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Showing posts from January, 2007

collaborative-ish project #2: cinematic and musical hip-hip-hoorays for Shaan

Movies and music go well together, I think we can all agree, being Bollywood fans and all. So with that in mind, I'm delighted to present a collaborative post by Bollywood Desi Music Club and yours truly on the musical and filmi greatness that is Shaan.

A bit of background - redundant if you've seen the movie, of course, but I hope incredibly tempting if you haven't, because you really ought to.... Sunil Dutt, Amitabh Bachchan, and Shashi Kapoor play brothers; the former is an up- and outstanding police officer who moves to Mumbai, where the other two are small-time con artists - so small-time that they seem to be the victims of jobs as often as they pull them off. Kulbhushan Kharbanda is a Blofeld-esque bad guy who controls various evildoings from his underwater lair, which, according to the subtitles, is 300 km off the coast of Mumbai and is clearly deep in the ocean based on the sea creatures that constantly swim by the background of the evil meeting room. Almost everyth…

balloon burst

Remember awhile ago I said I was going to Bollywood and not coming back? I'm contemplating it again. But thanks to Krrish, I now know that my utopia, based largely on the Kausali of Koi Mil Gaya, could only be short-lived, and that soon enough Rohit will fall into the clutches of the evil Dr. Arya, so really, why bother?

So my question to you is, where should I move? If you were going to spend a year in a movie, which one would it be? Just for fun, let's say you can take real people into it, and you can put characters and actors into movies they're not actually in. I'm currently thinking about Dil Chahta Hai, where I can hang out with my kindred spirit Deepa and hope that Sid will notice me once Tara dies. Sid really is the ultimate FPMBF, and once he makes up with Akash, the gang will probably be a lot of fun to hang out with. Plus I've never been to Goa and it sounds nice, especially since where I actually live it's 9 degrees outside this morning (that's …

Then again, who am I to trifle with the institution of FPMBF?

You know how you can get all caught up in the fiddly little details of life, or work yourself into a tizzy over groundless unknown things, and lose track of the big picture, and then all of a sudden something reminds you in a heartbeat of what's truly important? I love when that happens.

Thanks to a tip from alert reader Haley, I refreshed my long-dormant subscription to the BBC Film CafĂ© podcast to hear what Akshaye had to say for himself. And in all honesty, I was smitten all over again. Sensible, calm, confident but grounded and assuming, neither evasive nor exhibitionist. He actually said very little, but he said it so beautifully. Usually I am not a fan of saying very little, but there was something about how he spoke that struck me as so honest and uncomplicated - someone asked him some questions, and he responded, without compromising anyone else in his answers. And oh my stars, the man has a lovely speaking voice. And - how shall I say this without sounding like some sort …

save the date

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Over pancakes yesterday morning, my friend Abby said that she was putting so-and-so on her shit list, which got me to thinking about how I don't have one of those but it seems really fun as a concept, like you've got this little notepad and you jot people down when they cross you, and of course you don't publicize your criteria, because you want to keep the mystery alive that at any moment anyone you know or encounter could be next. Very menacing. Very not me - so of course I've decided I need one.

Regular readers will know that a certain fellow in Mumbai is currently perilously close to being on such a list if he doesn't watch it, but...well, I just can't stay mad at him, really, those eyes and all, and anyway, to forgive, divine, so I should offer him a chance to redeem himself. So here it is: drop whatever you're doing and go, right this minute, and reserve the awesome giant mirrored bar/lounge from Shaan for our fake-pretend wedding.

Because I cannot thi…

cough(nerd)cough

I've just spent half an hour using pencil and paper to diagram the Kapoor family tree...and then the Roshan/Khan group. And I was about to tackle some of the other Khans when I realized just how long this particular project had taken, and that I had better get back to Shaan - quite possibly the greatest movie ever, by the way - while the getting was good.

By "New York," do you mean "Illinois"?

This is so not the news one wants to hear when one is home sick. At least there's an explanation for why I had to go get my own ice cream. It's times like this that the "FP" in FPMBF begins to wear a person down.

pass the tissues

All quiet on the midwestern front. What have I been doing instead of watching Bollywood? Actually learning Hindi, that's what. I've made it through the consonants; watch out, vowels! But I'm home sick today, so maybe I'll re-watch something I've seen before but never reviewed.

Of course, what I'd really like is for Akshaye to call in sick too and then go get me some ice cream, but he's out promoting a film or something. Babasko has kindly offered to call her FPMEMA to be the heavy, but I hope it won't come to that.

Anyway. Guru will be in my local art theater February 2, but hopefully I'll get to something before that. I keep promising Teleport City that I'll watch Shaan, but I'm not sure I have enough concentration for a new movie, especially one with Amitabh and Sunil Dutt and Parveen Babi and Rakhee and Helen and Bindu and Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Shahsi Kapoor and.... Coughing fit. It's all too much.

