Wednesday, August 30, 2006

KANK it ain't

This is not nearly as exciting as Totally Basmatic's on-set adventures, nor do I have my picture taken with the same caliber of star, but it's all I've got, so here you go. Here is a preview for Mongoose Production's Pagal Dil, the Bollywood-ish movie I was an extra in in June. At 00:43 is a snippet of the big dance number; I watched it three times and can't see myself anywhere (I'd be on the left side of the screen and am wearing a pink sweater and black skirt). My university quad looks pretty, though, and you get a peep at of my favorite lunch spots as well. You may notice that the movie title is translated as "crazy love." Is that right? Does "dil" ever mean "love"?

Aside: how many posts am I going to make with KANK in their title? I haven't even seen it. Geeze.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

They made a show just for me!

Things I love or that otherwise resonate with me (presented here in chronological order):
1) plot lines involving girls who fall for gay boys
2) teen dramas on tv
3) Canada, specifically Toronto
4) Bollywood

So when I recently got hooked on Degrassi: The Next Generation - I didn't often watch the original, but the new one is gooooooood - imagine my squealing delight when the chair of the junior semiformal dance committee, Marco, announced the theme of this year's dance:

In his words, "It's themed on those movie musicals from India, so hot right now!" It's even consistent with his character; earlier on this DVD he goes to see Pather Panchali. Do you think he might also be the aforementioned gay character, and that the girl in the poster with him is the long-suffering beard? Well done! To be fair, said girl is over him this season and dates...well, Lite Maple Syrup Eminem, basically, but they seem to really like each other, so who am I to judge? This being Degrassi, nothing goes quite as planned, and the spanner in the works is a fire in the gym (which Melina, who hooked me on this, says in an homage to an episode from the original series - I love a good in-joke, even if I don't get it).

One of the things I like about this is that whoever designed the set did a good job making it look raelistically like a high school gym attempting a theme that no one except the committee chair really understands. Mysteriously there are no South Asians in the Degrassi Community School; having spent two years in Toronto, I can tell you the odds of this are slim, but whatever, eh? It looks like the kids bought a few things from the shops in the Indian neighborhood, draped some fabric, and used that fun Samarkan font as much as they could. I can imagine them on the streetcar, rummaging through Kensington Market and and the garment district, giggling and bumping into things with their overflowing backpacks. During my years in Toronto I lived in an Oxford-style residence college for graduate students, and we had a social committee and themed parties all the time (including a Christmas gaudy and a postmodern party), and that's about what we would have done. (We also would have added in some snooty-patooty references to trivia or famous scenes or directors or something, since we were in an elitist graduate college, but still.

One teeny quibble. The fellow on the left here was responsible for ordering outfits for the big night, and there was a snafu. He says he ordered two kurtas and two saris but got one kurta and three saris, one of which he then has to put on. How many saris do you see in this picture? Shoddy work, guys. That's easy to look up.

Still, I loved it. It was great. And I would gladly trade it for either of my prom themes - "Wonderful Tonight" and, even though it was 1992, "Open Arms."

Monday, August 28, 2006

B(eth)L(oves)B(ollywood) L(oves) B(ebo)

Dear Times of India:

Thank you for the highly entertaining list of ten sexiest dancers in Bollywood. But please stop implying that Kareena Kapoor is fat. She's obviously incredibly fit, as are all the young women I've seen parading across India's screens. Because I want to avoid being strident or full of platitudes, I will just say this: believe it or not, when you say things like that, real damage can be done to women's mental and physical well-being (heck, maybe men's too, I don't know), and with every iteration by every media outlet, it gets worse, and I am unbelievably tired of seeing my sister-friends wounded by this sort of thing. So just knock it off.

And for the record, I have no quibble with your choice for number one. Well done.

Beth Loves Bollywood

Aside to Kareena: I really do. I love you. I may not always agree with you, and I may feel compelled to shine a bit of cold, hard light of "please stop screeching" on your performances here and there, but the love is there. For real.

Second aside to Kareena: I truly like Khushi.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

C'mon, the other two guys from DCH sell all sorts of crap!

Finally. If you want to see my movie-related pictures from India, go here. There are many, many of them. They're mostly of movie posters or ads featuring movie stars. No Akshaye, though. Not a one. I think I have one Akshaye-related photo. I'll tell myself his lack of advertising contracts is because he has principles, but I doubt that's actually the reason. Notation is minimal and in process. I keep saying I'm going to make some grand captioned posts but...yeah, well, there's a lot going on these days, so not yet.

