April 29, 2007

Shukriya- no thank you

Movie info:
Name: Shukriya: Till Death Do Us Apart
Year: 2004
Cast: Anupam Kher, Rati Agnihotri, Aftab Shivdesani, Shreya, Indraneel

Note: I tend to use the real names of actors in all my reviews rather than their screen names.

And now lets jump right to it: Anupam is a businessman (not just any businessman- he has a house bigger than any seen in any Karan Johar movie), living with his wife (Rati) and 2 daughters (whom we will call D1 and D2 for the length of this review, for convenience's sake- they are rather forgettable young women anyway).

D1 is married, D2 is not. The family is going nuts planning Anupam's birthday. Also in the loop is Indraneel, who works for Anupam and is secretly in love with D2. D2 is actively looking for a guy and finds Aftab, a singer.

The movie quickly begins to borrow copiously from "Meet Joe Black", and Anupam is informed by Death (basically a voice that only he can hear) that he is going to die soon- in a few hours in fact. He convinces death that he should be allowed a little more time to windup some unfinished business he has on earth before he takes off. Death (with a capital "D") grants him 4 days and also comes over to spend the time with him, in order to get a handle on what it feels like a human being.

Death takes the shape of Aftab, who has died in a road accident unbeknowest to an exceedingly grating and dumb D2. To no one's surprise, Death/Aftab quickly falls in love with Anupam's entire family, and wants to marry D2. Things come to a head when the 4 days are up- its Anupam's birthday, and Death/Aftab plans to leave with his soul when the party is done. Death/Aftab realises that he(?) cant very well marry D2, 'cos he has to get back to whatever he does wherever it is. 2 Whole teary songs and many dragged out dialogues later, its finally over.

Anupam can act way better than he does in this movie- he just doesn't appear to be trying here- hubby though he possibly foresaw where the movie was going and basically gave up. D2 can well be burned on a stake- she is an abominable actress.

Some things just don't make sense. When Aftab/Death comes to live with Anupam's family, he is unfamiliar with normal human norms- but ties a perfect tie-knot (HOW?). after the party, instead of Anupam dying and his soul leaving with Aftab/Death, the two just walk away into the darkness, witnessed by D2, who has overheard their conversation but doesn't say one word (i that was my dad Death was taking away, I am certain I'd create a heck of a ruckus). Death gives life back to Aftab, and Anupam's body is found on a garden chair by his wife.

It really wasn't as bad a movie as I had thought. Especially once the real Aftab died and Death took over his body, things become entertaining for a bit since Aftab appears to act WAY better when pretending to be Death- wooden and unfamiliar with human emotions (its true- he is cute, but a complete non actor- very believable when wooden and devoid of emotions). The trouble lay in stretched out repetitive dialogues and songs, which could well have been replaced by something more meaningful to create the requisite pathos. The movie's tag line "Till Death Do Us Apart" had me in splits well after it was over- I don't think the produces intended to inspire that in a viewer.

April 28, 2007

Hat Trick- I think I understand why

Thank you for your comment Violet.

Well folks, believe it or not, I took the fact that I disliked Hat Trick rather seriously. I mean here are some really good actors in a really bad movie. And I finally hit upon what was fundamentally wrong. The premise of the movie was essentially the backdrop of the cricket world cup. However, the Paresh Rawal story had no really connection with cricket, with the exception of Paresh watching it a few times- the whole cricket angle was esomewhat forced. Cricket was also not essential to the Danny-Nana story- Danny might have been an ex-cop, don or from any other profession- the whole ploy of watching the world cup after his operation also appeared not essential to the storyline.

Anyhow- enough on this movie- next up is Shukriya- this one promises to be the high budget, low talent bollywood potboiler that I enjoy disliking the best- delicious!

April 27, 2007

Hat Trick- or whatever it is called- who cares anymore




Why in the name of God was this movie ever made.

