Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Perhaps starring a currently-on-holiday-in-the-states hero?

Graciously forwarded to to me by Si
Date: Tue, 30 May 2006 16:00:27 +0000
Subject: [stationtheatre] Be a Bollywood Actor!

Hey all-
Mongoose Productions is currently working on several Bollywood style short films being shot in and around Champaign Urbana. June 11th we'll be filming a big dance finale on the quad and are looking for dancers and extras. The dances will be taught that afternoon and will be simple enough that anyone can do them. It's a hell of a lot of fun. Call for everyone is at 5:00pm, Sunday, June 11 on the south end of the Quad. Give me a call or email if you're interested so we know an approximate count. Bring your friends and family, we're looking for all ages. Dress: casual and comfortable, women in skirts, preferably ones that move well or flow, men please bring a button down shirt and an under or t-shirt. Dinner and copy will be provided.
Any wagers on precisely how excited I am?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

kabhie gham, kabhi khushi

I got Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon! from the grocery store last week, and it is with great sadness that I report that it is not subtitled. It also has two watermarks on the screen at all times, one that moves around and one that is smack in the center of the screen. Grrr. But I'm watching it anyway, because it looks cool, and it's good to test my powers and see how much I can figure out.

However, one of the many useful lessons of Bollywood is that there is often something funny or heartwarming just around the corner - and there's little a dance number can't cure. So I'm putting on my Bolly-colored glasses because it's my birthday and I refuse to let a lack of subtitles get me down.

Update to post: look what Babasko made me! Truly superwow! And Akshaye, you are enough all on your own. No trinkets required.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Dumb, dumber, and I'd like to say "dumbest," but there's probably a stupider movie out there somewhere, na? Masti

Wow. I did not like this. I had a really hard time getting past the subtle-as-a-brick-to-the-head innuendoes (at what point is something not even an innuendo anymore?) and homophobic jokes (if you must make those, Bollywood, please do not have them delivered by Shatish Shah, and try to not sink lower in the overkill scale than KHNH [neither of these conditions was met here]). Comparing this to the other "wow, I'm such a stupid man that cheating is fun!" movie I've seen makes No Entry look good.

However, this might almost be worth watching just for Ajay Devgan's hilarious tough cop. I haven't seen enough of his movies to know if he's spoofing anything in specific, but whatever he's doing, it's funny. The man even manages to make gum and blond tips look menacing.

This isn't spectacularly bad. It's not even laughably bad. It just wasn't very engaging to me. So I don't think I'll bother much further with a response, except to say I also enjoyed Archana Puran Singh (once Ms. Briganza, always Ms. Briganza), the movie's inventive use of faces on shirts, the really lackluster item dancer, and the mighty strong microphone on Vivek's cell phone.

Asisde to Angie's Tangents: your fake-pretend movie boyfriend is looking fine in this movie.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

39% of all statistics are fake-pretend

Calling Obi Wan and other Bollyknowledgeable types. A clever commenter to my post last week about Akshaye's desires to meet the right person and settle down asks this very interesting question: "how many good betas in the film industry have gone against clan and religion and married a firangi?"

Please post answers here. All in the name of science, of course, as this clearly has no relevance to my own life.

Monday, May 22, 2006

better than a tootsie pop

How many Kevin Bacon-style steps does it take to get from me to Akshaye Khanna? (Or Aamir or Hrithik?)


That's right. All this plotting and fretting, all this daydreaming and mooning around, and it was as easy as pie all along. Turns out one of my favorite penfriends has met all of the above gentlemen. My source remains nameless, as this person is completely loveable and fabulous on their own merits, and I will have no one pestering them for party invites and the like. But still. You'd think it would have come up. (And that it didn't is a testament to the source's independent, individual loveliness.)

Friday, May 19, 2006

What's more shocking: that I sat through this idiot movie or that I don't hate Uday? Dhoom

First let me say I can imagine how this was much more exciting on the big screen than on my tv at home. So I will give it some points for "pure cinema brain candy sugar rush" that my experience of it didn't capture.

Second let me say that, against better judgment, I find myself being not completely annoyed by Uday Chopra. It's not his fault they made him dance with wrenches or glued that bandana to his head (a look pulled off more successfully by Zayed Khan in MHN, of course). What worries me most, though, is that I can remember a time, not too long ago, when I found myself warming to a certain other weird-looking actor against my better judgment - one Shahrukh Khan. So I know great things can come of this feeling. I don't expect this case to be one, but still. I'm startled.

Wait! Where are you going? I'm still the same Beth! Come back!

