Saturday, March 31, 2007

All this and she approves of my FPMBF? What a pal!

You know how when you like a thing, and get all excited about the thing, and you try to get your friends all excited too, and they're all "No thanks, but I'm happy for you" so you finally give up and just enjoy your new thing all on your own? And then two years later the most unyielding of them goes with you to an Indian restaurant in London and the restaurant is playing a song DVD of hits from 2005 or something? And then the really friendly staff chats with you about how it's kind of amazing that you know all these songs and that you like them, and then they actually give you the DVD right out of the player and let you take it home with you? And then a few weeks later your unyielding friend says "Hey have you watched that DVD that the staff of Light of India gave you yet?" and you say "Oh, I totally forgot!" and then you put it in and proceed to dance about for half an hour, and then she likes it so much that you lend her your only other song DVD, and then she goes on a trip for work and emails you after watching the DVD and dancing in her hotel room, because she's so smitten with the song picturizations that she took the DVD with her on the road, and with her finely-tuned pop culture intuition she quotes one of the most quotable songs on the disc?
Just chill, chill. Just chill.
Such wise advice. Any idea where I heard such fine lyrics?
Oh yeah, I beena dancin' to Bollywood videos!
It can happen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

So it's either today, Friday, or next week, but anyway, let's all wish Akshaye, shall we?

It would be decidedly inappropriate to gather up all the pictures just at the moment, since I'm at work and all, so in the meantime, please join Michael and me in fêting our favorite Bollywood boy. Acting-wise, he has never let us down, even when material and peers around him stink. He wears his pleather and hip-hop ensembles with a knowing, barely-perceptible tongue in cheek. He smiles without mugging. He's funny without mania. He arm-flings without flailing. All that and coming through the bubble song with his dignity in tact. I don't know how he does it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

thither lies someone else's review of Chokher Bali

Yeah! What she said!

I need to just get over feeling sheepish and stupid when I don't like a serious flim that most people seem to think is wonderful and important and finely crafted.* But I didn't like this movie at all, and I happily admit this is probably because I did not remotely understand it (nothing to do with subtitles - lots of voice-over narration that I couldn't follow). Very pretty to look at, though, with heaps of visual deatails showing the influences and pulls of the various cultures and traditions in nineteenth-century Calcutta. Anyway, Filmi Geek, who was my viewing companion, has nailed the movie's problems very well; she and I had a chat going while we watched the movie and both kept typing "WTF" and "Pause! I need to go back!"**

* There's probably a discussion to be had here about terms like serious and art film and Bollywood, but I tend not to be interested in those discussions, even though I use the terms and thrived in my four years of graduate school. I've noticed that I don't feel at all guilty about disliking a Govinda movie, or something like Hungama that everyone else likes, and can easily come up with reasons why the movie doesn't work for me, but that I don't have that confidence with movies like Chokher Bali. Hmmm.

** There is talk among some of the Deutsch-wallahs about doing a global simultaneous watching of something while having a mega-chat session running so everyone can share comments. Having done this before on a more intimate scale and really enjoyed it, I think this idea is superwow. Watching movies together is so much more fun than not.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Sometimes knowledge finds you at just the right time. Not two minutes ago I was emailing with Desi Dancer about how to capture the feeling of "listen up, bitches" in Hindi.

So, quality-control team at EROS (or the whole company, whatever): suno, saala. What exactly do you think you're doing putting out crap like this? I can deal with your idiot boasting about your role in promoting Bollywood. I can deal with the Tilda basmati folks (to be honest, I love the flying cauliflower). I can deal with all your ads for things I already know about.

