Saturday, August 30, 2008

Introducing .. the best movie ever! Main Khiladi Tu Anari.

I'm going to be moving which means a blogging pause for exactly how long, I'm not sure. To bear you over this terrible time, I thought I'd
a) finish up the Introducing Sakshay series
b) plug my favourite bad movie
and c) picspam the best movie ever. 1

1 ..according to a youtube comment.

Main Khiladi Tu Anari - what is there to say about this brilliant piece of celluloid history. How to do justice to such a legend with mere words?

Perhaps in order to dissect this mythical creature we need to start with the basics.

Saif Ali Khan, in the most retrospectively ironic role perhaps ever, plays Deepak Kumar, a super-star who is sick of lover roles in romantic melodramas. He's looking for a role with edge, sensible movies, angry young man, or as he puts it here: "A storm!"

Just as he speaks those fateful words, who should walk in and by walk in I mean kick the door in and enter but Karan Joglekar (portrayed by none other than Akshay Kumar), a cop who is determined to fight crime, especially now that some crooks killed his brother (look, it's the plot reminding us of its existence! hello plot!). Karan happens to be exactly the kind of storm Deepak is looking to play, and impressed with what he sees, he strikes a deal with Karan's boss to tail the badass cop in order to learn some style from him.

I know, method actors in Bollywood, how outrageous is that? But bear with me, the beautiful lack of logic can only lead to good things.

Karan is not happy but agrees to let Deepak tail him on one condition; Deepak has to teach Basanti (Shilpa Shetty), a girl who dances on the street and looks after a bunch of orphans (why of course!), how to act like the night club dancer Mona, who worked alongside this bad guy before agreeing to testify against him, but of course the villain killed her and now Basanti magically appears and looks exactly like Mona. Phew. The complexity of this plot is mind-boggling, I'm telling you. So anyway! Deepak agrees, Basanti turns into Mona, Basanti gets to meet her orphans again and Deepak gets super-emotional like the girl that he is:

Heart-warming, hai na?

What follows is various scenes where Akki is a complete badass, and Saif is a total goof, and a bunch of really wtf-inducing weirdness (the romance in this film is ..well, let's just say the Saif-Akshay relationship is the most normal one in it). There is a lot of corny dance moves, and vague gayness and it all adds up to class A entertainment.

No one in this world should be so cynical as to not enjoy movies of this kind. MKTA practically defines "so-bad-it's-good" in my books. Of course, there can be arguments regarding on how great it would be if it was better, or had a little less WTF-ery, or contained a little more logic, but at the end of the day, it is what it is and what it is, is sheer genius.

You've got Saif in one of the few successful roles he had during the 90's, showing that the man did have a smidgeon of talent even back then; his comic timing is occasionally very good here. You've got Akshay in what is probably the best Khiladi role of them all, kicking ass and taking names, and then kicking ass with said list of names. You've got old-nose-Shilpa, delivering those gyrating-hips-type dance moves with the kind of grace you'd expect from a movie this subtle. Shakti Kapoor as the villain, Anu Malik in charge of the music and the singing on the absolutely worst Hinglish song ever, "My Adorable Darling", the list is as long as the crimes 90's Bollywood commited against humanity.

But of course, in here somewhere, there is a message, a profound teaching to the great masses, a story of love, and of friendship; a story of acceptance, and understanding; a story of how a badass and a wimp can join hands in holy celluloid matrimony ... but you know, even if there is no great message here to take home, you should watch this movie.

If you won't, I'll gladly watch it for you.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Stars and their number one fans, or: Goddess Zeenat.

A couple of weeks back I watched an early 80's Dharmendra film titled Krodhi, directed by Subhash Ghai. Dharmendra played a Don called Vicky in it, Zeenat Aman was his platonic assistant and Shashi Kapoor played a policeman trying to catch this master of disguises. However, instead of a fun masala fare, the movie ended up being Pran the Priest trying to convince Vicky of the inherent goodness within himself. Or something. Point being, it wasn't a very interesting movie, but Hema Malini had an interesting special appearance in it so perhaps I'll end up rewatching.