I am no connoisseuse of action films, and what I don't know about which stunts are and are not possible, or how much they cost to do, or how complicated they are, could fill...a very large container - but what the hell is going on here? For example, in the first chase scene that follows the initial stakeout, with Abhishek on the back of Uday's bike, roaring along after the gang, we see Abhishek's bullet knock one of the bad guys off his bike. He bounces along the road, and John A comes up from behind him with a hand extended, implying he will pull him up on to his bike. Then we cut away to Uday and Abhishek, then back to "John A" (face not visible, of course)'s bike, where we see only the head and shoulders of the injured guy in the final stage of settling on behind the driver. I felt completely denied of what might have been a cool stunt if they had actually done it. Cheap! This could clearly have been done with the injured guy crouching by a still cycle, so his head is about at rider's elbow level, then climbing on, with rider's right arm out to the side to appear to be helping but actually just blocking our view. As you know, I often employ the rewind to get a better look at clothes; here I actually did it for the stunt, at least five times, because I could not quite believe what I hadn't seen. And at the event/concert thingy later, is there any way Abhishek could have kept on moving - and concentrating on firing his gun! - after having that many flames on him? The cop-on-fire thing looked cool, but please. And also, a few moments later when he and Uday are fighting, you see his back, and it shows no trace of having been on fire.

Not to get too nit-picky, but I also wonder if in the first big chase he had any grounds to be shooting at them. Did we see the police issue any warrants for these specific people? Did we even see Abhishek identify himself as police before shooting? Do we care? I know, I know. It's just a movie.

Unconnected points:
  • John Abraham's hair - what a curious length. It seems to be dangerously close to the stage that makes most people look like a mushroom.
  • Why why why does a "supercop" eat at "Pizza Palace"? (Don't say "so that the criminals, who work there, could glare at him and we could serve up some piping-hot delicious irony.") Supercops deserve superbistros.
  • Is Esha Deol in fact talented? I don't see it. I have been informed of her attractiveness, but she could just hold perfectly still and be mute for that, right? I did like the gold spiderweb thingy on her arm during the big dance number.
  • I could listen to Abhishek say "shady" over and over.
  • The criminals have basketball in their hideout. Sweet! More for my theory on basketballs and conflict.
  • World's least-protected casino vault, huh? Since this arc is borrowed from Ocean's 11, why not take some of its enjoyably intricate plotting too?
  • How come the girl criminal didn't get to be in the action sequence? That ticked me off.
  • I don't know how to say this nicely, and maybe I could lobby this charge at many movies, but as stated above, I haven't seen them: cop, gun, boat, semi, barrels of flaming fuel, anchor.
And in honor of our far-flung correspondent Army of Monkeys, who is at this moment in Mumbai, I leave you with


And now Bend It like Beckham is on and I am so incredibly pleased. I haven't watched it since I began watching Bollywood, and I wonder if that will change how I enjoy it. [Pause to watch movie.] Okay good, the movie is still good. And I teared up when she made her...whatever that was, penalty kick?

Monday, May 15, 2006

I'll say this for him - he sure can keep a secret.

Regular readers will know that Akshaye's hope to settle down comes as no surprise. As you can read here, he's a publicity mastermind - our plan is all set up, correlated right here in published print. "Waiting for the right person to come along," say in July, in Mumbai, seemingly from out of nowhere? A mild-mannered educator from nowheresville USA, with no hint of scandal and no ties to the industry, whom he may or may not have encountered on this summer trip to the US? Perfect.

Thanks Michael for the article. Glaubst du ich bin diese Frau?

Aside to new readers: I'm completely kidding. I would never stalk anyone. This is all fake-pretend for the amusement of myself and anyone else who happens to find it funny. If I actually were to spy Akshaye Khanna on the street this summer, I would fall over with surprise without saying a word.

Update to post (May 17, 2006): after reading a few bits and pieces adrift in the Bollyblog universe, apparently I have a competitor for Akshaye's affections. It is yet to be determined whether said competitor is fake-pretend. In the words of one of America's finest cinematic contributions, I say: bring it on. And know that one of my ancestors did kill someone in a duel. I'm not at all violent. But I'm just sayin'.

True-for-real: not even Akshaye is worth conflict with a fellow filmi fan! Plus we'd have to let him choose anyway. You can't force an arm-fling.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

anyone who says Devdas is an idiot is a friend of mine: Bluffmaster

This may be the very finest movie I never knew I was missing until it hip-hopped its way into my heart.

