February 23, 2009

Abhay in Bolly"Emma"???

The news that Sonam Kapoor will star in the Bollywoodized Emma has been doing the rounds for awhile. I think she will be a stunning Emma, and am really looking forward to the movie, but I cant visualize Abhay as Mr. Knightley at all- I've always found Mr. Knightley - dare I say- the dullest of the Austen-ian heroes. I hope that I will be proved really wrong :)

Also want to share this interview with Manjot, who played the young Lucky in "Oye Lucky Lucky Oye"- he sounds very sweet.

February 22, 2009

Oscars '08- !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AR Rahman's Oscar performance

AR Rahman's Oscar performance

AR Rahman's Oscar performance

AR Rahman's Oscar performance

-BRILLIANT is too small a word.

Apart from all the Oscars that Slumdog won, AR Rahman's performance was the icing on the cake.

Hugh Jackman, looking uber hot, commented that the musical has come back- if we build on that, could we dare imagine that in the next Bond movie, the femme fatale could have a little item number? or maybe the next Potter movie could have a "Pehla Nasha" style first-love song? or maybe the next Leo-Kate movie would be a SRK-Kajol equivalent?
I am of course being premature, but 10 years ago, we would not have imagined such strong Bolly-representation at the Oscars, so it is good to have wild dreams.

Jai Ho Slumdog!

PS: Wasn't Frieda Pinto looking amazing?

PPS: I am already contemplating the Indian entry for Oscars '09- and of course I believe Dev D would be the best choice- nah- that's too much of a dream perhaps- yet.

PPPS: Miffed about the makeup and art awards- totally think Hellboy II deserved at least 1 of those, esp. the art Oscar- ah well.

PPPS: Anil looked AMAZING!!!! That man was SMOKING that tuxedo, and how cute were those earrings?

PPPPS: Kate Winslet's win was a foregone conclusion, but while she always looks lovely, tonight she looked truly stellar- I love how she usually wears blue, and yet always makes it look so unusual and so fabulous.

PPPPPS: And it was a total of 8 Oscars in the end for Slumdog! WOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The speech for best movie is still on, and check out the crowd on the stage- fabulousness :D

PPPPPPS: The unheard of "Smile Pinki" got best short documentary, with "The Final Inch" a close contender- both with strong Indian themes- alas, there is a next to nothing chance I'll get to see them, but ah well. It was a very satisfying Oscar night.

February 20, 2009

Family pic- the Deols

Just found this pic while trolling online- aren't they all looking so adorable? (Even) Bobby looks sweet, though I wish Sunny had shaved and cut that hair- but Dharam looks completly huggable. And Abhay looks scarily like him from the b&w days.

Scary magazine covers

What's w/ Sonali's hair???? It's like the Ashok-Kishore-Anoop Kumar Brothers', only longer. Such a pretty girl too! Woman, kill your stylist.

I love Anil, but he looks like a serial killer here.

February 19, 2009

More Abhay News!

Yes I have been doing other stuff than net-stalking Abhay- working late every day and also been watching movies: finished Laawaris (1981) last night, and am beginning to understand the power of the Bacchan (finally).

BUT- I had to stop and update "Abhay News."

So apparently Abhay is planning to shunt between NY and Bombay, and taking the Welding class/workshop at the Art Students League of New York - how cool an idea is that? Did I say I love him to death? I can repeat that again, np.

Meanwhile, Dev D has apparently made up its costs and is doing fairly well. Should you care for Wallpapers, the most I have found are right here.

February 17, 2009

Abhay news

Yes we have a google alert set on Abhay.
Yes we are unapologetic about it :D

We are breathing a huge sigh of relief that his move to the NYC is temporary, where he has been attending the DIlli-6 premier. He continues to make movies, and this one sounds like it'll be fun .: the movie features Dharam, Sharmila, and Bobby with Soha playing Sharmila's youth and Abhay playing Dharam's- what brilliant casting- everyone except Bobby- ah well.