I also enjoyed one Shashi-Zeenat song immensely, so much so that I ended up uploading it on youtube.

It's a cute wedding song, where the two sing teasingly at one another. And this morning I found not one but SIX comments posted to the video, by somebody who appears to be Zeenat Aman's biggest fan.

Sample quotes:
The entire world of Bollywood is in one corner and Empress Zeenat Aman is in the other corner: Corner of the Mystical Goddess of Bollywood - always copied, replicated, envied, and imitated but NEVER repeated again!
I love this one:
Zeenat Aman: Queen-like entrance, queen-like glamour, queen-like beauty, queen-like high class, queen-like power & confidence, & queen-like magnificence!
She even played a queen in the fabulous Dharam-Veer (see picture in the beginning of the post)!
Shashi & Zeenat always had the most vibrant & energetic on screen chemistry & dynamic! Their interactions were always so playful, charming, funny, & almost child-like cute:) They actually enjoyed working with each other in real life (as Zeenat has stated on various occasions that he was extremely funny & witty to work with), & that great positive energy was totally visible on screen in all their films, as evident in this cute & playful number from "Krodhi"!
Good to know!
Zeenat's mere entry onto the screen or into a room would command everyone's full attention - effortlessly fabulous! No wonder Shashi looks in such complete "awe & adoration" upon seeing this wonder - who could resist "Venus" in front of their eyes?
Indeed, who could?

I love me some Zeenat, but I definitely pale in comparison with this fanatic, and I think all of my fanaticism does! Fans are a funny thing. Occasionally hardcore fans of a star annoy me immensely. For example, I cringe every time somebody mentions their favourite Bollywood actor is Shahrukh Khan and then they add "of course!". As if Shahrukh as your favourite is some sort of pre-set default for all fans of Hindi cinema and liking anybody else is an anomaly. On the other hand, I also like hardcore fans of stars - as long as devotion to some star stays positive and doesn't involve bashing star Y to heighten star X or similar phenomenons. These "Goddess Zeenat" comments in my inbox I merely found cute. It's lovely that the sex symbol of yesteryears still garners adoration from modern fans.

Of course, it does get a bit crazy with some diehard fans. I've seen claims that all films of some star are great and they're always, without a doubt, fantastic in them. This likening to gods and goddesses is also not unfamiliar. I suppose in a country where Amitabh Bachchan genuinely has a temple of his own, calling somebody a divine being wouldn't be that outrageous.

I couldn't seriously do it, though. I'm almost too critical of my favourite stars. Perhaps it's the fact that my biggest favourite is Saif Ali Khan, whose early career not only deserves an entry over at, but a failblog of its own. Sure, he's done some pretty good things during the last ten years and I love him for it, but even then I have complaints to voice. Poor Saif, he probably would deserve fans who posted essay-length comments about him on youtube and called him the Nawab of the Heavenly Realm or something, but instead he has fans who discuss his fitness program and make mean jokes about him over MSN (a shoutout to a fellow fan, she knows who she is). We mock because we love, really.

So what kind of a fanatic are you: the fault-finding, the extolling or the crazy?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Meri jaan ka soundtrack. Or something.

Tagged by Ramsu, I felt like I should give this a try. It might not always be very fitting because to be honest, at times I don't remember what lyrics of a certain song talk about specifically, and anyway, filmi songs portray a rather limited range of emotions. You've got joy, sadness, loneliness, love and intoxication..

Rules of the tag: Various situations are given. You have to come up with a song ( or a couple) that aptly describe those situations in YOUR life.

Opening credits: Endrendum punnagai from Alaipayuthey. I think the title and first line of the song means "forever smiling" which is a pretty damn cheery way to start the movie about my life, and that may not be completely accurate (I'm certainly not always smiling!) but it's a fun, youthful ARR tune, so why not?

