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Showing posts from January, 2010

Striker watchalong!

Because watchalongs (or "chat cinema," if you're one of the swarm of German-speaking fans) are always mega-fun and because I want to do everything I can to encourage good digital access to and distribution of Indian films, a few of us on twitter got together to organize a massive watchalong of Striker next Sunday, February 7, at 12 noon CST (that's 1:00 pm for North America EST, 18:00 for the UK, 19:00 for Europe, etc). From the sources I've been able to locate, like this article on Masala.com, Striker will release digitally worldwide from Studio 18's youtube channel as it opens in cinemas in India. Subtitled versions will be available free most places; US viewers will be charged $5. A very, very reasonable price for a legal, high-quality, timely feature film, I say! Let's let filmmakers and distributors know they can count on us to compensate them for good stuff!

To join in, send me your google chat ID. If someone knows of a very easy-to-use chat room or …

postcards from Salmanistan: Veer

From the promotional images, trailers, and songs, I was really convinced Veer was going to be a hoot. A crackpot, anachronistic, scenery-chomping, chest-heaving (for both genders), cultural stereotype-wallowing, gleeful hoot. To my grave disappointment, it was all of those words except the last one. There were maybe two scenes where anyone in the movie seemed to be having any fun. In my opinion, if you're going to abandon any attempt at actual history or ethnography in your period piece (despite crediting someone as "research" in the titles), then you'd better replace them with something else worth watching. Exhibit A: Dharam Veer, one of my favorite films of the 70s. Dharam Veer makes no claim of real times, places, or people - or political movements or ideas - yet you do not miss them at all because there is so much other substance going on, done with irresistible, unrelenting, zealous mirth.

Whereas a Desai film rollicks along for a significant proportion of its …

Get it while it's hot: Oye Lucky Lucky Oye is on Netflix instant!

Service announcement: if you are a Netflix user and haven't seen Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, run, don't walk, and watch it this very minute! I can't say enough goodthings about it and happily rank it my favorite film of 2008. The ever-changing list of Indian movies Netflix makes available for streaming is fascinating - who chooses? and why do things suddenly disappear off the list? Just as I was making time to watch Aamne Samne after Fairy Filmi Ending told me it was available, it was gone! Also available as of this very moment: Swades, Bluffmaster, Khosla Ka Ghosla, and Monsoon Wedding. Me, I'm going to re-watch Race just for some quality Akshaye and Saif scowling time and the cringe-worthy use of the Confederate flag in a cowboy dance number. Yippee!

lately link love

I don't know how I didn't know about V Love Movies until just a few days ago, nor do I remember which particular gem in a pirate's hoard of tweets and links finally made my lightbulb turn on. I do know that the right thing to do with this knowledge now that I have it is to share it. Here is the self-description (with original emphasis intact):
VLoveMovies.com is your guide to Hollywood, Bollywood and beyond, giving you reviews, features and more on all the things you adore about cinema. The newest blockbusters, the finest classics, the quirky, the strange, the unexpected and more, served up with passion, intelligence and love.How could you not want to read that? Intelligence and love are my favorite things! Nor, of course, do I shake a stick at passion when it comes my way, but Shashi does not seem to let it out of 70s Bombay very often.

In an unrelated aside (house specialty!), I promised the author that I would reprint here something I wrote in a comment on one of his post…

some impressions of a non-functioning, unsubtitled screening of NTR Jr's Adhurs

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It's almost unfair that I say anything aboutAdhurs at all. I knew going in that it was unsubtitled and I would therefore miss a lot, even though the plot about twin brothers separated at birth (and one is a tough guy while the other lives with priests) sounded awfully familiar; on top of that, our screening was beset by massive technical difficulties. We made it aaaaalmost through the first song -

which offered the motto "Life Is a Cocktail" in its chorus and reminded me of Bluffmaster's "Boro Boro" with fedora-ed strongmen posse

and skankily-attired writhing ladies surrounding the hero in a nightclub, but with a lot more kicking in the dance steps - when the sound cut out. And then the picture stopped. And then the house lights came up. Pause for five minutes. Picture, no sound. Pause. Sound, no picture. Etc. The film lurched along like this for another half hour or so, and the theater staff came out to apologize and explain that the projection equipment can…

Wake Up Sid

After watching the endearing Wake Up Sid on netflix instant at almost exactly the same time (and tweeting about it as well), Filmi Girl, Bollyspice editor Stacey Yount, and I continued the internet-y nature of our viewing with a post-film chat. You can read an edited version of our conversation in our joint review at Bollyspice here. And by "edited" I mean "I deleted most of the 'squeeeeee!' and detours about why Akshaye's dolphin song in Dil Chahta Hai is so lame or whether Neil Nitin Mukesh is cut out for real masala."

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi

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For us non-Urdu-poetry-knowing types, some context on the title, courtesy of Indie Quill:
Hazaaron khwaishein aisi, ki har khwaish pe dum nikle.
Bahut nikle mere armaan, lekin phir bhi kam nikle.

Literal translation:
Thousand desires like, that every desire over breath out
Many out my desires, but yet little out.

Sensible translation:
A thousand desires such that each is worth dying for.
So many have come to pass and yet seem so few.
Set in 1969, 1973, and 1975, the story follows three university students of contrasting backgrounds as they grow into adults trying to sort out what they want to achieve in or contribute to the world, contextualized the the very dangerous politics of the times. I say "very dangerous" because that's how it appears to me in the film, not because I have read up on early 70s Indian politics. In fact, I know very little beyond a basic sketch and what I have inferred from 70s films, so I'm sure there is commentary in this film that I didn't pick up…

Fashion-bashin'

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Fashion is among the worst films I have ever seen, any language, any culture, any decade, whatever. It's dreadful. I do not understand what anyone involved with this script was thinking. Filmfare award for best actress aside - inexplicable and very, very far aside, in my opinion* - Priyanka Chopra is blank-eyed and blinkingly unconvincing as a character we are told over and over again will be a star because she has enough attitude to make up for her inexperience and horrendous choices. The idea that an almost unknown struggler in the industry would be given a role in a high-profile show by an agent who has never seen the model walk seems so stupid - let alone the idea that said model would have the gall to walk into an agency office to put herself forward for assignments without ever having walked in a show. Meghna voice-overs how she has dreamed of being a supermodel - not just the face of a department store brand or shampoo, mind - yet thinks scrunchies are appropriate

and is unc…

Dharmatma

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[Chock full of spoilers, especially if you haven't seen The Godfather or Sarkar. I'm also assuming you have seen at least one of those films and therefore will do even less plot summary than usual.]

Ghost of Feroz-ji, I've got just one burning question about your 1975 take on The Godfather: why oh why, when this is Indian filmmaking in the mid-70s, did you choose to omit two of the three Corleone brothers? Why no bhai-bhai drama when it was already integrally incorporated into the story? Why not milk something that was totally convenient and, even better, sensible? Why a story of just one man avenging his father and fighting for patriotic service and sacrifice when you could have had at least two? Making this story primarily about an individual is not at all what I expected.

After reading some of the great comments on Memsaab's writeup of this film from last year, I think I may have the answer: Feroz doesn't tend to let a hero stand with him at the end of a story,…