Thursday, May 31, 2007

lunchtime poll #4: "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha"

So I'm sitting there, studying the vocabulary in chapter two of Teach Yourself Hindi (yes, I'm still on chapter two) with a random CD on in the background. "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha" came on and I put down my book. Usually lyrics flow past me unless for some reason I've bothered to hunt down a translation; I hadn't done that with this song, but recently Filmi Geek, with her mad Hindi skillz, had been telling me about them. I remember thinking "that's a bit much" - I mean, "When I saw this girl it felt like a poet's the swaying the music of the fairies"? That's pretty sap-tastic. But just now, reading them over again, I started to cry and had to keep hitting repeat on the CD player. I think what happened is that I moved past the particular words - which I still think are quite heavy - to the totality of the feeling that would move somebody to say those things, and I found myself charmed and moved. And watching the picturization, I'm very pleased by the simple, everyday sweetness of its scenes - it balances out the grander or more flowery comparisons of the lyrics. My response may have something to do with timing, too. I'm having a down-with-love sort of week, and when that happens and you (and by "you" I mean "I") hear words like this, you can't help but think "clearly no one will ever say that to me" and you feel a little sad, even though if someone did say that to you, you would probably have to suppress an eye roll or two.

All of which, of course, made me appreciate all the more how clever and funny its use is in Main Hoon Na.

Thoughts on the song and its popularity and impact are welcome.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

So what if the heart is broken? Dor

If you're like me and somehow haven't yet seen this lovely, thoughtful film, drop whatever you're doing and go, go, go. Of all its many strengths, I think the most important is how simply it asks and explores some very complex and emotional questions: What does a person's life really consist of? Why are we so easily tempted not to be generous and forgiving? Why do we resist love softening us? Why do we let fear keep us from joy? Why do we let sadness squash our dreams and hearts? In a world in which men control most aspects of women's lives and often hold them back, put them down, why do women not support one another? Dor shows us that maybe it really isn't so hard to be a better person. We are connected, and we must take care of each other. If you can speak honestly, it isn't that hard to express what you need, and responding to others isn't too difficult either.

A user on imdb commented that simple movies can be the hardest ones to make in India. Dor doesn't use much filmi bombast, but its colors, music, words, and emotions are genuine and rich. And its lessons about the right to live your own life with consciousness of others, aboutoffering love, and about being honest and brave all come shining through, with no extra glitz or histrionics necessary. Dor is a wonderfully different look at ideas we've heard mentioned in plenty of other...what's the adjective form of "rainbow"?... and melodramatic places (of which I am equally fond, obviously). I won't say that Dor is stripped down because I think that implies something has been taken away from it or that it's missing something, which it very clearly is not. It's not sparse and it's not bland - it's just not filmi. Impeccable performances from everyone, beautiful use of color and landscape, a few moments that let you let go of the tears that have been welling up in your eyes, and voila! This movie is as close to perfect as any I've seen.

Some of my favorite moments:
  • the film's willingness to point out and discuss some of the problematic ways women treat each other - and optimistically showing each woman put aside her own issues or what has been done to her in order to help another
  • both of Meera's dances to "You Are My Soniya" - I especially like in the second one that she looks around first to make sure no one can see her, which is what I usually do before dancing in my living room too
  • ...and the other film references, like Beharoopiya's dialogues (would somebody please post what they all are?), the SRK cutout in the photo shop, and of course "Kajra Re" in the desert
  • Meera holding out her dish to get another helping at the sweet shop
  • both women admitting to themselves the meaning of their friendship
  • Zeenat silently asking Meera to join her on the train - and Meera's honest leap to do so
So, so good.

Update to post (May 30, 2007): I forgot some important things. 1) Go to Sanket's post to read more and hear the title song. 2) Dor proves that it really is not impossible to write interesting, substantial, weighty, and still fun roles for women, and writer/director Nagesh Kukunoor deserves a big hug for making an intelligent movie about intelligent women. When will this be the norm instead of the exception? 3) I think Dor should be considered as a feminist story. For me, feminism mostly boils down to the right for every woman to truly, freely consider and make her own choices, and that's an important part of what the women think and do (and the Behroopiya too, really). 4) In case it doesn't go without saying so specifically, big hugs are also in store for Ayesha Takia and Gul Panag, who are both stellar beyond words. I haven't seen Gul in anything before, but Ayesha...well, I've seen her in two fairly similar roles as Akshaye's bland but pleasant and beleaguered girlfriend, and clearly she deserves better than that. It also raises the question of whether many of the current actresses about whom I feel "enh" - basically everyone except Rani, Tabu, Preity, Aish, and Konkona - could similarly rise to the occasion quite beautifully if only they had something to work with.

