Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Introducing Sakshay, part IV: Keemat

Okay, so technically we are clearly past the introduction stage but this is how the series started, so it is also how it will end. And That New Movie is releasing Friday so I thought I'd finish this series quickly. Let me once again remind you; the movies are listed from bad to better. So second last equals - second best.

While maybe not the most representative, this copy/paste DVD cover of the film Keemat: They Are Back (any film with a subtitle like that is worth good money, isn't it?) is just so magnificent I could not resist. You've got the guys, you've got the girls, you've got Akshay's cowboy hat - everything promises a good time.

Keemat stars Saif and Akshay as two orphans and best friends, raised by the same loving alcoholic adoptive father. They grow up to become first class thiefs and cheats, whose hearts are - of course - in the right place. The story kicks off when they witness a murder of a young man, and find a letter to his parents in his pocket. For whatever reason, the duo decides that they should be the ones to relay the news of the man's demise to his folks, and so they travel to the village and pretend to be the guy's friends to his parents. This may sound unimpressive to you, and quite frankly, it is. But don't worry, you will not be watching it for the story.

The movie is really more a collection of really awesome moments than a comprehensive story. The plot isn't even bad enough to make for campy watching - it's just quite frankly boring most of the time. But who cares when there is so much goodness in between. Leg-on-fire fight scene is a legend in itself, and the songs never fail to amuse. I even quite like Johnny Lever in this movie. Saif-Akshay chemistry is effortless and awesome, but what also impressed me were the performances of the heroines.

Raveena Tandon plays a girl who tricks Saif and Akshay, but understandably after having witnessed Akshay's heroic fighting skills, she falls in love with him. He doesn't care for her, but she's determined. Saif on the other receives the affections of Sonali Bendre, a shy village belle (complete opposite of Raveena's outrageous city girl!). The girls are funny and fabulous, and to watch their interaction is just as fun as watching Sakshay on-screen.

So what would my edit of the movie include? Every song (like the magical O meri chhaila in the above picture), every time Akshay has an action scene, every time Raveena is on screen, when Saif's character has a turn-around, every Sakshay interaction scene and .. oh heck, if you never watch the whole movie, watch this song as it's impossible not to love it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Introducing Sakshay, part III: Yeh Dillagi

Yeh Dillagi is the movie I wouldn't recommend watching for Sakshay, but would strongly recommend watching for Kajol. Of course, never forgetting that we're walking through the fashion minefield of the 90's, and Yeh Dillagi is more a harmless fluff fest than a masterpiece to be remembered by future generations.

Akshay and Saif play brothers in this re-modelling of the Hollywood classic Sabrina. Kajol is naturally the stunning heroine, who both of the brothers fall for. Standard plot with standard treatment - it is a Yash Chopra-produced film, after all.

But there are highlights! Akshay gets to be the nerd who kicks ass when necessary (read: to save Saif's butt), Saif shows his comic timing, probably for the first time ever, and it's actually pretty delightful despite mullet. And Kajol, god bless her, delivers both beauty and charisma on-screen, even in some questionable fashion choices.

The soundtrack has the composer going crazy on the keyboards, but I rather adore it regardless. "Ole ole" is a hilarious Saif guilty pleasure that always gets stuck in my head, and the other Saif song, "Hoton pe bas" is a dumb song with a silly picturization (those dance moves! oh 90's!) but I find myself rewatching it anyway.

It's been quite a while since I watched this film, so if there were any significant flaws in the movie other than the fact it is in no way a masterpiece, I've forgotten about them. Akshay-Kajol chemistry did not exactly blow me away, and I find myself hoping for another Saif-Kajol movie, because their comic timings match well and this remains the only watchable movie the two were in together.

For a fluffy but ultimately pretty forgettable 90's ride, enjoy this mischief. Yes, I do sound like a half-assed DVD cover tag line, sometimes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The ride of your life. Dharam-Veer.

Parvarish is the most delicious Manmohan Desai movie I've seen so far, and Amar Akbar Anthony is the best. But the most memorable? Dharam-Veer without a doubt.

The film takes a standard plot, turns it upside down three times, places it in a weird, alternative universe type of historical setting where 70's fashion, Ancient Rome and Rajput kings live in perfect Technicolour harmony. From samurais to horses to gypsies to Dharmendra in a leather mini-skirt, this film has quite simply got it all.

