Wednesday, November 30, 2005

a song like you should wear a warning

Just heard a Bhangra remix of Britntey's "Toxic." I loved it. However, I do not in any way support Ms. Spears trying to cross into Indian pop music or cinema, nor do I support her going all bindi-happy like her mentor-mama.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

good times times two: Duplicate

Meet Bablu, who loves his mom a lot
though a chef he is and a wrestler he's not.
But Manu - who has the same mug -
is really just a big ol' thug!
What a zany plot!

But they're duplicates!
They're Bollywood duplicates all the way.
One pair of matching Shahrukhs,
different as night and day.

Where Bablu is skilled at crème brulée,
loves Sonia and dear Bebe,
our Manu loves to rock and roll,
that Lilly makes him lose control,
vengeance makes his day.

Still, they're duplicates,
they're Bollywood duplicates and you'll find
they never laugh or walk alike
and hardly ever talk alike -
you can lose your mind
when Shahrukhs are two of a kind!

Highlights from Duplicate - and there are a lot of them, so it's hard to choose - include:

  • Sonia's nonsensical spurts of English
  • non-Japanese Japanese food
  • the world's ugliest banquet hall
  • very un-PC references to various East Asian cultures
  • Bablu and Bebe's brightly painted bathroom
  • the why-would-anyone-blow-this-up-to-8x10-and-frame-it photo of a confused-looking Bebe
  • Lilly's completely insane outfits in the nightclub scene, matched by her crimped hair
  • the incessant mouth- and tongue-centered gestures - who came up with that, and what are they implying?
  • Lilly's revenge, which I am ashamed to say I didn't see coming
  • a stellar display of Shahrukh's always-impressive range of nonverbal noises: sobs, coughs, cackles, etc.
  • the veggie song, which was so delightfully silly I had to watch it twice. This is now on my list of favorite song picturizations under the category of "just when I thought I had a handle on how goofy Bollywood can get, there's something new to discover."
Which, after all, is one of the true joys of watching Bollywood.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

'tis a puzzle

I have one very important question to ask about Duplicate: if you're breaking out of prison, how do you find time to locate leather pants? Shiny, police-car-headlight-reflecting pants?

Evil SRK is pretty freaky. Is he supposed to be sexy? It's pretty funny. But not as funny as his alias mugshots.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Shaka laka, baby! Bollywood/Hollywood

I love Bollywood. (No, really!) I love Akshaye Khanna. (Oh stop!) I love Canada, especially Toronto. Put those things together and what do you get? I'm not really sure. An extended in-joke - I can't quite think of this as a parody, as that is what Main Hoon Na feels like to me, and this is not that, because to me it just doesn't have enough in common with Bollywood to be a parody - wrapped in that subdued Canadian movie feel, wherein there is tension and drama but all kept on an even keel. When I read that the director also did The Republic of Love, everything clicked into place.

I thought about it all throughout the movie and I am not convinced there's anything particularly Bollywood about this movie, other than some wedding-related drama and a well-intentioned, ridiculous, lie-based scheme. Although maybe there isn't supposed to be, and it's just a clever title. Or maybe there is, but in a Canadian sort of way - which is an odd concept, really, becuase stereotypical Bollywood and stereotypical Canada have nothing in common except maybe a generalized goodwill towards humankind. (I have earned the right to make a comment like that, as I lived there for two year and am an Honourary Canadian with a certificate and lapel pin to prove it. Plus this is just a theory and I haven't thought about it very hard yet.) Or maybe I'm stupid and am missing something major that makes this a really witty parody. Or maybe this is a tribute rather than a parody. I can buy that.

Anyway. Rahul Khanna was good. Lisa Ray was not, particularly - too theatery. Akshaye showed up. People figured out what they felt and did something about it - v BW, to be sure. I'm sated. Especially now that I have decided to think about this as a Canadian movie rather than a Bollywood one. And apparently it's a Kulbhushan Kharbanda holiday weekend here at Beth Loves Bollywood. I'll just pop in Monsoon Wedding tomorrow to round it all out.

