Posts Tagged ‘Sunday Times Magazine’

How I learned to love Bollywood

Friday, July 26th, 2013

 

There’s a really interesting piece in the Guardian today by Amit Chaudhuri (the British media’s new go-to man for South Asian comment) about Bollywood – the catch-all term for Indian mainstream film. Chaudhuri relates his own personal journey back to an Indian past whilst watching classic Hindi cinema at university in Cambridge in the ’80s. It was a medium that he’d ignored partly because of his middle-class upbringing and partly because he’d grown up on Hollywood movies. Interestingly, as he says, “just as Bollywood seemed to become all gloss and syrup, there was another development.” This came in the form of Independent Hindi cinema. Movies like Maqbool and Omkara. It’s a shame for the outsider who doesn’t speak Hindi because it’s really tricky to find subtitled versions beyond the big blockbusters. I’m still trying to hunt down a version of the Gangs of Wasseypur that I can understand. For me, I remember sitting open mouthed the first time I saw some of the beautiful Satyajit Ray offerings in black and white that are pretty easy to find… but then also loving more modern ironic offerings like Quick Gun Murugan. In any case it will be interesting to see where ‘new’ Indian cinema will go in the next few years in a rapidly changing India.

I’ve never worked on a Bollywood movie (although I did shoot movie moghul Ronnie Screwvalla for the Sunday Times Magazine a few years ago – see here) but did photograph the rehearsals for The Merchants of Bollywood (again for the Sunday Times Magazine) in Mumbai a while back. As my own homage to Bollywood, here’s one of my favourite frames from the job…

 

Indian - Mumbai - Dancer Ashwini Iyer, 23, practices her routine at a rehearsal of the production of The Merchants of Bollywood in a studio in Mumbai, India

Indian – Mumbai – Dancer Ashwini Iyer, 23, practices her routine at a rehearsal of the production of The Merchants of Bollywood in a studio in Mumbai, India

 

Hooray for Bollywood…

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

 

This month marks the centenary of Bollywood – the garish, larger-than-life dream factory that enraptures Indian audiences worldwide. Five years ago I was commissioned by the Sunday Times Magazine to photograph Ronnie Screwvalla, the millionaire film producer and founder of the UTV group over a couple of days in Mumbai. Screwvalla proved charming if extraordinarily busy. I photographed him at home and at his studios but realising that he would make a good potential cover, pursuaded his nervous PR staff (they’re always nervous aren’t they?) to let me have twenty minutes with him at a Mumbai beach near where he grew up. Originally, I’d wanted him walking along the beach but it soon became clear that that wasn’t going to happen. I arrived early and had my star-struck driver hold a single strobe as Screwvalla emerged from his limo. The picture lasted no more than five minutes before he had to leave. It never made the cover but I’ve always liked it.

 

 

India - Mumbai - Ronnie Screwvala, CEO of UTV, at Sea Face Bay  in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India..As a producer and businessman, over the past five years Screwvala has led the transformation of India's prolific but chaotic film industry to become a crossover figure in Hollywood and Bollywood...

India – Mumbai – Ronnie Screwvala, CEO of UTV photographed at Sea Face Bay. As a producer and businessman over the past five years Screwvala has led the transformation of India’s prolific but chaotic film industry to become a crossover figure in Hollywood and Bollywood.