Friday, September 30, 2005

Clue on crack: Hungama

There are some people who maintain that Clue is one of the funniest, cleverest movies ever made. I respect that opinion, but I am not one of those people. Sure, it's definitely a good time, but, like, stop running around. Anyhoo, Hungama reminded me a lot of that, but even more so, because, believe it or not, I'm pretty sure there are even more people involved.

For those who haven't seen it, I cannot stress enough that you should not bother trying to find a plot summary, because I can't imagine anyone could actually write one that makes any sense. Basically a bunch of people, who have all done something morally/ethically suspect or questionable (usually lying, but also stealing, price gouging, adultering, being really rude to spouses, etc.), have oodles of mishaps and wacky misunderstandings that are all interrelated in some way. (I guess there are two or three characters who haven't done anything wrong, but they are all involved with people who have.*) At one point I thought it would be an interesting exercise to try to draw the plot, putting characters' names on a piece of paper and then connecting them with color-coded plot-element lines. But then I realized that I don't have that many colored pencils.

I was really excited to watch this - I came home from work so incredibly tired today and was thrilled to find that a new DVD had unexpectedly arrived in my mailbox, so I ran upstairs, put on my jammies, and popped this in while eating a caramel apple (with peanuts! numma!). I laughed some but more often had a simple feeling of general, low-level, consistent amuseument. Nothin' wrong with that. I would really like to see this with Abby because I think she would be falling off her chair, which would make it funnier for me as well.

Also, I have great respect for a film that seems to have taken its title font andvthe design of its opening credits from Yellow Submarine, despite not being related in any other way.

One of my favorite parts was trying to catch all the other movie references. The characters flat out mention Lagaan and Shahrukh, but I also heard "Woh Ladki Hai Kaha" from DCH in the background at one point, which was funny becuase it came shortly after the scene in which the two male romantic leads, sitting in a movie theater with the girl they both like, imagine themselves with the girl in a movie that they are all watching. A nice nod to what is surely the best picturization ever made. I also liked that someone insulted Akshaye Khanna with "baldie," because he really does seem to be having some haircut issues. I'm sure this movie is a few years old, but there's no way it was as old as the caesar fad.

Aside to Akshaye: this blog is sure to establish, beyond any doubt, how much I adore you, but why did you let the costume person put you in the classically ugly combination of short-sleeved shirt with tie?

If we blame Salman for taking off his clothes, it's only fair to hold you a little responsible for the ones you had on. But you can wear - or not - whatever you want when you come to visit me, 'kay?

* I'm thinking of the friend who puts up Anjali in her apartment, although she helps with the fake-pretend marriage; Anjali's actual intended fiance, although he is only in the story becuase his father is trying to get him a bride through financial blackmail; and Jeetu's mom. Is there anyone else?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

May your dreams be more vast than your arms can stretch: Bunty aur Babli

Well, now, that was fun!

That's about all I can think of to say about Bunty aur Babli, a superwow-supercute movie if ever there were one. Even a cheeseball like me enjoyed a plot that put the romance on the side, letting the characters just enjoy being their dream-addled, fun-loving selves. Even lots of the minor characters were so delightfully written that you want to see more of each of them. Oh, except for the random rich American guy, who was pretty pointless and not well acted.

Things that this sugary goodness seduced me into loving, some of which might, in other movies, have been a little peculiar or annoying:

  • Vimmi's transparent, stripey clown pants. Somehow Rani really made those work. Snaps to the costume designer.
  • Vimmi's I Love Lucy-inspired crying ("Waaaaaaah, Bunty, I wanna be in the pageant!") was just genius. Rakesh must have really loved her to put up with that.
  • Rakesh seeming to have to pee in the shower in one of their hotel bathrooms, out of sheer desparation as the loo was overrun with Vimmi's stuff. That was just funny.
  • the Inspector talking around a cigarette - I can't understand him anyway, so it just added to his fake-pretend grizzled, gritty character
  • the basic premise of "isn't it fun to rob people?" Honestly, that's leaning towards morally bankrupt, but somehow I didn't care here. Maybe becuase they seemed to rob either richies or people who otherwise deserved it somehow.

    Also I really liked that Vimmi and Rakesh didn't wuss out when they had a kid. Women don't seem to get to do that very often. She knew that home life was not for her and that she had to do something else or she'd go crazy.

    Watching the male Bachchans dance gives hope to us all, doesn't it? I've never seen senior dance when he was younger, so I'll cut him some slack, but what's junior's excuse? If there is a world so forgiving that we tolerate (and even positively reward) their moves, surely there is a chance for world peace. C'mon everybody, thrown down your weapons! C'mon with me - just clap your hands and shuffle in rhythm! There you go! Global dance sequence! Don't we all look great?

    Oh, and best use of a parodic puppet show ever!

