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Showing posts from September, 2005

Clue on crack: Hungama

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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…

part 2 of Lakshya: reality bites

"I'm glad the moon is up in the sky. We would have cut it to bits, had it been down here."
Making liberal but justified use of my FF button during the gunfire, the rest of Lakshya was solidly enjoyable - or enjoyably solid - or something like that. This is the same summary I would give to the character of Karan, who had all of his twinkle and sweetness beaten out of him at the military academy, but who nevertheless was not a complete jerk, still felt compassion and affection, and kept the ability to be honest with other people, specifically Romi. I was pleasantly surprised by the few little wrinkles in their relationship and even more pleased that their reconcilliation came with him saying "I think about you all the time," rather than "I have decided we can talk again, becuase I am the new and improved big strong man and I think it's okay that we reestablish our relationship" - and that it came after he faced some emotional challenges and not after…

part 1 of Lakshya

So help me, I am teary-eyed over this patriotic, dehumanizing, silly story. Partly because I just finished the graduation scene - and I love a graduation, the way many people love a wedding - but mostly because Hrithik's character, Karan, is the sweetest young man to cross my screen since Sid in Dil Chahta Hai. And what will his reward be? I think they're going to turn him into a killing machine. Great, just what the world needs these days. When he got in trouble for looking at the birds in the tree, when he beamed when his girlfriend said he was a good person, when he waved at his friend from the top of the training tower, my heart broke a little, knowing that characters like this don't seem to seem to have a good survival rate. I'm happy to chalk some of this up to me not remotely understanding what pressures are on upper-class twenty-somethings in India and then be ready to rewind to the first song, which is awesome.

To Karan's father, I say: what is wrong with …

fluency

They say you know you're fluent in a language when you start dreaming in it.

I have been dreaming, in little segments and flashes, in Bollywood. I'm either watching it or talking about it or actually in it. These last are the most fun, of course. I'm not a major star - I'm just in the plot or on the set somehow, at a table in a restaurant seeing Shahrukh out the window, helping Rani find her bangles. walking down a street in a city I've never been to past a theater showing Hum Tum.

I'm choosing to take this as a good sign.

librarians rock

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...and they have the good sense to have Aishwarya help them get people to read!

You just sit on your big tastefully appointed porch swing and think about what you've done: Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

When I first started watching Bollywood about six months ago, I was sad to find out that my local video store doesn't have this movie. And the more I read web forums and reviews, the more surprised I became - this was a big movie, packed with important stars, a movie people were talking about all over the place. Imagine my delight when it came in a bundle of films I got online.

And imagine my... "enh" when I finished it today. What is the big deal about this movie? This particular sentiment expresses my opinion on a lot of big US movies too, particularly dramas that win Oscars lately, so it's nothing uniqiue agains K3G. Good Will Hunting. The English Patient. Gladiator. All of these made me go "enh."

I think I can best sum up my experience of K3G by saying that I gobbled down the first half in one night, staying up past my bedtime (as usual). But it took me four more sittings to get through the second half. I just didn't really care. The family was boun…

in which the audience was better than the movie: No Entry

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My local art theater showed No Entry today. This is because sometimes, here in the midwest, even in the cultural and intellectual oasis that is Chambana, something passes for "art" based solely on it not being made in the US. Let me be perfectly clear: No Entry is not a good movie. It is not a horrible movie, but it is definitely not good. The clear moral universe of Bollywood has crumbled here - stupid men do stupid things, and their stupid wives only vaguely figure it out, and no one is really punished, and no one really makes any decisions to change their lives. The wives sort of realize the truth of their husbands' skank-taculuar and/or dimwitted behavior but quickly forgive them, just because they happen to be stupid enough to almost fall to their deaths of a cliff. The final scene shows the men with their tongues lolling out of their mouths. No one is any the wiser, although now they have some kids to drag through the muck as well. The acting was fine, and even Sal…

plumbing the depths of Rahul

"Pyaar dosti hai."

Isn't it just?

the runner-up of best news goes to...

