June 29, 2008


OMG so many computer problems! My network at home is behaving really really weird, and only my husband's laptop seems to be dealing well with that- so using his to publish this post.

I think watching this movie supports the fact that I am becoming a better person :) Not only have I opened my mind enough to watch SRK, I have even begun to watch Aishwariya Rai. And gave myself every opportunity to love/like their performances.

Title: Guru
Year: 2007
Cast: Abhishek Bacchan, Mithun Chakraborty, Aishwariya Rai, Madhavan,Vidya Balan.

A poor Gujrati boy, Gurukant Desai leaves for Turkey in his teens so that he can earn rather than study further.

Fast forward a few years, and our boy has turned into Abhishek, on the brink of heading home and starting his own business.

Back in India, he finds he really doesn't have enough cash, and therefore chooses to marry Aishwariya for her dowry- hah! looking at her, I highly doubt anyone would marry a girl that good-looking only for money :S

The newly-married couple heads off to big bad Bombay, and begin to love each other. Aishwariya looks gorgeous in sarees and takes care of home, while Abhishek struggles in the market place.

Pretty soon, the struggling Abhishek meets Mithun, a newspaper editor, who initially helps him by printing stuff against the large-statured Bombay businessmen who don't allow entrepreneurs into the market..

Years pass, and Abh-Ash have a successful business, and look as beautiful as we expect them to do in real life, 30 years from now...:)

Things have soured a little between Abhishek and Mithun- the latter doesnt approve of Abhishek's business mantras, and their arguments are refereed by Mithun's niece, Vidya.

But Vidya soon dies....

And Abhishek gets a paralytic attack after Mithun instigates a media-fuelled government investigation against him and his businesses..... (Aishwariya is SO lovely here!)

Under full investigation by the Govt.'s tax group (headed by Roshan Seth- love)...

...and highlighted in the media, can Abhishek come out the winner ?

1- Abhishek does more than brood, and acts remarkably well...
2- ... as does Mithun, who is absolutely in his element...
3- ... as does Aishwariya, who looks amazingly elegant.
4- Very fluid, well-synchronized cinematography and direction.

1- A severely underused Madhavan. This guy has been SO underutilized by Bollywood... tsk. ANYONE could have done the role he was given :S

June 25, 2008

Summer Movies III

Third edition (or is it the fourth?) of Summer Movies 2008.... this is turning out to be a pretty good year for Hollywood, and I am looking forward to July's releases as well.


Title: Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the Chrystal Skull
Year: 2008
Cast: Harrison Ford, Shea LeBeof

How can a Indiana Jones movie be bad?
But even the highly improbable stunts (sword fighting in a jeep going at top speed in the Amazon? Aliens in South America?) are believable compared to Shea's portrayal of Indy's son. Seriously. Not. Impressed. by. Shea.

1- Harrison Ford
2- Cate Blanchett

1- Shea LeBeouf

Conclusion: One more, and probably the last of the Indiana series- do not complain of its shortcomings and be satisfied with what you have been provided, says Yoda.


No complaints

Title: Get Smart
Year: 2008
Cast: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson

A spy spoof with Steve- what's not to love? Since I can watch the ex-postman in any movie or TV, I laughed happily through the movies. I am going to try getting the 60s TV series' DVDs as well.

1- Steve and Dwayne
2- Surprisingly good chemistry between Steve and Dwayne, and Steve and Anne.

1- Not the most memorable of story lines.

Conclusion: If you are a Steve Carell fan like me, by all means, see it in theatres now, but be prepared for the forgettable plot. If you aren't, wait for the DVD.

Title: Kung-Fu Panda
Year: 2008
Cast: A panda, a panther, ducks, rhinos, pigs.....

Its a familiar story of a misfit recognizing his place under the sun and turning out the winner.

