Sunday, July 29, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

not my news, but still newsworthy

I don't know how many of you know Nick, but I can vouch that he's a very nice fella who sends funny text messages, among other virtues. We've been known to consult each other from different time zones while at our respective movie stores trying to figure out what to rent. He's in Mumbai for a few months, and you can read about his recent filmi adventures, first at a shoot and then at a sound studio.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

more on everyone's favorite topic: Akshaye's hair

Back in August, Bollywood Blog published this photo of Akshaye, looking bald.

Then today I saw this one on the Times of India website.

It appears somebody's been very naughty with Photoshop. (Side note: did you know Adobe has an official statement about how "Photoshop" isn't a verb and that I should have just said "It appears somebody's been very naughty enhancing an image using Adobe® Photoshop® software"? Isn't it a mark of market domination if your product is the standard vocabulary for whatever it is that you make/do - like Oreo and Kleenex?)

By way of an update on yesterday's technical woes, below is a screenshot of my episode of Koffee with Karan playing on VLC (which, much to its credit, did play the file). The whole show looks like this and has no sound.

It's especially hard to resist youtube when a legal product behaves like this.

Update to post (July 29, 2007): just to be clear, I think the bald photo is the faked one. I'm basing this opinion on how fuzzy and matte it looks around the back of his head.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The universe hates me.

I have never watched a single episode of Koffee with Karan - celebrity chat shows are just not my thing, nor is starting words with K when they're actually spelled with C - but I'm sure you can all understand why this week was the time to buck the trend. I went to a totally legal site and bought the episode - a bargain at $1.99 - hunky dory, yippee skippy, and not a single application that already exists on or that I can find to download for my dear Mrs. Peel, my trusty iBook G4, will play the @(*&)#$ wmv file.

>@(*&amp;amp;)#$@<(*&!)#$@(*&)#$!!!! It has been a veeeery hard week and I was really looking forward to this as a treat. Sigh. Michael, Babsko, or any other Mac users, do you have any ideas? Quicktime, iTunes (I don't know if either of those is supposed to play wmv but I figured I'd try), Flip4Mac, and whatever version Windows Media Player is free for Macs do not work. I am ever so sad. (Speaking of which, how cool is this? Michael, you want I should make you one?)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

the world needs more Nana Patekar dancing with Bindu: Krantiveer

The up side of the stereotype of Hindi movie plots is that you get a giddy whirl of variety, linked together if not by reason than at least by fun and a drive to entertain. The down side of the stereotype is that you can get drama, romance, comedy, social commentary, songs, orphans, and even violence coming at you from out of nowhere at full speed. Krantiveer isn't quite all the way into this latter category, but it's pretty close. It's just too, too much. Broad stereotypes of villains and heroes run amok (sometimes literally - watch the extras zooming back and forth in the big fire scene), violating mother India with their greed and selfishness, and I found the violence cartoony but somehow still emotionally (if not visually) harsh. This is the third movie I've seen in as many months that has rape in it; I've been told that's a fairly stock element of 80s and 90s action movies but I'm getting really sick of it (thought at least in here, unlike in Jigar, the only witnesses to it are chained to the wall and unable to come to the aid of the victim).

The villains in particular don't have much context. I'm assuming the story is some sort of comment on the 1992-3 Mumbai riots but in the world of this film the police, judicial system, politicians, and developers are so grossly corrupt that they're not very interesting. I had also hoped we might get a really good heroine here, but no. Megha, the fearless journalist, is also bland; her outrage at the villains is no more engaging than their badness, and all Dimple Kapadia gets to do is yell. Despite all of these flaws, though, I admire the underlying idea of the movie - that the power-hungry will exploit religious, ethnic, and/or socio-cultural differences, provoking them into turmoil that distracts the citizenry while they grab resources and control. It's a shame it wasn't carried out more subtly, because I think it would have been much more effective that way.

The music...gah. It's very badly integrated into the movie, probably the most jarring background score I have ever noticed in a Hindi film. It's overly dramatic, loud, and synthesized; it has cartoony sound effects; and it just doesn't add in any way to the action or ideas. (It does, however, include a few bars of "Axel F," even though that song is ten years older than the movie.) In all of this, though, there were two songs I liked (and actually the songs were fine overall, although there were three crammed in the first hour and none had anything to do with the primary story). "Love Rap" is ridiculous youthful fun (at least it seemed to be - it wasn't subtitled), has some great snippets of fun English ("We don't want bungalows, we don't want cars, we don't want much...we just want pyaar!"), and pairs Nana Patekar with an amorous Bindu (who is looking a bit like a drag queen here, though I guess the line between that and vamp is very fine).

If anyone can find the lyrics to this online, please let me know; I looked for a half hour to no avail. Later we see Atul Agnihotri and Mamta Kulkarni frolicking to eerie music in a waterfall adorned with statues evocative of ancient Hindu temples, and some of the choreography alludes to poses in the sculptures (with a heavy emphasis on her curves and gestures).