February 16, 2009

Dev D: revisited

Yup, Sunday evening found us back at the broken down Indian theatre, in line for tickets to Dev D- again :D We convinced the husband to see it again, who really does like the movie (and Kalki) and some of our friends were over, who were talked into going as well :D

The second time around, the newness had worn off, so we could see more into the movie than just sit entranced.

There is a lot of black humor in the movie. But consider: we fall in love, and assume that our we have invented the "L" word. Then there is heart-break, and most of us over-dramtize: tears, accusations fly, there may be some alcohol involved, and make successfully make mini-Devd-asses of ourselves. Once the entire episode has blown over, and we are with someone again, the sorrow is gone and it is hard to imagine why we were ever "in love" with that individual. Anurag Kashyap captures this sentimental, foolish part of our nature really well and presents it bare, and therefore the movie is hard to watch in places.

Of course it is fiction: the characters, though realistically treated, are definitely borrowed from fantasy: A kind-hearted pimp, a prostitute who controls her client list and decides when to leave the business, and hotel-owners who dont rob you when you leave your room open and unattended!

And guess what? The guys liked the movie! Convinced 2 people- here's hoping I can get more people to channel the Dev-love. Come on folks- see it!

February 13, 2009

Luck by Chance

Title: Luck By Chance
Year: 2009
Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Konkana Sen Sharma, Hritik Roshan, DImple Kapadia, Alyy Khan, Juhi Chawla, Isha Sharvani, ......... I give up, the list is too long.

Farhan plays a struggling actor in Bombay, with a little circle of friends, all trying to get a break into the movie industry. He meets Konkana, who has been struggling for a while in the industry, and is being taken advantage of by Alyy Khan, a producer/director. Farhan gets a lucky break, and he amplifyies it by using his cunning and his talent to become what every struggler wants: a star. But in this rise his budding relationship with Konkana crushes, who walks away to become a soap star.

But that's not all to the movie, whose highlight is the trillion cameos by Bollywood actors every few minutes. Ironies abound in this movie, and some which particularly struck us are:
1- The protagonist, Farhan, talks about working hard to pursue your dreams and realizing them by your own drive and will. Which is fine, and which we have seen in Bollywood from Prithviraj Kapoor to Pran to Helen to Akshay Kumar to Ranvir Shorey. But- when Farhan Akhtar says so, we cant help but wonder if it weren't for his roots in Bollywood via his family, if his rise in Bollywood would have been quite so meteoric, despite his immense talent. Similarly, we highly doubt this movie could have been made by Zoya if she was anyone but Zoya Akhtar, talent notwithstanding- how else would she be able to score all those star cameos? It is highly ironic when the leads, both Bolly family scions, talk about their struggles in the movie, and was really distracting to me.
2- Isha does that weird-upside-down-dance-thing of her that she did as a village girl in the horrible Kisna (2005)- only here it finally makes sense she is acting a dream sequence in a circus. We wonder if Zoya laughed at this one.

1- Alyy Khan is so talented and so beautiful: We have had a crush on him since we were 13, and don't see why he doesn't get/do more work.
2- We have said this before, and will say it again: we love Rishi much much more now that he is older- the middle aged Rishi (80s-90s) doesn't compare with the 70s and the 2000s Rishi. He is a complete delight, and...
3- ... even more delightful when paired with Dimple. If you haven't seen their Pyaar Mein Twist (2005), do try.
4- Lovely cinematography- we'd like to paint the circus song w/ Isha and Hritik.
5- Our favorite cameo was Aamir's, for the shallow reason that he looked very very handsome, and spoke very very well- such a empty dialogue, but the man sells it! Completely worshippable.
6- Akshay Khanna's cameo was SO cool- his hemming and hawing, and then the clear "no" to the movie on offer was just what we hear of him in the tabloids :D
7- Are Rishi and Juhi supposed to represent Boney Kapoor and Sridevi? It certainly appears so- an aging producer and his gorgeous wife ... Juhi is fabulous: another actor who should get more work!

Definitely one of the better movies that will come out this year. We are very eager to see what Zoya and Farhan choose to do next.

