January 27, 2009

Dil Aur Mohabbat

This could have been a great noir movie, if only Vijay Anand would have directed it. In the hands of Anand Dutta (who never made another movie), it was a bit of a mess.

Title: Dil Aur Mohabbat
Year: 1968
Cast: Joy Mukherjee, Sharmila Tagore, Nasir Hussein, Ashok Kumar, KN Singh, Bela Bose, Johnny Walker

The movie opens well, with Ashok Kumar, a policeman, coming home to his ailing wife, Asha Nadkarni and his young son- Sachin (looking really really adorable!)

After quickly establishing Ashok's honesty, and his son's early tendencies towards the opposite, Asha quickly dies. The son grows up at school in Bombay, with the strange habit of sleeping with his own picture by his bed :S

Joy also likes to visit gambling houses, where he gambles (heeh), smokes (!),

... and likes to play snooker (why are all the balls the same color? doesn't it matter? I thought they should be different- will a snooker guru please enlighten us?) against the backdrop of surreal-ly painted walls and a grooving Bela Bose.

But Joy also goes to school: he studies at what reads like "APC College" of Mathematics, which is fake- there are APCs in Calcutta and the South though. His classmates are quite a bunch: An aging Johnny Walker who dresses like the early Beatles, and Anoop Kumar.

But Sharmila makes up for these deficiencies when she rides into college on a lambretta, wearing a gorgeous yellow confection!

And of course Joy disguises himself (as he has done so often before) to cadge a ride.

And after the usual bickering, of course they fall in love,

but for once the heroine coyly, but very stylishly announces her romance to her father, Nasir Hussein.

On her Birthday she has a truly fugly cake,

but takes the opportunity to give a ring to Joy symbolizing their engagement. Now this is very odd- isn't the guy supposed to give the ring? But looking at the size of her pearl ring (which I COVET), she perhaps doesn't need one...

Now that the ring is on, Joy decides to mend his gambling ways. But not before 1 last game of cards on a heart/kidney-shaped table.

The guy he is playing with dies when a scuffle ensues, and gasp- he happens to be the club owner, KN Singh's brother!

Urged on by Bela, Joy runs for his life,

... but only after he meets up with Sharmila and convinces her of his innocence.

So that when his dad comes to Bombay and realises his son is wanted for murder (look at the magazines- apparently Manohar Kahaniyan, Screen and Maya still existed then!),

... then Sharmila can meet him and bond with her future father-in-law :)

Of course Bela must assist Ashok in establishing Joy's innocence as well.

... But will KN really let Joy go so easily? What other nefarious plans does he have for Joy? ( I am convinced Joy wore that same pink-striped shirt in "Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon")

Will Joy ever reconcile with his dad? Will he ever meet Sharmila again? Will Sharmila wear her pearl ring to the end? Will KN Singh keep on using lightbulbs that match Joy's shirts?
What will happen?
To find out, watch the travesty that is "Dil aur Mohabbat."

1- Sharmila is luminous. As is Joy- and they looked really great together. I don't know if they did other movies together, but please let me know if you have recommendations.
2- I wish we had more of KN Singh in there- he just wasn't around enough.
3- Bela Bose has so many songs! She isn't bad looking, but not in the Helen/Faryal category, who I tend to enjoy more. The songs themselves are not bad- nothing that blew me away, but serviceable.
4- Repeating what I said in the beginning: the story had the makings of an excellent noir film. But it is treated as a romance, and therefore fails to deliver all that it could. If only they had roped in Vijay, or Brij, this could have been a way better movie.

January 26, 2009

Chandani Chowk to China-

Essentially a Hong-Kong Kung-Fu movie in a Bollywood package, I am not crazy about CC2C, but I do not understand all the criticism it has taken either. However, I am getting ahead of myself- lets talk about the movie before we talk about its critiques.

Title: Chandini Chowk to China
Year: 2009
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Ranvir Shorey, Deepika Padukone, Mithun Chakraborty, Roger Yuan, Chia Hui Liu.

Akshay helps out at a restaurant in Chandni Chowk, New Delhi. He is extremely superstitious, an orphan and always looking for that one chance that will have him hitting the big time.

