The Hollywood/Bollywood Connection

The Hollywood/Bollywood Connection (photo)

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Long before “Jai Ho” entered the international lexicon, the gap between Hollywood and Bollywood had already been shrinking. In distinctly Western style, much of the action has occurred behind the scenes: Indian cable TV magnate and Bollywood producer Ronnie Screwvala’s UTV Software Communications has co-produced the latest Hollywood films from Indian filmmakers M. Night Shyamalan (“The Happening”) and Mira Nair (“The Namesake”), in addition to making financing deals with Sony and Will Smith’s production company Overbrook Entertainment; Disney and Warner Brothers have begun to finance their own Bollywood productions; and last year, Reliance, one of India’s biggest producer of Bollywood films, made production pacts with the companies of Nicolas Cage, George Clooney and Brad Pitt before making their biggest coup — financing DreamWorks, an investment that allowed the Steven Spielberg-led studio to leave its deal at Paramount.

However, Hollywood and Bollywood have been a little less quick to embrace putting their stars in each other’s movies, though the road from Mumbai to Melrose is getting shorter by the day. It’s gotten to the point in pop culture where Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan can introduce “Slumdog Millionaire” at this year’s Golden Globes and Natalie Portman can play a Bollywood princess in her then-boyfriend Devendra Banhart’s music video “Carmensita” without anyone batting a curled eyelash. As for actual feature films, here are a few examples of when East has met West in recent years:

05222009_brideandprejudice.jpgAishwarya Rai in “Bride and Prejudice”

If there’s been any actor or actress poised to crossover from Bollywood into Hollywood, Aishwarya Rai has been the leading candidate for years. Having already been deigned the most beautiful woman in the world by none other than Julia Roberts, the Bombay bombshell has been slumming it in bit parts in big-budget Western flops like “The Pink Panther 2” and the epic “The Last Legion” in between Bollywood jobs, yet her best shot so far at conquering Hollywood came with the lead in Gurinder Chadha’s 2004 musical take on Jane Austen’s classic. Fresh off the surprising success of “Bend it Like Beckham,” Chadha had the leverage to shoot a Bollywood-style romp on Miramax’s dime and cast the largely unknown-in-America Rai as Elizabeth Bennet stand-in Lalita C. Bakshi opposite then up-and-comers Martin Henderson and Alexis Bledel. Not surprisingly, the film grossed nearly triple overseas what it did domestically, but the disappointing U.S. box office didn’t prevent Chadha from pushing Rai further onto Western audiences with a film that her husband (Paul Mayeda Berges) directed, the little-seen 2005 fantasy “The Mistress of Spices,” which starred Rai and Dylan McDermott.

05222009_kambakkht-Ishq.jpgSylvester Stallone in “Kambakkht Ishq”

Audiences will have to wait until “The Expendables” to see Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the same frame of celluloid, but the Bollywood buzz machine worked overtime to spread rumors of the first onscreen collaboration between ’80s action icons in the 2009 Indian action comedy. It proved too good to be true, as only Stallone could commit to a cameo in the Akshay Kumar starrer (much of which can be seen in the film’s trailer), in which Kumar plays a stunt double looking for love as his career in the West takes off, appropriately enough, with a gig as Brandon Routh’s stunt double in “Superman.” Routh appears as himself, as does Denise Richards, who was reportedly so thrilled with the experience she told the Times Online, “Bollywood is so unexpectedly awesome!” Audiences will be able to decide for themselves when the film unspools internationally in August.

05222009_Marigold4.jpgAli Larter in “Marigold”

If you’re ever trolling the aisles of Blockbuster and notice “Heroes” star Ali Larter on a box cover in full-on Indian regalia, you’ve stumbled onto “Playing By Heart” director Willard Carroll’s attempt to “bridge the gap between Indian and American cinema.” Sadly, the film never scarcely made it to theaters, but does hold the distinction of being the first to bring American stars to Bollywood, as well as feature one of the latter’s biggest stars, Salman Khan, in the lead. Larter plays an actress stranded in Goa after she believes she’s been cast in one film and winds up with only a bit part in a Bollywood musical, with Kahn playing the musical’s choreographer who helps her with more than her moves. But don’t let your mind wander too far — Khan only agreed to take the part if the kissing scenes were excised, something that the star is still averse of even when starring opposite Bollywood starlets.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.