But I cannot watch a movie with subtitles that cover, at best, 20% of what's being said and generally whimper along without the joy of complete sentences. The following list is just a sample of what you subjected me to under the guise of subtitled dialogue (with / indicating a new screen). All of these accompany lines spoken by one character in between speeches by other characters, which I assume is a pretty standard unit of dialogue, and therefore each should stand on its own as a complete idea.
  • Move aisde Gita! / a man's patience / several times in business! / between Sheetal and me! / he could do to our family! / without retaliating even once! / tolerate what he has done! / What harm have we done to him?!
  • against you... / you have done to me... / go and question your father!
  • married tomorrow. / in the ceremony. / his house and against his wishes. tell you is that... / attend the wedding tomorrow. / Because, in the father's absence... / who gives away the bride."
  • I've had today / of tennis this evening
  • comes from the heart / 3.
These read like they were written by a struggling student of Hindi taking an aural exam, just jotting down the bits of what was underestood, or maybe like what you might overhear through the wall if your neighbor watched Trishul with the sound up too high. In any event, they read like whoever wrote them did not catch all of what was being said. And that, my friends, is not the point of subtitles. If I wanted to get only snippets of what was going on, I would just watch the movie without any subtitles at all, since the bits of subtitles that did actually make sense were usually things I could have come up with on my own just by watching the characters' actions and expressions. I can struggle to understand the dialogues all on my own, so why do you even bother making subtitles like this? I hate that you do this to me. I hate that it's so hard to bypass your product completely. I hate that you don't seem to care about viewers like me even though I am such a keen user of your product.

I hate that you create an obstacle to Bollywood.

The first three examples above, while not grammatically sufficient, do express some of what's going on in the scene, and they did augment my understanding of the plot. I still can't say they're good, though, because obviously they don't read the way people generally talk. However, the latter two - I don't even know what to say about these. I can't imagine the two elements of the tennis one could even be from the same sentence, becuse how could the speaker have already had something that is happening later that day (they character was eating lunch, so evening hadn't happened yet)? And the last one...I can only hope that this is a cryptic augur of the eventual emotional, dramatic family reunion of the titular Gupta triumvirate or something.

(Sorry for the big words there. I'm all worked up.)

I'm so angry and disappointed. I really can't say that I saw this movie at all. How much of a badass was Amitabh?

Well, bad enough to light his cigarette with a dynamite fuse, but other than that, I don't know. What did Amitabh's dying mother say to him? I don't know. What were the details of Amitabh's scheme to bring down Mr. R. K. Gupta?

I don't know. Was Shashi a playboy gadabout or an actual asset to his father's company and otherwise standup fellow?

I don't know. (I do know he has some awesome clothes, though.) What were Shahi's flirty exchanges with Hema about the role of modern women?

I don't know. How did Amitabh manage to dance off with Shashi's girlfriend?

I don't know. Was there anything shady about Shashi's sister's fledgling romance? I don't know. Who were all the other businessmen? I don't know. Does it matter that I don't know these things? I don't know that either.

I made informed guesses for the answers to the above questions, based not only what was going on on screen but also on my very tiny grasp of bits of Hindi and on what I assume would be happening in a revenge drama from 1978, but any fine points of this - especially the Salim-Javed dialogues that reviewers rave about - were completely lost to me. One of the reasons I'm so disappointed in this DVD is that this is the first time I've seen Amitabh as Angry Young Man, and I can't imagine I'm not really missing out.

So there you go. My thoughts on a movie I didn't really see.

A few other visuals-based points....
  • Having been warned about Shashi occasionally overdoing his megawatt smile, I laughed a lot through this movie because he certainly trots it out a lot - it seemed to suit his character, which came across to me as a good-natured flirt and slightly doofusy loyal son. During his first song with Hema, I said out loud "Hey there, Shashi, save something for the honeymoon!"
  • In said song, Hema and Shashi go golfing (and play tennis and do yoga). With the risk of opening a gigantic can of worms, I was startled by the dramatic difference in skin color between the stars and the caddies. Of course I've read and been told all about the beauty standard of fair complexions in Bollywood, but I'd never noticed such a stark contrast that also seemed to correlate so strongly to social status.
    If anyone wants to comment on whether these extras were cast on purpose (or maybe they are actual workers at the golf course), please go right ahead. This may be a completely unimportant or irrelevant thing to comment on, but, well, I noticed it, so there you go. On a sillier note, the white bell-bottoms on both leads are enjoyable - and Shashi even has VPL. No one quite rocks the white bell-bottoms like my FPMFIL, but still, A for effort.
  • I love street/city scenes that include posters for movies starring people who are also in the movie I'm watching. Here we see Hema with Dharmendra in a poster for Dream Girl (ha ha). I can't decide if this is sloppy or wink-wink.


Friday, March 23, 2007


Note: I tried really hard to write this without referring to too many plot points, but I just couldn't make it work, so if you don't want to know what happens in the movie, don't read any further. But you won't leave empty-handed. Enjoy this!

