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Showing posts from November, 2005

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

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(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

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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.