    PS I'm noticing a lot of italics in this post. That's what kind of movie this is. Plain type isn't enough fun.

  • Saturday, September 24, 2005

    part 2 of Lakshya: reality bites

    "I'm glad the moon is up in the sky. We would have cut it to bits, had it been down here."

    Making liberal but justified use of my FF button during the gunfire, the rest of Lakshya was solidly enjoyable - or enjoyably solid - or something like that. This is the same summary I would give to the character of Karan, who had all of his twinkle and sweetness beaten out of him at the military academy, but who nevertheless was not a complete jerk, still felt compassion and affection, and kept the ability to be honest with other people, specifically Romi. I was pleasantly surprised by the few little wrinkles in their relationship and even more pleased that their reconcilliation came with him saying "I think about you all the time," rather than "I have decided we can talk again, becuase I am the new and improved big strong man and I think it's okay that we reestablish our relationship" - and that it came after he faced some emotional challenges and not after he had fulfilled his border agression-fuelled military assignment. He remained a sensitive fellow, but just seemed so much less cheerful than before. Although if I was involved in border conflict first-hand, I'd be less cheerful too, so fair enough. I am left thinking that if having and achieving an objective subdues you into less humor and less joie de vivre, then I want no part of it - but that I am glad Karan and Romi went through whatever they needed to go through in order to appreciate each other again.

    Major snaps to a world in which even military maneuvers have a chummy, inspiring song.

    What does "tango" stand for in military-speak? The principal in Main Hoon Na also says "Tango and Cash" at one point to Major Ram. 'Cause you know if that principal said it, it must be important and sensible.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    part 1 of Lakshya

    So help me, I am teary-eyed over this patriotic, dehumanizing, silly story. Partly because I just finished the graduation scene - and I love a graduation, the way many people love a wedding - but mostly because Hrithik's character, Karan, is the sweetest young man to cross my screen since Sid in Dil Chahta Hai. And what will his reward be? I think they're going to turn him into a killing machine. Great, just what the world needs these days. When he got in trouble for looking at the birds in the tree, when he beamed when his girlfriend said he was a good person, when he waved at his friend from the top of the training tower, my heart broke a little, knowing that characters like this don't seem to seem to have a good survival rate. I'm happy to chalk some of this up to me not remotely understanding what pressures are on upper-class twenty-somethings in India and then be ready to rewind to the first song, which is awesome.

    To Karan's father, I say: what is wrong with you? Just becuase your 22-year-old son doesn't know what he wants to do with his life does not make him a failure. To Karan's mother, I say: stick up for your child and tell your husband that not everyone needs to be an office drone. To Romi, his girlfriend, I say: just because your boyfriend doesn't want to be a violent tool of the state does not make him a bad person. I know he has decision-making issues, but maybe you could cut him some slack since he unwisely choose a fairly extreme way of life for himself on his first time out on his own - next time he does something stupid, you're allowed to be mad, but right now, he needs your help. Maybe he shouldn't, but he does. And to Karan, I say: just because your girlfriend threatens not to marry you doesn't mean you have to join the army if you think it isn't the right path for you.

    Aisde to Preity: I am so sorry about your hair! What did they do to you? The short cut is definitely a 'do but that other thing...somehow you seem to have a mu...mu...mu...mullet. But you seem very professional and dedicated to your causes, to which I am empathetic, and you will be with your true love in the end, so that's good enough by me. Sorry though - eeek.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    fluency

    They say you know you're fluent in a language when you start dreaming in it.

    I have been dreaming, in little segments and flashes, in Bollywood. I'm either watching it or talking about it or actually in it. These last are the most fun, of course. I'm not a major star - I'm just in the plot or on the set somehow, at a table in a restaurant seeing Shahrukh out the window, helping Rani find her bangles. walking down a street in a city I've never been to past a theater showing Hum Tum.

    I'm choosing to take this as a good sign.

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    librarians rock

    ...and they have the good sense to have Aishwarya help them get people to read!

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    You just sit on your big tastefully appointed porch swing and think about what you've done: Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

    When I first started watching Bollywood about six months ago, I was sad to find out that my local video store doesn't have this movie. And the more I read web forums and reviews, the more surprised I became - this was a big movie, packed with important stars, a movie people were talking about all over the place. Imagine my delight when it came in a bundle of films I got online.

    And imagine my... "enh" when I finished it today. What is the big deal about this movie? This particular sentiment expresses my opinion on a lot of big US movies too, particularly dramas that win Oscars lately, so it's nothing uniqiue agains K3G. Good Will Hunting. The English Patient. Gladiator. All of these made me go "enh."