Naqaab sneak peek? Bleak.

A Naqaab trailer and song premiere is up on IndiaFM and I am underwhelmed. Music that I'm sure is supposed to sound haunting (and part of which I swear is also used in the early scenes of Main Hoon Na, I think when Naseeruddin is shot and Shahrukh responds in slow mo, or maybe during his funeral) plays while we see the reflection of a woman in a white wedding dress (Urvashi Sharma, I believe) in a puddle in front of a dilapidated building. Bobby Deol - sporting his much-mocked long, bedraggled hair* - says "I do," Akshaye says he does too, and then the bride says she doesn't. And the voiceover says "There is a lie behind every truth; there is a face behind every face."

What? That's not suspenseful or puzzling or intriguing, as you'd want a thriller to be; that's just stupid. Everyone wears a mask and no one is who s/he seems, or every person is related to or entangled with others. Either way, we've heard it before, and my reaction is "So what?" I don't know, it just doesn't seem very interesting despite every attempt to make it look so - furtive glances, a couple in bed, alcohol, a wedding, and hieroglyphics (you know that's going to be a mess) - maybe because we've already seen Akshaye and Bobby together in a "who is this person really" thriller by the same directors?

But I will say something nice: I like the title ("Veil"); it implies a bit of concealment and/or secrecy, both appropriate in a thriller, and if we're lucky it might even refer to the repeated image of the bride. Just last week I discovered that IndiaFM puts the literal English translation of Hindi titles on the "cast and crew" section of their entry for films, and I could not be more grateful.

* Akshaye's 'do isn't much better. Look in the stills. Also, I don't know if it's his hair or the clothes or some sort of by-product of the aging process, but he seems to be losing his neck. It's really odd.

Friday, May 25, 2007

shake it to the right

Why didn't anyone tell me that Emma Bunton - that's Baby Spice to you* - was in a Bollywood movie?!? Pyaar Mein Twist, with Dimple Kapadia, Rishi Kapoor, Farida Jalal, and Soha Ali Khan. So, did anyone see it, is it any good, and what/how does my girl Emma do in it?

* I don't think my love of the Spice Girls is news to anyone. What may be news, though, is that one of the people I often link to here likes her too, and, in case that person doesn't know, she has a new(-ish) album out, which so far doesn't sound as good as the really cool previous one.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

OMG indeed!

Paint It Pink has trumped her own superwowness. From the creator of such pieces as the Guide to Shashi and the Men in Pink video I am honored to show you the very finest thing I have ever gotten in the mail, maybe even more exciting than last week's preview copy of a new SRK biography by Anupama Chopra and an earlier present from the Jaman crew chief of Looking for the Big B. Looky!
I am so delighted I don't know what to say other than thank you Kaddele! (And I bet she didn't even know my birthday is just a few days away, in the season of Bollywood blogger birthdays, including Filmi Geek, Maja, Babasko, and Armando, whom I will fête in due course.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

calm in the eye of the storm: Nishabd

The most striking thing about Nishabd, I think, is how reasonable and balanced all of the people are around and through their very dramatic emotions that arise from very unreasonable, absurd events. As is often the case in sad stories, I think, this one is fueled by people making bad choices. Really, really bad and selfish choices. Vijay may have loved Jia's youthfulness - her short-shorts, lollipop-sucking, tantrum-throwing, pouting, flirting, rude, repetitive youthfulness - but his short-sighted and selfish decisions about how he responded to her are the worst immaturity in this story - worse than Jia's because, of course, he's old enough to know better and he has very strong, important reasons (a wife, a child, the life he's built) to act on that knowledge.

Here's what he says when reflecting on what happened:
Since the time this happened with me I always used to think why does this happen. That an old man feels attracted towards a young girl. Why? And the girl's youthful body is not the only reason. The reason is that after a certain age every person fears his aging and death. And he wants to run away from that fear. Towards youth. But this can't happen. We all get so entangled and stuck in the worldly matters that we forget that the real reason of life is to be happy. And maybe this is the reason why we feel a bit jealous of children and youngsters. Because unlike them we lose the capability to enjoy happiness. Spending time with Jia I had become like a child. I thought I have got another chance to be young.
If he got another chance to be young, I'd have to say he squandered it right quick.

