Posts

Showing posts from 2005

a very Bolly new year to you and yours

Welcome, 2006: my first entire year as a Bollywood fan. Just think of the adventures - in addition to this, of course - it may hold - including two fairly realistic options for actually going to India!

I had meant spend tonight watching Andaz Apna Apna but more engaging things came up (I know, right?) - but it will be a very Bolly start to the year in the morning. Coffee. Sofa. Aamir Khan. What more could a girl want?

wacky misunderstandings + commentary on the illogical nature of English + Sharmila = goodness: Chupke Chupke

This movie is adorable. I want to shrink it down to pocket-size so I can keep it with me all the time to have it handy whenever I need a reminder that the world does have some levity and joy left in it. The last movie I felt like this about was Italian for Beginners. (Ah, Bollywood and Dogma 95 - who knew they had so much in common?)

Using an extended practical joke and identity mix-up as feature plot elements can be tricky. In my experience, most of these types of stories go one of two ways: either the viewer will think the whole thing is hilarious and go along for the ride, or the story will fall very, very flat, kerplunk, in exhaustion of trying to keep up with itself (yes, you, Hungama). Chupke Chupke did neither, I think because the wackiness was only part of the story, and it was paced so that by the point I was wondering if they could possibly do anything else with it, they ended it. I also liked that multiple people were in on it - it felt conspiratorial in an inclusive, giggli…

ewwww, but enjoyable: Lucky: No Time for Love

40-year-old Salman Khan is paired with 18-year-old Sneha Ullal. Ew. Ew ew ew ew ew. Even if we ignore that and just address the characters, we still have a schoolgirl with a man who has to be at least 23. Not exactly ew, but not exactly in good taste.

Okay, that's out of my system. I have to admit I enjoyed Lucky - it reminded me of The Saint in a good, although extended, sort of way, and finding yourself suddenly in a baroque-y gilded room full of theatrical props, with working electricity when the rest of the city seems to be under siege by terrorists, is a delight not to be underestimated.

Can someone who did not use the FF as much as I did help me out with the following:When Lucky hides out in Adi's car outside the church, they must be relatively close to her bike ride from home to school, becuase she has reached the church on foot. So if they were that close to where she lives, why is he still on his way to a checkpoint (even one that requires passports) into the area? An…

surfer zombie spies invade the Princess Club: "Jaan Pehechaan Ho"

Much beloved for its role as "best clip of a movie watched by a character in another movie," I loved this song even more in its original full context, even though that context was pointless to the movie (Gumnaam). But whatever fancy roping it takes to set up a scene like this is all worth it. I played it twice and danced along both times. And then I settled in to watch the rest of the movie. It was enh. It wasn't really my kind of story, no matter the language or setting, and I was sleepy enough that keeping track of who was who was overwheleming. I will say the ruined church with the incredibly creepy religious statues - like a plastic manger lawn scene left to sit in nuclear fallout - was effective, as was Helen's Helenness. Very bad fake-pretend dead people, though.

Now get out of your chair, put your arms out like a mummy, shake them all about, and do the twist! Sweet!

the girl in the video store did warn me this was bad: Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya

This is a movie I wish I had watched with someone so we could giggle together at its ridiculousness. But alas. So I decided to write this post as though you were watching the movie with me, and what follows is a list I made as the movie went on of whatever I thought (it was clear from the get-go that I was not going to be able to remember everything I wanted to point out, so I kept a list). Be warned - I did tend to make liberal and justified use of the FF, so if you've seen this, you will know I didn't watch everything.

[Ready? Go!]

"Eh Shahrukh!" Methinks this movie will be worse than Josh.

How to start a relationship off right: she lies to him in order to get a job he wants; after she gets the job, she continues the lie, telling him she can get him a job. When he finally gets a job (better than hers, please note) and finds out the truth, he calls her in the office and yells at her; after she apologizes and says she'll accept any punishment he gives her, he propos…

Shahrukh in a soup: Baadshah

"Being in a soup" is one of my favorite Bollywood subtitle expressions. Others include strange placement of the word "only," such as "Please wait here for five minutes only," which seems to mean "Please wait right here and don't leave. I'll be back in five minutes."