    I think I can best sum up my experience of K3G by saying that I gobbled down the first half in one night, staying up past my bedtime (as usual). But it took me four more sittings to get through the second half. I just didn't really care. The family was bound to reunite, through some combination of ruse, showdowns, and tears. Knowing how something will end is often a great delight to me - I routinely read the end of books first - and always adds to my enjoyment of the telling of the story. So it wasn't that. It was just that I didn't feel any compulsion to watch it happen. There was no way the movie could improve on the bracelets in the market in the first half, or Poo dancing around to "It's Raining Men" barely into the second. And, for me, it didn't.

    On the bright side, the strength of this film, I think, was the casting, particuilarly SRK and Hrithik and the relationship they portrayed. I liked the generations/phases of actors involved, with the parents really being parental figures in a way, with elder and younger children coming up from behind. I liked that Hrithik is almost as tall as Amitabh and could literally stand up to him. I liked that Jaya didn't budge either. So help me, I liked Kajol's antics, as well as how much fun she and SRK seemed to be having (until they got to London, where everything sucks). I've never read what the actors honestly thought of this movie, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves in a way that bubbled over into their portrayals.

    Aside to Karan Johar: I get it. I freakin' get it. I admit that I did not know you were also responsible for KKHH when I started this movie, but now I get it, and I will carry that fun fact to my grave because you bellowed it at me for three hours. KKHH was superb, but more than a passing, winking reference to it feels awkward and pleading. Character names. Actors. Dialogue. Music. That red scarf that Anjali had on the train. Maybe you learned your lesson. Kal Ho Naa Ho was also superb but it was that way all on its own - you just let it be great, breathing on its own, without reaching out and sticking a post-it on my forehead that says "Remember when SRK ran his hand down Kajol's neck in the gazebo? Wasn't that great? And remember how much you cried? And remember how important love is?" And guess which one of K3G and KKHH I love more and will watch again and again?

    in which the audience was better than the movie: No Entry

    My local art theater showed No Entry today. This is because sometimes, here in the midwest, even in the cultural and intellectual oasis that is Chambana, something passes for "art" based solely on it not being made in the US. Let me be perfectly clear: No Entry is not a good movie. It is not a horrible movie, but it is definitely not good. The clear moral universe of Bollywood has crumbled here - stupid men do stupid things, and their stupid wives only vaguely figure it out, and no one is really punished, and no one really makes any decisions to change their lives. The wives sort of realize the truth of their husbands' skank-taculuar and/or dimwitted behavior but quickly forgive them, just because they happen to be stupid enough to almost fall to their deaths of a cliff. The final scene shows the men with their tongues lolling out of their mouths. No one is any the wiser, although now they have some kids to drag through the muck as well. The acting was fine, and even Salman was under control, but the story and plot twists were just too much for me. Not helped by the fact that I just didn't care what happened to any of these foolish people, as it was clear the whole time that they were just very silly. It was like an episiode of Friends on crack, all the lying and wacky mishaps.

    This is not to say it was not enjoyable, becuase it was, but that was at least as much becuase of the audience as the movie itself. While not as packed as for The Rising last month, there was a fair crowd here, most of whom were South Asian. And for the most part all of us were seriously into this movie - we were going to enjoy ourselves, dangit! The first scene of Salman Khan, wearing something insane of course, brought a room full of groans and guffaws. The scene of him in his itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny cutoffs - like, 70s porn shorts, see? -

    was met by gales of laughter. The first shot of Bipasha Basu brought sighs and "Hot!!!!!!" The aforementioned cliff scene, especially when some kind of scary-looking snake appears to threaten Salman as he dangels from a rock, Anil and Fardeen dangling from his fade-front jean legs, brought down the house. The rows in front of me were giggling most of the time, while the row behind me kept saying "Why are they laughing?" It was fantastic.

    And even better was the news that the next Indian movie to grace our fair city will be Salaam Namaste!

    Aside to dialogue writers: I'm not certain, but I think it might be in questionable taste to make jokes about the World Trade Center attacks. I promise you I am not a paritcularly patriotic American, but, really, is that necessary? We don't make jokes in our movies about people having mental problems becuase of the assassination of Indira Gandhi, right? I support the global right to comment on global events, I support edgy humor, and I support pushing the envelope. But all the same, tacky at best.
    Second aside to dialogue writers: excellent joke about saving us all from the fourth Devdas.
    Aside to Esha Deol: stop scowling. If you're upset about your heinous highlights, well, that I can understand. But that's easy to fix. You're a movie star - cheer up!
    Aside to Salman: as much as this startles me to think, I believe this was your best wardrobe yet. Except for the cutoffs, you were attired no more strangely than anyone else, especially compared to your backup hussies in the beginning - what were those denim things? Dear god. You even looked quite fetching in the irridescent turquoise shirt and purple tie, dancing on a bar. Good for you to be aging so well.

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    plumbing the depths of Rahul

    "Pyaar dosti hai."

    Isn't it just?

    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    the runner-up of best news goes to...

