Monday, March 29, 2010

A Total Newbie's Guide to Khanna-o-Rama.

Hi! So you just heard a bunch of us Bollybloggers are organizing a little thingymaroo called Khanna-o-Rama. And you want to participate, but you're not sure how.

Well. Here's how.

WHAT? Khanna-o-Rama, Khanna Week, Semi-organized Fan Enthusiasm Concentration with Focus on the Almighty Khannas ... a beloved brainchild has many names. Basically, it's a thing where we devote our blogs to one particular filmi topic and this time it's Khannas.

WHEN? May 3rd - May 9th, 2010.

WHICH KHANNAS? Good question! We are discriminating against many a Khanna but this funfest has zeroed in on three related Khannas for its focus - Vinod Khanna, Akshaye Khanna and Rahul Khanna.

...must you ask?

You can blog about that, then! In the world of Khanna, trust me, you have to appreciate the smaller roles because sometimes it's the best you can get.

Okay, person-I-imagined-to-write-this-entry-to, I will!

Vinod Khanna recommendations

Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) - Yeah, whatever, most have seen this. But if you haven't, well, it's a good time to do so and a perfect place to start! As Ness put it, Vinod is the Man in this one. And the film is good 70's masala fun with an all-star cast and well, it's a classic!

Meera (1979) - I'm pretty sure this was my first Vinod Khanna film and for that it holds a special place in my heart. This Gulzar-directed film is on the artsier, slower paced side, and tells the story of a Hindu saint Mirabai, who is devotedly in love with Krishna. Vinod plays her husband, tormented by his wife's love for the god. The visuals are lovely and I was just utterly captivated by both leads in this - Hema is striking and Vinod even better.

Parvarish (1977) - If my 70's week postmania on this movie didn't entice you to watch it yet, please give it a go for Khanna-o-rama. It's an excellent film, perfect Manmohan Desai masala with long-lost relatives and entertaining songs and wackiness and pathos, but it also has a great Vinod performance. He plays a character that's a hero and an anti-hero all at once and it's just good stuff.

Achanak (1973) - Another Gulzar film starring Vinod. This one is a strangely compact 96 minute long near-songless film that manages to simultanously be thought-provoking and pretty much perfect fangirl fodder all at once. The film raises questions about paradoxes of life, death and killing, and while it doesn't arrive at any amazing conclusions, it is interesting, Vinod's performance is good and I'd call it worth checking out. I intend to discuss this one pretty in-depth with spoilers (which I rarely do here) so I'd love to have others to ponder this film's messages with!

Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971) - If you have to watch Vinod as a super-evil Baddie McAwfulness, watch this one. Plus, it's educational! Mera Gaon is the clear predecessor to Sholay, in more than one trait, and Vinod's Jabbar may not be as legendary as Gabbar, but he is sort of disgustingly awesome nonetheless. And we get fun, young Dharmendra doing his thing. It's not an amazing movie, but it definitely is fun. I talk about the film more here.


These are all well worth considering, depending on your tastes and advancedness in Vinod-watching.

The Burning Train - Early 80's disaster film that has Vinod and everybody else. Seriously. It's a pretty good disaster movie and it's a solid masala film for one that takes place on a burning train. I loved the portrayal of marriage difficulties with Parveen Babi and Vinod's characters (but make no mistake - this is not a sad or a realistic film!).

Sacha-Jhuthaa - A Manmohan Desai-directed Rajesh Khanna film where Vinod plays a cop and Rajesh has a double role as a simpleton and a bad guy. Again, not amazing but thoroughly fun film. There's some Vinod but too little, though.

Patthar Aur Payal - Dharmendra and Hema star, Vinod plays baddie, but I remember the film being fun and Vinod being a pretty awesome baddie here.

99 / Wanted - Desire to keep it modern? Look now further than these two films from last year. 99 is a fun, fun, clever little comedy about the year 1999 and world of betting and scams. Vinod has a small but important role, Kunal Khemu, Cyrus Broacha, Boman Irani and Soha Ali Khan are the main leads. Wanted is an action entertainer in true Southie style (read: Hindi remake of one), starring Salman Khan, Ayesha Takia and Prakash Raj. Vinod again only has a small but equally pivotal role in this one.

THANKS. - You are most welcome, imaginary reader.

You know, considering how little I know and have seen, I'm going to let others handle this.. Akshaye's career is slim pickings as far as great films go, and Rahul I've only seen in Earth (good movie) and Wake Up Sid (good movie). I intend to mend this before Khanna Week hits, though.

WHAT NOW? Watch! Rewatch! Screencap! And prepare for the early May madness. See you then.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Finnish movie that should be an Indian film instead.

Recently I saw most of a Finnish oldie (Suomi-filmi) called Minä ja mieheni morsian (Me and my husband's bride) from 1955. While the movie's a remake of a 1936 film Mieheke (Pretend-husband, a thematic sequel to Vaimoke, Pretend-wife from the same year), in my understanding Mieheke never had songs, which Minä ja mieheni morsian really does. The plot is ripe for comedy of misunderstandings but I wasn't too fond of the movie. I'm guessing the original is a much, much better movie.

But as I was watching I couldn't help but think how awesome the film would be as a Bollywood film (because of the songs and the general comedic plot). If I had a time machine to make it in black-and-white or a 70's light comedic fare would be great (Rishi and Neetu would be just what the doctor ordered) but as I don't, I'm forced to recast with modern actors.

All Bollywood producers reading; technically you ought to credit Hilja Valtonen for the plot outline, but if you must, you can credit me for the free desified version. I accept PayPal and marriage proposals from Abhay Deol; no cash or credit cards, please. I've taken some creative liberties with the original film(s) and left a lot of plot details out.