I also have a magazine with a really elaborate Aamir Khan ad for cars, in which he is posing as various people - or maybe the same person in different outfits? - using the car - as businessman, as happy family man, etc. I should scan that. When you come from a culture in which the biggest movie stars do not lend their visual image to advertisements in the country, it's a little jarring to see your much-beloved filmi friends selling stuff. My initial reaction was "how tacky!" but I don't know why I thought that; anyway, I got over it and was delighted at how often I saw familiar faces.

On an unrelated note: do you ever have moments that are just so very happy, so truly, wholeheartedly happy, that the only possible means of expressing them are Bollywoody? They don't have to be huge, complex, life-changing things; they can be small things, but their impact is pure goodness. It may be tempting fate to say so, but somehow two such joys came my way yesterday, both unexpectedly. I suppose I might be accused of being too excitable, but this (and you have to imagine the high-pitched squeal that he does in this scene)

is how I felt. (I know I just used this one, but since my hard drive was replaced in June, I don't have any better pictures of glee - and this one is quite good.) Some things can only be described as superwow, you know?

Update, Sunday, August 27: and an 11:00 a.m. showing of KANK on September 16 makes three, three little superwows in as many days! Bollytastic!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Reading "Bollywood": The Young Audience and Hindi Films

by Shakuntala Banaji

Has anyone read this?

I have half a dozen unread books on Indian cinema scattered around my house, including the completely wonderful-looking Lights Camera Masala, snagged at the just-as-wonderful Gangarams in Bangalore. The university's library has dozens more, many of which I have checked out, stared at, and then returned because I was unwilling to engage in academic-ese frippery. Newly energized for reading, maybe I'll get cracking on them, finally. I have to be in just the right place for nonfiction, even if it is superwow nonfiction.

And some good news: the local art theater is going to show KANK in September. On the same night as the Indian Student Association is giving bhangra lessons. And the same night I have to work a fundraiser auction for the museum. Bunking work for KANK would be fun but I certainly don't want to risk kanking my coworkers. Here's hoping for an afternoon show too.

As I write this, "Madhorama Pencha" from Monsoon Wedding is on my itunes and I'm thinking about how one of my very bestest friends is about to get married, and while I don't know if she'll actually let me give her mehendi - which, let's face it, would be foolish on her part - I know that the days leading up to the wedding, and the day itself, are going to be as much fun as I always imagine the women in that story are having. I don't need something as dramatic as a wedding to gather my girlfriends together and hang out and sing and eat and laugh, and we actually do that all the time, but I'll certainly take any occasion that comes. Shava!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Balle balle!

I wish I could remember what song was playing when this picture was taken. What's funny about this is that Rajan looks completely calm and collected, whereas I am pink-cheeked (shall we blame the stage lights or the Kingfisher?) and bewildered (but having a wonderful time), which is not at all a bad summary of much of the trip. Now, obviously this is not at all a flattering picture, but I'm postoing it because 1) maybe this will sate Michael and Babasko, who wanted footage of me dancing as an extra in a Bollywood-style number in a local independent film, and 2) it was a superwow evening that truly should be documented.

Monday, August 21, 2006

what this movie needs is some foreshadowing: Muqaddar Ka Sikandar

One afternoon in Kovalam, I stumbled across a veeeery intense scene with the Big B and my FPMFIL (that's fake-pretend movie father-in-law - keep up, will you?). What in the name of thunderclaps was this drama overload, I wondered? So I called up one of my filmy informants, who told me (in an impressively short amount of time, I might add - as soon as I said "Amitabh and Vinod Khanna," he knew) it was Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.

Frivolity first: who is the sexier father-son pair: Amitabh and Abhishek, or Vinod and Akshaye (or Rahul, let's not forget Rahul)? Seriously, that's a tough call. Votes welcome. This was my first Vinod Khanna movie and I thought he was really cool and fun to watch, like he was having a good time with his role and just generally enjoying himself - and totally owning his tight white pants.

