March 23, 2009

Abhay news- because you want it.

You know you do :D

While Abhay is still being interviewed, Bobby also talks about Abahy, Abhay's "pet" name and the possibility of them being in a movie together. Seriously, Bobby just needs to find a decent movie which can show him off properly. Its time. I feel all positive re: him after he has told us of Abhay's name within the family, "Dimpy" (because of those ever loving dimples? aww) and Abhay's cartooning skills.

Also, see: other than welding and dating, Abhay has also been attending Indian-related events in NY :)

March 19, 2009

Student Politics as portrayed in Bollywood, and Gulaal

Movies based around student politics and universities usually leave me shocked and awed with all the angst brimming and flowing all over the place. The oldest recollection I have of this is in the closing scene of Garam Hawa(1973), where the issue is just barely skirted- Farukh Sheikh decides to join the student protest against joblessness- it is a positive portrayal of student politics, and leaves us walking away from this intense movie with a tiny glimmer of hope. Unfortunately, most Bollywood movies about student politics end in grief.

Every year, hundreds of Bollywood movies feature university students. More often than not, the lead pair meet in university (often referred to as "college" ) and dance and sing in pleasant oblivion- which is all good, sanitary and sweet. But once in a while, movies that explore the psyche of university-going adults come out, and are far more despondent and violent in their approach, usually incorporating ragging (breaking in/initiation of new students to the college via public humiliation and even physical pain). One favorite that comes to mind is Holi (1984), an early Aamir Khan starer that explores the psyche of young adults who just want a day off on Holi- their simple demand spirals gradually out of control until the day ends with one suicide and imprisonment for the others left behind. This one was perhaps less about university poitics and more about the power struggle in universities, and I was reminded of it when I read Lord of the Flies, years later.

There are of course movies that attempt to saddle both the commercial and the art house, like Shiva (1989), which made such a strong impact on moviegoers that it was made in multiple languages, and even remade by its director in 2006 (albeit to disastrous results). Shiva is violent, underscoring the criminal and political underbelly of Indian universities, and works, despite the lead, Nagarjuna looking old enough to be a professor. There have been other movies since, including Haasil (2003) and Dil Dosti Etc (2007), but neither of these did much for me. And then there was Gulaal.
Title: Gulaal Year: 2009 Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Ayesha Mohan, Abhimanyu Singh, Raja Chaudhary, Aditya Shrivastava, Ayesha Mohan, Mahie Gill.

Like other university politics movies, there are multiple characters here with multiple back stories- and yet, each character is well etched, and before the end of the movie, you get a sense of what makes each one tick and why.

The movie opens with Kay Kay Menon, extolling the virtues of a self-governed Rajasthan state to a crowd of his followers in a secret hideout some- and while his ideologies are extremist and clearly criminal, Kay Kay's personal charisma drives the character and can lull you into clinging to his every word, as his followers do, among them Raja Chaudhay.

But we started in the middle it appears- the movie goes into flashback, recalling to us Raja Chaudhary's move to this University. He comes to town and decides to live in a bar with Abhimanyu Singh, a scion of old royalty. Raja's first attempt is to seek residence at the university hostel, but he is ragged there and badly, and thereafter resigns himself to living with Abhimanyu. The ragging scenes are pretty graphic- be forewarned.

Abimanyu introduces Raja to the local politico, Kay Kay.

Soon enough, Abhimanyu is running for university president with support from Kay Kay, with Raja running chores for him. Know that university elections are a big deal in India- they are backed by local heavies, involve a lot of cash pumped in from political parties, and their results often define the local political scenario's future.
In a Bollywood twist, Abhimanyu's dad has 2 kids from another marriage- Ayesha Mohan and Aditya Shrivastava. While Aditya is also a local politico, Ayesha is just getting into the scene, and is standing opposite Abhimanyu in the university elections.
As is not uncommon in real university elections, Abhimanyu is killed by Aditya's men. Instead of letting Ayesha carry the day, Kay Kay has Raja step in as a candidate and has him win by bribery and miscounting.

But Ayesha ain't done yet- she seduces Raja, then Kay Kay in order to gain that precious university general secretary seat.

But Raja is in love- and he gets good and mad and decides to go on a shooting spree, before getting shot in the end himself. Ayesha and her brother get the social status they want- and don't seem to care very much how they got it.

