Wednesday, November 28, 2007

when Beth met Shashi....

Last week at work we decided to bring in our favorite bad/ridiculous/silly movies so that we could have a little fun during one of the slowest weeks of the year. (If you have an auditorium with a good sound system at your disposal, you should use it, we figure.) Although we never got around to more than about half an hour of watching, I was ready, Commando in hand. (Not the Ahh-nold/Alyssa Milano one. The Mithun/Kim/Amrish Puri/Danny Denzongpa/Shakti Kapoor/Dalip Tahil/Satish Shah/Asrani/Iftekhar/Bob Christo/Tom Alter one. Everyone is in this movie.) Yesterday I was trying to tidy my desk and realized Commando was still sitting there, so before putting it in my bag I enjoyed one last look at Mithun's mullet on the front of the case and idly flipped it over to see who else made the cover. "Oh," I thought to myself, "there's the guy who played Mithun's brother-in-arms [Hemant Birje], and baddie Shakti Kapoor, and...huh, that other guy looks a lot like a KapooOHMYGODTHAT'S SHASHI!"*

Now I must face the sad and undoubtedly very inauspicious truth that my first Shashi movie was not, as previously thought, Shaan, but Commando. What is one to do with such knowledge?

Rewatch it and make screen captures, of course!
  • Shashi, rescuer of injured colleagues and leader in a national crisis!
  • Shashi, father figure and comforter in times of great sadness!
  • Shashi, knower of important international policy!
  • Shashi, adviser on secret missions!
I'd like to say he's the best part of the movie, but I had absolutely no recollection of him from my first watching of it a year ago, and this time I scanned it at 32XFF just to figure out where he appeared. He's certainly not any worse than anyone else, I'll give him that.

And if anyone wants a slightly used copy of Commando, say the word.

* The phrase "...that looks like a KapooOHMYGOD" was invented by and used with permission of Filmi Geek.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

on seeing Om Shanti Om a second time

Om Shanti Om has come to my local art/independent/international theater, so of course I had to go see it again. It was notably not as good. It felt a bit flat, actually, much to my surprise. Even the movie jokes weren't as cute. The hometown crowd was less excitable than the one in the Chicago suburbs where I had seen it two weeks ago, and rowdier definitely would have been more fun. However, one only has so many chances to cheer publicly for Rani and Abhishek, so one takes what one can get.

And now, the Beth Loves Bollywood List of Stuff Beth Noticed or Wants to Solicit Opinions about (the first two of which comment on things you may not want to know if you haven't seen the movie yet)....
  • I'm still very happy that there isn't a mushy romantic hoopla at the end. Good for Farah for sticking to the main story of Om's self-discovery and Shanti's revenge.
  • Potential plot problem, if you care about that kind of thing: if Mukesh wants to be the biggest producer in Bollywood but thinks that people won't back a film with a married heroine, then why did he marry Shanti (whose career is his doing, we are told) in the first place? This whole "you ruined my masterpiece" thing is completely his own fault.
  • Isn't that Siddharth as Sooraj Barjatya in the jaunty "friend"-emblazoned cap (brilliant touch, by the way) outside Om's tent? Babasko, who has a keen sense for such things (while the Sanjay's away, the Viennese will play?), hadn't noticed him when I asked her about it - and I'm one of those types who always thinks she recognizes people but is wrong at least half the time - so now I don't trust my own judgment.
  • Gah! What happened to the usually gorgeous Rekha in the makeup room? She looks like she's going to eat you! Even if you leave her gingerbread house alone, she's going to hunt you down and jab you with her eyeliner.
  • Deepika Padukone made a much stronger and better impression. I still think her role could have been a lot more, but this time I saw some nice little touches in her Shanti and Sandy that I missed before - how charmed Shanti seemed by Om's antics and how wide-eyed with "I can't believe I'm working with Om Kapoor!" Sandy was, for example. And she gives very good bhoot eyes - spooky!
  • Shahrukh too was even better second time around. Maybe because I knew the jokes already, I could focus on delivery, all his little ticks and nonverbals. He, unlike Deepika, is given a lot to do: earnest, bratty, angry, scheming, swooning, narrating.... So much fun to watch.
However, all sense of fun was not lost. Check out my souvenir (thanks to the show organizer who let me take it home)!