3 Stories take place against the backdrop of the cricket world cup.

Story 1:
Paresh Rawal is a immigrant in the UK, an ardent fan of the Indian cricket team and working on his British citizenship. A sympathetic wife, a rebellious daughter, a disagreeable citizenship officer and a fish-out-of-water syndrome have pushed him to a point where his only solace is watching the world cup. This is perhaps the most irritating short in the movie, maybe because it is very true for a lot of the Indian community abroad, that I have witnessed personally, and it makes me sad. When he hits rock bottom, his wife makes him see the truth and his own limitations. In the end, he doesn't want the citizenship anymore, but gets it anyway, and is welcomed back to his community and family.
Story 2:
Nana Patekar is a doctor in a government hospital, whose work is pretty much his life. He dislikes cricket, which is basically chalked up to him being portrayed as a general killjoy. Danny Denzongpa, with failing kidneys, ends up a patient his hospital. They argue over Danny being able to watch the world cup, which Nana hates. This short is loosely lifted from Anand, with Danny, a dying man, bringing light to Nana's life, the way Rajesh Khanna interacted with Amitabh in the older movie. Of course by the end of the movie, Nana has become the loving husband and father that we all knew was coming. Danny too has his operation, and is on the path to recovery.
Story 3:
Rimi and Kunal are in love and marry. His love for cricket begins to drive her away, when she gets into the act and tries to watch the game with him. When she begins to swoon over a cricketer while watching the game, he gets jealous, to the point that they begin to discuss divorce. They separate, learn a few home truths and the fact that they cant do without each other (he gets gyan from his mom, she from the friend who had encouraged her cricketer crush) and get back together again. And yes, Kunal has a scene where he gets into the act as a male stripper for Rimi and her friends- ladies we can always appreciate that one. Rimi was not irritating- normally that is not the case, therefore this was a pleasant reprieve.
Honestly, the movie didn't do much for me. Which surprised me, since I respect all the actors involved (WHO can NOT love Kunal/Nana/Paresh?)- why doesn't this movie work?
Maybe because:
1- Story 1: When did citizenship officers begin to stalk the folks whom they are supposed only to interview? And take a personal interest in their life? And invite them to pubs to see them? And end up at their citizenship party??? I understand that the last 2 are actually against the law.
2- Story2: Nana should stop doing roles where he acts the "stern" guy- be it police officer/doctor/don-the occupation appears interchangeable. He is a brilliant actor, but the act only inspires feelings of deja vu.
Even then- it wasn't bad- but not a gem by any definition either. Very lukewarm reaction to the movie- still don't know why I saw it- there are many better ways of killing time. It was very good to see Danny though- got to catch some more of his 70s movies (he was HOT in The Burning Train).

April 26, 2007

Just a filler

I realized that I haven't been very true to my initial ambitions for this blog- instead of sticking to Bollywood, we, at Apni East India Company, have been dabbling both in Chinese movies (Chinnywood anyone?) and Hollywood. But movies are movies, and so how can a movie fanatic stick to just one industry (love has no boundaries, etc.). As far as cooking goes, been doing tons of that, but haven't had time to post either pix or commentary.

I have also found that my blog attracted some unsolicited attention. A dude keeps posting comments, some of which border on offensive, while others qualify as down right nasty. The fact remains, that in a world of free speech, this blog is a voice to my personal likes and dislikes. I am not imposing these on anyone, nor twisting any one's arm to read this. Do not visit this site if you don't want to! He also seems offended I do not post each one of his comments- but dude it my blog-see? I will moderate any abusive, offensive comments, get? Also, I do not see where in the web page I have promised historical accuracies of any kind- no monsieur you are mistaken- zis is not the History channel- pleez viseet zis site http://www.history.com/ for zat. ;)

Better get back to work- audit calling. Some head honcho genius at work decided to do a Office lunch tomorrow, and grant us the rest of the day off. Bullshit- this drudge will be back at work for sure :) On the same note, was forwarded this by a colleague-
- rest assured, this wont happen soon to yours truly- between my love for food and refusal to exercise, I am beginning to look like a tiny baby whale.

April 23, 2007

Curse of the Golden Flower

This movie took me back to my childhood- living in a small town in Northern India, I would stop by the video store on Friday afternoons, and pick up half a dozen movies, going through them eagerly over the weekend. The movies were primarily Ninja, Jackie Chan or Chinese classics, with English subtitles or dubbbing. Many times campy, always fun, they transported me from the hot, dusty streets of Kanpur to the fantastic Far(ther) East.