I really don't know what to make of this movie, but I also don't know if that matters, because most of it is really fun to watch. Visually it's lovely, with pretty locales, pretty people (Shashi Kapoor and Rakhee x 2), and an endless rainbow parade of fashion (I took over 100 screen captures, so if you want more, just let me know).

I'm a big fan of both lead actors, and both deserve praise for handling with ease the varying components of their characters. Despite how much there was going on in the movie, with plot twists every fifteen minutes or so, I never felt that the characters themselves lurched. Shashi plays the good-natured but not-too-perfect Ajit with oodles of charm and truthful emotion; Rakhee gives different faces to each twin's pleasures, hurts, and secrets. It also has the Recommended Masala Allowance of family tensions, patriotism, and genuinely funny bits - and a few woodland creatures for good measure. Unlike some other masala movies, even Do Aur Do Paanch, which I loved, this one does not indulge in context-free action sequences (though it does have a surprisingly brutal scene involving one of the twins and a henchman).

Okay, so that's all dandy. But for whatever reason, this didn't feel quite like a wholehearted masala romp. I think something additional is going on here, but I'm not sure what. If you want to puzzle it out with me, keep reading; if you'd rather just skip to the pictures at the end, by all means. If the twins are read as a lesson for India circa 1971, then it isn't a lesson that I can support. The bold, confident, independent woman is tarnished and turns selfish and cowardly - although whether she was that way all along or chooses it at a certain point in the story, I couldn't tell (which may be a subtitling problem, and I'll get to that) - and the pathologically shy woman is rewarded for absurd sacrifices she should never have made.

I have a lot of questions about our two female leads. Was Kamini just a free spirit who got trapped up by a past indiscretion, or was she a spy all along who temporarily put aside her allegiance to the gang as her heart was lured by Ajit? I was troubled that the connection between these two sides of her character was not better explained - Filmi Geek and I discussed this problem, and she pointed out that certainly the Kamini who was bold enough to travel alone with her girlfriends, break into an army base, and stand soaking wet cheering on a fight at a public swimming pool is not the Kamini who would obediently stay with the bad guys in the lair unless she really wanted to be there. As for Kanchan, her shyness - apparently significant enough in the story that it becomes the film's title - puzzles me too, and I can't tell if the film is saying that this trait, which Kanchan embodies with a pitiable level of maladjustment, should be worked through, as she eventually does (at least a little bit), or if it is to be admired, as it is Kanchan's choices that eventually lead to the happy(-ish) ending. Maybe the shyness should be read with regard to its effects on how the characters manage their lives - inwardly, in the case of the frightened yet dutiful Kanchan, or outwardly, as the affectionate yet flawed Kamini? If I understand the ending correctly, duty wins, but the heroine learns to look outward and forward - but only accompanied by her smart, brave, balanced hero.

Speaking of which, there might be another lesson in Ajit, who is both soldier and poet, lover and interrogator, hero and dupe. In Ajit we find traditional behaviors and responsibilities coupled with outgoing optimism and laid-back cheer. Not only do both women love Ajit, but Ajit also loves both women - though which version of each woman, it's harder to say. Ajit loves Kamini instantly but when he learns of her treachery is willing to dispose of her. While he rejects Kanchan initially, it's because of who she isn't, not because of who she is; when she finally displays some sort of personality beyond a quiet and slightly creepy crush, he likes her well enough.

Then again, the distracting visuals and charming performances are more than enough to make me not worry too much about the message. It's really, really fun to watch Rakhee and Shashi flirt their way through the various pairings and encounters, especially when she smiles with big-hearted affection or when he leans in dangerously close with poetic sweet-talk. Seriously, there was a scene in here that curled my toes, and I even tried to get a sound recording of him saying "You are my poetry, you are my music" - as cheesey and ridiculous a line as they come, but you can just feel the attraction oozing out of him, and he murmurs soft and low, tapering off on sangeeeeeet...oooof. Yum. Damn. Etc.

I watched this line of dialogue several times before I realized that in fact he doesn't really say or do any of this: this scene only happens in Kanchan's imagination - a phenomenon I know all too well. Her fantasy sequence also involves a lovey-dovey happy family bit, with them cradling a newborn, whom he twirls about and tosses in the air - and then drops, and her dream world comes crashing down just as hard. It's really quite funny.