Okay, so. A company called Malhotra and Son is hiring a new secretary. Knowing the frivolous nature of her husband and her son, the family matriarch Mrs Malhotra (Farida Jalal because this is a "tough mum" role to counterbalance all her "nice mum" roles) has decided that one of the secretary's qualities should be frumpiness. She's decided on a candidate, more or less, when in walks Sita (Sonam Kapoor) for her job interview. Mrs Malhotra is determined not to hire her because she's so beautiful (and thus would be perved on by Senior Malhotra-saab & hit on by Junior Malhotra-saab), until she hears that Sita, with excellent qualifications, is married - therefore unavailable to her to-be-boss' advances.

The problem is, Sita is not married - outside the company building she ran into the younger Malhotra, Prem (Neil Nitin Mukesh) who falls for her instantly. He tells her she won't get the job unless she says she's married, which Sita takes to heart, leading her to the lie.

Mrs Malhotra, however, insists to see Sita's husband, who Sita hastily lies is currently unemployed. Outside the company, Sita first tries to convince Prem to pose as her husband, but naturally Prem's mother wouldn't buy the lie at all. Sita lies her husband is inside a near-by restaurant, where she then asks the waiter for "Mr Sharma". The waiter tells her there are several Mr Sharma's currently seated in the restaurant, so she calls out the name and three men stand up. She eyes them in desperation and chooses to walk to the youngest, most handsome one, Santosh Sharma (Shahid Kapoor but lots of others could work in this role, basically anybody older than Sonam but younger than the close-to-or-over 40 batch of actors), an architect who also happens to be Prem's best friend.

Santosh is confused by the situation but goes along with it, seeing his friend's tough maa. Later in private, Sita thanks Santosh for going along with the act, but says she can spin a story about getting divorced so they don't have to pretend anymore. This is before they hear how much Mrs Malhotra disapproves of divorce, and so they're forced to continue with the charade, and eventually grow closer and more and more fond of each other. Sita works at the company while Prem, desperately in love with her, tries to convince Sita to date him instead of Santosh, but is too chicken to tell his mother about the fake marriage.

The plot thickens when news arrive that Santosh's fiancee Madhuri (Lara Dutta but my second choice Neha Dhupia would work splendidly as well), a successful singer, is returning to India after a long tour and is finally ready to settle down with him. Her arrival is highly publicized and a picture of her and Santosh is printed in the papers. Mrs Malhotra sees it and put on the spot, Sita lies that Madhuri is in fact Santosh's long-lost sister. A ton of comedic hijinks ensue while Sita and Santosh realize they love each other, try to keep their pretend-marriage together while working out of it to admit their true feelings to each other and the people around them!

If we must, there is a comedic plot strand involving Mr Malhotra Senior's brother who comes from another state and has a very down-to-earth, funky accent (in the Finnish original he was from Eastern Finland, in this ..Gurajat? Punjab?) and how he clashes with his sister-in-law (aka Mrs Malhotra). And if you so wish, there can be a secondary coupling where Madhuri is uncharacteristically taken in by the hapless Prem and they fall in love.

So.. Main aur Mera Pati ki Dulhan (direct translation of the Finnish original title), in theaters whenever somebody decides to make it & release it. Ball's in your court, Bollywood!

For more Finnish film blather check out: Finnish films that remind me of Indian films.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Paa - where even the skeptic in me goes, "Wow."

I had a lot of prejudice regarding Paa, for a lot of the obvious reasons. Amitabh Bachchan's acting skills are so praised that there seem to be no new height for things to be said about them to be reached. If everything he does is the best thing ever (aside from Aag) according to people then nothing he does is the best because there's nowhere for him to go. So there was a real sense of people appreciating him because he was taking this leap and because he was AB, not because
the performance was actually worth praising.

And of course, the gimmick of a father playing a son to his own son, and portraying a child with a genetic defect that allows some believability to that, it all just seemed like too much. I was really uncertain whether this movie was a victim of overhype, whether I'd find anything likable in it, just whether it'd work.

And then I saw it.

And it worked. It really worked.

Ramsu's review convinced me to put aside my prejudice and give this film a try, and I am so glad I did. It's been a while since I've been this affected by a movie. I was just so broken by every emotional cue the film gave me, constantly getting misty-eyed, and utterly in pieces during the final scenes. It was kind of ridiculous, but I also loved it. Sometimes a tear-jerker is just what I needed, and because bullshit family drama ala K3G does nothing to my tear-ducts, films like Paa are in high demand.

Vidya Balan broke me the most. There's just something so believable and captivating about her performance. She simply excels at playing these sort of very grounded characters, and of course she looked absolutely amazing. Abhishek wasn't far behind, though.

And then there's Amitabh. I could critisize certain visual aspects of Auro that don't necessarily make for the most realistic portrayal of somebody with Progeria, and the fact a tall man is tough to shrink down in size. And I could also talk about how the character has a bit of "noble sick person" syndrome happening. But you know what? I don't really care. I just bought it, and that's the chief victory of this performance.

The cinematography and editing were top notch, and even if there was a somewhat unnecessary side plot, it's safe to say I really enjoyed the emotional rollercoaster ride of Paa. Sometimes I guess I should believe the hype.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Another attempt to push 99 on people.

I uploaded the song that plays during credits of 99, previously discussed here. It's a cool song, has beautiful Sunidhi Chauhan vocals and it's just a fun way to wrap up the movie (no spoilers here!). I don't think I've seen Soha Ali Khan dance to a properly choreographed song before (she might've done some but not in films I've seen her in) and Kunal Khemu can move and even Boman Irani gets down a little. (To make the video quality better, select the 480p version.)

Just give this comedy a chance! It's good fun!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Brb twt snrkng!!!

Shahid, waist-deep in the waters of English spelling.

So I finally decided to check out the Twitter antics of Bollytwitterverse's worst spellers and began with Shahid Kapoor. His most recent tweet?

