September 30, 2007


I know its been quiet here, but it is going to be quiet a while more, through the early part of November, as my client is in busy season and I have also been given 2 other projects to complete.

News on the blog- we have screen cap software at last- so better pix and clearer reviews are on the anvil! I sat up late getting screen caps for the blog coming up soon- its like clicking live-action pix....needless to say, it was a lot of fun- cant wait to begin posting. Down with 2nd degree burns though- it hurts to type! I am icing it and icing it- we will commence creative work as soon as the hand is back in service again :)

September 27, 2007

More on the Indian Oscar pick-

So it looks like "Gandhi My Father" was eligible to be considered as the Indian entry, but was voted down in favor of "Eklavya"! I was earlier under the misconception that it was too late in the year, but apparently that wasn't the case.

Will horror never cease?

September 25, 2007

Oscar Heart Attack!!!



"Eklavya" ( mentioned a few weeks ago on these pages is India's entry to the Oscars for this year!!!

I am in serious shock- granted, the movie has great visuals, good costuming- but the plot is rather thin, and it simply isn't as high quality as a LOT of other Indian cinema this past year!

My only hope is that "The Namesake" ( makes it to the Oscars as a UK entry- that one could actually win.....It got a lot of buzz upon release in the States, with Independent cinemas showing it for the longest time and book stores putting the print version on special display for the duration. A lot of folks appreciated it for the real emotion of the immigrant experience it carried.

I'll go back to moaning with disbelief now, while crossing my fingers for "The Namesake" (and of course dear Tabu and Irfan).

Aside: Is the Film Federation of India on drugs?

September 20, 2007

Bollywood Meta Post- 4 movies

Here are short takes on movies we have seen in the past month- categorized into the good, the bad and the ugly, beginning with:

The Good:
Title: Gandhi My Father
Year: 2007

Cast: Akshaye Khanna, Bhoomika Chawla, Shefali Shetty, Darshan Zariwala

Brilliant camera work. And a darned good movie.
On a personal level, I have had Gandhian leanings since I read his autobiography at age 10 (yes we were readers back then, as we still are), and the character traits (focused to the point of mania via his belief in strict discipline) I have always imagined in him are bought to life on screen here.

Akshaye Khanna is a revelation as Hiralal- I have always loved him to distraction always, and he finally gets to exhibit his very real acting talent here.

The movie basically portrays MK Gandhi's life behind the political facade, as Attenborough's Gandhi (1982) never did. It highlight's Hiralal's struggle and ultimate failure, to establish his own identity, trying to live up to his father's name.

I empathise with Hiralal's character- I also have never been quite good-enough by my dad's standards, and it has been a rough ride, always trying to fulfill his expectations and hopes. Now that I have matured (somewhat), I have quit chasing my own tail (i.e., striving to surpass my own achievements), and am at peace doing the best I can. Turns out that this actually pleases my dad better- but Hiralal perhaps never got that opportunity. Lets admit it, being Gandhi's eldest kid would be darned hard to live up to. Gulab (Bhoomika) and Kasturba (Shefali) are both very good actors, and excel here, but have relatively smaller roles to play.

Aside: This has also been touted as a debut vehicle for Producer Anil Kapoor. It isnt- the forgettable Badhai Ho Badhai (2002) was his debut as a producer, but that's neither here nor there.

See this if you haven't- it is totally one of my top 5 this year.

The Bad:
Title: Heyy Babyy
Year: 2007
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Fardeen Khan, Vidya Balan, Boman Irani, Ritesh Deshmukh

"Three Men and a Baby" (1987) was a pretty awful movie- and the desi adaption"Heyy Babyy" (yes, 2 ys) is pretty horrible as well. 3 lecherous guys (Akshay, Fardeen and Ritesh ) live together (not that way) in Australia (Sydney I think) and supposedly spend all their time sleeping with women.

A baby shows up one fine day on their doorstep, and soon accusations fly fast and furious between the three- but no one is quite willing to accept being the father. Searches for the mother result in futility, until they almost manage to kill the baby with exposure and henceforth learn to be good dads. And of course soon after the mom (Vidya, with a completely HORRIBLE wardrobe) shows up and takes back the baby. And of course (again), the most popular male lead in the list, Akshay is the dad, who now gears up to win the lady's hand and his kid back. That's it in a nutshell- try not to see it.