The big five-oh? You don't look a day over 31!: Yes Boss

On this, the occasion of my fiftieth Bollywood film, I humbly present you with a little bit of reflection, inspired and cohered by a mid 1990s classic, Yes Boss. Who better to commemorate the event than Shahrukh, Juhi, Reema, Johny, and a collections development and product testing conspirator? No one, that's who. A wholly satisfactory bit of filmi fluff. This movie has everything a girl could want: a delightful heroine, SRK, elaborate dancing, wacky schemes, a few stunts, crappy fight sound effects, Switzerland, and my favorite Bollywood mother.

Or does it? At this point in my ongoing education, I am going to tentatively state, based on what I've seen so far,* that I just prefer movies made in 1998 or later. I don't know if it's because of KKHH or what, but the movies I love most are after this point. I'd hate to think this is just because of production values and budgets, because that means I'm terribly shallow - after all, the elements are the same, as demonstrated above - but after hours of introspection I think it's probably true. There's just something about the amped-up glossification - clearer, brighter, swirlier. Maybe it's a question of balance - if the emotions and plots are going to be amazing, sweeping, and over-the-top, I want the movie to look just as big and bold.

The thing is, I don't feel too awful about being so seduced by the fancy prettiness because just as much, if not more, I love the emotions of Bollywood - and they cannot be bought, as the characters in Yes Boss discover. It doesn't cost much to go to a cliff and fling out your arms. If you got there in a sports car, and if the sun glints off your diamonds and pricey watch as you twirl, and if you detour through a waterfall on your way back, then that's superwow. But the point is the heart. Airfare to Switzerland is in everyone's reach, if they'd just look deep within their souls, screw up their courage, and let themselves go. To paraphrase Northern Exposure, another incredibly resonant and beloved pop culture favorite, it's not the trappings of the fling, it's the fling itself.

* As far as I know, the only movie I've seen made before 1994 is Sholay, so all observations are based on an admittedly slim slice of film history.

I also want to share a few of the choicest lines of subtitling from the copy I watched:

  • How many times have I told you not to take any tension?
  • Acquire a status, then a wife.
  • You can never tell when a girl will walk into your heart.
  • Everything in life is not just the truth or a lie.
  • I have not been able to understand many questions in my own life.
  • This is the first time a girl is not coming into my clutches.
And, as the ultimate argument to get Juhi to go out with you, "I'm a nice man, my intentions are noble, and the weather is first-class." It'd work on me!

Aside to Akshaye, who is not in this movie: did you hear that? That's all you'd have to say, and, if your heart is true, I'll totally take you back.

I am thankful for...

...all the cool people I've met and talked to because of Bollywood! All of you have made me happy so many times in the last few months, with your funny and insightful comments - and your willingness to admit to loving all the things you find so delightful in Bollywood. This is my first sustained foray into an online community, and I am delighted to have found such wonderful citizens.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bollywood college sign inventory

Regular readers of this blog will know that I, like many other Bollywatchers, quite enjoy the various signs held up by adoring crowds in any "cultural event," dance, or other performance at any filmi college. Often these signs are hand-lettered, giving them an air of being made up by crew and extras at the last possible second - although not, mysteriously, as though they were made by actual high school students.

(Side note: I do not really understand what "college" means in Bollywood. These institutions look like and seem to function like a US high school, what with their required classes, social events, cliques, cheerleaders, and friendship days. Yet much of the time the students look like they are too old for high school - not that that stopped anyone on 90210, granted - and occasionally someone transfers into one from someplace like Oxford University. Anyone want to weigh in on this?)

Submissions are very, very welcome and highly encouraged. Additions will be ongoing, but I'll put them all right here in this post so you always know where to look - because you will be compelled to check back, because once you start thinking about hand-painted signs in enthusiastic crowds, it's hard to stop.

Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon (added November 20, 2005)
Let us begin with MPKDH because I rewatched it yesterday - and it has the distinction of vocalizing the very finest sign ever, which is held up for Tina in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and reads simply NORTH SOUTH EAST WEST. Students here, before Kareena get going, are yelling "North, south, east, or west, Sophiya [their college] is the best!" It is awesome. Ideally I'd start with KKHH, as it is the first place I noticed this phenomenon, but I lent it to someone, so that will have to wait - unless someone else would like to submit for it.

As the movie opens, girls on skates go by holding a banner that says LAST DAY OF COLLEGE, so that we know why Kareena has so much spare time to run around with Hrithik and Abhishek.

Now, on to the "farewell function" where Kareena and her backup girls seranade the crowd with "Papa Ki Pari":
The opening pan of the auditorium indicates that this is a rich stash indeed - but my pause doesn't really let me see any of them, so on we go, hoping for closer views during the song. And we are rewarded.
CHEE BOYZ
DUMP HIM
WE SIZZLE
IT'S OUR WORLD
WE LOVE OUR TEACHERS
SANJANA
(Kareena's character's name)
GUYS R FREAKS
MOVE IT
LOVE BOMBS
LIFE IS US
GET GORGEOUS


There were many more that I just couldn't quite read, so if anyone else can, please do let me know. There are two mystery signs that have two lines of text. On the first one, the top line ends in 10% and the bottom in DEVILS. No idea what that's about. Another says MARRIAGE on the top line, with the text on the bottom consisting of a lot of Os, I think, perhaps NOOOOOOOOO, which is seriously funny and fits the song to boot.

A note on some non-hand-lettered items in the crowd: there are a lot of pennants in this scene too, but the ones I could read just say the name of the college on them, as do two very large banners in the background. The teachers also hold up a big banner that says We Love our Students, a nice touch for the end of the year, I thought. You know as soon as the kids are gone, they're going to go get smashed, even though most of them are nuns.

Favorite: WE SIZZLE - this is an oft-implied attitude in Bollywood, the halls of a high school, your local watering hole, etc., and it is gratifying to see it stated clearly for once. It also takes a lot of guts to make a statement like that. Snaps!

Mujhse Dosti Karoge! (added December 11, 2005)
Regular readers of this site will know that I love this movie muchly (so much I have already reflected on it twice, more eloquently here), so I am especially sad to say that there are no signs in the dance competition. And now that I've watched it with sign-inventorying in mind, I am not entirely sure it is in fact a college competition - is it just a Simla youth show or something? The gym that "terriffic Tina" rehearses in does not identify a school (or any other institution) either. Next time I watch the whole movie I will make sure to note as much of the setup for this as I can, but various flipping back and forth with the remote this morning left me with nothing.

additional update to Mujhse Dosti Karoge! (added December 12, 2005)
It's not at a college at all. It's a "youth festival." But if there's one thing we've learned from Bollywood (and, of course, there are many), it's that crowds of youth watching dancing like to hold up hand-lettered, often very silly signs. I will forgive the filmmakers here because I love the movie so much, but this is a definite strike against them.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (added January 15, 2006)
Okay, sorry, it's KKHH instead of Main Hoon Na. But it's fitting, since it's where my love of signs began.

We are helpfully told that this is ST XAVIER'S COLLEGE FESTIVAL. Good to know. The signs in the audience that I could actually make out were surprisingly unvaried and contained a shocking lack of apostrophes.
WE LOVE WILSON and LOVE XAVIERS, but with a heart instead of the O in LOVE
COME ON XAVIERS
BOO XAVIERS
STEPHENS
STEPHENS WILL WIN
Stop No More Go HOME XAVIERS
STUDY HARD PARTY HARDER XAVIERS

and, of course, the classic NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST, which I appreciate in a whole new way now that I realize the directions are listed as though one were traveling around the compass, not just pairing them in opposites.

There were also some rogue signs with just one block letter on them - the ones I caught were V, C, R, and Y. Maybe I, T, and O popped out to get a souvenir t-shirt.