KEEP IT REAL - Well, how could I possibly argue with that?

i question everythin i do all the time kinda like did i do the right thig or not dnt know if tats gud or not - Typically, doing the right thing is good. But if you want to explore moral philosophy some more, I suggest a bit of James Mill and Immanuel Kant.

i really feel the strongest form of love is surrender although we all know most things r out of our control we still like to believe that - cont'd in another tweet - we r in control of our lives ....... we so arent man hahahaha its like a joke -- I take everything back. This man is already a bonafide philosopher. One of the greats. Or then he's a comedian. Or maybe he is both. What's up with airplane food?

U2 bono wat. Dude luv his music - KEEP IT REAL wat

wassup all i think the best times in life r those where u can just sit all alone do nothin think nothin n feel at peace with urself - I officially want to be inside Shahid's head. It seems like a very calm place to be. (I was going to say simple but that just sounds offensive.)

Man I sound like a philosophical buddha again ..... No no I'm actually this 29yr old brash cool dude who lives life on the edge n all ... - D'awww! Lead us to the light, Shahid. Lead us to the light.

so make the most of this life n be proud of everythin u have acheived big or small does not matter nite all luv luv n more luv - I would so buy a tape of Shahid Kapoor telling me life-affirming clichés about all the things I can achieve. I SO WOULD I'm not even kidding.

Expectation is the cause of all unhappiness ... Don't expect n u will b happy n grateful for everythin that comes ur way - If I could manage this I would give Kismat Konnection & Chance pe Dance a go.

Moving onto the other Spelling Offender, Genelia...

Hey tweeps.Thnx4al ur feedbck on my article.Im jst leavn 4shoot,shootn 4a golf scene,pretty mch d nly sport I havnt playd,excitd2try it thou - ...this is worse than I could've thought possible.

Fasting sure is difficult ya,hw do ppl esp women do it so regurlrly,bt al d same quite enjoyin d fact of keepin up2it or mayb its2early2tlk - I mean, I'm not sure I can do this.. It's like a code and since there's no war going on between Finland and Nation of Genelia, I have no patriotic obligation to cipher these messages, so I'm just not going to.


That concludes this edition of Snarking Bollycelebrity Tweets. Tak care n luv u all so v. much n hope2c u all wtchin mah ltst film n as my bahut pyaara dost @shahidkapoor wud say KEEP IT REAL n nite tweeple!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What if Rancho was Radhika? Genderswitching Indian films.

The recent hullabaloo regarding Disney's Rapunzel changing its title to Tangled (along with other changes) to attract boy viewers have made me think about gender in cinema and television, once again. When even Disney's dreamy princess fairytales (which have been critisized for providing regressive portrayals of gender; girls are there for boys to rescue) are being sold to attract boys, because apparently only boys matter as viewers, it's like, what gives?

This lead me to thinking about Hindi cinema, or most of what I've seen of Indian cinema on the whole, and how much of films are men's stories and purely men's stories. This is the sort of thing one comes to accept as a fact, so much that I tend to forget about it, and then I see something that is an exception and it's a jolt, a surprise. In Hollywood we've got problems of a different set; women directors not being taken seriously, thinking they can only make a certain genre, and female characters only on-screen to talk about men (see also: Bechdel test).

I look at my DVD shelf and do a count of films I own that could be considered women's stories; Seeta Aur Geeta, Meera (70's film), Aaja Naachle, Chak De India, Dor, Ek Hasina Thi, Dil Bole Hadippa (kind of? maybe?), Namastey London (again, kind of).

Then there are a bunch of romantic movies which I really enjoy, because the heroines in them are active and brilliant, and nicely fleshed out characters, like Hum Tum, Bunty Aur Babli, Jab We Met, Kaminey. Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic, which most people hated but I loved, could also be considered a semi-female-centric movie.

On the Southie side, I can't see much -- though I enjoy some characters a lot, like the spunky Jothika character in Dhool and Kaadhal's awesome heroine who actually pursues the hero and is not afraid to show her sexuality.

But why am I bringing this up? Because I like to play a game of genderswitch - "what if so and so film had female leads, not male ones?" Just like Ramesh Sippy did in the 70's, when he decided to remake Ram aur Shyam, not starring Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor or Amitabh Bachchan, but with Hema Malini as the twins. A good show of how this "what if" game can actually wield results. So let's get to it.

Dil Chahta Hai is the first one I've seen people long for - show girls having deep-rooted friendships, show them break up and make up, and find love and then rekindle their friendships with one another. The closest we ever got to this was Chak De India, a rare film where we see girls have the same epic, complex relations that are usually reserved for boys in films.

A genderswitch version of Dostana would probably be the boldest mass entertainer in recent years. Showing girls pretend to be lesbians because they like a guy they moved in with? This would be a much more interesting film than the actual Dostana, but also questionable - there's a lot of sexist and homophobic thinking out there that all lesbians need is a love of a man to make them straight (ugh). So perhaps it's best to change the ending somehow - maybe the girls really fall for each other, but being competitive as they are, they end up in a matchmaking competition, each trying to set up their male flatmate with a girl of their choice. Eventually the flatmate gets fed up with this, confronts them, the girls make up, and they continue living together in harmony. Happies ending!

3 Idiots is another obvious one; a movie centered around guys in an all-male institution, learning important, epic lessons about life and learning itself. A movie like this being genderswitched might result in some interesting discoveries about the value of female education (and how it is being consistently undervalued by some), parental pressures of a different sort (both to a career choice and to get married) etc. But at the core the message wouldn't change much - female students also need to begin realizing their full potential by going for what they desire in life, not what they are pushed towards.

Some movies would be so starkly different they wouldn't work on the same level. Consider for example any film where a hero goes through consider amount of violence. The heroine who could withstand that, fight back physically, and come out on top would be exceptional and that would change certain things about the movie. However, it's not impossible - Mumaith Khan and some other heroines have done full-on action roles in the South industries.

I'm not sure if I have a closing thought. I guess I wish somebody in current Indian cinema would do as Ramesh Sippy did; spin a male-centric story into a female-centric one, and make gold. But something's stopping them, and I am not interested in hearing excuses (it wouldn't make any money, none of the current crop of heroines are good enough, people go to see heroes, not heroines..), I just want to see the film happen. If you make a good enough film, it'll be a hit. But who's brave enough to make the effort and take that leap?