1- It may be a familiar plot, but v freshly treated.
2- Better than ever animation- beautiful scenery- MAJORLY beautiful scenery.
3- During the movie, I felt real empathy with the characters- something I seldom feel even in non-animated movies. I identify the most w/ Panda I've decided- we even look sort-of similar I think.....:)

1- Not the most memorable of story lines.

Conclusion: Really hear-felt, and absolutely worth seeing in the theatre- the DVD wont feel the same, so just go see it if you haven't already!

June 19, 2008

Don (2006)

Oh God, what a crazy week- and so much more craziness ahead! I finally put in my two weeks' notice at the soul sucking sweatshop, got another job at another possible sweatshop. Also the seemingly futile search for a new apartment looms before me, while the entire week has gone by with me working on an audit in the thunder-storm laden South. But the day before I left town, I had watched the fabulous and cool Don with the fabulous and cool Bollywoodfan.

Title: Don
Year: 2006
Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Isha Koppikar

While it is a thorough entertainer: well crafted well executed, it took me still a while (2 years!) to see the movie, due to a fear of SRK from all the Karan Johar movies. But I began to come around to him this year, and when Bollywoodfan and I began to toss around the idea of a joint review of sorts, Don came to mind. You can read his detailed review here.

1- Where Dil Chahta Hai (2001) was blue, this was a very "green" movie, with purple accents- symbolic of money, greed and power- or was the director really thinking that much in depth about it? We may never know, but after having seen it, I do think that all the comparisons with the 1978 Don are a bit pointless- there are huge technological advancements from the time of course, but the plot deviates enough to make the 2006 version as unique as it could hope to get. (Note to self: What kind of a dumb ass ambivalent comment is that anyway???)

2- The "jail" break in the plane was such a rip-off of Con Air (1997)- but it works! SRK owns the entire sequence. Hilarious bit (I found it funny, alright?)- once he jumps off the plane and lands in the middle of what is a very typical, Malay Bhumiputra kampung (village), the background music switches to Chinese music... especially odd since the 2 kids who witness his landing are also obviously Malay/ Indo-Malay. (Note to self: Even if the music was bhangra or Pagliacci, it wouldnt matter a whit- stop splitting hairs dammit)

3- Priyanka wears a skin-tight leather outfit when she rescues SRK in the middle of KL- how??? The humidity alone would kill the girl. And she pull the caper in relative peace- there is not a car in sight- all in the middle of a bustling metropolitan city. Bollymagic.

4- SRK and Priyanka are offered paan (betel leaf) in the Banarsi (Varanasi, UP, India) style, which leads to the whole " Chora ganaga kinare waala" song- which is weird, since you cant get a paan like that outside of U.P. (Uttar Pradesh), let alone abroad.

5- I had heard that the movie really showcased Isha Koppikar's talents- I guess I missed that. All I saw of her was smiling meaningfully, while dressed in frumpy outfits.

1- Again, and I am getting repetitive, SRK, for all his arm-spread ham-iness, owns the movie.

Another man would appear effeminate in pink and purple (alright, he does wear green and black too), but not the Khan- he rocks out the purple velvet like no other, driving a purple car (!!!) while killing people left and right.

2- Chunkey Pandey in a brilliant cameo- somehow this man appears way cooler now, doing cameos, than playing hero in his hey day- maybe he just needed to get older and shift off the center of the screen...
3- Pawan Malhotra and moustache- I love them both, so they had to make the list.
4- Boman- no need to add more than this.
5- The country and the locales- Malaysia! This movie, coupled with a tie-up between Malaysian Airways and Indian Airways (or it may be Air India- eh) catapulted Malaysia into becoming the vacation destination of choice for what appears to me as the entire Indian nation :)

1- HUGE plot holes- the biggest one being that the whole chase is supposedly after a teeny tiny dvd/cd- hello??? All Boman had to do (or Arjun or SRK) for that matter was make multiple copies of the thing. If it was encrypted, get a decent hacker, or a bunch of good hackers if need be) and cut that Gordian knot.