Hey, RGV: did you have to have Jia frolic with a hose between her legs, spraying water up over her upper torso and face (I'm willing to forgive the repeated images of her sucking on things)? (If you haven't seen the movie, a perfect still from the scene is on imdb.) Cheap and tacky - and a little broad, don'tcha think? I want to know who was in charge of Jia's image. Is your portrayal of Jia the one she would choose for herself? Or do we see her as Vijay sees her? Or is she actually like that?

Jia exudes a bit of what my friend Wendy and I call "the tyranny of the wacky," our term to describe the phenomenon in movies in which unconventional characters hold sway over more stable, calm characters. You know this story: person in a rut is besotted with the wacky, kooky, free spirit, not seeing how often this person is hurtful and irresponsible. Sometimes TotW results from lazy writing, I think, just letting someone be attractive only because they are different, not because they actually offer much of substance or meaning. I'm not saying TotW explains the whole story of Nishabd, but I think Jia has some of this - or at least that's the effect she has on Vijay - and it's much exacerbated by her age. If she were Vijay's age, her behavior would absolutely not be tolerated in this house. She'd have been unceremoniously kicked out a day after her arrival. And I don't think it would have affected him so, either.

Here are some of the other thoughts I scribbled down while watching (basically unedited).
  • Vijay's line about "We should only be concerned about those who understand us" is a very good trick for creating an intimacy with Jia; his statement implies that they understand each other. And she responds in kind by saying "I don't share my poems with anybody. Do you want to hear more?" Notice that the viewer doesn't hear the poems - we just watch him hear them.
  • "Take light" - isn't that what a camera does? It takes light and turns it into an image?
  • I wonder if Vijay had taken her lightly if any of this would have happened? Or if he took it lightly, would we have met him standing on a cliff talking about deciding to die?
  • Vijay's statement that "The real life is the one lived on one's own decisions" - what does this say about what he says he feels about Jia? Did he decide he loves her? If not, what does that say about his state? If so, what does that say about the rest of his life, his non-Jia life?
  • I think you'd have to be a real grown-up to just say "I love you" and let it sit there without saying, as Jia does, "Did you hear me?" or "What do you think about me?" When he finally responds "yes" she smiles, twirls, and skips out of the room. She doesn't stay.
  • In the scene in which the uncle arrives and everyone is sitting together, the girls' shirts are so cleverly contrasted. Jia's is off-the-shoulder, disheveled, bright, wild; Ritu's is prim, tailored, and light. Ritu's probably shows more actual skin, but just her arms, sort of what you expect a shirt to show, while Jia's shows her neck and collarbone and shoulder, less conventionally. Yay costume designer!
  • Jia doesn't like red; Shri interrogates Vijay in the red light of the darkroom. I think this is the one of only three times we see a warm color anywhere: there's an earlier scene in the darkroom, and at one point Jia has burgundy nail polish. And neither of these reds is truly warm - one is lifeless and electric, the other is blue and dark. The whole movie is blue-gray, even in the sunshine. (This reminds me very much of the lighting used in Anil Kapoor's scenes in Salaam-e-Ishq [which I just watched], where we see him in his dreary routine in which he doesn't realize the love he has.)
  • He was going to throw out his own daughter? Horrible!
  • As Vijay walks into the kitchen and says "Ritu's going to America," a pot on the stove lets out steam. Ritu being gone would definitely make recovery easier.
  • Another clothing note: Vijay wears a thick sweater during most of his confession/narration scenes - I wonder why they put him in that? Does he look softer and more vulnerable that way?
  • "Jia's thoughts are eating me up from within." Does he mean his thoughts of her? Or her own thoughts? Is he thinking about her himself, or is he thinking about her own image of her?
  • Oooh, crappy - he wants to keep on living so he can stay with Jia's does that fit with her thoughts eating him up?
Oh, I should say in closing how excellent I thought Amitabh Bachchan's performance was. This is by far my favorite of his performances in the last ten years - except Bunty aur Babli, because I will always prefer comedy. His restraint while being genuinely expressive was amazing.


Field trip!

Alternate title: Beth's next job.

Some clever person is building a Bollywood theme park/studio-type attraction. It's scheduled to open in 2008, according to Reuters, so that gives all of us far-flung fans a bit of lead time to start saving our pennies. Lots and lots of pennies. The Reuters report of the story is here and a slightly different version from The Times of India, in which this concoction is called a museum (and depending on how the thing is developed, I may or may not agree with them on that term, but anyway), is here.


