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Showing posts from September, 2006

you oughta be on stage: Praan Jaye Paar Shaan Na Jaye

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(Apologies if I spelled that wrong. I feel like every time I look at a website that mentions this movie, it's spelled differently. I know I said that the wily H would be my downfall in Hindi, but it might just be the "A" vs "AA" question. Another reason to just go ahead and learn Devanagari. Anyway. ) Oooh goody! It's time for "Bloggers Meet Director" on Bollywoodbloggers ! Here is everyone else who is playing along: Babasko michael Totally Basmatic maria giovanna mirie oli maria kaddele During almost every moment of this movie, I kept thinking "I feel like I'm watching a play." (Hey English or drama majors, is there a literary term for this phenomenon? I don't think "stagey" really captures what I mean.) I think this is the first time I've had this feeling while watching Hindi films, and PJPSNJ (can't decide between "A" and "AA"? Avoid yaar!) is unlike anything else I've watche

highlights from the first 20 minutes of Khushi

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I really love this movie. It always makes me happy, and after being home sick today I thought I'd close out the day with it, but now I'm up later than I should be because I just can't stop with the screen captures. Kareena wearing...um...well, yeah Fardeen dancing with cheerleaders and Fardeen doing...whatever this is Plus "Good Morning India," which I did indeed sing as I crossed the Hooghly Bridge. And all of this is in the first 20 minutes. Jam-packed with goodness.

research question (seriously, it is)

One of my favorite people from the Fulbright program in India this summer is Dr. Michael Marcus, who teaches high school world history and anthropology. His project from this summer is on textiles and trade in Indian history. However, he has an increasing interest in Bollywood - and has even come up with the a bang-on description: "a strange combination of the kitsch and the socially and culturally meaningful" - and the two are beginning to overlap. (Bollywood overlaps with a lot of my life, I find, so I'm not at all surprised.) Dr. Marcus has asked me the following question and wants readers' help. I have had this strange fascination lately with Raj Kapoor, and on my "shemaroo" disc "showman of the millenium" (not too hyperbolic, eh?) there is a song from RK's old Barsaat called "Hawa Mein Udata Jayen," which is in the genre, I believe, of what is called a "Dupatta" or "Chunari" song. Now that means a piece of c

now that's what I call an afternoon at the movies: Lage Raho Munna Bhai

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I saw Lage Raho Munna Bhai in the theater today and it was the most fun I've had at the movies since I don't know when. The house was almost full and everyone was having a grand time, laughing and yelling crying and clapping. Abby and I were the delighted companions of four Indian fellows (and no, we don't just canvas the streets looking for desis to take to the movies - we met them properly yesterday at an office party, bonding over a shocking lack of bhangra while dancing badly to a remix of "Push It"), all of whom kindly leaned in here and there to make sure we were understanding everything. Speaking of which, these were some of the best subtitles I've seen in a long time. Of course I don't know if they were accurate, but they seemed to line up with the audience reaciton far more often than they usually do, and I only noticed one spelling mistake ("old foggies" for "old fogies," although now that I think about it that could have

SRK FPMBF? MIA!

[Is this whole joke spinning completely out of control, or is it still funny? I can't tell. I mean, I think it's funny, but maybe others are growing weary.] Comments on the previous post have made me realize that despite being King Khan, SRK is nobody's FPMBF. Some of the usual suspects have made the cut - Hrithik, Abhishek, John Abraham - as well as some of the unusual - Sanjay, Akshaye. And here I thought SRK was supposed to have such appeal abroad! Aside to TB: who's your number one - just for the sake of argument, because of course in the real world of FPMBF you can have all five.

dateline FPMBF

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from: bethwatkins to: babasko re: What is this nonsense? 9:40 am Sanjay Dutt's Lady Love Nadia Durrani from: babasko to: bethwatkins re: What is this nonsense? 11:07 am you want to know what really happend? he was piss-drunk. (yeah its all my fault, he wanted me to come down and i said, no i cant.. my sisters baby and all) and so he took out his friends and they filled him up. yeah and you know how he is when he had one bacardi-coke too much...he gets emotional. this nadia woman. well she´s a friend. nice girl actually. but no competition for me :-) so i wouldn´t read much into it. from: bethwatkins to: babasko re: What is this nonsense? 11:49 am Ohmygod, I totally understand. You give Akshaye a drink too many and he ends up dating Tara Sharma - I mean, Tara Sharma? c'mon* - for way too long. from: babasko to: bethwatkins re: What is this nonsense? 11:55 am see. our boys. you only turn your back to them for ONE minute and thats what happens.why do we keep up with t

