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Showing posts from August, 2008

The Unforgettable Tour again - now with fewer words!

My story for Tehelka about the Unforgettable Tour has been published here. Please know that I did not make up that title. While I've heard many Indians and Indian-Americans use "Amreeka" in jest, I am certainly in no place to tease anyone about pronunciation.

But anyway - yay Tehelka! I just wish I'd been able to blow the lid off some scandal at the concert...Aspi and I brainstormed a few fake-pretend concert-related corruption stories (young Unforgettables' Yaarana-style jackets not solar powered! firework showers blind front-row patrons! Chicago show marred by Capone connections!), but none of them would have stuck.

moments in filmi feminism (the first installment in an occasional series): the restaurant brawl in Chak De! India

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When I saw it in the theater a year ago, Chak De! India absolutely blew me away. It was moving, inspiring, funny, and simply fantastic. And feminist. Wowee! This weekend, I rewatched it for the first time, dancing around the living room, yelling at the screen, hooting and hollering...and then during the restaurant scene BAM my joy came to a screeching halt. In the theater, at just about this point in the film, I had somehow sensed intermission was coming, stepped out to the lobby to beat the bathroom rush, and completely missed the girls' brawl with the harassing hooligans. I'd never seen it until Saturday, and it really bothered me. It didn't sit well with my own definition of feminism or with the ethics of the rest of the film.

Here it is, briefly. The girls have just told coach Kabir Khan that they want him out. On his last day of work, he invites them to join him and the staff for lunch. Everyone sits silently at McDonald's, dejected and contemplative. Molly and M…

simply adorable: Dulha Dulhan

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[Spoilers ahead, but nothing you wouldn't assume knowing that this is a sweet little comedy and love story.]

Squeeee! I loved this movie! Dulha Dulhan was given to me by Si, my friend and Hindi tutor, among a handful of other Mysterious Movies from Yore in a bag of treasures from her summer in Rajasthan. A good movie is always a treat, but because I'd never heard of this one (and I don't think she had, either), its lovableness feels like an especially wonderful random gift from the universe. Thanks, universe!

Raj (Raj Kapoor), a radio singer, shares a room in a Bombay chawl with Bansi (Agha), a film studio musician. One day Raj gets a letter from a friend, asking him to go to the train station to meet the daughter of the friend's boss. There he finds Rekha (Sadhana Shivdasani), penniless and with nowhere to stay, and takes her in. Rekha is delightful, and, as her naivete in the big city charms the roommates and the whole neighborhood, she and Raj fall in love.


But there …

Bombay Talkie

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I HATE YOU, LUCIA LANE.

You are a selfish, ignorant, heartless, horrible person who refuses to learn anything. You make hurtful messes everywhere you go. You are my worst nightmare of a person to become or to be anywhere near.

Hate.

Okay, now that that's out of my system, maybe I can discuss this movie without going ballistic.

Oh wait, one more: I think my fascination with Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal, both as individual actors and as a couple/film world institution, got in the way of being able to watch this movie objectively and discern its overall effect. I think I was too busy looking for documentary-type clues.

They're either fantastic actors or madly happy together - or both!

I've been warned against Bombay Talkie movie by several people - some knowledgeable about Indian cinema, some not, some Merchant Ivory fans, some not, some Shashi fans, some not. To quote the most humorous of them:
[I] watched Shakespeare Wallah last night and after about 1/2 hour of it decided t…

the Unforgettable Tour - now with varying degrees of unforgettableness!

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On Sunday, I joined Aspi and his gaggle of fun friends for the Chicagoland stop of the Unforgettable Tour. (Pitu Sultan's writeup is here. She is v v funny and be sure to enlarge the photos.) Going to one of these shows with friends is definitely the right approach, even if you can't easily share witty comments over the din of the speakers. Aspi's writeup, which has inspired my format even though we disagree on some of the performances, is here.

Perhaps it's not the best idea to call your show "unforgettable." That's a lot to live up to, bypassing the here and now for the very long-term. "Unforgettable" may not even be desirable - plenty of bad things are unforgettable. Bhagban and Dhoom 2, to name some examples involving the cast of this show, are dreadful, which I remember every time I notice them on the shelf at the video store. To the person who named this show, I ask: do you want me to have a fun evening, in the presence of these performers …

Prem Patra

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Last weekend I had the great, giggle-filled pleasure of watching Bimal Roy's Prem Patra with Gebruss, PPCC, and Kaddele. "Chat cinema" proved to be much more interesting than the movie to me most of the time, so my comments about this movie are sparse and not entirely well-informed.


Shashi Kapoor plays upstanding, fellowship-winning medical student Arun, who falls for fellow student Kavita (Sadhana Shivdasani). (Yessss! Girls do science!) However, Arun is the unrequited object of affection for Ratna (Parveen Choudhary). Ratna is a petulant little brat, and in a moment of stupid spite she forges a love letter from Arun to Kavita. Kavita is furious - huh? is this a flip on the usual filmi "it's not stalking, it's love!" turning a love letter into harassment? - and turns Arun in to the school authorities, who promptly expel him and take away his fellowship. PROBLEM #1: when asked by the principal if he wrote this letter, Arun says "yes," even thou…

research question #6: seeking Shahrukh Khan fan art

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My friend Aradhana, a production designer in Indian and American films, is doing a project on Shahrukh Khan fan art and is seeking submissions for her research. She welcomes anything that isn't an actual photograph - drawings, graphic art, paintings, etc. Please email her here to submit your handiwork and include your name (not just your email address) and where you live.

Maybe I should do something in the style of my wedding portrait....


talk about ishtyle: Johnny Gaddaar

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Eeeeeeee this movie is so cool! Everything comes together so well - story, characters, settings, pacing, and I'd add dialogues if I'm allowed to gague them by subtitles! It all just works. It seems energies were expended to maximum effect and with no waste. It's so crisp, moving fast but with time to think about what's going on and why and who's acting in the way you think they will - and who isn't. Those are important qualities in a thriller: no one wants to be left behind in dusty confusion, but you want things to move. Speaking of movement, there are lots of cars and other vehicles in this movie, maybe because physically moving the characters around and changing locations underscores the idea that the characters' own facades and understandings of what's happening aren't fixed either. It's one of those great stories in which you know just enough to be able to keep up but not enough to get lazy. Knowledge is always in flux, and each thing lear…