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Showing posts from February, 2007

Do aur Do Paanch

I can't believe this came out the same year as Shaan, which is the only other movie I've seen Shashi Kapoor in. He has so much more oomph here, whereas in Shaan I felt he was usually overshadowed by Amitabh. Do aur Do Paanch is darn good fun, though as is too often the case the female characters weren't given anything particularly interesting to do. My only other quibble with this movie is with the scuffles at the end: they ramble over three separate settings, go on at least ten minutes too long (or maybe it just felt like ten minutes!), and involve too many scenes of children being dragged into that strange movie-world hero-defined sense of justice against the bad guys.

Other than that, though, I loved it. As the other reviewers have pointed out, Shashi and Amitabh are great together, and I was very much taken by the sense of friendship they develop and portray. Stories about friendship, rather than family- or romance-based love, are far too rare in popular culture, in my …

the Karan Johar Drinking Game, illustrated

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(The rules of which you can find here if you need a refresher.)

Courtesy of our old friend Shashi (who, by the way, must have the very loveliest eyelashes in Bollywood).

It all starts innocently enough. Yash Raichand says something paterfamilias-y.


What's that I see? A tear in Aman's eye?


~ How on earth can Anjali resist the eyebrows - in the gazebo - in the rain? ~


Just where is the party tonight?


Basketball in a sari? No way!


Someone's rockin' out at Oxford University, London!


Say shava shava all you want - you're finished.

(Do aur Do Paanch, 1980)

the original Umrao Jaan

I found Umrao Jaan remarkably restrained (but not constrained, an important difference, I think) despite its potential for trauma-drama-o-rama (like in the recent Devdas). The story makes me very uncomfortable, and Rekha's balanced performance made it even harder to bear, since we so seldom see her respond with the volume of feelings she must be suffering. As other people have pointed out, the historical role of the courtesan can be very hard to get our modern brains around. The contrast of her position is so interesting: one one hand, she's trapped in a career/life that she does not choose (and of course in this instance she was forcibly made to enter), but on the other, her training and position give her skills that transport hearts and minds through imagery and emotion.

For the first time in the approximately 125 Hindi films I've watched, I wanted the movie to be longer. I didn't quite get on board with Umrao and Nawab Sultan's love. I don't know the book at …

research question #3

From my friend Michael (aka "Dr. Marcus" from the trip to India), anthropologist, teacher, and very insightful Bollywood-watcher, whom you may remember from reserach question 1, back in September: I am relatively new to Indian films (have seen fewer to 20, maybe; more info in member profile) and also, new to Jaman (thanks to Beth Watkins with whom I traveled throughout India summer '06) For the past two months or so I have been obsessed with Swades. I have only seen this film once in its entirety via Netflix, but the visuals remain in my head vividly. The music is also wonderful, I think it is restrained compared to other "Bollywood" products. Do people agree? I would like to raise a few ideas or questions about it, and hoepfully some in the group will reply. First, I have to say that this is SRK's best that I have seen (including Dil Se, DDLJ, Paheli --- I have only seen some clips of song and dance from many of his other movies). Perhaps because the telli…

so this is what pleather sounds like

Thanks to the tip from Filmiholic about Saavn Mobile, my cell phone now rings to Dil Chahta Hai's "Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe." Akshaye just rolls his eyes affectionately, although entre nous, when I first got it and made him call my phone from his phone, just so he could hear it, he smiled. He thinks I don't see him dancing along to it when he's in the other room, but I do. He's so cute.

Update to post (February 20, 2007): I should mention my brief but fascinating history with filmy ringtones. When I was in India this summer, the phone I rentend had a bunch of ringtones on it already, some of which were disappointingly identical to ones heard in the US but others of which were exactly what I would have wanted, namely "Kajra Re" (as though played on the phone keys, not an actual clip of the song, which is what my current "Koi Kahe" clip is). So of course that's what I used. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that my whole group was tired of …

LDN

One week from today I fly to London for six fabulous days (and three in York) before heading on to Vienna to the First Pan-European/International Bollywoodbloggers Meeting. So, experts, what should a Bollywood fan (and India-interested gal) do? My traveling companion is decidedly not into Bollywood, so if I do go to a movie it will be on my own. I'm happy to get non-Bollywood-related travel suggestions too - it's been twelve years since I was there.* Right now the thing I'm most excited about is museuming myself into a coma.

* I actually lived in London for a semester when I was five - my dad was on sabbatical - and back then my favorite things about the city were that 1) we lived across the street from Jim Henson and 2) we could walk to Hampstead Heath (before you get impressed that we lived in Hampstead, know that our flat had only a teeny kitchen, another general room, and a bedroom - the bathroom was down the hall) where I loved to feed the ducks. My little hometown did…

a new project and the original U. J.

(The following is going to read like a pitch - and for good reason, because it is, but I'm allowed, because I am a happy part of the pitchee.)

