience is not yet suited to animated films. “The impression of animated films is that it’s for just for children and this alienates a huge movie-going audience.”

Director of 2008 animated offering, Roadside Romeo, Jugal Hansraj believes animation has a niche audience. “You can’t compare animation to a Bollywood film, it appeals to pockets of people.” This is illustrated in the box office performance of Roadside Romeo. At the time, according to Hansraj the film had grossed the most of any animation film in India, but this equated to a modest $55, 000.

Rajnish Arora, CCO of animation studio Source Animation, proposed Indian films are hampered by their plots. “We don’t have experienced animation writers and there is a lack of strong scripts” he suggested. Mirchandani supplemented this, “Animation films need interesting and smart scripts that involves audiences across age boundaries so children can bring their parents too.”

Director Anil Goyal is hoping his film Crackers will dispel perceptions of animation being just for children. Crackers, India’s first 3D stereoscopic film, is based on the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks and features an animated take on Katrina Kaif. “Katrina is a well-loved actress and she looks equally pretty in animation” Goyal added.

Arora credited India’s current strength in production of animation. “We have fantastic production abilities to execute someone else’s ideas” he declared. India’s foreign appeal is also entwined in economics. The 12-16 hour work day of Indian animators equates to a faster turnaround for jobs and the rupee’s favorable exchange rate makes jobs comparatively cheaper. Goyal estimated 60% of Indian animators work for foreign companies.

In an interview with IANS, Ranvir Shorey, who has lent his voice in upcoming animation flick Rio, bemoaned the lack of budgets. “We need somebody with the right script and the producers who have faith to mount that kind of production because we definitely have the talent in India. We need more entrepreneurship from the production sector.”

Stars’ personal access to twitter means they have a chance to communicate with their followers in a genuine manner, and not through the mechanisms of a PR agency. While some Bollywood stars such as Salman Khan use this opportunity to provide fans with an intimate look into their personal lives and thoughts, there are others who have undertaken the role of their own PR agents and use the site for endorsements.

Last week model Genelia d’Souza accompanied the release of her movie debut, the Malayalam film Urimi, with a torrent of tweets including favorable reviews and positive feedback she had received for her performance. The campaign clearly worked, and ‘#Urimi’ became a trending topic on twitter. D’Souza triumphantly retweeted the statement, “Urumi is Trending on twitter [India Trends]. Wow. 😀 Thanks to all the fans who made it possible. You all rock! :-)”.

Followers of celebrities are also treated to surreal twitter conversations between stars. The rich and famous are hardly using twitter to save on phone bills so it is more likely the publicity of the tweets are used to subtly promote one another. Actor Dia Mirza is a large advocate of public correspondence and tweeted on March 31, “Here’s wishing @DuttaLara and her team of ‘Chalo Dilli’ the best! Trailer out today :)”. To which fellow actor Lara Dutta replied, “@deespeak. Thankyou my darling :-)”.

Meanwhile, movie star Bipasha Basu regularly endows her followers with links for trailers to her new movies and music videos. Director Farah Khan justified this by describing Twitter as the best way to get direct feedback from cinema lovers. “We are making films for them so it only makes sense to give them first access to our film promos and stuff”, she said.  

There is suggestion of Basu giving publicity to companies she works with. On March 8 she tweeted, “Say hello to @madowothair, the people behind my hair for the last six years.” Earlier this year English model Liz Hurley tweeted herself into trouble with the British Office of Fair Trade after she included numerous references to cosmetics company Estée Lauder in her tweets. UK regulations state that stars must indicate when their tweets are being sponsored by adding ‘spon’ or ‘ad’ and the trade office was attempting to crack down on product endorsements on Twitter. 

Over in America, an industry has grown out of tweeting and it recently emerged that Charlie Sheen, with 3,350,000 followers and counting, is being sponsored to tweet by American company It has also been reported that the popular tweeter Kim Kardashian, sponsored by the same company, earns over $10,000 for every product tweet to her near seven million followers.

Despite the lucrative potential of tweeting there is no evidence that Bollywood actors tweet for cash, preferring it as a marketing tool and a communication platform for self-promotion. Actor Dino Morea sees nothing wrong in this. “Being very personalized Twitter gives me an opportunity to get up close and personal with my well wishers as well as people who want to know about my business venture”, he said.

Caped crusaders, masked defenders; since the surprise success of X Men(2000), Hollywood has been heaving with superheroes as comic books are scoured and franchises such as Batman are revived for an assault on the silver screen. With the impending release of Bollywood’s Ra. One, superheroes appear to be catching on in B-town. But is the industry suited to the lofty production costs and sensationalism of superhero flicks? Is villain-bashing in spandex an Indian audience’s cup of tea?

The rapturous reception Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman received on a recent visit to Mumbai hinted that Hollywood superheroes had infiltrated the Indian market. It is clear the younger generation of Indians is taken with the visual feasts of superhero films and the protagonists’ portrayal as upholders of moral justice makes them positive role models. Actor Shah Rukh’s decision to act in Ra. one supports this. “I am only doing this for my kids, Aryan and Suhana”, he said.

SRK, though, was quick to distance Indian superheroes from their Hollywood counterparts, “the stories will always be set in an Indian context and the audiences have grown up with different concepts and stories”. Both SRK and Hrithik Roshan, star of superhero flick Krrish, reported there was no Hollywood influence in their superhero characters. Roshan said, “Indians have grown up with tales of superheroes like Hanuman so, while Krrish may have all the powers of a typical western superhero, he was not inspired by any Hollywood superhero”.

Apparently little influence, but the box office success of Hollywood superheroes, equating to both The Dark Knight and Spiderman 3 residing amongst the world’s top twenty highest-grossing films of all time, has certainly been emulated in Bollywood. Bollywood offering Krrish grossed Rs 150 crore, making it the second highest Bollywood earner in 2006, while in 2010 Robot(Enthiran) smashed the Bollywood grossing record, making Rs 375 crore worldwide. It is clearly a lucrative genre, but Robot’s reported production cost of over Rs 150 crores represents a potentially risky investment.

Ra. one’s use of Hollywood specialists to train their VFX team indicates that Bollywood is not yet at the global forefront of VFX. Merzin Tavaria, Chief Creative Director of India’s largest VFX company Prime Focus, conceded that Bollywood required the specialist help of Hollywood VFX teams but remained ambitious for the future. “We have some catching up to do in terms of experience, but with our base in the key global markets, we are in a position to leverage that and share the knowledge to train our people.” Roshan reflects this optimism. “We have the best minds in the business so there’s no reason why we won’t be able to achieve the standards Hollywood has set for us.”

Star of up-coming superhero film, Doga, Kunal Kapoor joked that playing a superhero, “I will finally know what it feels like to wear my underwear over my pants.” This perception of superheroes is born out of the comic books many characters are taken from. With a relatively low comic book readership in India, however, inspiration appears taken from elsewhere. Recently, it was reported that actor Akshay Kumar would be playing a superhero inspired by Indian deity Hanuman while the title Ra.One is taken from the mythological antagonist ‘Rawana’ who appears in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana.

Bollywood superheroes are swooping in, and judging by reports, they will be loyal to India.