IndiaTimes's "Women" section because yes, metrosexual is good and wearing a tie with short-sleeves shirts is bad. Am just about to read an article entitled "Things He Does Not Want to Hear," because gender-stereotype-based advice from any culture is bound to be excellent.

everything's comin' up roses

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Thanks BBC for the best news I'll get all day.


tee-hee!

the most anticipated film of 2006

Bollyhoo has just developed the most brilliant of plans. I had asked her if she thought the supercomputer from Koi Mil Gaya could perhaps put me in touch with Akshaye Khanna instead of some blue aliens. She saidI think what you should do is write a kickass screenplay about a beautiful museum educator who falls in love with one of her colleagues, played by the dashing Akshaye Khanna. Then even if you don't succeed in getting the role of the museum educator due to your principled refusal to play ball with the mafia financiers and casting couch greaseballs, you can at least work as a consultant on the film. I guess there is always the risk that instead of hiring Akshaye Khanna for the role he was clearly born to play, the producers will insist on hiring a non-fake pretend movie boyfriend for the role, like (GASP!) Johnny Lever. So maybe inventing the PET supercomputer is the better option.

I love her.

Long, long ago in a galaxy somewhere near the subcontinent....

Just watched - or rather "watched/fast-forwarded through" - Episode II. Soooooo bad. But even before it got dreadful, my mind wandered off, thinking perhaps a scene might be improved by some Bollywood elements. It seems ripe for the picking. You have the gorgeous, elaborate outfits of Padme. You have Obi-Wan and his fancy footwork with billowing cape. You have grand-scale good vs. evil. You have grand buildings with sweeping, orante architecture. You have Yoda, better animated and more eloquent than MPKDKH's parrot and dog, although similarly cute and pint-sized.

After seeing Padme get whipped with a chain, her shirt back tearing open, and remembering Leia with Jabba, I must ask: does anyone else think George Lucas has a some sort of pain- and chain-based fetish?

better than Bollywood

...if you can believe such a thing. Wandered downstairs to finish K3G and, as the tv flickered on, set to PBS, was delighted to see that tonight's "Wide Angle" was on the "offshoring" phone center industry in India. I only saw half, but the segments I saw, looking at the lives of four young women who work in this industry, were more moving to me, and the smiles they brought to my face more resonant - and I suspect the whole thing will stick with me longer - than any movie yet. Don't get me wrong - I genuinely love the movies. But it felt good to be reminded of reality, of how even a few real young people live - and they squabbled with their spouses, they giggled with their roommates, they supported their families, they danced around the office to filmi music (in a huge coincidence, I think it was a song from K3G, right?), I saw them! They discussed how their lives were different from their parents'. They set up savings accounts for younger sisters. They…

Is this a good omen or what?

One of the things I love most about musicals is when people randomly break into song, or even song and dance, even when the town or other setting of the story features people who are unmusical, such as in The Music Man. This, of course, very rarely happens in non-film life, much to my dismay. I very much envy characters in Bollywood for this trait of their everyday lives, knowing it will never happen to me, becuase, let's face it, I don't dance very well and I certainly don't know a whole four-minutes routine.

But today, as I walked towards the quad to get my coffee, I passed the music building, and some guy was walking down the street with a guitar, playing Weezer's "Say It Ain't So." I smiled in amazement, sort of to myself, and held my breath, looking around to see if anyone else seemed to want to start dancing and singing in the late summer sunshine. It would have been perfect.

PS

I forgot to say that the end of Sholay reminded me of the Knights Who Say "Ni" and I had to roll up on the couch laughing. That probably means I have some cultural baggage or something. I am a huuuuge fan of Mrs. Peel-era The Avengers, which has plenty of schlocky stunts, but somehow I could not quite handle this one, I think maybe because it's a decade later and its "look and feel" counterpart, in my mind, is The Godfather.

Anyway, just go read The Gorilla's Lament review because he says most of what I wanted to say and he does it better. Long live Basanti and Veeru.

He's not heavy, he's your brother!: the rest of Main Hoon Na

Like real life, it all goes downhill after prom. As is no doubt clear from everything I write here, I prefer to dwell on the comedy and romance elements of the Bollywood mix, and most of that was lost after the very fabulous 50s-inspired prom, except for the slightly steamy "we can sit on my bed and clean your wounds while I accidentally-on-purpose put my face a few millimeters from yours becuase you're not really my student" scene between Ram and Chandni, which, by the way, Sushmita, seems like a very effective move. Will just file that away for later use, in case I am ever in love with an undercover army wing commander. The helicoper thing was just silly - why didn't it fly closer to the roof in the first place, so young Lucky didn't have to almost get his arm yanked out of its socket in order to save Ram as he jumped off the roof?

Big bonus points to whomever came up with that bit about the brothers fiddling with their hair in the same way. And with Chandni…

...but Ranganathan he ain't.

the king of Bollywood on what "India empowered" means to him.

