Thursday, January 28, 2010

Delicious Thursday sundry.

1. Siddharth, a gift that keeps on giving in the form of a young man hailing from Tamil Nadu, has awarded us, his international fans, an amazing opportunity. According to his Twitter, Striker, his new Hindi feature film, is going to be available on youtube on the day of its theatrical release. With subtitles.

Apparently Indian netizens and American ones won't have the benefit of this precious treat, thanks to the movie appearing on their screens in actual theaters, but we Euros do and let me tell you on the behalf of this great continent: we are romba santosh (that is, very happy). Oh and Americans have to cough up a few bucks to view it, I hear, so they'll still be able to view it.

I have no idea how the thing will work in practise but February 5th is the date this movie hits screens, online and off, and I am marking my calendar with a big heart-shaped circle.

Hence excited capital letters: HOLY CRAP HOW AWESOME IS THIS I CAN'T HANDLE IT AT ALL.

2. Yahoo! Mail and its Citibank advertising banner thinks I'm an NRI and hence worth appealling to with this:

I like Saif. I'm fine with Bipasha. But you cannot, and WILL NOT entice me to apply for a checking account for a free download of Race. That movie is no-go.

3. The above Siddharth screencap is from Oy, which I'll review shortly now that I have screencaps. You know what I really enjoy about Bhavani DVD's releases? Sure I have to jump through monetary hoops to get to them, but in return I get no annoying anti-piracy ads and this:

See, this is what all those Western DVD makers haven't realized. You can't put anti-piracy ads on a legal DVD. That's a turn-off. Why not instead thank us for supporting the legal product?

This feels like a good time to link to two things:

Memsaab's brilliant Indian DVD rant

Adam Buxton's (British comedian) hilarious song about piracy

4. Has anybody read Pran's biography simplistically titled ..And Pran - A Biography? I kind of want to read but am hesitant to order it as I've never tried to track down Indian books from unknown Indian sites.

And while we're at it, any Hindi/Tamil/Telugu film related recommended reading in book form? I have Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief (brilliant overall look at the industry and making of Omkara, essentially) and Maximum City (on all aspects of Bombay/Mumbai, fascinating read) already.

5. Don't forget the poll!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Poll time! Which film should I review bilingually?

I'm going to let this pretty picture of Sonam Kapoor entice you all to vote in this poll (which I hope works - first time I'm using PollDaddy).

For a while now I've been thinking about doing a multilingual review because I sometimes wonder how it affects my Finnish that I'm constantly reviewing movies in English but rarely discuss them at length in Finnish. I could throw in reviews in other languages which I sort of know but am not fluent in (like Swedish, German) but I figured I'd better stick to the languages I really know. The idea is to write in Finnish and then do an accurate, close English translation.

This is more of a personal exercise in vanity but I'd figured I'd test out this poll thingy and also let you affect what you see in this space a bit. So go vote!

Poll ends on Feb 1st. Results are secret 'til then, to maintain the surprise. ;D

Monday, January 25, 2010

Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd - fluff and then some.

I love a good film with a big cast, but it's often sad to admit that the bigger the gallery of characters, the tougher it is to keep the film solid in every aspect. I liked Salaam-e-Ishq but there were definitely problems with some of the characters not getting their story properly told, or some characters feeling a bit redundant. With Honeymoon Travels, you can see a lot of care was put into the script and the story, making all of the couples stand out in their own way, their stories told very neatly. Unfortunately, some of the performances are lacking.

Six couples travel to Goa for a group trip honeymoon. The couples are all young, with the exception of Naheed (Shabana Azmi) and Oscar (Boman Irani), who are in the "second inning" (wahey cricket terminology!) of their lives.

Not all couples are happily in love. Hitesh (Ranvir Shorey) and Shilpa (Diya Mirza) were arranged, and especially Shilpa has a tough time adjusting to married life.

Others couldn't be happier, like Partho (Kay Kay Menon) and Milly (Raima Sen), a more traditional couple, or...

..the absolute adorable Aspi (Abhay Deol) and Zara (Minissha Lamba), who are in harmony with one another to the point of the absurd.

