July 31, 2008

Alibaba Aur 40 Chor- Arabian Nights on drugs

From the 70s through the early 80s, Bollywood produced a number of "foreign collaboration" movies, such collabs somehow more popular than other times in Bollywood history. In these movies, the primary actors were normally Indian, while the supporting cast were from whatever country the collab was with. A fabulous example of this is "Shalimar," which I love to distraction. Alibaba was in collaboration with the then USSR, who has traditionally loved Indian movies (Awara was a smash hit, and Raj Kapoor-Nargis their all time favorite "jodi").

Alibaba is also a classic example of era-less Bollywood. It strays WAY far out in terms of any historical context, costuming and scientific fact. Though based on the Arabian Nights' tale of the same name, it has little to do with the middle east, and boasts fashions ranging from Spanish - Victorian - fake-Arabic. To my mind, this does not detract from the movie- it adds camp value and a sense that the director was on LSD throughout the execution :)

Title: Alibaba Aur 40 Chor

Year: 1980
Cast: Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Zeenat Aman, Sofiko Chiaureli, Zakir Mukhamedzhanov, Rolan Bykov, Madan Puri.

The film opens to find Alibaba, (Dharmendra) living in Guleba, an oasis in the middle of the Sahara with his mom (Sofiko Chiaureli) and brother Kasim (Zakir Mukhamedzhanov). His dad Yusuf is away trading in foreign lands.

Guleba is ruled by a Kazi (Rolan Bykov) and is beset by a gang of 40 theives, who capture and loot any envoy on its way to the city. These are super resourceful dacoits- they have captured Fatima (Zeenat) and her dad (Madan Puri) who have invented dynamite, centuries before its known invention in the 1800s :) Now Zeenat must work for the dacoits until they free her dad.

But that is not to be. After the dacoits have made her dance in their cave, which looks like a 80's discotheque- apparently the dacoits had electricity in the middle ages as well :) But seriously, this is such a insane song, what with the crazy lights, yet made sensual by the amazing Zeenat, that it cant be described and you just have to watch it...

... her dad kills himself in order to render her free to run away. Which she does, only to meet up with Alibaba's greedy brother Kassim. Kassim makes her show him the dacoit's treasure hideout...

Only to be found and eventually murdered by the dacoits. The dacoits have meanwhile also looted Alibaba's dad Yusuf (remember him???), and he is found by no less than the king of the land.....

....who is then murdered off by his own vizier (Prem Chopra) [oh god SUCH a complex story] who makes himself king, and tries to bed Princess Marjina (Hema). She gets her own song with Dharam- though it is never clear in the movie as to precisely when and why they fall in love....

Marjina and Yusuf are both rescued by Alibaba (here we go in circles again)....

... but Alibaba doesn't recognize his dad, since Yusuf left town when he was a wee babe (what kind of a business trip is that????!!!) Yusuf is soon killed in a skirmish w/ Abu Hasan and his men, and that is when Alibaba find out the that it is his own dad who is dying in his arms....

What will happen now? Will Alibaba get revenge for his dad and brother's murders (if you have watched ANY Dharam movies you know the answer)? Will Fatima avenge her dad? Since this is Alibaba meets Bollywood, anything can happen!

1- The Russian/Uzbek actors did a very good job, especially Rolan Bykov- thunderous applause to him. I really think he would have been a great addition to Bollywood, had he tried to do more there, and would have hammed it up with the best of them.
2- Zeenat wasn't utilized to her best- she is really capable of so much better.
3- Hema and Dharam both look a bit tired- maybe it was the Uzbeki terrain- which didn't appear to have affected Zeenat at all!
4- V cool songs, despite the ludicrous settings.

Conclusion: All in all, entirely watchable, and a fun investment of the requisite 2.5+ hrs- do it!

July 29, 2008

Ishmeet Singh - in memoriam

I woke up to read that Ishmeet Singh died this morning, while swimming in his hotel pool.

Barely 20, he was a very talented singer, and his career had just kicked off after he participated in some "Idol"-style singing reality shows.

If you havent had a chance to hear him, here is an example of his talent:

July 20, 2008

Teen Deviyan = B. A. H. ?