Its 10AD and the queen (the very lovely Gong Li) is having an affair with her stepson, the Crown Prince (CP from now on). The emperor (the always brilliant Yun-Fat Chow) is aware of this betrayal and is consequently slow poisoning her (brilliant- cant he have just had them both beheaded? but no, then there would be no movie). Aiding him in his scheme are the royal physician and his daughter (she is also having an affair with CP).

[This may have been plot enough, but this movie revels in plots within plots- you have to watch with rapt attention- if you don't, you may miss out on a plot or two!]

Annually, the emperor comemorates CP's mom death with a chrysanthemum (the golden flower of the title) festival in her memory. This festival forms the backdrop to the palace intrigue, when we chance upon it.

The emperor had never married CP's mom- she turns out not to have died, but instad to have married the royal physician. Do the math- this means good ol' CP is commiting double incest(!!!)- both his stepmom and his stepsister have apparently fallen for his (higly dubious) charms. [How the emperor has been unaware of his concubine's having remained alive- we do not know, but lets stop conjecturing and trying to make sense of this- lets but innocently dive back into the intrigues...]

CP's mom comes back and tells the queen the truth about the emperor's poisoning her. The queen garners support from her own son (Son #2-for convenience's sake) , who vows to attack the king and thus stop the poisoning (ever more brilliant- cant he spirit his mom away from the kingdom an hide her away? oh well-). In the interim, the emperor discovers CP's mom, makes her husband the governor of a province and sends them off to it, with the daughter in tow. CP visits the physician's family and there figures out that something fishy is brewing at the palace, immediately rushing back. Once there, he questions the queen, finds out that she has plans to attack the king, and then attempts suicide (why? why???), which attempt fails rather miserably (CP is a by far the most annoying character in the whole movie- wimpy, ineffective, and blah- what the heck does the queen see in him? Why has the king made him CP???- questions that befuddle the cosmos).

Meanwhile, the physician is murdered by the emperor's own design, while his daughter and wife flee back to the emperor's palace, and interrupt the chrysanthemum festival. They are murdered, but not before CP learns and meets his mom and half sister (ooh- the embarassment!).

At this juncture, our silent spectator, the emperor's 3rd son (yet another one of the idiots!) intervenes. Ignored all this while, this frustrated teenager murders CP beore the emperor and queen (talk about attention seeking juveniles), while behind the scenes, son#2 has already attacked the palace, at the queen's behest.

The emperor flogs his 3rd son to death- something snaps in the queen upon witnessing her lover, CP's death and she walks away from the scene. Ignorant of his brothers' deaths, son#2 has surrounded the palace, and a fierce battle ensues within the palace grounds. The grounds, covered with golden chrysanthemum blossoms, are now red with blood. Son#2 is captured and presented along with the queen in the morning before the emperor in the palace courtyard, which has now been cleaned of all evidence of the night's very gory battle.

The emperor delivers a Poirot style talk, revealing that he knew their plans all along. The chrysanthemum festival continues in the background, with fireworks and flowers in resplendent display. The emperor makes son#2 (btw- his name is Jai in the movie and Jay in real life) an offer- he shall be the new CP is he makes his mother drink the hourly medicine (not just poisonous this last time- we see later that it was puer acid). The prince refuses and takes his own life rather than kill his mother, who finally loses her mind after witnessing her own son's death. The emperor is the last man standing.

Whew- that was some movie- plots within plots, intrigues within intrigues. (My husband still has 1 lingering question- how did such a powerful emperor raise such wimpy kids???) The cinematography was breathtaking, every frame pure beauty (The pix here truly do not do enough justice to it). Everyone acted fabulously, with special honors to the emperor's wife#1 (I do not know her name) for an act delivered with utmost grace- well played madam! Movies like this come few and far between- See it!

April 20, 2007

The Reaping- complete anguish

The Reaping: aka "How Hilary Swank decided to amplify her 2 time Oscar winning career with a stinker of a movie" or even better "Ms Swank's best attempt at professional hara kiri."

Seriously, maybe this is a trend- Halley Berry gave us a Catwoman after Monsters Ball, so perhaps Ms Swank felt a similar compulsion.