Now, I'm not up on what Bono has been doing on the geopolitical front these days, but this might be a little wackier still. I am 100% with him on the importance of providing entertainment for people and that making people feel good is truly quite important. But:
Personally, I've a problem with the power of information. I'm not an authority on it but I think somewhere down the line, information has been a huge downside. We can access information anytime but we don't know what to do with it. So, information creates bottlenecks. We create a flyover to Nehru Place but forget to connect it to Surya Hotel. Likewise, information as a tool is good but its utility is still unclear. Give a person what he wants but don't bore him. Make avenues for him to use that information, give him the opportunity to make his life better with that information.
I could probably wrangle up a heap of librarians who would be …

needed: proselytizing lessons

I'm trying desperately to get my friends to watch Bollywood with me, and so far I have gotten three interested, although only one of them lives in the same town I do. Behold my latest attempt, via email to get people to join me for Main Hoon Na on Friday night:

For your general amusement and insight into the kinds of movies I've been watching lately, let me tell you a little more about Friday's movie, specifically about the plot elements/devices and characters it contains.

[From a fake-pretend pop quiz about Bollywood]

Please circle the plot elements/devices and characters contained in the film Main Hoon Na, a 2004 film featuring India's biggest star, Shahrukh Khan:
a) issues of national security and international borders
b) under-cover military operatives
c) Matrix-style action sequences
d) stunts using wire work
e) bicycle-rickshaw chase of bad guys in car, with guns
f) dying father
g) heartbroken single mother
h) secret and otherwise unknown identities
i) family reconciliations

I already sensed it, somewhere deep in my heart, and now I really know it to be true: Shahrukh Khan can do anything.

[About an hour and a half into Main Hoon Na.... I'm stopping here because this movie is so incredibly great that I must share it with someone, so I'm waiting for the weekend when Abby can watch too.]

He is the biggest star in the biggest movie industry in the world, and he is amazing. He's bulletproof. He can fly. He can dance. He can chase terrorists on a bicycle rickshaw that's on fire. He can do the Matrix limbo move to avoid projectiles. He can lip sync while standing up on a moving ferris wheel. He can make a woman's hair blow in the breeze from fifty paces. (You may think Sushmita has this power on her own, but I know better. I've seen the effect too many times to be fooled.) He can burst into song so spontaneously and heartfelt that he cannot stop his own arms from rising into the "come here, my darling, I love you, while my wingspan indicates that our love encompasses the very Himalayas themselves" gesture. He can emote like... like... um, like…

Okay, but, like, I still didn't get to bed until after 11:30.

So, you were right, it was too late to start a new movie last night. So instead, looking for a quick fix, I sampled wee portions of multiple movies. From Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, the farting and "men can do this! [rip off shirts] scenes; from Ka Ho Naa Ho, a sampler platter of "It's Time to Disco," "Pretty Woman" (which is just about the funniest thing in the whole world - somehow it strikes me that people not from the United States should not rap, especially if they are wearing some kind of nicely spun linen hoodie), and finally spotting both Rani and Kajol in "Maahi Ve," shamefully something I had failed to do in my original watching. It felt so good to work through the embarassment and - better late than never - to earn my Bronze Medal of Celebrity Cameo Spotting. And that was so many superstars I just had to call it a night and finally go to sleep.

And now I am off to start Main Hoon Na because of what Bollyhoo has written about it.

it's too late, baby

Is 10:34 pm on the night before going back to work after a three-day weekend too late to start a three-hour movie? It is? Phhhhbt. You're no fun. Will just ask Rani Mukherjee and what's-his-butt Bachchan (the younger) what they think. Quite certain they will want me to start Bunty Aur Babli.

my old friend: Mujhse Dosti Karoge!

This was the first Bollywood movie I watched - grabbed at random off the shelf because I was having trouble finding the ten from Bollywhat's rental guide, even though my store has most of them and I was just having a breakdown over trying to read the names - and I really liked it. Thanks to my eBay booty, I now own it, and, after a late-night viewing yesterday, I still like it. I was afraid I wouldn't - I've since learned to be wary of Hrithik and Kareena, and I thought the mistaken identity device would seem tired after seeing Hrithik do it twice more, and I was even a little afraid that I wouldn't find the insane spandex outfits and mountain top frolicing enjoyable anymore.