February 12, 2009

Dev D's Lovers

I am beginning to believe that I am a little bit obsessed with Dev D.
Certainly haven't ever felt the inclination to write about characters from a movie before.
Oh dear.

Dev's character, as portrayed by Abhay is hardly the Bollywood hero we are used to. He could be Any Young Man from Punjab/Delhi, with the money to do as he pleases. Perhaps because of the wealth, there is a sense of entitlement that is obvious from the minute the character appears on screen. What is harder to understand, is the attraction beautiful young women feel for him, and why they seem to fall head over heels the minute they clap their eyes on the man. What attracts his lovers?

Paro (Mahi Gill) really has known him only via online chat/phone, but when we see the couple meet as adults, we see an instant attraction between the two. What Dev feels is debatable, but Paro's love is apparent- but the viewer isn't privy to the reason for this love. If we don't regard this as a error in character development, then perhaps we can attribute it to the complexity of human nature: people love who they love. Her love for Dev transforms- we see that when she meets him again, later in the movie- she treats him as she would treat a "special" child- she at least learns her lesson and moves on. What is Paro upto after we part ways from her? Will she continue to stay home and take care of her kids and family? Will she be a social worker/politician- she could be good at that. Will she go to work? I want to know.

Dev's next conquest is Rasika (Parakh Madan) who seems to have an instant attraction towards him, to the extent that minutes later we see them in passionate embrace. What prompts this attraction? He is cute, and educated, but is that impetus enough for Rasika who is an educated young woman from Delhi, and has a lot more to choose from that Paro did? Since her character is really in place to move the story along, we are not informed about her life choices, but I would like to know. I doubt she ends up in Oxford as she claims earlier in the movie- maybe she is ambitious and joins her brother's business. Maybe she will open a tiny boutique in Delhi, like thousands of young women do. Maybe she too will turn homemaker.

Later, the blond who sells him drugs with her partner is quick to begin taking her clothes off in his room (WHY do all Bollywood firang females appear so ready to drop clothes? WHAT is the point of perpetrating the image of the loose-foreign-female?). She would too, but Dev stops her and continues to brood, do drugs and wallow in misery. I would like to know what this unnamed woman chooses to do in her life- she is really mellow, and I like to imagine that she eventually moves to Pondicherry, and hangs out doing yoga and hashish. She could also move to Southern California and be a yoga mom, or how about a complete change- move to the Southern United States (assuming she is American, though she really looks from Central/Easter Europe), and drink sweet tea in the warm evenings, Delhi just a distant memory?


Lastly, we come to Chanda/Lenny (Kalki Koechlin)- her embracing Dev, literally and figuratively is the most puzzling of all. She is a prostitute, but isn't pressured to do so in the regular Bollywood way, and appears to be in control of her life. She goes to school, and is poised to move on to better things. And yet, the first time Dev leaves her brothel, she calls out that he mustn't come back again, or she would fall in love. But why would she fall in love if he comes back (he does, and she does)- he has been nothing but rude to her in their first meeting, and yet she is attracted- why? Perhaps we should assume that her character has suffered so much betrayal in love (boyfriend, father, mother, family) that she just needs something to hold on to, while she continues to move forward with her life. What would she do if it werent for Dev- move out of the brothel when she gets a degree? Become a doctor? a school teacher? a bartender? a pilot?

I'd like to imagine what happens after the credits roll: would Dev stay with Chanda? or would he drift away again? It is certainly easy to fall back into old ways that we are used to- old habits are hard to forget forever. Would he not be attracted towards self pity in a weak moment, and fall into the pit of Paro's memories? I would hope that he continues to make bail, continues to move forward, live with Chanda, and who knows- find a job? I cant imagine Dev joining the family business in Chandigarh- but it could happen- Dev the sugar mill owner, living the suburban life with wife (Chanda), kids and a dog :)

I think about this movie entirely too much.

Freida Pinto's Vanity fair pic

Omg she looks SO cute! For the complete story, here is Vanity Fair's link.