    IndiaTimes's "Women" section because yes, metrosexual is good and wearing a tie with short-sleeves shirts is bad. Am just about to read an article entitled "Things He Does Not Want to Hear," because gender-stereotype-based advice from any culture is bound to be excellent.

    everything's comin' up roses

    Thanks BBC for the best news I'll get all day.


    tee-hee!

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    the most anticipated film of 2006

    Bollyhoo has just developed the most brilliant of plans. I had asked her if she thought the supercomputer from Koi Mil Gaya could perhaps put me in touch with Akshaye Khanna instead of some blue aliens. She said

    I think what you should do is write a kickass screenplay about a beautiful museum educator who falls in love with one of her colleagues, played by the dashing Akshaye Khanna. Then even if you don't succeed in getting the role of the museum educator due to your principled refusal to play ball with the mafia financiers and casting couch greaseballs, you can at least work as a consultant on the film. I guess there is always the risk that instead of hiring Akshaye Khanna for the role he was clearly born to play, the producers will insist on hiring a non-fake pretend movie boyfriend for the role, like (GASP!) Johnny Lever. So maybe inventing the PET supercomputer is the better option.


    I love her.

    Long, long ago in a galaxy somewhere near the subcontinent....

    Just watched - or rather "watched/fast-forwarded through" - Episode II. Soooooo bad. But even before it got dreadful, my mind wandered off, thinking perhaps a scene might be improved by some Bollywood elements. It seems ripe for the picking. You have the gorgeous, elaborate outfits of Padme. You have Obi-Wan and his fancy footwork with billowing cape. You have grand-scale good vs. evil. You have grand buildings with sweeping, orante architecture. You have Yoda, better animated and more eloquent than MPKDKH's parrot and dog, although similarly cute and pint-sized.

    After seeing Padme get whipped with a chain, her shirt back tearing open, and remembering Leia with Jabba, I must ask: does anyone else think George Lucas has a some sort of pain- and chain-based fetish?

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    better than Bollywood

    ...if you can believe such a thing. Wandered downstairs to finish K3G and, as the tv flickered on, set to PBS, was delighted to see that tonight's "Wide Angle" was on the "offshoring" phone center industry in India. I only saw half, but the segments I saw, looking at the lives of four young women who work in this industry, were more moving to me, and the smiles they brought to my face more resonant - and I suspect the whole thing will stick with me longer - than any movie yet. Don't get me wrong - I genuinely love the movies. But it felt good to be reminded of reality, of how even a few real young people live - and they squabbled with their spouses, they giggled with their roommates, they supported their families, they danced around the office to filmi music (in a huge coincidence, I think it was a song from K3G, right?), I saw them! They discussed how their lives were different from their parents'. They set up savings accounts for younger sisters. They commuted four hours a day. They laughed with colleagues in the office cafeteria. A young Hindi woman said of her Muslim ex-boyfriend that her mother was the only parent she had left, so why do something against her wishes? Another young woman said her father had cried when she was born - because she was a girl. Her mother said she wanted her to continue her educaiton but had nothing to give her daughter to make it possible. Now that her father has seen where she works, that her colleagues act like brothers and sisters, he was proud of her, of the confidence she'd gained. Drama, family, risk, love, life, all right there together. It even had dancing - just not a choreographer.

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    Is this a good omen or what?

    One of the things I love most about musicals is when people randomly break into song, or even song and dance, even when the town or other setting of the story features people who are unmusical, such as in The Music Man. This, of course, very rarely happens in non-film life, much to my dismay. I very much envy characters in Bollywood for this trait of their everyday lives, knowing it will never happen to me, becuase, let's face it, I don't dance very well and I certainly don't know a whole four-minutes routine.

    But today, as I walked towards the quad to get my coffee, I passed the music building, and some guy was walking down the street with a guitar, playing Weezer's "Say It Ain't So." I smiled in amazement, sort of to myself, and held my breath, looking around to see if anyone else seemed to want to start dancing and singing in the late summer sunshine. It would have been perfect.

    PS

    I forgot to say that the end of Sholay reminded me of the Knights Who Say "Ni" and I had to roll up on the couch laughing. That probably means I have some cultural baggage or something. I am a huuuuge fan of Mrs. Peel-era The Avengers, which has plenty of schlocky stunts, but somehow I could not quite handle this one, I think maybe because it's a decade later and its "look and feel" counterpart, in my mind, is The Godfather.

    Anyway, just go read The Gorilla's Lament review because he says most of what I wanted to say and he does it better. Long live Basanti and Veeru.

    Sunday, September 11, 2005

    revenge of the ishq: Sholay

    [Mabye ishq only means romantic love. Whatever. Let me have my lame pun.]