Muqaddar Ka Sikandar gets the prize for First Movie to Show the Gateway of India since Beth Saw It Herself, and that was very satisfying in a way I can't quite explain. In fact, this is the first movie I've seen to feature footage of any part of India that I got to visit (36 China Town didn't show anything I recognized except perhaps the airport in Mumbai, but I wasn't sure, and frankly all the airports began to blur together, except Trivandrum's, which had light-up palm trees in the waiting area). So it had that extra excitement level of "I really truly do recognize that and not just because I've seen it in a movie! I was there! I sat there one lovely evening, staring at the sea and feeling really happy!" Other little details felt a lot more real, too, now that I know more about them. I understood "nimbu pani" in dialogue and I can even picture it, taste it. Sikander's living room very much reminds me of a Kolkata apartment I visited. Things like that. It was really cool.

For me this movie walked a really fine line between enjoyable Bollywood emotional-but-not-too-muchso goodness and trauma-drama-o-rama. That's a delicate balance, and there were moments when I thought it was going to tip over, but then most of those turned out to be dream sequences. The beginning - when Sikandar is a kid - was really rough, I thought, but it got going there, kicked into action with the great scene of Sikandar pulling up to the crossroads on his bike, watching the funeral procession, and seeing Kamna and Vishal. Good fun.

[Spoilers ahead! Read at your own risk.]

Now for the usual list of little things. Lots of little things, including some fun quotes.
  • "I'm drowned so badly that the one sympathizing with me will also get drowned."
  • I really wish a Hindi-speaker had been with me to translate all of Amitabh's commentary during the fight in the bar. It somehow reminded me of Jason Bateman in Dodgeball (even though I can't imagine he was talking about pumpkins, Cotton).
  • Amitabh's "I'm drunk" style of speaking sounds just like it does in B&B.
  • Awesome Egypt-themed bad-guy hangout. Also with fake tunnel effect.
  • "It's just me, my loneliness, and I wait for you only."
  • "I may writhe myself to death for you, but it matters not to you if I'm alive or dead." Now if anyone can write herself to death, surely it's Rekha.
  • Sikandar's endearing stumbling attempts at hospitality
  • Have we learned nothing about how you shouldn't get someone else to write your love letters for you? Or any kind of letter, for that matter? Write your own love letters and sign your real name, probably both first and last to avoid confusion. We've been over this, people! Honestly.
  • I love Vishal's wide-eyed earnestness and affections. He's puppy-like in an incredibly attractive way. It helps that he's smart, of course. And that he is willing to share and act on his feelings. Unlike some people we could mention. But trying to buy off Zohra was kind of skeezy. Just because she's a prostitute doesn't mean that everything about her is for sale. Which I'm sure is the point she's making.
  • Father-son bubble song comparison! Sweet! "Dil To Hai Dil" vs. Dil Chahta Hai's "Kaisi Hai Yeh Rut." I've always wanted to blame this song on something, and now I have a suspect.

  • "The heart is so impish."
  • Those are some really tight pants our heros are sporting.
  • Vinshal's shriek of excitement upon hearing the success of his first letter.

  • Who's in all the movie posters in the background of the street scenes? Let's investigate. When Vishal goes to confront Zohra, we see Khel Khiladi Ka and (I think) Ram Bharose (also with Rekha and Amjad Khan, both of which were out in 1977, so totally appropriate (if not in fact just true, if they did film this on a street somewhere). In fact, we see this very poster
    but with the title in roman characters at the top instead of Hindi. (Side note: some, but not all, websites I found spelled this "Khiladi," but on the movie poster in the movie, we see it as "Khilari." Who wants to explain this to me? Is this the same phenomenon in transliterating Hindi into English that gives us "ladki" but sometimes "lardki"?)
  • Oh, they're playing a version that Barry White song from Ally McBeal, the one characters would think as they were trying to rev themselves up for romantic intrigue, often in front of the mirror in the unisex bathroom. You know the one. Anyway, this is one of those times in Bollywood when I'm not sure if they're meaning to make a new version of a song, or if they've tried to make a different song inspired by the first song. Like in Disco Dancer, that's clearly influenced by "Video Killed the Radio Star," but you can't really call it a remake. Anyway.
  • The hotel the three go into - this too makes a lot more sense now that I've been in the Mohan International, Amritsar, probably built deluxe in the 70s. And yes, that is a candle in the shape of a sad, downturned face with wax-drip hair.

