Best columns: International
Stars made Bollywood boring
Manu Joseph Hindustan Times
Bollywood is in crisis, said Manu Joseph. For years, most Hindi films have bombed at the Indian box office, but recently the losses have grown too big. Disney India’s historical epic Mohenjo Daro was such an epic flop, earning less than half of its $20 million budget, that the company announced it wouldn’t make any more Hindi films. Such disasters could be avoided. A typical Bollywood movie “presumes that you love the star more than the story.” So the star is the highest paid, even though he or she is usually “the least talented person in the project.” More than half the budget on a typical Hindi film goes to the actors, leaving little money for anything else, including the writing. The star can even dictate the plot. Actor Sunny Deol, whose family is Bollywood royalty, told me he refuses to play a character who dies because “The Deols don’t die.” The result is that Hindi films are boring and predictable, and are drawing ever fewer viewers. It’s now common for a major Hollywood film dubbed into Hindi to gross more than any Bollywood film released that same year. Bollywood needs to stand up to the stars and make movies “for all of us who love stories more than dumb faces.”
Imprisoned but never convicted
Marché Arends DailyMaverick.co.za
Tens of thousands of South Africans have been languishing for years in pretrial detention, said Marché Arends. These people may well be innocent, but they are in remand, held before trial because they either can’t make bail or were denied bail. Some of them are held in tiny cells in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, while others are crammed into teeming, overcrowded facilities. None gets access “to any of the services available to sentenced inmates.” That means no library books, no visits with social workers, not even access to basic recreational items like a soccer ball for their one hour of solitary outdoor recreation.
That’s because in theory, remand is just for a short period. But South Africa’s court system has massive backlogs, so many remandees wait in prison for four, five, or more years for their trial. The government tried to fix the problem in 2013, when it passed an amendment requiring that the case of any remandee detained longer than two years must be reviewed by a judge. Unfortunately, the measure amended the law that governs prisons, not the courts, so it doesn’t compel the judge to do anything to help the detainee. The result? “No one is held to account” when innocent people are deprived of their liberty.