April 30, 2008
The King & I (no, not the movie)
I remember being 10, and falling in love with you during your TV show, "Fauji"- I know you were aping Tom Cruise and the show was aping "Top Gun," but I didn’t care- you had energy, you were the coolest being on TV- my entire set of friends wanted to become fighter pilots after having watched you! I even sat through the very boring "Circus," just watching the parts when you walked on to the screen.
Some more time passed. You got into movies, some of which were forgettable, but what are a few clunkers between friends? You blew me away with your palpable passion in “Deewana” and “Maya.” You killed and bled in “Baazigar” and “Darr,” but that was OK- you were preferable to all the dumb heroes out there, winning the girl- phooey on that- you died fighting, and we loved that. I should have become suspicious when you did "Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa," but I gave you the benefit of doubt on that one.
Then came “DDLJ,” and I recall watching that about a year after its release- in retrospect, I think that was when the rift arose between us. I should point out that due to the huge success of the movie, it was still playing in a theatre at the time- you were amazing, and as passionate as always, though the way the aunties cooed at you in the theatre was beginning to make me barf. Also, lack of real violence was scaring me a bit.
Some more movies later, “Dil to Pagal Hai” added to the feeling of nausea- I couldn’t find you amidst all the love, cooing aunties and pink hearts. I heard about you time and again: “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”- yikes- the Fauji was now a dad in bright 90s colors sans any blood? “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum”- more fatherhood- and you had begun to wear dupattas when singing family-style songs- now I like dupattas too- but I am a girl!!! Whats with the chunnis and shawls???
And your mannerisms were changing- you had become sweet- and I was beginning to feel diabetic. While you shifted focus somewhat with “Main Hoon Na,” and “Swades,”- I was still suspicious of your motivations- “Veer Zaara,” had me shivering in a cold sweat. I now realize that I lacked the faith- but I am bound to be suspicious what with all the swirling dupattas, tears and eye-brow raisings floating all around me.
Then came the dubious “KANK,”- and you were trying to be both romantic and unlikeable at the same time!!! Whats a girl to do? I was confused, lost- what were you trying to convey here?
But then I met some blogger friends, who love you, which influenced me, no doubt. And then you brought in “Don,” “Chak De” and Om Shanti Om”- which helped, and I figured I could take a chance on you again, and we could see more of each other. You also did great song cameos in “I See You,” and “ Kaal,” and I began to look forward to seeing you again- the movies themselves were another matter.
Its been almost 20 years since we first met, and we have both matured- for the better as well as for the worse. I admire your business sense, and the fact that you rose from nothingness to becoming one of the most influential personalities worldwide. I do love you a bit again, and therefore I will be honest and admit that while I am not looking forward to either “… Mrs. Khanna,” or “Rab Ne..,” I am looking forward to seeing more of you- inspite of you and me.
April 28, 2008
Title: Ek Ruka Hua Faisla
Deepak Kejriwal as Juror #1
Amitabh Srivastava as Juror #2
Pankaj Kapur as Juror #3
S. M. Zaheer as Juror #4
Subhash Udghate as Juror #5
Hemant Mishra as Juror #6
M. K. Raina as Juror #7
K. K. Raina as Juror #8
Annu Kapoor as Juror #9
Subbiraj as Juror #10
Shailendra Goel as Juror #11
Aziz Qureshi as Juror #12
Made by Basu Chatterjee, on the face of it, this TV movie is essentially a remake of “12 Angry Men,” (1957), based on a play by the same name. However, some really good, and at that time unknown TV actors made the Bolly version a movie standing its own ground.
Jury trials were abolished in India in 1960, and since this was made for a television in 1986, I would guess audiences did not really identify with it fully. I certainly did not, when I saw it, and appreciate it better as an adult.
The plot is straightforward on the surface: A poor teenager, from the wrong side of the tracks (literally- he lives in a chawl on the side of the train tracks) is accused of killing his father. There are 2 witnesses: An old man who claims to have heard the entire incident (he lives next door), and another woman who claims to have seen the actual act of stabbing (she lives across the tracks). Plus the murder weapon, a knife, was found at the crime scene, and had been noticed in the hands of the boy earlier in the day.
All these facts are recounted to us by the jury of 12 who have gathered in a court appointed room to deliberate. We see only 3 glimpses of the outside world during the entire duration of the movie, and even glimpse the accused’s face just once .
Except juror #8, KK Raina, the jurors are not really enthusiastic about the case in the beginning of the movie. A few are highly prejudiced against the accused (Pankaj Kapoor and Subbiraj), while others are more interested in quickly coming up with a decision so that they may leave early to catch a movie or relax at home.