  • I love the lightning flashing, light-up hearts blinking. Tacky as they are, they're a great underscore to seeing your best friend with the love of your life. Sometimes you don't need to drink - the blinking hearts and the weirdly-hairstyled backup dancers will do the trick just fine.

  • See? This is what happens when you withhold information from your friends. You end up shooting them.
  • When Vishal drops Kaamna off but then knocks again and goes around the door to kiss her? That is totally hot. Yet sweet. Deadly combo.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

slow photo boat to India

(What? Does that even make sense? No? Well, I'm tired, okay? And I haven't had any coffee all day.) Finally, my photo album for India. [For whatever reason, these appear in reverse chronological order in each album (or in the slideshow or film loop thingy) - so if you want to see things as I took them, start on the last page of each album and go forward. No idea.] I had over 1,000 pictures, so these are just my favorites. Rather, they are my favorites that do not need me telling you what they are in order to be appreciated. These are my self-guided favorites. I'm going to make a whole separate album for the movie-related pictures, as there are quite a few of those.

Meanwhile, my friend Kamla today said she thought India has high emotional productivity, and that really struck me as a very clever and insightful thing to say. I'm sure I'm not qualified to talk about the country as a whole, but I'd certainly agree with that statement as it applies to movies. Which is one reason I love them so.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

wow: Being Cyrus

What isn't to like about this movie? Everything about this movie is really, really good. It's smart. It's funny. It's weird. It sounds fantastic. It has funky plot twists. It lets you feel confused - maybe even conflicted - about characters who are complex and engaging. The acting is nuanced, engaging, fun. And let's just come out with it: as one of my friends said, Saif is a rockstar in this movie. It's so incredibly good and interesting that I have nothing else to say.

Except: Saif? Damn. Dimple sure knows how to pick 'em, doesn't she? Maybe she gives lessons.

Monday, August 14, 2006

happy Indian Independence Day yo!

Detail of a truck somewhere in West Bengal.

It sure is great! And yes, this is a smidge early by my clock, but it's Indian Independence Day somewhere in the world - like, in India! And while I can't think of a tidy way to tie Indian Independence Day with Bollywood, it just seems really gauche not to wish the country that has produced so much of superwow.

Aside to grammar-loving people: from what I gather, it is perfectly acceptable in Indian English to use "wish" like that, with no object. Fun, huh?

So much of kanked!

Loving the mixed reports on KANK and still undecided as to whether a 6-hour (total) car trip in suburban Chicago traffic is worth it. Abby said we could justify the drive by seeing all four of the Hindi films playing at that theater. What say you, readers: is at least 12 hours in a movie theater too much, even if spent on KANK, Omkara, Anthony Kaun Hai?, and Golmaal?

Also loving the acceptance of "kank"/"kanked" as words, even if there seems to be some disagreement on what they should mean exactly. But language is a dynamic medium, changing with needs of expression, etc. Pip pip.

Friday, August 11, 2006

collaborative-ish project #1: Army of Monkeys gets off the sofa and Disco Dance[s]

I meant to direct attention to this ages ago, and you've probably already seen it anyway, but just in case: a few months ago, it came to light that my friend Steve over at Army of Monkeys had never even heard of Disco Dancer, a problem that surely needed to be addressed, so I sent him mine. He did a full-on AoM-style article on it - with video clips too! He also gave me space to explain why I had inflicted the movie on him, so you can read that too.

Basically, he was all "I can handle frighteningly bad Bollywood films," which seemed to me to smack of hubris. He and I like very different kinds of bad movies, though, so I wasn't sure I had anything to counter his claim. But then I remembered Disco Dancer. So I tossed it out. And he knew nothing about it. So a project was born.

I believe part of our arrangement was that I'll have to watch Jaani Dushman sometime soon. Unless I'm conveniently out of the country again...any invitations? Please?

Two Disco Dancer-related notes:
1) When I asked Rajan if he had seen DD, he immediately started doing one of Sam's moves from the "Bang Bang" song. It was great.
2) One of the things I love in DD is the fight scene in which people go flying into stacks of bricks, stacks which seem to exist solely to be knocked over in the fight, preferably by the trajectory of a bad guy. AoM has a clip here, if you don't remember. But lo! In the several days I spent in Punjab and Gujurat, I saw lots of seemingly random piles of bricks! All over the place! So while they may, in the movie, serve the purpose of being scattered under the heavy blow of our hero, they also are something you see by the side of the road in parts of rural India! Although maybe all the ones I saw were also there only to be knocked over, but I wasn't out of the cities at night, so I didn't actually see the fights. So if you're ever in India and hear a distant snapping....