An artifact of our shiny, six-pack, crotch-patch times.

Friday, November 23, 2007

the flavor is all in the small details: Jhoom Barabar Jhoom

So says Alvira to Rikki, in response to his complaint that she "get[s] stuck in these small details" when telling her story, and as soon as it was out of Preity's mouth I realized how true that was of significant portions this movie. Without the little things, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom would have been a sweet story about risking safety for love. The movie developed slowly, and by the time we got midway through Alvira's story, I caught myself trying to decide whether either lead was likable - one a shiftless liar, one a shrewish snot - and thinking that if it weren't for the funny or interesting asides and small touches, I might have to start fast-forwarding.

Apart from the songs, of course, all of which are fantastic to watch (even when they're a little bit dumb, like "Ticket to Hollywood"). I got a little tired of the repeats of the title theme with Amitabh (Bulla Man, is that what Rikki calls him?) in the train station, but during the end credits, when the whole soundtrack was woven together, all repetition was forgiven.

Anyway. The little things. Things like watching all the interestingly-dressed backup dancers in the streets of Paris, Rikki teaching his French chef chum to swear in Hindi, Alvira pausing her narrative as she walks through Steve's office to turn to us and tell us her worries directly. Oh, and my favorite: Alvira jumping around with delight when Steve first calls her, then falling over, hitting her head on some of his flowers, and actually huritng her foot - and then we cut to Rikki laughing and laughing, pointing at her saying "You lied!" and her admitting it, grinning.

But when they got up from the café table - leaving the setting that made their lies seem necessary, abandoning their stories and opening themselves up - ah, how cute they and the movie became. I didn't mind their scheming after that because they were so adorable and they finished their charades pretty quickly.

The other thing I really liked about this movie is how, at least according to the subtitles, there was acknowledgment that young adults can have relationships, kiss, and have sex - and they can even have fun talking about those things! - and not be bad, tacky, or immoral people. Everything sounded fresh to me - but I'm getting that from the subtitles, and I'd be interested to know if that flavor in the Hindi. And how much does that relate to them living in London, I wonder? It was almost as though some classy high school students wrote it - most of the time they handled sex with a "let's not make a big deal of this" touch (did you notice how all four leads get to kiss not only their real-life love but their fake-pretend partners too?), they also couldn't resist having a tacky-looking prostitute who swears or having a girl dream up her Prince Charming and then melt into his arms when she finds herself in a filmi savior scenario. And think about the older generation of relatives: they basically weren't there. No overbearing fathers or weeping mothers. There's hardly a mention of family, except for mama's-boy Satvinder, and then it's a joke. The plot may be standardly filmi, but it felt both light and relatively relatable in some of its outward features. Obviously I don't have many problems with filminess, and I don't think realism (what's the right word here...relatability? "Closer to my world than Hindi films tend to be"? You know what I mean) is something every movie needs to have or that its presence is automatically a virtue. But whatever you call the tone of this movie, it worked for me. We got imaginary sequences, great songs, fun costumes and sets, and a sweet romance, but with no tiresome bits like contortions to set up obstacles just to overcome them a few scenes later. It's not the best thing I've ever seen Abhishek or Preity do, but to me it felt like a successful experiment at a spin on the typical style: a lean, mean Bolly machine. (Okay, it's not mean. It's cute and affectionate. But those don't rhyme.)

I should also add that had I known when I watched that this was by the director of Bunty aur Babli, another of my very most favorites, I would have been seriously disappointed. First of all, Preity is no Rani, and neither Alvira nor Rikki is anywhere near as interesting, compelling, or lovable as Vimmi or Rakesh. As with Om Shanti Om, it's not that the subsequent effort was so bad but that the earlier one were so good. Oh goody, now I'm even less excited about Jodhaa Akbar.

