Anupama Chopra is a film critic, an author and a journalist all rolled into one. However, when interviewing her, one almost wants to delve into the many nuances, the stories and the knowledge she would have acquired whilst spending so much time alongside Bollywood greats. Chopra was, a week ago, a member of the jury in the India Panel of the Jameson Empire Awards 2014. Along with director Vikramaditya Motwane, she was judging the ‘Done in 60 seconds’ initiative which saw entries of 60-second recreations of Hollywood classics in claymation, animation or live motion. ‘Done in 60 seconds’ is hailed by crowdsourcing company Talenthouse India and saw the winning entry played as part of the main awards ceremony.
BizAsia caught up with Chopra to talk about her experience as a representative from India at the awards as well as indulge in some Bollywood gupshup.
You attended the Jameson Empire Awards on the weekend gone and were a judge for the Done in 60 seconds۪ initiative how did it feel being chosen as a judge and did you get what you expected?
It felt really good. I actually am a big fan of Empire Magazine and I۪ve followed the Done in 60 Seconds۪ contest for a couple of years. The entries are terrific. This is the third time I۪ve attended the Jameson Empire Awards, but it is the first time that I was called in to judge the Indian arm of the competition and it was great fun. It was also very inspiring to see so many young people full of energy and full of passion for movies, trying to do different things. And yes, it was absolutely what I۪d expected and I۪m hoping that next year it will be even bigger and better.
How hard was it judging the contestants۪ work of condensing Hollywood flicks to just 60 seconds?
It was tough, because there were some really good entries. It۪s always hard and film is a subjective passion, so one person thinks something is brilliant and another person thinks that thing is brilliant. But lucky for us, Vikram Motwane, who was the other judge, and I, agreed on the films that we liked, we seemed to have similar tastes which was wonderful. But it۪s tough. It۪s always tough to judge people and try and take everything into account; the ambition, the actual implementation, what works, what doesn۪t. So it was difficult.
Bollywood cinema is known for the length of its films adding in a soundtrack which adds to the overall effect. If you had the choice, which Bollywood films would you like to see in this condensed fashion?
I would love to see Sholay and Deewar, two of my favorite movies in this condensed version.
Being an acclaimed critic in Bollywood, you have also written some very insightful books about the industry. How would you round-up the evolution of the industry in your years as a critic?
Actually it۪s very difficult to round-up the evolution of the industry in one answer. As I said in one of my books, it۪s gone from Bokadiaa to Blackberry۪. It۪s a completely different world now and it۪s changed at every level, it۪s changed distribution-wise, exhibition-wise but most importantly it۪s changed in the types of stories we۪re telling and listening to. So it۪s a completely different world. It۪s an exciting world, and I۪m very happy to have been an observer and a witness to all these changes and to still be here and doing this as Bollywood continues to evolve.
When you attend such international awards and functions, how do you feel about the way Indian cinema is perceived and what would you change in its perception?
I think the great thing is that Bollywood is a global brand name and it is recognized everywhere. Everybody knows Bollywood even if they۪ve never seen a Bollywood film, they do know it means Indian cinema, it means song-and-dance, it means some level of masala and kitsch. And perhaps that is the one thing that I would like to change, is that I think most people don۪t realize that Bollywood is no longer one thing; it۪s many different things, many different types of Bollywood movies, so something like The Lunchbox is also Bollywood, while something like a Rowdy Rathore or R_Rajkumar is also Bollywood. I would like people to understand that there are many many different kinds of Bollywood and I would also like people in the West who۪re unfamiliar with Bollywood to understand that there is in fact a whole type of Hindi cinema which is not Bollywood at all, which is the independent Hindi cinema, which is very removed from what Bollywood is. So I think the problem is that everything gets clubbed under Bollywood and they expect a certain kind of movie. So that for me is something I would like to change, but I am very happy that Bollywood is everywhere and everybody knows what it is.
Do you believe there is anything Bollywood can do itself to change its image?
I don۪t think that۪s a priority. I don۪t think filmmakers here should be worried about what their image is. They should just continue to make the films that they like and the films that interest them and then what will be, will be. I۪m not sure that it۪s an artist۪s job to worry about what the larger perception of the film industry is and to try and change that in some way. I just think that as you continue to make movies and as you continue to make many different type of movies, perceptions about Bollywood will evolve.
What can we expect from you in the future and what are you most excited about as it stands?
Oh my God, I۪m excited about too many things. First of all, I۪m always excited, because I do a job that I love so much that I۪m in a state of permanent excitement which perhaps is not so good for my heart but I think what I۪m very excited about and it continues to be a source of great joy for me are the two shows that I do, The Front Row on Star World and Star Verdict on Star Plus. It۪s always exciting to put these shows together, to figure out how to make them more interesting, to figure out how to hook people so that۪s something I۪m permanently excited about.
BizAsia thanks Chopra for taking the time to divulge about the Jameson Empire Awards and some of her own thoughts about the glitz and glam filled Bollywood industry.