Which is neither here nor there. I felt like I should like Baadshah much more than I actually did. Clearly it's referring to, making fun of, and paying tribute to lots of different films and types of films, and I suspect that the more of them you know, the more you'll enjoy this movie.

Go read the review by Gorilla's Lament. He understands and likes this movie more than I do, so you might as well read about it from someone who can say funny-yet-thoughtful things about it that are actually relevant.

Before you go, though, think about this: even when Seema has short hair, Baadshah's trip to Switzerland still envisions her with long hair, and she has long hair ag…

this message brought to you by the Ministry of Really Stupid Ideas: Chori Chori Chupke Chupke

This movie features what is surely one of cinema's top ten plots driven by bad, bad ideas. Many questions are raised, such as:how on earth does a Hindi film present a character married to saintly Rani Mukherji sleeping with a prostitute? A prostitute played with great glee by Preity Zinta, but still. The surrogate is a fine idea, but 1) be honest about it to everyone and 2) get the doctor's help in order to prevent years of under-the-surface seething, guilt, etc. If anyone knows how this movie was received in India, please let me know. why does Preity's item number dress look like a 1991 prom reject, and why is it paired with glitter moon boots?
why does Salman wear a (p)leather shirt? Not jacket. Shirt. Around the collar of which is worn a tie.
why does no one notice that Madhu, not Priya, is at the ceremony? And isn't it interesting how the effect of having a stiff shawl over your head makes you look like a Star Wars character?
does chewing gum really make you look so …

using your powers for good

Right on, supastars!

(And how frightening is that picture? Yikes!)

Fire

After two movies, Bollywood/Hollywood and, before I started watching Indian movies but long after having started watching Canadian ones, The Republic of Love, I am neither here nor there about Deepa Mehta. What's most interesting about Fire to me is that many, many people were either very here or very there - sometimes violently so - about it. Especially, according to her commentary, middle-aged men in India, who went wild at the possibility that the idea this movie depicted - that women dare to claim space and choices for themselves - might upset the institution of marriage.

This was an uncomfortable story for me because with each passing heartbreak and disappointment I thought "I'm so glad that's not my life" - about all the characters, not just Rhada and Sita. Everyone in this movie is trapped at some point. Despite being a sensible girl, my life has been mostly free of required responsibilities - maybe a few I've chosen, like a job and a house - and it&#…

the defenestration of my decorum

I rewatched Kaho Na... Pyaar Hai - only up until the wiggle, becuase I am very tired - with Abby tonight and I ashamed at how often I said out loud "He's so yummy!" What is wrong with me? I am decidedly turned off by bulgy muscles, but now that I've seen seven Hrithik movies I can confidently say the first part of this is his yummiest, what with the chinos, masses of wavy hair, and happy absence of insane clothing. This is Hrithik at his Hugh Grantiest. But once we hit Club Indiana (which has a decidedly different meaning here in the midwestern United States - and it is not a "New Zealand's best disco!" type of meaning), my affection died out - for while that character is pleasant too, he's too International Male for me.

from death to dismissal in nothing flat

Because when you have a few minutes to wait for the furnace duct estimate dude, you might as well watch some Bunty aur Babli, especially when you've just barely crawled out from under the duvet and you need a little sugar and a few steps with Aish and the Bachchans to get you going. So you watch "Kajra Re" and find yourself pausing and laughing becuase you enver noticed exactly how lofty and biting Aish's little pre-song teasing speech is.Rare are those moments in life when desire calls. Come into my arms or come and slit my throat. Oh forget it. This give and take of hearts takes a lot of heart...and doing it so boldly for hte world to see...it's a woman's art, you see. In this winning and losing of hearts, what are men worth?Also, let's examine what Bunty has at the bar, shall we? One glass containing vodka, whiskey, gin, and rum. No wonder he falls off his barstool.

to every writer her book

Inspired by Accidental Fame Junkie's review of what is surely a genius film, I would like to add to the book series begun by an item featured in the film, Police Behaviour Manual for Hindi Film Climaxes. I'm not sure I'm up to a whole book on my own, but I'm bursting with ideas and would be happy to collaborate. Possibilities include:

Dos and Donts for Johny Lever
Love-Triangle Loser: How to Bow Out Gracefully
Handy Hints from Everybody's Favorite Mom: Reema Lagoo at Home
Salman Khan: The Unauthorized Biography
The Sari/Miniskirt Dilemma: A Guide for Independent, Familyphilic Ladki

Kajol, girl detective!: Baazigar

I like it when I rent multiple movies at one time and discover that they share some theme or other that I wasn't expecting. Baazigar and Nayak both feature brief but important usage of a typewriter, as well as way more schlocky bright-red Bollywood violence than I know what to do with. Maybe not "themes," according to an English teacher, but delightful commonalities in any event. Or at least the typewriter is. Bollywood violence I can do without.