As usual, I saw some other things I want to share but can't work into the flow of the rest of what I wanted to say, so here's the house special: a Beth Loves Bollywood List of Stuff Beth Noticed - now with commentary!
  • "Late but still too soon, isn't it?" This wonderful line - as the Birmingham train arrives, drawing Alvira and Rikki out of their magical first meeting into the real world - so captured for me the feeling of not wanting time with someone to end. It can be so hard to say "I am not ready to leave," but we can feel it so strongly. Sigh.
  • I adored how the passers by at Waterloo Station danced with Amitabh. They looked like they were having such fun. There's a great little moment when, in one of his "Oh Rabba!" lines, a guy in a suit joins in the hand gestures (you see him here on the right in the periwinkle tie)

    and then Amitabh notices and looks surprised and annoyed that someone is stealing his dramatic thunder.
  • There are nods to and awareness of movies throughout, I'm sure I didn't catch them all (particularly the music that plays in the background in Southall whenever Rikki and Huffy are plotting): the across-the-street neighbor looking at Preity through a telescope
    echoes Jaan-e-Mann, Rikki does a "Kajra Re" dance move
    while mugging for the camera in "Ticket to Hollywood," and Huffy sits outside a theater playing Don (you can see its poster behind his head) and another Indian film in a language I can't recognize.
  • The heavy-handed Sholay reference is belabored. Why are they in a motorcycle with a sidecar? Why are they wearing bobby (not the Deol kind) helmets? Ditto Rikki saying "Our Bachchan" when listening off Indians in Madame Tussaud's. Har har. That would have worked better if our Bachchan hadn't been lumbering around in eyeliner with a two-necked guitar. But I digress.
  • Stop the presses. A gay man in a Hindi film who is not a ridiculous flaming stereotype.
    He's just a person! He happens to like men, but that's all there is to it. Finally. To be honest, I think this is one of the facets that really made the movie feel different from other meet cute/wacky scheme romances.
  • And speaking of gay best friends, here's Ameet Chana from Bend It Like Beckham. Yay!
  • "Bol Na Halke Halke"'s imagined sequence of Alvira and Rikki meeting and falling in love in India was adorable and beautiful and made me squeak "Cute! Cuuuuute!"
  • A real museum!

    Yeah yeah, they don't go in or anything, but still. And check out the backup dancers: I see a butcher in an apron (somewhere else in the song there's a guy with a cleaver) and a guy wearing a pink beret and scarf. Okay, what we avoid in gay stereotyping we make up for in French....
  • Haters may disagree, but I lurve Abhishek's hair like this.
    It's kinda stupid, but he rocks it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

if you have to ask the question, you won't understand the answer: Namak Halaal

Listen, if you want to know what happens in Namak Halaal, you should just watch it, because it is truly the closest thing to batsh*t insane I have seen in a Hindi film (even more than Disco Dancer, released the same year). These fine folks have given description and plot summary their best shot, and I had read all of these before I watched, but I didn't feel remotely prepared for the amount, variety, and arrangement of crazy this movie offers. Sure, I had a sense that it would be bizarre, but in retrospect I don't think any amount of description could have made me understand. "Okay, reunited brothers, long-lost mothers, henchmen in scuba suits, I've got it," I thought as I read. "I love zany masala! Bring it on!" But really I had no idea.

Watching Namak Halaal is better experienced than it is talked or read about: you either know it or you don't. You can't just have a sense of it - because there is no sense to be had for love or money or oversized framed portraits of Shashi Kapoor. Once you've seen it, though, it's hard to keep it inside - I had to pause the movie several times to email Teleport City about it - even though you know that your attempt to capture its essence is as doomed as anyone else's.