Akshaye v. Shashi, round 1: Shashi

I just stopped by my local Indian grocery store - Annapoorna, whose website I have just discovered and am happy to pitch, because the store has provided me no end of happiness - in search of the 70s classic Deewar. The alphabetizing gods were smiling today and I quickly found it and had a momentary burst of joy before realizing it was the 2004 one and grumpily shoving it back on the shelf.

Yes. You heard right. I was disappointed to find an Akshaye Khanna movie. This is what a budding love of Shashi Kapoor can do to a person. And anyway, I can't watch that Deewaar without Babasko - it wouldn't be right.

So instead I got Trishul. As I checked out my movie, I mentioned to the owner - I have got to ask him his name, but every time I think to do it I get panicked and shy - that I had just discovered Shashi and was excited to see this movie. "Oh yes," he said, "He is very good. Very good. His dancing was very good. But now...he has gotten fat, fat...." Ever quick to turn conversations away from comments that may harm one's body image, I laughed and said "He's earned it" on my way out the door.

Here's a picture from the website of Annapoorna's video section.

What you see on the left, floor to ceiling, are the Tamil and Telegu titles - I thought Hindi film covers were bright and colorful until I saw these - and the Hindi films take up most of the set of shelves on the right side, and they wrap around to the third wall that's off the edge of the photo. Annapoorna has a much bigger selection of new relesases than the campustown independent video store, That's Rentertainment, which I also love and is probably the best video store in the whole world, especially because its catalog is online, but even during the university's spring break, Dhoom 2 and Salaam-e-Ishq were out. As much as I was tempted, I took a pass on the pirated VHS of Salaam-e-Ishq. Somebody gets crabby when I bring home things like that.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Whoever said German wasn't a romantic language?

So I was reading Paint It Pink about...well, Shashi, probably, and also a post about Disco Dancer, and the Google translator had no idea what to do with the word Schnuffig (and it also thinks post, as in a post on a blog, is "post office." ). So I called in the author, and she explained:
Schnuffig (and I don't think you'll find that in a dictionary ...) means cute, cuddly, sweet, adorable etc. It's usually used in combination with a high-pitched squeeking sound :D The noun is Schnuffel and totally applies to crumpety guys like Shashi or Siddharth. Hm, crumpet could be a good translation for Schnuffel, actually ...
See? My new plan to brush up on my German is totally working.

This word is way better than...anything, really. I plan to put it to use immediately, probably in my upcoming post office about Sharmilee, in which Shashi is überschnuffig.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

happy birthday Rani Mukerji

Whom I love even more than Shashi - even more than Akshaye, actually, on a purely performance-related scale. Even if her only good performance was Babli, I would love her forever. Fortunately there's Yuva and Black and Paheli and Hum Tum and Mujhse Dosti Karoge! and.... She's crazy talented and she makes me laugh. Right on, Rani!

(There seems to be a slew of late March birthdays. I'm not sure I can keep up [I only knew of this one via Michael] but there's one more I will be sure to mark....)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

happy birthday Shashi Kapoor

Behold! A gallery of neckware! So close to SRK's Don's pattern-on-pattern look*, yet so much less stupid, even though ordinarily I wouldn't think that paisley on polka-dot-and-different-paisley would work.

For more, please visit MissionBAS's ode to Shashi fashion or the true shocking story of his ties.

Since I knew Rishi and Shammi first, I never thought I'd have a Kapoor on the FPMBF list. But so it is. Encouraged by Babasko, Kaddele (who may also be celebrating his birthday, I hear), and Filmi Geek, I officially have a crush on Shashi - alhtough it's historical, since that's how I know him. It's a little bit the eyelashes and a lot the curls, but even more I just think he's really good, even though I've only seen him in three things. So far I am impressed by his handling the masala lurches from serious to loony, and in Doosra Aadmi his performance is so charasmatic that you can't help but understand why Rakhee blindly searches for someone just like him (even enough to think Rishi somehow fits the cateogry of "just like Shashi," bleh).

Also, you know, damn.