Still, I am glad to have seen this because it seems to feature prominently in SRK's rise to stardom and I come across references to it all the time. But I can't say I liked it, actually, apart from some delighted squealing at back-up dancers' costumes (those silver and red things, and I don't know which I like more, the men's hammer pants or the women's ribbon-wrapped styrofoam halos). I think I might be jodi-chemistry-judgment deficient because I got nothing from SRK and Kajol here, although that could …

I was totally going to call you but an animated snake ate my phone: Nayak

I have to admit that I watched Nayak under less than ideal circumstances, and previous commitments and life events prevented me from seeing it in even two or three installments. I think I lost my momentum after the bus-top chase scene and never really rejoined the story. In the end, my disbelief suspenders could not hold up under the ridiculousness of the story, however idealistic and democratic it was - which is pretty much what happens to Shivajirao too. I think there were just too many things going on in too many different directions in too many different styles for me to hang on. So, yeah, this movie didn't do much for me, although I am extremely grateful to have seen several of its songs (more on that in a mo), and reducing this movie to just the A. R. Rahman moments - and the one where Anil and Johny reenact a bit of Hero No.1 - would be just fine by me.

This movie also kept reminding me of something Harrison Ford would have done about ten years ago. One part Air Force One + …

a song like you should wear a warning

Just heard a Bhangra remix of Britntey's "Toxic." I loved it. However, I do not in any way support Ms. Spears trying to cross into Indian pop music or cinema, nor do I support her going all bindi-happy like her mentor-mama.

good times times two: Duplicate

Meet Bablu, who loves his mom a lot
though a chef he is and a wrestler he's not.
But Manu - who has the same mug -
is really just a big ol' thug!
What a zany plot!

But they're duplicates!
They're Bollywood duplicates all the way.
One pair of matching Shahrukhs,
different as night and day.

Where Bablu is skilled at crème brulée,
loves Sonia and dear Bebe,
our Manu loves to rock and roll,
that Lilly makes him lose control,
vengeance makes his day.

Still, they're duplicates,
they're Bollywood duplicates and you'll find
they never laugh or walk alike
and hardly ever talk alike -
you can lose your mind
when Shahrukhs are two of a kind!

Highlights from Duplicate - and there are a lot of them, so it's hard to choose - include:Sonia's nonsensical spurts of English
non-Japanese Japanese food
the world's ugliest banquet hall
very un-PC references to various East Asian cultures
Bablu and Bebe's brightly painted bathroom
the why-would-anyone-blow-this-up-to-8x10-and-frame-it …

'tis a puzzle

I have one very important question to ask about Duplicate: if you're breaking out of prison, how do you find time to locate leather pants? Shiny, police-car-headlight-reflecting pants?

Evil SRK is pretty freaky. Is he supposed to be sexy? It's pretty funny. But not as funny as his alias mugshots.

Shaka laka, baby! Bollywood/Hollywood

I love Bollywood. (No, really!) I love Akshaye Khanna. (Oh stop!) I love Canada, especially Toronto. Put those things together and what do you get? I'm not really sure. An extended in-joke - I can't quite think of this as a parody, as that is what Main Hoon Na feels like to me, and this is not that, because to me it just doesn't have enough in common with Bollywood to be a parody - wrapped in that subdued Canadian movie feel, wherein there is tension and drama but all kept on an even keel. When I read that the director also did The Republic of Love, everything clicked into place.