Namak Halaal is notable in the great golden pantheon of masala glee because both the elements of the story (plot points, characters, settings) and the connections among them are so delightfully funny, weird, screwy, fantastic, or unpredictable. As others have pointed out, sometimes there is no real connection at all, which somehow makes the individual components, strange enough on their own, even stranger through unrelated juxtaposition. It's like someone (I forgot to check on the disc for writing or story credits) had a bunch of ideas for The Masala Film to End All Masala Films, wrote each bit down on a scrap of paper, and then convinced the director to pull sets of them at random, so that he got things like "shoe," "nightclub with a stream running through it," "walking on air," and "Dinesh Hingoo" and had to make a scene using all of them.* And we're talking about a lot of ideas, too: if a classic masala film like Parvarish or Do Aur Do Paanch cheerfully meets the Recommended Masala Allowance, then Namak Halaal must be what astronauts eat - super-fuelled to exceed RMA. There's no consistent plan except maybe 1) cram in every idea we had and 2) fire them all at the audience in the hope that the effect entertains. It's an approach I found both generous and lazy. While generosity goes a long way, I have to say that maybe the filmmakers' scattershot sense of it goes on longer than my ability and/or willingness to follow it. If you don't mind not having a story, or if having a storehouse of Amitabh-enacted silliness is reason enough to watch, then there is a ton to enjoy in the movie. And, like me, you might just want to see it to believe it. All of these are fine, fine reasons to watch.

To give you an example of this jam-packed crazy, I started to take notes while I watched, but I abandoned that plan pretty fast due to passages like this. Technically there are spoilers in the list, but I don't think knowing some bits of the first twelve and half minutes will matter. By 00:12:37 on the counter, we have
- murders
- arson
- sacrifice of relationship with a family member so said family member can have a better life even though doing so means you don't get to acknowledge your relationship
- "you're a blight on womanhood...leave before I curse you"
- leaving town
- adoption
- death-bed promises
- taboo money
- losing your son to the big, bad city
- loving grandparent standing in for parent who doesn't actually need to be stood in for
This all happens before Amitabh meet Shashi and Smita, before the disco qawwali in which Amitabh does the robot, before Parveen sings with ghosts of herself, before anyone knows they're brothers, before any punches are thrown at guys wearing panty hose on their heads.

In the middle of all this, there's one thing I think I can describe clearly. "Aaj Rapat Jaye To" is the best Amitabh Bachchan song I've ever seen. It's sweet, funny, steamy, expressive, and intimate. The song - text, choreography, setting, all of it - somehow manages to bring out the hard-to-put-your-finger-on reasons why he and Smita Patil could ever make a fantastic couple (and those reasons don't surface as strongly anywhere else in the movie). It's as though the song expresses what they want but are not quite ready to say or act on in their everyday world. As much craziness as happens at their hotel, they had to be by themselves, at night, in the rain, in the anonymity of the street to be able to speak and show their hearts. They are magic together and I believe every word they mouth, every movement, every gesture, every look.

It should also be said that Amitabh is by far the best part of the movie. I don't always love Señor B, even in the 70s and early 80s, but this movie is absolutely his and he plays his role with great glee. Shashi...well, Shashi's character is not particularly likable and sometimes he looks bored or distracted, which is disappointing, but at other times he snarls as a deliciously snot-nosed brat yelling at Waheeda Rehman or kicks bad guys through plate glass windows, so while he could have done more, he's not as absent as in Shaan. Parveen is largely wasted, but Smita, oh Smita, how fantastic she is, second in presence only to Amitabh and only because he had more screen time.

If your DVD comes with the film's trailer, definitely watch it. It contains very funny promotional captions over segments of the movie, and I daresay it will not lead you astray.

(This last one is actually Shashi getting ready to throw those two baddies head over teakettle. Shashi!) Actually, the trailer will probably give you a better idea of the movie than I ever could. And once you are promised "different action," how will you be able to resist knowing exactly what that means? See it. It's a trip. Just bear in mind this bit of the title sequence, in which the filmmakers kindly try to warn you: this is what happens to your brain as you watch.


* Submit your own guess at how this movie was written in the comments!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

anything your aging hero can do, ours can do better

I don't usually pay any attention to movie-related financial news, but it was fun to learn that Om Shanti Om and Saawariya both beat out Lions for Lambs at the worldwide box office in the week of their release, and while I mean no disrespect to Meryl Streep (awesome) and Robert Redford (classic), it is with great pleasure that I say to Tom Cruise: suck on that, you complete and utter freak of nature.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

the good, the enh, and the distressing: Om Shanti Om

The good: the parts of it that are funny are very funny, and the parts of it that are fun are very fun.

I'm going to let that sentence stand alone, because usually laughing and enjoying myself are what I want in a movie, and having those needs met in an interesting way is no small thing.