And that's the movie- is it worth a watch? Definitely- each actor outdoes himself, even if the story isnt quite as satisfying in the end. Even now, I am ambivalent about it: there are both Highlights and Rants enough.


1- The music- especially the crazy mujra which is more of a commentary on American and international politics.

2- Kay Kay Menon- you will not empathise with him, but you will be compelled by him- he is that good.

3- Mahie Gill- is strong in her small role. She is struggling for survival, using any man avaialble to move up. She coerces and whines well- especially her plaintive "main Tabu jaisi lagti hoon na?" (I look like Tabu, dont I?)- which is true of course.

4- The use of the ardhnarishwar (a half man-half woman, from Hindu mythology) creature who slides in and out of the frame in Kay Kay's home- very surreal, and powerful symbolism. I enjoyed the interaction of the real with the unreal.

5- Raja Chaudhary isn't a brilliant actor, but he wrote this with Anurag, and has done a pretty decent job in the story telling.

6- Abhimanyu, Piyush, Aditya- these men have had far fewer applauds than they deserve. I definitely want to see more of their work.

7- I appreciate the fact that there was no unnecessary preaching. The director allows the viewer to make up their own mind regarding what they are seeing. That we are a product of our own decisions, good and bad, is underscored without beating us on the head with it.


1- My biggest rant is that I couldn't empathise with anyone in this movie- everyone gets their just desserts. Maybe I wasn't supposed to empathise with anyone, but that makes the movie harder to watch.

2- A lot has been written about Jesse Randhwa in the movie. I didn't see the brilliance though- she acts the same way in real life as well: the same walk, talk, the same drugs. And so it was more of a case of perfect casting, not perfect acting. Knowing her professionally prevented me from buying into the character, but I am being too critical as usual- she did what was needed.

3- The use of Gulaal (red powder used in Hindu ceremonies and in the festival of Holi, among other things) seems a bit forced- it could have been integrated better into the movie- but I am nitpicking now.

4- I'd have really liked a bit of a back story about WHY the ardhnarishwar character skulks about Kay Kay's house- who was he? It is obvious that Kay Kay's uncle Piyush is very fond of him- is he his friend/lover/child? Maybe it was explained and I missed it. It definitely bothers me that he wasn't explained enough. The symbolism may lie in the fact that politics may employ sexuality as a tool, but eventually, politics, like the ardhnarishwar is essentially asexual.

Abhay news roundup time!

Amongst all the news of his potentially dating Sonam (why not date Soha? you two are friends and look super cute together!) Abhay has been reportedly following in the apparent tradition of all of Bollywood and hanging at the JW Marriott. He has been busy giving interviews, here and here, very very cool. It is obvious that he has perfectly identified his niche in Bollywood- cant wait to here more about him!

March 18, 2009

Celebrating Shashi-happy birthday o owner of the bounciest curls!

While the blogging world celebrates its favorite hero's birthday (see here and here and elsewhere on my blogroll).

I thought I'd pick five of my favorite Shashi songs- NO sad or emo songs here: specifically the kind that I'd dance to on the fake-pretend Shashi party that'll go on in my head all day today.

#5: "Le Jayenge" from Chor Machaye Shor. Zippy and happy, with Shash and Mumtaz- high energy indeed! I need to have house parties like this, where my guests and I dance in perfect, unrehearsed sync...

#4: "Ni Sultana Re" from "Pyar Ka Mausam"- what can you say about this song? flirtation in a picnic- with all the hair flicking and flinging your heart could desire. If you didnt love him already, this song would compell you to love Shashi. Cuteness galore.

#3: "Dilbar" from "Haseena Maan Jayegi"- not a huge fan of the song, BUT- we get TWO hair-flicking Shashis in 1 song- THAT is movie gold!

#2: "Waada karo" from Aa Gale Lag Ja- partying on skates, apparently the quintessential 70s accessory of choice. Shashi and Sharmila-lovely. Shashi and Sharmila on skates- divine.

Drumroll to #1: The tiny "typewriter" song that is less a song and more a song-let from Bombay Talkie, with the lovely Helen and Shashi in dripping brilliance. So profound and so fun- exactly what the Shash means to me!

Party to The Shash tonight- you know you love him!

