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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.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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