More on those parts: some of them are simple bits of snappy dialogue, some are courtesy of apt delivery, and some are visual (costumes, dance moves, details of the sets). You'll need to be quick to get all of the movie references, and it will be a very happy day when I get my hands on the DVD and park myself in front of the tv for hours to seek them out. (Someone should start a list at some centralized location where viewers all over can add what they find.) A few of my favorite funny bits: Shahrukh wearing what Jerry Seinfeld would call a puffy shirt; Shahrukh doing a Rajnikanth-style action sequence dressed as a cowboy in red (p)leather; everything Abhishek did at the Filmfare awards; a fake-pretend movie starring Akshay Kumar aping a European youtube video that apes Rajnikanth*; and fake-pretend movies called Phir Bhi Dil Hai NRI and Main Bhi Hoon Na starring Shahrukh spoofing his own work (and maybe even "Woh Ladki Hai Kahan" from Dil Chahta Hai, which of course itself plays off of...oh never mind).

The layers of making fun - and having fun - are many. And fantastic. Self-referential humor, when done with real understanding and affection, goes a long way with me, and when she's on task Farah is really good at it. The simply joyful scenes and touches are also wonderful, especially 1970s Om's heartfelt love of movies and unselfconscious emotion with his mother, friend, and dreamy girl (that's the character's, not Shahrukh's, please note). "Deewangi Deewangi" does not disappoint, and I had a blast hooting and hollering for Rani, Mithun, and Saif. In our theater, Salman got the most audience reaction, with Kajol and Mithun close behind. I'm interested to know how the celebrity cameos in that song and in the Filmfare awards scene were chosen - whither Aishwarya, for example? The stars are used to great effect, glittering around and saying funny things, which is one reason I like them in the first place. They are used with a perfectly light touch, allowed to do their thing for a few moments, and then they're gone - which is great, because at its strongest the movie is about their total effect on people, the joys and sorrows of the world they create, not about them as themselves.

Shahrukh is perfect for the role - of course - and even in the script's weak moments he is a joy to watch. A Shahrukhy joy, but for those of us who like him, that's a wonderful thing. There are so many styles of superstar bandied about that it's hard to imagine anyone else could have done it. Say what you will about the man, he sure seems comfortable in his (sometimes gold-dusted) skin and more than willing to joke about himself and those who made him famous, both colleagues and fans. Surely he had a good time making this movie, and that buoyant cheerfulness and cheek alone are enough for me to put up with the ridiculously dramatic moments and drawn-out ending. Shreyas Talpade is also excellent - and again "of course" should be added - and I like him very much as sweet, smart characters like Pappu.

Those ridiculously dramatic moments and the drawn-out ending are where the enh comes in. The earnestly filmi parts of the movie aren't handled right. I have no problem at all with earnestly filmi movie-making, but it needs to be done with a respectful, careful, interesting, or some kind of distinctive touch - and Om Shanti Om is inconsistent in this important area. Chestuts need something to make them special, and surely that was possible with the resources available for this movie. This problem was felt most in the revengey bits, which were mostly lazily straight-up and on far too long. They were, I'm sad to say, boring. I don't know how Farah managed to make them boring, but she did. It's like the things that didn't quite work in Main Hoon Na have been exaggerated. There were times when I wanted to pause the movie and say "Oh Farah. Seriously?" - but I think she would have answered, eyes wide, "Yes, absolutely." Shahrukh also overindulged in expressions and voices that oozed "I have a veeeeery secret plan. It is a symphony of comeuppance! Mwa ha ha!" It's an interesting trick, letting the hero get to be more menacing than the actual villain; it's in keeping with the plot but would have been more satisfying if the lines and actor had been kept in check.