2- As funny was Pran walking the tightrope in the 70s version with 2 kids and a paunch, it is as hilarious to see a lame (not figuratively, literally) Arjun scaling skyscrapers- he is a programmer, not a gymnast, but I quibble..
3- Much as the costume designer loved SRK and Priyanka, he/she hated Isha and Kareena- terrible stuff that.

Pros & Cons:
1- Priyanka is gorgeous, ravishing, etc- but doesn't really have to do much- she is the one point in the movie that I tend to compare to the original, since Zeenat was oh about 2 million times cooler in the 70s version.
2- The songs- love the title and "Aaj ki raat" songs- not much else. I don't see the point of including the 70s versions in the movie at all. "Chora" adds nothing to the narrative- any song could replace it just fine. All "Ye Mera Dil" does is provoke comparison between Helen and Kareena, and of course Kareena falls short- not only is she being compared to Helen, but she is also dressed in horrible golden lamae.

3- #2 and #1 obvious lead us to note the fact the costumes were really cool, though more often than not, hideously dumb. As amazing as all the beautiful people look, they've all been dressed mostly in leather and velvet, which would make zero sense in the humid Tropical climate- linen or lycra would make more sense. (Note to self: Enough criticism- who's to say gangsters in hot and humid climes dont secretly wish to be stylish at the expense of feeling sweaty and sick? )

June 12, 2008

Kandukondain Kandukondain

Title: Kandukondain Kandukondain
Year: 2000
Cast: Tabu, Aishwariya, Mammootty, Ajith, Abbas
I had heard a lot about Kandukondain Kandukondain (KK), and had been searching for it for a while. I guess I invested so much effort in the search, that when I finally saw the product, it just felt like a task long overdue, finally accomplished :)
Was it worth it- I'd say yes: its beautifully shot, well executed, with good performances all around. Unfortunately, my copy was in Tamil and had no subtitles, which somewhat prevented me from fully understanding what was going on :D

In a village somewhere in Tamil Nadu, lives a old lady who runs a school- her daughters: Tabu, Aishwariya and a third, younger girl whose name I couldn't catch help out their mom. The lady's primary problem seems to be getting Tabu married off.

Soon enough, Tabu is attracted to Ajith, a young film-maker who visits the village for shooting a movie.

In the meantime, the family comes into contact with Mamootty, an ex-army war hero who is keen on Aishwariya, but feels that he is too old, handicapped etc.

While Mammooty hesitates, in steps Abbas, who sweeps Aishwariya off her feet with his boyish charm.

Things come to a head when the girls' grandpa dies, leaving the school the women have been toiling over to their uncle, who in turn promptly turns the entire family out.

Struggling in Madras together, the women are surrounded by doubt and worry about their love lives, livelihood and survival. Will they survive? Who will Aishwariya end up with? If you have read Austen's "Sense and Sensibility," you know the answer :D

1- Beautiful cinematography, especially during songs.
2- Tabu, Tabu, Tabu- also Ajith :)
3- There was real chemistry between the interpersonal relationships shown: Ajith-Tabu, Tabu-Aishwariya, daughters-mother, which really drew me in, even though I had no idea what they were saying to each other! :)
None- I am very biased towards Tabu's movies, so if there were issues, I didn't cotton on to them at all :B

June 11, 2008

Summer Movies- consolidated edition II

Since we must not disturb the sanctity of this being primarily a Bolly blog, here is a quick round up of summer movies so far:

The "Oh OK"
Title: The Chronicles of Narnia- Prince Caspian
Year: 2008

Cast: Georgie Henley,
Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Ben Barnes

Run through:
The kids are back! Only its been 1.3k years, and Narnia thinks they were a fable. They join hands to BELIEVE and make it all GOOD, and help make the dishy Prince Caspian king.

Conclusion: Its entertaining- not as good as the book, but entertaining. I'll see the next one.