See? Really not that interesting. I did notice one other really choice thing about the performance space. In addition to the mural of Elvis, which I had delighted in before, I saw one for the Beatles. SRK does not pose in front of it, though, sadly, and as far as I could tell it just has the band name without pictures. But it's framed nicely in a gothic-y arch, taking the place of tracery and a stained glass window.

next up: Main Hoon Na - I promise!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Main Hoon Na revisited

It's been two months since I first saw this - I lent it to someone and jsut today got it back, and I ran home and put it in the DVD player right away - and I am delighted to find that it has only improved in every possible way. How can one little movie be this good? It makes us all wonder and believe in things like fairies.

And my dear fellow watchers, I need your help. Go here and tell me what SRK's necklace says. I never noticed this the first time I watched the movie, and SRK has set the the bar pretty high for great necklaces, as you may recall from Rahul's C-O-O-L piece in KKHH.

proving that every man, no matter how drunk, looks great in a tux: Raja Hindustani

Despite everything I'm about to say, please believe me that I really did enjoy this movie. I don't think I'll need to watch it again anytime soon, but it was campy good fun while it lasted. Anything with Aamir Khan in it is well worth watching, in my experience, although to be honest here he is certainly not helped by a story and characters who are mostly either silly or occasionally just absurd (and not in the way that I enjoy, either). But he is by far the best thing about this movie. As usual, his face is so sincere, and he expressed being pissed off in a way that seems both frightening and realistic. If there's one consistently true rule of Bollywood, it's that you do not mess with Aamir Khan when he's angry. My only complaint about his performance is that I wish he got to dance more - he is my favorite male star for dancing and I think he's woefully underused. And maybe, just maybe, he, like everyone else, overdid it just a little in the fight scene at the end. Coming in second is Archana Puran Singh as a dressed-to-kill evil stepmother - just as scheming but far more nefarious than KKHH's Ms. Briganza (ah-ha!).

I know I said in my last review of a Karisma Kapoor movie that I thought she was pretty good, but I'm changing my mind. Maybe I've seen the wrong movies, but if she's not dancing, she doesn't really do anything for me. She shows here that manic screeching seems to be a family trait, so I'll try to lay off Kareena in the future. And I have got to say, she has the most grating dubbed-in laugh ever. If that's what she sounds like when she's actually speaking when the shoot the film, anyone who is with her gets a gold star from me for remarkable restraint for not running away, smacking her, or just going "Huh? Is she for real?"

In her favor, I must say Karisma manages to get ultimate mileage out of some truly ugly outfits - continuing with the 90210 upchuck theme from last time - and probably does no worse than anyone else would with a role that is not particularly likable. I know Aarti is fancy and purty, but she comes off as pretty shallow and has no sense of self (although sometimes this serves her well, as she realizes and admits when she is wrong) and I don't understand why Raja falls for her. Maybe Raja has a subconscious affection for squawking birds. For someone who is the king of his moods, he sure hands a lot of them over to Aarti - although maybe that's how we know he's in love. Raja himself is no prize either - temper, temper, temper!

This is the first Bollywood movie I've seen whose music was so bad that I had to pause and go find out who was responsible. The songs are okay, but the background music is hoky, brash, and dramatic to the nth degree. It really detracted from what was going on and made scenes that were already corny come off as melodramatic and trite. For example, the spazzy violin lines when Aarti and Raja are fighting at her birthday party. This movie also wins the prize for the worst rendition of "Happy Birthday" ever captured on film. I admit I have not seen every movie in the world that features this song, but I'm willing to go out on a limb.

Aside to final scene: you know perfectly well that they did not live happily ever after. As Aarti very sagely points out, their relationship was so fragile that it broke at the first test. This relationship clearly needs a lot of work, including anger management for Raja and think-before-you-speak lessons for Aarti. And, twenty years from now, probably some therapy involving childhood memories for the tot.

Aside to Aamir and the costume designer: you can't overestimate the level of compliment this is, coming from me - but I found Aamir even more attractive than usual in his beard, wild-man eyes, and professor-type elbow-patch coat. Numma.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Jai Ramji Ki!: Swades

(I had a hard time with titles for this one. Other possibilities included "Rama in a camper van" [a prize goes to whomever knows the reference for that] and something along the lines of "like water for India," but it wasn't working out quite right and seemed a little too dramatic, as this movie is emotional but not overdone.)