And as for distressing, if a respected, powerful industry figure like Farah Khan won't make sure there are good roles for women in her movies, then who will? Shanti and Sandy have so little to do. Karisma's and Preity's cameo lines are more interesting. Poor Deepika. All I feel I can say about her is that she seems to be tall and that discovering that she works for Maybelline makes one scenee make a lot more sense. [spoilers ahead for the next ten lines or so] Forgive a little detour here for a minute. At least Sandy isn't swept into a happy romantic bow at the end - it wouldn't have fit the characters at all, especially because Sandy hardly shows a personality to love, and I'm glad Farah didn't take the sappy way out. And as other writers have pointed out, Deepika is literally half Shahrukh's age, and that's just ew. I'm glad the dreams that need more than one lifetime, or whatever the tag line is, are Om's stardom and Shanti's justice, not the romance of people who look like the couple in the unrequited romance from the 70s. Om and Shanti have a friendship, not a romance. So as slight as Sandy is, at least she's not just a romantic default. [spoilers over] Kirron Kher is great at the sort of role she has here, but why not give her something more challenging to do? She can handle it, I'm sure. And a far less important problem: in a movie with expansive sets and costumes and the massive tie-in of a cosmetics company, why is the age makeup shoddy? Kirron, Shreyas, and Arjun Rampal are all badly done in the present-day segments.

Farah Khan makes such fun movies, with such affection for and good humor about movies and stars and audiences, that I can happily forgive the film's problems. Main Hoon Na had set my bar really, really high, and while parts of Om Shanti Om sailed over it easily its total effect disappointed me. But not by much, and I had to remind myself that my expectations were unrealistic. (When will I learn?) If you could see my hands while I say this, you'd see that being disappointed by Om Shanti Om isn't nearly as bad as it sounds - most movies are down here [gestures a few feet off the ground] but Main Hoon Na was up here [gestures above head], so when Om Shanti Om came in about here [waves hand somewhere in bewteen], even though it didn't live up to its potential, it wasn't bad at all. I just hope next time - and pleeeeease let there be a next time - there is just as much joy but everything is tighter and more thought out. I can imagine that's not easy to do, but I have faith. In the meantime, though, I am remain delighted by the finest moments of Om Shanti Om and (95% of Main Hoon Na).

Many thanks and giggles to Aspi and his family for being my movie-going companions and providers of yummy pre- and post-film snacks. In his fine review, he hits on such important points as the mistake of casting Arjun Rampal, Farah's adept handling of the spooky, and the tragically inescapable Curse of the Second Half. I also like Ultrabrown's discussions.

* At least, that's where I know that segment - perhaps Akshay's movie in Om Shanti Om and "American Rajnikanth" (which is obviously not American, but whatever) are both parodies of a real Rajnikanth (or actor who stars in similar action sequences) scene.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

cute, cute, cute: Guddi

Before I watched it this weekend, Guddi was known to me only as a celebrity clown-car film - which was more than enough to make me want to watch it, especially in anticipation of this week's release of the celebrity clown-car film du jour. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the showers of stars was by no means the movie's finest moments. Those are all courtesy of Jaya Badhuri, only twenty-three and most decidedly the best thing since sliced bread. Her expressive face, glowing smile, twinkling eyes, and natural movements and stillnesses are completely impressive. She has a wonderful part to work with, and she makes the most of it in a performance that is somehow both wise and fresh. She comes off as genuine, as though she simply is Kusum and the movie happens to capture her unselfconsciously existing in her own life. She makes Kusum someone we all know.

To me, Jaya's Kusum was far more effective than the other big role, Dharmendra. I'm not sure of Dharmendra was playing himself or a public image-defined version of himself (and which of these the writers had in mind for him), but I found him stylized and detached. He's supposed to be a teaching tool, but some of his lines were too heavy and trite to have resonated with the bright, exuberant Kusum. The other real-life movie stars were not used to particular effect other than "Wow, look at all the stars!" (which has its own fun, of course, and is not to be underestimated) (and as a teensy quibble, about half of them were just in footage included in the movie and did not actually interact with the movie's real characters or story). It could be that, thirty-six years after the movie was made, I've seen enough films about films not to need the device of a famous person playing himself to be used as long and heavily as it was here (which is not the filmmaker's fault, of course - just a happenstance of history). I've been wondering if using a made-up movie star would have pleased me more; at least that would avoid the (for me distracting) questions of what version of himself was being spun and how much of the self-referencing was earnest.*

Either way, I was sad to see Kusum behave much differently on the film sets than she did at home - she's quiet and subdued, and she doesn't express any wide-eyed joy in witnessing her favorite hobby first-hand. I realize that the magic of the movies is supposed to fade in the face of the real-life toil she and Professor Gupta observe, thus teaching her that her dreamy world is fake-pretend and that she best figure out what is truly real in her life and engage with it (a good lesson for those of us who seem to enjoy fake-pretend a little too much, I duly note). But her transition was too quick to be consistent with the character we knew before she came to Mumbai.