Aside: Ritesh is one saving grace of the movie- that boy is beginning to grow on me I swear.....

The Ugly:
Title: Khallas- The Begining of End
Year: 2007
Cast: Om Puri, Goving Namdev

I love B movies- and this one is particularly deliciously awful! Bollywood B movies make no sense, but if you see them on DVD (as I do), you fast forward the parts where you are basically falling off your chair (as I do again), and just imbibe the glorious awfulness of the (non)acting, editing and general ineptness of movie.

This one apes gangster movies like "Company" and "D," and even names itself after a song in "Company," albeit with terrible grammar. 4 goons (for whom the viewer cannot garner any empathy whatsoever) rum rampant murdering and doing shady stuff- one of 'em has a girlfriend. In the end, all die in the hands of the police- that's all there is.

Aside: what the heck was Om Puri thinking of, doing this? I know he did Disco Dancer, but that can be blamed on the rawness of his career at that time- but this one is unforgivable!

Uglier than Ugly:
Title: Kamsin- The Untouched
Year: 2007
Cast: Disha Vakhnai, Aman Sagar, Amit Panchori

Another B movie! This one is absolutely excretory, to the extent that even IMDB does not list it!!! With novices essentially "play"acting all over the screen, lots of bosoms of rather ugly ladies in tasteless display, and a very tired looking cast, there is really nothing of credit here.

Our heroine (Disha) wears 1 set of fuggly, baggy pants through the movie, and is the most enthusiastic actor of the lot, which doesnt say much at all. Her boyfriend (Aman, I think) is probably the ugliest leading-man alive. And the movie isnt really about them either- a man finds his wife in bed with another, kills and buries them both and develops a maniacal tendency to kill all cheating women. He somehow becomes the caretaker for our heroine's house, and kills off her lady friends, until caught by the police. Aside from the bad grammar in the title, upon being caught, our killer declares himself to be psychic (he is really trying to say psycho- rofl), and everyone around him echoes his words in agreement to his condition.

Very very awful- finished it in 30 minutes, which is more than this movie deserves. See it for the (completely unintentional) comedy- but only if there is absolutely no other choice for entertainment.

September 17, 2007

yes yes I know

I know I had declared a plethora of reviews coming up- unfortunately, what I had not foreseen was a avalanche of work as well. Unbeknownst to me, I was signed on to a 3 mad engagements with buckets of work, in which I am drowning, drowning, drowning....till the end of October.

Don't write me off yet, 'cos like the Governator...I will be back! :P

September 6, 2007

Eklavya- utterly beautiful

Title: Eklavya- The Royal Guard
Year: 2007
Cast: Amitabh Bacchan, Sunjay Dutt, Vidya Balan, Jackie Shroff, Jimmy Shergill, Saif Ali Khan, Raima Sen, Boman Irani.

I like movies by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. His first movie as a director was the 1985 thriller Khamosh, and from that to the latest crowd pleaser Munna Bhai- each one shares one commonality: great cinematography. And Eklavya is no exception. Despite a relatively short running time of 105 minutes (for a Indian movie this is super short), the movies progresses with grace and languor against a heart-stopping Rajasthani backdrop.

Rana Jaywardhan (Boman Irani) rules over a tiny estate in some picturesque part of Rajasthan. The movie opens with him at the bedside of his ailing queen, Rani Suhasinidevi (Sharmila Tagore).

The queen keeps calling for "Eklavya" (Amitabh Bacchan) in her near unconcious state- which infuriates the Rana to the point of strangling her in her bed, right before the eyes of his mentally challenged daughter, Princess Nandini (Raima Sen).

Now that the queen is dead, he finally calls Eklavya, taking care to mention that the queen did not call for anyone as she died, except her son. Eklavya is sent off to prepare for the queen's funeral. We also find out that Eklavya's family has served for generations as the royal guard to the Ranas. Now old and almost blind, he remains completely devoted to Rana Jaya and his family as he knows no better.