Here's to hoping somebody is.

[Ladies in this post; Jothika, Katrina Kaif in Namastey London, Hema Malini in Laal Patthar, Konkona Sen Sharma in Omkara, Vidya Balan in Guru.]

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ten reasons why aal izz well with 3 Idiots. (SPOILERS)

1. Get well soon, education system and students (and parents of students) of India. Just as with his previous films, with 3 Idiots (2009) Rajkumar Hirani manages to bring out a simple message and cushion his exploration with comedy, excellent performances. What emerges is a life-affirming comedy that has excellent pace, and not a single boring moment within it.

2. It's extremely relatable to those of us studying anything in an institution, even if it's the thing that we want to study. Hirani never takes the next step to ask, "But can I succeed in this thing that I enjoy?", success is taken for granted, but that's fine, because the core message is very important. I've read some people call the movie too sermonizing; I didn't think so at all. Though I do have some gripes..

3. Not a fan of toilet humor here (which there is plenty of), but even then I really enjoyed the comedy in this film. The laughs I get from the film are never belly-achingly riotous but just fun, cute and occasionally really clever.

4. I always knew Sharman Joshi was good but how good exactly surprised me in here. I like how his praying fervor is contrasted in his lack of faith in himself, his family and the pressures he puts on himself, and his acting in the jump scene.. heart-stopping. Wow.

5. I liked Aamir a lot, as I typically do, but I do wish Rancho had had a flaw or two, a setback of his own making. Or something like that. It's like Hirani forgot some of the best bits in LRM were the setbacks - and to see Munna emerge from them. Or better yet, give some of amazing Rancho's solutions to Farhan, who admires and learns a lot from Rancho. It'd make perfect sense.

But I did adore the twist a lot. I like the fact a boy assumed to be a millionaire's son is in fact that of a worker but later reaches those heights on his own.

6. The script was so polished and considered, it was great. The only scene where I began considering how it could've been done better is the baby delivery scene. Hirani on Beautiful People (first part here) said that he researched this scene thoroughly, and that's all fine enough, but something about the tone was still a little too unbelievable. Also, it bugged me the baby was not given to the mother after the birth..

6.5. The pre-interval twist with Javed Jaffrey!!! The ending twist!!! The kiss!! Such good stuff.

7. Kareena was in good form here. Even though ladies are always delegated to love interests in Hirani films, I enjoyed her character. Especially when she shows up drunk at the school's dormitory and when she reveals the truth about her brother's death to her father -- the latter scene made me tear up. Oh, and Zoobi Doobi! Funky song, loved it.

8. Ah, Maddy. (This is one of those films where the concentration of Veracious Favourites is so high I'm a tiny bit amazed.) I do wish the character had had more to do, but I liked him a lot all the same. Farhan spent most of the film being amazed by everything and anything Rancho did, but he also had chances to shine, like the scene where his father finally lets him do what he wants in life. I also like how convincing he actually was as a college student.

9. What I feel like is a great feat by any movie - overcoming prejudice of the viewer. I had prejudice about Aamir playing a college student (again) but even more I had prejudice about the phrase, "aal izz well". I'm not a fan of creative spelling, but even the spelling makes a point to me now that I know what kind of thought that phrase encapsulates. Spelling is a set of extra rules imposed on something that we all understand perfectly when spoken; whether written "is" or "izz", the phrase doesn't change meaning. So the spelling goes beyond convention but the meaning doesn't change -- in fact, knowing the context for this particular spelling, it only adds to the phrase.

10. Rajkumar Hirani films always seem to have this almost magical quality to them -- like they put their viewer back in touch with something you ever so often forget about yourself. Sure, they present "marshmallow philosophy" - sweet, soft, simple and melts when dropped into hot cocoa - and are very Chicken Soup for the Soul-like, but they're also an excellent pick-me-up and a way for me to check myself on my cynicism and lack of faith.

They are an excellent show that feel-good doesn't mean brainless, far from it. And that's why films like 3 Idiots are always in order.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ooi maa! Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani.

When making my Filmi year 2009 post I knew I had missed out on Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, a romantic comedy (with emphasis on comedy) by Rajkumar Santoshi. The man directed by favourite Hindi comedy of all time, Andaz Apna Apna (discussed here), and based on what I'd heard of APKGK, this new film was also in the same vein of loud, hilarious comedy, but with a definite emotional center, too.

I was not wrong, glad to say. The story of Prem (Ranbir Kapoor) who falls for Jenny (Katrina Kaif) and the friendship/love that develops between them is a wonderful, twisty ride that doesn't let up speed and builds to the goofiest, loveliest of finales.

For a comedy that relies on loud comedy which may come off as gimmicky or simplistic, I think Ajab Prem.. has a pretty fantastically considered script. The pace is not that of many a loud Hindi comedy (think Priyadarshan's half-assed Hindi ventures), fast one moment and completely stuck the other; it flows nicely throughout and it's punctuated with a super-catchy, wonderful soundtrack (Tu Jaane Na sung by Atif Aslam is my favourite track). Unlike AAA, it doesn't parody Hindi films as loudly, though there's the occasional self-referential quip, including some hilarious references to AAA itself.

This is the first time I've really loved Ranbir in a performance, which is not to say I've loathed him before, but like a lot of stars, I think it takes a while for one to "get" why others like him so much. And in this movie, I simply understood. Prem may be a simple character archetype; the nice guy who sacrifices and does anything and everything for love, but Ranbir makes Prem seem real somehow, even in the fantastic setting of Ajab. Katrina Kaif is also in good form, though her acting still has plenty of room for improvement.

The only flaw of Ajab is the fact that it won't work for everybody; just like AAA is too loud, too extreme to be funny to some people. But I think those who it will work for, it'll be a tremendous watch. The kind of Hindi film that should be a more common experience than it actually is; a film that makes you laugh and cry, and then laugh through the tears.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Poliisi on ystävämme - Saamy.