no one around here ever throws a Bollywood theme party: Page 3

About halfway through this, I turned to my watching companion, Si , and said, "Is this movie about anything?" This wasn't meant as a complaint; I felt like I was watching some sort of scripted documentary type thing, in which we just follow around a narrative focal point character and see what goes on in her life and see what she sees. Which is cool. But then it seemed to take a bit more of a message-y shape, showing more and more of the ridiculous or unfortunate or foolish in the characters. But then there was one more change, and the movie ended with me unsure whether our protagonist was going to make good on all she had learned. Which, oddly, didn't bother me, because in the circumstances she was in, I can see how it would be incredibly difficult either to take action or to stay still; I can imagine how hard it would be to make a decision and how tempting it might be just to keep on doing what you were doing. (Maybe I'm dense and anyone else would think that M

proper-response thoughts on Yuva

It's really, really good. Yep. That's what I have to say about that. Everyone is really good (and while I'd rank Esha's performance as the weakest of the six main characters, she was fine). I don't mean to over-value the comparison to Rang De Basanti but I responded more to Yuva 's personal and local and slightly more contextualized scale. You don't kill the minister of whatever (defense? or was he an air force uppity-up, I can't remember?); instead you run for local government and gather support by talking to people and encouraging their involvement. And Abhishek. Damn . His snarl of rage and greed and guilt was utterly convincing. And frightening to boot. One complaint: how come none of the female leads were political? How come so few of the people in the crowds at the politcal gatherings were female? I know we had the village woman run and win, and that was really cool. But no one else? Is that accurate? I could look up figures on the percentage

pre-proper-response thoughts on Yuva

It's really, really good. And without having had time to put much thought into the matter yet, I'd say it's better - by which I mean more effective to me - than Rang De Basanti . And until I have time to write up my thoughts, which might be awhile, the way this week and weekend are shaping up, here are three things in it that I noticed, none of which are important, but you know me, that's the kind of thing I notice: 1) It appears that Arjun's family has a Swatch phone. My friend Rosalie had one of these in high school - it was clear plastic, so you could see all the colorful wire bits inside. (This is very appropriate, actually, because today at lunch I saw someone with the very Swatch that my friend Jenny had in junior high - and the rush of time swooshing past me was incredible, I was right back in choir rehearsal, sitting with her and giggling and making up fortunes [by the MASH method, of course] and doodling the names of the boys we liked on our folders - a

Rahul? Way cool.

I've only seen Rahul Bose in two things, but I like him a lot, and after listening to his interview on BBC Film Cafe , I think I might have a new FPMBF contender. He sounded really, really smart, and that's really, really attractive, even in the fake-pretend world. His riff about how his role in Pyaar Ke Side Effects as a chance for him to prove his acting chops and how fun it was to give serious thespian Mallika Sherawat makeup tips was so funny, and his discussion of the necessity (or not) of romantic love in life was...I dunno, just really interesting and and resonant and well-stated. [I can't remember if compound adjectives that start with "well" get a hyphen when they follow the noun, and my Chicago Manual of Style is at work, so you'll just have to forgive me.] I was also impressed with how he responded to Raj and Pablo's banter, which I often enjoy because 1) they pretty clearly love Bollywood and their enthusiasm is joyful and infectious and 2) t

enh: Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna

DISCLAIMER: I am a 32-year-old, never-married, WASPy, midwestern American who has only recently begun to learn, in an organized way, anything about India, and a lot of what I have started investigating is because of movies. So I don't really think I'm at all qualified to talk about this film's portrayal/exploration of adultery and marital unhappiness - I have no personal connection to them, but more importantly I have absolutely no informed idea how these issues and their treatment by this movie resonate in India (or Indian-American culture, for that matter) or why. So I'm just not going to talk about that, other than to say that, in general, it is a sad thing to be unhappy and to feel trapped by that unhappiness, and ideally you don't get yourself into such a situation in the first place, but if you find yourself there, it is, in general, a good idea, or at least not a bad one, to try to get yourself out, as long as you take into consideration the other people affe

supergroovy

(which is its own special subcategory of "superwow") Has everyone seen what Kamla has done? She's posted a list of old Hindi film clips on youtube . The clothes! The sets! The eyeliner! The swirling string section! More than usual they leave me wishing I had started learning Hindi a year ago so that I would already have some idea of what's going on. Subtitles or no, though, they're quite good fun.