This is a lovely story. Bollywood-watcher or not, you should run out and see it right away. Go on, I'll be here when you get back.

Okay, now that you've seen it, wasn't the water imagery fascinating? Going beyond its usual usage as indicator of attraction, here it ties most closely, I think, to the sense of home. What does Mohan do for a living? He develops technology to predict water. And what is the story about? His discovery of what home means, of where it is, of the other people who also reside there, of what life there entails. The balance of Mohan's desire to move back to India tips when he gets the generator to work. When the water flows - when he dives down to remove what prevented it from flowing - he knows he can integrate into the village, belong there, serve there.

There are many touching moments in this movie, but my favorite is one that borders on wisdom. Unlike the other Bollywood films I've seen, where two people in the beginnings of the rush of filmi love find themselves in a surprise storm that drenches them, clothes clinging, huddling together under an umbrella or dancing through the puddles, here Mohan follows Gita thoughtfully, carefully, in a step in his bare feet into the lake. Yet their sense of surprise at finding each other is real as well. Somehow these two things - finding yourself attracted to someone and deciding to do something about it - are coordinated in a way that you don't see very often in movies.

Another favorite was Gita tying Mohan's pants. Sexy in a demure way, but also pragmatic and embarassing, that was completely in keeping with the characters.

The only other thing I want to say until I'm quite sure you've really gone and watched the movie is that I must extend a heartfelt superwow to Shahrukh for a performance unlike anything else I've seen him do - and, of course, to the director and other actors, who guided and responded to him equally well. I know nothing technical about acting, so I don't know how to express what I think here, but I will say that he seems to have abandoned his usual charm offensive to serve the quiet, thoughtful, but still passionate and funny nature of the story and character perfectly. If I had only read descriptions of SRK and his more typical characters and styles but never seen him, I would never have known this was he. Think about the scene when the power cuts out during the movie and he starts dancing: his moves are a little dorky and certainly not up to what we all know he can actually do, and the crowd is not immediately and wholly won over by his antics. They really aren't even antics. They're attempts by a slightly goofy scientist and decent human at making the most of a teachable, community-building moment. This is an antic-free performance. And the supernova of star power that is SRK, usually so enjoyable and irresistible, is nowhere to be seen - but you don't mind, because it's completely unnecessary. Long live the king.

Also, the line "Don't mistake my helplessness for betrayal" is ooooooooof good.

Friday, November 11, 2005

beause it would break my heart, that's why

Marginal Revolution asks "Where are the Conservatives for Bollywood?" Look, I won't tell them about Bollywood if you won't, okay?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Clearly he needs the love of a good woman.

[Thanks to Bollyhoo again for the good eye!]

Oh, Akshaye. I know you miss me, but that's no reason to lash out at others. But believe you me, you have p-lenty of sex appeal and you look good in every color - don't you listen to a word they say. Next time you camp out on my porch to wail in the night, I'm going to make you do daily affirmations. Or big canvases of unicorns. Your choice.

Just so we're clear, you mean "gives you the goosebumps" in the bad way, right?

Also, stop smoking. It's gross.

TMI: further research on Dil Se

Thanks to Bollyhoo, I have been clued in to the whole "seven stages of love" plot arc that is in Dil Se, which you can read about here, if you have an empty stomach and a flair for the dramatic. I am so glad my life is plenty interesting without resorting to this. Ka-boom!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dil Se

Bhooty month may be over, but Dil Se is the most haunting, bone-tingly Bollywood movie I've seen yet. I cannot explain why, but this movie has grabbed me. I like all its subtleties and how so many of the questions the characters raise and deal with linger - in them and in me. And let's just face it, it's gorgeous. I don't know how to talk about cinematography intelligently, so I will just say that thanks to Santosh Sivan it is Asoka-like (well, that's obvious) in its eerie, gray, drenched beauty.