February 11, 2009

Dev D

I had been really excited to see Dev D- my obvious love for Abhay notwithstanding, but also this was the 1st Devdas I'd see from start to finish: I had some hope that this was not going to be the misery-filled melodrama of the earlier 8 (?) Devdases. My wishes have been fulfilled!

Title: Dev D
Year: 2009
Cast: Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Parakh Madan, Dibyendu Bhattacharya.

Our new Dev is obviously boorish, an idiot and a hypocrite, and we have some inkling of that as the movie opens and we see Dev and Paro as children in Punjab. While she takes the effort to cook for him, he is quick to find fault.

Dev is sent to Oxford (where else do all Bolly characters go study?) while Paro waits.

But her waiting doesn't mean our Paro is a pushover- she loves Dev, but gives him back as good as she gets. She is passionate, crazy and strong, and absolutely adorable :)

Dev is back for his brother's wedding. Other than an education, he has also acquired a Vodka and Hashish habit, but that doesn't stop us or Paro from loving him anyways.

But- he believes in rumors he hears about her and instead of trusting her, accuses her of cheating on him. She has too much self respect to stick around and beg for too long, so she walks away and gets married. Wherein begins the emotional atyachaar (torture) :)

Dev begins to drift through life after Paro's wedding, and finds his way to Delhi's underbelly Mecca- Pahargunj (it is seriously a scary place at night- been there twice in my life, at the wrong hours, and revisiting isn't in my plans soon).

Where he meets Chanda- a name assumed by Lenny- a Indo-French-Canadian who has been kicked out of home an hearth because of an MMS scandal. Kalki plays Chanda to utter perfection- her youth, vulnerability and straightforwardness reinterpret the classic Chandramukhi to a person we can all relate to. She is doing the best that she can- she uses her body to make money so she can keep herself and go to school. She hides away her pain and walks strong, and does the right thing. I know I am waxing lyrical.

Chunni (played perfectly by Dibyendu- just wish he was there in the movie more) finds Dev wandering the streets, looking for alcohol. He brings him to a underground pub, they get drunk while they watch the Twilight Players.

Chunni brings Dev to Chanda, and I really believe that once Chanda and Dev meet, they both begin their individual healing processes. But of course things must go from bad to worse to terrible before they get better.

Dev eventually walks away from Chanda, unable to deal with Chanda's reality as a hooker. And has an accident, where seven people die. And then his dad dies, of illness and shock.

So what will Dev do? Will he heal, like Paro has? Will he die of substance abuse like so many cinematic and non-cinematic (but melodramatic) Devdases before him? Will he just see sense and get back to Chanda and try to improve his life?

You can probably guess the answers to these questions if you read this blog often enough :)

Or just see the movie already!

Final thoughts:
1- Since I haven't said this often enough (heeh) I love Abhay. He is a very natual actor, the human form of Dharam the God, and really bridges the gap between the screen and the viewer. It is easy to identify with the characters he plays, because he portrays them as people you would know, or would like to know. I've heard he is taking to production and also moved indefinitely to NYC- nahinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.
2- Mahi, who plays Paro, reminds me of Tabu. The facial features and the body language, plus the natural, earthy appeal. I want to see more of her and hope she has a brilliant career.
3- Kalki's vulnerability is so palpable on the screen, it reaches out to you. I understand she does a lot of theatre, but for our sakes, I hope she decides to make more movies instead.
4- I've read in other reviews that this is a intellectual movie, not an emotional one- which doesn't make sense to me at all. The movie engages you on a visceral level, and yes, while I didn't blubber during the movie, I was spellbound throughout. It is a beautiful representation of a classic story- as were Omkara and Maqbool.
5- The supporting cast is brilliant- Dibyendu was very cool, and the lady who played Chanda's "madam", and the guy who played Paro's dad, Sattu, the two Elvises (!) and of course the very fluid Twilight Players.
6- The movie shouldn't really be thought of as only about Dev the man. It really is a ensemble movie, where each of the 3 primary characters are very key, as is Delhi, who is really the fourth character, and has as much of a part to play as the people themselves.
7- Way too much is being made of the sexual content in the movie- there is far less skin on show than you would see in some 60s movies. There is some violence against women, but it is integral to the story, so there is really no help for it. The main culprit is the language, which is strong, and more real than many people would probably like it to be.
8- I love the soundtrack, and was pleasantly surprised to see how well it fits in with the actual movie. Truly perfect. My favorites remain Payaliya and Nayan Tarse.
9- Anurag has paid attention to every nuance. He gets it right: the accents, the colors, the dirt (on the streets, in Dev's room), the hidden underground pubs, and the Delhi thekaas (small liquor shops) that are located on the Border (It refers essentially to the Border between Delhi and Haryana where alcohol shops abound and open late. How would I know? Well- what do you think? :D)
10-For once, Devdas isn't made to be a God-like character martyred to love- he is stripped down to his vulnerable, selfish, human self, and that is so much easier to believe in than the silk swathed lover who has spouted inanities so often before. For once, Devdas realizes his shortcomings and accepts them- he has come of age at last!
11- So flippant- but Dev favors my drink of choice: vodka and coke- with such discriminating tastes, who can resist ? :)