    I watched this because I felt I should, sort of like An Affair to Remember and, more to the point, High Noon. I can't imagine the circumstances that would make me really enjoy movie violence (other than James Bond, a phenomenon I cannot explain), so I was wary when I put in the DVD. But, of course, it was great. I'm going to yadda yadda over all the corpses and the deranged sense of revenge that drives the plot (although happily does not drive our heroes, I don't think), since I don't have much to say that's relevant.

    A story about friendship is always a good time, this one expanded by the real sense of family and love Veeru and Jai have for each other. That was plenty good enough to make me enjoy the movie, but I thought the comic bits were really fun, and, although I just finisehd the movie a few minutes ago, I think I can heartily say that if I had to choose what Bollywood heroine I would like to be, I would choose Basanti. I also liked that the nobility of sticking to your promises, of doing the right thing, of choosing a new way of life, of falling in love, seemed to be done with thought. It wasn't just "hey, okay, I'll let go of the bad dude becuase Thakur's final revenge will be easy." It was "Okay, I'll let go, because my dead friend promised, and he was my friend, so I'll do what he would have done, even though I think, given the givens, it's foolish."

    What does the word "sholay" mean, actually?

    Also, was there significane to Radha's head covering being off when she looked out the window at Jai's pyre and then closed the shutter?

    Saturday, September 10, 2005

    He's not heavy, he's your brother!: the rest of Main Hoon Na

    Like real life, it all goes downhill after prom. As is no doubt clear from everything I write here, I prefer to dwell on the comedy and romance elements of the Bollywood mix, and most of that was lost after the very fabulous 50s-inspired prom, except for the slightly steamy "we can sit on my bed and clean your wounds while I accidentally-on-purpose put my face a few millimeters from yours becuase you're not really my student" scene between Ram and Chandni, which, by the way, Sushmita, seems like a very effective move. Will just file that away for later use, in case I am ever in love with an undercover army wing commander. The helicoper thing was just silly - why didn't it fly closer to the roof in the first place, so young Lucky didn't have to almost get his arm yanked out of its socket in order to save Ram as he jumped off the roof?

    Big bonus points to whomever came up with that bit about the brothers fiddling with their hair in the same way. And with Chandni's color-coordinated sari and notebook ensembles. My inner seventh-grader is sooo jealous.

    So it's 1:19 on a Saturady morning and I am still up, doing this, when I should have gone to bed over an hour ago becuase I have to get up by 9:00. What is wrong with me? I need my strength for tomorrow - I'm watching Sholay for the first time! And showing some BW film of my choosing, yet to be determined, to my boss, who has only seen Bride and Prejudice and Kandukondain Kandukondain, both at my prompting. She loved them. I told her about Main Hoon Na but I think that two nights in a row would be too much.... Suggestions?

    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    ...but Ranganathan he ain't.

    the king of Bollywood on what "India empowered" means to him.

    Now, I'm not up on what Bono has been doing on the geopolitical front these days, but this might be a little wackier still. I am 100% with him on the importance of providing entertainment for people and that making people feel good is truly quite important. But:


    Personally, I've a problem with the power of information. I'm not an authority on it but I think somewhere down the line, information has been a huge downside. We can access information anytime but we don't know what to do with it. So, information creates bottlenecks. We create a flyover to Nehru Place but forget to connect it to Surya Hotel. Likewise, information as a tool is good but its utility is still unclear. Give a person what he wants but don't bore him. Make avenues for him to use that information, give him the opportunity to make his life better with that information.

    I could probably wrangle up a heap of librarians who would be perfectly happy to miscatalog your films, if that's what you're talking about.

    I suspect access to information for millions of people in India (including government staff), as in other parts of the world, here included, is still a mighty big issue. Yes, one needs to know what to do with it, and context is a huge part of meaning and utility, but... well... I have no idea what he means by this. Bottlenecks of what? Of ideas? Of acting on information? I think organization, or lack thereof, is what creates bottlenecks. Creating opportunities depends on them being informed by something, by what will be needed by people, of what will be meaningful to them.

    Plus, like, think about it in your own context: if Major Ram had known that the new teacher was the bad guy in disguise, that would have been good. If Aman had known you, Rahul, were in love with Anjali and that Angali was in love with you, that would have been good. If you had known that your dead brother's kid's dead mother's sister [no wonder Hindi has terms for specific kinship ties!] wasn't really a gold-digging floozy, that would have been good. If Hrithik had known that Rani (or Esha, depending on the film) wrote the letters, that would have been good. If Kareena and her family had known that Hrithik was the wrong Prem, but really the right Prem, if you know what I mean, that would have been good.

    Oh wait, now I get it! Having information destroys most movie plots, leaving you out of a job! Your secret is safe with me!

    [pause]

    What secret?

    [wink]

    needed: proselytizing lessons

    I'm trying desperately to get my friends to watch Bollywood with me, and so far I have gotten three interested, although only one of them lives in the same town I do. Behold my latest attempt, via email to get people to join me for Main Hoon Na on Friday night:


    For your general amusement and insight into the kinds of movies I've been watching lately, let me tell you a little more about Friday's movie, specifically about the plot elements/devices and characters it contains.