It's an undoubtedly whacky ride all the way through. Dharmendra and Jeetendra play the friends who sing about the glories of their friendship, and the film juggles the story of their pasts, about five villains, and love stories with Zeenat (cruel and cold princess of sorts tamed by Dharmendra's goofy hijinks and love!) and Neetu (bold, awesome gypsie girl who Jeetendra falls for).

It's a film you probably shouldn't miss.

PS. It has pirates in it, too.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

To anybody and everybody surfing here through the Tehelka article..

The article that talks about the non-Indian, Bollywood-loving blogosphere is here and quotes me in its third paragraph. No surprises there, I am the girl way too into a certain male-male actor jodi from the 90's.

I'm as embarrassed as I am amused. But now I feel like I should put this new-found publicity into good use.

Dear Yash Raj Films,

It was thanks to me that your latest production, Tashan, was mentioned in the prestigious magazine Tehelka. If you would like to pay for my continuing promotional effort for this movie, I accept cash, PayPal and Saif.

Last method of payment preferred, but I could use the money, too.

You are most welcome.

And now, a random picture of Aftab and his bachelor philosophy in life:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Like a Sega fight! Sivaji: The Boss.

S. Shankar's megalomaniac project Sivaji: The Boss (now ain't that some title, people?) is a Tamil masala extravaganza that looks like money and tastes like entertainment. The Superstar Rajnikanth plays the typical omnipotent NRI hero who wants to do his blessed homeland some good with his earned riches. His uncle (the brilliant comedian Vivek!) meanwhile helps him find a very "Tamil-cultured" bride, played by the gorgeous Shriya Saran, and naturally we have a villain, who has corruption and thirst for power running through his veins.

Throw in glorious, glorious song picturizations (soundtrack by A.R. Rahman!) and a boatful of meta-Rajnikanth jokes, as well as some references to other Tamil cinema heroes (Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Hassan, MGR), and stylish action sequences a plenty and you've got Sivaji: The Boss in a nutshell.

In Hindi they have an expression, "paisa vasool" - meaning, as far as I know, "money's worth". The thing I love about Shankar is that he's serving up the crowd-pleasing masala, the incredible visuals and the action in such a large bowl, I wouldn't call it just "money's worth", I'd call it "tip generously!". I especially adored all the Rajnikanth-y Rajnikanth gags, that were all over the place, and was surprised at how much I caught of the more inside Kollywood gags, too.

Vivek's comedy as usual is a mix of English and Tamil gags, but his comic delivery just makes it work, and Rajnikanth naturally also has great timing - the two work magnificently together and the comedy bits were some of the best I've seen in a while.

One may always disagree with the message and the politics of Shankar films (at least those were he has a clear social message), but the man is optimistic and that's admirable. Too bad there is no character such as Sivaji to make India better a country; but perhaps part of the point is to raise awareness of possible Sivajis - that somebody, anybody could take action in the right direction.

My main complaint and the reason Anniyan remains my favourite Shankar movie is that while a lot of things about Sivaji are excellent, the whole lacks something. The over-three-hour film starts to drag at times, and the villain is super-boring. The last hour delivers a few twists to the story, and awesome action, but I was only really engrossed in the songs at that point. The romance could also be tons better, but then, perhaps at this point all of Rajni's on-screen pairings will suffer from lack of believability.

If you want to see what Shahrukh's OSO Rajni-impression was based on, this is certainly one insanely glorious way to educate yourself. (Though I would also recommend Muthu, the first Rajni film I saw.)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Top five Hindi film heroines (to me).

I set out to do a Top Ten but didn't get far with it, hence a top five instead. Maybe it's because the standard for my favourite Hindi film heroines (as in, characters, not actresses) is quite high. It needs to be a good performance, a memorable character and above all, I feel like the heroine needs to shine brighter than the hero, which is a very difficult thing to achieve in movies that have been male-focused for the past three or four decades. If I brought down my standards, I might have a Top Ten. (Also, quite often the most interesting female roles aren't starring roles at all.)