When I started thinking about how to write about Dil Se, I thought I could just say the movie haunts me and leave it at that. But being poorly acquainted with leaving things at that, here are some of the things that I found so compelling, many of which seem to be explorations of the often unshown flip side of the romantic comedies I love so much.

If only it were as easy to wipe people out of your heart as it is to erase words written in sand. Until this scene, I wanted to cast someone else in SRK's place, maybe Aamir or someone with a little more heft, thinking there were bound to be speeches he couldn't carry. But he showed his heart broken, his buoyancy sunk, his spark snuffed. Wanting nothing but to sit there and hold yourself tight in protection, as though you can force out the emptiness or coldness or hurt if you make yourself small enough.

I have been thinking about fate a lot lately, and I was surprisingly happy to hear Zohra Sehgal's character say that we carve our own fate. I should know better than to take any kind of life advice from Bollywood literally, but this warmed me - much needed in this gray and complicated film.

More life advice one might not want to follow, no matter how tempting, because it's probably not as easy as that: "Say yes just once. We'll go far away from here."

This particular sweet-but-goading dialogue is not much different from many others in Bollywood, but I like the way it was phrased (or at least translated) here: "I don't believe in one-sided love. There must be something between us. The only difference being you're not willing to accept the truth. And I do. What's the matter? No courage?"

And on the lighter side, the refreshingly open and light-hearted conversation between Preeti and Amar about "hunka bunka bonks," which, according to Preeti, eighty percent of girls do before marriage. But when he wonders if she's in the twenty percent, she says, "What else? I didn't have the guts?" then calls him out with "Looks like you're from the twenty percent too."

Also, this movie features what I hope is Farah Khan's tongue-in-cheeck remake of the teach-the-naive-girl-how-to-dance-in-the-lake scene from a certain wildly popular movie from the late 1980s that featured prominently in all slumber parties of the era. And I hope this is the last time I will ever think to compare SRK to Patrick Swayze. Also on the subject of dancing, in each of the movies I have watched this weekend there has been a dance sequence that features a star with a bunch of people lined up behind them with their arms fanning out, making the person in front look like a Hindu deity. Whether with Karisma, SRK, or SRK with Preity, done in fun or drama, this move always makes me happy.

Moving from naach to gaana let me add that the music here is superwow. A. R. Rahman at his rich, evocative best.

Oh, and there are elephants. You know how I love elephants.

I do so hope this movie concludes my current stretch of Very Badly Subtitled Films. When the ones here were visible, they were great (outlined in black and put as far into the black bar below the letterbox as possible), but for the third time this weekend they were omitted from all the songs. I'm at the point that the next time I rent, I will ask the person at the desk at the video store to please kindly stop playing The Muppet Show for a sec and just check my selection for me quickly, just so I don't get home and end up sad. I just hate feeling that I'm missing something.

Aside to Preity Zinta: absolutely fantastic debut. Your character here is so completely charming. She's flawed but she tries. She's cute but she makes a point. She's fun but she thinks about things. Can I be her for awhile to see what it's like to balance all of these things successfully? Truly a star turn.

Oh, and if you would like a plot summary and review with good pictures, go here.

Wave your flags in the air like you just don't care!: Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani

(The entire plot of this movie is discussed here, so if you don't want to know how it ends, stop reading now.)

I haven't seen a light-hearted SRK in some time. I have loaned out so many of my movies that even in honor of his fortieth birthday this past week I wasn't able to watch any of my favorites of his, namely Main Hoon Na and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

But no matter, because now I have Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. This movie has everything:

  • one of the best opening credit sequences ever in the history of film, including an easy-to-learn dance move, lots of pretty colored outfits and bangles, and SRK making jokes about his own roles (at least I think that's what the series of ensembles was)
  • a delightfully bad stunt scene in which SRK jumps off a building onto one of those inflated mattress-y-looking things
  • an Elvis impression - technically not very good, but full marks for effort
  • hand-written signs being held up by enthusiastic crowds - not quite the banners at a college cultural event, but still really fun - and if SRK held up a little sign that had a drawing of a phone and a question mark on it

    I would be powerless not to give out my number, that's for sure
  • girl vs. boy shenanigans
  • at least two TMI shirts on SRK
  • Johny Lever in an outrageous, even by Bollywood standards, plaid jacket
  • an incredibly cute scene in which Ajay, after breaking Ria's umbrella, holds his hand over her head to shield her from the rain
  • jabs at the media and advertising-driven "information," including corporate-sponsored executions
  • flag-waving
  • truth and justice
  • stickin' it to the man!

