Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar--sort of...

Of all the movies that have been tough to sum up recently in a 200-word capsule review, Ashutosh Gwarariker's 3 1/2-hour historical epic Jodhaa Akabar (scroll down) establishes a new high water mark. I fussed over this one for two days before admitting defeat.

I now hasten to point out (because I've gotten in trouble in the past for criticisizing the critics) that none of this is the LA Weekly's doing. They have proven themselves plenty ready to run full-length Bolly-reviews---provided I can get in to see the movies a few days in advance of the deadline for opening-day publication. And that's the rub.

Advance press screenings are still such a hard and fast convention of the way movies are covered in the US that, by refusing to acknowledge it, Indian distributers are all but declaring that they have written off the American "mainstream" market. Apparently it is felt that the films are successful enough already when released on a four-wall basis with minimal advertising (JA came in at # 19 this week on the Variety top-50 chart) . Who am I to say they're wrong, even though this sounds to me like a classic self-fulfilling prophecy.

Perhaps we should pitch in to buy paperback copies of James Clavell's Taipan for the CEO's of Eros, UTV and Yash Raj? This is a classic pulp business novel (with added cool elements of sex, swordplay and piracy) about a Scots entrepreneur who becomes the dominant gweilo wheeler dealer in colonial Hong Kong (based upon the real-life founder of Jardine Matheson) by paying attention to the way his Chinese partners think and operate. A lesson worth pondering. at any rate.