Friday, March 03, 2006


I see that Dubya is not the only North American wooing India. According to the BBC, Will Smith has met with Bollywood producers, directors and actors and visited film studios.

I was particularly intrigued to read that "the actor said he had been "blown away" by the performance of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan - also known as Big B - in the film Sarkar".

I'm a big Bachchan fan myself, as my rant last year when his movie Black didn't get an Oscar nomination demonstrates, so I was keen to find out more about Sarkar.

It turns out that Sarkar is an Indian version (I choose the word carefully) of Coppola's 'The Godfather'. This is very exciting when I think of how much I love 'The Godfather' and how much I loved Kaante - in which the Big B also featured - and which I celebrated as an exuberant version of three different American movies plus, at one remove, a Hong Kong film.

The notion that Indian films are ever copies of foreign efforts that may have inspired them is nonsense in my view. I think that there is an exuberance about Indian film that carries all before it rather in the manner of Elizabethan drama (another genre that was not too exercised about original storylines).

It certainly seems that Sarkar is inspired as much by the baleful influence of Bal Thackery (with whom I am familiar from Mehta's wonderful Maximum City) on modern Mumbai as it is by the saga of Don Corleone.

Sarkar is available on Amazon, but it costs £21.99. If I can't pick it up somewhere between here and Tooting for less than that I will be very surprised.

(Though - credit where it is due to Amazon and thinking of yesterday's post - you can pick up a DVD of On the Waterfront there for less than a fiver. You can't buy a cinema ticket for that.)

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