    A few small but nagging problems:
    1. The man everyone sought to save, by his own admission, was a cold-blooded assassin. Did anyone else find this a little problematic? He did a bad, bad thing. A bad, bad thing was done to his family, but that does not give him the right to kill someone else. I know they did it in Sholay but that doesn't make it right.
    2. When Ria and Ajay are trying desperately to broadcast their tape, they forgot the web. I know typing isn't as dramatic as breaking into a tv studio, but it would have had some effect.
    3. I would need to re-watch to be sure of the chronology, but now that I think about it I am wondering if Ria stopped being a go-getter once she realized she was in love with Ajay. She is always a step behind Ajay in each phase of the big march at the end, she doesn't wave a flag, and she stands with the other protesters as Ajay stops the execution. She doesn't even get to talk to the crowds from the platform. However, she is obviously much valued by Mohan and Laxsmi, and she does do some proposin', in a delightful switcheroo (of course, the final word is had by Ajay, so it fell a bit flat).
    4. There is a fourth thing that is very troubling, but I'm not going to say what. If you have seen the movie, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you're in for a real surprise. And aside to costume designer in this scene: Uma Thurman called - she's missing her wig. And aside to director of the 1967 movie of Thoroughly Modern Millie: I found a couple of your extras. You want them back, or are we done with this type of thing?

    Aside to Juhi: this is my first of your movies (other than as producer - stellar job on Asoka, by the way!) and you more than lived up to expectations. You should know that this is a real compliment, far beyond its mere words, as you have been given quite the build-up. You clearly have a certain je ne sais quoi that moves men's souls. We're not talking mere Kareenessence. Also, I have it on good authority that you ought to wear glasses more often, so you may wish to keep that in mind for future roles.

  • Saturday, November 05, 2005

    Govindariffic*: Hero No. 1

    If we buy the general theory that there is someone out there for everyone - and let's face it, as Bollywood watchers, we must have at least an intellectual interest in such an idea - then maybe we can also accept the idea that there is a person out there for every movie. And when I find the person who loves this movie more than any other, I will ask them to dance along the streets of Euro Disney with me while they explain themselves. This movie was completely enjoyable, sort of the way certain store-brand vanilla wafers are enjoyable - mostly satisfying, because they are sweet and crunchy, but still not quite what you were expecting.

    This was my first Govinda movie, and I was not disappointed in his dancing abilities, and I was glad to finally realize who is in all those Eros previews for those movies I haven't heard of whose clips look much older than they really are. Karisma was her usual self, especially so in some dance moves that should have crippled her given the shoes she was wearing. And speaking of wearing, let us not overlook a completely sweet 90210-esque ensemble, complete with flouncy-skirt jumpers and bicycle shorts (often together). The plot contained all sorts of silly things, many of which I have forgotten but were entertaining at the time. All in all, sweet, crunchy, and well worth my $1 rental.

    *term originated by another Bollywood reviewer, but too good not to use

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    Diwali


    sidewalk1
    Originally uploaded by bethwatkins.
    Abby and I went to Diwali on Tuesday night. It was beyond beautiful. We walked around and looked at all the lights, and all the other people looking at the lights, and thought about hope and new beginnings and dispelling things that are fearful or draining or hurtful. For a western science-oriented secular humanist, it was an incredibly centering experience.

    Mucho thanks to the Indian Graduate Student Association for putting this together - and for having faith that our campus could respect and enjoy and benefit from it - because I'm pretty sure most of us did.