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Aap Ki Khatir bits and bobs

We've all seen him with better hair, but he really does look happy, so that's all that matters na?

The outfit is a step up from the last music launch photos I saw, although the tshirt under the nice button-down is superfluous, and I'm so over the strategically distressed denim. So overall, upgrade!

And let's look at this, which is even better:

The best part of this is the sweater. I love sweaters, which is why it's probably best I didn't run into Akshaye in Mumbai after all, since you would have to be crazy to wear a sweater in Mumbai in July. Forget spring; fall is romantic, with its cool air and warm sun and crunchy leaves and bright, appley scent.

I'm listening to the soundtrack and am completely underwhelmed and it sounds way too much like everything else I associate with Himmesh Reshammiya, especially him going "oooh" or "ohhhh." The acoustic with a dash of Akshaye in it is a little different, but I can't say I actually like it. Of course, knowing what sweet nothings he's whispering would help a lot; as is, I'm not remotely weak in the knees. I'll just stare at the sweater photo instead. Thanks to Raaga (as usual) for playing the soundtrack.

First "psyched," then "geeked," now "kanked."

Dibs on using KANK as a verb! Doesn't it sound liked "crank" and therefore should mean "geared up, wound up, excited"? Try it out. And ten points to whomever best uses it in their review of the movie tomorrow.

I spent my morning drive to work thinking about my excitement level for KANK. It is minimal, even with the onslaught of gorgeous visuals (and Abhishek - SRK looks gaunt and drawn) in the previews and the chance to see TB on the big screen, partly because I have no idea if I'm going to get to see it any time soon; the local group that organizes screenings of new Hindi films has been silent so far, so I'm assuming I'll have to wait for DVD (or haul my sorry self up to Chicago, which I might do if Abby or Si want to [and a hearty welcome back to both!]). But it's also because I have a really complicated relationship with Karan Johar - I know, you thought things with Akshaye were tricky! Of course I love KKHH, but I find K3G bloated and manipulative (although with pretty moments, to be sure) - I completely don't get its appeal, and it's one of those times when I feel like I've watched a completely different movie than everyone else has - and KHNH ridiculous and manipulative (although with pretty and very funny moments, to be sure, and some fine songs). With that one, the more I watch it, the less I like it, which might be true of K3G too if I ever put the DVD back in, which I don't.

Basically I feel that the people in K3G and KHNH make really stupid choices and I have a hard time putting up with their histrionics given that so much of their suffering is entirely self-caused. No doubt this is true of predicaments of other characters in other movies, but KJ seems to get such accolades that I feel someone needs to shine the torch of "can't you people see through your wadded-up kleenex and realize what this man is doing?!?" on his work. If his movies were seen for what they are only - emotionally manipulative, visually pretty - that would be fine with me, because there is room in the world of movies, especially Hindi movies, for beautiful emotional roller coasters. But that's about all I'm willing to cede him.

So anyway, I am not kanked for KANK. (Or maybe I should change the meaning of the word to be "repulsed" or at least "nonplused," but there's something about the "-ank" sound that to me smacks of an extreme feeling.) But maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. I already have an unexpected soft spot for "Where's the Party Tonight" because it was on tv all the time while I was in India, and Rajan would walk up to me singing it at least once a day, and I would have to come up with a different answer every time. On the day we left for the airport, I said it was somewhere down the road. Sniff. At the very least, I can picture Rajan waiting in line to see it tomorrow night, somewhere in Delhi, free of his childish, childlike American charges, out with his friends, loving SRK and Rani, and that makes me really happy, and I can always be kanked for Rajan.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

in which Akshaye gets to scowl at Johny Lever and Kareena in ways I've only dared dream of: the rest of 36 China Town

Warning: this post may very well veer from snarky into mean. I'm sorry. I could make excuses, but basically it's boiling down to me being really tired. But c'mon, if you've seen this, you know - there's a lot in here to make fun of, and I'm just gonna call it like I see it.

Also, I added some pictures to my first post on this movie.