I thought about it all throughout the movie and I am not convinced there's anything particularly Bollywood about this movie, other than some wedding-related drama and a well-intentioned, ridiculous, lie-based scheme. Although maybe there isn't supposed to be, and it's just a clever title. Or maybe there is, but in a Canadian sort of way - which is an odd concept, really, becuase stereot…

The big five-oh? You don't look a day over 31!: Yes Boss

On this, the occasion of my fiftieth Bollywood film, I humbly present you with a little bit of reflection, inspired and cohered by a mid 1990s classic, Yes Boss. Who better to commemorate the event than Shahrukh, Juhi, Reema, Johny, and a collections development and product testing conspirator? No one, that's who. A wholly satisfactory bit of filmi fluff. This movie has everything a girl could want: a delightful heroine, SRK, elaborate dancing, wacky schemes, a few stunts, crappy fight sound effects, Switzerland, and my favorite Bollywood mother.

Or does it? At this point in my ongoing education, I am going to tentatively state, based on what I've seen so far,* that I just prefer movies made in 1998 or later. I don't know if it's because of KKHH or what, but the movies I love most are after this point. I'd hate to think this is just because of production values and budgets, because that means I'm terribly shallow - after all, the elements are the same, as demons…

I am thankful for...

...all the cool people I've met and talked to because of Bollywood! All of you have made me happy so many times in the last few months, with your funny and insightful comments - and your willingness to admit to loving all the things you find so delightful in Bollywood. This is my first sustained foray into an online community, and I am delighted to have found such wonderful citizens.

Bollywood college sign inventory

Regular readers of this blog will know that I, like many other Bollywatchers, quite enjoy the various signs held up by adoring crowds in any "cultural event," dance, or other performance at any filmi college. Often these signs are hand-lettered, giving them an air of being made up by crew and extras at the last possible second - although not, mysteriously, as though they were made by actual high school students.

(Side note: I do not really understand what "college" means in Bollywood. These institutions look like and seem to function like a US high school, what with their required classes, social events, cliques, cheerleaders, and friendship days. Yet much of the time the students look like they are too old for high school - not that that stopped anyone on 90210, granted - and occasionally someone transfers into one from someplace like Oxford University. Anyone want to weigh in on this?)

Submissions are very, very welcome and highly encouraged. Additions will be on…

Main Hoon Na revisited

It's been two months since I first saw this - I lent it to someone and jsut today got it back, and I ran home and put it in the DVD player right away - and I am delighted to find that it has only improved in every possible way. How can one little movie be this good? It makes us all wonder and believe in things like fairies.

And my dear fellow watchers, I need your help. Go here and tell me what SRK's necklace says. I never noticed this the first time I watched the movie, and SRK has set the the bar pretty high for great necklaces, as you may recall from Rahul's C-O-O-L piece in KKHH.

proving that every man, no matter how drunk, looks great in a tux: Raja Hindustani

Despite everything I'm about to say, please believe me that I really did enjoy this movie. I don't think I'll need to watch it again anytime soon, but it was campy good fun while it lasted. Anything with Aamir Khan in it is well worth watching, in my experience, although to be honest here he is certainly not helped by a story and characters who are mostly either silly or occasionally just absurd (and not in the way that I enjoy, either). But he is by far the best thing about this movie. As usual, his face is so sincere, and he expressed being pissed off in a way that seems both frightening and realistic. If there's one consistently true rule of Bollywood, it's that you do not mess with Aamir Khan when he's angry. My only complaint about his performance is that I wish he got to dance more - he is my favorite male star for dancing and I think he's woefully underused. And maybe, just maybe, he, like everyone else, overdid it just a little in the fight scene a…

Jai Ramji Ki!: Swades

(I had a hard time with titles for this one. Other possibilities included "Rama in a camper van" [a prize goes to whomever knows the reference for that] and something along the lines of "like water for India," but it wasn't working out quite right and seemed a little too dramatic, as this movie is emotional but not overdone.)

This is a lovely story. Bollywood-watcher or not, you should run out and see it right away. Go on, I'll be here when you get back.

Okay, now that you've seen it, wasn't the water imagery fascinating? Going beyond its usual usage as indicator of attraction, here it ties most closely, I think, to the sense of home. What does Mohan do for a living? He develops technology to predict water. And what is the story about? His discovery of what home means, of where it is, of the other people who also reside there, of what life there entails. The balance of Mohan's desire to move back to India tips when he gets the generator to work. W…

beause it would break my heart, that's why

Marginal Revolution asks "Where are the Conservatives for Bollywood?" Look, I won't tell them about Bollywood if you won't, okay?