The "Pretty good actually"
Title: Iron Man
Year: 2008

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson

Run through:
1- American Millionaire Tony Spark (Robert) mass produces weapons. But the innocent millionaire is so ensconced in his cushy cocoon that he doesn't realise the effect of his weaponry.
2- American millionaire gets a wake up call when terrorists kidnap him.
3- American millionaire, which we all know is being played by a has-been actor, single-handedly defeats terrorists as well as (kind of) the evil big businesses maneuvering America, and wins the day.

Watch Robert Downey Jr sober! Watch Robert Downey Jr fly! Watch Paltrow shimmy up to him! Watch him beat the baddies with utter sobriety! [I am mean, I know]

Conclusion: Is there still a question about how many emotional and psychological levels this movie plays at, and therefore became a enormous hit? Is there a doubt about the obvious metaphors? This is not a criticism however; it is a intelligent movie, but nevertheless a manipulative and well-timed one as well.

The "Absolutely Must See" (in capitals, no less)
Title: You Don't Mess With The Zohan
Year: 2008
Cast: Adam Sandler, Emanuelle Chirqui.

Run through:
If you see 1, but just 1 Hollywood movie this summer, this should be it. So fine, the jokes get a bit dirty, but the idea of a Israeli Mossad agent (Sandler), who fakes his own death so he can move to New York and become a hair stylist, is riotously rediculously hilarious. I roared throughout the movie, and it was good to have laughed so much. Emanuelle Chirqui is the Palestinian stylist in NY whose salon Zohan ends up at as an apprentice. Love blooms of course, but somewhere in there is honestly clever commentary about the inanity of war.

1- Endless laughter.
2- Actually clever jokes, courtesy co-writer Robert Smigel.
3- A stream of cameos of various SNL alumni; my favorite was Chris Rock as the taxi cab driver.

Conclusion: We can laugh about anything, no matter how serious it is. And in that laughter one can find the glimmer of eventual resolution- a Yoda-esque comment, no doubt.

Sarkar Raj

Title: Sarkar Raj
Year: 2008

Cast: Amitabh Bacchan, Abhishek Bacchan, Aishwariya, Victor Bannerjee.

All in all, less than the some of its parts.

Picking up from where we left off in Sarkar , Shankar (Abhishek) has picked up the reigns of his dad Subhash's (Amitabh) power empire.

Anita (Aishwariya) is sent by her dad (Victor Bannerjee- I love I love) to establish a power plant. Shankar loves the idea and supports it, much to the chagrin of the villagers who live on the land in question, and do not share Shankar's vision.

Which is where I should stop talking about the story, since it would imply giving up the plot entirely. Lets just say there are bullets flying everywhere, much angst and blood, and tears all around.

1- Everyone, individually, acts well- especially Abhishek, who has got that long slow, angry/smoldering stare of his down to perfection.
2- Brilliant camera work- Gritty as they are at times, scenes appear almost as beautiful as paintings.
3- Supriya Pathak and Victor Bannerjee do good with what they got- I wouldn't complain if we had been given more of them.

1- Aishwariya's character could have been so much more than it was- she shows sparks of it here and there, but in the end, I just didn't think it was enough. In the beginning, during the meeting with her dad, she vocalizes that Qazi is negative- if she is a businesswoman, would she say that out loud? in front of the man?? It just appears childlike, petulant.
2- Shankar seems to pull Anita in his inner circle almost immediately- would that really be possible- especially since she is a business associate, not a politico?

General Musings:
1- I realize I wouldn't have Cons #1 and #2 with the movie if I viewed it as typical Bollywood masala- but Sarkar Raj tries hard not to be regarded as such, and if Ramu wants to be taken seriously, I'd think he'd want to better consider how he etches his characters.
2- The montages of bike-riding fundamentalists alongside Sarkar's cavalcade are very true to life. Having seen this when I lived in Bombay for a bit, those disturbing images came back, in an almost scary way.
3- I read in the Times of India that Jaya Bacchan loves the movie and has fueled the idea of another sequel. Which is all well and good, but I am not at all certain if the movie merits as much. It is good, but not brilliant, which it definitely had the potential to be. I couldn't connect with the characters- except maybe Shankar, a little bit. And in the end, it just wasn't enough. Ho hum.