The restaurant where Akshay works at is owned by Mithun, who has taken care of Akshay since a wee babe. I have to say, I totally LURVED Mithun here- he is so adorable, so uncle-y- big hug. Mithun looks out for Akshay at every step, and stops him from getting into trouble.

Akshay spends his nights watching late-night TV, where Deepika hosts a HSN-type program, "TSM." The spoofs of HSN ads are really hilarious- I'd see the movie again for that bit :D The girl definitely has comic skills.

Ranvir is a fraud Indo-Chinese fortune teller and regularly dupes Akshay.

Meanwhile, things are happening: a guy called Hojo is lording it up as the local crime boss somewhere in China. The fed-up-to-here villagers decide that the ancient warrior Liu Sheung has been reborn in India, and figure out it is Akshay (how??? we don't know). Incidentally, Hojo is doubly-villainous for our purposes since he has brought up Dipika's twin as an evil-murderous-assassin-type.

So they trek to India (howww do poor Chinese peasants get the money to make the trip???) and find Akshay among the thronging millions in Delhi in about half a minute. Akshay has been quite busy in the meantime, having found a lucky potato (heeh) that looks like Ganesha (another really fun bit).

So Akshay gets conned into going to China, and meets Dipika and her twin and much related comedy ensues, along w/ gangsta-style songs....

But there is work to be done- the 2 Dipikas must be reunited with their dad, who has suffered via Hojo,

and Akshay must avenge Mithun's subsequent death from Hojo's hands and bring justice to the ever-suffering villagers.

Do you doubt he can accomplish this? No? Good then, because how could Akshay lose any fight, anywhere in the world?


1- Akshay, Mithun, Roger Yuan.
2- The movie is the best of its kind- we have had HORRIBLE Bolly Kung-Fu movies, but here we are treated to the good stuff.


1- Most of the significant Chinese shots are done around the Great Wall, with a brief visit to the Forbidden City- which is a waste, since they could have really taken advantage of the beautiful Chinese countryside. At one point, it felt as if the only structure in China was the Wall- we are shown that much of it, that often :)
2- I'd have liked to see more of Chandni Chowk as well. How can you conciously put it in the title of the movie and not show us more of it?
3- Killing off Mithun mid-movie breaks my heart- seriously- who in their right minds would show Mithun dyingggg????
4- Akshay turns so strong with his quickie Kung-Fu training that he breaks parts of the Great Wall as he runs through it- ridiculous. It wasn't meant to be funny, so just ended up being really silly.
5- I am NOT fond of Akshay's emo scenes (actually, I am not fond of emo scenes hardly ever), and here they were just excessive.

So why did it not work?

None of the Cons of the movie are particularly serious- I went in with zero expectations, and found that there were lots of self-referential Bolly humor and decent action to enjoy. I tend to love nonsensical Jackie Chan movies, and found no reason to not love this as well. It can be argued of course that the movie is essentially a cohesion of very basic Kung-Fu formula with very basic Masala- there is nothing innovative being offered here, it is highly unrealistic, and yes, it isn't a "great" movie- but we don't watch Akshay's movies for realism or Satyajit-Ray-esque high-art. I honestly believe that CC2C lays down the benchmark for Bolly-action, and is therefore memorable for that reason alone.

January 25, 2009


Title: Lovers
Year: 1983
Cast: Kumar Gaurav, Padmini Kolhapure, Tanuja, Danny Denzongpa.

Why did I see this movie?
1- I was in a perverse state of mind.
2- I remembered how I loved Kumar Gaurav as a 5-7-yr old (me, not him). and how I COULDN'T watch his movies cos my parents wouldn't take me to grown up movies :(
3- How I loved all the fashions Padmini would be wearing here- and how I COULDN'T wear those exact same dresses and couldn't look like like her :(
4- Danny. How could I resist?

So I watched it.

I shouldn't have. But our motto here is- you got it- love all Bollywood, esp. the unloved stuff.

So onwards to the movie, which opens with a dedication to a holy man, who has an eerie resemblance to Nana Patekar.

