May 28, 2008

Gambler (1997)

I know I know- you are probably thinking- what's a nice girl like me doing, not only seeing yet another excretory movie, but also posting extensive screen caps of it? Why the answer is simplicity itself- its all for you gentle reader. You HAVE TO see the utterly insane, campy costuming and meet Billo, the contract killer with a deadly cat.

So let me be like Alice, and begin at the beginning, until I come to the end, then stop.

Title: Gambler
Year: 1997
Cast: Govinda, Shilpa Shetty, Aditya Pancholi, Saeed Jafri, Gulshan Grover, Rohini Hattangdi

Sub-Inspector Dayashankar Pandey (Govinda), is a complete gas bag, and prefers to hang out at the police station, bragging about his past exploits to his subordinates, rather than going out and getting any real work done.

However, Daya is clearly marked for greatness: via a series of unintentional sting operations, he manages to book some pretty large sized criminals, and gets lauded for these. There is only one way to celebrate: dancing like a baboon with a team of guys in manly pink suits...

and lest our eyes get used to the baby pink, lets enjoy some nice yellow outfits, with gold trim all around...

...when the ladies dance with Daya, they must wear Michael Jackson's old BAD outfits from the 80s....

...or even better, wear a rainbow of colors while Daya pretends to be Aladdin (I guess)...

It must be owned that Daya is fairly conservatively dressed compared to his back-up dancers, but nothing can hide that belly burgeoning over his belt in every shot. The dancing done, Daya continues to inadvertently capture criminals with increasingly greater notoriety, who understandably are getting a tad peeved...

But Daya's family: handicapped dad, doting mom (Rohini), sister and brother are very happy at his newly acquired fame, while he is a bit scared that he is inviting attention from gangsters.

Daya gets promoted, and there is a huge party thrown by the cops, who apparently have nothing better to celebrate than ONE sub-inspector getting promoted to inspector. Whatever. At the party, we are hastily introduced to Daya's best friend, Inspector Shiva (Aditya), and Shiva's friend Ritu (Shilpa). We are subjected to a really dumb conversation between Daya and Shiva, which should have established the friendship and chemistry shared by the 2 men- that doesn't happen. Ritu's intro is shoved in, and her ridiculous clothes (a baseball cap with a flowery, shiny mini dress) are explained by the fact that she has just returned from abroad. (That's it- I need to buy me some caps and minis before going back to Delhi).

Ritu is apparently instantly enamoured by Daya, who is terrified of her "modern" ways and outfits. She plots around getting him while hanging at the pool with her friends, while dressed in a red dressing gown, black t shirt and an old lady's flowered hat. Her friends wear shower caps and what looks like swimsuits with orange love handles outlined on them.

There is a minor sub plot, abandoned unceremoniously soon after, about Ritu pretending to be her own unrelated twin, dressing up in a overtly traditional saree and flirting with Daya, who is instantly smitten.

As her own self, Ritu continues to stalk and sing atrocious songs around New Delhi (the plot is centered around Bombay, but they keep flitting to other cities for their songs- no trips to Europe either, I might add). Never has the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Indian Parliament) been so desecrated...

....In the same song, Daya dances like a loon in a hot pink shirt at Pragati Maidan (a huge site, normally used for trade shows etc. in Delhi), while Ritu hangs out in a shirt with huge sequins down her front- not a pretty look, but the back-up dancers are even worse off in cowboy hats and bright blue pants.

... with a final line dance in front of India Gate- it isn't apparent in the screen cap, but Daya's jacket has a silver front, to match the subtle, chic gold back- now I wonder whose brilliant mind came up with this....

Enough dancing. We are treated to a little review of the daily life of Billo (Gulshan), a cat loving contract killer...

He performs machinations programmed to bust cars like toys...

... and while his cat jumps at his prey (the screen cap's not the best, sorry) and claws their faces, thus rendering them completely hapless...

... so that Billo can finish them off with his own wash and wear metal claws...this is SO unintentionally funny, you have to see it to believe it :)

An adorable Saeed Jaffery, who is the Police Commissioner and Daya's boss, threatens Raj Babbar, the don king-pin..

... who decides to give the supari (contract) of saeed's murder to Billo and his cat.

Billo plants a bomb in Saeed's car (sans cat), from which Daya rescues him...