Harva elokuva alkaa niin loistavalla esimerkillä kuin tamilinkielinen perusmasala Saamy (2003), jossa pätkän päähenkilö (Vikram) raahautuu aamulla kaljakioskiin, josta hän ostaa yhden ison pullon ohrapirtelöä ja pesee sillä naamansa ja hampaansa. Sitten hän haukkaa aamupalaa sekoittamalla kaljaa idleihinsä (eteläintialaisia riisikakkujuttuja) ja uhoaa erinäisille ihmisille. [Very few movies begin with such a great example as the Tamil basic masala Saamy, where the main character (Vikram) drags himself in the morning to a beer-seller, where he buys a big bottle of beer and washes his face and teeth with it. Then he grabs breakfast by mixing beer with his idlis and telling some people off.]

Hei suomalaiset, rappioalkoholismi toimii Tamil Nadussakin. Biisin jälkeen sankarimme uhittelee poliisille ja vetää paria kyttää aika reilustikin turpaan. Voin hyväksyä tämmöisen meiningin, kun tietää intialaisen poliisin kyseenalaisen maineen korruption petikumppanina. [Hey Finns, destructive alcoholism works in Tamil Nadu, too. After a song our hero defies the police and kicks a couple of cops' asses quite heavily. I'm fine with this sort of behavior, when one considers the questionable reputation of the Indian police as the bedmate of corruption.1 ]

Valitettavasti alkukohtaukset ovat ovelaa harhautusta, eikä Saamy olekaan leffa katujentallaajasta, joka oikoo poliisin rivejä omankädenoikeudella. Saamy on sen sijaan uusi poliisipäällikkö tai vastaava, joka esitti tavista saadakseen ensikäden tietoa poliisin tekemisistä. Pian hän paljastaa oman identiteettinsä ja asettaa tiukat säännöt Tirunevelin kaupungille. Ja yllätys, homma toimii ihan loistavasti, kun kunnon mies vastaa asioista. [Unfortunately the beginning are a cleverly misleading, and Saamy is not a movie about an ordinary man of the street who corrects the police force with self-delivered justice. Instead Saamy is the new chief of police or something to that effect, who pretended to be an ordinary guy to get first-hand information about what the police were doing. Soon he reveals his identity and lays down the strict rules for the town of Tirunevel. And surprise, everything works perfectly, when a proper man is in charge.]

Paikallisen gangsterin/poliitikon/jonkun naaman kanssa sujuu alussa myös loistavasti, kun Saamy antaa hänelle liikkumatilaa laittomien baarien pitämisen suhteen; kunhan anniskelualueet eivät ole temppelin tai koulun vieressä, kaikki on ihan jees. Jossain vaiheessa suhde mutkistuu ja gangsterista muodostuu pahis, tietty, mitä sitä ennen on luvassa biisejä, romanttisia kuvioita ja tietysti pakollinen komediaraita. [Business with the local gangster/politician/whatever goes smoothly in the beginning, when Saamy gives him space with regards to running illegal booze joints; as long as the alcohol is kept away from temples and schools, everything is fine. At some point the relationship gets more complex and the gangster turns out to be a villain, of course, but before that there are songs, romantic happenings2 and of course the obligatory comedy track.]

Komediasta vastaa harvinaisen loistava Vivek. Hän esittää pappia, joka näkee kaikenlaisia yhteiskunnallisia vääryyksiä ympärillään, eikä pelkää protestoida, oli kyse sitten kastisyrjinnästä, virkamieskorruptiosta tai taikauskosta. Hauskaa, ovelaa ja saarnaavaa yht'aikaa! [The truly great Vivek is in charge of the comedy. He plays a pandit who sees all kinds of societal wrongs around him, and is not afraid to protest, whether it concerns caste discrimination, civil servant corruption or superstition. Funny, clever and sermonizing at the same time!]

Romanttisissa kommervenkeissä tapaamme Trishan, joka on eteläintialaisista sankarittarista tähän mennessä näkemäni perusteella ehdottomasti kuivin. Vaikka Trisha on ihan mukava joissain rooleissa, yleensä hän ei yksinkertaisesti liikuta puoleen eikä toiseen, ja siten aina toivoisi, että hän olisi vain leffoissa, joita en edes halua katsoa. Ihan söpöähän tämä juonikuvio elokuvassa oli, mutta aina välillä sitä vain pyöritteli peukaloitaan ja mietti, milloin Vivek tulisi taas saarnaamaan jostain jutusta. [In the romantic side of the plot we meet Trisha, who is out of the South-Indian heroines that I've seen so far the least interesting3. Even though she's quite nice is in some roles, usually she simply doesn't move me either way, and therefore I findm yself wishing she'd only be in movies I wouldn't want to watch. The plot here is quite cute, but at times I'd just twidle my thumbs and wonder when Vivek would come onto the screen again.]

Jos nyt vähän saan omaa sukupuoltani vähätellä, niin biisienhän takia muijat näissä leffoissa joskus on. Saamyn musiikkianti on aika menevää, vaikka lyriikat tuppaavatkin olemaan vain listoja erinäisistä asioista. Tamil on varmasti runollisempi kieli kun nämä sanoitukset onnistuvat kuvaamaan. [If I could undermine my own gender for a moment, then it has to be said that it's mostly for the songs that girls in these movies sometimes are. Saamy's musical offering is quite good, though the lyrics seem to only be lists of different things. I'm sure Tamil is a more poetic language than these lyrics manage to convey.]