* Speaking of which, I saw a man on the tube in London wearing a shirt and tie made out of the same pattern. The tie was outside the shirt, though.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

a little gutsy: Doosra Aadmi

I think this movie was about forgiveness (of both self and others), or maybe temptation, or recognizing the flaws in one's sense of reality, but I'm not sure. The question I've been thinking about all day is what it meant to say by including small, simple scenes of things you don't see very often in popular Hindi films - not making a big production out of being shocking but just showing adults, both younger and older, making decisions without thinking them through as far as they should have. Some characters demonstrate a lot more id than responsibility and others are self-sacrificing, and generally these behaviors coincide with values that are basically categorized as modern or traditional.* Yet I don't think the movie is saying "non-traditional is bad, look what happens to people when women stay single and have jobs alongside men, look what happens when a couple gets married without parental approval." There's something about the everyday-ness (at least, "everyday" by my own personal standards) of some of these scenes that drew me into the story and the characters much more than I would have thought a 1970s movie about temptation and complicated relationships would. We see a young newlywed trying to buy condoms, the couple rolling around in bed,

a man visiting a woman who is not his wife as she steps out of the shower,
a lechy older husband who gropes his young female students,

and, most interestingly, a wife who, marching into her husband's workplace to find out what he's been doing all those late nights, seems to wear as a sign of her independence the flared pants and tight shirts that she earlier ditched for salwaar kameez at the husband's request.

It's very difficult to say much more without giving away the whole story, and for once I really want to respect that, because I would love for more people to watch this and talk about it with me, and I know most people don't like knowing the plot before they see the movie. If you're really skittish and think you might like to watch this - and you should, as it's really interesting - then you should probably play it safe and not read any further, although I'm not going to say anything that isn't in the imdb plot summary.

The title alone tells you quite a bit about what's going on. Translated as either "the other man" or "the second man," so I am told by Hindi-speakers, you know there are at least three people in this love story. In fact, there are four people: Karan (Rishi Kapoor) and Timsi (Neetu Singh) are impetuous newlyweds, and he hires Nisha (Rakhee) to work for his advertising agency, but she's got a mysterious past that involves Shashi (Shashi Kapoor, who is my new FPMBF runner-up, by the way - I simply cannot get enough Shashi).

I find it really interesting that the title refers to the second/other man, shifting the focus of the story to Nisha, instead of the second/other woman, which would make it centered on the Karan-Timsi marriage, which is what you'd expect from Bollywood. The movie opens with a long stretch of nothing but scenes of Karan and Timsi falling in love and getting married (despite his father's disapproval), which I think sets the viewer up to assume the movie is primarily concerned with them, but after finishing it, I think the story was really about Nisha, and it is surprisingly sympathetic to her, even though she's got her sights firmly set on a married man. Though she is technically the instigator, Nisha clearly has a lot of heart and does not mean to do anything wrong - she's just blinded by pain. She also has the tough love of Shashi's best friend, who eventually gets through to her that she cannot try to re-live her past with someone new, especially when said someone is married.

As uncondemning as the movie is of Nisha, it is equally tolerant of Karan, who is foolish, bossy, selfish, rash young man. He's also...I can't think of the word, but "easily swayed by appeals to his ego, his feelings of success, and his love of a good time," a gadabout. He's an ethical lightweight, that's what he is, who seldom thinks before he acts. Karan responds quickly and in kind to Nisha's advances, so he's certainly not a quivering victim of a predatory older woman - she may have started it, but he was more than willing to finish it. I mean, I ask you, is this the behavior of an innocent man?

Karan is chastised by his father for his dubious behavior, but the ending of the film is completely filmy and far too easy to follow from the difficult emotions everyone is feeling - and of course Timsi has to capitulate, even though her husband was behaving as above, apologizing for something that is completely self-preserving and reasonable. Timsi and Karan don't even have a discussion at the end - they voice-over their thoughts, as though they are reading each other's minds. Highly unsatisfying. Anyway, Rishi Kapoor played this role so effectively that I really disliked him - and began to wonder if maybe he's just actually like that, so easily did he pout and whine and break when his sense of pleasure was restrained.

So: please see it and tell me what you think. I think there are many interesting bits going on here, but maybe I'm making too much of things.

And now for some silly photos. It was 1977, so it was bound to happen.
  • Karan clearly wears way too much cologne, since we can see it on camera.
    This goes on for several seconds - I can smell it from here.
  • Shashi offers Nisha some romance advice.

    I think he's reinforcing the idea that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Interpretations welcome. Bollywood love advice is bound to be good.
  • You can check out Bollywood Fugly for the movie's few wardrobe problems, but I refuse to say that these particular sunglasses are anything other than superfly.
* Feel free to point me towards articles that discuss better terms than these to use; until then, though, I'm using these, because I think everyone will know what I mean by them, even though they're probably flawed and don't hold up to ethnological scrutiny.

