Dhoom 3 in Turkey This Friday! 50 screens!

Facebook page of the Dhoom 3 distributor in Turkey updated today

Facebook page of the Dhoom 3 distributor in Turkey updated today

Dhoom 3 is releasing in Turkey this Friday, June 20th, to 50 screens nationwide in 18 cities. There are 20 screens just in Istanbul. (Compare that to a measly 13 screens total for Chennai Express which went down to 9 and then 6 in the later weeks).

Surprisingly, Chennai ExpresEmbedded image permalinks is still running, it’s in its 8th week which is quite an accomplishment. It has been watched by 10,241 people so far. That may seem like a small number but considering the number of screens and the population of Turkey, that’s a decent number. If the film makes it to the 9th week, which it probably will, it will be running together with Dhoom 3.

Considering the number of screens/cities for Dhoom 3 and the fact that many Bollywood lovers have intentionally not watched Dhoom 3 online knowing that it will be coming to theaters, I expect Dhoom 3 to far surpass Chennai Express at the Turkish box office.

For those who don’t know, Dhoom 3 is releasing in Turkey as a result of a massive Twitter campaign by Aamir Khan fans in Turkey. During Dhoom 3 release in India, Turkish fans of Aamir made #ReleaseDhoom3inTurkey a worldwide trending topic on Twitter. Aamir Khan took notice and requested Yash Raj Films to release the film in Turkey. Isn’t this an excellent example of the power of social media?

Look out for my updates in the coming days and weeks to know how Dhoom 3 is doing in Turkey.

Update: The film distributor has added 14 additional screens making the total 64 nationwide. And it looks like more might be added in the following days/weeks.


The Lunchbox Review

The Lunchbox was released in Turkey on the same day as Chennai Express. I just had the opportunity to see the film as it is being shown in only one cinema in my city. The film was brought to Turkey because it was screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

I was informed recently that technically Chennai Express is not the first film to arrive in Turkey. Barfi arrived apparently, I neither saw it or heard about it. But it would not be incorrect to say that Chennai Express is the first mainstream Bollywood film to arrive in Turkey. Chennai Express was purchased by a Turkish film distributor and screened in five cities (a total of 13 screens) so far, whereas Barfi and Lunchbox were/are shown in Turkey by Semaine de la Critique Cannes as an independent film in only three cities.

The Lunchbox is a romantic film starring Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur. The film is about Ila (Nimrat), a housewife who hopes to find a way to her husband’s heart with delicious food and Saajan (Irrfan), a widowed government employee who is about to retire. One day, the meticulously prepared lunchbox prepared by Ila for her husband is accidentally delivered to Saajan instead. When Ila realizes that someone else is receiving the lunchbox, she includes a short letter with her next preparation. Saajan responds to the letter. The two converse through letters daily and what follows makes up rest of the story.

The Lunchbox is an interesting film in that it doesn’t seem to have an ending. I’m not talking about an unconventional ending. That’s something we see often in Tamil films, the leaders of unconventional endings in Indian cinema. Words cannot describe the desperation and frustration I felt at the end of the film Sadma, where the train on which Sridevi was a passenger took off leaving Kamal Hassan behind. I could not take my eyes off of that railway platform, waiting and waiting for Sridevi to come back. I will never forgive the filmmakers of Sadma for that ending! But this is not the case with Lunchbox, the film is as though it was cut off right before the final climax. So we don’t know what happened. It’s definitely a unique way to finalize a film, sort of leaving the ending for the audience to complete with their imagination.

The film ends with Ila reading a letter where she talks about going away that evening with her daughter. And Saajan is last seen traveling with the lunchbox delivery guys. It is obvious that he is trying to find the way to Ila’s house because he changed his mind. The film ends there. I have convinced myself that Saajan reached Ila’s home on time, before she left and they started a new life together. But I do wish that they had added one more scene showing that Saajan reached, perhaps Ila opening the door and coming face to face with him. But we’ll never know what really happened.

As interesting as I found the film, I do have some reservations about it. I think the idea of using a lunchbox as a sort of carrier pigeon is great. But I have questions about the connection shared between Ila an Saajan. Although the two only seem to talk about totally random things, they convince themselves that they could have some sort of future together. Of course until Saajan backs out because he fears he’s too old to be with someone so young. And I think that Ila is as unrealistic as a housewife could get. She doesn’t have the courage to face her husband about his cheating, but she has the courage to take off with her daughter to Bhutan of all places, and that too because she had heard in school that it’s a happy place.

On one side, we have a man who is criticizing his age and credentials to make a younger woman happy with little to no basis, and on the other side, we have a woman who is willing to go off with a stranger to get away from her current life. This is the surrealism of The Lunchbox. Although the film is composed of the day-to-day incidents of these “everyday” people, there is no doubt that no one in their right mind would fall in love with someone and be willing to run off with them because of a few random conversations hidden beneath rotis.

On the other hand, we see the simplicity of human emotions in this film. We see that it actually doesn’t take much to make people happy. A random note, a caringly prepared meal, a little bit of courage and the possibility of something beautiful happening. Irrfan Khan portrays his emotions as Saajan with perfection. His every gesture and facial expression speaks a million words. I can’t forget the childish smile that comes across his face when he reads Ila’s letter where she asks to meet him. The way his face lights up while slyly reading those letters, the excitement of someone out there wanting to converse with him, get to know him and cook him meals is worth watching.

Dookudu Review

Dookudu is a Telugu mass entertainer starring Mahesh Babu and Samantha. I’m not going to bother with the synopsis, you can read the whole plot on Wikipedia.