... but this is temporary and Saeed is killed soon after, while Daya is seriously injured. For some inexplicable reason, (save for the fact that it is required by the story that Shiva be present at the same hospital Daya is at), Shiva is called by Daya's team to expressly drive Daya to the hospital. I guess we should assume all the ambulances were out that day, and his team's cars and taxis were all at the shop. Whatever.

After some typical threatening music and closeups of Daya's crying family and the operation theatre, all's well..

..just in time for some rambunctious dancing, complete with giant drums to stomp colored powder (gulal) on.

While a very pretty Ritu dances with some very suggestively gyrating back-up dancers...

...all in front of Tipu Sultan's castle near Bangalore :S Nothing wrong in desecrating yet another national monument...

The song is done, and Daya hops dramatically back to Bombay's sea shore, where he meets his doctor from the hospital. Now I've heard of doctor's visiting at home, but at the beach?! ah well...

Its bad news for Daya- per the doc, he is dying of an old Bollywood standby- inoperable cancer. Naturally, there is plenty of angst, which he channels by basically mowing down baddies all over town.

Strangely enough, the baddies themselves are whiling away time in their den with some panoramic, suggestive cabaret style dance shows...

.. and yes, those back up dancers are wearing golden and pink curly wigs for no apparent reason.

Daya is arresting more baddies in the meantime,

.. and is getting awarded for it, but remains sad, 'cos he is dying dammit...

... and of course he must dance as well, sad as he may be, while borrowing one of the Jackson BAD costumes from the first song.

... and he must dance dressed as Alexander the Great (guessing) in front of the Victoria memorial (I am probably wrong) in Calcutta...

Dancing and angst only mix so well, so he behaves like a jerk with Ritu, in order to drive her away from the pain of his dying (OF COURSE he hasn't told anyone he is dying- that'd mean lesser angst- and a possible second opinion from another doctor- and less drama- and where would we be then? certainly not in Bollywood).

But all good things must come to an end- we are told that there was a mixup at the hospital and the nurse tested Shiva's blood instead of Daya's, so guess who is the one with inoperable cancer....

yup it's Shiva, who isnt intersted in further investigations or a second opinion either. Instead, he decides to cry and stand around hugging Daya very closely- decidedly homoerotic- well you decide...

So Daya must now dump Shiva and skip off to another song with Ritu. This one has the strangest "special" effects ever; we are treated to a very badly digitized Daya....

... who must dance on badly-attempted sci-fi stage with red and yellow light...

... yes really ...

... he even mock shoots Ritu, who is burning in fake flames dressed as a panther, while he is pulling a look best described as beefy Bond...

Thankfully, or tragically, this was the last song of the movie. Things get serious as Daya's family is being held by the baddies...

... and he himself is attacked by Billo's cat, who has mysteriously turned white (why? for better visibility in my screencaps? :D

.. but the brave, overweight, not-so-young sod defeats the kitty cat (we are never shown him actually killing it- fear of PETA, no doubt)

.... and who cares whether Daya rescues his family, kills any more baddies or walks away with Ritu- you only need to walk away with this last screencap in your minds: Shiva is shot saving Daya, and dies in his arms, with Daya kissing him goodbye (which is more physical than he has gotten with Ritu through the course of the entire movie).

And now I've come to the end, and as promised, I must stop.

2 weeks and counting

I havent posted in a while- but dont write me off yet :)
A lot is going on, involving a possible move, hubby's travel plans, some extra assignments at work that I seem to have lucked out on- plus my summer travels for work in the good ol' South. Postings will resume next week, I promise!

[But you now what they say about promises...:B ]

May 11, 2008

Tashan- or lack thereof

I saw this almost a week ago, and just didn't have the motivation to write about it. I felt a little bit cheated, a little bit victimized even :) All these are bad signs....

You see, I was born in Lucknow and brought up in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. Since 3 of 4 protagonists from this movie are supposedly from there, I take "Tashan" more personally than I should. And because they are all such "special" characters, some tiny part of me feels offended. Lots of spoilers here, so if you are waiting to see the movie, don't read any further.

Title: Tashan
Year: 2008
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Anil Kapoor.

