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Showing posts from 2007

Shakespeare-Wallah

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Brain-type place: Wow, that was a fantastic movie. What wonderful performances by Felicity Kendal (Lizzie Buckingham) and Shashi Kapoor (Sanju)! What beautiful scenes! What lovely writing! What interesting questions it raises! Heart-type place: Oh my gosh, I don't know if I can write about this without gushing personal emotions all over the place. BTP: You poor thing. Here, take my hankie. HTP: [snuffling and blubbing] Thanks. I'm trying to pull it together but I'm not quite there yet. BTP: Merchant and Ivory movies used to affect you like that in college, remember? HTP: I know, but I'm 33 now - I'm so embarrassed. Shouldn't I be able to get a grip? BTP: Ah, that's one for the ages. I'm glad it's not really my line of work. Don't worry too much about it, though - all things must pass, all in good time, etc. Anyway, I'm feeling pretty stupid, too, for not knowing more of the Shakespeare references. This was a sad, sad movie for my fil

with apologies to Josef Mohr

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On this most Germanic-ish of holidays, let me tell you that last night I was singing what I remembered of the German lyrics of "Silent Night," and as I finished the first verse, "Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh," into my head popped "Schlaf in himmli Shahrukh." Of course, it wasn't until just now that I realized the words were "himmlischer Ruh" and not "himmli Scheruh," making my substitution all the dumber. (Und ja, I realize that "Ruh" is a word that makes total sense in context, but it's been a really long time since I saw the text.) It's a nice image, though: while not grammatically correct, I imagine Mini Khan all snuggled up in a blanket while the stars twinkle above and snow falls softly. Babasko, you can make that happen, right? Sleep peacefully, everyone. Update to post: she can and she did !

Taare Zameen Par

(Foreword: this piece has turned out to be mighty list-y, but I'm not sure I really mind, because the movie is so uncomplicatedly lovely that maybe there's not that much that needs to be said about it.) It's a bit like Chak De India , isn't it: full of heart-string-tugging tropes, of stories we've heard before, of very effective youngsters and (relatively) subtle, inspiring Khan-jis? As I said about the former, there's nothing wrong with using those raw ingredients if you do something unique, meaningful, and/or entertaining with them, and Taare Zameen Par made the different-is-beautiful, inspiring-teacher tales work really well. The cast is excellent, most notably Darsheel Safary, of course; as is the inherent danger with stories about small children facing big challenges, if he hadn't had such a careful touch, the movie would have been a trite, mawkish mess. Aamir too deserves credit for getting such a performance out of the story's little star - as

NPR's Laura Sydell and I have something in common.

She too has an inexplicable love for "Ganpat" from Shootout at Lokhandwala . (I was obsessed with the song in the spring, evidenced here .) And now that I've watched the video again, let me note how much I enjoyed the beautifully floppy, casual, braggy choreography when the bhai dance together. (The rest of the picturization, including different people lip-synching for the same speaking voice, is forgettable.) I've forgotten if there was general consensus on the movie itself; I picked it up off the shelf at the video store yesterday but went for Shakespeare Wallah instead.

a most auspicious event*; or, when I accidentally got to hear London's Bollywood Brass Band

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When I was in London last winter, I ran very short on time to do everything (and see everyone) I had hoped. But a don't-miss for me is the absolutely fantastic Museum of London (the only other museums I got to were the Tate and the British Museum, and that was not nearly enough). I was already in high spirits as I opened the door, and you can imagine the squeak of delight at this sign greeting me in the museum's lobby: I went to each of the performances, backtracking through the exhibits on London's history to claim a front-row spot in the lobby. I took a ton of pictures, most of them dark or blurry. Trumpets + trombones + tuba + dhol = so fun. There were also costumed re-enactor-type people running around the museum that day, and you can see two 60s Austin Powers -extra-looking guys on the right. They grooved along the whole time, medallions clanking. I really wanted to dance with them but was too shy. Some of the pieces were accompanied by (muted) film clips. I do

What happens in blue fake-pretend Russian Indian Venice stays in blue fake-pretend Russian Indian Venice: Saawariya

You...me...tonight...never happened. We don't know each other. I'm not your type anyway. I need someone who makes me laugh, makes me think, makes me have an emotion other than staring wide-eyed and running in slow motion. You're too young for me, immature, too focused on appearances. You're full of tears and sacrifice, giddy dancing, content-free tittering. You suck all the joy and substance out of everything. You seem to want to save women with the jaunty flip of your hat (or dangle them off of high buildings or push them around), and that doesn't cut it with me. Besides, your insistence on mooning over completely inappropriate people just makes me want to sit you down, mother-hen-like, and help you find someone more suitable - someone who likes forced, unsubstantiated romances and communicates via puppy-dog eyes. But you've got some moves. And my stars, you're so beautiful. While we were together, I couldn't think about anything else. Sigh. But I n

Happy birthday Michael!