This is a really neat idea, visually, and I'm surprised I've never seen it before. The scene would have been even better if the costume department had put Atul in clothing that echoed the sculptures, like Mamta's did; he s out of place in his chinos and loud shirts, while she was exquisite in bangles and flowing, draping fabrics.

I realize I'm running the risk of sounding like I'm exoticizing, but consciously, anyway, most of what I'm saying has to do with visual harmony between actor and set. I also want to acknowledge that both the sculpture and the dance might be "-esque" rather than authentic, and while I'm not knowledgeable enough to tell the difference I certainly respect the frustration of people who are and find the whole thing theme-park-y and fake. Also, as Briyanshu pointed out, I don't like it when people grope art, filmi or not.

The bright spot is definitely Nana Patekar, who is angry and engaged and soulful as required, and in the movie's lighter moments, he seems to be having fun. He seems committed to his role, but he winks through it and never overdoes it, which the other actors are tempted to do (understandably, given what they had to work with). The writing should be credited for providing him with a much more developed character. Though he becomes a hero, a lot of what he does seems individual and local for most of the story - he's got a context and a setting that make sense.

Krantiveer is not awful, and its underlying message of keeping an eye on the authorities and trying to make a difference is admirable enough. It's also patriotic without involving the military - apparently I must prefer my conflict local and personal (Yuva), rather than international and nuclear (I'd name one but I tend to avoid-yaar such movies) - which given on the number of movies that deal with "a neighboring country" is refreshing enough. Although to be honest if you want that you should watch Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani because it's all-around more fun (sorry, Nana). I haven't seen enough of Nana to know if you can find similar performances elsewhere; if so, there's no need to bother with Krantiveer.

Aside: Atul's character (name? Atul, of course) has posters in his bedroom of Sanjay Dutt,

Michael Jackson (the guy in red in the other poster is familiar too - who is he?),

and the New Kids on the Block.

As a grown man does in 1994.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Could it be I haven't watched any movies since Dhoom 2? Nah! It's just that they've been NFDC movies, and I just haven't felt that my writing about them fit the spirit of what I tend to do here. (Long story short and labels aside, you know I already like big-hearted naach-gaana Hindi films [which I say with much love and respect and absolutely no dismissiveness], and I'm gradually learning about and really liking other Indian cinema too. I'm undecided about whether and how to integrate those movies into this site.) Recently I've seen Ek Ghar and Satyajit Ray's Ghare Baire; you can watch them at Jaman and join in the discussion.

What with those movies, book reviews, a new project with Michael (watch here for further details), and revisiting old favorites like Dil Chahta Hai and Kal Ho Na Ho's "Pretty Woman," I'm woefully behind on some unwatched DVDs that are piling up. In the meantime, let's enjoy this fantastic - dare I say "fabulous"? - picture of Rekha and Amitabh, courtesy of "The Bachchan Ladies," a handy page that chronicles Amitabh's films by the women with whom he starred.

Yikes. As I believe I've mentioned previously, I come from small-town Illinois and went to high school in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so I know big hair, and that is big hair.* Big enough to top Madhuri or Karisma.

Dear photo shoot stylist: why did you ask them to purse their lips? Are they in a daytime soap? Are they cooling off soup? Are they just waaaay too sexy for their 80s grandiosity? I won't actually issue this as a caption contest since I only got one (albeit completely genius - well done Blue!) entry last time, but I welcome submissions anyway, because I'm pretty sure that there is a very funny statement to be made about this picture. It needs to be juuuust right, as the baby bear would say, but it's out there.

* At first I thought she was lying down, so that most of the radius isn't anti-gravitational. But then I thought if she's lying down, he has to be too, and somehow on top of her, and given the whispers, does it seem likely they would have posed like that?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

discuss amongst yourselves: King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema

Yesterday Anupama Chopra sat down with seven readers/writers to talk about her new book. Our questions and her answers are posted at filmiholic. Take a look! (And I'll be posting more thoughts on the book over the weekend.)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Friday, July 06, 2007

weekend creative writing contest

From the Rang De Basanti premier in Mumbai way back when...

Write in with
1) a caption (for example, "You can't pinch an inch" or, courtesy of Bollywood Fugly's Pooja, "Lemme see your new iphone" [time warp necessary, of course])
2) your best explanation of what's going on
3) a statement of who in the photo you would most like to be and why.

Thanks to Filmi Geek for the picture (and Bollyvista) and to FG and the Bollywood Fugly gals for lively discussion over what in the world Kunal is up to.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

tiny quibble

There's a piece in the Deccan Herald about Akshaye and Saif's upcoming Abbas-Mustan movie Race that says Abbas says he cast them together because they've never starred together before. What about Dil Chahta Hai? It's not as though that was just a tiny flop film that nobody saw. The article continues to talk about various pairings of stars and the importance of getting the right combination.

I am, of course, geeked about the movie. Two great tastes that taste great together, say I. Let's hope Saif's all-around top-notch talent isn't wasted and Akshaye doesn't get all scowly and shouty.