Waking up: Athiri pathiri from Dum Dum Dum. Another Tamil song, whaddya know. It's a girly, energetic sort of song and "pathiri" sounds like "patteri", which is Finnish for "battery", and what more do you need in the mornings than some serious Duracell-type energy?

Average day: Dil chahta hai from Dil Chahta Hai. No, every day of my life isn't goofin' around Goa with two of my best friends (I wish!), but the mood of the song and the sort of lazy dreaminess of it fits my thoughts as I go through life.

First date: Dating from Boys. "Yeah, I can clearly see - dating is a fantasy!" I hardly remember what this silly Tamlish song is about, but I actually like Blaaze's rapping/singing, and I love the Boys soundtrack, and it fits, so this one.

Falling in love: I'm not at all sure how apt for my life this is but it's a song I've been digging a lot as of late so I'll say it: Dil deewana from Maine Pyar Kiya.

Love Scene: Roop tera mastana from Aradhana, or God could I be more of a cliché?

Fight Scene: Gore gore from Hum Tum. Get it? Get it? Okay, no seriously and leaving aside stupid puns, Maaro maaro from Bunny, a Telugu flick. The lyrics are more like "yay youth!" than "yay violence!" but I think it fits all the same.

Breaking up: New York nagaram from Jillendru Oru Kaadhal. I haven't seen the movie but the lyrics and tempo of the song seem to speak of this post-break up loneliness. Again, questionable aptness to my own life as I've never gone through a particularly painful break up.

Getting back together: ..or gotten back together with anybody! I'll say Tujhe dekha to from DDLJ.

Life's okay: Paathshala from Rang De Basanti.

Mental breakdown: Crazy kiya re from Dhoom 2. For one, listening to this too much will give me a mental breakdown. For two, well, CRAZY kiya re, hai na?

Driving: Babu samjho ishaare from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi. Complete with comedic noises and excellent Kishore singing, if I ever learn to drive, you'll hear this in my car all the time.

Learning a lesson: Ya rabba from Salaam-e-Ishq. This would be the humility after learning the lesson.

Deep thought: Piraiye piraiye from Pithamagan. I'm not sure if the lyrics suggest any sorts of thoughtfulness but that's the kind of thing I associate with the soundtrack and the movie itself.

Flashback: Maangalayam from Alaipayuthey. Because it ..flashes back to Endrendum punnagai! Isn't that clever?

Partying: Say na say na from Bluffmaster.

Happy dance: Beedi from Omkara. I know it's a raunchy song but it can also be happy, right?

Regretting: Haan ji haan from Seeta Aur Geeta - because isn't alcohol the easiest thing to regret?

Death scene: Mohabbat ki jhooti kahani from Mughal-e-Azam. Will my death be so full of suffering melodrama? Probably not, but it's a lovely song.

Closing credits: Of course, the current Indian film trends would dictate the closing credits song, not my actual life story or anything. It has to be a ridiculously mixed hiphop song of sorts, complete with English rap lyrics and the occasional Hindi verse thrown in! My current such favourite? Bhool bhulaiyaa from Bhool Bhulaiyaa - it's so bad and yet I love it so much. Also, it is somewhat a relief to know, for the audiences, that even once my life's tale has been brought to its end on-screen, there is still a world out there, and that world has Akshay Kumar, red convertibles and plenty of booty-shaking babes for him to place on top of that red convertible. You know? Life goes on, Khiladi style.

Tagging whoever has a blog, saw this, and thought "hey, that's neat!". Bonus points if, like me, you only use Indian film songs. Get to it!

So tell me, Guru...

The first time I saw Mani Ratnam's Guru, I was put off by the idolization the main character receives in the movie. He's a businessman making profit any means necessary, disregarding laws and regulations, and yet this corruptness is being redeemed. Some people shared my problem; others were fine with the message, and it seemed, so was the Indian public, whose consensus is usually shown at the box office. People on Bollywhat's discussion of the film pointed out how this really is admirable to the Indian people - knowing how bureaucracy and other regulations limit a person's possibilities to succeed and make money, Guru's ingenuity is not condemnable but admirable. These sort of opinions opened by my eyes to look at the film a little differently. Still, I remained unimpressed.