It took me a long while to watch this movie. I always meant to, as it looked like a servicable little film, the cast was interesting enough (no huge favourites but people I always enjoy seeing more of), and Carla of FilmiGeek loved it. When I finally watched it, I was glad. It's definitely a lovely film, flaws and all. It has those edges of realism, and of fantasy, and overall it's a fluffy, yet grounded film about love. Sometimes I have a hard time pinning down what a director was attempting to do with a film - here, I think I completely understood director Reema Kagti's vision (yes, female director; not something you see every day).

The soundtrack is nothing too memorable but very nice all the same, and I really warmed toward some of the characters. They all get their story told, and I really appreciated that. In fact, I was disappointed when the film ended. I would've gladly watched about 30, 40 or even 50 minutes of their escapades in love and life.

So now the flaws. I've talked about gay representation in Bollywood before, and I have to say, Honeymoon Travels has a definite "close but not cigar" moment with this. The gay storyline is nothing amazing, but it's pretty believable and not all that badly written. The problem? The actors involved absolutely suck. I mean, goodness gracious. Okay, in a cast with Boman, Kay Kay and Shabana, it's not easy to come out on top, but when Ameesha Patel and even Diya Mirza out-act you, you're not cut out for the job.

Yes, Ameesha is actually good in this. She plays the bubbly, spoiled, oblivious Pinky to perfection, actually making the character very likable.

But watching this movie, and this dreadfully acted gay storyline, I couldn't help but wonder if it was a simple case of stigma being too great to get somebody of actual talent. Like the moment you mention that the role is not 100% heterosexual, the pool of talent slims down to almost nothing, you take your pick, and end up with nothing as good as you might've hoped.

And that? Is a real shame.

My favourite couple is without a doubt Partho and Milly, because their journey is interesting and heart-warming, and because I unabashedly girlcrush Raima Sen. The other stand-outs are Naheed and Oscar (with her teaching him Urdu, and their memorable backstory) and Aspi and Zara (with their cutesyness and secrets).

Would I recommend it? Absolutely. It's fluff, but it's also a bit more, and I'm willing to forgive its flaws for the sheer watchability. Sometimes the films you find yourself wanting to rewatch are far, far from perfect. This is one of those cases.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thoughts on awards, functions and what any of it means.

Sorry for blog silence. University stress hit me like a ton of bricks and my head hasn't been in the right place for Indian film watching/pondering. Except now. Thanks for the overwhelming response to the celeb Tweet posts, I promise I'll try to do more in the future.

So news hit today of various National Award winners and though I haven't seen that much response coming from people who enjoy Bollywood, there is some, and it is somewhat puzzled. People are used to thinking of Filmfare, Stardust etc as fluffy award ceremonies - watched for the stars, the performances, the red carpet photos and acceptance speeches. Nobody is necessarily under any illusion that the best movie will win, or the best actor, or indeed anybody. And yet the consensus seems to also be that it's nice to see your favourite films get a bit of honor.

National Awards is a different ballgame. This is the respectable, considered stuff. This is the stuff some Malayalam film you've never heard of wins. This is the awards Shyam Benegal has piles of in his cupboards. This is the awards that truly seems to look at Indian cinema at a whole; all industries. Therefore the winners are typically from Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali.. the biggest non-Hindi industries, with the occasional Hindi winner here and there (for example, the category for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment is pretty much always a Hindi film). The winers are typically from alternative, more arthouse cinema.

The reason I lay down these basics is that it seems some people are puzzled and a bit miffed that Priyanka Chopra got the Best Actress Award for Fashion. It does seem a bit odd. If they are looking at all 2008 Indian films, it would seem odd that Priyanka Chopra's, whose skills have frankly never really impressed me, rates above all of them. I haven't seen Fashion, but even so. I'm not against her winning; I just find it somewhat surprising.

With that said, I'm stuck because I keep landing on the question; does it matter?

The pictures in this post are of past National Award winners (none in the films their won for). Vikram won Best Actor for Pithamagan in 2004 and the next year, Saif Ali Khan won the same award for .. wait for it ... Hum Tum. Shabana Azmi has won Best Actress more times than I can count.