Won't they need an exhibit developer to properly display the "Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe" pleather parade?

The other day, a friend in Mumbai mentioned that he had just been to a new pub, the Hard Rock Cafe . Putting aside my confusion at the notion that this restaurant is still opening new branches, the most important question is: does this open the way for an Indian pop culture-themed restaurant chain in the US? Please? 'Cause I'd totally go. I'd even work for them - somebody has to choose the memorabilia, right? I'm pretty sure it's a more bankable idea than those unengaging and somehow totally lifeless Bollywood dolls .

best opening credits ever: Rangeela

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Watching Rangeela gave me a really good idea: write a post using no text other than screen captures of subtitles. But I couldn't quite make it work with this movie, so regular text it is. That said, there are a lot of moments in this movie in which the image on the screen and the subtitle seemed to have been arranged for maximum comic effect, and I'll include a few here and let you make up your own jokes. This, by the way, is the hidden benefit of having to watch Bollywood with subtitles. All you fluent-in-Hindi people - you think you're so smart - miss out on these gems. More on that in a post on Bollywoodbloggers (ich verspreche, Michael!). Also, I want to apologize for what's turning out to be a long list of asides, made-up adjectives, and parenthetical comments - with very little actual text in between items. I can't quite collect my thoughts, but here they are anyway, uncollected. I loved the beginning of Rangeela , going from the sounds of a Mumbai stre

I'm working on my post on Rangeela, but in the meantime...

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ew:

I'm good enough, and I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me, even though I don't understand the appeal of Hera Pheri.

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Clearly, overall, I just don't get it. And that's okay, because I'm not from Maharashtra and I don't speak Hindi and sometimes I respond poorly to wackadoo movies in the languages I do understand. But that's no fun to read, so here are a few things I did get (or at least I think I did), for better or worse. I like when people are willing to be goofy, and this movie had that in spades. Having only seen Tabu in serious roles, and Sunil in fake-pretend serious roles, I was happy to see them being silly here. There's a song teleport to South Africa, and it's rich with...um...well, theme-park exoticization of "other," I guess you'd have to call it. I know that turning people who are different from oneself into caricatures is universal, but I'm strangely comforted to see the evidence that westerners aren't the only people who do it. So get your Gunga Din on and boogie down! You know I love this shirt, especially when you get to see a

oooh, shiny

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It's as though he wants me not to like him. This is horrible, actually, but it was too too funny not to post.

and now for something completely different: SKANKED!

I'm watching my one song DVD, Everybody on the Dance Floor , so that I can better play along with Totally Basmatic's Bollywood Songs DVD Week , and on the fifth song in I have hit my wall for shiny writhing women (or the wall of shiny writhing women, morelike). Blame it on Musafir 's "Saaki." I realize, of course, that I'm not the target market for this imagery, and maybe that's what's jarring for me, because in many ways I feel that Bollywood and I meet each other's needs almost perfectly and I respond so enthusiastically to most of what I watch. Anyway. Yuck. And it's not that I begrude Bollywood its opportunity to attract audiences with shiny women, but it's just not for me. And now "Tumse Milke Dil Ka" is on, so I'm happy again. TB tells me she thinks that if I look hard enough I can find an Akshaye song DVD, so that's officially this week's research project.

I'm going to get disbarred because of this, I can just tell.

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But the truth must be told. I'm watching Hera Pheri and I just don't get it. Neither did Abby. We turned it off at intermission. I'm going to finish it, mainly because there are some people who are going to demand to know my full and informed opinion, and I don't want to let them down. But...yeah, I don't get it. There were a few moments that made me laugh, like when Paresh knocked a roof down on himself, several pairs of Tabu's shoes, from which Sunil wisely runs and to which Tabu shares my reaction, and Akshay's arm-flap/limp-wrist dance in "Jab Bhi Koi Haseena" (please note here that his suit is the same color of the mango margarita I consumed during the first half of this movie) - you'd think he would've dream-sequenced himself a better dance, because if you're going to arm-flap, you should do it like "Woh Ladki Hai Kahan," and even then it's a risk because no song will ever be as good as that, so maybe we shoul