    [From a fake-pretend pop quiz about Bollywood]

    Please circle the plot elements/devices and characters contained in the film Main Hoon Na, a 2004 film featuring India's biggest star, Shahrukh Khan:
    a) issues of national security and international borders
    b) under-cover military operatives
    c) Matrix-style action sequences
    d) stunts using wire work
    e) bicycle-rickshaw chase of bad guys in car, with guns
    f) dying father
    g) heartbroken single mother
    h) secret and otherwise unknown identities
    i) family reconciliations
    j) college life
    k) sexy, dorky, beloved, and feared teachers and a dim-witted principal
    l) cool and nerdy students, and the differences between them
    m) teen romance
    n) other romances among other ages of people
    o) "Grease"-style carnival at the end of the school year
    p) prom
    q) makeovers - not 1, not 2, but 3
    r) dancing
    s) singing
    t) ALL OF THE ABOVE

    In case you couldn't tell, if you circled T, you'd be correct.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    I already sensed it, somewhere deep in my heart, and now I really know it to be true: Shahrukh Khan can do anything.

    [About an hour and a half into Main Hoon Na.... I'm stopping here because this movie is so incredibly great that I must share it with someone, so I'm waiting for the weekend when Abby can watch too.]

    He is the biggest star in the biggest movie industry in the world, and he is amazing. He's bulletproof. He can fly. He can dance. He can chase terrorists on a bicycle rickshaw that's on fire. He can do the Matrix limbo move to avoid projectiles. He can lip sync while standing up on a moving ferris wheel. He can make a woman's hair blow in the breeze from fifty paces. (You may think Sushmita has this power on her own, but I know better. I've seen the effect too many times to be fooled.) He can burst into song so spontaneously and heartfelt that he cannot stop his own arms from rising into the "come here, my darling, I love you, while my wingspan indicates that our love encompasses the very Himalayas themselves" gesture. He can emote like... like... um, like all that and a can of Pepsi. I mean, he can even rock orange cargo pants and sweater vests - at separate times, mind you, he's only human.

    I'd go on, except we need to discuss national might as depicted in popular film. Is it just me, or should the US, led by commander-in-chief Harrison Ford, and India, led by Naseeruddin Shah and SRK and their back-up boys here, combine forces and totally kick ass on the world stage? Plus, for good PR, we could add in the groovy television logo of India's flag and Pakistan's flag meeting under a globe with a big dove soaring over it. That is some kind of moving. Peace out, yo.

    I hate to see Shahrukh sad. I am so glad he is on this mission to reunite his family. Plus he and Naseeruddin have equally strange noses (which I only notice as strange in NS, no longer in SRK), so that I am happy to buy that they're father and son. However, I love to see Shahrukh in a Burberry scarf. Numma. And so wound up over his love interest that he has to hide his head on his desk or just slump down with twitterpated, cheery overwhelmedness.

    Aside to Indian tv studio: install metal detectors that studio guests must pass through. You and any public gathering place where that whole border mess is discussed, really. This whole thing could have been avoided.

    Aside to boy playing Lucky: all those bandanas you wear act like a vise, squishing out what little is left up there. You might want to save your brainpower - I think you might have to help do something brave and heroic at the end of this or some other future movie.

    Aside to girl playing Sanjana: you should always wash the outfits you borrow from Xtina before wearing. You don't know where they've been.

    Okay, but, like, I still didn't get to bed until after 11:30.

    So, you were right, it was too late to start a new movie last night. So instead, looking for a quick fix, I sampled wee portions of multiple movies. From Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, the farting and "men can do this! [rip off shirts] scenes; from Ka Ho Naa Ho, a sampler platter of "It's Time to Disco," "Pretty Woman" (which is just about the funniest thing in the whole world - somehow it strikes me that people not from the United States should not rap, especially if they are wearing some kind of nicely spun linen hoodie), and finally spotting both Rani and Kajol in "Maahi Ve," shamefully something I had failed to do in my original watching. It felt so good to work through the embarassment and - better late than never - to earn my Bronze Medal of Celebrity Cameo Spotting. And that was so many superstars I just had to call it a night and finally go to sleep.

    And now I am off to start Main Hoon Na because of what Bollyhoo has written about it.

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    it's too late, baby

    Is 10:34 pm on the night before going back to work after a three-day weekend too late to start a three-hour movie? It is? Phhhhbt. You're no fun. Will just ask Rani Mukherjee and what's-his-butt Bachchan (the younger) what they think. Quite certain they will want me to start Bunty Aur Babli.

    my old friend: Mujhse Dosti Karoge!

