Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Enthralled by Bollywood

Though the green carpet of the Indian International Film Academy has been rolled up and the steel gates used to separate the Bollywood elite from the Bangkok rabble have been stowed away until the next gala event, coverage from the IIFA weekend continues.

Bangkok's Daily Xpress had two stories in today's paper, a fashion story and coverage from the "world premiere" of Sarkar Raj. (I'm still trying to find that second story on the website.)

Actually it wasn't really a premiere at all, since the movie also opened the same day in India, Singapore and even in New York and elsewhere in North America, where, according to one box-office tally, it "almost cracked the Top 10". Of course, the gala Bangkok screening of Sarkar Raj was a special occasion because the movie's three stars -- Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan -- as well as director Ram Gopal Varma, were all present.

Here's an excerpt from the story by Daily Xpress correspondent Uma Pandey:

Sarkar Raj, loosely adapted from the 2001 Enron scandal, is a political drama about a conflict of business interests. Set in rural India, it follows the ambitions of Anita Rajan (Aishwarya Rai) and Shankar (Abhishek) to build a power plant in the suburbs of Maharashtra.

The cinematography is almost monochrome, with lots of sepia tones and close-ups adding to the intensity of the story. Verma’s lingering camera manages to portray the tension in the eyes of the characters, drawing you into the film as if you too were living the drama.

Explaining the secret of his success at the press conference after the screening, Bachchan said, “I have lived my life on my own terms and conditions.”

For Abhishek, starring opposite Indian cinema’s living legend is “always a pleasure”.

Sarkar Raj is a sequel to the 2005 hit Sarkar, which was inspired by Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.

Though, apparently, Sarkar Raj doesn't have anything to do with The Godfather, Part II.

It's the first film to feature the Bachchan trio since Aishwarya's marriage to Abhishek last year. Singapore's Electric New Paper has more (cache):

But the former Miss World denied at a press conference at the film's premiere last Friday that it was a deliberate plan to market the trio.

She said: "Ramu (Ram Gopal) had decided to make another film on Sarkar much before the actual filming started. I was offered the film when I was not married.

"When Ramu finally decided to make the film, the storyline and cast remained unchanged. It would be unfair to say that the film is a deliberate strategy to present all three of us together for the first time after my marriage to Abhishek."

Whatever her protests may be, the Bachchan family obviously believes that a family that schmoozes together on the red carpet stays together.

With Mrs Jaya Bachchan, Amitabh's wife, in tow, they appeared at last month's Cannes Film Festival, where Amitabh described the family as being Aishwarya's "entourage" on his blog, Big Adda.

Finally, there's the IIFA weekend as seen through the eyes of Bangkok's Indian community, who were well and truly held in thrall by the event, and despite complaints of high ticket prices, turned out in great numbers to catch a glimpse of the stars. Indians in Thailand has more (hat tip to

“IIFA means a lot for us Indians living here. It is a perfect showcasing of India in terms of our stars and glamour,” Ravi Mathur, who works as general manager in a company here, told IANS.

Thailand has a nearly 85,000-strong Indian diaspora, with families of many having settled in the country three-four generations ago.

Ashima, a young woman, was over the moon as her autograph book was full.

She said: "It's like a dream come true for us. We usually see them (stars) in films and admire them. But the experience of meeting them in person is ecstatic. I can't explain in words how I am feeling right now.

"All the stars are so nice. My favourite actor is Kareena Kapoor and favourite director is Yash Chopra. His films are so lively and I was thrilled when he greeted me so nicely and gave me an autograph as well.”

Missed the chance to see Sarkar Raj at the Bangkok gala screening? Well, the enterprising folks at Bollywood Thai have managed to lock it in for another showing at 8.15pm on Saturday at Grand EGV Siam Discovery.

Related posts:


  1. Excellent update.

    Interesting that Sarkar Raj doesn't follow Sarkar's Godfather remake.

    Sounds like a movie worthwhile watching!

  2. Comparisons to The Godfather are still being drawn, though: says Philip French in The Observer: "After a rabblerousing young politician stirs up the villagers, the movie goes all Godfather with double-crossings, brutal executions and much realpolitik."


Please, no questions or comments about where to download movies or subtitle files.

Please read the FAQ about Thai films on DVD before asking about where to find a Thai movie on DVD with English subtitles.

Make your comments pertinent to the post you are commenting on. For off-topic comments, general observations or news tips, consider sending an e-mail to me at wisekwai [ a t ] g m a i l [d o t ] c o m.

All comments are moderated. Spam comments will be deleted.