EPIOGUE: Huge thanks to Gebruss, who posted this wonderful Shashi video on you-tube- its the happiest song ever, from a movie that is comedy gold: "Pyaar Kiye Jaa." I couldn't include it in the 1st lot 'cos I didn't have the video, but its wonderfulness would edge out #3 on the list easily. Thank you thank you ever so much!

March 15, 2009

Happy B'day Abhay + random abhay news

Happy Birthday to Abhay, who was celebrating in Bombay today!. There is also an brief interview of his out here- its interesting that the only thing the writer found worthy of highlighting were his views about marriage :D- I love sensational journalism!

Also, read this piece. on Bollywood leading men, and the title just ticked me off: "Time to Hunt for New King of Bollywood"- really??? Because SRK has had a couple movies that haven't done well, there is a search for a "New King"? Aamir's and Hritik's consistent hits obviously haven't affected the writer's judgement. Akshay Kumar apparently never made the list, despite only 1 flop in a barrage of movies. Neil, Ranbir, Shahid, Abhay and Emraan are referred to by their lineage and not by their body of work, which I doubt any of them would appreciate. And any of them is expected to step into this supposed vacuum- which I am not even quite certain exists. [sigh] That's more than this article deserves, so I'll just stop right now :)

Lastly, a Abhay film festival is in the works, to be kicked off with Socha Na Tha, and repraisals of his other movies already reviewed on this blog. So what if we have spoken about them before? An Abhay movie can bear prolonged discussion, especially here :)

March 12, 2009

Dev D and the last Devdas

Sounds almost poetic, yes? The "last Devdas."
Because ultimately, Dev D has undoubtedly changed the cinematic image of the eternal Devdas, who has trotted out multiple times on the silver screen, each time morose, alcoholic and ultimately self-destructive.
And yet, the Dev who changed them all, pays tribute to the last Devdas (2002).

There is of course the figurative: Unlike the novel, in the 2002 movie Chandramukhi (Madhuri) and Paro (Aishwariya) meet, even dance together. In Dev D, the Paro (Mahi) and Lenny (Kalki) sit accross each other in a train to Chandigarh, and exchange pleasant little nods.

Later, Lenny is obsessed with Bollywood songs (who isnt?)- and when Chunni asks her what name she has decided on for the prostitution business, she is watching Madhuri on TV, dancing to Maar Daala from Devdas (2002)- and she decides to be called "Chandramukhi" after her.(incidentally, Kalki talks about her Devdas love here).

Still later, Dev stumbles in Pahargunj, and is met by Chunni for the first time. As they enter the underground pub where they will do "relay" shots, they are greeted by this SRK poster at the doorway (shop front shutter).

So Anurag too succumbs to the popular Bollywood-references-within-a-Bollywood-movie syndrome, but in a very clever way of course. Were there other Devdas 2002 references in the movie? Perhaps, but I at least will have to watch it again, more analytically, before I can tell.

PS: Anurag Kashyap's next, Gulaal comes out tomorrow- but apparently it wont be showing in any Indian theatre near me. Sadness. Please give a shout out if you hear of it playing in the OC.

March 10, 2009

News- or lack thereof

The Dev D dvd is rumored to be out in April, and is also supposed to include an extensive "The Making of" piece- cant wait, but wish I knew a definitive date- please clue me in if you are aware!

Aside from that, I am seriously suffering from lack of Abhay news- maybe I can just go rewatch all his movies again- yeah, sounds like a plan.

Unrelated, but interesting: Anil may be appearing in 24- I normally dont watch that show, but if he is playing, I am watching, I am watching.

March 9, 2009

Favorite Cameos

Many times, I will watch a movie just for a star appearing in a brief cameo. Here are my top 5, in no particular order.

#1- Ijazat: Shashi Kapoor.
The first one that comes to my mind the minute I think of great Bolly cameos. He looks gorgeous, he speaks volumes in a 1 sentence and with those gorgeous eyes.

#2- Teesri Manzil: KN Singh
Such a brief visit, but he looked like he was really having fun. Salman's dad also shows up for a bit.

#3- Gumnaam (1965): Helen
Who can forget "Kitty Kelly" and her purple and white swim suit, so gracefully worn and so brightly done? Just wish (as always) that she had stuck around a bit longer...