Swank plays Katherine - a professor and former missionary/minister who lost her husband and daughter in a mission in Sudan. Scarred by the tragedy, she renounces God and turns some kind of a professor at the University of Louisiana- but appears to spend more time travelling to prove as hoaxes any phenomenon that other people consider to be miracles and signals from God. One fine day she is approached by Doug Blackwell who asks her help in solving a mytery in his small town named (nudge, nudge), Haven. Apparently the locals believe that a 12 year old girl, Loren is devil-possessed, has killed her brother using her supposed powers, and therefore has wrought the wrath of God upon the town in the form of the 10 biblical plagues: starting with turning the river into blood! Katherine is convinced there must be some sort of scientific reason, so she heads off to Haven with her colleague, Ben (Idris Elba: notice how I specifically made sure I knew who he was- ladies, this man is v v beautiful, compassionate and overall HOT), before the locals basically lynches Loren.

1/2 Hour into the movie, I wanted to go home- it was Thurday night, and I could do well do get in an hour of CPA studying in (yeah I need to pass that mess)- but some sadomachoistic streak within me kept me in my seat- as did the fact that I'd just plonked down almost $25 for this visual treat (yeah right), including tickets and snacks (I'm always wolfishly hungry after work). The makers could have taken this the Omen route, but instead appear to be almost timid in their approach, leaving us befuddled as to what they really wanted to say.

Warning: Spoiler ahead
So Doug turns out to be the head of a satanist cult, which comprises of the entire village of Haven, including Loren's mother. They have all been trying to kill Loren (supposedly one of God's chosen angels), and when they cant, they figure they can get Katherine in to do the job, since she is so anti God. Needless to say, thats the dumbest plan ever- to top it off, Doug impregnates Katherine, since that may get the satanists the devil child they have wanted so long. The plagues are explained by Loren's need to defend herself from the village.

The holes in this plot are so many that I, like you gentle reader, have pretty much lost sight of what the heck the plot was. Anyways- this ugly mess ends with Loren sucessfully killing all the bad folks- now why the heck did she not do this before Katherine came to haven and poor Ben died (sob, weep): no one knows. The movie closes with Katherine driving Loren and herself out os the pretty much destroyed village (all this, and still no CNN/SKY/ABC reporters show up- let alone the police), when Loren cheerfully announces that Katherine is pregnant- and the devil will be reborn as the child she carries- brilliant (not).

Note: After watching this bomb, I went home and turned on the TV, only to realize that I'd missed the rerun of one of my all time SciFi teleseries, the Dune- AAGH!!!

April 16, 2007

Honeymoon Travels

Ok ok- so I do have a million reasons to love this movie, the 1st of which may be that I too honeymooned in Goa not too long ago. But then I'm crazy in love with Boman, Shabana, and Abhay (swoon swoon, double dizzy swoon).

Basically the movie deals with 6 couples on their honeymoon to Goa (on a neon pink/purple bus!), and the events that essentially unfold in their 1st week of marriage.

Some of the marriages make it through the honeymoon- others dont. Abhay Deol and Minishha Lamba rocks as the desi super couple- I have followed Abhay since Ahista Ahista, and man can he act. Despite the limited scope of his character, he redeems himself remarkably well.

The Diya Mirza-Ranvir pair breaks in 1 day- she has a boyfriend (Arjun Rampal) whom she promptly runs away with.

Sandhya Mridul is brilliant as the woman who has married using an online matrimonial service, in fear of living alone, now that the boyfriend has turned out to be a married man. Unfortunately for her, she has married a gay man- who has taken the plunge only to placate orthodox parents who are clueless about his sexuality. Sandhya chooses to stick by him, at least for the present, in fear of shocking her own set of parents with a divorce- but what is the longevity of this uneasy coupling?

Amisha Patel is a human barbie- a pretty chatterbox living in her own dreamworld, whose husband tires of her soon after the honeymoon begins, and realizes his own homosexual leanings. Oblivious to his mental ups and downs, Amisha soldiers on, and the husband comes around in time- we can see that he wont give in to his heart's true desires and will stick by her.

Kay Kay and Raima are both brilliant- obsessed with controlling each other now that the wedding is done with, they slowly come to an understanding- of themselves and each other. Both learn to let go of their preconceived notions and to accept each other, and appear pleasantly surprised at the satisfaction they receive. This is a beautiful romance to watch.

