Monsoon Preview 2012
A look ahead at the films, books, TV shows, art and restaurant openings to look forward to during the rainy months.
Snow White and the Hunstman (watch the trailer here)
Adapting a beloved animation classic into a live action film—especially one that’s considered one of the best movies across all genres—is easier said than done. Just ask director Tarsem Singh whose Mirror Mirror was ill received by the critics and at the box office. Hopes are pinned somewhat higher on Snow White and the Hunstman, trailers of which suggest a Lord of the Rings-esque epic fantasy with a decidedly darker take on the fairy tale. The twists, and there are a few, include a huntsman, played by Chris “Thor” Hemsworth who doesn’t just spare the life of Snow White (Twilight’s Kristen Stewart) but trains her in “the art of war” so she can take on the woman who wants her dead, her evil stepmother the Queen (Oscar winner Charlize Theron). Opens on Friday, June 1.
Shanghai (watch the trailer here)
Arguably Bollywood’s most consistent filmmaker, Dibakar Banerjee returns with a Hindi film adaptation of Greek diplomat Vassilis Vassilikos’s 1966 novel Z. Shanghai, which is based in a nameless Indian town. The film centres around the assassination of an activist (Prosenjit Chatterjee) fighting for the rights of those about to displaced from their homes to make way for a Special Economic Zone. The mystery surrounding his alleged murder brings together the unlikely trio of a British-Indian social worker (Kalki Koelchin), a small-time photo-journalist (Emraan Hashmi) and an IAS officer (Abhay Deol). Banerjee says that he hopes the film makes the audience “question what we call development”. Opens on Friday, June 8.
Rock of Ages (watch the trailer here)
Every once in a while comes a film with a premise so out-there that it could either turn out to be a work of genius or yet another cinematic experiment gone horribly wrong. Ergo, Rock of Ages a comedy-musical set in the late1980s that offers you the chance of seeing everyone’s favourite couch-jumper Tom Cruise in the role of an aging glam rock star singing the hits of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Journey. And just in case this sounds like a fantasy episode of Glee, know that it comes with the added star power of Alec Baldwin as the nightclub owner hoping to save his venue from being shut down by the self-righteous likes of a local rock hater played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Sounds like a movie made for modern-day Mumbai. Opens on Friday, June 15.
Brave (watch the trailer here)
Pixar’s newest animation takes a turn away from the upbeat cheeriness of its previous releases (Up, Cars, Toy Story), this time focusing on a fiery-haired archery-adept princess in ancient Scotland who must undo a curse on her kingdom. Notably, it’s the first time Pixar has had a female protagonist (and until she was fired, a female director) and set a movie in a time past. Opens on Friday, June 22.
Gangs of Wasseypur (watch the trailer here)
Hindi indie hero Anurag Kashyap’s most ambitious project to date, the two-part, five-hours-long Gangs of Wasseypur spans seven decades in the life of North India’s coal mafia. Described by one Hollywood critic as a “Tarantino-tinged Bihari take on The Godfather”, the film has won Kashyap praise for “never losing control over the story-telling or hundreds of actors”. Among the actors playing the roles of the two rival Wasseypur clans, the Khans and the Qureshis, are Manoj Bajpayee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui playing father and son. Opens on Friday, June 22.
The Amazing Spider-Man (watch the trailer here)
Did we really need a Spider-Man reboot a mere five years after the last installment of the previous series? Us folks in India will get to find out a week before the rest of the world if The Amazing Spider-Man improves upon its predecessor. Comic book geeks are already lauding the plot for being truer to the source material by featuring a more snarky and less angst-y Peter Parker (played by The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield). Other key differences: a larger focus on Peter’s parents who disappeared when he was a child; a new-old love interest in the form of Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone), who was his high school sweetheart before he met Mary-Jane; and of course, a new villain, the Lizard aka Peter’s father’s former Oscorp colleague Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). Plus, Irrfan Khan gets some screen time too. Opens on Friday, June 29.
The Dark Knight Rises (watch the trailer here)
It had to end some time and that time, alas, is imminent. Director Christopher Nolan returns to helm the conclusion in the Dark Knight trilogy, having guarded plot details to feverish levels of speculation. Most nuggets have been gleaned only from scrutinising each new trailer and poster release—in short that the story picks up eight years after The Dark Knight left off, with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in less than stellar shape, with a new lady love played by Marion Cotillard and two beastly villains in the form of Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and the Hannibal-esque terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy). Opens on Friday, July 20.