Danny is an angry, rich, very Christian man living with his wife Tanuja in Goa- she is plenty soft-hearted towards her husband's fishermen employees (who are cheating him, and don't deserve anyone's sympathy), oblivious to his philandering, and terribly narrow-minded in religious matters.

Kumar Gaurav is a Brahmin layabout living in Goa with his mom, Beena (Pradeep Kumar's daughter, if you will). His mom spend hours teaching music so he can study, but he is up to no good- the ungrateful wretch.

Padmini is Danny's sister, and comes over from Bombay to spend her vacation with him and Tanuja.

Seriously folks, I love Tanuja, but she is given HORRIBLE Anglo-Indian dresses to wear in this movie- better dresses, and a properly fitted bra would have helped her a lot, but alas :S. I am so sorry Tanuja had to do this- a favor for Rajendra Kumar, who produced the movie, I am sure :S

Kumar Gaurav is crass and disgusting, but cute Padmini falls for him anyways,
and they sing plenty of songs.

Until Tanuja finds out, flips out, goes all hardliner Christian (is there a better kind? :D) and arranges for Padmini to go back to Bombay.

What will happen?

Will Danny be more liberal than his wife and accept the "Lovers"?

Will Tanuja see sense?

Will Beena just kick her kid out, since he is old enough to be a man and start making his own money?

On the plus side:
1- Padmini and Kumar were both VERY adorable when they were doing the lovering bit- but are very very annoying during the initial 1 hour of courtship/harassment- loud and shrill (both are both). Once the whole "love" part is established, they do encourage empathy.
2-Padmini's 80s fashions- after all this time, she was still as gorgeous as I remember. I want all those plastic bangles NOW!

On the minus side:
1- Tanuja and Danny have such weak characters to play- she is the bigoted, weak, abused woman- he is a rapist, violent and a bully- a marriage made in heaven.
2- The "lovering" is just too much- a movie needs more than romantic scenes and songs (none of which are very memorable really)- I am sure this could have been scripted better. A lot of time is taken up with songs, and it all gets repetitive really fast
3- What punishment does Danny get for his violence against ALL the women he has ever met (in the movie)? Nothing! WTH! I love the man, but his character was horrible, and goes unpunished, which was very distressing.
4- Kanya Kumari masquerades as Goa- WHY??? Why not call Kanya Kumari what it is???
5- The fact that the protagonists are of different religeons is rubbed in our faces until we are sick of the whole thing-from religious lockets, to hymns to outfits, we are beat on the heads with the "differences in lifestyle"- until we really wanted to scream.

Final thoughts: I think that Kumar Gaurav spent too much of his career doing the same ol' romantic bit- not only were there fewer opportunities, he perhaps didn't go looking for different roles to play anyway. It must also have been very hard to break out of his dad's shadow- and many times he may not even have wanted to. He HAS done some good cinema- Janam, Naam, Kaante- but I really believe he could have done so much more. Perhaps he still can. Rajendra Kumar obviously made this movie (he appears in it too, in an extended cameo as the local priest) to boost his son's career, but I doubt it did much. Watch only if you are devoted to Bollywood and Danny!

January 24, 2009


So back in 2005, Dharmendra was really sick and came to California for a back surgery. I knew that cos he was admitted where my mom works, and of course all the Indian RNs and Docs would flock to him. She had asked if I wanted to do the fan bit, and go w/ her and get autographs etc., but I felt it was wrong to intrude on a sick man. Plus I was busy w/ school and hadn't gotten on the Bolly-love-boat yet.

What I didn't know, until today, was that ABHAY DEOL had accompanied him, along with Dharam's wife, Prakash.


If I had only known.

Omg omg omg.
That's called a lost opportunity.

I am devastated.

What's worse is, my mom doesn't watch many Bolly movies, so she didn't even realise until today (when she saw Abhay's pix on my compy) that she was meeting Abhay- she figured he was Dharam's nephew 'cos he was introduced as such, but DANG!

OK- in control know- calming down.

Still- I so wish I had met him!
I think I will kick myself the rest of the evening.

January 22, 2009


RGV isn't the only one who has strived to remake Sholay (1975): Subhash Ghai did it 2 decades ago, and very successfully, with Karma(1986), twisting the original plot with an extra helping of jingoism, a very distracting Sridevi, a happy ending and 80's excesses! I love this movie utterly- must have watched it over 5 times, each time with delight.