    This was the first Bollywood movie I watched - grabbed at random off the shelf because I was having trouble finding the ten from Bollywhat's rental guide, even though my store has most of them and I was just having a breakdown over trying to read the names - and I really liked it. Thanks to my eBay booty, I now own it, and, after a late-night viewing yesterday, I still like it. I was afraid I wouldn't - I've since learned to be wary of Hrithik and Kareena, and I thought the mistaken identity device would seem tired after seeing Hrithik do it twice more, and I was even a little afraid that I wouldn't find the insane spandex outfits and mountain top frolicing enjoyable anymore.

    But I loved it all. Everyone does a nice job with their roles, and no one is a spaz. Hrithik (Raj) uses his real voice! Pooja (Rani) gets to tell Raj off for being blinded by beauty and not seeing her heart. Raj gets to scold Pooja for her insistence on nobley-intended-but-ultimately-hurtful deceits. Tina (Kareena) gets to redeem her entire character's existence by doing the right thing. And who doesn't love a plot that focuses on people falling in love through letters and email? It's so endearing. For once in Bollywood, people get to know each other before getting married, and friends fall in love - which sort of happens twice, since Raj is in love with letter-writer (Pooja) but also is quite struck by Pooja in real life as well, enough that it registers in his facial expression that perhaps he needs to hang on a mo and re-evaluate which girl he wants to marry. This speaks to me.

    Let us not forget that this movie also gives us the quote "Leave it to Tina," accompanied by a haughty thrust of the chin upwards and some sort of dismissive hand wave, which I love and employ regularly. But only among people who have seen the movie, or else they would look at me funny.

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    shout-out to Tanaaz Currim

    Because I have seen her in more movies than any other female star or co-star except Aishwarya Rai, this is a heart-felt "you rock" to my favorite sidekick actor of all time, Tanaaz Currim. This woman has played the "best friend" in several films, for which she has suffered the indignity of being attacked by a lunatic, wearing a really fake-looking wig (if that's her real hair in RHTDM, I want to know what they did to it), being stuck in a bad twist on that short plaid schoolgirl skirt fad that comes around every few years while watching her friend get Hrithik's heavy stares, and raising a kid in New York with a husband who apparently is never home and certainly doesn't come with her to India for her sister's wedding. I love this actor. I honestly think she's quite good - it's hard to play the sidekick at an appropriate level, neither too mousy nor too spastic (Johnny Lever, I'm talkin' to you), neither faceless nor interfering (Kareena's Spice Girls-esque quartet in MPKDH). Just supportive and funny and helpful without getting all up in your business without being asked. Just the way a friend should be.

    Update to post (September 22, 2005): See? She totally rocks! And now IndiaTimes knows it too.

    what I learned from Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein

  • It is freakin' awesome to be from Mumbai, where people are so inspired by the greatness of their city that they sing and dance through the streets, remarking upon the discos, parties, etc. Sometimes they wear Color Me Badd-esque suits while doing so, amping up the awesome factor considerably.
  • If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all: I was thinking snarky thoughts about Maddy's dad's music shop, musing over whether the big red graphic on the wall in the background was the logo for either Aerosmith or Bozo the Clown (probably neither, of course, given that the store was in Mumbai and not Aurora, Illinois), when I realized it bore an eerie resemblance to the HMV on Yonge Street in Toronto I used to go to in 1997, which I'm sure the flock of 17-year-olds on Yonge found the epitome of cool at the time. Hush my mouth.
  • Mechanical engineering students, despite their rigorous course requirements and need to direct their brainpower elsewhere, have pseudo gang affiliations and occasionally like a good rumble.
  • In my viewing experience, basketball courts appear frequently in Bollywood as settings of challenges and tensions of various kinds: friendly/flirty girl vs boy (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai); true love vs fiance-she-agreed-to-because-she-didn't-know-her-true-love's-wife-had-died (KKHH again); showing off of general sexiness, which if you think about it is girl vs all other girls in the immediate area, although the latter contestant is not present, just understood to be impressed (Mujhse Dosti Karoge!); hero vs bully (Koi Mil Gaya); and, of course, two stupid boys beating each other up for no apparent reason (this film). The fact that the court here had "DUDE" emblazoned on it should maybe be a clue to forget it and just go home, as in "Dude, you're both virile and attractive, so just agree that you disagree on ill-conceived fashion and get on with your lives." Maybe Aamir Khan will make a really powerful historical drama about India thumbing its nose at Britain via a basketball challenge, the stakes of which are the rights to tea distribution or something, and they'll end up fieldling an amazing team that runs rings around opponents to the tune of "Sweet Georgia Brown."
  • Speaking of which, boys: denim is an excellent suiting option.
  • Girls: choose the boy who threatens you physically, is selfish and violent-tempered (even if you like to call it "ill-mannered" to make yourself feel better), is clearly and admittedly a bold-faced liar, and is known to you for only five days. Once a thug, always a thug.
  • You don't have to marry your parents' friends' son, either, since you only knew him when you were kids, and after he shows up from Amrika he hasn't done anything of particular note.
  • If you do marry the thug, be sure to befriend his dad, because he is also the father of a slew of movie stars - Shahrukh, Aishwarya, Rani. Remember how thug-boy told you your palm indicated you would stay in Mumbai? Enter the movie biz! Work the connections!

