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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.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.