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Showing posts from October, 2005

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,

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

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

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

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, wh

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-r

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 voilĂ  ! 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 sever

...and five and six and seven and eight

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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 myse

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. Di

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