#4- Dharavi: Madhuri Dixit
She is Om Puri's fantasy- and offers welcome respite both for him and the viewer from the harsh realities of the surrounding Dharavi, that threatens to swollow us into its grime along w/ Om.

#5- Welcome to Sajjanpur : Divya Dutta and Ila Arun
They both have really brief roles, and are amazingly effective, funny and high impact. Both lovely, both talent powerhouses.

Alright now, what are your favs?

March 6, 2009


At one point in the movie, the badly injured Abhishek tells his dead grandaddy (he is hallucinating) that he feels at home in the city, where people make mistakes, but at least the mistakes are of their own people.
Keep in mind, he has been shot lethally (almost) by those same people as he is saying/dreaming/hallucinating this.

Title: Delhi 6
Year: 2009
Cast: Abhishek Bacchan, Sonam Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, Om Puri, Divya Dutta, Prem Chopra, ....... everybody including the proverbial kitchen sink.

It started well. And had great visuals. And was about Delhi- what could go possibly wrong? Despite warnings from a very reliable source, I had to see this. And I found that with every stroke of genius that the movie displays, it also displays significant flaws at every step.

Abhishek lives with his parents (dad: Hindu, mom: Muslim) on the East Coast with his grandma Waheeda. She is diagnosed with cancer, and wants to go back home to Old Delhi (her old zipcode of 11000"6") to die. Since his parents left the city due to tensions from their inter-religious wedding, they don't want to go back, and Abhishek must take grandma home.

Which is all very nice, except Abhishek doesn't sound like any Indian boy who was born and bought up in the US. He sounds like a Indian boy who has spent maybe a dozen years in the US, and speaks accented English, but remarkably clear Hindi and Urdu.

And so they land in Delhi, met by the absolutely adorable Rishi Kapoor (who is looked more adorable than ever, the older he gets). They are escorted to good ol' Chandni Chowk with all the charm as was expected, and though I may sound skeptical, I was truly enthralled. The cameos were perfect! The imagery was great! This was fun!

And then Abhishek settles into Chandni Chowk with grandma- only after one serious setback and blessings from a roadside cow(!), her illness is mysteriously and entirely forgotten for the remainder of the movie.

And he falls in love with the ethereal and gorgeous Sonam Kapoor- only there is no real "aha" moment- we don't really know why they fall in love- because she is pretty? because they are both- there???

And the Ramlila, which somehow goes on for the duration of the movie. It definitely seemed longer than the traditional 9 days which are allocated to the event.

And the director weaves in the alleged humanoid monkey episode that happened a few years ago in the city.

SPOILER ALERT: If you havent seen this, skip to "Highlights" below.

For no reason at all, Abhishek decides he must jump from rooftop to rooftop , crazy fashion mid movie. In classic masala style, this is really a foreshadowing towards the end of the movie, where he actually wears a "monkey-man" suit and does so.

Which makes no sense- he wears the suit to pursue and stop Sonam from leaving town- couldn't he just have spoken with her during the day, wearing a regular outfit? Riots are on in Chandni Chowk, and yet he decides the best way to stop Sonam is by wearing a costume that's sure to get the crowd riled up?

So he gets shot real bad, and DOESN'T die, because of "love."
This from the same guy who directed "Rang De Basanti."

Highlights & Downers:
1- In the opening scene when she is diagnosed with cancer, Waheeda calmly cuts a betel nut with a traditional sarauta (beetel nut cutter) which bought me to tears instantly: my own grandma did the same action often every day, and died of the same disease. Its hard to call this a "highlight," but it really pulled me into the story, and made me sit when I wanted to walk away later.
2- The supporting cast and the leads are beyond doubt brilliant- perhaps the best casting in a very long time. And yet, the movie fails them.
3- I have an inexplicable urge to hug Rishi Kapoor- very very very cute. I wish I had an uncle like that. Or Grandpa. ANYBODY. Everyone deserves some Rishi Kapoor in their lives, I've decided. Also some Waheeda.
4- Contrary to what I've heard from other reviews, I don't belekive that this is a homage to Delhi- old/new/any part. Its a fantasy, composed of what the director would LIKE to remember of Delhi (oh that sounds harsh, isn't it?). I almost suspect that he has forgotten what Delhi was like, and would like it believe that this was it- it happens to a lot of folks who move away. Don't get me wrong,I love Delhi, and I love Chandni Chowk, and visit every time I am back there, but its hard to buy into the fantasy of Abhishek believing living in Chandni Chowk's crowds, dirt and smells to be the best thing ever. There is a reason why non-resident Indians, when they move back, DON'T move to Old Delhi- there are better parts of the city. It would be like moving to LA and choosing to live in South Central- why would you do that? OK- rant over.
5- The Ramlila play in the background was surreal-ly lovely, the metaphors were perfect. And yet, it gets messed up when in the end of the movie the director gets super preachy on us. His "Rang De Basanti" has a message to- I get that, I appreciate that- but here it goes on and on forever, and that kills it.
6- Divya Dutta is lovely- that woman has so much talent in her its really amazing.
7- Just not convinced by the Abhishek-Sonam romance- which is pivotal to the movie, but just doesn't come together for me at all.