KK introduces the concept of “reasonable doubt,” to the viewer as well as his fellow jurors, citing that the evidence is circumstantial: the female witness had poor eyesight and could barely see across a room, let alone across the train tracks. The male witness was not only hard of hearing- there was a train crossing the chawl at the time of the murder- therefore his evidence too had little meat. As for the knife, it was a common knife available for sale in any poor part of town.
If you have seen “12 Angry Men,” you know that by the end of the movie, the jury acquits the boy, and the jurors finally leave for the day, each wiser by a little. But knowing what happens doesn’t matter- this one deserves watching.
1- This is probably the best performance by Annu Kapoor- he became a loud and scary TV anchor after this, and his acting skills pretty much went to waste. His portrayal of a very old man is really amazing; he is definitely better than Pankaj Kapoor here, who probably had a stronger role.
2- KK Raina- good, solid performance, though definitely inferior to Henry Fonda’s in “12.”
3- A very young Pankaj Kapoor totally hammed it up- which is not necessarily a drawback.
April 27, 2008
Title: Krazzy 4
Cast: Irfan Khan, Rajpal Yadav, Arshad Warsi, Juhi Chawla, Suresh Menon.
This one is perhaps the best of the on this post; which isnt saying much for it at all. 4 Inmates from a mental asylum, Suresh, Arshad, Rajpal and Irfan, are being driven to town to watch a cricket match by their doctor, Juhi.
The sentence above sounds ridiculously implausible, but nevertheless, that is the premise the movie begin on. Sigh.
Juhi is kidnapped, and the 4 inmates basically bring about her release and go back to the asylum. End of story.
The best we can say about "Krazzy 4," is that it is in the tradition of the recent spate of black comedies that Bollywood is experimenting with, and is definitely a different take on the plot de rigueur offered by the industry. But it doesn't work- the execution is disjointed and without finesse.
Even the production house must have been unconvinced by the final product, since Hritik, Rakhi Sawant and Shahrukh were all roped in for 3 separate item numbers. The songs dont save the day for the movie though :) Another serious error was having Suresh play a mute for most of the movie; the man is really good at stand up, and to not have him speak is a complete waste of his talent. I have no clue why Irfan is in this movie or "Tulsi" (below)- I guess he needs to turn a buck and make money while he can, but this is just a bad career choice.
Speaking of bad career choices bring us to our next howler:
Cast: Manisha Koirala, Irfan Khan
Manisha: A beautiful woman who dazzled us in "Dil Se" and "Bombay."
Irfan: A really good actor when he wants to be; I will always love "The Namesake."
These same two people could not save "Tulsi," for the simple fact that this is probably the most depressing plot ever written in cinematic history. Manisha is the titular Tulsi, an orphan who married Irfan who was from the same orphanage as her. She teaches there, while Irfan is a trucker, and they have four kids (yep, four- wth).
Irfan is an alcoholic, and Manisha suffers in silence until she gets blood cancer in true Bollywood tradition. She has 3-4 months to live, and Irfan tries to mend his ways, but is murdered by a fellow trucker. Manisha puts all her kids up for adoption, sees them go to decent families, and dies. That's the story.
Rofl- its so tragic that I am speechless after having written the above down. Seriously- I have no idea what the point of this painful exercise was- why did they make it- why did I watch it???? This movie is ear-bleedingly dumb; no redemption comes from any direction :)
And so let us get on to the next one:
Title: One, Two, Three
Cast: Paresh Rawal, Sunil Shetty, Upen Patel, Tusshar Kapoor, Tanisha, Esha Deol
Back in 2000, Priyadarshan made a really funny movie, "Hera Pheri." This somehow compelled other movie makers and Priyadarshan himself to repeat the formula, using 3-5 male actors along with some female actors who would have little to do in the movie, essentially a comedy involving heists of some kind.
The problem is that it has been 8 years since, and folks are still making movies using that same template. Most of these feature Paresh Rawal, who still manages to draw a few laughs. And that folks, is the essence of "One, Two, Three."
Paresh (a merchandiser of women's underwear- har har de har), Sunil (a 9-5 office worker) and Tushar (a hitman on his first job) all have the same name: "Laxmi Narayan," and all stay at the same hotel in Pondicherry. Each gets a message- by courier, messenger and fax that are meant for another and much hilarity ensues. Oh, and I forgot to mention that a diamond the size of a pigeon's egg is in the foreground of the movie, which the entire cast is gunning for (the diamond, not the movie :D)
The dialogs are full of sexual intonation, but the comedy does work- in part. The comedy still doesn't make this a must watch movie, however. Good thing Sunil has a burgeoning business- Tushaar should learn from him and work with his sister's production company, and stop acting altogether- seriously :)
And the last contender for your attention today is:
Cast: Milind Soman, Dino Morea, Sheetal Menon, Simone Singh.