The recent promos of Bachna Ae Haseeno ("BAH"- heeh) remind me very strongly of Teen Deviyan (1965), and I suspect that it will be similar to the 60s classic which I love, despite... well read on and see.

Title: Teen Deviyan (lit: The 3 gentlewomen/ladies)
Year: 1965

Cast: Dev Anand, Nanda, Simi Garewal, Kalpana.

Devdutt Anand (Dev Anand- yup he used his own name- I love it when they do that!) is a regular guy who works for I.S. Johar (yes, him too) in a music instrument's store. There seem to be a lot of Bolly movies from the 50s-60s where the heros had that specific occupation- I wonder why.

Dev is also a poet, and he begins to gain some popularity. His personal life is also looking up, with the advent of cute neighbor Nanda- one of the very few times where I really liked the woman- btw- she has a humonguous behind- seriously :)

But Dev has also other fish to fry: movie star Kalpana (so beautiful!) and Radha (Simi- drop dead gorgeous). Both of these women are attracted to him as well, and now it is up to Dev: who will he go with? Isnt it obvious? It speaks to the chauvanistic attitude of the movie makers that he goes for the most non-threatening of the three :S

Despite this, the movie is utterly charming, the songs are wonderful and its really just light, frothy fun.

Which brings me to "Bachna Ae Haseeno"- unless I am completely off base, it seems to me to have a striking resemblance to Teen Deviyan, as noted in the various promos. And I really am looking forward to seeing it- I like all the actors involved, and I do have a kind-of-a-feeling about this one....

But back to Teen Deviyan.

1- Dev Anand, in all his narcissistic, hair flipping glory- I love, I love.
2- Simi and Kalpana I find amazingly beautiful- and even Nanda is so quietly graceful here. I found that Kalpana killed herself in later years, which is terribly sad.
3- The narrative flows really well. I wish I could post some screenshots, but the dvd died after 1 viewing (huh?!) :(
4- Last but not the least, UTTERLY amazingly sweet songs. I found what I could on you-tube, for your listening pleasure :D

- Khwab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat (lit: Are you a dream or for real...)

- Aise to na dekho, kahin humko nasha ho jaye (lit: Do not look at me in that manner- I may get intoxicated...)

- Arre yaar meri, tum bhi ho gazab (lit: my friend/lover- you are a wonder..)

- Likha hai teri aankhon mein, kiska afsaana (lit: Whose dreams do you carry in your eyes...)

- Uf kitni thandi hai rut, sulge hai tanhai meri (lit: In this winter of my loneliness...)


- The hint of chauvanistic attitude in the movie's conclusion :)

Last Word: Just watch it already, if you havent yet!

July 15, 2008

Love Story 2050 + Haal-e-Dil

Recently, two horrible movies came out, both featuring actors with huge industry connections. Due to their ear-bleeding horrible-ness, I figured I could discuss them in a single post, to somehow reduce the pain :D Both movies are essentially a waste of time for everyone involved, including the viewer :)

Screamingly terrible
Title: Love Story 2050
Year: 2008
Cast: Harman Baweja, Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani.

Harman plays a super rich, whiney young man whose dad is working hard to let his son live without working. However, Harman doesn't appreciate this, wants love, and doesn't help his dad at work, which he probably should have.

Harman meets Priyanka, loves and then loses her (how?- watch the movie). Via some REALLY idiotic reasoning, he figures the only way to get her back is to go to the year 2050 :S

Post interval, in 2050, we see Harry Bawja's interpretation of all that India can achieve in the next 40 years. In the next 40 years, the country will:
1- Have time travel
2- Flying: cars, trams, stadiums.
3- Terrible fashion sense- everyone will include a lot of silver in their apparel. People will also wear Japanese anime-style clothing from the 2000s- thereby still being technically 40 years behind the times in fashion.
4- Bombay will be remodeled to look somewhat like a NYC/HK hybrid.
5- The re-modelers of the city will borrow heavily from "The 5th element" , "I Robot" and "Star Wars," with a smattering of the Terminator movies.

As Banno mentions in her fabulous post on this, Harman is surprisingly efficient in Bombay, despite it being a different era and a new city/country for him. He wears a lot of Hritik-like clothes and dances a lot- but can he find Priyanka and get her back to 2008?
I just wish they would remain in the future.