There was a time, long ago now, when I expected a lot from this movie. Then it came out, everyone said "enh," and I lowered my hopes accordingly. I finally got my hands on it and...enh.

I was really hoping that I would have a flash of insight and be able to state definitively what went didn't work in this movie, why it seems to inspire so many middle-of-the road reactions. (I don't think it's the number of stories or the length - we've all seen Hindi films longer than this that were perfectly good or even great, such as Lagaan - although I do think the DVD version has been trimmed down, because there are scenes and plot points that I had heard about but didn't see.) My hunch is that it's the characters, who for me were either really annoying and not fleshed out or likable but still just a sketch, and the stories, most of which felt equally skeletal, as though I had been plopped down in the middle of a novel and not allowed to read from the beginning. I also wasn't entirely sold on some of the romances implied to be Great and Epic and Amazing. In the case of Vidya and John (Tezheeb and Ashutosh), Priyanka and Salman (Kkamini/Kamna and Rahooool/Rahul), and Govinda and Shannon (Raju and Stephanie), I didn't get any of the flippity-flop* in my stomach that indicates really good romance - and would have helped a lot in supporting very silly plot elements like abandoning your career for a stalker-ish near-stranger or driving all over the place for a cranky one-mission tourist with whom you can't really communicate. For example, what on earth does Raju like about Stephanie? I have no idea. She's not icky or anything, but I don't think we got much of a sense of her personality.**

I understand that there isn't time to give a full back story on everyone in this movie, but if you can't explain things to me, then I need evidence of their existence, and I just didn't get that. Given how much disbelief I have suspended in my two-plus years of watching Bollywood, maybe Nikhil Advani and crew figured I would be willing to do it for them, too, but I wasn't inspired. I've certainly accepted far sillier things - Alien gives boy magical powers? Great! Street thug fakes his way around medical school? Sure! Man pretends to be married so as not to have to tell woman he has a fatal heart condition? Aw, cho chweet! New Yorkers dance along in the street to a man rapping to "Pretty Woman"? Wait for me! - but always in cases when the story had momentum that took me along or the people were engaging or interesting enough that I wanted to follow along with whatever they were doing.

The story I had the most problems with was Anil Kapoor's. First of all, I was a little skeeved that a grown man would be attracted to someone who writes her name in glitter on the front of her daytimer - and dots her Is with hearts, for chrissake.

(And yes, this is a bit rich coming from someone with a screaming pink blog littered with references to a FPMBF, but I'm not a plot point in a major motion picture.) Even if it is a magical daytimer into which she pastes moving-image polaroids of herself.

We get that she is young and carefree - and I did like how most of the scenes with her have a warm, golden light, where as the ones with Anil and Juhi (Seema) are grayish and grim. What bothered me is that in his speech to his wife about what the heck is going on with him, he says he wants more out of life. I'd like to point out that cheating on your spouse isn't necessarily so much "more" as it is "other." You can have more with the same person you're with. You never agreed to give up "more" - but you did agreed to let go of "else" when it comes to other partners. He did come off as short-sighted and self-centered, though, so I'm relatively satisfied. I'd like to know what other people thought of Seema, who struck me as a little bit meek and bland (which in no way is an excuse for what he did, of course), and the "oh no he didn't!" side of me was annoyed that she sat there wishing for his happiness when he had done so much to jeopardize hers.

Let's see, who else...oh right, how can I forget Kkamini and Rahooool? Kkamini is a dreadful character. She reminded me of Miss Piggy, egomaniacal and screechy and tending to stomp off in a huff. I also don't understand why she can't be with Rahul and do the KJo film, even if that isn't tradition, but whatevs.

Side note: I thought I had heard that there was an actual point in the story about her spelling her name with two Ks, but I didn't catch it. And would she have two Ks in Devanagari, too, or just Roman letters? 'Cause here she has one.

Also, it's really saying something when my favorite segment of a film - a film with Akshaye in it! - is kicked off by Salman and features him heavily throughout. I love the title track, and I enjoyed its picturization thoroughly, even though I felt bad for Sohail and Isha's couple, who weren't in it. I think the song was even better in the movie than it is on CD because there are fun dance moves and hand claps in the movie - I love good songs made better with hand claps! Right on!