Friday, March 16, 2007

"Aaya India"

This morning I finally watched the "Aaya India" video and I was actually moved by watching Shahrukh charge forward with the flag and found myself feeling a little bit peppy after the song finished. Somehow I am so won over by SRK's charisma-oozing shenanigans that I got a little bit excited about a sporting event - even though I don't know the first thing about cricket (except that there's a position called silly mid-on, which sounds exactly like it was made up by Monty Python) and I'm not from the country whose team is being sappily and a bit hurrah-for-the-homeland-edly advanced. I mean, he's literally flag-waving, which I hate, and I cannot imagine any Hollywood actors in any such video having any effect on me other than "urgh" and changing the channel. Usually celebrities pointing at me and trying to get me to feel or do something is annoying.

Maybe the song taps into a Lagaan-ish ability to spin India and cricket as noble and righteous. There's something appealing about the participatory scenes, where the fans' actions and thoughts are depicted having a clear and direct effect on the spirit of the team. The misty-eyed expressions of Priyanka and Kareena, though, ticked me off - can't women ever get anything interesting to do in any script these days?

All I can say is, if Shahrukh came running down my street with a big flag, I would follow.

Aside to Miss Bolly: your FPMBF is in it too. With hair.

Pip pip for Paint It Pink!

There are many reasons that I love Paint It Pink and its author (upon meeting her in Vienna, I do believe I may have gushed to her that she is a genius) - the OMG, the pink, the creativity, the giggling, the encouragement of love for Shashi Kapoor - but for starters, I'll share this Disco Dancer-themed post, which caught my fancy today.

I realize that the published rounds of "you're so great" "no, you are" stemming from the PEIBBM might be getting wearisome to some readers, but you're just going to have to forgive me because I'm having a long day and I need some cheering, and reading Kaddele's posts is just what Akshaye has suggested I spend my afternoon doing, since he's working and won't be home until late.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I went to Vienna for the Pan-European International Bollywood Blogger Meeting and all I got was a bunch of superwow friends

...although to be honset I am excited about the t-shirt. Seriously, they're making t-shirts.*

So I'm back home, and while it offers comforts like my dog, a coffee maker I know how to use, and my very own bed, it is sadly lacking in crazed German-speaking Bollywood fans. I know, I know, that's no way to live. These people are fantastic - and completely out of their minds (I know they will take this in the complimentary and awe-struck spirit in which it is meant).

Maybe it's because I haven't seen any of my Chambana friends yet, but I'm a little down in the dumps today, missing all these new friends and feeling very disconnected from everything. This happens most of the times I travel, and on the plane from London to Chicago yesterday I found myself wondering what nationality has to do with one's sense of where one belongs - and then quickly decided that it must vary from person to person and that it is perfectly okay to feel that you belong in many different places but with a certain special type of people, and people can of course be located wherever. Home is where the heart is, and one's heart can be in many places - with many people, that is - at one time. At least, mine can. And is. Anyway, I think the google translation of Paint It Pink's post about going home says it best: "Why does one have to say good-bye to dear humans always so soon? Menno. The world is unfair and bad."**

To give you some idea of how much fun we had (and why I'm sad not to be there anymore) - and believe me, I had a blast even when I wasn't able to understand what was going on - here are some pictures, just a few out of the over 400 currently in the Bollywood Blogger Meeting Flickr pool.

Koi, who knows Hindi and is a professor and a mad, mad dancer; Maria; Babasko; the edge of Michael; Marco; and me

Koi, Maria, Michael, Marco, and me - I think we're dancing to Kaike Paan Banaraswala

Maini, Kaddele, and me

Michael, me, and Babasko - whatever it is we're doing, clearly the sentiment is "Vah! Vah!"

Many of you know that I have had a long-standing plan to get all of my favorite people to move to Champaign-Urbana. It's becoming increasingly obvious that that isn't going to work, so I'm formulating a new plan, which is that all my favorite people who do not want to move to Chambana should move to Mumbai. Babasko and some others and I have even dreamed up a way to make it work: we're going to try to sell an Indian tv channel on our reality show idea, in which a gaggle of foreigners live in the beachfront house from Om Jai Jagadish and work at making a Bollywood movie. Cameras follow us around as we pitch the idea to directors and stars, learn about how to make costumes, work out the choreography, fight over who gets one-on-one coaching time with Saif, etc.

