Sunday, January 29, 2006

completely unrelated, but - tag!

Rock and roll lifestyle has tagged me to do the nine quartets thingy, but since she put hers on her non-Bollywood blog, I will too. So here it is. It's even less Bollywoody than the last tag I did.

Oh! I have great news! Rang De Basanti is showing at our art theater in February! I was so afraid they weren't going to do any more Indian movies - they hadn't since October - but it looks like the series is back in full force. I'm going to start taking a bit magic marker to the calendar to cross off the days. It's that exciting.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

by geniuses for geniuses

Josh has informed me of bombay tv, a French website that lets you put subtitles on short clips of old Hindi films. This is quite possibly the most fun you can have online. Josh's creation involves replacing someone's coffee with Folger's crystals. Sure to upset many a happy home and a perfectly reasonable reason to exile your son, leave your new wife, etc.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

you deserve a major movie star today

I had forgotten how much I enjoy Bollywood stars' commercials - for example, Aish, Rani, Hrithik, and Aamir frolicking around for Coke and SRK, Saif, Preity, and Kareena for Pepsi. I like that in some of these they're actually acting - pretending to be college students or anonymous writers in an email relationship - so the company gets the recognition of their faces, but they don't always have to say, unimaginitively, "I'm Bollywood's most respected actor and I like xyz product." And even my disbelief suspenders can handle 45-second minifilmi.

These also have the srange appeal of being largely incomprehensible, and I happily drift along in the magical world of universally recognizable stock behaviors and corporate logos. In Aamir's "Piyo Sar Utha Ke," for example, I can tell that some touching and inspiring moments are happening and that Aamir is telling me how they make life special and deserve to be accompanied by Coke, but I have no idea what he's actually saying.

Aside to costume designer - why are you putting him in those terry cloth wristy things? Dignity.

"audiences don't mind the unimaginable"

"Age Doesn't Mater in Bollywood," but I think the quote above, from the bit on SRK in KKHH, says it all. If we like actors, we're much more ready to take them in any role, no matter how absurd. Not completely ready, of course, as every now and then we are collectively repulsed. It would be an interesting study to see how this phenomenon plays out in various cinemas around the world. I'm sure Hollywood does it all the time but I'm having trouble thinking of an example - the things that leap to mind are notable because of the age difference between the male and female leads, not necessarily because of the age of the actor compared to that of his character. I know it's common in tv, when 20somethings regularly play high school studens.

Main Hoon Na of course plays it just right - we get our beloved SRK in the golden plot mine of college, but there's no pretending he's 22. Instead we pretend he's 30, but that's a little easier to swallow with my Lays and Pepsi.

I also have to stick up for my man and wonder why Akshaye, who was born in 1975, is flagged twice for age violation, whereas Salman, ten years his senior, is panned only once - and that for a film made two years before the ridiculous pairing in Lucky. They seem to have it out for his hair - there's no mention of him otherwise looking too old or not being able to act the right age. All of the leads of DCH were far more believable as recent graduates than Salman or SRK.

Aside to costume designers: certain actors would look much less silly as college students if you didn't put them in such insane clothing. Not all college students wear pleather to class, you know.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I finally go to watch Earth. Wow. Just amazing. The thing that really stood out for me, other than how horrible a time and place in history that must have been, is how life can contain chaos and clarity, community and rift, subtle joys and dramatic emotion all at the same time - the contradictions we all contain within mix with those we navigate in the world and other people. Now that I think about it, Deepa Mehta's other movies portray this too, but the differences seemed so harsh here, ranging from ice cream to betrayal in one brief exchange.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

a librarian's work is never done

I have moved my response to AFJ's 8 things tag to my other blog, Pies Men Like, becuase it seemed to be a better fit over there. It has a bit of a Bollywood flavor anyway, though. No matter how I try I cannot contain my love of BW to just this site, despite my attempts at classification.

Speaking of which, I wonder what ths LCSH for this blog would be?
Motion pictures--India--Periodicals
Motion pictures--India--Reviews
Motion pictures--India--Personal narratives

Sunday, January 15, 2006

librarian unleashed

The thought of you lovely readers not being able to quickly identify whether I had written about a particular movie was breaking my inner librarian's heart. So I made you an index, also linked from the sidebar thingy over there on the right. I promise to update it as much as possible.