This movie tries so hard- it really does. Good, even great cinematography, handsome frames, good looking actors populating those frames, mouthing dialogs which range from inane to sexual to profane- the whole tries to be a provocative package, hoping to incite some reaction from the viewer.
But the only reaction it inspires after a while is that of boredom. Which feels wrong, since I really do find this set of actors really highly decoratively good looking! Milind was the hottest model of my teenagehood, and Dino was nothing to sneeze at either :D But good looks do not good actors make.
Dino and Antara meet and fall in love, even though Antara appears a bit unbalanced. When he finally bring her home to meet his brother Milind and sister-in-law Simone, she completely freaks out and accuses Milind of having raped and murdered her sister 20 years ago.
The movie constantly shifts between the past and present, which is a good plot device, but doesn't save the movie. Lets just cut to the chase and say that Milind eventually ends up confessing he did in fact rape Antara's sister, but it is also revealed that she died in an accident immediately after. Nevertheless he shoots himself, and all are left weeping behind.
Ughhh- and Dino is supposed to still get together with Antara after all this???? and how coincidental that she just happens to date her sister's rapist (and ex boyfriend)'s younger brother 20 years later. Fun fun.
And in conclusion: Bad movies can happen any time to anyone. Watch what you watch :D Heeh.
April 25, 2008
April 24, 2008
Title: Hatim Tai
Cast: Jeetentra, Sangeeta Bijlani.
The movie itself is terrible- it is based on “Qissa-e-Hatim,” where a beautiful woman, Husn Banu, can only marry when the following 7 questions (that are more like random sentences anyways):
' What I saw once, I long for a second time.'
' Do good, and cast it upon the waters.'
' Do no evil; if you do, such shall you meet with.'
' He who speaks the truth is always tranquil.'
' Let him bring an account of the mountain of Nida.'
' Let him produce a pearl of the size of a duck's egg'
' Let him bring an account of the bath of Bad-gard.'
To help a prince who is in love with her, Hatim Tai (Jeetendra) decides to go find the answers to the questions.
Of course he accomplishes his quest, and in the process, also gets the princess (Sangeeta Bijlani) of Paristan as his bride.
And we also have Amreesh Puri dropping in as the token villain of the piece.
The “special effects” are really very special- they are so bad that they are laughable, even cry-able. This is just a bad, bad movie, and I could only finish it in 3 sittings :S I had picked up the movie simply because I figured it would have some camp value, but this is a true monstrocity, which you really do not want to subject yourself to. Watch it at your own risk!
April 22, 2008
But legends first. I had read as a child, a translation of the classic Chinese novel, “Journey to the West,”, which features Sun Wukong (aka the Monkey King) as the hero. A humanoid monkey (from what I could gather), Wukong had incredible strength and speed, and was also an expert sorcerer. Each of his hair, if plucked by him, could transform into his clones, who would match his powers. His weapon of choice was his magic staff, which helped him scale up to the heavens…but that is as far as I will go, since this is the point where the movie picks up on the legend - here is a more in-depth description, in case you are interested.
Now let’s get to the movie itself.
Title: Forbidden Kingdom
Cast: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michael Angarano, Chrystal Liu.
The movie features a slightly modified version of the original legend-
Once the Monkey King (Jet Li) reaches the heavens, he fights the evil Jade warlord (Collin Chou), who tricks him, turns him to stone and flings the magic staff away…across dimensions to earth.
Centuries pass, and in modern day Boston, Jason (Michael Angarano), obsessed with Hong Kong cinema and Kung-Fu classics, finds the staff in a pawn shop: owned by Jackie Chan in an old man’s wig. When local goons attack, the staff magically transports Jason to ancient China.
There, he meets the drunken immortal, Lu Yan (Jackie Chan), who tells him the story behind the staff, and tells him that the only way to get back to Boston is via the yellow brick road- no no, I’m just joking, but you have to admit the parallels with Dorothy are obvious- the only way back is if Jason restores the staff back to the Monkey King’s stone image.
Further down the road, they meet up with Golden Sparrow (Crystal Liu Yi Fei), who helps Lu teach Jason Kung-Fu. Now I realize martial arts take years to hone, but who am I to argue movie making in ancient China??? I quietly express acquiescence in delirious happiness.