I don't know what to make of this. I've wanted to see it for months and it's neither exactly what nor as good as I was expecting, but it certainly didn't stink. There wasn't as much emphasis on a real mystery as I thought there would be, and it also wasn't quite as slapstick/wackadoo as it might have been (it had far less frantic running around than, for example, Hungama, thank goodness). I guess that's what happens with masala sometimes: you get so much of so many things that no one flavor stands out? I don't know, like I said, it wasn't bad, but I'm not sure what it was.

Even Akshaye's performance was a little puzzling to me - he played the tough-ish cop with a wry-ish smile, but not in any memorable sort of way. Everything was -ish - even his wardrobe fluctuated between 20s suit-y and white-blazer-and-jeans Miami Vice-y. He didn't quite play it fully tongue-in-cheek, but he clearly wasn't entirely serious either. I kept hoping he'd channel Amitabh from Bunty aur Babli and give us something to really giggle at, but he didn't. Again, nothing stinky, but nothing great. Oh, but...

is it hot in here, or is it just him?

Overall, the mystery was not compelling, but that didn't really bother me and I happily took in whatever good bits came across the screen. I give the whole movie a B for timepass value and will try to note the really standout moments.

Let's talk clothing. Mostly I thought things were per usual in this film - it had its share of sequined-bikini-top-as-actual-top and colored suits, but nothing beyond the ordinary. Upen had some good suits (he'd better, for pete's sake), and when the movie veered into fedora-land, that looked pretty slick. As mentioned in my earlier post, I had some problems with the costumes in "Aa Aa Aashiqui Mein Teri," which is a damn catchy song. So let's take a look. First, we have this pointless character, here in a skin-tight jumpsuit with fried two-tone hair,

committing the very grand no-no of really short boots with a knee-length skirt.

This is a bad, choppy thing to do to a person. I was raised to believe that the hem of a skirt should graze the top of the boot, and I stand by it. The line is all off and it somehow looks like she has on men's dress socks with her heels and has yanked the socks up. I will admit that I would have found something to dislike on this person no matter what, because she served no purpose at all - not interesting, not a good dancer, not eye candy, and no plot development/furtherment. All she does is help us realize that Rocky will make a pass at anything, but there's no particular need to hurry that idea along, adequately covered later as it is. She took up screen time that could have been Akshaye's! The nerve! Okay, and then the next bad fashion thing is

the black leotard/giant red pants ensemble. Check out the male dancer left of Upen for some tell-tale skin - and white socks with his black shoes! Baaad. And then wonder what in the world happened that the guy on the far right got to wear...fur-topped ankle boots? I don't know what's going on here at all, and I don't like it one little bit. Otherwise, though, this song is great. And as previously stated, "24 x 7" is a new favorite and I love everything about it. The other songs were enh.

Somehow through the course of this movie I have come to terms with Shahid Kapoor. Was it because he was less annoying than Johny and Tanaaz (sorry girl, probably not entirely your fault, but yikes - and if I get to be annoyed at Johny, then you are guilty too), or was he genuinely good? Obi Wan says he thinks Shahid generally tries too hard to be Shahrukh, and I can see what he means, because there's something very SRK-y to me about his eager shining eyes and floppy hair. I haven't liked him at all in the bits of other stuff I've seen him do, but here I genuinely enjoyed him. And he's a good dancer, right? I had to watch this pilot sequence over and over for the fancy hopping and spinning.

And Kareena too behaves herself nicely. I think it might be fun to be these two, getting to work together and just dancing their little ol' hearts out. More power to 'em.

(Wow, how jet-lagged am I?)

you'd think I'd like this, but no

I just heard the BBC Film Cafe interview with the inventor of Bollywood Legends dolls so of course I had to find a picture. As a museum person, I really do understand the urge to have physical reminders of things you hold dear, but for whatever reason, probably because they don't really look very accurate, I find these really unappealing. What say the rest of you?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Monday, August 07, 2006

as far as I let-jaggedly made it through 36 China Town

(And yes, I'll definitely finish it.)