Jayawardhan prepares for the queen's last rites, and shares the reason for murdering her with his brother Rana Jyotiwardhan (Jackie Shroff ) and nephew Rana Udaywardhan (Jimmy Shergill)- [btw both men look amazingly hot in the movie]- years ago, unknown to the Rana, his mom had asked the queen to sleep with Eklavya and produce the heir to the throne, since the Rana himself had meen declared impotent by the doctors. The twins born to the queen were of course Nandini and Rana Harshwardhan (Saif Ali Khan).

The queen's muttering of Eklavya's name on her death bead had confirmed the suspicions Jayawardhan had always harbored, and now his only goal is Eklavya's death, which he wants Jyoti and Uday to arrange.

While Uday and Jyoti set about planning their task at hand, the queen's last rites are completed. The Prince, Rana Harshwardhan (Saif) arrives soon after. He is eager to meet Rajjo (Vidya Balan), who was his playmate in childhood.
Rajjo is the daughter of the family chauffeur, and now serves as a companion to the mentally challenged Nandini.

Harsh is reallly happy to see Nandini, who lets slip their father's murder of their mother...

Meanwhile, Jaya, Jyoti and Uday have been busy spreading rumors that the local peasants are attempting to murder Jaya. The ever-faithful Eklavya is quick to act and calls in the local police, headed by the low-caste inspector Pannalal Chohar (Sanjay Dutt, doing a brilliant job here, honestly).

Meanwhile (repititive I know, but lots of behind-the-back type work is going on in this movie at all times) Uday and his dad Jyoti have the entire set-up in place- per Jaya's orders.

Jaya takes off with the chauffeur and Eklavya. In a deserted spot, the car is caught in a stampede of a herd of camel, staged by Uday and Jyoti. The chauffeur is shot to death, while the partly blind Eklavya is separated from Jaya. Jaya wants Jyoti to shoot Eklavya, with the idea being that the local farmers would later be blamed for the attack, and Jaya could pretend that his two servants died protecting him.

However, Jyoti turns the tables on Jaya by shooting him instead....

Jyoti and Uday take off, while Eklavya is left mourning his dead master...

Harsh remains unperturbed to hear of his father's murder, especially since he knows his dad had killed his mom. And we are tantalized by Saif looking suitably hot in his dhoti while performing the last rites...

The prince lets go of Eklavya's services, which the latter does not understand. What Eklavya does realize is that Uday was behind Jaya's murder, since he recognizes Uday's shoes (Uday had kicked him while separating him from the Rana, and Eklavya is able to see things clearly only if they are super close to him). He tells Chauhar, but the police can take no action since there is no evidence, and a part-blind man is a poor witness.

So Eklavya takes matters into his own hands, and goes and murders Uday. Then he terrorizes Jyoti to the point where he confesses that it was Harsh who had paid him extra to kill Jaya...

Here comes Eklavya's dilemma. Harsh is his son, a fact he has been quiet about all his life. Harsh is also his new master (or not so much, he has been kicked out after all). He decides to go ahead and confront Harsh anyways. When he does so, Harsh tell him he knows that Eklavya is his real father, and he had Jaya killed because not only did the latter murder his mom, but was also conspiring to kill Eklavya.

And thats really it. Harsh openly declares Eklavya to be his real dad, divides his property amongst the poor farmers, and Chauhar produces false evidence to save Eklavya from murder charges. and they lived happily ever after.

1- Beautiful visuals, as mentioned before. Lots of style.
2- Everyone is super sincere in the acting department. Jackie and Uday are dreamboats (also as mentioned before), but very convincing as scheming relatives as well. Sunjay Dutt has charisma dripping from his pores. Raima and Vidya are beautiful and believable.

1- I do not understand why Rajjo (Vidya) decides to stick around with Harsh (Saif) and marry him, despite knowing his planned murder of Jaya caused her Chauffeur father's death. Makes no sense- how can you live with someone who caused your dad to die? She says that she had no option- which is ridiculous- there is always an option.
2- The story is really simple, but still feels very languorous in places- perhaps better editing may have helped (?).
3- A lot of stress is put on the fact that though Eklavya is almost blind, he remains a wonderful marksman- that is neither here nor there. He does go ahead and kill Uday and Jyoti despite his blindness, and one wonders why a strapping young man like Uday dies like a dumb chicken by the hands of an old man.

It wasn't bad- definitely worth watching for the visuals.