Conclusion: It isn't bad, but I'd suggest lowering expectations and waiting for the DVD.

March 5, 2009

Professor Ki Padosan

No screencaps, 'cos the movie died promptly after being played this first time!
Title: Professor ki Padosan
Year: 1993
Cast: Sanjeev Kapoor, Padmini Kolhapure, Deven Verma, Asha Parekh, Dilip Tahil, Shekhar Suman.

This was Sanjeev Kumar's last movie- he died in 198, years before it was released, without completing the dubbing, which was later completed by a mimicry artist. For this morbid-curiosity factor alone, the movie is worth a watch.

The movie probably languished in its cans when he died before completing it, before it was revived and finished in the 90s. Often during the film you feel like you are watching 2 movies at the same time due to all the splicing action. The lack of continuity also shows in the quality of the film it was recorded on- the 80s portions have more brown in the colors, and the 90s portions have a yellowish quality. The bikes and fashions vary with Shekhar Suman's receding hairline, who was probably hired (Shekhar, not just his hairline) in order to grant the movie a hero the audience could identify.

The story itself is an 80s idea of a sex comedy, far lower in quality than I would have ever expected Sanjeev to star in. But he obviously had no control over the final product, which is a huge pity, since I am certain he would not have wanted this to be his swan song- it is absolutely not representative of his caliber as an actor or his impressive body of work.
Sanjeev is a timid professor living with his wife Asha and child in a condo in Bombay.

Padmini is his neighbor and a model- she is badly insulted by Asha one day due to a comic misunderstanding: it ends with Asha challenging Padmini that Sanjeev would never look at another woman than his own wife.

Padmini takes on the challenge seriously, and begins to pursue Sanjeev.

Sanjeev doesn't understand Padmini's motives, but is completely willing to follow her lead, including conning Asha into going for an extended visit to her mom with his best friend Deven.

Deven has his own little love story with Aruna : because of continuity issues, its easy to construe that Aruna and Deven's story was amplified to serve as a filler making up for Sanjeev's disappearance (literally) mid-movie. Aruna is the assistant of a scientist who has discovered a invisibility potion! (the director aped 1987's Mr India! heeh)

The scientist is also dad to a very young Dilip Tahil, who plays our standard issue villain, who loves Padmini, who dislikes Dilip but loves Shekhar, her photographer friend.

Since Sanjeev died mid movie, the director used the ridiculous ploy of the disappearing potion to account for his absence from that point onwards :S. When Asha discovers Sanjeev's philandering, he hides under a car (!) where Deven decides to feed him the disappearing potion- and voila! an invisible Sanjeev for the remainder of the movie!

So what will happen? Will Padmini and Shekhar end up together?
or will her little affair with Sanjeev be more than Asha bargained for?
Will they all just disappear and leave us in peace?
or will we be looking for a way to disappear from in front of our DVD players (like my movie disappeared)?????
Rest assured that all these and other questions you may/may not have will be answered, and a final Sanjeev phantom will appear in the end via some terrible animation (it was the early 90s in Bollywood- what do you want? :D) to be reunited with his family :)

1- This was also one of the last movies Padmini and Asha starred in- Asha moved on to create TV shows, and Padmini started a acting school.
2- Its NOT a good movie- cheap jokes sully what may have been a fun ride. We cant blame Sanjeev at all, since they got a mimic to dub his lines in the entire movie.
3- Despite his pic on the DVD, Amitabh is only the narrator in the beginning and the end of the movie, so don't get you hopes up!