1- Harman is cute, and I feel he could act, given the chance. I have seen him in a you-tube interview, and he was surprisingly natural and non-Hritik-like. Hopefully he will stop doing movies with his dad, just be himself and revive his career.
2- Priyanka is lovely as always....

1- .... however, despite all her loveliness, Priyanka does not move me with her acting at all.
2- Horrible dialogues.
3- Dilip Tahil (plays Harman's dad) is reduced to a caricature like cameo- awful awful awful.
4- That horrible pink bear Priyanka carries makes me want to brain someone. It is beyond ugly, and is dubbed by a grown man/woman/who-knows-what speaking squeakily. eugh.
5- Terrible editing. A lot of unnecessary time is spent in the 1st half of the movie, with a long and painful witnessing of Harman wooing Priyanka. That could have been cut by half.
6- Also as Banno says, Harman's passing resemblance to Hritik is exaggerated to ridiculous lengths. He could have been fine being himself, but since he dances and even wears clothes like Hritik (1 outfit is the same Hritik's from "Lakshya"'s "main aisa hi hoon"- even the same hair), its like clobbering the viewer on the head with the "Hritik"ness.

Conclusion: Harman may survive the ignominy of this movie, but you don't have to tolerate the pain of watching it.

"Comatose-in-pain" bad
Title: Love Story 2050
Year: 2008
Cast: Amita Pathak, Adhyayan SUman, Nakul Mehta- not that you should care.

Kumar Mangat showcases his daughter Amita Pathak in this movie- the poor girl is not an actor by any definition, and neither are the 2 guys, Nakul Mehta and Adhyayan Suman (Shekhar Suman's son) stuck with her in this clunker.

Nakul is a singer who gets on a train w/ Amita and then earnestly begins his wooing, much to her apparent disgust. After spending 1/2 the movie aping "Jab We Met," they land up somewhere (Nainital? I forget) where we find her 1st love, Adhyayan has been dead awhile and she cant forget him. Can Nakul bring Amita around? Can she forget Adhyayan? Do you care? Why?


Everything and everyone.

Conclusion: "Jab We Met," on downers- gone seriously seriously wrong.

I think I am extremely harsh on new Bollywood, and far far more forgiving if watching stuff through the 90s. For some reason, I hold the past 10 years to a higher standard, which may be somewhat unfair. On the other hand, technology has improved a lot in the past decade, and therefore I do not think it is so wrong to expect better product than we are being currently provided.

While the technology is here, it is either being used incorrectly (ie bad animation, bad effects), or if used effectively, then the basic plot, script and acting fall. Very few movies, seem to not fall in either of these 2 traps, which I think definitely affects my appreciation of new movies. Through the 70s, and even later, Bollywood used almost zero effects-ability and still delivered great products. Despite all the flubs, the "fun" element was never lost, but now I miss that.

July 14, 2008

Summer Movies V

Here is the next installment! This is probably the last of the Hollywood lot, since I've decided I cannot afford to watch movies in theatres any more :)

Title: Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

Year: 2008

Cast: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Anna Walton, Luke Goss.

Its the summer of the hero! My husband and I had eagerly awaited this movie since the time it was announced, so we skipped with joy to the theatre the minute it came out.

Hellboy wants recognition, loves Liz (Selma Blair) and is busy beating the heck out of evil doers. Nothing new, you'd think, but the execution really really works.

1- Ron Perlman, Ron Perlman, Ron Perlman- he was BORN to play Hellboy, and I am devoutly thankful for it.
2- Guillermo del Torro's vision is just so amazingly beautifully magical, you have to see it on the big screen. He pulls the movie from being average to brilliant.
3- I love how Anna Walton looks here- am speechless.
4- A tight script, and really snappy dialogues.

1- I'm not sure about Selma somehow- this is the only movie I like her moderately in. Very pretty, but somewhat annoying.


Title: Hancock
Year: 2008
Cast: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman

Definitely a unique concept- a superhero fallen towards grungy homelessness. But much as I love Will Smith, I wasn't impressed much. Maybe because there have been just way too many super hero movies this summer, and I just didn't have any "wow" moments watching this.

1- No matter what movie he might star in, Will Smith makes it worthwhile.