Vikram I'll honestly agree with, because I think even if I distanced myself from my insane love for his masala fare, the step he took as an actor in Pithamagan and Bala's direction complementing it is well enough. Saif's an odd choice. Especially for Hum Tum. I mean, I love him and I adore the movie - it's among my most rewatched Bollywood flicks of all time - but ...a National Award? In the same year he had Ek Hasina Thi? Oh, if only they'd known to wait for Omkara..

So there have definitely been quizzical choices in the past. And I'm sure every time somebody you've seen in a movie that didn't blow you away will grab one of these, it'll be a bone of contention. If it's a Southie flick you've never heard of, you're not likely to argue the issue, right?

But as I asked before, does it really matter, what wins and what doesn't? Be it National Awards, Filmfare, Stardust or Na-real? The more the global media is getting psyched about the Oscars and whether Avatar (ugh let's not go there again) will sweep it, the less I realize I genuinely care. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love some Oscar-winning films a ton. And sometimes those awards, be they from European movie festivals, Indian award ceremonies or the Oscars, make me appreciate the films I love even more. But in general, I don't really care. I rarely end up watching the Oscar-winning films. I don't necessarily even bother to keep up with what's winning what on the Bolly side of things.

What makes a film stand the test of time? I mean, we forget about stuff all the time, because there's only so many things you can remember. I suppose the worst thing for a film is not necessarily to bomb in the box office or not win any awards, but to be forgotten in the public consciousness. Not be remembered as a film worth watching, or simply not remembered at all. I remember looking through the list of past Filmfare winners and noticed some films I'd never even heard of. Consider for example, Be-Imaan, which swept the Filmfares in 1972. You seen it? You heard of it? '72 being the year of such films as Seeta aur Geeta and Pakeezah. How come those two are much more well-known and watched than this award-winner (as far as I know anyway)?

I don't know, how do you feel about this? Do awards matter in the long run? Or are they just good for entertainment, a bit of TV programming with stars, glitz and filmi jokes? What truly makes a film classic, one people will remember decades from now?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snarking star Tweets - the lazy person's blogfiller.

My choice with the picture for this post went something like this, "Oh if Bollywood stars had their own exclusive Twitter site, it should called be Sheroo for the falcon in Dharam-Veer or the pidgeon from Maine Pyaar Kiya. But dammit, I don't have a screencap of either. Oh well. Have a screencap of foxy Zeenat Aman."

Celebrity tweets. We all follow them, we rarely get anything too satisfying out of them. But since my post on Uday Chopra was so successful, I decided to weed through them anyway for some wisdom. Or pseudo-wisdom. Or whatever.

1. Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth)

I love the heckins out of Siddhu (who on Twitter corrected the world he has no last name, so the whole Narayan meme is false and not to be used) but sometimes his idle tweet-sized thoughts, like those of many celebs, make me think they should learn how to blog before they tweet. Short thoughts are fine, but tend to need expanding on.

Please don't run through life. Stop to smell the flowers. Sometimes they have no scent, but mostly, smelling flowers is fruitful... Jan 2010

I know this is just an old riff on "Carpe diem", the classic, but really now. Smelling flowers is the least fruitful thing you can do. And as for flowers having no scent? Then they're fake and obviously not worth sniffing! Go, run, do whatever you must! No wonder actors are late for shoots..

If something is worth fighting for, I stop analyzing and go for it. I can't play games. I'm tired of being told what to do. Enough nonsense! Jan 2010

This is exactly what I mean. So much to process. We have no idea what "it" is that's worth fighting for and going for it. Why would you analyze if you know something is worth fighting for anyway? What can't of games can't he play? Mind-games? Games of social rules? He's tired of being told what to do. By whom? Being told what to do is your job, yaar. Unless he is talking about something personal, in which case very well, I think I saw a movie like this once. Or is he talking generally, tired of being told what to do, period? What? What is nonsense? The games? Being told what to do? Everything that's not fighting for? If I were to summarize each of my longer posts in 140 characters, they'd come out looking like this. Enough nonsense!

The rest of his tweets are very mundane, promoting his new Hindi release Striker and otherwise sweet. So moving on.