But I loved it all. Everyone does a nice job with their roles, and no one is a spaz. Hrithik (Raj) uses his real voice! Pooja (Rani) gets to tell Raj off for being blinded by beauty and not seeing her heart. Raj gets to scold Pooja for her insistence on nobley-intended-but-ultimately-hurtful decei…

shout-out to Tanaaz Currim

Because I have seen her in more movies than any other female star or co-star except Aishwarya Rai, this is a heart-felt "you rock" to my favorite sidekick actor of all time, Tanaaz Currim. This woman has played the "best friend" in several films, for which she has suffered the indignity of being attacked by a lunatic, wearing a really fake-looking wig (if that's her real hair in RHTDM, I want to know what they did to it), being stuck in a bad twist on that short plaid schoolgirl skirt fad that comes around every few years while watching her friend get Hrithik's heavy stares, and raising a kid in New York with a husband who apparently is never home and certainly doesn't come with her to India for her sister's wedding. I love this actor. I honestly think she's quite good - it's hard to play the sidekick at an appropriate level, neither too mousy nor too spastic (Johnny Lever, I'm talkin' to you), neither faceless nor interfering (Karee…

what I learned from Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein

It is freakin' awesome to be from Mumbai, where people are so inspired by the greatness of their city that they sing and dance through the streets, remarking upon the discos, parties, etc. Sometimes they wear Color Me Badd-esque suits while doing so, amping up the awesome factor considerably.
If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all: I was thinking snarky thoughts about Maddy's dad's music shop, musing over whether the big red graphic on the wall in the background was the logo for either Aerosmith or Bozo the Clown (probably neither, of course, given that the store was in Mumbai and not Aurora, Illinois), when I realized it bore an eerie resemblance to the HMV on Yonge Street in Toronto I used to go to in 1997, which I'm sure the flock of 17-year-olds on Yonge found the epitome of cool at the time. Hush my mouth.
Mechanical engineering students, despite their rigorous course requirements and need to direct their brainpower elsewhere, have pseudo …

Too...many...movies....

I ordered a bundle of 12 movies off of eBay and I finally got to pick them up from the post office on Friday after work. I don't even know where to start. A few of them I have seen, and one DVD doesn't work (the one with Hum Tum, of coruse!) becuase it's scratched as all heck, but I found myself sitting on the living floor, remote in hand, surrounded by DVDs - and then I knew for sure I had a problem. Like having a blog all on one topic wasn't enough of a sign. Anyhoo, what should I watch first? My favorite? A visually stunning one? Or perhaps re-visit the first one I ever saw, which I suspect is not going to hold up very well? And, to top it off, because I am a junkie, I rented two more today for the long weekend. Or should I just re-watch the credits to Main Hoon Na over and over again, watching Shahrukh pop out of the banner that says "thrills"?

Bollywood Magic 8 Ball

I just read this book in which a character makes a Jane Austen Magic 8 ball - she takes one apart, takes out the little floating thingy, and puts Jane Austen quotes on its surfaces. I want to do the same kind of thing with Bollywood plot devices. So when you need advice, you can garner the wisdom that has worked so very, very well for SRK, Kajol, et al. Some sample ideas:
Run home to your mother, collapse at her feet, put your head in her lap, and do as she says, which is probably to listen to your heart.
Refuse to give the bastard the last mango lassi on the tray. That'll show 'im.
Flag down the first passing sports car you see, presuming it is driven by an attractive man wearing sunglasses. Hop in. Drive directly to nearest mountain range.
Challenge your oppressor to a game of cricket [or another game you don't know how to play] for absurdly high stakes.
Looking for love? Try your sibling's partner's sibling.
Pleather? Good.

Update to post (June 2007): and I finally mad…

thou shalt know thy spouse: Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam

A. Girl and boy (boy 1) have known each other since childhood.
B. Girl has also been friends with an orphaned boy (boy 2) her family sort of adopted, him taking on a brother-type role, although not actually her brother, as she already has a brother, who is needed as a plot device at some future point, so we can't pretend he isn't there.
Therefore, does it follow that it girl knows boy 1 and girl knows boy 2, boy 1 and boy 2 probably know each other? Or, if not, boy 1 and boy 2 are aware of each other and the other's relationship with girl? It does follow, at least a little, right? At least enough that the existence of boy 2 and the basic nature of his relationship with girl are not a surprise to boy 1, and boy 2 is aware of the basic character of boy 1.

A. Girl is Indian and lives in India.
B. Boy 1 is Indian and lives in India and is some sort of big-shot business dude who is sorta rude to his secretaries.
C. India is a patriarchal society with a knot of horrible issues about…