1- What was Charlize doing here???? Why did she even consider this movie? __________________________________________________

Title: The Happening
Year: 2008
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel

Wasted potential. Really and truly.

Ah well- New York, as usual, is affect by a monster- only this isn't a monster you can see... Initially presumed to be a terrorist attack, it involves gusts of wind, following which whatever people it touches suddenly stand still, then kill themselves.

You'd think this would be a really interesting premise- but the execution is so darned shabby, its laughable. The dialogues are so dumb I thought my ears were bleeding :S. The actors try their best, and the Maine scenery is gorgeous, but that doesn't help the movie.

1- The beautiful American North East.

1- Shayamalan has tried to make an entire 2 hour movie on 1 idea, which he repeats scene after scene, without modulation. This single-handedly kills the movie.
2- Terrible, shoddy scripting, editing and dialogues. I honestly feel really bad for everyone involved in this venture :/

July 8, 2008

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

Title: Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na
Year: 2008
Cast: Imran Khan, Genelia D'Souza, Ratna Pathak Shah, Naseeruddin Shah, Anuradha Patel, Ravi Vaswani.

Its the eternal story: Imran and Genelia are Best Friends Forever, and while everyone assumes they are in love, they certainly aren't. Or are they? I will let you to watch the movie and love it for yourself!

1- Great acting by and amazing chemistry between Genelia and Imran.
2- Amazing casting coup of all the parents: Naseer and Ratna (a husband-wife duo I love love love), Jayant Kriplani (Yay!) and Anuradha Patel (adoration and applause), and Rajat Patel and Kittu Gidwani. Kisses to the casting director!
3- Prateik Babbar: Raj Babbar and Smita Patil's son in a small but adorable role as Genelia's brother. Acts well, and looks remarkably like both his parents. I want to see more of this guy, as much as I want to see more of Imran and Genelia.

1- Someone was suffering from a Harry Potter hang-over (not that it is necessarily a bad thing). We have deceased folks (Naseer) walking in their portraits. We also have the hero dreaming about who he thinks is his dad, but turns out to be himself by the end of the movie. heeh.
2- A paper-thin plot. Because the story is only so much, despite all the great acting and fun all around, some scenes felt a bit repetitive. If it was edited from 2.5 to 2 hours, it'd work better than it does already.

July 5, 2008

Summer Movies IV

They are coming hot and fast! I had made a firm resolution to stop watching Hollywood movies (after all, there is so much of Bollywood to see), but this IS a really entertaining set of movies out this year, so couldn't resist :D

The Brilliant
Title: The Incredible Hulk
Year: 2008
Cast: Liv Tyler, Edward Norton

The Hulk, the way it SHOULD have been made the first time! I like Eric Bana as much as the next girl, but Ed Norton makes the Hulk so much more humane- it IS incredible :D Add in some brilliant camera work (especially in the Brazilian scenes), and this is truly movie gold ... cant wait for the next Marvel flick!

1- Ed Norton, with all his sensitivity :D
2- Liv Tyler, just cos I do love her so.

1- No surprises, no twists. You get what you expect- which is not necessarily a bad thing ....

The Good
Title: The Love Guru
Year: 2008
Cast: Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake

An Indian guru coming to the West to teach love and peace is old hat in terms of a plot-but its never been approached with so much humor. At times the physical comedy gets a bit out of hand, but what else would you expect from a Mike Myers movie? Restrained, subtle humor? Puh-leaaaase...

1- Mike Myers and Jessica Alba, dancing to "Mere Mitwa"!
Here is the original Bolly version, from Geet (1970):

2- Justin Timberlake, who displays amazing comic timing.

1- Ms Alba, pretty as you are, learn to act or stay home and mind your baby!
2- Midgets are not funny. Ever. At least I don't think so. _________________________________________

The "eh-ok"
Title: Wanted
Year: 2008
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, James McAvoy.

Do we really need countless assassin movies with Ms Jolie in them? I've just seen her in so many of them that I'm a bit over it. Granted, Mr. McAvoy jumps in to further beautify the scenery, but in the end, I am not quite sure if it was enough.

1- Ms. Jolie and Mr.McAvoy's divine beauty.

1-Personally tired of assassin movies at this point. Am going to watch a marathon of 007 movies to get a solid dose of the real McCoy (bad pun intended) :D