I liked the songs, though, so I bought the DVD and just today, after over a year, sat down to rewatch it.

Unsurprisingly the story failed to engage me to watch the film all the way through. I guess it's just simply not Mani's best, though I certainly like some things about it. Abhishek's performance is undoubtedly a strong one, and the songs are lovely.

Aishwarya is rarely this lively and convincing in a role, which I guess just proves she needs a good director to pull a performance out of her. The love story within the film is down to earth and portrays two people who love and support one another, simple as that.

But even with those factors, my favourite thing about the film is hands down the graituitous love story line between Vidya Balan's and Madhavan's characters. It's not crucial to the plot in any way - Vidya's character, the disabled Meenu, doesn't really exist for any other reason than to give Guru more human, sympathetic flavor (as she and him are friends throughout the years). Madhavan's Shyam Saxena is a young journalist looking to reveal Guru's business frauds to the great public and therefore an important character, but there's no real reason why he ends up developing a bond to Meenu.

And yet, there it is. An utterly perfect, swoonworthy little tale of romance amidst this otherwise pretty straight-forward dramatic biopic. It's in touch with realities, too, of course, but still rather sweetly so.

What about the moral message, then? To be honest, I don't know. It is what it is, I guess. If the system is rotten, should we obey the system's rules? On the other hand, neither the film or its hero is looking for things to change - as things are, so they will be, and the thing to do is to try to make the best of it. Even if that means going against the rules.

I just know this; despite the film's credits, it's far from being one of my favourites. Maybe the story of an Indian entrepeneur isn't something to interest me despite impressive cast & crew. Perhaps it's just something lacking in the script or the way the story develops.

And here's another thought that occurred to me while watching: maybe we just expect too much from Mani Ratnam these days. It seems like he's the resident Good Director around, and any project with him usually gets most Hindi film fans salivating at the promise of another great Mani Ratnam film. And while the man has undoubtedly been responsible for a lot of really good films in the past, I suppose it doesn't really help when everybody's expecting a new Dil Se or a new Iruvar at the least. Next time, let's remind ourselves of Guru and Yuva before seeing Mani-ji's next venture, okay? (I know I will.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My weekend with Akshay. Singh is Kinng & Bhool Bhulaiyaa.

It seems that the more I see of Akshay Kumar, the more I like him. When I came down with a slight fever and throat ache this weekend, I surrendered myself to the Awesome of the Khiladi while bed-bound and resting, and (partly due to my condition, I'm sure) the Khiladi did not disappoint.

Of course, a part of why I've begun to really appreciate Akshay is because it seems that the more popular he gets, the more his roles suit him as an actor. When sitting down with my (pirated, oh the shame!) copy of Singh Is Kinng, I had some reservations, though. Being respectful of minorities has never been Hindi films' greatest strength, and on top of that, haven't we seen enough films showcasing Punjabi pride by now?

Instead of Punjab glorification, the film turned out to be Vipul Shah's spin on Munnabhai-like philosophies. Akshay plays Happy Singh, a well-meaning but clumsy villager whose fellow men trick him to get him to leave the village - Happy has to travel to Australia to retrieve Lucky Singh (Sonu Sood) back to the village to meet his (supposedly) ill father. Lucky, however, has become the king to a happy bunch of goofy sardar mobsters in Australia and after some plot turns, Happy finds himself leading the gang himself - but with his own, unusual methods..

It's a given that these sort of films will include some of the vapidest stuff you'll ever see in your life, but the movie never seemed painfully idiotic on the whole. The film only really fails when you can see Aneez Bazmee, the director, going for the emotional, touching moments but doing it so heavy-handedly that it fails to move the viewer. Happy bringing out the good in criminals is somewhat heart-warming, though, and Akshay pulls the character off with sincerity so despite the missteps, the story of the film works as a whole.