Clearly he needs the love of a good woman.

[Thanks to Bollyhoo again for the good eye!]

Oh, Akshaye. I know you miss me, but that's no reason to lash out at others. But believe you me, you have p-lenty of sex appeal and you look good in every color - don't you listen to a word they say. Next time you camp out on my porch to wail in the night, I'm going to make you do daily affirmations. Or big canvases of unicorns. Your choice.

Just so we're clear, you mean "gives you the goosebumps" in the bad way, right?

Also, stop smoking. It's gross.

TMI: further research on Dil Se

Thanks to Bollyhoo, I have been clued in to the whole "seven stages of love" plot arc that is in Dil Se, which you can read about here, if you have an empty stomach and a flair for the dramatic. I am so glad my life is plenty interesting without resorting to this. Ka-boom!

Dil Se

Bhooty month may be over, but Dil Se is the most haunting, bone-tingly Bollywood movie I've seen yet. I cannot explain why, but this movie has grabbed me. I like all its subtleties and how so many of the questions the characters raise and deal with linger - in them and in me. And let's just face it, it's gorgeous. I don't know how to talk about cinematography intelligently, so I will just say that thanks to Santosh Sivan it is Asoka-like (well, that's obvious) in its eerie, gray, drenched beauty.

When I started thinking about how to write about Dil Se, I thought I could just say the movie haunts me and leave it at that. But being poorly acquainted with leaving things at that, here are some of the things that I found so compelling, many of which seem to be explorations of the often unshown flip side of the romantic comedies I love so much.

If only it were as easy to wipe people out of your heart as it is to erase words written in sand. Until this scene, I wanted to ca…

Wave your flags in the air like you just don't care!: Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani

Image
(The entire plot of this movie is discussed here, so if you don't want to know how it ends, stop reading now.)

I haven't seen a light-hearted SRK in some time. I have loaned out so many of my movies that even in honor of his fortieth birthday this past week I wasn't able to watch any of my favorites of his, namely Main Hoon Na and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

But no matter, because now I have Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. This movie has everything:
one of the best opening credit sequences ever in the history of film, including an easy-to-learn dance move, lots of pretty colored outfits and bangles, and SRK making jokes about his own roles (at least I think that's what the series of ensembles was)
a delightfully bad stunt scene in which SRK jumps off a building onto one of those inflated mattress-y-looking things
an Elvis impression - technically not very good, but full marks for effort
hand-written signs being held up by enthusiastic crowds - not quite the banners at a college cultura…

Govindariffic*: Hero No. 1

If we buy the general theory that there is someone out there for everyone - and let's face it, as Bollywood watchers, we must have at least an intellectual interest in such an idea - then maybe we can also accept the idea that there is a person out there for every movie. And when I find the person who loves this movie more than any other, I will ask them to dance along the streets of Euro Disney with me while they explain themselves. This movie was completely enjoyable, sort of the way certain store-brand vanilla wafers are enjoyable - mostly satisfying, because they are sweet and crunchy, but still not quite what you were expecting.

This was my first Govinda movie, and I was not disappointed in his dancing abilities, and I was glad to finally realize who is in all those Eros previews for those movies I haven't heard of whose clips look much older than they really are. Karisma was her usual self, especially so in some dance moves that should have crippled her given the shoes s…

Diwali

Image
sidewalk1
Originally uploaded by bethwatkins. Abby and I went to Diwali on Tuesday night. It was beyond beautiful. We walked around and looked at all the lights, and all the other people looking at the lights, and thought about hope and new beginnings and dispelling things that are fearful or draining or hurtful. For a western science-oriented secular humanist, it was an incredibly centering experience.