2. Shahrukh Khan (@iamsrk)

I think this guy's been in some movies so I thought I'd take a look at his Twitter.

do u think of the future.not like the future tomorrow and what u will have for breakfast. but the long term view & how the world will change - Jan 2010

Dude starts off light. Just a little bit of future speculation, quoting George Carlin in the mix. I'm a wild child, Shahrukh. I don't even think about what I'll have for breakfast. I don't stop to smell the flowers, I grab them as I run. Anarchy!

then the low fat fad followed. low fat yogurt. ok.low fat cheese..makes sense...but low fat butter and then low fat celery?how low can u go! - Jan 2010

I enjoy a bit of low fat gravel. (But seriously, I chuckled at this entry.)

COME 2 THE v cannot v r afraid COME 2 THE v cannot v will fall COME 2 THE EDGE..they came & he pushed them..and they FLEW! - Jan 2010

An anonymous poem recited by him ...on Twitter. New media, meet old media. Old media, prepare to get absolutely slaughtered. I want to pat this poor poem's head. And it ain't SRK's fault but man, don't recite poetry in 140 characters. C'mon man!

3. Abhishek Bachchan (@juniorbachchan)

Typo AGAIN!! Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.

I have finally found my traffic song..... "Move b?#*@ get out the way" - mystikal and ludacris. MINDBLOWING!

Naughty by nature- hip hop hurray!!! Heyyyy, hoooo, heyyyy, hoooo

Yes! Coffee consumed! Feeling like leo in titanic (before it sank)!! KING OF THE WORLD!..ok just met dad. Back to pauper status! Ahh life.

I have nothing to say, apart from how I wish I had Abhishek's sexcellent taste in hiphop and even just a quarter of his joy d'vivre.

4. Riteish Deshmukh (@Riteishd)

Earlier NEWS was printed in lines, today papers print LINES that eventually become NEWS - Jan 2010

Wow, deep, bro. Except ... wait, what?

Which film are you most excited to watch IRONMAN 2 or SHREK 4 - Jan 2010

'Cause they have so much in common, like ... the ... thing with the .. uhh .. number in the title? And they're .. both in English? Oh man, battle of the century. It's on now!

One thing that strikes me as a go through Riteish's twitter is that I've got nothing against the dude, but as I read his twitter, it's just so magnificently boring. He does actually have some - short - commentary on what he reads in the papers and the films he watches but in general none of it is snark-worthy. Sigh.

5. Lara Dutta (@DuttaLara)

It took 250 million dollars to make AVATAR. Its a HUGE deal if a movie is made for even 25 million in India! We r a long way from an AVATAR! - Dec 2009

I can't really snark this tweet because it just annoyed me when I read it (though I typically enjoy following Lara's tweets, which are never stupid or even incredibly dull) and even more after I actually saw Avatar. Bigger isn't better. Even most Hollywood films can't reach Avatar's insane budget. Or the crappy, clich├ęd storyline. If a measure of a movie is really how much money is spent on it, it's a sad, sad state of things. Here's an idea; make a movie that's good with less moolah, make your money back easier, and everybody benefits.

Dear Every Celebrity on Twitter,

We get it's cool that people are supporting you. It's wondrous to be a filmstar and get to interact we fans. We get you want to be grateful. But for god's sake, step it up. Everytime you begin typing "thank you", stop, and type something else. Type a song lyric. Type a half-assed quote. Type a piece of wisdom, even if it's "food is for babies". Anything.

Do it for your followers. But most importantly, do it for me. I quite like doing these posts.

With love, affection, and anticipation for all your releases, no, really, I'm not being sarcastic ...or am I?

Veracious (@veraciously), of

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ten quotes from Uday Chopra.

Oh, Uday Chopra.

I'm going to devote an entry to Uday Chopra, because nobody else will. I can understand why, as can anybody with eyes and ration of a regular human being. Uday Chopra is the epitome of nepotism; he's not particularly talented, attractive or worth our attention, and yet he has a film career. Not a career worth boasting about, I should add. Nobody's writing scripts with him in mind, at least outside YRF offices.

