Posts

Showing posts from July, 2012

Mr. Romeo

Image
(Housekeeping note: I don't understand why Blogger does such weird things with image alignment these days, but I've tried to fix it and have only a headache to show for my efforts. Sorry!)

If you have ever heard anything about the apparently uncelebrated Mr. Romeo (1974), it's probably that R. D. Burman's soundtrack is super fly. Exhibit A:
Any movie that introduces Shashi Kapoor by having him drive his gang of friends in a red convertible to a nightclub, then get a hero's welcome by the whole crowd, then dance like a Muppet toddler on a sugar high (so...Elmo?) while three different skankily-clad women fight over him is a movie for me. 
A bit of plot summary: Shashi is the older son of a cranky Utpal Dutt—is Utpal Dutt ever not cranky in masala films? —and is a bit of a cad, as the title suggests, partying all night and sneaking back home through the bathroom window.  A surprisingly cute Kiran Kumar is the younger son, and he is a very good boy indeed. Utpal and h…

When Mini-Reviews Attack! Day 4: Kalicharan

Image
Kalicharan shot to the top of my watch-right-now list when Ashwin Pande, trusted advisor in such matters, told me that I had overlooked it in my recent list of my favorite villain lairs at  the Wall Street Journal India Real Time blog. Once I investigated the film's provenance, I realized he was probably quite right to bring it to my attention. Subash Ghai's directorial debut and 1976 vintage and Reena Roy and a criminal mastermind named LION suggested that, indeed, something special might be lurking in its midst. 
Has it cracked my personal lair list? No. Am I delighted that there is a villain HQ that has a desk full of telephones, each of which starts ringing in succession as the film opens, a canpoy bed, a clear glass holding-cell sort of chamber, an escape hatch that drops into a barn full of livestock, and beep-booping machines that, as Ashwin said, do nothing but beep-boop? Yes. Extremely. Obviously.

I have a vague memory of reading somewhere that "Shotgun" Sinha…

Sassy Gay Friend may have reached the end of his rope with YRF ladies

Image
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, see the real Sassy Gay Friend on the Second City Network!)
Meet Pooja from Lamhe. She is in love with Viren. Viren is old enough to be her father and was, in fact, in love with her mother—and still is, almost 20 years later.  This fate could've been avoided if she'd had a Sassy Gay Friend—or any competent adults around her at all, really! POOJA (lying on her bed, cuddling a giant teddy bear) Sigh.
SASSY GAY FRIEND Flounces into her room in full maharaja getup,
adjusting his turban before perching delicately on the edge of her bed
while admiring the curly toes on his shoes. Pooja, doll, why are you so hung up on this guy? Viren is a miserable SOB who has smiled exactly once post the death of his true love—who, I might add, was YOUR MOTHER.
POOJA (sighing)  Poor Viren.
SGF He's obsessed. For, like, 18 years. 
POOJA But...
SGF (continuing) With a dead woman. 
POOJA So sad....
SGF (working up a full head of steam) Who never lo…

Mighty Girl Funbrain!

A few weeks ago, the university where I work sent out a very vague, and therefore very worrying, note over our emergency alert system: "Hazardous materials released at Institute for Genomic Biology. Escape area if safe to do so. Otherwise seek shelter.""Materials"? WHAT MATERIALS? HOW HAZARDOUS? Smallpox? Killer bees? Some new mutant strain of anthropomorphic soybeans? How do we seek shelter from something unidentified? Does "escape" mean "Good citizens, walk quickly but calmly to your vehicles, then drive as fast and as far as you can?"

Turns out it was just an itsy-bitsy chemical spill and no one was seriously injured, but we didn't know that until after we'd had a few hours to ponder the most important question: is everyone in the micro-urban area of Champaign-Urbana about to turn into superheroes? Is this going to beTurbulence*on the prairie? As someone who spent much of her childhood running around in a mom-made Batman cape, I coul…

When Mini-Reviews Attack! Day 3: Players

Image
Sweet Bindu on a biscuit—you know, like "Christ on a cracker!" but filmier!— this is a terrible, terrible movie. Its only substantial benefits are: 1) that it dresses Vinod Khanna like a nerdy professor (and, to my surprise, gives him top billing) and 2) it has an excellent villain lair, which I plan to discuss in greater detail in a later post. [SPOILER] However, when Vinod is gunned down in the middle of the film, his death scene is embarrassing. I have every faith in him as a thespian but he was either really out to lunch in that scene or playing it for laughs in a way that had so little to do with anything else that it fell flat on its face. [END SPOILER] 
Admittedly, it is at times howlariously bad, and therefore it might have some comedic so-bad-it's-good value at a slumber party or similarly jolly gathering if everyone is loopy from Doritos or box wine or crack. But mostly it is just plain bad. Because this movie is not worth any brainpower devoted to constructing …

Sassy Gay Friend does the international film circuit

Image
(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, see the real Sassy Gay Friend on the Second City Network!)
This week's episode is for the Bolly-Toronto-fabulous Melanie!
Meet everyone from the cast of Merchant and Ivory's Bombay Talkie. Vikram, a movie star, is married to Mala, a sweet little doormat.  Vikram and his friend Hari, a screenwriter, are both infatuated with Lucia, an English novelist.  They are all foolish, completely miserable, and, save Mala, hateful human beings. This fate could have been avoided if they'd had a Sassy Gay Friend. Bombay. Evening. Sitting together at a posh restaurant, the protagonists ponder their sad fates in awkward silence, except for Lucia, who admires her reflection in a mirror and twirls a blonde lock around her finger in the general direction of a a young nawab dining with his coterie.  ALL
Sigh. 

SASSY GAY FRIEND
Enters wearing bright yellow bellbottom pants and mumbling choreography instructions to himself.  "Typewriter" and shi…

When Mini-Reviews Attack! Day 2: Bollywood/Hollywood

Image
When I first saw Deepa Mehta's Bollywood/Hollywood many years ago, I was absolutely blown away by it, convinced that I had stumbled upon a movie made just for me. And no, not for the reason you're all assuming.  Bollywood/Hollywood ripped into me because it is a story about loving someone who turns out to be someone other than you wanted and expected, which happened to happen to me in the very city that this film is set in. I have written briefly before about the second major heartbreak of my life in my reflections on, of all things, Bachna Ae Haseeno (and echoes throughout Shakespeare-Wallah as well); Bollywood/Hollywood has become the filmi reference for the first one, which happened years before I ever saw an Indian movie. (And believe me, I never thought I'd be a person who found cinematic references for her life, especially in Bollywood, but there we have it.) The experience left a huge scar: it was the saddest and loneliest I have ever been, the most helpless and dis…

When Mini-Reviews Attack! Day 1: Pyaasi Bhootni

Image
Truth in advertising.  I do not remember what possessed me—possibly one of the monsters you will see in the images below—to buy a 3-in-1 horror DVD. I frighten very easily, but somehow Bollywood horror, at least the B-grade and below kinds, don't scare me and instead I can focus on the always delightfully awful acting, sound design, and costumes. 
Allow me to attempt to narrate the story of Pyaasi Bhootni—my first-ever Kanti Shah film, by the way (no, I haven't seen Gunda, and yes, I want to see Gunda)—which of course does not have subtitles, so we'll just play along. It is a dark and stormy night, and this girl is sitting around her  mansion in some kind of boobariffic top (as one does) when she is attacked by a sort of skeleton monster in a black brocade coat. Somehow in the struggle she rips off his mask but he manages to kill her anyway. He cackles on about being the head of the estate.

But what's this?
She's back for revenge (or possibly some other dead woman …