June 9, 2008

Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon

Title: Year: 1963
Cast: Joh Mukherjee, Asha Parekh, Veena, Pran, Rajendra Nath, Krishna Dhawan, Tabassum.

The movie opens with a doctor making a house visit with his daughter AND her nanny in tow (!!!). His excuse is that his wife is dead, so he must resort to such actions (do you also bring ur kid and nanny to the OT sir?)

The Doc gives a lecture to Major- apparently the Major has thrown out his wife after accusing her of something we never really know about, but what was apparently not true. The Doc urges the Major to get his wife back, and thus save his son's life, who has fallen sick in her memory.

Before the Major can do very much, his wife Jamuna (Veena) has been smarter than he is. She has employed Kapoor (Krishna Dhawan, being all evil) to kidnap her son :D She grabs her kid, and takes off for Kashmir, thinking it is the most unlikely place for the Major to consider looking for her.

The Major and Doc try to follow Kapoor, but get into an accident, in which the Doc dies- of course the major must now take care of his daughter as his own :)

15 years pass. The Doc's kid has grown into a really very pretty Mona (Asha Parekh), and the Major has betrothed her to Dipu (Rajendra Nath), who has just returned from the UK. A photographer clicks their pic at the airport, which photograph will become an important plot accessory. Also note the Pakistan International Airlines advertisements on the wall- those are real advertisemnt posters from the 60s, as confirmed by my google skills :D

Dipu's parents want him to marry Mona for her money, though he really doesnt like her very much. They share quite a few really funny scenes.

Cut to beautiful Kashmir, with an introductory song "Lakhon hain nigah mein, zidagi ki rah mein..." for Mohan (Joy Mukherjee), our hero, the Major's son, etc. Though the screen cap doesnt show you it, he totes a guitar throughout the song, but NEVER ONCE plays it- I love Bollywood. Great song though.

Mohan rushes back home to Jamuna and tells her he has got a job as a taxi driver to drive folks to and from Kashmir-Delhi etc. She has been working all her life sewing clothes so that they could servive (my aunts had the same sewing machine! love it!)- but now she can relax and he'll work. I wondered why she didnt sue the heck out of her hubby and get alimoney- ah well.

While she hasnt sued for alimoney, Jamuna has kept tabs on her husband- cos - (sob!)- she loves him! He is a pretty famous guy, so his pix keep appearing in newspapers, the latest of which is:

For once in cinematic history, the mother has not been keeping all this a secret from her son, and Mohan keeps the clipping with him. He takes off to Delhi on an assignment with Kamaala (the v funny and highly adorable Ram Avtar), and of course by Bolly coincidence, the job is to drive Mona and her friends (including Dipu) to Kashmir from Delhi. He meets his dad the Major, but doesnt ID himself (gotta keep the movie going).

Mohan finds Mona in what is apparently the only coffee shop in all of Delhi, where she is being served coke by a woman who is dressed like a nurse- see the vintage coca-cola poster on the wall...

Mohan is struck by an idea; he stops Dipu from entering the shop (Lakme sign sighting!) saying that Mona is mentally imbalanced, has suffered an attack and has been taken by the Major to the mental hospital in Agra :) Dipu believes him completely, and runs off to Agra, to catch the Major there, and break the engagement :)

Mohan now goes back in and feeds the same lines to Mona- this time saying Dipu is mentally imbalanced. He promises to go with her to Agra to catch Dipu and his family there, if only she would first show him around Delhi for the day. Of course she agrees, but unbeknowest to them, Kapoor and Ramesh (Pran) are hearing the entire conversation...

We are next treated to cool montages of Delhi in the 60s- I love it!

By the end of the day, they have fallen in love- oh dang they look so good together!