Title: Karma
Year: 1986
Cast: Dilip Kumar, Nutan, Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Sridevi, Poonam Dhillon, Dara SIngh, Anupam Kher, Shakti Kapoor.... the list doesnt stop, but I will, here.

A lot of stuff is going on here, so pay close attention.

Dilip is the superintendent of a jail somewhere in India, and is married to a gorgeous Nutan. They have their children (who are in also the police), and grandchildren living with them, and are universally loved, especially by the prison inmates (!) who respect their essential goodness. Every one sing the completely hummable, Ae Watan Tere Liye together.

But things cant remain happy forever, and bad news comes in the form of Dr. Dang (Anupam! deliciously evil!), who has been caught and will be imprisoned at Dilip's jail. Much jingoistic and provocative dialogue is spewed, and we all all set for SOME major tragedy to strike.

And so it does. Dang escapes, killing half the inmates and most of Dilip's family. Only Nutan and his youngest son played by Jugal Hansraj (who was still gorgeous then) are left alive- she cant speak and he is crippled.

is good and mad, and since now this is a matter of personal revenge, he takes off to form his own army (great filmi ploy that) against the advice of his friend Tripathi (played by beloved Vinod Nagpal, I love him). He recruits 3 inmates: Baiju (played by Jackie- "Baiju"! I have a evil cousin-grandpa by that name, but the name is still cute), Anil, and Naseer (in full commercial cinema mode here). For some reason, he has picked inmates that he doesn't know, and cannot rely on at all- you'd think he'd get someone he trusted- oh well.

He takes them off to "somewhere near the border," and stays with Dara Singh, a former inmate who IS from his trusted group. There they set about to spy (not sure how) and train (involving a lot of running) the 3 inmates, who become very close (ahem!) friends :D

So of course Jackie finds the gorgeous, fantabulous, amazing Sridevi and falls in love.

And Anil finds the sweet Poonam and does likewise.

Naseer finds no one but revisits his dead girlfriend's memories.

But the country and revenge come before love! And Dilip ensures that his 3 pupils learn their lessons, come back to the straight and narrow and do or die for their country.

1- Was it just me, or does it appear that Abhishek has copied Anil's moustaches from this movie, and made it into his regular look?
2- This movie makes me realize the potential of the Jackie-Sri pairing, hopelessly under- exploited. Too late for that, since Jackie seems out of the acting scene, and while Sri is hotter than ever, I don't see her doing a movie w/ him ever again.
3- Jugal Hunsraj was SUCH a beautiful child! and judging from this and the fabulous Masoom, a pretty good actor- WHY did he grow up to create movies like Roadside Romeo (2008)- which he wrote, directed and sang for- eugh!
4- This was one of Nutan's last full-length roles- she was still very lovely here, and appears to simply glow from within- miss her.
5- Poonam did what she was asked to no doubt, but I prefer her spunkier than this. Cute though.

1- Its unadulterated masala, from when Subhash made good masala. There are so many of my favorite actors in this movie, but I never felt that anyone was shortchanged.

2- Sridevi hams it up, and OWNS the screen every time she walks into the camera. Seriously, this was such a testosterone-overload movie that you have to give her props for making every screen moment count. She is utterly ravishing, hilarious and totally fun.


1- The "good Indian, bad neighbor" theme may make some uncomfortable, but there were plenty of such movies in the 80s and early 90s, and this was perhaps the least jingoistic of them.

Watch it for:

1- Anil, Sri and Jackie's comedy.

2- A rare Bolly visitation as Sri's uncle by Satyanarayana Kaikala- he is comically, deliciously, evil :D
3. Dang's army: their logo is a Star of David (!!!), they love chandeliers, and they are lead by Tom Alter and Shakti- what could be better?!

4. Nutan and Dilip's chemistry.

5. The Jackie-Anil bromance.

6. Anupam, who is fabulous as Dr. Dang- I had forgotten what a brilliant cartoony villain he could be!

7. The eye-candy that Jackie was (sigh).

8. Nasseer chilling.

9. SRI SRI SRI!!!!