Mucho thanks to the Indian Graduate Student Association for putting this together - and for having faith that our campus could respect and enjoy and benefit from it - because I'm pretty sure most of us did.

but I'm still not dancing with Salman

NPR had a Radio Expeditions story on this morning about Vrindavan, where Krishna once took human form. When the reporter asked about what heaven looked like, the respondent said it was a place where every word is a song, every step is a dance, and every utterance is of love. Sounds a lot like a Bollywood wedding scene, doesn't it?

trauma-drama-o-rama: Parineeta

Parineeta manages somehow to be both incredibly over-the-top dramatic in a Devdas-y way (not my original thought, by the way) but also all tied up in a shiny bow at the end. I like ending shiny bows very, very much, but I do not care for the level of drama of Devdas and similar stories. I have a really hard time, despite trying, not saying, "If you don't love her, then just don't marry her. If you do love some other person, just go marry her. Done and done!" I like some romantic tensions and a hurdle or two to a relationship, but clearly no one will turn to me to conjure up Bollywood-worthy screenplays. The shiny bow here also came on quite suddenly, even for Bollywood, so it felt a little superficial. Although, now that I think about it harder, I guess the components of the bow were there all along and just depended on information being revealed to enable them to do their job. It's like Khushi's Karan said: if people would just talk about their emotions, the…

justice meted out in dainty teacups: Sarkar

The Godfather is a powerful and compelling movie because of the characters' internal conflicts and pain. That said, I'm not a fan of violence or revenge or above/under-the-law "justice." While it's quite possible that the subtitles didn't convey the full force of the dialogue, I had very little sense of what was driving this story. Who is Sarkar and why? What are the nuances of his philosophy? And why does he have such abysmal security outside his house? "Hello, friendly crowds! I'm certainly glad you want to greet and wave to me, the most powerful gangster in Mumbai! It's a good thing I am a wide-open target right here, with nothing but my garden between you and me! I certainly should not build a carport or underground garage."

But the main problem with this movie for me was that it just didn't have enough oomph. The thing I love the very most about Bollywood is that stories and motivations are whole-hearted, but Sarkar really lacked th…

with apologies to the community

A friend (who reminds me a lot of Hrithik, despite not being 6' or overly muscley) asked me what I like about Bollywood. My attempt to explain went nowhere fast. I failed. I feel bad about this, not because he'll judge me, for he knows my silliest secrets anyway, but becasue I suspect I'll have an even harder time trying to get him to watch any. The urge to convert startles me. I've never felt like this before.

On the flip side, said friend had brought Arsenic and Old Lace for tonight's viewing, so he obviously enjoys mugging, broad plots, and wacky misunderstandings. And I can now say to SRK that while I still think he overdoes the facial expressions from time to time, it's nothing Cary Grant hasn't done at least once.

Shahrukh can pop into my bedroom whenever he wants: Veer-Zaara

It took several starts for me to get through this - I kept re-watching the beginning, where they bump along on top of the bus and enjoy the countryside - not because it's bad, but because I kept getting interrupted, then having to re-start to make sure I remembered what was going on. But once I got going, it was great. I had expected this to be much more politically cheesy than it was, and I was happy that most of the "why can't we all get along" sentiment was contained in just-freed Veer's courtroom speech. The love story, too, was not quite as grand as I had thought, which was just fine by me.

The best moments of this movie are the light-hearted or simple ones: Zaara dancing around her beautiful house, Veer's aunt brushing Zaara's hair, Bauji sneaking his bottle of rum, Veer throwing nuts into Zaara's mouth as she clutches the little platform on the ski-lift across the river.

This is by far my favorite Amitabh Bachchan performance. His character ha…

Unfairly maligned, copmpletely enjoyable film seeks understanding audience: Khushi

I found Khushi for a song at an international grocery store that was selling off its rental collection and bought it because I recognized the actors and could tell, from the pictures on the cover, that it was going to be a silly romantic comedy, which is the kind of movie I tend to re-watch the most often and therefore can justify owning. But if I had read about it first, it's likely I would never have even watched it, because all the reviews I have read are lukewarm at best, mostly just awful. I could understand the negativity if the reviewers had only seen the afore-mentioned blackface song picturization (which I think actually has "Latinoface," for lack of a better term, in it too), but this movie is fluffy and delightful in the ways I look to Bollywood to provide.

There are three elements of this movie I would like to comment on. The first is the main characters, of which there are really only two. Kareena Kapoor plays Khushi, your typical free-spirited and feisty he…

Aaah, so maybe that's why Bollywood has yet to successfully invade our fair pop culture shores.