I should also mention that in addition to loony dancing, the meetup evening contained the results of the 4th Annual Central European Bollywood Awards, as determined by votes from the forum's readers. The results were...let's say "intriguing," and they solicited a lot of boos from our group. I am really curious if the results would be the same here, because I think the readership of BLB is quite different, and if I can figure out how to do it (I'd rather have a widget people can use than solicit emails that I then have to tally) I will post the nominees here and we can all vote, just for fun.

Anyway. Thank you so much to everyone - particularly Babasko and Marco, who did a lot of work for this weekend - for being your fine, funny, loveable selves and for putting up with my scaredy-cat-ness that prevented me from trying out my German. I am a lucky girl indeed to know people like you and to be a part of a community that enjoys each other so much.

* Stay tuned for an important announcement about t-shirts.

** After the last week, wanting to stay close to these fine folks, I'm newly resolved to get my German working again, so as a means of and impetus to practice I joined Molodezhnaja's Bollywood Forum, where most of the Deutsch-walllahs congregate (when they're not at Vienna's Cafe Coffee Day, anyway). Until then, I'm putting sites through online translators - with great comic effect, as seen above.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

meetup day, part 3

I'm sitting next to Kaddele and she is a hoot and a half (if not more), as demonstrated by her cheering for the entrance of Mrs. Kakkad. And I notice that Michael is posting sounds as well as images of the gathering. It's getting a bit meta around here - a group of people who like Indian movies and write/read about them are sitting together watching an Indian movie and writing and reading about that very same event.

This is way too much fun. There must be an English-language meetup and soon, geography schmeography.

"Ich bin da." Tee hee.

You know, the two worst things about my crap German are 1) the folks here probably think I'm a sad-sack wallflower, since I mostly just try to listen as carefully as possible and don't join in conversations because I can't, and, more importantly, 2) I am not able to get to know these wonderful people whom I have no doubt would all be good friends if only I could communicate with them. Fortunately, I can pick up on the very strong sense of high-quality community here, and the love of Bollywood is an impressively effective lingua franca. And now that the movie is rolling, we can all joke around together with a very specific context.

If you want the actual blow-by-blows of the movie-watching, see Babasko, Michael, Kaddele, Maini, and Masala. See what I mean about the meta? Phew!

meetup day, part 2

It's 2:15. We're all in one of Babasko's classrooms and she has distributed laptops for anyone who wants to post live. It is ridiculously techy in here, with over half of the 22 people typing away. We just got back from wandering the Naschmarkt and gathering food for lunch. I have opted for Haribo gummi cherries and a diet coke - no one can say I don't represent my homeland.

Main Hoon Na has begun! Michael, who is right in front of me, has already started chair-dancing (and he stole a gummi cherry, but I totally forgive him). It is important to note here that the subtitles are going to be auf Deutsch. I hope to take this as a learning opportunity, since I know the movie well enough not to need any help.

And by the way, in our carrom game, I got only one disk in until the very end, when I got the rani. Consider it broughten.

We're 20 minutes in or so now and it is weird to see these characters speaking German. They sound exactly the same as always, but the text at the bottom is jarring. (Not because it's German, of course, but just because it isn't English, which is of course what my subtitles always are.)

Boman Irani has just made his first apperance and we all cheered. I love these people.

meetup day, part 1

Even though the brave Babasko and her very supportive, generous, and funny non-FPM true-for-real SO had announced their home would be open at 8:00 for morning visitors - and not edited the time after last night's rather longish dinner at a Sri Lankan restaurant - it was almost 9:oo before anyone showed up, giving us time to do last-minute scrambling and food prep. I say "we," though all I did was chop strawberries for the filling for Babasko's scrummy Austrian crepes, the name of which she has told me twice but I have forgotten. It's almost 11:00 now and there are at least 14 people here. Bollywood Fugly readers please note that somehow we are all color-coordinated, in neutrals puncuated with blue and orange (how Blogger chic, or Illinois chic, even, though I will not try to explain that to the people here).