I think I just talked myself into going to watch it again this weekend.

February 10, 2009

Just seen: Dev D

Just saw Dev D- am entirely satisfied by it.
For the record, I had never seen a Devdas movie from start to finish before this, because I am really bad at handling tragedies, and this Devdas gave me the conclusion I have always wanted!

More on Devdas later- I need to sleep over it and internalize it some more. Until then, I need to share the new-found affection I have for The Twilight Players featured in the movie.
Love 'em!


Pardon me while I work on controlling my laughter.

This has to be one of the most unintentionally hilarious movies of all time :)

Title: Victory
Year: 2009
Cast: Harman/Hurman/Hurmann Baweja, Anupam Kher, Amrita Rao, Gulshan Grover.

Baweja is a cricket wunderkind in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. He argues his way into a Ranji match (!), then is ushered into the Indian national team, loses himself in the hype and money of being a cricket star (!), loses all due to misguidance by his manager (Gulshan, of course), and then makes a huge comeback.


It’s not a bad story, but here it is again, with places where it misses the point in scripting, editing, and most of all, acting:

  1. The story opens in Jaisalmer, but takes almost no advantage of its scenic beauty.
  2. Harman has a South Bombay accent even as he addresses his adorable uncle, Anupam. Seriously, the boy needs voice and acting classes. Also maybe an eye doctor can teach him how to look straight.
  3. Harman's getting into Ranji is a bit rushed- there could have been better buildup. They could have added in some Amrita-Harman romance, but maybe that was just as well- they seriously lack chemistry.
  4. Even more rushed is his transition from Ranji (State levels) to National- he must be a true wunderkind.
  5. Harman seriously needs to act better- 2050 was had enough flaws on its own, so we couldn’t truly blame him for it entirely. This is a flawed product as well, but we can’t constantly keep shifting blame here. For his sake, I hope he redeems himself with Gowrikar's next, since with Gowrikar's track record, chances are any failure would be attributed to Harman.
  6. At the National levels, we don’t really get a sense of Harman's supposed sports celebrity. There is no connect.
  7. Harman falls from glory- we feel no empathy. He makes no attempt to clear his soiled name, which is weird- any sportsman would at least have a press conference if they were accused of wrongdoing. Instead, he flails about in ineffective rage- I couldn’t control my laughter.
  8. Anupam is upset- we felt bad, but ah well.
  9. Harman goes for recuperation to Australia- and his treatment is aided by Brett Lee (!) Heeh!
  10. Harman makes it back, and goes into a Rocky-style exercise plan. There are some serious issues here that my husband pointed out very kindly: Most of the exercises he does are aimed at building body bulk (except the skipping and running), which cricketers normally do not do, since they (ideally) aim to remain lithe for the game. Anywho.
  11. Harman is magically inducted back into the State levels (!)
  12. Harman is inducted back into the National team- after a lame 2-minute internal argument by the Board.
  13. Harman suffers a BRAIN injury during the final game (though I suspect he has had a brain injury for quite a while now). Despite severe pain, he continues to play, gets zero paramedic assistance, and makes silly grimaces all the while. However, once he wins the game (of course), he exhibits no signs of any injury, gets no post-game medical aid either, and generally appears very OK.
  14. It ends, and Anupam dies- for no real reason that anyone could understand.