Boman and Shabana are very very good- but my quibble remains with the characters etched for them, which edge on being boring with their predictableness. These two are capable of so much more as actors- I cant help but feel that they could have perhaps been used to even better effect. This is not a real critique though- as it stands, this love story has the most depth of all.

All in all, Honeymoon is a really good film- humane, comforting, sweet and reflective- I think the Indian movie industry needs a lot more movies like this, along with the melodramatic and hyterical masala we are usually subject to.

April 11, 2007

Anwar - best avoided

So I was seduced- by all the positive reviews and the haunting maula mere maula- but the movie, at least for me, does not live up to its hype.

Anwar is a complete loser- he initiates the string of events that result in the death and destruction of the woman he is infatuated with, and that of her boyfriend/husband, and follows it with broodings filled with self pity. (but then i never liked whiney guys- but thats another blog!). This really is the central plot.

The supporting cast is much more interesting: Yashpal Sharma envokes amazing empathy(which Anwar (Siddharth Koirala) faily to create) as the police officer in charge of the "situation"- the protoganist, anwar, has sought shelter from the rain in a shrine that is communally sensitive, and has been mistaken for a terrorist by the local media, police and fundamentalists. The movie is spent in flashbacks, wth the characters remembering situations that have bought them to this point of time. Yashpal's angst is palpable- he is duty bound while his wife lies on her deathbed at home. Manisha Koirala comes back with a sensible act after a string of pedestrian B-movies as a TV journo covering Anwar's standoff, with romantic troubles of her own....

With a weak central story overshadowed by strong subplots, Anwar tries too hard- avoid.

Apni East India Company

As a foodie and bollywood lover, I figured I wanted to combine my two favorite loves in this blog. And what could be more of an auspicious start to this blog than an entry begining with Garam Masala? The name literally means "hot spice", and alludes not as much to heat, but more to the spiciness its addition creates to a dish. The smell of this spice take me back to the memories of my hometown's narrow streets and gullies (a very narrow streeet common in small towns, barely enough for two peopleto walk down, side by side). These are more than 50 recipes for this spice mix, which vary by region, community and family, and spice ratio is based on personal preference. Here is my version:
Simple Garam Masala

1.5 Tbs black peppercorns
3/4 Tbs black cumin seeds (kala jeera)
1.5 tsp whole cloves
1 tbs green cardomom seeds (discard the husk/casing)
2 inch stick of cinnamon
2 star anise

Place a flat pan on medium-low heat and scatter all the whole spices on it. Toss frequently. Be careful not to burn the spices- toss frequently and once the spices become fragrant, turn off the heat and let cool on the pan itself. Grind the spice mix to a fine powder using a a coffee or spice grinder. Store in a tightly lidded small jar.
The spice mix stay fresh if kept in a air tight container. You can always change the ratio of spices to suit your taste.

Miscellaneous Posts

Posts that werent reviews; here you will find random thoughts, and some pretty decent Bolly lists; from the last to the first:


Bolly Lists:

Abhay Deol News:

Games, quizzes:


Non-Bollywood movie Index

These are largely Hollywood movies, along with some Asian and some Southern Indian movies (which are technically not Bollywood!)

Abominable Dr Phibes, The


Chronicles of Narnia- Prince Caspian, The
Curse of The Golden Flower

Dan in Real Life
Darjeeling Limited, The
Dial M for Murder

Evan Almighty

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Forbidden Kingdom ; Teaser for "Forbidden Kingdom"

Get Smart
Golden Compass, The

Happening, The
Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix
Hellboy- II
Hot Fuzz

Incredible Hulk, The(2008)
Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the Chrystal Skull
Iron Man


Kandukondain Kandukondain
Kung-Fu Panda

Live Free or Die Hard
Love Guru


Meet the Spartans
Mist, The ; Teaser for "The Mist"

Namesake, The

Ocean's 13
Operation Duryodhana


Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End ; Teaser to "Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End"
Prisoner, The



Reaping, The

Semi Pro
Slumdog Millionnaire
Spider Man 3


Unnale Unnale


Vantage Point


We Own the Night
Where The Wild Things Are



You Don't Mess With The Zohan


Bollywood Movie Index

Bollywood movies on this blog:






  1. Dev D movie review;
  2. Dev D's lovers;
  3. First reaction to Dev D;
  4. Dev D revisited
  5. Dev D and the last Devdas