Here are some other things I enjoyed:
  • Govinda! He was funny, he was sweet, he espoused noble philosophies, and even in this rather understated performance he was the best dancer

    And I liked his talks with Hanuman too. He came off as a dreamy yet very grounded person. Very appealing.
  • Silly white people being hippies in India. Always funny, both on film and in real life.
  • These guys. I can see how one might find them annoying, but I liked how they made Kkamini get fussy.

  • As unlikable as his character Shiven was most of the time, Akshaye had some good comedy, including falling over a chair, being drunk, and getting advice from Raju.
    So, so cute. What a great smile. I rewatched the little clip of him being all happy at his engagement many times.
  • Do you think anyone ever falls into the water during rehearsals?

* Term courtesy of Filmi Geek.
** Not that I blame her - I would no doubt behave the same way, right down to remaining hopeful despite his brush-off and saying weird things to strangers in my broken Hindi, if I showed up in India to track down the ladka who vanished and broke my heart. I like Stephanie, actually - I admire her pluck, even though we all knew she didn't stand a chance with cowardly Rohit - and she surely ranks among the least annoying goris in Hindi cinema, probably because she was supposed to be lost, look confused, and have crappy Hindi.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

pre-proper-response thoughts on Salaam-e-Ishq

1. I love that Priyanka and Anil are having their late-night coincidental confab at a Cafe Rouge. Now another of my great pop cultural loves, Bridget Jones's Diary, has an overlap with Bollywood. By the way, I think a Bollywood version of Bridget Jones's Diary would be superwow, but I would have to be involved so that it is cast properly (which means Rani, not Priyanka, is Bridget, and Shahrukh is Daniel and Saif, I think, will do very nicely as Mark Darcy).

2. I want to throttle Priyanka's character. Just get married and do the movie. I know it's not the usual model for Bollywood actresses, but just try it, you idiot. And you are so not Lauren Bacall. Put your lips together and stop talking.

3. But first I have to throttle Anil's character, who is the most pathetic excuse of a grown-up I've seen in a long time.

4. Still love the soundtrack, though, maybe even more, now that I've heard it in context.

5. It's very pretty. It looks great. Classy, full of details, rich (as in "full," not as in "expensive," although surely that too), and effective in creating moods and really setting the characters. So bravo to all of the people who were involved in making this movie look so good.

Friday, May 18, 2007

tee hee 2

I just got back from a 4-day, 6,000-person conference and I am wiped out. I should have just taken today off but instead I'm watching more Abhishek ads online. From the "Motoslvr vs Abhishek" series, please note his very funny bedroom decor filled with big portraits of himself (as you do - or at least, as Bollywood set designers do, too).

PS - isn't that Ranjit Chowdhry playing his butler?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

for those of us who wish Mr. Darcy could be just a bit more filmi

Somehow I have had my head under a rock that prevented me from ever hearing about Goodness Gracious Me, a BBC sketch comedy show I am going to have to rent at the earliest opportunity. Allons-y au Bollyblog d'A2 à voir une vidéo de YouTube in which recurring character Chunky Lafunga, a Bollywood star, appears in Pride and Prejudice. C'est tres bon, ça.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Javed Akhtar on Hindi films as a state of the union

Trivial Matters, or "darling Akshay," as he is known 'round these parts, alerted me to an article in Outlook India in which wordsmith (right, Filmi Geek?) Javed Akhtar proposes that because they so borrow and synthesize cultural elements from across the nation, and are made by a crew of people from various places and religions, Hindi films are the country's greatest common language - and constitute a culturally ecumenical state of the union in which everyone can (and does) participate.

Here is the first page of the section of the article on Hindi films (it starts in the fourth paragraph down and then continues on the next page for another paragraph). It's worth noting that the only direct quote from Akhtar is the introductory idea: "There is one more state in this country, and that is Hindi cinema." None of the explanation or expansion of this idea is attributed to him; it all comes as an excerpt from a forthcoming book The Miracle That is India by Ramachandra Guha. Does anyone know if this comes from a longer statement or larger context shared by Akhtar elsewhere?

I don't feel I know enough about recent Indian history to weigh in on this - and as a non-Indian, I don't think it's particularly important that I have an opinion. As a filmi fan with a personal and professional interest in topics of culture and identity, though, I'm definitely intrigued. My preliminary thoughts are that idea of Bollywood as the pan-Indian cultural mosaic (as my adopted homeland of Canada might say) is both a little bit brash and cheerfully tempting. Though I spend no energy seeking out or engaging with the opinions of people who actively dislike Hindi films at anything more significant than the personal taste level, even I can easily imagine people thinking "Oh no he didn't!" given, for example, the taint of corruption and immorality that some see in the film industry and some of its products and players. On the other hand, as a fan, I can imagine it being quite tempting to get to elevate your passion from entertainment, performance, and/or shared stories (and the values and ideas they comprise) to Indian Culture Itself.