And in Conclusion: It's pathetic. That said, who knows- in 20 years, it may be a camp classic- but I have my doubts.

February 3, 2009

Ahista Ahista (1981)

Title: Ahista Ahista
Year: 1981
Cast: Padmini Kolhapure, Kunal Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Nanda, Girish Karnad, Shashikala, Rehman, Soni Razdan, Leela Mishra.

Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. This was such DRIVEL!

Usually, I love movies others dislike, and all unloved movies are received by me with open arms- everything except movies featuring violence against women, or featuring completely incapable, overtly-sacrificial women.

How was I to know that this one would be a prime example of the last type??? Esp when it boasted of such fabulous actors like Girish, Rehman and Shammi?!
[deep breath]

Enough cribbing. Onwards with the movie.

Nanda was abandoned by her husband, and now lives with Shashikala, her aunt and a prostitute, 'cos she has nowhere to go to (Nanda never seems to have anywhere to go to in any movie- sigh).

Shashikala plots with her friend Gundamma (which sounds like hindi for "female goon," but I beleive is a common Tamilian name, and is played by Kalpana Iyer- our Nikki Brown from Disco Dancer!) I love their makeup- insane!

In due time, Nanda gives birth to Padmini and herself becomes a prostitute to Kader Khan (called "Dhani" here, which translates to "rich"- love their subtlety).

It appears to be a very accepting neighborhood, since Shammi lives next door with his family, and is supposedly a well-to-do man. Everyone knows about Nanda and Shashikala's profession, but there are no riots or BJP marches, so I am assuming everyone was pretty open-minded.

Time passes, and Padmini does good at school, which she attends with Shammi's kids, Kunal (stilted, but not entirely without his dad Shashi's charm) and Soni Razdan (Mahesh Bhatt's wife and Pooja Bhatt's step mom, and a really good actor, who is COMPLETELY wasted here- but this was only her 2nd movie, along with the lovely 36 Chowranghee Lane released earlier the same year).

Kunal and Padmini are obviously in love- but of course no one approves.

There is also a pedestrian side-plot involving Deven Verma, playing husband (as usual) to Aruna Irani who cheats on him- its terrible and leaves me cold.

One day, Shammi is visited by his old friend Girish (so young, but painted to look older, and so adorable really. He is not credited on IMDB for this movie, which must be a relief to him).

While leaving, Girish realises that Nanda lives next door- and goes to meet her, and we realise that he is Nanda's missing husband!

Without explanation re: what happend in the past, we are told that Girish has since remarried, and has a daughter almost as old as Padmini :S

Kunal sees Padmini with her father, and jumps to the conclusion that she too has become a prostitute like her mother.

Look at the cute stricken face- aww :D

Abetting Kunal's idiocy is the fact that Girish has made Nanda and Padmini swear not to reveal anything about him to anyone :S

To completely vilify himself, in a completely unnecessary twist, Girish asks Padmini to walk away from Kunal, so that his other daughter may marry him. dear oh dear oh dear...

Padmini behaves in a lamb-like fashion, does not stand up for her mom or herself and does all that she is told. She tries to study, and is encouraged to do so by Rehman, her college president (wasted here, in one of his last movie roles), but has no interest in life anymore.

So she decides to become a prostitute too! (what brilliant logic) and receives no protest from her mom. This really makes no sense. She could go on and work, and support her mom. But no- since her boyfriend has left her, she needs to be silly. And her mom has no advice for her- wth.

On the way back from temple, right after a ceremony announcing her joining of the prostitute-sisterhood, she stops by Shammi's house, and kills herself. As soon as she flops over, Nanda follows suit, and everyone cries.


And in conclusion: There may be a worse movie in the world. When I meet it, I shall let you know.