Ek Tha Tiger (watch the trailer here)
Subtlety has never been the hallmark of director Kabir Khan who returns to his favourite subject, global terrorism in Ek Tha Tiger. On the bright side, the filmmaker will probably give Salman Khan fans something they have stopped expecting from the superstar’s movies of late: a plot. Khan need only show up on screen to strike box-office gold (see Ready, Bodyguard) but this Independence Day/Eid release’s trailer suggests a tale of international espionage involving India and Pakistan’s rival intelligence agencies the RAW and the ISI. It’s notable however that the “romantic thriller”, produced by Yash Raj Films, has generated the strongest media buzz not for its storyline but for its coup of casting Khan against his former lady love Katrina Kaif. Opens on Wednesday, August 15.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits! (watch the trailer here)
This critically acclaimed stop-motion animation film—with no less than an 86 per cent “fresh” rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes—under-performed at the box-office in the UK and US, but don’t let that stop you from taking the kids or yourself to see this “curiosity cabinet of visual pleasures” that’s “so breezy and lightly funny that you may not realize at first how good it is”. Starring the voice of Hugh Grant as the bumbling Pirate Captain who is determined to win the Pirate of the Year Award, the plot involves an unlikely list of side players from Queen Victoria to Charles Darwin. Opens on Friday, August 17.
Game of Thrones
Incest, murder, rape, pillage and orgies? The second season of hit series Game of Thrones, based on the best-selling fantasy books by George R.R. Martin, promises an equally sordid smorgasbord of story themes, as pretenders to the Iron Throne will struggle to stake their claims over a divided land in the mythical realm of Westeros. Meanwhile, beyond the kingdom’s protective wall, a brutal winter and sinister and supernatural forces are gathering. Starts, Monday, May 28, at 7.30pm and 11pm on HBO.
Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert
Fans of the British Royalty will be pleased to know that BBC Entertainment will be airing all the major TV specials planned around the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne. The line-up includes the Thames Pageant, a massive flotilla featuring over a thousand boats, as well as programmes such as The Queen’s Palaces. If music, not monarchy, is more your thing, you may want to tune into the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert, which will be screened live from Buckingham Palace. The performers include royalty of another kind, singers Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Elton John and Annie Lennox as well as such current chart-toppers as Jessie J and Ed Sheeran. Airs on Tuesday, June 5 at midnight on BBC Entertainment.
MasterChef Australia Season 4
It might be the conviviality and general bonhomie between the contestants (something usually lacking among the contestants on Top Chef) that has made MasterChef Australia such a hit on our shores. Either way, it’s a sign of its popularity that Star World will begin airing Season 4 while it’s still airing in Australia. The latest season follows the same format, whittling down 50 contestants to the one winner over a number of challenges, including catering a Sri Lanka wedding and running the kitchen of a famed Australian hotel. Added bonus? A guest stint by British chef Jamie Oliver. Starts June 14, Monday to Friday at 9pm on Star World.
Top Chef Masters Season 2
Top Chef‘s regular series may not have as many takers here as Australia’s MasterChef, but its star edition, pitting famous chefs against each other, is indisputably its trump card. In the second season (which admittedly is a few seasons behind what’s showing in the US), marquee names like Marcus Samuelsson, Rick Moonen and molecular gastronmy wiz Wylie Dufresne have to compete for the hard-earned approval of a judge’s table, which includes tough nut American critic Gael Greene. Starts Wednesday, July 4 at 7.30pm on Zee Cafe.
Coke Studio at MTV
No less than 40 new songs will have been created by the end of the second season of Coke Studio at MTV. Instead of getting a single music director to helm all the episodes (a task that fell upon Leslie Lewis during season one), this time around, MTV has given Bollywood composers Amit Trivedi, Shantanu Moitra, Hitesh Sonik, Clinton Cerejo, and Eshaan Noorani and Loy Mendonsa, and Asian Underground producers Karsh Kale and Nitin Sawhney an episode each. The camera will document the making of five new songs by these artists, who will perform their freshly-minted tunes for the TV audience. The eighth and last episode will be the channel’s token nod to the country’s burgeoning indie music scene; Papon, Jalebee Cartel, Hari and Sukhmani, Dhruv Sangari and Agam will each contribute a track. Scheduled to air in the first week of July.
Summer Olympics 2012
At our showing during the summer olympics in Beijing in 2008, we racked up a pitiful three medals (one gold, two bronze). This year, we’re pegging our chances on a contingent 75-strong, including Manipur boxer Mary Kom, wrestler Sushil Kumar (he earned a bronze in Beijing), and the recipient of the sole gold at Beijing, shooter Abhinav Bindra. Even if you’re viewing is limited to the opening and closing ceremony fireworks, earmark the 200 metre final on August 9, when sprint superstar Usain Bolt will attempt to break a world record. Starts Friday, July 27 on ESPN Star Sports.
Sergi Arola, the two Michelin-starred Spanish chef who hails from Barcelona, will launch Arola Restaurant and Bar at the J.W. Marriott in Juhu in June. Arola, who trained under the renowned Ferran Adria and Michelin-starred French chef Pierre Gagnaire, will serve Catalan cuisine at the Mumbai outpost, including staples like gambas prawns; croquetas (deep fried Serrano ham and blue cheese); patatas bravas (deep fried potatoes filled with spicy tomato sauce); and sardinas (marinated sardines served with tomato and bread). In addition to two show kitchens, the gin-focused bar will serve gin-based cocktails and over 30 varieties of gin. Lobby Level, J.W. Marriott Hotel, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu. June.