As for other performances, most of them are very much two-note comic characters (fun enough to make you chuckle). Neha Dhupia stood out for me as the witty, gun-touting, filmi-crazed gangstress - I hope she gets more nice roles like this one. Katrina Kaif is very pretty, but still not a good actress. I can't put my finger on why her jodi with Akshay works nonetheless - it's either that they look good together (superficiality never goes out of style!) or that because they've done so many films together, she's learning to match him.

The soundtrack isn't very good, but being annoyingly Pritam, it's very catchy all the same. In other words, I've had "Tere or" stuck in my head all day, and that's only because I knew not to listen through that damn Snoop Dogg song (please let it be noted here that I am usually all for Hiphop Meets Bollywood type of musical expeditions - this time the song is awful, the video is awful, and everything about it is just not working).

Then I saw Bhool Bhulaiyaa. I usually do like to check out Southie originals to Bollywood remakes but this time, I hadn't had the chance to. I had seen some bits from Chandramukhi, the Tamil version. Thanks to this, I knew some details about the plot, but a testament to either my short memory or the movie's good narration, I didn't really think about those things until they revealed themselves in the film.

A young descendent of a royal family Siddharth (Shiney Ahuja) decides to live in the deserted mansion after his marriage to Avni (Vidya Balan). His family agrees to renovate the place, but the third floor remains locked up - it's believed to be haunted. Avni is curious about the rooms behind the locked doors, and Siddharth agrees to let her open them. Shortly afterwards, bad things begin to happen and Radha (Amisha Patel), Siddharth's childhood friend, is suspected of being possessed by a ghost. Two experts are called to aid - one Hindu priest, and one psychiatrist (Akshay Kumar).

Even without seeing the original films, I feel like I can safely assume Priyadarshan's direction squeezes only half of the potential the story has. And even that little makes for quite an entertaining film. Vidya Balan does a great job, and Akshay is in good form as the odd but clever psychiatrist Aditya (though the science in the film might be more than a bit fuzzy, but then, who's minding when Akshay gets to have lines like "I want to go beyond the limits of conventional psychology"?).

Some of the comedy interludes weren't integrated all that well but fun all the same, and while the soundtrack mostly relies on That One Song, it's overall on the harmless side (except for the catchy-as-hell "Hare ram, hare ram, hare krishna, hare ram" chant you hear on one of the tracks).

Actually, watching these two films nearly back-to-back, it almost felt like watching a TV show. Everybody Loves Akshay?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ten completely random Indian film related pictures off my hard drive.

...or a lazy person's guide to how to post something without actually posting much of anything.

Vinod Khanna as the angsty, manpained soldier in Gulzar's Achanak because Vinod Khanna is fiiiiine.

This is the sort of quality entertainment you will find in early Saif Ali Khan films. No, I didn't watch this one all the way through - just one song off a song DVD with all Saif song picturizations up until 2007. It's a gem, but among the pearls you will find. Well. This. (Don't ask me to look up what movie/song this is from. I couldn't bear it.)

Aamir's wife in DCH, in one of the Goa scenes (girl with glasses). Yeah, I'm a geek for picking up these things.

Rakesh Roshan in Inkaar. Nobody knows where Hrithik got those dancing genes from, because this man cannot move apart from this dance move, seen here. I swear to God.

Dharmendra sings to an elephant in the film Maa. I don't know how I end up watching movies like these, either.

"I like your style." "I like you."

(Dhoom 2, in case you didn't know.)

Pretty picture of Soha Ali Khan, even if she appears tired.

A screencap of Aamir Khan typing during his website's first live chat. He was so adorable, not a very fast typer but very focused. Plus I loved this hairstyle he had going at the time.

Perhaps my favourite Hum Tum promotional still.

This would be such an interesting jodi to witness on screen one day...

Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana - get it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Twenty-one going nine, that's me. Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic.

Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic is all of the following: an unapologetic children's movie, Sound of Music meets Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke meets supernatural, jam-packed with filmi philosophy and filmi religion (cheesy, but in the right mood, oddly touching), a wonderful Rani-run show, a CGI-infested and pastel coloured fluffball.

The plot goes something like, grumpy-looking Saif Ali Khan plays all-work-no-play millionaire Ranbir who doesn't know love (or any other human emotions, but inside is just dying for a hug) and happens to run over a couple with four children. In the weirdest filmi court decision to date, the judge orders Ranbir to look after the kids - he must not abuse them, if they're unhappy in any way, he goes to jail. The kids have revenge on the brain and so even though Ranbir tries to adjust and make the kids happy in his mansion of a house, everybody ends up miserable. Cue Rishi Kapoor the God (only in Kunal Kohli films!) who decides to send his favourite angel Geeta (Rani Mukherjee) to nanny the kids and spread some smiles around the house.

The kids are wonderful, and surprisingly good actors. There is room for improvement, of course, but I hope we hear about them again - especially the oldest kid, playing Vishasht, was convincing. I was dreading the whole kids' movie aspect of the film but ended up enjoying it regardless - the kids and their pranks, Geeta and her pranks, I was worried I would eventually lose sympathy for either or both, but I luckily never did.

This doesn't mean the plot doesn't have a few misteps - it does, and as usual, Americans actors bring down the "good acting index" of the film considerably. There's a lot of cheese to go around, some cutesy animated sequences and one nationalist notion in the song Beetey Kal Se but it's so non-militarist I can well agree to it (I also love the bit in the song where one of the girls asks, "But didi, are we all [ie. Indians] going forward or just some of us?" and Geeta replies, "Good question" and sings a verse about how progress isn't really progress if everybody isn't included - it's an unrealistic wish, perhaps, but it's important all the same).

Saif and Rani have a great chemistry, even before the relationship between their characters gets romantic. They just gel together so amazingly well, and yes, I say this as fully biased fan of both (and as somebody who loves Hum Tum). Rani's Geeta is definitely a show-stealing character, and she's the only actress who I would buy in such a role - Saif's Ranbir is less attention-grabbing, but he does a good job portraying the loveless businessman who is not all dead inside. There could've been better development for their eventual romantic connection, but the film is so obviously made with children in mind, I can't really blame it.

TPTM is a delightful movie, but not something I will rewatch endlessly; the caveat of being an adult watching a kids' film is ever-present. Regardless, for Rani's performance it's easily recommendable and as a fluffy, colourful film it's not the worst thing you could tune in on a rainy day. There's something about Geeta; she's a talkative, lively sort of female character you see every now and then in Hindi films and she's clearly manipulating the situation left and right, but in a way that doesn't bother me. Rani really sells the character, and even though I rolled my eyes at the pre-release promotional fuss about "the first angel in Hindi cinema!", I was charmed while watching.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Did you know 'veracious' means 'truthful'? Sachaa Jhutha.

This is an extremely tired, picture-focused review of a 70's Manmohan Desai film I watched and screencapped on Friday. Apologies in advance.

In Geva Color! Now there's something you don't see everyday.

Rajesh Khanna ...with Salman Kha-- no, wait, Rajesh Khanna again. This is Rajesh Khanna ka Don, except Don came out 8 years after Sachaa Jhutha, so I guess Don would be Amitabh Bachchan ka Sachaa Jhutha. You know the drill. One character honest, humble, kind of a simpleton but with a good heart, the second character evil and Westernized and evil.

Yes, you have seen this bit in Om Shanti Om. Instead of Deepika, we get Mumtaz shakin' it as she's undercover to catch the Bad Rajesh, being actually portrayed by the Good Rajesh character in this song. I'm not a huge fan of Rajesh, to watch anything with two of him expectedly somewhat bored me, but the film still has its moments; Rajesh as a villain was awesome, Mumtaz was cute, it is Manmohan Desai and of course..

Oh look, Vinod! Playing a cop also trying to nab Bad Rajesh.

Heart-shaped table!