I have absolutely no idea what people are talking about - or who everyone is, as the nametags the Vienna crew made on Wednesday night at Cafe Coffee Day (the only one outside India) are being saved for this afternoon - but I am muchly entertained by the nonverbals. And, when there are pauses, the latest issue of Filmfare. Said issue features a photo shoot of my FPMBF and Babasko has said I, not Michael, can take home those pages. Ha! Ha ha ha! I'm making my way through a content-free piece by Naseeruddin Shah on his thoughts on...acting, I think is the point of this, and Stanislavsky. The piece meanders, but I do agree with his point that a recap of the plot of a film does not a review make. I only hope his courses at Whispering Woods or Wandering Whipoorwills or Wallowing Willows or whatever that school is called are more organized.

Ooh, I've just been invited to join a game of carrom. Das macht spasß!

Friday, March 09, 2007

give me your Bachchans, your Khans, your huddled masses yearning to make jokes about Johnny Lever

Alright, North Americans, and anyone else who wants to: we officially have to have a Bollwood blog writers/readers meetup. Soon. I don't care where, although preferably someplace like Chicago or New York or London that can be relied on to have several screens of Hindi films to watch. I only ask that it be primarily in English, because these Deutsch-wallahs are clearly having a grand old time and I can only understand bits of it. (Think about it. How fantastic would an English-language meetup be? I mean, it's the language of the Hindi film industry and often the lingua franca of India as a whole. It's the language of London, which everyone says is the best place outside of Mumbai for Bolly happenings. It's the language of the random ridiculous expressions in the movies.) Okay, yeah, so what I really want is a meetup that does not make me wish I could ask everyone to submit their witty comments in writing and accompanied by a dictionary (Wörterbuch - that one I know) and that is likely to be attended by the people I know via the websites that I read and participate in.

Right. Time for sleep. I have a lot of attentive listening to do tomorrow. Also, Michael and I have been nominated to dance along to "Gori Gori" during the showing of Main Hoon Na. I pity his knees.

ein bißchen zusammen

I am in the very. same. room. as Maria, MissionBas, and liebling Michael, otherwise known as (who has already posted pictures) - and Babasko too, of course, though that is old news by this point and I'm beginning to take it for granted.

It is superwow already.

Update to post (later that night): here we are! Thanks to Michael for the picture. Und ja, I am making a weird scrunchy face - a classic example of why, when the camera is on the timer, you do not move one teeny bit until you hear the click.

Kaddele, Maria, Michael, Beth, Barbara

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

update from Vienna

where I am sitting in the flat of the fabulous Ms. Babasko and listening to soundtracks. We watched Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana with the adorable Siddharth last night, which I will do a proper write-up of later - the keyboards here are arranged differently and I cannot keep track of where the apostrophe and dash are and I imagine readers have only so much patience for surprise ß and ö - but for now just be happy that there is a popular Indian film that includes "Oh Baby Baby" in it (announcing the seductress, appropriately).

Also, I just read that Rediff wants readers to vote for the sexiest Bollywood actress in honor of Women's Day on March 8, and they accompany the article with a picture of a dripping wet Bipasha Basu in a white shirt. Shame, Rediff. I'd like to think that they are just embracing women's right to be sexual and to control their own bodies and images, but somehow I doubt it. It smacks of skank, frankly. If they really wanted to honor women in Bollywood, why don't they ask readers to vote for the most important contributions ot the film industry by women, for who writes the most interesting roles for women, or what actress they would like to see in xyz roles? Grrr.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

it's in the bag

Or rather it is a bag, because I just got back from Ganesha, where I scored the aforementioned SRK-printed handbag. It is everything I hoped it would be - though puzzling to non-Bollywood fans, as Melina will attest. The shop owner and I had a grand time chatting about movies and celebrities - about which we seem to have the same taste from everything from Salman (no) to Baghban (ugh) to Disco Dancer's "Bang Bang" song (yes definitely) to Saif's health problems (tragic; she intimated that he's on steroids - now Saif, don't make me send Dr. Abby after you). Anyway, she was fantastic, and so is her shop, and I only regret that I zoomed off to the British Museum before remembering to take pictures of the outside of the store with its SRK mural.

Anyhoo. London is too full of other attractions for me to squeeze in any more Bollywood, but I'll survive. And go on to Vienna, which will be so full-on Bollywood there will hardly be time to sleep. Ta luvies - and see you soon, you central European meeters-uppers.