New venture by Auriga Hospitality & Entertainment
Auriga Hospitality & Entertainment, the company that owns Bandra restaurant and bar Bonobo, will open a diner in Versova, in July. The as-yet unnamed property is being designed by Ayaz Basrai of The Busride, the design studio responsible for the decor at Café Zoe, Salt Water Café and Smoke House Deli. The restaurant will have a bar; however the focus, we’re told, will be on the food. Versova. July.
Last week, we reported that New York’s popular Italian eatery Serafina is slated to open in Palladium. The Serafina Restaurant Group has confirmed that the Mumbai outpost will feature hand-painted murals by an Italian artist and will offer a menu that is similar to the one served in New York (pizzas, pastas and salads). Serafina Mumbai will also have a good selection of vegetarian dishes and a few variations depending on the availability of ingredients. Palladium, Phoenix Mills. July/August.
Lower Parel Micro Brewery
As is the fate of most new food and beverage ventures in the city, the opening of Boston-born Gregory Kroitzsh’s brewpub has also been delayed. Located in the same compound as Blue Frog, Busaba and Café Zoe, the still-to-be-named micro brewery will offer a mix of wheat beers, light ales and dark stouts along with a burger menu. Mathuradas Mills Compound, Lower Parel. August.
New venture by Neighbourhood Hospitality
Eight months into launching Woodside in Andheri, Pankil Shah, Abhishek Honawar and Sumit Gambhir of Neighbourhood Hospitality are working on their third venture in the city, which is slated to open in Kala Ghoda, in September. The casual, all-day restaurant will serve “simple Western food”. The property, which has not been named yet, will not feature a bar and will have a completely different concept to Woodside Inn in Colaba and Woodside in Andheri. Kala Ghoda. September.
Dak Bungalow and Circuit Houses by Rajika Bhandari (Roli Books)
Admittedly, this one is a bit of a niche interest, but the dak bungalow was an institution in old, colonial India. The government-run guest houses have been the site of romances, ghost stories, salacious deeds and all sorts of adventures. Together with the circuit house, they were constructed as the stamp of civilisation upon an otherwise wild (or at least what the British Raj and then the Indian Administrative Service considered “wild”) terrain. Rajika Bhandari sees them through a historical lens. Releases in June.
The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken by Tarquin Hall (Random House)
We’ve nursed the suspicion for years that butter chicken could kill you and now, in Delhi-based British author Tarquin Hall’s comic mystery novel, it does finally end up as the cause of death. When Faheem Khan drops dead after a few mouthfuls of butter chicken, it’s up to Vish Puri of Most Private Investigators to find the culprit. Sounds like the perfect reading material for a long flight or when you’re stuck inside because of a downpour. Releases in July.
English by Altaf Tyrewala (Fourth Estate)
Earlier this year, literary magazine Caravan published a story titled Engglishhh© by Altaf Tyrewala, which was excerpted from English. The published extract explained “English, like any form of self-abuse, has a lasting impact on its users’ astral bodies.” Using Engglishhh©, which re-spells thousands of English words according to “Indo-Puranic principles”, would “deliver a lasting and humiliating defeat to English.” If the short story is any indication of English, we’re not confident we’ll be able to understand what’s written but we can’t wait to read it. Releases in July.
The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph (Fourth Estate)
It’s Madras in the 1990s. There’s 17-year-old Unni, who has done something terrible, and a father who is an alcoholic journalist, a family secret and a comic strip. As his father tries to figure out why Unni did what he did (we don’t know what he did, incidentally), he unravels “a secret that shakes his family to the core”. Releases in August.
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (Random House)
There’s nothing candy-cute about this novel. Ian McEwan sets his new novel in the 1970s and “Sweet Tooth” is a secret mission upon which Serena Frome is sent. The plot is top secret but we do know there’s a love interest named Tom Healey who is a novelist. Two kinds of storytellers—a spy who maintains a fictional, under-cover life and the writer who tells tales for a living—could add up to one cracker of a novel. Releases in August.
The monsoon is traditionally a slow season for galleries, with most saving their big-banner shows for September. Nevertheless, a few galleries will provide us with something to debate over. In June, Chatterjee & Lal will put up a new work by experimental filmmaker Ashish Avikunthak, about a “man’s pursuit for Nirvana”. Named after the Sanskrit text Katho Upanishad, it features some heavy-duty musings between aspiring enlightenment seeker Nachiketa and Yama, the god of death. During July, Project 88 will exchange a number of video works with London gallery IBID Projects; in August, it will display pop-up paper tableaux by Pakistani artist Asma Mundrawala. Chemould Prescott Road gallery will follow up its blockbuster Rashid Rana solo, with another male-focused exhibition in July, this one featuring two artists Ritesh Meshram,who works with found objects for his installations and Bhuvanesh Gowda, who will display a series of photographs and wooden sculptures. At Gallery Maskara, in August, Atlanta-based Avantika Bawa (in 2009, she converted the space into a storage yard of sorts, filling it with crates and boxes) will show a series of wall drawings and sculptural interventions.