Also, the college competition sign index has been updated with KKHH.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

lunchtime poll #2: Bollywood and your emotional self

Alright, even though the last time I posed a poll question the results were few, I'm going to try again, because I'm very curious.

Here's the question*: as Bollywood watchers, do you feel that Bollywood - its conventions, devices, vocabulary, and/or the behaviors of characters - affects the way you consider, manager, and/or respond to your own emotions?

I think the easiest example of what I'm talking about is how you deal with other people - you find yourself giving into the temptation to overromanticize things, to view interpersonal relationships as either a true match or a true evil, to make things bigger and simpler than they really are, to find big meaning in actions or words that are really more nuanced and more contextualized than they are sweeping. Or, just more broadly, you think that life will work the way it does in Bollywood.

In other words - do you find yourself wearing Bollywood-colored glasses? My answer, pretty obviously, is "heck yeah!"

* Apologies to the few people I've already emailed the poll question to individually. Your responses inspired me to open up the survey!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

This is India's funniest movie? Andaz Apna Apna

It's a strange feeling when you find yourself disagreeing vehemently with web posts by people you don't know and will never meet, such as the opinion expressed by someone about this movie on imdb; it's a less strange but still puzzling thing to find yourself once again going "Huh?" when told that a certain movie is a don't-miss, perhaps one of a country's finest.

Keeping the advice of Thumper, at least to start with, I'll say something nice. I genuinely enjoyed seeing Aamir Khan go to ridiculous lengths for ridiculous bits. I was grateful for his dance moves, especially the arm-fling on top of the bus. (Not quite as good as SRK's in Dil Se, of course, but that's a train, so there's no comparison.) The opening sequence with Juhi, Govinda, and name-dropping was truly inspired - I can't tell you why it was so much funnier than the movie industry jokes in the Karisma-Abhishek mess a few films back, but it was. Trust me. I also like a good tongue-in-cheek hair-flip, and Juhi made me proud.

Regarding the plot, I have nothing to say that you can't observe for yourself just as easily. If you haven't seen the movie, just know it's a wacky scheme done wackily. I warned you.

Now. I am limiting myself to just three negatives. With great glee I put this disc in my computer to get screen captures, and once I started it was hard to know where to stop. These are the three that made the cut - not only because they are funny, but also because I think the picture can really help my point. Some things, like a squad of armed goons standing around during the end fight, or a mad scramble for diamonds, or voiceovers narrating our protagonists' assessment of each other's lies, cannot be done justice in stills.

Regular readers know how I do enjoy the mid-1990s fashions of Bollywood, and poor Karisma Kapoor seems to get caught in lots of them. Here she is sporting...I don't know what this is - and it could use a good name, if anyone can come up with one. Black mock turtleneck, long sleeves, with suspenders, frayed white daisy dukes, and black tights with a stripe up the side? With those crappy dollar store metal circle earrings, whose white paint is going to chip off at any second, and boots, I think? I read somewhere that Karisma and Raveena ended up being archrivals, and I like to think that these outfits resulted from Raveena slipping the costume designer something to make it work out in her favor - she has some bad outfits, but they're just sort of Dynasty-excess bad, not genuine crimes against fashion. It's like Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall ten years early.

Next up: Karisma's hair. Raveena's face here says it all, but, to be fair, Karisma's expression mirrors my own to some of Raveena's dos (even this one, scrunchy and all), so it all comes out even, as another childhood favorite cartoon animal would say (Frances the badger, whom no one else ever remembers). But as with clothes, Raveena gets glam or vampy insane hair, where poor Karisma gets dorky twin french braids or claw bangs. My credentials on this front - I come from a small town in central Illinois and was in junior high and high school in the late 1980s and early 1990s - are beyond reproach. I know from big bangs.

And, finally, Crime Master Gogo (Shakti Kapoor) and Prem (Salman) demonstrate how to fight by...thrusting. Yes. I don't think I'm the type to find sex everywhere I look (unless distracted by an exceptionally professorial elbow-patch jacket), but this was really odd.

Aside to Salman: thank you for keeping your clothes on. And for sporting such a very, very choice mullet. Who'd have thunk it - eleven years later, here you are, getting hair implants. How time and shirts fly....