I am so out of it. I've been awake since 4 this morning and have somehow stumbled through the day with the single goal of not going to sleep again until a normal-ish bedtime. Mucho thanks to the co-workers who welcomed me back with open arms only to see me stagger out at noon. So I spent some time, as I was able to concentrate on anything, watching bits of my new DVD. I played with some of the extra features and made it through "24 x 7 I Think of You," which, by the way, I love way more than I should, and the picturization makes me love it even more, and I've learned a few of the moves, so look out. Anyway, here are my thoughts on what I've seen so far.
  • You might remember this ensemble (cough) and think, as I did, "Well, at least I'll never see him in that again." Wrong. It pops up in some of the interview/making-of footage, I do sincerely hope shot at the same event as the unfortunate photo. You didn't wear that more than once, did you, hon? (Akshaye was quite taken with American slang while on his visit this summer. "Hon" is the name of choice these days. I have reminded him that midwesterners don't really say that, and it's more of a southern thing, but he said it was either that or "shuuuug" said with a drawl, so "hon" it is.)
  • Largely because of "24 x 7 I Think of You" but admittedly also because of the shenanigans leading up to it, Shahid Kapoor is growing on me. And I am enjoying Kareena so far too - no screeching (yet). And they've made her look normal, which helps a lot. There's a little segment of that song when they're dressed as royalty that she is just stunning - that girl can rock heavy eyeliner like nobody's business.

  • I bought this DVD at an honest-to-goodness movie store, not some random guy on the street, and the box is all fancy with frippery inserts and cutouts (that's for you, Keith), but I'm still worried that I bought a pirated or otherwise not-up-to-snuff copy because the music is off from the visuals in the songs. This always drives me crazy - not as much as subtitle lag, but still. How would I figure out which company released the official version? Or is there even such a thing? V confusing.
  • Error alert! When Kareena first discovers the baby, the newspaper she's reading has a headline that says "2-year-old baby missing," but when she reads it out loud, the subtitles say "1-year-old baby missing." I rewound several times and cannot tell what she actually says.
  • The actor who plays the servant Lobo scares the beejeezus out of me. He is one of the strangest looking people I have ever seen.
  • Tanaaz Currim! Tanaaz Currim! With the unfortunate luck of being married to Johny Lever, but still! Yay!
  • Various Upen Patel-related thoughts: 1) did he do his own speaking? Because the voice coming out of him does not sound like I remember him on the BBC Film Cafe interview, but I could have forgotten. It sounds like early SRK to me, the higher-pitched, wavery SRK, remember that? 2) can he dance? Clearly he can pose, but I'm not sure how good he is at the getting from one pose to the next. 3) This isn't relevant to anything, but I know someone's going to ask me why I didn't rave about his fine self, so I will just say I do not find him fine at all, I find him frightening - which I know will come as a great relief to all the men out there who are less muscley than Upen Patel who were wondering how I felt about such matters. line starts at the bottom of the steps. Bring coffee.
  • That first song has some bad costumes in it. Actually, just one that sticks out, but it sticks waaaay out: the tight black tops with giant red dot and then giant red pants with giant yin yan on the left leg. Does anyone else want to call them palazzo pants? I'm not really sure of the exact definition of palazzo pants but these seem like they might do. As you can tell by my repeated use of the word "giant," this ensemble assaults my sense of scale and proporiton. Also, one of the male dancers in the front has his giant pants a little low, so we can see that the black top is in fact a leotard, giving us a flash of hip under the leg hole of the black thing. Choice. But I'm glad men are now getting equal opportunity to show off their back- and side-bacon due to low-ride pants. Not that the dancer had any bacon. And yes, I will do some screen shots, but I'm waiting to get to the part where Akshaye is.
  • Shahid's "showreel" song is crap, right? Both the music and the picturization? But it's supposed to be, right? He's supposed to be a starry-eyed overenthusiastic wannabe who has a ridiculous tape, right?

More to come. Now to sleep.

Update to post (August 9, 2006): thanks indiafm for telling me that Lobo

is played by Dinyar Contractor, who was in Baadshah, among a few other things I've seen. imdb doesn't list him for this movie, which is odd, given the givens.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

oh, now I get it

Psssst. I have something to tell you. I don't know if it's a secret, technically, although certainly nobody told me, and I had to discover it on my own (although there's little I like more than stumbling across something really interesting, so that's totally okay). Here it is: men's Bollywood costumes make a whole lot more sense once you have seen what some people in India actually wear. It's true!

Not everyone dresses like Govinda, to be sure; but as someone pointed out, even if only one percent of the population is wearing filmy clothes, that's still 11,000,000 people - many of whom were outside and spottable from the bus window.

