Hollywood’s Deepest Foray Into Bollywood – “Chandni Chowk to China”

Readers of this blog are no strangers to Akshay Kumar, probably today’s most bankable star in Bollywood, with block buster hits such as “Singh is Kingg”, “Welcome” and “Namaste London”

As Rachel Saltz of the New York Times wrote on August 15, 2008 about his performance in “Singh is Kingg”,
“…the immensely likable Mr. Kumar shines as a Capraesque hero who spreads bedrock Indian values — honor your mother, help the poor — by example, most conspicuously as the accidental leader of a feared crime gang in Australia”.

Now Akshay Kumar goes to China in the “Chandni Chowk to China”, billed as the first Bollywood Kung Fu comedy. The movie has been produced by Warner Brothers, the first ever venture by a Hollywood studio in a big start Bollywood film. The film will be screened in 125 theaters in the USA and Canada, the North America – 
the largest Bollywood release in North America, according to Warner Brothers.

As Richard Corliss of Time magazine wrote,
A veggie-slicing galoot from Delhi goes to China to realize his destiny as a martial-arts master — and just from the synopsis, I’m on board with Chandni Chowk to China. “

Akshay Kumar is one of our favorite actors and we are going to see this film this weekend. We must warn readers that reviewers from Indian Newspapers like Times of India, Hindustan Times and Rediff have criticized this movie and called it dumb.

Personally, we take this as a positive sign. In our longstanding opinion, the reviews in Indian English Media “often reflect the “intellectual” point of view; the bias of the Mumbai “elite” who typically look down upon Hindi films while extolling the virtues of the latest French, Italian or Iranian art film.” (See our article “Bollywood Film Reviews – New York Times vs. Times of India” – May 10, 2008 – 
https://cinemarasik.com/2008/05/03/are-american-reviewers-of-bollywood-films-better-than-indian-reviewers-of-bollywood-films.aspx  )

So, what does Rachel Saltz, our favorite reviewer from the New York Times, say
about “Chandni Chowk to China”?

The review begins with “Genre mixing is mother’s milk to Hindi films, so it’s no surprise that “Chandni Chowk to China” can so seamlessly add kung fu to the usual blend of comedy, dance and melodrama”.

At the end, Rachel Saltz proves our longstanding point that she really gets the true “Ras” (essence) of Bollywood films. She concludes her review with “In a film impressed with Chinese gadgetry — including a pair of leg cuffs that help the dance-challenged — and with scenes set in the sleek urban landscape of Shanghai, it’s hard not to see a broader point: India, don’t be afraid of China’s accomplishments. Be yourself. You will succeed.”

This is the true “Ras” of Akshay Kumar – the all Indian hero who is open about being who he is, a true desi. That is why he has been so successful.

Editor’s Note: Akshay Kumar was born as Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia in the golden city of Amritsar in North-Western India. He worked as a chef in Bangkok and studied martial arts. He came back to Mumbai to teach martial arts. One of his students recommended him to do modeling. After a couple of months as a model, he was offered a lead role in “Deedar” by the film’s producer. The rest is history. Like many greats of Bollywood, Akshay Kumar is a self-made man who became a Superstar by sheer hard work, dedication and adherence to pure desi values. That shows in each and every film he makes.

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