  • Saturday, September 03, 2005

    Too...many...movies....

    I ordered a bundle of 12 movies off of eBay and I finally got to pick them up from the post office on Friday after work. I don't even know where to start. A few of them I have seen, and one DVD doesn't work (the one with Hum Tum, of coruse!) becuase it's scratched as all heck, but I found myself sitting on the living floor, remote in hand, surrounded by DVDs - and then I knew for sure I had a problem. Like having a blog all on one topic wasn't enough of a sign. Anyhoo, what should I watch first? My favorite? A visually stunning one? Or perhaps re-visit the first one I ever saw, which I suspect is not going to hold up very well? And, to top it off, because I am a junkie, I rented two more today for the long weekend. Or should I just re-watch the credits to Main Hoon Na over and over again, watching Shahrukh pop out of the banner that says "thrills"?

    Bollywood Magic 8 Ball

    I just read this book in which a character makes a Jane Austen Magic 8 ball - she takes one apart, takes out the little floating thingy, and puts Jane Austen quotes on its surfaces. I want to do the same kind of thing with Bollywood plot devices. So when you need advice, you can garner the wisdom that has worked so very, very well for SRK, Kajol, et al. Some sample ideas:

  • Run home to your mother, collapse at her feet, put your head in her lap, and do as she says, which is probably to listen to your heart.
  • Refuse to give the bastard the last mango lassi on the tray. That'll show 'im.
  • Flag down the first passing sports car you see, presuming it is driven by an attractive man wearing sunglasses. Hop in. Drive directly to nearest mountain range.
  • Challenge your oppressor to a game of cricket [or another game you don't know how to play] for absurdly high stakes.
  • Looking for love? Try your sibling's partner's sibling.
  • Pleather? Good.

    Update to post (June 2007): and I finally made one here!

    And, I would like to make a Bollywood plot generator for the online amusement of one and all. But I don't know how to do that. If anyone does, let me know. I can supply the content and you can do the techy stuff. Or it could be a choose-your-own-adventure type thing. Maybe I could make that, using a lot of links. Hmmm.... This is the stuff that the last three-day weekend of the year is made for.

    Unless someone has made one already. Which they should, because I'm quite certain it's a genius idea.I don't mean to copy. I just thought it would be funny.
  • Thursday, September 01, 2005

    thou shalt know thy spouse: Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam

    A. Girl and boy (boy 1) have known each other since childhood.
    B. Girl has also been friends with an orphaned boy (boy 2) her family sort of adopted, him taking on a brother-type role, although not actually her brother, as she already has a brother, who is needed as a plot device at some future point, so we can't pretend he isn't there.
    Therefore, does it follow that it girl knows boy 1 and girl knows boy 2, boy 1 and boy 2 probably know each other? Or, if not, boy 1 and boy 2 are aware of each other and the other's relationship with girl? It does follow, at least a little, right? At least enough that the existence of boy 2 and the basic nature of his relationship with girl are not a surprise to boy 1, and boy 2 is aware of the basic character of boy 1.

    A. Girl is Indian and lives in India.
    B. Boy 1 is Indian and lives in India and is some sort of big-shot business dude who is sorta rude to his secretaries.
    C. India is a patriarchal society with a knot of horrible issues about women's rights, male possessiveness, subservience in relationships, etc. [Disclaimer: no particular offence to India - so are lots of places, including where I live.]
    D. Girl marries boy 1, who has loved her since childhood.
    E. Girl continues a very close, time-consuming relationship wtih boy 2.
    Therefore, does it follow that girl should be surprised by husband (boy 1)'s confusion/hurt/jealousy over what at worst looks like an affair and at best is surely an insensitive distribution of emotional resources? NO. Of course not. But it we stuck to logic 101, we wouldn't have ourselves this rather pointless and unentertaining movie.

    The best part is the girl's brother, who is obsessed with Amitab Bachchan, which is just sort of funny. Oh and the surprsie cameo by Aishwarya. That was good, despite her indicating that her character is blind by staring like a zombie and not moving her head or neck. Maybe that part was actually played by an Aishwarya fembot. And oh my goodness the clothes they have put on Salman Khan. Fugly beyond all good sense and almost in violation of the laws of nature - although, to be fair, whenever did lame and pleather obey the laws of nature? Shudder.

    Aside to Salman: clothes back on. Now. All of them. Prefereably different ones, but whatever the costume designer gave you to wear, just wear all of it and stop preening. You are a very silly man.