Kaikin puolin mukiinmenevä toimintapätkähän Saamy on, ei käy kieltäminen. Vikram antaa tasaisen roolisuorituksen, Vivek loistaa, ja juoni antaa juuri sopivasti paatosta. Silti aina välillä mietin, minkälainen leffasta olisi tullut, jos Vikramin esittämä Saamy ei olisikaan ollut roistojen keinoja käyttävä, poliisivoimia puhdistava kyttä, vaan ankaramman puolen, alkoholiin sortuva kadunmies. Erilainen elokuva, ja ehkä, surullista kyllä, parempi elokuva. [Saamy is quite an adequate action flick, can't be denied. Vikram gives a steady performance, Vivek shines and the plot delivers just enough of pathos. At the same time I sometimes wonder, what the movie would've been like if Saamy hadn't been the rowdy-methods-using cop but the violent, alcoholist man of the street. A different movie, for sure, and maybe, as sad as it is to say, a better movie.]


Second bilingual review. Just as shoddy as the first one. My style in Finnish is so weird, ugh. Hate.


- "Poliisi on ystävämme" - the police is our friend. Finnish readers may connect this to a song from the 90s..

- 1 This is what I mean about my shoddy Finnish. I just develop these overly complex sentence structures that end up sounding ridiculous in both English & Finnish. Bedmate of corruption? But I kind of like how it sounds in Finnish, heh.
2 Direct translation would be "romantic patterns".
3 Literally translates "dryest".

Once again, English translation is shoddy because I am laaazy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Golden Kela Awards... smell the prestige.

I don't follow Razzies because I barely watch the good Hollywood movies, so I don't really keep up with the bad ones. But with Bollywood? Bring it!

Golden Kela Awards celebrates the worstness in Hindi cinema. But I think the whole awards are fabulously tongue-in-cheek and I laughed my ass off reading through the winners. It's snark in Awards form! A lot of Indian award ceremonies are not to be taken seriously but this one especially.

Consider for example the "black Award for Emotional Blackmail" that went to Amitabh Bachchan in Paa. I loved Paa but this is so spot-on!

And Critics Award to Taran Adarsh, easily the worst Bollywood critic around (because predicting box office numbers and spoiling endings to films great reviewer not make!). Brilliant.

And Bas Kijiye Bahut Ho Gaya (Stop it that's enough) Award to Madhur Bhandarkar. Yes, yes, yes.

And big big props to Abhishek Bachchan for accepting his Worst Accent award for Delhi-6 so graciously with the following tweet:

Another milestone in my carrer. I won the golden kela award 4 worst accent in Delhi 6. Chalo at least delhi 6 won something. I'm overjoyed!!

As are we, Abhishek!

And last but not least, the ace Cyrus Broacha was awarded the very special, prestigious Cyrus Broacha Memorial Award. His response?

‘It’s great. I’m thrilled. I hope to win this award every year,’ Cyrus said in his cheeky fashion. [source]

Beautiful. Also check out FG's take on these for a bit of alternative perspective.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Quickie review: Dhoondte Reh Jaoge

This 2009 comedy caper is a Bollywood spin on The Producers, filled with inside-industry gags and some loud, some subtler comedy. Raj Chopra (Paresh Rawal) is producer of steady flops, desperate to get Aryan Kapoor (Sonu Sood) in his next film. He meets a stuttering chartered accountant Anand (er, whatever that is!) played by Kunal Khemu, whose girlfriend Neha (Soha Ali Khan) is a budding actress. They clash initially but eventually come together for a nefarious plot to make money off a guaranteed flop film, and so they go out of their way to make the worst film possible..

The film manages to get a lot of very funny lines here and there, especially when it comes to industry references. Sonu Sood's opening scene has references to Southie masala clichés, which utterly killed me - the actor himself was also really good in the role.

Some of the comedy falls utterly flat, though, and I personally hated the cheesy song picturizations - I feel like the film should've been more self-conscious about them. They were mostly cringe-inducing.

The film they end up making is a shameless cut-and-paste film with plot elements from Sholay, DDLJ, Lagaan.. But of course, it's hilarious, and some of the best, silliest moments come from seeing the end product. A total joy for me was Soha Ali Khan's Neha having to do her best Basanti impression - golden scene.

I wish the film had been tighter and the song sequences better thought-out with regards to the rest of the film. They really jar and worst of all, offer little entertainment (I thought the first song with Kunal was particularly off-putting). But the performances in general are good. It's worth a watch if you like some of the cast - I'm particular to Soha and Kunal Khemu personally - but otherwise I wouldn't recommend it strongly.

Now here's a gossipy question - are Soha and Kunal really dating?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fruits of procrastination: 90's Saif fanvideo.

The mullet, the dance moves.. so many good reasons not to watch a Saif film from the 90's. And yet, so many of us have despite our human rationality.

Clips used from Dil Tera Deewana, Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Hamesha & Suraksha. I haven't seen DTD or Suraksha but I have a song DVD with songs from them. The Dil Tera Deewana song is so godawful I may upload it in full.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Aaja Naachle - fluff at its most glorious.

In my understanding Aaja Naachle (2007) did not do great in the box office. People found the story cliché and shoddy in execution. Just as well. While it doesn't bring much to the table in terms of substance, I can't begrudge the movie, it just delivers entertainment of the glossy, vibrant and fluffy variety.

The fact is, the film only really begins around 30 minutes in. The preamble of Diya (Madhuri Dixit) dancing at a New York studio, moving like it's Dil To Pagal Hai, then finding out her guru is dead, then the backstory of her meeting an American guy (clearly from the male model school of non-acting) and moving to his country to the shame of her family.. All of this is pretty much boring and clichéd to the absolute max. Diya's kid is annoying and she clearly hasn't taught two things about her past to her own child (wtf?!) and the fact her divorce to Mr Americano was almost as soon as her plane landed in the US is bizarrely simplistic (apart from you know, white guy, foreigner, bad, bad, grr!).

Enter this guy, who is the villain in the loosest possible meaning of the word. And I assure you, this isn't just my blatant Akshaye fangirlism speaking, because the fact is, without dramatic tension there is no movie, and his character is the one who brings some to this incredibly fluffy piece. He wants to tear down the unused theater and Diya isn't keen of the fact, and so they make a deal - if she can put on a show full of locals to revive the culture scene of her village, he won't tear down the amphitheater. (More about this guy during Khanna Week in May - for now this paragraph will suffice.)