September 4, 2007

Chak De India

Title: Chak De India
Year: 2007

Fine Babaganoush- I agree with you :) Chak De isn't bad at all. And here we go:

Kabir (Sharukh) is the Indian Hockey team captain, and screws up the winning shot at an international event against Pakistan. Overnight, he is labelled a traitor etc. and banished from the game. His peers and neighbors reject him to the extent that he leaves town and vanishes into anonymity.

Fast-forward 7 years+: The Indian National Women's Hockey team is seeking a coach for the upcoming international games, and the Hockey Association isn't taking it seriously at all. Kabir manages to get a foot in as the only interviewee for the job, and despite some ridicule, becomes the coach. (Why does he want to coach the women's team? who knows? he does give a half-baked answer which leaves us to surmise that the team's near-anonymity equates to his own etc.).

This is when it gets better- we are introduced to the team, which consists of strong young women from all parts of the country. Points to note:
1- Preeti Sabharwal is the player from Chandigarh, and she looks and acts the part to perfection. 2- The Punjabi girl is cute- a bit of a caricature to be honest. I do not think its a very good representation, but serves only to add humor.
3- The Haryanvi girl, Komal, is again adorable- but she is like no Haryanvi girl I've ever come across! I happen to have married into a extensive Haryanvi family where everyone meets each other and whole villages/towns meet up at weddings. I have never seen, in all those gatherings, as petite and soft-featured a girl as her- she just looks sadly miscast. On the plus side, the actor playing it is very very good and has the lingo down pat.

The individual and united struggles of the women are beautifully translated to cinematic perfection. So do they conquer all odds and win? Of course, but it is the journey which keeps you engrossed from beginning to end.

1- The litany of profane language from Komal, spoken with adorable candor. You go girl!
2- The obvious sincerity oh every actor- every single person pitches in their best, and it shows.

1- Sharukh is unable to contain the melodrama even in this movie; at the end, when his team wins, he again wrinkles up his forehead and his eyes are full of unshed tears- ughhhh! My husband insists that its those very tears that make every Indian woman's heart skip a beat. Dunno man- doesn't work for me, never has and truly drives me up the wall.
2- Despite my reservations about his acting, I am convinced that the movie would have never been the success it is without Sharukh. The other side of the coin remains that even today, we need a man to successfully launch a women-oriented movie.

Quibbles aside, it is honestly quite good; watch it if you haven't.

California burning

Its hotter than Hades here (though I am not certain how hot it exactly is in Hades).

This has probably been the hottest Labor Day weekend ever, with temperatures zooming to 118 degrees on Sunday! I did get in some movies: Chak De, Eklavya and My Father Gandhi. Will begin postings on each by tonight.

The weekend was great- relaxed and worked on the new apartment a bit more. We decided that we wanted all the living-room furniture to be stained Ebony, and my friend Steve not only convinced us to do it ourselves, but also pitched a hand in. Let me tell you that it is really not my idea of fun to refinish wood- I am intrinsically lazy when it comes to moving my limbs, and hard work to me is normally defined by 12 hours or more of computer time, not sweating in the sun :)
We finished it though, and it does look suprisingly good.

Lots of cooking is more in my line (see? I AM a total loser- I actually have fun swirling stuff around stuff in pots and pans). To my credit, I do now have a kitchen that is huge, bright and pretty well ventilated. Here is the good stuff I cooked this weekend:
1- Dal Makhani- different kinds of lentils cooked together in a tomato-based sauce, with lashings of ghee. Yummy but very rich- wisely took half home to dad.
2- Japanese curry with Shitake mushrooms, lamb, green onions- very very good. This has to be my favorite food of all time- right next to pho. Quite low-cal too.
3- Mooli (Daikon radish) ke parathe- flat bread stuffed with daikon- so darned good! I actually hadn't bought flour in like a year and a half (OK OK- I am properly ashamed mom!) and was making do with Trader Joe's Rotis and Naan. But figured since it was a long weekend, would make the effort. This was a total success- hubby became romantic with one bite :D rofl. Makes me almost contemplate making gobhi (cauliflower) ke parathe next weekend... a definite maybe on that one.

Wont describe the breakfast and salads- not scrumptious enough.

On hindsight, should have slept some more...thank God this is a short week.

Coming up: Chak De India!