But who knows, maybe times will change. Maybe he'll land himself in an artsy regional film next year and get himself a National Award. Maybe ten years from now we'll remember Aamir Khan as a silly chocolate hero who did some "thoughtful" movies and Uday Chopra as the Guru Dutt of our times.

Maybe once I finish typing this post, Amar, Akbar and Anthony will knock on my door and we'll all sit in my room and discuss modern religion over cups of steaming chai. Maybe unicorns are born from strawberries.

Let's dive in deep to the magnificent mind of Uday Chopra. None of the quotes are altered, in punctuation or spelling or stupidity.

(I understand this is a pretty meanspirited post towards a dude who probably knows he's not exactly popular. It's a bit of kicking a man when he's down. But it also makes a point that there's something wrong with the system, if it benefits the people who don't have the chops to do this thing.)

1. "Your star sign: Capricorn - however I don't like being a Capricorn - I would prefer to be an Scorpio - infact I decided to change my birthday from 5th Jan to 5th Nov to be a Scorpio - I just love the traits of being a Scorpio - they can be mean and have a sting - Qualities that I think are very attractive."

From his website, under "Trivia". I bet he'd find this post attractive! And honestly, I know astrology is big in India and everything, but isn't the whole idea of it that stars determine YOUR character, not that you determine your stars in order to have a more interesting personality?

2. "For ages Indian youth has been repressing his sexual desires and that's why the crime rates are so high. In Scandinavia, the crime rate is zero per cent because they are free and liberated."

From an interview in The Hindu, December 2005. Probably his most quoted slice of brilliance, one he probably regrets the most, if he is at all aware of its quotedness. Won't even begin to pick this one apart, it's too easy to.

3. "Sleep is for the weak, food is for babies, and happiness for women.. Real men don't need any of it.. I knw..I dis is who I am 2 day"

From his twitter, December 2009. Just ...WHAT. I'm pretty sure sleep and food are some of the things everybody needs to survive. Stop crying, emo kid.

"Your favourite bedroom line - Leave the light on"

From his website, under "Trivia". Just reading this fills me with discomfort and strange horror.

5. "Yup I spoke French, actually I'm half French from my imaginary mothers side..she's from Lyon..makes killer potatoes :))))"

From his twitter, November 2009. WTF WTF WTF. Overall I'm really resenting the obnoxious use of foreign languages in his tweets. Graituitous and show-offy. If you have such an expertise of languages, why don't you make use of that education in something worthwhile? You horrible child of privilege.

And really, who has imaginary parents? Isn't that kind of insulting? Fake-pretend-boyfriends are one thing but imaginary French mothers .. just .. I can't even process it.

6. Most unbelievable quote ABOUT Uday Chopra: "After three years and three films down the line, he has created a niche for himself in Bollywood."

From BBC Shropshire in 2003 (I know, BBC Shropshire wtf?), regarding release of Supari. No, he has not. Six years later, he *has not*. Six years from now, he'll still be unlikely to have a niche for himself. I'll deep-fry my sock the day Uday Chopra has a niche for himself.

7. "
Mondays are so strange! it's like everything resets itself on Monday and then continues again. Like an unending loop that just keeps going"

From his twitter, November 2009. Yeah, it's like there's a unit of time and when that unit of time ends, there's like, another unit of time that's exactly the same length of time. It's so weird!

8. "
Thought for today - "There is no spoon"...let me know if anyone gets it :-)"

From his twitter, October 2009. No, nobody is likely to get that, considering what an obscure forgotten indie film The Matrix was. In the words of Keanu Reeves, "Whoa."

9. "Favourite colour - Blue but I like Red better"

From his website, under "Trivia". I'm sure Green's kicking himself right now. Also, I think the very definition of "favourite" demands that you don't like something better than your favourite.

10. "I Confess - I´m weird"

From his website, under "Trivia". I concur.

I suppose you might want to want to know how many Uday Chopra movies I've seen. The answer? Enough. But I suppose, looking at this positively, it's not like he's in such high demand that he'd be taking roles from better actors.

Why did I type this post? More to the point, why did I research it? Back to waiting for unicorns to grow out of my frozen strawberries.

Happy 2010. You too, Uday. Kind of..?