London, May 30: A London newspaper has poked fun at Jism, the Bollywood hit starring Bipasha Basu, suggesting that in English slang, especially as used in the playing fields of public schools in England, the name of the movie is likely to cause more of a snigger.
Neil Norman, one of the arts columnists of the Evening Standard, made Jism his lead item in The Buzz, a regular part of his weekly and widely read column, Scene & Heard.
And this is what he had to say wrapping up his fortnight at the Cannes film festival: “Cannes postscript 1: the award for the unintentionally funniest film title in Cannes goes to Jism, the Indian movie about a dusky femme fatale, starring Bipasha Basu, as the eponymous heroine. I haven’t got the heart to tell her.”
The man who energetically did the PR for Jism at Cannes is Avinaash Jumani, who is in charge of international sales and acquisition at the Mumbai-based distribution company, WEG (Worldwide Entertainment Group).
He may reckon there is no such thing as bad publicity, especially as he invested a fortune in Indian terms on promoting Jism at Cannes.
The film is an obvious remake of the 1981 Hollywood hit, Body Heat (starring Kathleen Turner and John Hurt), which might explain the choice of Jism as the name of the Hindi version.
“In Hindi, the name means body,” said Jumani, who seemed unaware of the English public school smirk factor.
In Cannes this year, posters of Jism, bearing images of a leggy Bipasha, were hard to escape.
For the daily full page advertisements in trade publications such as Screen and Variety, Jumani said the rates were between $4,000 and $6,000.
“We had daily screenings,” he said.
He declined to reveal what he had negotiated for the cover of the Cannes Preview 2003, published by the Moving Pictures International, which lists the films in the market for the duration of the festival.
“Normally, a cover costs $35,000”, was all he would confirm.
In his stall, he had a 10-minute clip of highlights of the film ready to show to any potential buyer who did not have the time to sit through the entire film (edited down to two hours for Cannes).
Playing a portion of a DVD to confirm the truth of his claim, he would point out: “We didn’t use to see anyone kissing on screen before. Jism has non-stop kissing.”
He appears to have recovered his investment.
“We are looking at non-traditional markets and crossover markets. In the first few days at Cannes, I sold it to Thailand, Greece, Lebanon, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.”
He explained: “Jism is in demand at the moment and basically people want to see something different from Bollywood, rather than the usual melodramas. The movie has been the only hit this year in India. We have had a good buzz and had a good review in Variety.”
But if he knew the slang connotations of Jism, he was keeping mum. An English journalist, asked about Jism, commented: “In English public schools, it is slang for seminal fluid.”
But the English word is “jissom”.