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very sensible, very sweet: Cheeni Kum

What I like most about Cheeni Kum is that it is a story about people who are adult enough to know themselves and then behave and make decisions accordingly. Somehow there's a matter-of-factness about the way they relate to each other, and their relationship as a whole, that I found endearing. Here are these two strange little creatures who don't seem to mind that they are different from most other people (though we don't get much input from "other people" in the movie - it's mostly their own little world, which is how it feels at the beginning of a good relationship, isn't it?), and though they quickly recognize their odd-duck partner, we still get to see them trying to work out the conjunction. They're true to themselves but they're careful with the other person. There may not be sugary froth, but it's still sweet as can be. Now that is a movie love story to covet. And yes, ordinarily I would be skeeved out by the age difference and angry

when Beth met Shashi....

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Last week at work we decided to bring in our favorite bad/ridiculous/silly movies so that we could have a little fun during one of the slowest weeks of the year. (If you have an auditorium with a good sound system at your disposal, you should use it, we figure.) Although we never got around to more than about half an hour of watching, I was ready, Commando in hand. (Not the Ahh-nold/Alyssa Milano one. The Mithun/Kim/Amrish Puri/Danny Denzongpa/Shakti Kapoor/Dalip Tahil/Satish Shah/Asrani/Iftekhar/Bob Christo/Tom Alter one. Everyone is in this movie.) Yesterday I was trying to tidy my desk and realized Commando was still sitting there, so before putting it in my bag I enjoyed one last look at Mithun's mullet on the front of the case and idly flipped it over to see who else made the cover. "Oh," I thought to myself, "there's the guy who played Mithun's brother-in-arms [Hemant Birje], and baddie Shakti Kapoor, and...huh, that other guy looks a lot like a Kapo

on seeing Om Shanti Om a second time

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Om Shanti Om has come to my local art/independent/international theater, so of course I had to go see it again. It was notably not as good. It felt a bit flat, actually, much to my surprise. Even the movie jokes weren't as cute. The hometown crowd was less excitable than the one in the Chicago suburbs where I had seen it two weeks ago, and rowdier definitely would have been more fun. However, one only has so many chances to cheer publicly for Rani and Abhishek, so one takes what one can get. And now, the Beth Loves Bollywood List of Stuff Beth Noticed or Wants to Solicit Opinions about (the first two of which comment on things you may not want to know if you haven't seen the movie yet).... I'm still very happy that there isn't a mushy romantic hoopla at the end. Good for Farah for sticking to the main story of Om's self-discovery and Shanti's revenge. Potential plot problem, if you care about that kind of thing: if Mukesh wants to be the biggest producer in Bo

the flavor is all in the small details: Jhoom Barabar Jhoom

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So says Alvira to Rikki, in response to his complaint that she "get[s] stuck in these small details" when telling her story, and as soon as it was out of Preity's mouth I realized how true that was of significant portions this movie. Without the little things, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom would have been a sweet story about risking safety for love. The movie developed slowly, and by the time we got midway through Alvira's story, I caught myself trying to decide whether either lead was likable - one a shiftless liar, one a shrewish snot - and thinking that if it weren't for the funny or interesting asides and small touches, I might have to start fast-forwarding. Apart from the songs, of course, all of which are fantastic to watch (even when they're a little bit dumb, like "Ticket to Hollywood"). I got a little tired of the repeats of the title theme with Amitabh (Bulla Man, is that what Rikki calls him?) in the train station, but during the end credits, wh

if you have to ask the question, you won't understand the answer: Namak Halaal

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Listen, if you want to know what happens in Namak Halaal , you should just watch it, because it is truly the closest thing to batsh*t insane I have seen in a Hindi film (even more than Disco Dancer , released the same year). These fine folks have given description and plot summary their best shot, and I had read all of these before I watched, but I didn't feel remotely prepared for the amount, variety, and arrangement of crazy this movie offers. Sure, I had a sense that it would be bizarre, but in retrospect I don't think any amount of description could have made me understand. "Okay, reunited brothers, long-lost mothers, henchmen in scuba suits, I've got it," I thought as I read. "I love zany masala! Bring it on!" But really I had no idea. Watching Namak Halaal is better experienced than it is talked or read about: you either know it or you don't. You can't just have a sense of it - because there is no sense to be had for love or money or o