Jimmy Cliff (Saif Ali Khan), works in a call centre and teaches English on the side. He gets hired to teach Bhaiyyaji (Anil Kapoor) proper English, and falls in love with Bhaiyyaji's secretary Pooja (Kareena Kapoor).

Jimmy and Pooja steal Bhaiiyaji's money and run away- only Jimmy gets conned by Pooja, who runs away with all the cash.

As the icing on the cake, we find out that Bhaiyyaji is a big-time don and will stop at nothing to get his money back. He is from Kanpur, and calls over one of of the thugs from his home town: Bachchan Pande (Akshay) to catch Jimmy and Pooja. Jimmy is soon caught, and the two head off to Haridwar, where Jimmy believes Pooja may be, to perform her dad's last rites. Don't look for the chemistry from "Main Khiladi Tu Anadi"- its not happening here.

They find Pooja, Bhaiiyaji comes over, and they set about recovering the money- she has hidden it in various places in India (when she had the time to do all this, we do not know). During this journey, Bacchan and Pooja discover that they are each other's lost childhood love, and Bacchan lets Pooja go, taking the money bag back with him to Bhaiiyaji.

What he doesn't know is that Jimmy had replaced all the cash with stones. At Bhaiyyaji's lair, Bacchan is beaten black and blue. Will Pooja and Jimmy come back and save Bacchan? Who will Pooja end up with? What is Bhaiyyaji's fate? Do you care? You do? Why???

1- Akshay is beautiful. He just is. The costumes work for him, the dialect works for him. I've really begun to like this guy. He aint the best actor, but very charismatic.

1- None of the characters, save for Bacchan, evoke any empathy. I think its a bad sign when while watching a movie, there is nothing and no one I can root for.
2- Saif looks terrible- just v v short. I do not know what Aki was thinking, but all the costumes he has provided for Saif make the latter look tiny. Esp where he shows up with Kareena, who looks statuesque in comparison.
3- Kanpur is made to appear as a small, poorly educated township. That was true maybe 10 years ago. Oh I dunno...Its only a movie- I shouldn't care.
4- There is no chemistry between either Saif and Kareena, Saif and Akshay OR Akshay and Kareena- maybe some between Akshay and Anil- tsk.
5- Its not necessarily a con, but- Anil looks decent and acts ok- but is that enough? Its just insufficient when the best comment you can come up with about someone is that they are satisfactory, and no more.

All in all, this could have been so much better than it was.

May 6, 2008

5 Rifles

Caught this on late night Indian cable: so no screen caps!

Title: 5 Rifles
Year: 1974
Cast:Rakesh Khanna, Shahi Kapoor, Ambika Johar, DK Sapru, IS Johar, Anil Johar.

The plot itself is simple enough:

A royal family from some random Indian state wages incessant war against the British. Defeated and separated, the king (DK Sapru), queen (Veena!), and his twin daughters (Ambika Johar) and a son (Anil Johar). While everyone has been separated, and the parents do not recognize their kids, they are all freedom fighters :)

Of the 2 daughters, one is actually found by the king and appointed princess, ruling the kingdom. The other is bought up by Harfan mama (IS Johar), and turns a petty thief/revolutionist.

The princess is wooed by Rakesh Khanna (A Rajesh Khanna look-alike), while the thief is wooed by Shahi Kapoor (A Shashi look-alike- not a good one).

Does the family unite? Do they defeat the British?
What do you think? :D

1- The acting is despicable, the script bad, the movie simply insane- it is but a Bollywood-ized Monty Python, if you dig that kind of stuff- I love it!
2- I love Veena in nutty movies- and she does it again here!
3- Kudos to IS Johar for directed and producing this madness- I am sure he lost a lot of $ in it, but this is perhaps the first Bollywood spoof (take that Farah Khan) and he made it happen!
4- The Rajesh Khanna and Shashi Kapoor look-alikes were very sketchy- didn't work very well except to supplement the camp value of the movie.
5- The quwwali song "Jhoom Barabar Jhoom" became insanely popular, and is played to this day in India- so much so that it was used to title a movie that bombed last year :D

Random Trivia:
To confirm your suspicions, yes Ambika is IS Johar's daughter, who acted in 5 movies in her entire acting career, of which 3 were made by her dad. She was really rather pretty here, but not very talented. On the other hand Anil, IS's son, exhibited no talented at all :)