It's fun, it's funny, it's quick, it's interesting, it's got a bit of everything, and it reminds me fo Nine Queens. Love it, love it, love it. Cannot get enough. Great performances. And...well, Abhishek...well, Akshaye seems kinda busy and all...[insert Roy Orbison growl].

things I liked
  • the dad-like doctor. Very much. While I'll never be accused of being spontaneous or wildly led by my heart, I generally appreciate the "live your life so that you're glad you did so" philosophy. I also like that he emphasized living so that it was memorable and valuable, not necessarily big or splashy. Make your life and your choices meaningful. Right on.
  • the doctor said his baby daughter was slimy when she was born
  • Roy said revenge will ruin a person's life.
  • at intermission time, "interval" appeared in the background as they descended in an elevator
  • Chandru wants to write down Roy's good lines. That's why I have my laptop on while I watch these things.
  • "Before the tumor can kill me, your melodrama will!"
  • as previously stated, the soundtrack is superwow. It's officially been played umpteen times in my car on the way to work.

a few things I didn't
  • I hate "at least he doesn't make me cry" as a response to "Yeah, but does he make you laugh like I did?" But I liked Roy's retort that clearly then the replacement boyfriend in question does not move her at all.
  • the subtitles substitued "Brad Pitt" and "Angelina Jolie" in for "Shahrukh Khan" and "Bipasha Basu" - chances are, if I've got Bluffmaster in the DVD player, I know who they are.
  • I'm not completely sure that the following is a fair comment to make, and I haven't gotten it thought out all the way, so don't jump down my throat, but I'm going to say it anyway and maybe edit it later: the one thing that keeps this movie from being a complete success is how it is sometimes clunky in how it changes gears between cool-as-a-cucumber and either emotional or icky. The changes weren't always clunky, but enough of the time that I noticed. I'm thinking particularly of the scenes that involve Chandru harassing (or holding hostage) Simmi. I don't know if there are enough of these to really support my point; but I do know that some of them were awkward, like me trying to drive stick shift - lurchy. Very noticeable in an otherwise slick ride.

  • When Chandru first starts watching Roy and Dittu on the surveillance cameras when they check into his hotel, you see him looking at Roy's forged memo from the Mumbai police about the stolen bank notes. As the camera pans across the memo, you can see a url on the letterhead. I love a good fake url (as has been seen on the Simpsons, for example) so I paused and looked it up. But no. The website of the Mumbai police is actually www.mumbaipolice.com.
  • How is it that Abhishek manages to own the triple-strand turquoise necklace in the very enjoyable end credits?

    Never mind; he totally does. He and the movie have a great rap/hip-hop/pimp parody thing going on there and I fully endorse it.

Aside to my Mumbai-savvy friends: what is the amazing blue-domed building that is in the background as Simmi and Roy are on a balcony and she tells him she has cancelled her engagement and wants to be with him?

to all the superwow in the house

I know I've said this before, but I'll say it again, because that's the kind of girl I am, and plus I was just reminded of it due to a completely unexpected and delightful phonecall from one of you: I am so happy to have met all the wonderful people I have met here. I am grateful for you. And you're all invited to my birthday party in two weeks - we can have a contest to see who can sing "Happy Birthday" worse than Karisma Kapoor.

guilty favorite picturization: "Good Morning India"

I can't get Khushi's "Good Morning India" out of my head. I have long maintained that if I ever got to go to India, I would learn and perform this song, so I guess I best get to it. Someone can help me rewrite any of the Hindi that needs to have its gender flipped. Anyway, since now I actually get to think in a structured way about being in India - which still amazes me and I can hardly believe it's true! - this song gets stuck in my head often. Such as right now. Here's a verse so we can all sing along together (even though I don't know what the non-English bits say really).

It's 6 A.M. I love you mom
I'll have some corn flakes mujhe milega dum
I'll have a shower and a shave
Listen to music - it's gotta be rave*
Put on my jeans and Provogue shirt
Ladki dhoondoonga with a short short skirt
Mere dil mein phool khil rahe hai
Chaand tare din mein khil rahe hai
Pyaar hone ko hai, dil khone ko hai
Oh, good morning India!

Oh, good morning India!
Oh, see you tomorrow, oh darling India!

* This is not what hindilyrix says this is, but I've heard the song a lot and I stand by my interpretation.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

beware of boys

Yesterday I went to see Stick It, the new film brought to you by the makers of Bring It On (spirit fingers, anyone?). Not nearly as quotable, but it did include a bit of Panjabi MC's "Mundiyaan to Bach Ke" - and if there's anywhere I didn't expect to hear filmi music*, it was in a B-grade teen gymnastics movie set in Texas. (No offense to my B-movie-loving friends - and I'm sure Stick It isn't your kind of B anyway.)

* I'm sure it can be argued this isn't filmi music, but I know this song because of listening to film soundtracks, so that's what it is for me. I want no part of music classification debate.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Why yes, my university does have a bhangra team!

On Saturday I went to UIUC Indian Student Association's India Night and it was so incredibly great. Over 200 performers, all students here. Plenty of filmi music, some with dance routines more impressive than whatever accompanied them in their movies. My favorite was a dance-off among four groups: hip-hop, bhangra, filmi, and daandiya raas (that's the one in which pairs of people clack the sticks together, right?). Each team came out and did its thang, and then they decided that they could fuse them all and everybody won.

I really wish I could dance.