They also meet up with a monk (Jet Li again, and yes it is a obvious sign, but I am not saying anything- just watch it), who has a totally fun fight with Lu in a temple when they first meet, to decide the ownership of the staff. Folks, this is probably the best part of the movie.
Of course the two end up friends, and join forces in teaching Jason, which gives rise to some typically Jackie-esque humor.
They cross the desert to reach the Jade palace,
... but are stopped on the way by the White Hair Demoness Ni Chang (Li Bing Bing),
… who severely injures Lu.
For the sake of friendship and honor, Jason rides to the Jade palace, where the monk, Sparrow and even a prostrated Lu join him for a final show down.
Its just so much fun- you have to watch this. ASAP.
1- Kudos to the makers of the movie: they fairly successfully integrated a real Chinese legend into a “Western” movie, without slighting it. Plus, they bought Jackie a role much needed- I had been heartily sick of his endless Rush Hours and the despicable Tuxedo- finally a Hollywood role he owns.
2- Lovely visuals. Beautiful scenery.
3- Jet Li, is hot despite bad teeth.
4- The Monkey King’s portrayal is super fabulous- all I had ever imagined.
1- The plot is super predictable.
2- Sparrow keeps talking in third person, annoying to the point of maddening.
April 16, 2008
House No. 44
Another Navketan movie, House No. 44 could very easily have been named Baazi II, were sequels popular at that time. The principal actors were the same, and the plot was fairly similar as well. Unfortunately for Navketan, Guru Dutt had no part in the making of this movie, and I seriously missed his touch here.
He is attracted to a girl, Nimmo (Kalpana Kartik, looking better than Baazi, but still very fugly), but is far too impoverished to harbor romantic dreams.
Tired of poverty, Ashok begins working for a smuggler, Captain (KN Singh) who operates from the titular "House No. 44."
One of Captain's cronies, Sunder, kills Nimmo's dad accidentally (it is wonderful how incidental Bollywood can be).shows up to console a grieving Nimmo with his mom.
They bring Nimmo to their home, since she has no where else to go- no one knows that Sunder was behind the murder, but the police has its suspicions.
Ashok begins to make money, and begins wooing Nimmo, with the usual song and dance...
Sunder is trying to win over Nimmo as well, and one day reveals to her that Ashok is a smuggler working with him.
To appease Nimmo, Ashok walks away from a life of crime, but now Captain and Sunder are both after his life...
Struggling to live with Nimmo in a life of extreme poverty, Ashok squeals about Sunder to the police, and gets 500 rupees for being an accurate informant.
But when the police go to capture Sunder, he dies in the resulting crossfire,... leaving Ashok feeling very guilty about having caused Sunder's death. He tries to console Sunder's grieving old parents,
... and in a fit of guilt, gives away most of his prize money to another poor man (Rashid Khan, in one of his endless Navketan cameos).
In a final showdown, Ashok and Nimmo are caught in a shootout between Captain's gang and the police, but is saved (of course), and they live happily ever after (how??? we are never told, and it appears that Ashok is back where he started from- on the streets, jobless, and with Nimmo to support instead of the kid...ah well).
- Hemant Kumar's incredible songs: "Chup Hain Dharti", "Teri Duniya Mein Jeene Se"- that man had an amazing singing voice, and when he worked with SD Burman- it was sheer magic.
- Dev's sidekick kid was really sweet- I wish there had been more of him in the movie.
- The cinematography lacks Baazi's styling, but is still pretty good- specially the outdoor shots.
April 15, 2008
u, me aur hum
Cast: Ajay Devgan, Kajol.
April 9, 2008
This is definitely one of Shashi's worst (though probably not as bad as "Juari"). The plot meanders all over the place, and the Director seems to have lost all control of whatever he was trying to do here :) It is rather hilarious, in its overt anxiousness to be taken seriously.
while making sheep's eyes at Sharmila, his neighbor.
Shashi also has a little family: a mom and sister to bring on the ever present waterworks, as well as a elder brother- Kader Khan, playing a rare, decent role, sans innuendos, and very slim (the man, not the innuendos!)
To wed her off to her spineless boyfriend (with a money-hungry dad), Shashi needs lots of money- at that very moment, he gets an offer from Utpal Dutt (also very young here). Utpal wants Shashi to dupe Moushmi, a rich woman, by pretending to be her childhood fiance (convenient, so she wont recognize him), marry her, and kill her. Once Moushmi dies, Shashi would share her fortune with Utpal (whoa!)
After much useless angst, Shashi walks away from Moushmi, after revealing the truth to her.