More on this tomorrow, but for now, even though it is very late, I must tell the world: I am watching a Bollywood film (Khushi) that has actors in BLACKFACE. Unbelievable. And I thought No Entry's World Trade Center jokes were in bad taste. Did whoever made that decision have any idea what they were doing? Is this funny in India and other countries were Bollywood is big? Is using bad stage makeup and Halloween clown wigs to make actors look like another race ever funny? It's hard to imagine any circumstances under which this would be acceptable. Not to get all Debbie Downer, but my goodness.

The rest of Khushi is a hoot, though. I can't wait to tell you how it all turns out.

The wheel of dharma does turn back up again, right?

As we speak, Boardman's Art Theatre is showing Salaam Namaste. As we speak, I am far, far away from downtown Champaign - atypical behavior for a Friday night.

Think happy DCH thoughts, which can be viewed the very second I get home tomorrow.

I don't do it for the toaster. (However, the dance lessons from Akshaye are a definite perk.)

In a remarkable display of the first sensible thing I've witnessed from this company in...oh, ten years or so, the local outlet of a big national movie rental chain actually had three Indian films. I snapped up Lagaan for my parents' introduction to Bollywood. They thoroughly enjoyed it, and let me tell you, they're a tough crowd for movies, particularly when it comes to period pieces. There ain't a lot of history they don't have at least a cursory knowledge of, but I think my warning of "this is fictional!" helped, and they had lots of questions about whether the instruments, buildings, etc. were realistic. Even in regular movies, they dismiss a lot of plots, characters, and settings as "silly" and seldom get into the spirit of whatever the story is. Except British mysteries on PBS, which they love. Hmmm.

I think Lagaan was a good introduction not just because it's such a good masala and has strong performances (except Captain Russel, who i…

more thoughts on Hum Tum

Can't stop thinking about this movie. Not sure what that implies about me - probably that am more of a sap than would like to admit (or than find useful acknowledging/acting on in the non-movie-watching parts of life). Have found it wildly unhelpful in life to walk around with romantic-comedy-like concepts of love, sex, relationships, the male part of the species, etc. Most of the time have little use for such devices, as have found them painful and self-doubt-inducing, so genearlly pay little attention to them.

So then why is it that this charming little movie has swooped out of nowhere and knocked me off of my position? Am I in the mood for this mood? Is there a reason I'm finding it so heartwarming, so well phrased, so delightful - and the most realistic, in terms of how people interact and treat one another, of the Bollywood I've seen so far?

I don't need this.

But it's so charming I can't help but love it.

See, and now I'm giving myself the eye-roll and …

Beth Watkins: BollyWood BookWorm

I've always hoped my intials could stnad for something interesting - you know, like when you're in some meeting and they insist upon doing an icebreaker, and you have to introduce yourself by saying "I'm Karen and I like karate" or "I'm Jim and I just when to Japan." I've never had anything interesting to say for "B" and "W." But aha! Now I do!

Have just bought Behind the Scenes of Hindi Cinema: A Visual Journey through the Heart of Bollywood and Indian Cinema: The Bollywood Saga. Undoubtedly they will arrive while I am out of town next week - when I will also be missing Salaam Namaste in the theater as well, but in manner of good daughter, the trip to visit my wonderful parents must go as scheduled.

I heart Hum Tum

Under the pressures of a cold. Will just say this for now: has catapulted its way over all the SRK have seen into my top three favorites (others being, in no particular order, Dil Chahta Hai and Kandoukondain Kandoukondain [just because cannot spell it does not mean do not love it]). Is the most delightful movie have seen, in any language, in looooooooong time. Has captured the very essence of what is good about When Harry Met Sally, added some (but not enough) dancing and tunes, just the right amount of steaminess, a completely compelling and believeable pairing of Rani and Saif - et voilà! Magic.

Is v g partly because personally support and try to adhere to most of its philosophies, such as Hug every moment. Get life's feel. and Many relationships fall apart because people can't express themselves...they can't talk their hearts out. If you've got something to tell someone...just go ahead and say it. Don't wait...it might be too late. Have carried out several rela…

...and five and six and seven and eight

Image
While searching the web for something like this
to remind me of the sheer shirt, Google's first return was a series of photos of what appears to be a family in an apartment doing the Hrithik Wiggle*! The adorable wee tots were the highlight. One of the reaons my heart melted when I saw this was that the author of Bollywood Boy describes a few instances of everyday people trying the HW, and when I read that book I hadn't seen the movie yet, so I didn't truly understand how fantastic it is that people at home try this. To me it looks really hard, like you could seriously hurt yourself.