Shaadi Se Pehle

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You know what the worst thing about Shaadi Se Pehle is? The sound effects - they're cartoony: slide whistles, crashing noises, overly loud footsteps, that sort of thing. Even Akshaye gets in on the act and resorts to talking like Scooby Doo a few times. It's ridiculous, and it adds to the wackadoo feeling of the movie, which in my book is veeeeery dangerous, because most versions of wackadoo leave me completely cold. (Hungama is my Bollywood wackadoo yardstick, even if no one ever agrees.)

Other than that admittedly minor complaint, this really wasn't so bad. Although as Totally Basmatic wisely reminded me in the context of Chori Chori, that's the kind of compliment that's the kiss of death. Here it's not quite death - if you stumble across Shaadi Se Pehle you'll quite possibly enjoy it just fine, timepass, perfeclty pleasant few hours, but don't go out of your way.

Which brings me to the real question at hand: why is someone with the talents of Akshaye …

Omkara

(Note: I've never read Othello and haven't seen it for ages, so some of my comments are uninformed. C'est la vie.)

I'm beginning to worry that there is an inverse relationship between the quality of a movie and my ability to write about it. Abby and I just finished Omkara and I cannot think of much I feel the need to express. If you've seen it, you know it's great in a variety of obvious and subtle ways. And that once again Saif Ali Khan is exceptionally impressive - I can't believe this is the same guy I just saw in Main Khiladi Tu Anari, you know? - although everyone in this was stellar. (Though maybe it's not fair to single him out and Iago is just one of those roles that gets all the attention? )

Like Bandit Queen yesterday, I especially liked all the details in the sets that made this look like a very pragmatic, everyday world in which people take care of business, and even though they wield control and intimidation they're not decadent or excess…

Bandit Queen

History, culture, life, human nature - whatever you want to call the forces that cause us to act the way we do - can be brutal, selfish, narrow, dumb, bleak. Sometimes all of these elements and adjectives come crashing down in a single narrative, and when they do, we get Bandit Queen's story of Phoolan Devi.* Is there resolution? No. Forgiveness? No. Peace? No. Regret? Not that I understood. Responsibility? Only when forced. Sympathy? Very little. Courage? Maybe, but usually it gets filtered through fear and revenge. Community? Maybe, but societies in the world of this movie just seem to drive individuals to either mob behavior or extreme complacency.

This last point is what disturbed me most. How many people saw the literally countless abuses against Phoolan Devi and did nothing? Dozens, hundreds. By no means does this justify most of her decisions and actions, but it very quickly and thoroughly creates an environment in which I could accept why she did what she did.

The movie'…

beta hot potata

This long weekend is devoted to a variety of projects, one of which is converting the blog template to beta. And I'm sure something won't go quite right (hey banners, I'm lookin' at you.) And if all goes well, things will be back to normal soon - and there will be a review of a FPMBF movie too. Really, who could ask for anything more?

I believe the word is "geeked."

A certain social networking website - which I happily admit is not at all my favorite thing in the world, partly because it provides another forum for bubble-headed writing with eight exclamation points in a row and features eye-scarring layout and graphics - has given me a reason to like it a little more than I used to. After all, a good laugh is priceless (dekho my dosto).

Beth loves books, too

My "to read" stack of books has become completely unwieldy. Novels people lent me almost a year ago, a really interesting-looking nonfiction on the history of spices, four books on Bollywood...all untouched. Dusty, even. Verrrry bad.

I love to read, and I'm not sure why I haven't been doing much of it lately - certainly not from a lack of material. I can't really blame all of that on the television, but it's the major distraction, so after I watch Bandit Queen this weekend (which I borrowed from someone so I have to return it soon), that foul temptation is banished for at least one whole week - which means no movies either, unless Dhoom 2 appears out of nowhere at the local art theater. Which could happen. This is going to be extra tricky given that I'm going to Chicago's Indian neighborhood today and tomorrow, where the shopping is plentiful and easy. Movies will certainly return soon - Abby and I are thinking of having a Bollywood sleepover over MLK…

happy new year!

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2006 was seen out and 2007 in by movies - and Hrithik was wiggling as midnight turned - but somewhere in all the madness I lost my voice (figuratively). I can't think of a single thing worth sharing about either Main Khiladi Tu Anari or Chori Chori except that the cover of the latter has some hilarious verbiage about how love "makes the mornings glow, the days flow, and puts a smile on evening" and that it "sneaks up on us like the wind in the woods and washes us with its freshness," none of which has particular significance to the movie. Also Ajay Devgan sports some very fitted shirts in it, making him look a little like a cop going undercover as a Bollywood star, although as Abby and I agreed, "tight shirts are his color." I like Ajay Devgan but now whenever I see him I think of cell phones, thanks to a relentless billboard campaign that followed me around India last summer.


But the thought of leaving readers without a "hmmm" or a giggle ma…