And here's where Aaja Naachle finally kickstarts, as Diya begins seeking out local talent, which is why we get a cavalcade of awesome side characters, all with their fluffy little existences, coming together for some musical magic.

Ranvir Shorey is Diya's left-behind former fiancee, still tragically in love with her.

Vinay Pathak as a civil servant wanting to impress his theater-loving wife.

Divya Dutta as Diya's former best friend and Irffan Khan as her businessminded husband (and "villain" number two).

Konkona Sen Sharma as the adorable tomboy fiercely crushing Kunal Kapoor's boy-next-door/goonda (but goonda only in the fluffiest manner).

And it's really just so entertaining and fluffy and glossy and fun, that the flaws of the beginning mysteriously begin to melt away.

What with all the colours and the fun and the dancing..

Oh the glorious dancing!

Could they have made a better movie out of this? Sure. There's a lot of untapped potential here for substance, perhaps kind of sadly so. The way Akshaye's character questions Diya's status as a current NRI coming to "save" a bit of India and damaging what he sees as progress while doing it is countered by her questioning his own foreign education (she was educated in India) being used to also "fix" India as he sees fit. But this angle of the story isn't explored beyond the initial touch.

The way Konkona's tomboy transforms into a beautiful young woman could've emphasized how changing how she dresses doesn't change who she is, and who he, in the end, is falling in love with.

But you know, minor quips. Focus on the fun, and there's plenty of it here.

Fun times, gorgeous Madhuri.

It's like, why bother hating?

You want colour, fun and warm fuzzies? Watch Aaja Naachle. You want something heavy and thought-provoking? Read a book.

Just telling it like it is..

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wake Up Sid - the audio review!

For the lazy, the hearing impaired and whatnot: I liked the movie, but wasn't as in love with it as some people.

If you want to hear me stumble over words, reveal something about my past, embarrassingly call Rahul Khanna "dreamy" and other things...

(Mild spoilers.)

..and either DOWNLOAD the mp3 with the review or PLAY it in a pop up window. The review is 5 mins 35 seconds long, so not too long I hope. :)

The subtle background score is "Memon House" by Indian Ocean, from the soundtrack to Black Friday.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Twitterati, twitterwasis, twitdoesntmatter...

I don't consider myself any authority on anything but if I may make some bold claims about Bollywood twitterati, I'll say this:

All hail R_Khanna.

"Back-to-back evenings full of glamour, dancing, sex, violence & raw, pulsing drama. Who needs Bollywood when it's wedding season in India?"
Weddings in India are masala films that also contain sex? If so, can I go to the ones Rahul Khanna attends? Please?

No wonder I rarely see this guy in mainstream films. He's way too busy. Way too busy being awesome.

He's so normal and flawed like the rest of us, but not in a cringe-inducing way!

Walk briskly past Duty Free, Rahul. Do not make eye-contact with the Chunky Kit-Kat display. I repeat, do NOT make... Arrgh - too late!"
Kit-Kat addiction! Could this man be more adorable? I doubt it.

Perhaps I can use my recovery time to write books under the nom de plume Ian Phlegming. Should I start with A View to a Chill or Coldfinger?"
Let's marry. Or at the very least, Twittermarry. Matwimony?

But as always, in Twitterverse, with the good comes the bad.

It is with a heavy heart that I return to my mortal twenemy, Uday Chopra.

I can see the future...and i can see that tomorrow...I will wake up with a smile...good night my lovely twitteronians...a new word for y'all"
We didn't ask for a new word. Don't you remember what I told you about mid-chlorians? Why don't you just call us people? We're people, like you! Only better at tweeting. And acting.

"Ive discovered a truth about myself tday..I cant type with my eyes closed..ufrrk juhr u tu erute dubvet guvfso..guess its best 2 say gdnight"

I could've told you as much. And I'm typing this with my eyes closed, too.

And now we also have a new kid on the block, who doesn't ask "main aisa kyun hoon?" but instead makes us question everything we know. Like the meaning of life (inspirational poster by Ajnabi). And such. And ...time for the gym!

iHrithik, comes free with most Macbooks.

"Goodnite my beautiful tweeple,I'm humbled by ur love! GOd bless you ALL! N thank u from d bottom of my heart!may tom b beeautiful 4 u n me!!"
Everythings just real speciall!! In his world!!! Overusing exclamation marks!!! Is a sure-fire way to show you're new on the internet!!!

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE ?....... Whatever U WANT it TO BE !!! ;) goodnite tweeple! Good luck 4 Exams, work, and evrything else!!!"
Truly inspirational stuff.

But of course, even a great man such as the mythical iHrithik has to run into some questionable, fail-type waters. Such as not realizing that even if a Pakistani kid is being called "paki" and bullied, it doesn't really do much to stand up and be "proud" of your Pakistani heritage. I mean, in the UK it's a racial slur, not an insult against being Pakistani.


My fav supplements- vit C, multivitamin, antioxident, L-glutamine, omega 3(never 6), creatine(only to bulk 4 short periods),.."
Write what you know, Hrithik. Write what you know.

Oh oh oh remember that Shahrukh guy who twitterized poetry last time I covered his tweets? Well, he's still tweeting, apparently. I guess he has a new movie out and he's trying to promote it. Sweet kid, I hope some people go see it.

love u all my knightwriters. celebrating dark...silence...quiet...dreams...and shutting down of the day. will reopen tomorrow...goodknight."
What the what now? Dude, you gotta stop rewatching The Dark Knight. You are not Batman. I mean if Mumbai needed a dark knight, you have enough moolah to go all Bruce Wayne on it but you're not Batman. Or are you? Is this your way of telling us..?

"batman/trackpants/dont like visits...i am homebody/dont like to swim but have to for my shoulder/sundays at home/want to do a comedy now"

...Holy item number, Batman, it's ...Bombay ka Batman!!!