I must discuss a segment of the movie that I found incredibly effective and clever and that I am surprised not to have heard about before. When Kusum visits Mumbai, we see her looking out the window of a car at all the movie hoardings, and a song (which isn't listed in the song menu on my DVD - I read in Rediff that the movie incorporated older songs, so I assume it's one of those) and snippets of dialogue are woven with shots of or pans across different advertisements. "Pyaar, pyaar" accompanies embracing couples, a leering face appears with a cackle of laughter, a fight dishoom-dishooms, and as a gun threatens a scantily-clad woman** a shot rings out and we flash to a bleeding corpse. It'd make a good introduction to some standard masala plot elements - it's almost a complete mini-movie by itself. It's a fitting tribute to the talents of sign painters, whose dramatic, vibrant images are given even more life as moving footage animates them in clever composition with music and words. The whole thing is fantastic. Here's a slide show (if I could figure out how to get the show to pan across each still, you'd get a better idea of the effect in the song) (and I can't find the scene online, sadly).

Overall I found the movie utterly delightful whenever Jaya was on screen. Other aspects - a motherless family, a wacky scheme to teach someone a lesson, the story of a girl growing up and maybe having to calm down a bit in the process (I'm not sure if Hrishida was saying that - but I think it's possible to see the story that way) - were pleasant enough but didn't really grab me. No matter - Jaya is more than enough reason to watch Guddi and be completely charmed and entertained. I would love to see her in other roles and welcome suggestions on what to watch (I've only seen her as suffering KJo mothers, Sholay, and Chupke Chupke).

And just for fun....

*There's also an unintentionally humorous side effect of having a real person comment on his work and be described in certain terms: our twenty-twenty hindsight lets us note that the persona now is not quite the same as the persona used when the film was made. When someone states with resignation that Dharmendra is married, it's hard not to snort "Don't worry, Kusum! Maybe he'll be polygamous for you, too!" When he stands in the ruins of a film studio where he used to work and waxes philosophical about the fleeting nature of his art, I couldn't help but note that he's had three movies out this year.

** I think this is the most naked woman I have ever seen in a Hindi film. She's a still, but still.

Friday, November 02, 2007

chak de Mr. Charisma, no matter what you're wearing

So it's Shahrukh Khan's birthday. Yay! Etc. I don't have anything cheesy to say about him this year, so I'm just going to post my current favorite photo of him, even though I already wrote about it on Bollywood Fugly.

But will I drive six in one day to see his new film on opening weekend? Yes. Yes I will. Long live the king.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Please excuse my pathetic lack of posts. There is a freakish level of busy-ness and interstate traveling lurking around lately. It's not as though I have a ton to say and am too busy to write about it; in fact, nothing at all filmi has been going on, except that on my travels I stopped by Army of Monkeys's [I'm going to stand by that apostrophe placement because the phrase "Army of Monkeys" refers to a singular entity] house for lunch and he gave me a really nice 2-DVD set of Main Hoon Na, a mighty fine present indeed. He also let me peruse his movie collection and my god does he have some crap, some of which he already inflicted on me.

Oh, and yesterday my lame nod to a Halloween costume involved my only filmi piece of clothing: a red bandhani scarf just like the one Anjali wears in the "leaving on a sad, sad train because Rahul loves Tina" scene in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Unfortunately, standing in my office doorway and trying to make my eyes fill with tears was not quite as effective as standing in the doorway of a train while it pulled slowly out of a station, scarf billowing, but no one at work would have gotten it anyway. Still, in my head, I was Anjali. (Aren't we all?)

I miss having movie-related conversations, so let's watch this trippy song from Purab aur Pacchim (thanks to Dr. Marcus for the tip!), which clearly I will have to see in total once I finish reading about it at philip's filums.