I think that about covers everything I had to say here.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The best Bollywood-playing theater is in my head: or, Fantasy-casting.

I suspect I might have an overactive imagination but I haven't been able to contain this imagination on paper for years now. Instead what I do is think about things I would like to write, or see, or hear. Simply put, I fantasize.

One of my favourite things to fantasize, and I know I'm not the only one who does this so 'fess up people!, are Ideal Hindi Remakes of Non-Hindi Movies. Bollywood remakes and is inspired by and plain rips off on occasion (or depending on your definition, often) but of course, the real Bollywood remakes are often half-assed, low-budget, dumbed down or feature B-list stars. They'll be one of those unfunny Priyadarshan comedies or just generally something forgettable you wish they'd never done in the first place. You'll probably hate them if you liked the original film(s).

But the Ideal Remakes, oh my. It's every film geek's very own chance to be a film maker without all that fuss about working on the script, finding the money to make the film and well, without actually having to make the film. Because it's fantasy, and it's never going to happen, which of course guarantees the fact it stays perfect - unrealized, stored in your imagination.

It's a double-edged sword. On on hand, the likelihood of any of these happenings is ridiculously slim and if they did manage to make it, not with the exact cast I would've envisioned or they would just do a crappy job of it. On the other hand, I'd like nothing more than to see these turn into actual films.

I have plenty of these but two of them are special favourites.

1. Brokeback Bollywood

I can't remember how or when I thought of this but ever since I did, it made such perfect sense I couldn't stop thinking about it. Surely every film buff on the planet is familiar with the original movie, what with the coined phrases like "I wish I knew how to quit you" etc. Personally I thought it was a slightly slow film, but with some nice performances (I had a problem with how the romance progressed but you know, not having been a closeted homosexual in rural 1960's USA, I probably don't know how these things work).

For the desi remake, the choices are obvious: Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan.

Yeah, I said it. The two Khans who have never acted on the same screen I have fantasy-cast in a remake that India will probably not produce for the next 10 years or so (I mean heck, look how long it took Hollywood to make a commercial film centered around the subject). But think about it. Aamir as the silent, slightly stonefaced Ennis, whose expressions still tell a thousand words, and Shahrukh as the more extrovert Jack. The rest of the casting I haven't really thought through; what would really carry the movie is the acting of the two, and the imagery filled with mood. Somebody like Vishal Bharadwaj, accompanied by some brilliant South-Indian cinematographer might be just the thing.

Basically, I can't unthink it. And even then I haven't worked out how exactly the plot would play out, in what era etc.

2. Kiss Kiss B..ollywood?

I loved this movie when I first saw it, but my maybe third thought after finishing it was, "There should be a Sakshay remake of this, why isn't there one already?"

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is clever little black comedy that takes on the noir genre as well. It's written and directed by Shane Black and just chock-full of quotable one-liners and funny dialogues. The story kicks off when a small thief finds himself suddenly thrown into the world of Hollywood as an aspiring actor, taking lessons in spy-work from a gay private investigator. There's the girl who got away, and there's a body, and it's a really good movie which you ought to watch right now.

Saif of course would be the hopeless thief/actor and Akshay the private eye. The banter would just be to die for. The female role .. Vidya or Konkona, but I'd be willing to accept others. In the director's seat, well, Beth recently reviewed Johnny Gaddaar which I also liked a ton, so perhaps Sriram Raghavan would be perfect fit. He's huge on noir and I think he could extend his skills to not just thrillers but comedies as well. Who knows, could work.


But yes, these were mine. What would be your own "too good to be true - never going to happen" remakes?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'm a rat trapped. Elippathayam (aka The Rap Trap).

Elippathayam (The Rat Trap) is a Malayalam film from the early 1980's directed by the famous Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who is named the "true heir to Satyajit Ray", according to the DVD cover of the Region 2 DVD. The film is also one of the reasons I just don't watch art cinema all that often.

