Indian cinema has such an emphasis on
connectedness and families that tie people
together. What make these films Indian are
You can watch art cinema, Satyajit Ray’s
films and also learn about Indian culture. But
there is a very unique way you can learn about
cultures through action cinemas or genre cinema.
I love the way you give introductions to the
actors, the filmmakers and others.
What I wanted to do was to give an introduction to people who were maybe curious about Indian
films but couldn’t jump into it. I wanted this to be a primer
for people who were intimidated with Bollywood films in
particular. So, I figured I would make the book super user
friendly. I wanted to take the readers’ hands and walk them
The reviews are not in any formal order. They are not in
chronological or alphabetical order. I placed them how
they felt right. I wanted to recreate the experience I had
watching these films.
You start with Don and then Geeta Mera Naam — a film
I hadn’t heard of. And then you write about Qurbani and
Amar, Akbar Anthony. Did you see them in this order?
Not necessarily. The beginning section I wanted to start
off strong with a few favorites. Don and Geeta Mera Naam
are my all-time favorites of this genre.
Can you talk about the choices you made — obviously you
have not written about all the films you have seen. Am I
right about that?
Oh yes, I have watched a lot of Indian films — not just
Bollywood. I watched many contemporary films. I don’t
just watch action films. I have seen classics by Guru Dutt
and other masters. I also like the films of the 60s.
The research you put in, finding the names of directors,
actors, composers, then the summary of each film and a
review — did you have an assistant working with you?
I did all the research myself. There are a lot of sources
online and then I was able to find the production information. It wasn’t that hard. Once Fab Press picked up the
book, they had a fact checker go over all the details.
I watched the films again — many I had seen before, and
some of the reviews are from my previous writings.
The reason it is called a selective guide, because I wanted
it to be clear that I was not making claims to the book being
definitive. And I am writing as an outsider obviously. I
wanted that to be a part of the understanding — that I am
from outside the culture, but very interested and passionate about the films.
I wanted to only discuss films that are available with subtitles to get all the nuances. I also only wanted cover urban
thrillers, because there are so many of the dacoit films. I
didn’t want to confuse the issue. I was looking for films that
had the noir, detective, the urban tradition of action films.
And the other thing that stands out is the images. While
you are writing about films that are colorful, you chose to
make the book very colorful.
Most of the images are screen captures that I made. I
could have done a search for publicity stills but they would
not have always shown the ideas that I wanted to bring
across, including the outlandishness of the films.
I shopped the book for several months and then I almost
self published it. That would have been a black and white
book. At the last minute I got the Fab Press deal and they
said this has to be in color.
I think the color images add such a character to the book.
Yes, I am so grateful to Fab for
What has been the reaction to
the book, especially among
I have had many people say and
write to me, “Thank you for writ-
ing this book.”
People come to Q&As and say, “I
grew up with these films. I have a
lot of fond memories of these
films. It’s so good to be reminded
I have shown film clips at some
of the book appearances and a lot
of people from the Indian commu-
nity show up.
It’s also because you have shown a
lot of care for these films. Someone
else could have written this book
and made fun of the films. You actually enjoyed the films and you want
your readers to also appreciate
them in the same way as you did.
Before I started blogging in 2008, I had been doing a lot
of online reading about world and cult cinemas. And there
is a lot of great writing going on. But a lot of that is snarky
and chauvinistic. Many bloggers feel America invented
genre cinema, so when they see a genre film from a foreign
culture, they immediately regard it as an inferior copy of
the original. Rather than understand cultural differences, it
is easy to be snarky.
I didn’t want to do that. I wrote about Mexican cinema
too and Mexican wrestling and science fiction films, which
are incredibly fun. I remember reading one review that said
this is what you get from third world cinema. I wanted to
say that Mexican cinema is not third world cinema. For a
while they were the leading producers for the whole
Spanish-speaking world. Why did Luis Buñuel go there?
He made some of his best films in Mexico.
I have seen a lot of terrible films and I will say they are
terrible, but I have to write from the standpoint of honesty.
And I am looking for connections in the films. n
FOR THE LOVE OF CINEMA M10 THE MAGAZINE
India Abroad August 7, 2015
Before I started blogging in 2008, I had been doing a lot of online reading about world and cult cinemas. There is a lot of great writing going on, but a lot of that is snarky and chauvinistic. Many bloggers feel America invented genre cinema, so when they see a genre film from a foreign culture, they immediately regard it as an inferior copy of the original. Rather than understand cultural differences, it is easy to be snarky. I didn’t want to do that.
Todd Stadtman COURTES Y: TODD S TADTMAN