Beck in Delhi, there is a bit of a comedy of errors, since Dipu & his family think Mona is crazy, as do she and her dad re: Dipu. Fun fights with chairs ensue...

In the meantime, Ramesh and Kapoor have a plan in mind- they have scoped out the Major and Mona. They do not recognize Mohan, but have decided that Ramesh will pose as the long lost Mohan to the Major, and make off with as much money as possible. By Bolly coincidence again, they are in the same hotel as Mohan himself- their paths however do not cross....

This is a very domesticated group of baddies- they have fruit with their bottle of Johnny Walker :)

Ramesh and Kamaala take Mona, Dipu and the former's friends to Kashmir, and their is some singing and dancing involved- cue in-"Hum dum mere khel na jano- chahat ke iqrar ko-"

The fiance, Dipu feels slighted and wears a matronly pink neglige :)

While Mona's friends, chief among whom is the always delightful Tabassum, prance along :)

While there must be of course more singing, and my fav song shows up- our very own, "banda parvar, tham lo jigar, banke pyar phir aaya hoon. Khidmat mein aapki huzoor, phir wohi dil laya hoon.." So. Very. Romantic!

He looks totally hot in a Kahmiri Pathan's outfit, as he drives a tanga (horse cart, throgh the beautiful Kashmir roads...I was SO grinning like a fool here. Would do it again too.

The baddies have contacted the Major, and in yet more Bolly coincidence, have told him that faux-Mohan is in Kashmir waiting for him. The Major rushes over, to find Mona with Mohan- and doesnt approve.

Mona and the Major go to faux-Ramesh's faux-doctor, who informs them Ramesh is attempting suicide at the very moment. They all decide to peek in. Which reminds me- EVERYONE peeks and evesdrops in this movie- I mean it- EVERYONE!

Mona daringly hauls her considerably large-sized behind (I should talk- hah!) and rescues faux-Mohan from faux-suicide. They bring Ramesh and his doc home of course, but Mona doesnt make too much of this....

She figures she wants to go back to the river and boogey down to "ai qibla, mohtarma, kabhi shola kabhi nagma" with Mohan and her friends.

Faux-Mohan gets all hyper upon witnessing said scenario, and attempts faux-suicide by faux-drowning.

His faux-doctor convinces the Major that he must marry Mona to Ramesh, since this is the only antidote to faux-Mohan's illness (?!!!). She accepts, 'cos the Major is an ass and she is a nice obliging girl.

Poor Mohan is beaten up by the Major's goons.

So what will happen? Will the Major recognize faux-Mohan's fakeness? Will faux-Mohan marry Mona? Will Major and Jamuna get back together??? what will happen to poor Dipu?

You need to watch the movie to find out, but I also want to share with you an early, blink-&-miss appearance by MB Shetty as a scoffer in the crowd...

1- As Bollyviewer mentioned in her comment on my last post, this is not an original plot in the least. But who cares- as long as it was a bunch of lovely people having fun? You are entirely entertained for the duration- completely paisa vasool, as they say. The audience didnt mind either- the movie was a huge hit.
2- Joy didnt exhibit the greatest of dramatic skills- but the role really didnt require him to either. He looked handsome and hero-like and good, and that did the job for me well enough :)
3- Amazing, amazing songs- I seem to love the songs in all of Nasir Hussain's (he wrote, directed and produced this) movies. Not mentioned above, but also fabulous, was "Dekho Bijli bole bin badal ki," Asha's introductory song.
4- We get to see Kashmir and Delhi as they were in the 60s, both looking v clean and lovely. So good.
5- Minor quibble- Rajendra Nath started off as having a substantial part to play- but was dropped completely unceremoniously once Pran was established as the potential heir to the Major. Not fair.
6- Veena and the Major have to be the worst couple on the planet- she masterminds her own son's kidnapping! He is an ass who wont apologise, and will later emotionally blackmail his foster daughter into marrying a possibly insane Ramesh! eugh!
7- Joy, Joy, Joy!!! Ah bliss.