Gopalakrishnan is surely an accomplished director, and the film is certainly an accomplished one. Among its accolades is the British Film Institute's "Most Original and Imaginative Film shown at a National Film Theatre". What's so original about it, then?

The plot centers around a man called Unni, who lives with his sisters and is, quite frankly, a giant douchebag. Of course, the thing about art films is that you're not supposed to phrase a character's douchebaggery as such. I'm supposed to say, he is trapped in the metaphorical rat trap of the past, determined not to accept the fall of the feodalist system and rejecting the world around him that is getting on with the times. If this sounds original and imaginative, you know, that's because it probably is. But what you see on-screen is a coward of a man, treating his sisters and the rest of the world badly and eaten up by his own paranoia. And anyway, any philosophical conclusions I made of the film, the DVD cover already told me and the essay booklet inside the DVD clarified further. So it's not that I figured out the film - it figured out itself.

So I suppose this is where I'm going to drop a cliché on my innocent readers while addressing the movie: "it's not you, it's me". Because Elippathayam is not a bad art film - it's just one of those things that highlights to me why I personally don't really enjoy artsy films all that much. The film is ripe with symbolism and meaning that I probably wouldn't understand if I hadn't read the attached essay, or perhaps would've only picked up on a rewatch - a rewatch that might've never taken place as the film simply isn't encaging enough for me to return to.

It's a difficult topic. Does a movie have to result to low-brow antics in order to entertain me? I don't think so, nor do I consider myself a 'dumb' viewer. But this type of cinema, I guess it's just not for me. There is constantly this attached difficulty that the films aren't about the events that take place in them, but the themes and the meanings those themes take in the film. To discuss what happens in the movie is of secondary importance - the themes and messages are the priority, but I guess the metaphorical rat trap - aha! - is the fact that once you discuss the movie and reveal the themes and the treatment given to them by the director, you ultimately 'spoil' the movie to the person who hasn't seen it. But perhaps there is joy in the discovery of these things, even after you know about them. Like I said, it's just not my kind of cinema.

(This was, by the way, my first Malayalam film. I knew I should've started with something from the more commercial side...)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

It's the final countdown... my eventual properly thought out Maine Pyaar Kiya review, but I still wanted to type up some thoughts about it before I get on my own laptop, screencap and sit down to write the review it deserves.

So right now I have this much to say:

1. This is definitely my favourite Rajshri productions film so far. HAHK was alright, but lacked plot. Don't get me wrong, MPK did not have an ingenious plot to it, but it still had clear dramatic tensions from the get go. It was sweet but not vommit-inducing like HSSH and its 'traditional heroine' didn't annoy me at all (unlike in Vivah).

2. Salman Khan is cute, but Bhagyashree is cuter. Sigh. Too bad for us filmi fans she ended up making the life decisions she made and chose family life over an acting career. (Unless you count the awful films she made with her husband.)

3. I never realized how much Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana borrowed from this movie! I still love the 2005 Telugu hit to death, and think it stands on its own, in a sort of fresh more modern spin on DDLJ/MPK but nevertheless, I now realize a lot was lifted from this film.

4. The songs! The songs! I have "Dil deewana" stuck in my head, I love the first song in all its cheese, and of course, the rooftop picturization that lifts from Europe's "Final Countdown", a hilarious hair metal song from way back when. There's nothing all that extraordinary about the songs but I still have a feeling I will be rewatching these a lot. Especially the Antakshari - great stuff.

5. No, it doesn't quite make my ultimate favourites list and for the first 40 minutes or so I was mainly just amused at the glorious 80's-ness of the film. Regardless, the love story was adorable and it was entertaining, so I liked it enough. One thing that struck me was the fact nobody had previously hugely recommended this film to me. It pains me to think of all of those who foolishly watch Hum Saath-Saath Hain or some of this other modern overly sweet fluff rubbish and miss out on the slightly older goodness. So consider this request; look beyond the fashion and check out Maine Pyaar Kiya.

6. The buddypyaari between the fathers had me giggling more than once. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'..