I saw orange cargo pants and funny hats and insane shirts - including one in a store just outside our hotel in Kolkata that I wanted to hand to Salman right away (only after ripping the sleeves off a bit, of course) (a red button-down with rainbow-striped sleeves, in case you were wondering - he'd wear it with most of the buttons undone, I'm sure, and the sleeves would be detached at the top of the shoulder and frayed - niiiiice). The place I first noticed this kind of thing, oddly, was walking towards the Lotus Temple in Delhi - I guess that's as good a place for a parade of fashion as any - and at one point it just hit me: "Wow, this must be where much of the world's acid-washed denim ended up. Huh."

Of course I'll try to illustrate my point with photos, after I go through them all. But just know this. I have an expression that my friend Melina calls "turn the dial." I use it to describe how thing A is very similar but just a little off from thing B - like when radios had knobs instead of digital tuners, and you could hear a song, faintly or static-ly, and you had to turn the dial in teensy increments to get it just so. It's like that. If you turn the dial on some of the things I saw on Indian men, you'd get some of what you see in Bollywood. It's not everyone, and it's not all the time, and it's certainly not like I saw anyone actually walking around in blue strappy pleather (yes, Shahid, I'm talkin' to you), but there were definitely things in that general range.

I should probably also note that I suspect I could find a sampling of Bollywoodesque clothes at my city's gay bar, or on some of the less disciriminating European tourists (like the German-sounding guy on the elevator with me in Mumbai who had thoughtfully worn red underwear with his white trousers and then sat down on a wet recliner by the pool) (sorry for all the stereotypes going on here. But stereotypes have to start somewhere, and you know what I mean), but that isn't nearly so interesting as seeing the creatures in their natural habitat, now is it?

just plain wrong

If I hadn't already been warned by Obi Wan of this phenomenon, I would have dropped my bowl of ice cream when, happily settling in to watch the songs on my new DVD of 36 China Town, a loud preview burst on the screen for...wait for it...WWE wrestling. In Hindi. If I understood correctly, you can buy WWE DVDs in Hindi. Now, I'm all for equal access and all, but why does everyone seem to be dazzled by the very stupidest American popular culture has to offer? Maybe Arrested Development has also been dubbed into Hindi, I don't know. Hope springs eternal. Until it is bodyslammed on the mat Yeah, well, I woke up at 4 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep until after 6, so you'll please excuse me and can submit your own end of that metaphor.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

the lieblingest

Readjusting to life outside five-star hotels is a little rough so far - yes, I know how ridiculous this sounds, but you'd be surprised how quickly you can get used to it; besides, there's no fresh jasmine on my dining room table and last time I checked no one had come by to make my bed and put a card with a sleep-related quote by Keats on my pillow - but Michael is really easing the transition.

Also, somehow while I was away I missed reading about what is surely going to be my new favorite song. Thanks again, Michael.



[modified cross-post from Beth Goes to India]

So much of happiness to settle into my seat on the Delhi-Chicago flight and see in the entertainment guide that the two Bollywood movies playing are Shaadi Se Pehle and 36 China Town. So much of sadness to discover that the listings are a colossal lie and that the films actually showing are Shikhar and Fight Club. I mean, really. That's just mean. When I first saw the listings, I almost got up and ran over to my friend Lindsey's seat to tell her about this great auspicious occurrence. Good thing I didn't.

So is it any wonder that the flight home stank on ice? I slept - or rather "sat with my eyes closed" - restlessly off and on almost the whole way, rustling around in my seat, somehow unable to get to a good position or temperature and I'm sure annoying the daylights out of the shy Purdue grad student next to me. Also, the Saif-emblazoned bag of potato chips I had as part of a snack did not sit well. What kind of universe is this that something endorsed by Super Saif makes me unhappy? Bah!

I did watch part of Shikhar, enough to know I will probably never rent it, and I will say that I really like Ajay Devgan and I really don't like Shahid Kapoor. I know it's not his fault that he isn't Akshaye, but still. He always seems like he's trying so hard.

But now I'm home, and I've slept a lot, and had a shower, and am about to call up a friend I have sorely missed, and then out to breakfast, which is my very favorite thing to do on a Saturday. At some point I should go to the grocery store, but that involves making decisions about things, and I have zero interest in doing that. Let's just hope Saif will redeem himself with Being Cyrus, which is sitting on top of my tv, ready to be watched. Hurrah!