So guess what? I'm delighted to be part of a new world cinema website, jaman.com, as part of the South Asia team. Everyone should join up and join in. Plus be in my discussion group on "Why I Love Bollywood" which is going to, you know, totally rock - maybe I'll start a "because of Akshaye Khanna" thread. Jaman has a bunch of movies you can watch, review, and discuss all in the same site. Today I discovered that you can add notes to movies as they play, so that viewers will get a little pop up that there's a note at the appropriate point and can then read or ignore as they wish. For someone who tends to watch movies by herself, this is a much-needed outlet to share all my very important insights as they happen.

I've got oodles of beta invites, which include free movies (limited time only!), so clicky here t…

with love

Happy February 14, whatever it may mean to you. Behold, the Ugly, Ugly, Bollywood Fugly Karan Johar Drinking Game: Valentine's Day Special. Due to the massive amount of blowing snow blanketing Illinois, I won't be at work today, so maybe I'll spend my day testing this out - and I've got enough half and half for quite a few white russians. (Yes, that is my sad-sack foofy girly drink of choice - when I'm not having bourbon.)

I hesitate to think what Mithun's house would look like....

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I just read a discussion on Ultrabrown about various filmy stars' homes, including the clever observation that Shahrukh's house "comes clad in see-through nylon mesh, just like its owner," which I think is just about the funniest thing ever, and now I'm wondering if during parties the mesh ever suddenly changes colors, or becomes be-sequined, or if it ever randomly shows up around the Pyramids or billowing on a mountaintop, or what effect it has on Kajol if she happens to drive by. This is a great sub-discussion in my little research project on domestic architecture in Hindi films. Thanks, Ultrabrown!

And now three completely unrelated things.

1) My second Bollyversary is coming up - on the 18th, to be precise - and I'm opening up the floor to suggestions for how to celebrate. As if going to Austria and getting to meet Babasko, Michael, Maja, and others isn't enough. If you were around for last year's, you'll remember what I did, and I don't thi…

That's why her hair is so big: it's full of secrets.

Filmiholic tagged me to list five secrets. I stuck them on my other blog. Very hush-hush. As for the actual most secret secrets, only Akshaye knows for sure.

when doves cry: Maine Pyar Kiya

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(Surely that's been used before?)

No one is more surprised than I am that I enjoyed this movie. I really dislike Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! and Hum Saath-Saath Hain,* but I have an inexplicable affection for Main Prem Ki Dewaani Hoon. So I went in with low hopes - after all, what if I only like MPKDH because it's refreshingly Salman-free? But whaddya know, I really did like Maine Pyar Kiya, even though it 1) dragged towards the end, with too many obstacles being thrown in the hero's way, 2) had way too many songs, most of them sung by S. P. Balasubramaniam, whose voice was a distractingly poor fit for Salman's character (or his own speaking voice, for that matter), 3) overly balletic dancing here and there, and 4) occasionally overdone drama and foes that weren't adequately fleshed out. There were also a lot of elements here that I had seen before - the feuding fathers reconcile as they see their young-lovers offspring survive grave physical danger (Bobby), a pack o…

Thank you! I'll be here all week.

After I proved that I totally rock the vowel matras, yesterday my Hindi tutor and I had a discussion about - what else - filmy stars. She told me there are news stories going around that Mr. Bachchan strongly encouraged Aishwarya to marry a tree in order to level out some of the bad news in her horoscope.

This kept me up at night. Honestly.

I have no idea how to express how absolutely ridiculous and insulting I think this is (and illegal, according to some reports) without being disrespectful to a belief system I know very little about and do not share. So instead I'll say this: if Aishwarya had wanted a tall wooden husband, she would have married Arjun Rampal.

even I want to be Dev Anand: Jewel Thief

First things first: a jiving, shimmying, bejewelled-pantyhose thank-you to Filmi Geek for telling me about this movie.

I knew it had to be only a matter of time before I encountered a Hindi film that reminded me of some of my favorite aspects of 1940s and 50s Hollywood (not that I am well-versed, but I have my loves*), and here it is, even though the fashions are of a later date (and very fun, from the British Invasion-style pegged pants to the giant hairdos). Jewel Thief is a dizzyingly-styled romp of crime and criss-crosses - but mainly Dev Anand gadding about being a Movie Star. That's "Movie Star" with a capital M and S. This is my first of his movies, and he's fantastic. As my title suggests, to me he brings to mind Cary Grant in all the right ways. Wait, what am I saying? As if there's a wrong way to be reminded of Cary Grant. He's suave and hip and whip-smart and a bit detached, as though he views everything with one eyebrow raised, but still has a seve…

words cannot express: Guru

Finally, Guru in the theater (although now Salaam-e-Ishq has been cancelled due to its lackluster reviews, thanks very much, rest of the world). I have deliberately not read anyone else's thoughts on the movie, so while I may be last, and everything I say may already have been said, and better, at least my thoughts are still my own.

Subtitles are supposed to accomplish one basic and very important task: in the language of the audience, communicate the dialogue (and occasionally relavant printed text) of movies made in languages other than that of the audience. Simple. So why bother with them at all if they're hardly going to fall into the general realm of functional? Geeze. I'm really ticked off about this problem here - the subtitles were so sparse and so dull that I'm convinced I missed at least half of the story and even more of the verbally-expressed emotional heft. For example, someone would say three or four sentences, and we'd read "He has left the room,…