Screencap from MariaKaefer.
Basanti from Sholay

A huge part of why I love Hema Malini today is her portrayal of Basanti, the chatterbox tongawalli and her mare Dhanno. It was really love at first sight, I had just finished marvelling at the combination of comedy (jailer!) and action (on a train!) of the movie, and then in walks this girl, and Veeru makes a move on her, and Jai acts indifferent, and she just keeps talking. I just loved her. She's just a burst of energy on-screen and always a pleasure to watch. While she has her share of typical damsel-in-distress moments, her spunk in general makes her stand out as one of the best things about the legendary film.

Geet from Jab We Met

The character of Geet owes to Hindi film's previous spunky heroines but the reason she's so great is because, well, she's one of those spunky heroines! They aren't too many, let me remind you. Film scripts sometimes tend to not give heroines any personality but this is not the case with Jab We Met, where the romance and characters are above all well-written, and Geet is absolute brimming with personality and character. She's lively and fun and talkative, with a strong sense of who she is, which is exactly why Shahid's Aditya falls in love with her, and most of the viewers do, too.

Sarika from Ek Hasina Thi

Yeah, I realize it's not a very typical masala feature, this one, so of course it will have a meatier, more interesting heroine role. But there are plenty of movies like that, and the reason I pick Sarika out of all of them is simple: a lot of such movies are good for a watch or two, but not many of such heroines have stayed with me the way Sarika and Urmila Matondkar in the role have. Sarika is many things; she starts out a slightly scared urban woman living alone, but develops into a dangerous lady who is afraid of little, extremely cunning and a little unbalanced, too. I love watching her journey, as awful as it is, over and over again, because she comes out on top, and that's what really counts.

Rhea from Hum Tum

The great thing about Kunal Kohli's two recent films - to be honest, my memories of Mujhe Dosti Karoge are vague - is that he always seems to give his heroines a choice. Rhea is a good example of a heroine whose choices dictate the entire story. She doesn't give the hero a time of the day until he grows up and learns some respect. She has a career, and she marries a guy out of love. She refuses to re-marry despite people pressuring her to do so. Overall, Rhea is a true individual, who thinks and decides for herself, and that's what really makes her awesome.

Geeta from Seeta Aur Geeta

Our second Geeta, who the first one owes a fair amount to. Geeta is the heroine who will raise hell when she sees injustice, and it's really very satisfying to see her do it - verbally, physically, she has the guts and the attitude to deliver in both ways. If Basanti was who made me curious about Hema Malini, the roles of Seeta and Geeta are what sealed the deal of her as a favourite. As most Hema roles are more Seeta than Geeta, I really cherish Geeta and Basanti as performances, not just because they were the first times I saw her in films, but also because they're really special, even considering the whole of her career. And as awesome, spunky heroines go, well worth the hype.

I leave you with an awesome Geeta fanvid to "These Boots Are Made For Walking" that I found on youtube just tonight.

So ..who are yours?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Introducing Sakshay, part II: Aarzoo

As my selected order for the Sakshay movie posts in this blog go, it's from bad to ...slightly less bad. Aarzoo (title means desire, mostly referring to the desire you have to get those hours of your life back after you finish watching) is a most typical love triangle with some frankly stupid twists thrown in. It's like the first Sakshay film, Yeh Dillagi, only completely devoid of anything making it worth watching.

Madhuri plays a lovely girl who loves Akshay who loves Saif. Just kidding. Saif pines after Madhuri, as well. And boy how he pines. He's simply the most emo, pathetic little Madhuri fanboy in this movie, who writes a diary about how much he likes her. But she likes Akshay, and then things go really bad, and then there is a twist and then there's intermission, and then there's another twist and then .. well, do you really care?

The dynamic as love rivals is not very fruitful in this movie for our guys and Madhuri, as lovely as she is, doesn't lift the film to greater heights, either. There is a tribute scene to Main Khiladi Tu Anari, the One Sakshay Film To Rule Them All, but it's so shoddily executed I weep.

Here's a scene where hair continuity error works for Saif's benefit. No mullet! (The film was made in 2000, aka the year of mullet transition.) There is also a song in the film where Madhuri sings and fantasizes Saif with more wind machine than probably legal in most countries, but I just ..don't warm up to this movie.

It's not devastatingly bad, has its "so bad it's kind of amusing!" moments but nothing makes it stand out, and nothing makes me want to recommend it to anybody outside the diehard Sakshay completists. So that's, um, basically just me.