Showing posts from February, 2008

Packing. No time for movies.*

The suitcase is on the bed, the lists have been made, and the laundry is done, but the staring at piles of clothing continues. I am bad at packing, always worried I'm bringing the wrong things. But the second Pan-European International Bollywood Blogger Meeting waits for no one, least of all the Auslandskorrespondentin , an honorary title I have taken the liberty to bestow upon myself in order to feel slightly less guilty about my halting German. Updates from the field will begin by March 5 or so, and look for lots of coverage of the actual PEIBBM in Munich March 7-9 here, at Babasko's, and on the German-language blogs listed in the links. Many apologies to readers who are more interested in actual movies than in the socializing that occurs around them - can't blame you for that - because far-flung friends, museums, old buildings, and cakes will take precedence over computer time for the next few weeks. I have, however, found the time to ask other people to write about

nice cape

( Toofan , 1989, by Ketan "son of Manmohan" Desai ) It's raining wacky Amitabh clips! Keep 'em comin'! This one came my way from the evil genius of Teleport City , who has no doubt already purchased a copy of it, which means we can all look forward to it getting the royal treatment. Right?!? If you go by the comments on the youtube - which can be a dangerous strategy, as many of them tend to be racist, sexist, ignorant, and/or very badly spelled - this is a beloved childhood movie of many. I believe I've been told that Shashi got all sorts of flack for doing any ol' project that came his way (despite the admirable purpose of putting his paycheck towards the family theater), and I wonder if Amitabh faced similar criticism for some of these kinds of things? (Or maybe Toofan isn't nearly as bad as it looks based on this clip?) Did Amitabh get to do "Disco Bhangra" scot-free because of who he was (or had been, at that point)? Or did a signi

So pretty! Jodhaa Akbar

As embarrassed as I am to admit it, and as quickly as I hope to remedy it, I know nothing about this time period. I took the filmmakers' disclaimer and just settled into this gorgeous movie and had a wonderful time watching it and following the probably oversimplified but very engaging story. And I hope to keep this correspondingly short: I enjoyed the movie very much and I thought everyone did a good job.* A brief discussion of historical films: at some point I'll read up on the history, and I might change my mind about Jodhaa Akbar once I know what the real story is. Generally I don't appreciate people mucking about with true stories, which are very often are fascinating and instructive all on their own and don't need to be tweaked in order to make a compelling film - why not tell the story as it really happened? There are arguments to be made for taking real people or events and then doing something creative with them for other reasons, such as telling a story

All the best people from Kabhi Kabhi - now with more fossil fuels! Kaalaa Patthar

In case you couldn't guess what the message of a 1970s Yash Chopra movie about coal miners would be, let me just fill you in: "service and selflessness are the necessary and desired stars of communal good, and greed, short-sightedness, and inertia have no place here." A fine message, no? I am very much in favor of socialist-ish Bollywood as long as it doesn't get too heavy and trite, and Kaalaa Patthar * generally avoids those don'ts, despite its very predictable characters and plot. It's a little more subtle than last week's Roti Kapada aur Makaan , but not much. I bet you could accurately predict the plot just from the picture on the menu screen. Most tellingly, all three leads are in the mines, in front of but with all the other workers. But let's break it down further. Amitabh = brooder who lashes out as he tries to oppress tortured memories...will he finally break through with the love of a good woman? I should add that Amitabh was heart-break

But wait! There's more!

( Ganga Jamuna Saraswati , a 1988 Manmohan Desai movie I clearly must see) I can see it now: it's a quiet morning around the Bachchan family parlor in 1987, and Amitabh wonders out loud, "How should I go about rebuilding my dignity in the public eye after leaving political office in disgrace for corrupt dealings with an arms manufacturer?" 14-year-old Shweta, with a finely honed teenaged taste for sarcasm and finding one's parents hopelessly lame, quips "Well dad, all of my classmates are really into disco and Michael Jackson's Thriller ." Add to that a little Manmohan Desai nationalism and taste for pan-India melding, and voilĂ : "Disco Bhangra" with the must-have accessory of 1983. Wonderful Katrin has given me much in the time I've known her - pink and yellow Shashi pins, a copy of Teesri Manzil , an invitation to Bavaria - but the news of the existence of "Disco Bhangra" may be the best of all.

blowing that giant Easter egg and monocle right out of the zany Amitabh water

I promise you, this is waaaay better than conversation hearts. ( Yaarana , 1981) Thanks to Filmi Geek for the find.

low-key and loveable: Chashme Buddoor

This movie is super-duper cute. "Cute" gets a bad rap, I think; to me, it means endearing, appealing, and engaging. Chashme Buddoor is all those things without being gooey, and it's chilled out (like its lazy-day-loving trio of friends) without being dull. It's nicely paced and funny with likable, well-acted characters who indulge their imaginations and hopes in non-ridiculous ways. It has a good plot about friends, which I always like. Its filminess is winking and welcoming. "C'mon," it says, "you know you've always wanted to make up a rhyming love song with your crush while lying in the sunshine in the park." (That's not just me, right?) It feels so real. There's a nice writeup over at Alternate Movies , who rightly points out that a significant part of this movie's appeal is that the events and people are relatable - life is full of funny moments that don't need to be exaggerated or amplified to make us laugh. Chashme B

Put down that copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Symbolism! You'll spoil your dinner! Roti Kapada aur Makaan

If we didn't already know it, Om Shanti Om made sure that filmi fans associated Manoj Kumar with covering part of his face with his hand. I don't know why on earth this should be, do you? And if the rumors of him talking about suing are true, then he needs to get a sense of humor about himself pronto. Now that I've seen Roti Kapada aur Makaan , what I want to know is whether one of his other major traits is indecision. Why should he wear one hat when five will do? He's the writer, director, editor, producer, and hero. He makes it an ensemble full of other stars: Shashi, Amitabh, Zeenat, Moushumi Chatterjee, and Aruna Irani. He divvies out the threads of the story among many interesting characters. When I started the movie, I figured these would all add up to excess, but I have to admit that I found RKM to be a mostly entertaining take on a straightforward story, using all these resources to support its admirable message. The number of characters and their various ba