Bollywood and Beyond

Cornerhouse’s monthly programme of films which celebrate Indian Cinema, offering a unique opportunity to learn about India’s multi-faceted culture and long history of filmmaking. Spanning classic, new, fresh and noteworthy Bollywood films, this is an opportunity to enter a world that’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced!
Bollywood and Beyond starts with a series of films celebrating the world’s best-loved actor and hero, the Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

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Unlike traditional Bollywood films this has no songs, but instead is a well paced character study of Vijay, the 60 year old who falls in love with his daughter’s friend, Jia, aged 18, when she comes to stay in the college holidays. It’s all set on Vijay’s estate (so in his world) – an isolated teahouse plantation – that also plays a large part in the film, it’s a lush sea of green and blue that ‘conceals’ the affair. It’s certainly not the India we’ve seen recently in films such as Slumdog Millionaire; this is one is privileged yet ordinary and safe. The strong, sophisticated cinematography applies a blue tint to create an isolated feeling completely avoiding any hint of hot and steamy clichés.

This really is a chance to see Amitabh acting rather than ‘performing’ and shows why he should considered one of the greats (and for me is definitely preferably to Kevin Spacey in American Beauty!). He plays a successful photographer, whose creative spirit is re-ignited by the arrival of the headstrong Jia. His performance is subtle and measured; sincere emotions often through the nuance of an eye movement.

The themes of the film are universal; where in mainstream films we might be used to seeing more explicit physicals betrayals, emotional infidelity is far more serious and destructive. Vijay tears both himself and his family apart with his feelings.

The director Ram Gopal Varma is an accomplished Indian screenwriter and filmmaker and has produced a wide variety of films in Hindi and Telugu. One of his most famous works Satya, Company and D is a gangster trilogy often likened to The Godfather. Varma himself also states this one of Amitabh’s best performances ever.

Sarah Perks, Programme & Engagement Director, Cornerhouse

Whilst Amitabh Bachchan is more critically acclaimed for his iconic appearances in films such the 1970s classics SHOLAY and DEEWAR, it is his appearance in DON (1978) that remains a personal favourite of mine. It might lack some of the polish of his other major works and without doubt some of the acting may be best described as ‘broad’, but for me DON tops them all with its sheer vibrant energy. The film gathered together a top cast which saw Bachchan supported by such Bollywood stalwarts as Zeenat Aman, Pran and Helen and the script by Hindi cinema legends Javed Akhtar and Salim Khan has it all: car chases, memorable songs, dancing, martial arts fights, over the top bad guys and fabulous fashion. Interestingly, DON was thought to have flopped when first released but the success of its most fondly remembered song, ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’, turned things around and it went on to become a major hit and one of the periods most loved works. To top it all it has the major superstar of the period playing two parts (move over van Damme!). Forget the recent Shahrukh Khan remake and take this rare opportunity to see the original Bollywood gangster at his frantic, unstoppable best.

Andy Willis, Reader in Film & Media at University of Salford and regular Cornerhouse contributor

Our rolling monthly programme of films celebrating Indian Cinema, offering a unique opportunity to learn about India’s multi-faceted culture and long history in filmmaking. Spanning classic, new, fresh and noteworthy Bollywood films, this is an opportunity to enter a world that’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced!

Previously in this season

Yasmine Kabir Double Bill

This double bill of Yasmine Kabir’s two documentaries A Certain Liberation (2003) and The Last Rites (2008), see evocative responses to the Bangladeshi liberation war…

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Paromita Vohra Double Bill

This screening comprises two Paromita Vohra documentaries: Q2P (2006), and Morality TV and the Loving Jehad (2007), both playful takes on how men and women…

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Khamosh Pani

Award-winning, powerfully moving feature film on how two generations of Pakistani women live through the memories of partition that continue to haunt contemporary Pakistan.

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Kannathil Muthamittal

Amudha tries to persuade her adoptive parents to make a dangerous trip to Sri Lanka to find her birth mother. A critically-acclaimed film from Mani…

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The Pool

An impressive feature from documentary filmmaker Chris Smith, which tells the story of Venkatesh, a teenage hotel cleaner whose desire to swim in a rich…

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Aladin

A Bollywood adventure for all the family. Young orphan Aladin Chatterjee has suffered a lifetime of bullying and torment, but his life is transformed forever…

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Ghajini

The Bollywood gangster movie collides with Memento as a pumped up, amnesiac Aamir Khan attempts to bring down criminal mastermind and killer Ghajini in this…

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Ramchand Pakistani

Based on true events, Ramchand Pakistani tells the story of a young Pakistani Hindu and his father who accidentally cross the border into India at…

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Khakee

A quality police thriller by acclaimed director Raj Kumar Santoshi. An ageing police officer leads his team in escorting a dangerous terrorist to Mumbai. However,…

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Sarkar Raj

Aishwarya plays Anita Rajan, the CEO of Sheppard Power, whose plans to build a new plant in rural Maharashtra are met with widespread opposition. A…

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Nishabd

Our season of Amitabh films continues, showcasing a contemporary turn in director Ram Gopal Varma's daring 2007 film, defying Bollywood conventions with a bold exploration…

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Don

The third and final in our trilogy of 1970s Amitabh films. As Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) is a dead ringer for killed underworld boss the Don,…

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Zanjeer

The world erodes around Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan), an honest police officer who is jailed for 6 months on false charges. A gem of Indian cinema…

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Sholay

The highest grossing film of all time in India, SHOLAY is a must see for film fans the world over. Amitabh Bachchan plays one of…

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