The issue with Dookudu is that there are too many things going on in the story. It’s very hard to keep up with the events. In fact, the film feels like several films weaved into one another. There is the romantic angle that starts off in Istanbul, there is a police action angle and then there is the angle about the father and the drama that is played to keep him happy. The different parts of Dookudu could easily be separated and extended to make different films with different topics. I think that the film was entertaining, but it would have been better if the story was more concise and straightforward. I had trouble singling out the main topic of the film since it went back and forth between these different angles fairly rapidly.

The best parts of the film are the comedy and the songs. Brahmanandam’s scenes and M.S. Narayana’s scenes were superb. The songs of the film are very good and so are the scenery and choreography. The scenery is really a treat to the eyes. All of the songs were shot in different places like Istanbul, Gujarat, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

By the way, where do they get these random white girls as background dancers for songs? They look quite funny in Indian and traditional attire. Isn’t India still developing? Shouldn’t films give Indians some work rather than random foreigners just because they are white? I don’t mean to offend anyone here, I’m just trying to point out some Indians’ unnecessary obsession with white skin.

Background dancers are one thing but the item girls in Dookudu are actually very beautiful. Item girls in some Telugu films are very unattractive *cough* Cameraman Gangatho Rambabu *cough*.

I also want to mention that both Mahesh and Samantha are gorgeous in this film and make a wonderful on-screen couple. I was surprised by one thing because this is the third Samantha film I’ve seen. Her facial appearance in Dookudu and even Eega are quite different from her more recent film Atharintiki Daaredi. If she had some kind of surgical, cosmetic procedure, I think that’s sad because she was and is beautiful and does not need any kind of change.

Being Turkish, I especially enjoyed the scenes that were shot in Istanbul. In fact, for a while it felt like I was watching a Turkey tourism video. The scenes in Istanbul were shot in the most beautiful areas like the historical mosques (I think Suleymaniye Mosque but I’m not sure), along the Bosphorus, across the Maiden’s Tower (Kiz Kulesi), the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) and the ancient city walls. A few scenes also showed the modern side of Istanbul with high rising apartments and malls. Quite a few Indian films have been shot in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey like Mission Istanbul, Ek Tha Tiger and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. But Dookudu portrayed Turkey most beautifully.

The Guruvaram song was picturized in Istanbul, well mostly. I caught a few snaps in that song which were obviously shot in Switzerland. Also the metro scene right after that song was shot in Switzerland but they showed it like it was Turkey 😀 I was wondering where there are such nice metros in Turkey.


There was a fight scene that was filmed inside the Grand Bazaar. The roof of that Bazaar (where Mahesh holds the guy at gun-point) is the same exact place where the motorcycles were driving in the 007 film Skyfall. Of course Dookudu was before Skyfall. Well at least the Tollywood team didn’t damage the roof and leave without paying like the Skyfall team did.

The only issue is that better research could have been done for the scenes in Turkey. For example, the words used for the room number are not Turkish. There is no such thing as “sasi pasi” in Turkish. It should have been “dort yuz bes.” They could have asked this to anyone there, I don’t know why they made it up. Similarly, the dresses the background dancers were wearing were meant to be Turkish traditional outfits. But  the outfits were actually far from it. The long white coats and the head covering was clearly trying to mimic how some religious Turkish women dress. But they forgot that such women do not show their hair or wear nail polish. And fyi, most Turks have brown/black hair and eyes and wheatish skin. Yes, Mahesh Babu looks like a Turk, I’m sure Turks passing by during Dookudu shootings in Istanbul did not even consider that he could be a foreigner. Samantha could pass off as a Turk too. Not that they need to!

Anyway, to sum it up, I only liked the comedy, the songs and the scenes in Turkey in Dookudu. It’s kind of funny because I watched the film because I thought the story was interesting but the story turned out to be too long and confusing for me. Of course, it’s a must watch for Mahesh fans and for Samantha fans as well.

Just Got Back From Chennai Express (1st day – Turkey)

I just got back from Chennai Express. The 6:45 show was about 70% full. There were some small kids (like age 5) with their moms, some middle schoolers, some couples and some guys who had just got out of work and still had their suits on. After the show, I kept taking pics of Chennai Express on the small electronic billboard. The guy working there watched me for a while and then told me that there was a large poster but they hid it because a kid had drawn a thin mustache on Shahrukh. We were like “bring it out please!” The girls who came for the 9:45 show arrived just in time for the big poster and started taking pics with it. Chennai Express was translated into Turkish as “Love Train” but they also had “Chennai Express” on the tickets.

Overall, good show. The audience did not understand some bits, like the bits about DDLJ, Deepika’s Tamil accent and the North-South Indian issues. But lots of laughter (especially by my mom!) and the young girls danced a little and lip-synced to Lungi Dance at the end. Since it’s Friday night, people were a bit tired and left quickly after the show. I expect the sessions on the weekend to be at least 75% full. The rest of the week will probably be slow. Hopefully the distributors will earn enough money to invest in more films. Next up is Dhoom 3 scheduled for June. That should be even more fun since I have not seen it.

What I feel most happy about was that there were different age groups in attendance. I think it’s going to be the young generation that’s going make Bollywood a well known industry in Turkey.

Chennai Express: First Bollywood Film in Theaters in Turkey

The Turkish film distributor Pinema changed his wallpaper to Chennai Express 🙂 The film will be in Turkish cinemas this Friday, April 25, 2014. It’s the first Bollywood film to be shown in cinemas in Turkey. Very very late but better late than never. How Chennai Express does at the box office will really determine the fate of Bollywood films in the Turkish market. I saw the film already but will go just to support!

Hopefully if demand is high, one day Bollywood films will be released in Turkey on the same dates as they are released in India, US and Middle East.