Even though the clothes may be awful, the moves are undeniably hypnotizing - so everyone should go read Bollywood 501's profile of Farah Khan, the woman behind the moves. This is really interesting and the stills are great. Clearly I must get my hands on a copy of Dil Se.

* I suppose, properly, it should be called the Hrithik Frantic Thrusting, but I just can't quite bring myself to ca…

This is what's called a lunchtime poll.

Everybody in the cafeteria, listen up. Thanks to a recent round of emails, my curiosity in the following question has been piqued:

Which do you find more mystefyingly loud/bizarre/heinous/just plain ugly in Bollywood men's costumes, as a general rule?
a) shirts - shiny, tight, or sheer, there is a plethora of so-bad-it's-good choices
b) pants - pleather, sailor-flared, or freakishly bleached, there's no end of ways to make your bottom half go south
c) hats and other headwear - random (think stetson), emblazoned with words, or feather-bedecked, it's a strange world when the wedding turban seems normal by comparison

Note: an item of apparel can be included for consideration whether Salman has it on or off - it's the appearance of it that counts, not its actual function in the film.

Pretty please post your thoughts. And visual evidence, if so inspired.

And, like, how superwow would a Bollywood version of Heathers be? I think I've just found my true calling. Dibs! Think a…

Fake-Pretend or True-For-Real?; or, Suneil Shetty as the Voice of Reason: Hulchul

This movie seems to get lukewarm reviews, especially in comparison to its director's prior hit Hungama. I don't know why. I thought this was really funny. Less manic - which given the number of people in this is saying quite a lot - but better. Whatever the director did to get Kareena to calm down was miraculous -I thought she was quite successful in depicting someone trying to sort herself through a confusing, emotional situation without reverting to screeching, hissy-fits, drama queening, etc. Akshaye seemed more unhinged, which worked for his character. It's not like his family had provided him with a good model of anger management. Two people responding to a strange situation in their own ways but still coming together. The slapstick worked for me too, even the cow disguise and flinging the groom across the house on a garland of marigolds. And "Rafta Rafta" was delightful, if wildly un-subtle - I'm sure "eeeeyoo, this boy has cooties! oh wait, he…

Clue on crack: Hungama

Image
There are some people who maintain that Clue is one of the funniest, cleverest movies ever made. I respect that opinion, but I am not one of those people. Sure, it's definitely a good time, but, like, stop running around. Anyhoo, Hungama reminded me a lot of that, but even more so, because, believe it or not, I'm pretty sure there are even more people involved.

For those who haven't seen it, I cannot stress enough that you should not bother trying to find a plot summary, because I can't imagine anyone could actually write one that makes any sense. Basically a bunch of people, who have all done something morally/ethically suspect or questionable (usually lying, but also stealing, price gouging, adultering, being really rude to spouses, etc.), have oodles of mishaps and wacky misunderstandings that are all interrelated in some way. (I guess there are two or three characters who haven't done anything wrong, but they are all involved with people who have.*) At one poin…

May your dreams be more vast than your arms can stretch: Bunty aur Babli

Well, now, that was fun!

That's about all I can think of to say about Bunty aur Babli, a superwow-supercute movie if ever there were one. Even a cheeseball like me enjoyed a plot that put the romance on the side, letting the characters just enjoy being their dream-addled, fun-loving selves. Even lots of the minor characters were so delightfully written that you want to see more of each of them. Oh, except for the random rich American guy, who was pretty pointless and not well acted.

Things that this sugary goodness seduced me into loving, some of which might, in other movies, have been a little peculiar or annoying:
Vimmi's transparent, stripey clown pants. Somehow Rani really made those work. Snaps to the costume designer.
Vimmi's I Love Lucy-inspired crying ("Waaaaaaah, Bunty, I wanna be in the pageant!") was just genius. Rakesh must have really loved her to put up with that.
Rakesh seeming to have to pee in the shower in one of their hotel bathrooms, out of sheer…