Showing posts from 2017

catching up on 2017

100 words or so on each of this year's Hindi releases I've seen but not written about elsewhere ( Badrinath Ki Dulhania ,  Meri Pyaari Bindu ,   Jagga Jasoos , and  Jab Harry Met Sejal   have their own posts). Chalo! Haraamkhor What a way to start Nawazuddin Siddiqui's crazy year. I also want to see lots more of Shweta Tripathi, whom I didn't even recognize here despite watching her in The Trip  web series. No doubt this is an upsetting story, maybe made more so by its remarkably unremarkable setting, but it's also full of strands of love of different kinds, most notably the affection and genuine care from an adult unrelated to a child who desperately needs a strong outside perspective, even if she doesn't realize it. OK Jaanu I didn't love the original as much as many people did, and this remake demonstrates why: the original is sold entirely by the charisma of its leads. Put the same story in the hands of uncharismatic leads and you're left

a list of some thoughts about Jab Harry Met Sejal

I'm so glad I'm not a paid reviewer who has to deal with this film in carefully-constructed argument-building paragraphs. I am of the opinion that  When Harry Met Sally  is Hollywood's greatest rom com, and it should not be invoked as an afterthought or by someone whose major interest is self-discovery angst. We do not actually see the moment Harry and Sejal met. "Met" does not mean "got to know." Yet another reason to poo-poo this title. Furthermore, isn't ten years too soon for your film's title to refer to the title of one of your previous films? Sejal has a lot of admittedly very small clothes in that carry-on-size suitcase. Harry hardly even bares his arms. I'm not sure they're in the same climate very often, kind of like how 90s heroines wear chiffon saris in the snow while heroes get sweaters, which Anushka has already had a chance to enact in a very fine tongue-in-cheek meta-moment . Everyone should have made much more

failed love with hit songs: Meri Pyaari Bindu and Praktan

Last weekend I happened to watch two recent Bengali-milieu films that provide unconventional finishing points while repeatedly incorporating old film songs:  Meri Pyaari Bindu  (2017) and Praktan (2016). Both also touch on the "older but wiser" idea, which is utterly refreshing for a few reasons. Primarily, it's just true in life that we have the opportunity to learn from past mistakes and experiences, and that generally we're better off when we act on that learning. People who are figuring things out are more interesting than those who haven't started to question. There's a sort of demographical issue to think about as well: as a significant set of film stars (heroes, specifically) ages, filmmakers really need to find ways to incorporate the slipping of time out from under them into the stories they enact. Granted, that's not what the makers of either of these films are about, but we've seen recent examples that are. Both Aamir and Shahrukh hav

Jagga Jasoos

I want to get something out of the way: once again a major Hindi film bungles its major female role. In fact, in this film, Shruti (Katrina Kaif) is the only female role to have more than a few sentences—it's a ridiculous Bechdel Test fail—and she is not written convincingly at all. It's a Boy's Own type of narrative, put in a (pointedly?)  Goopy and Bagha-style world in which women don't figure . Even in the fantastical world of this film, she doesn't really read as an investigative journalist. I assume a person  can  be an investigative journalist while also being a klutz and general goofball, but maybe not when going after arms smugglers? To my surprise, I have no major problems with Toddler Fishface's performance. It's probably the least bad I've ever seen her be, but she brings nothing in particular to it other than a perhaps unique ability to fall over. The woman-child Katrina persona (see also Bang Bang, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, possibly Ajab Prem Ki

Vinod Khanna: masculinity so adaptable

[I wanted to make this really well researched and carefully thought out, but each time I try, I just fall down a hole of youtube links and sadness. So it's going to be emotional and personal instead. Vinod Khanna is my first experience with the death of a film star death whose work I really care about. When Feroz Khan died, I had yet to learn how great he is, and Rajesh Khanna still has no particular pull for me.] I don't know if Vinod Khanna was the first major star to move from hero to villain so quickly and easily, but I think that switching gave his persona a fluidity that meant he fit into a lot of different roles easily. Somewhere in each of them (or at least the ones I've seen), there is a core of rooted, concentrated, secure reliability. He seems so grounded to me, in a way that is confident without being bombastic. Sometimes that comes in a very physical form, which Khanna projects so easily, thanks to his height and build. Sometimes it is very emotional, ste

masculinity so fragile, patriarchy so toxic: Badrinath Ki Dulhania

Things the hero of Badrinath Ki Dulhania does that are beyond even Bollywood's typical sense of "stalking=love" (recording her image without her knowledge or consent and following her to school on the bus hardly registering in this heap of ick): He never, ever, ever understands that no means no. He wordlessly observes the heroine (/love interest) at her home and job after she has told him to go away. He creates so much disruption outside her home that onlookers call the police. He beats up some guy he's never seen before simply because he thinks the guy might be linked to his love interest. And of course this guy forgives him and becomes his friend later, because disliking, or even just being neutral about, the hero is just too inconceivable? He instigates a complicated lie in order to get his love interest to marry him (ohai DDLJ ). He physically grabs his love interest multiple times, sometimes while saying "I'm a good boy. I've never even grab