In the words of one of America's greatest popular cultural ties that bind, "discuss amongst yourselves."

to post (May 11, 2007): An expanded version of this post is up at Desicritics.

a poem

It's a relatively lesser-known fact that while I may go on (and on and on) about Akshaye and Shashi and Saif, there is a signifcant part of me that quietly but absolutely adores Abhishek Bachchan. He's not officially on the FPMBF list, mainly out of affection for Maja ("I sacrified my love on the altar of friendship," as Babasko sometimes reminds me about her long-ago fledgling feelings for Akshaye), but also because I cannot quite put into words what I like about him. It goes beyond "madly talented and wildly attractive," and it can't really be expressed without sound effects. It has a lot to do with how funny he can be (and how geeky and selfless it comes off), a trait that Akshaye seems to be sorely lacking and that Shashi has but often couples with a touch of smugness that will probably grow tireseome. A shared sense of humor wins over an ability to smolder, dance, charm, be intense, or look good in pleather pants, no question about it.

Anyway, I was just reading Filmi Geek's post on Bluffmaster, where she described him thusly
While he has the looks for dark, brooding characters, he is at his ease and at his best in brash, goofy roles, embodying a certain kind of nerd cool. Indeed, so appealing is Abhishek in roles like Bluffmaster that one wonders why anyone bothers casting him in films like Umrao Jaan.
I did a quick mental survey of the roles I've seen him play (which upon hasty consideration I sort loosely into "funny," "brooding," and "underused in a cameo that most anyone else also could have done") and how I feel about them. And then, as I sat sipping my post-lunch iced latte (it's like 87 degrees or something, insanely warm), I was suddenly inspired to write a little poem about my feelings for Baby B.

I love Abhishek when he's funny,
Like when he's Roy or when he's Bunty.
I love Abhishek when he's not,
like in Yuva or Umrao - such talent he's got
I love Abhishek in a house
I love Abhishek with a mouse.
I love Abhishek here or there
I love Abhishek anywhere.
I may not like green eggs and ham,
but about Abhishek all I can say is damn.*

(Procsrastinate? Who, me?)

* With apologies to Army of Monkeys, whose word I have co-opted.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Avoid, yaar! Avoid like the plague! Jigar

This movie is repellent.

It's so awful that I can think of only one remotely redeeming thing to say about it, which is that the "meet cute" between Karisma Kapoor and Ajay Devgan is indeed cute, starting with his accidental sighting of her on a balcony, then a very fine girls vs. boys wedding song, and then the usual hiding behind trees. The rest of it is absolutely not worth watching - although I have no qualifications to talk about the numerous fight scenes, which for all I know are really good.

My objections about the story are based largely on the morally bankrupt bad guy characters, who premeditate a rape merely to entangle Ajay's character into acting rashly out of revenge. To make things worse, the rape victim, still lying in the street in front of a crowd of dozens of onlookers who did nothing while all this was happening, sobbing and alone, then kills herself with a shard of glass. It's horrible. There are things I will put up with for the sake of a story in a movie, and there are things I cannot, will not, handle. If I thought Jigar had anything worthwhile to offer - timely political commentary or finely crafted character development or a couple of memorable songs - I might have been able to make a very uneasy agreement with myself that I would move past the rape scene, but it doesn't. It's possible that the movie was maybe trying to say something about how women are treated in Indian society - Karisma has a short speech at the end about men and women needing to be treated equally under the law - but to my mind nothing else in the story supports this idea.

Veeru Devgan, father of star Ajay, is credited with the idea for the story; I think all his years of action/stunt/fight directing must have clouded his judgment about plot devices that can justify and contextualize fight scenes. (And why on earth would you want your child to be part of a project like this? Ugh.) At some point, if you want to make a movie about guys who train in martial arts and then beat each other up, can't you just have them do that and not even pretend to have another story? I guess this is where the general Bollywood tendency to have something for everyone in each film can be problematic, pressuring one specific story to have offshoots that are irrelevant and maybe even damaging, just to spice up the mix.

Thursday, May 03, 2007