And with this revelation, I shall go away. But Bollycelebrities on Twitter, remember, I am watching you. I may not be following you because I like to keep my brain clean, but I am watching you.

PS. Rahul, '@' me anytime! I promise you I'm not the weird foreign chick who pervs on most males in your family. No, no. That's Beth, you see. I'm totally regular and well-adjusted.

PPS. Beth, sorry for throwing you under the bus there. All's fair in love and war and Khanna, hai na? ;)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bloggish announcements.

I organized my Indian film DVD's last Friday, which was somewhat eye-opening. From this mess I organized them into some piles - separating South-Indian films, Hindi oldies (pre-1980) and unwatched films.

Southie pile, oldie pile and unwatched pile pictured here. Then, beginning with the oldies, I began placing them onto my awesome IKEA DVD shelf.

The elephant decoration was something I got from Christmas one year. I figured it was perfect fit for my filmi collection. The number of watched oldies came up 25 films.

Newer Hindi films added four rows in length, as there were 54 of them (plus one DVD my friend Mog has borrowed for the time-being).

Then 24 Southie films to fill the shelf entirely and 15 unwatched films of all varieties separated from the shelf to guilt me into watching them soon. And of course, the DVD's I deemed as waste of space, and want to get rid of - currently that number stands at five.

So overall? 124 movies!

Actor stats:
Vinod Khanna films: 13
Saif Ali Khan films: 13
Dharmendra films: 11
Hema Malini films: 10
Siddharth films: 8
Vikram films: 6

And then I went downstairs to my mailbox and found...

A belated but awesome Christmas present from Ramsu of 24 fps. The first is a Telugu film about Bharatanatyam dancing, Shankarabharanam and the second one is Pushpak(a Vimana), a "Kannada" film as I understand it that was released in multiple languages very easily because it's a modern silent film. Ha! Finally a film in which watchers of all ethnicities are on equal linguistic footing. Very exciting.

Oh, right so, announcements!

I suppose there's really only one. I have to really get some stuff done in March. But I don't want to let my blog go un-updated, so instead I've just scheduled a bunch of posts to release while I'm busy doing stuff. Therefore So they dance will run on autopilot throughout March and possibly some of April. I'll check/reply to comment, continue watching Twitter etc, but as far as posts go, most of what you'll be seeing has been written in February.

But there's some pretty good stuff to come if I can say so myself. On Friday there's the next Twitterverse post, then on Sunday an audio review.

Catch you later.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Abhay party update: I admit it, drunk already.

I am crossing the border between sane, clinical interest and into the wild realms of crazy-enough-to-get-all-completist when it comes to Abhay Deol filmography. But you can't possibly blame me, because just like Siddharth, my only other object of filmography completism, this man does not make bad films.

He really doesn't.

So of course I'll keep watching. Insert narcotics addiction reference of choice.

Oh well. At least his films don't come with a 30 dollar shipping charge from BhavaniDVD (yes I am looking at you, Siddharth). Plus it's always great to know that I'm not alone. If I was truly crazy I'd get completist about somebody who boasts a 200+ credit filmography and has been known to appear in some stinkers, right? These guys with their barely 10-film long filmographies are peanuts.

But really delicious peanuts.

Ek Chalis Ki Last Local (2007), directed by Sanjay Khanduri, is a bit of a weird one. It's a black comedy about two people who miss the last train (that leaves at 1:40 AM) and try to kill a few hours to catch the morning one. In the beginning of the movie, Nilesh (Abhay Deol), our narrator, has walked away with 2 crore in a suitcase, but how? A movie-long flashback scene begins. First he crosses paths with Madhu (Neha Dhupia), who is also heading towards the same part of Mumbai as he. It's a bit of a Kaminey Lite - we see various characters in different situations and towards the end, most of them part of the underworld, things get messier, and we see the individuals coming together. It's all just a little Tarantino, for better or for worse.

I had some small irks, like how boring the characters besides Nilesh and Madhu are, and how I didn't really care about what happened to them, or the romantic arc, which is definitely one of the strangest I've seen in a while. It starts out as frank sexual desire on Nilesh's part, as well as a bit of a saving-the-girl complex, then dissolves into something undescribable, then Madhu does something one could only do to somebody they truly cared for, and by the end.. Well, see it for yourself. Throughout the film there was a bit of an uneven feel to it. I liked it but at the same time I felt like I shouldn't like it.

But overall, I definitely liked it. Like Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, it had me constantly chuckling to myself, even if the humor here is broader in some ways. Abhay is great and Neha Dhupia totally reminded me of why I like her; the role is not the most typical but she gives it great edge. And she's of course amazingly gorgeous. The kiss between them (yes! there is one!) happens under bizarre circumstances storywise, but visually it's great, not awkward in the least.

Ahista Ahista (2006) is quite honestly the Abhay Deol film I've liked least so far. The plot tells of the aimless, ambitionless Ankush (Abhay Deol) meeting Megha (Soha Ali Khan) who has eloped to Delhi but her boyfriend never shows up. Ankush takes care of her, makes sure she has a roof over her head and as she gets settled back into a regular life, he slowly falls in love with her and also manages to make progress with his own life as well. The story is fairly unbalanced towards Ankush's side of things; we see very little of what Megha thinks or feels. Soha does a great job portraying some of it with her eyes rather than dialogue, but it still feels like we're missing one half of the story.

Normally I'm not one to chuckle at lame "hey this word means another thing in some other language" but whenever I type "ahista" I am reminded of the Finnish colloqualism, "ahistaa", roughly meaning "I'm feeling distressed/anguished." The verb ("ahdistaa") used can also mean "pressure" so I guess the idea is that you're feeling pressured from all sides, feeling trapped somehow.

It certainly in some ways describes my feelings towards this movie, even though I know the Hindi meaning is quite different. I never get a sense of whether the film is trying to be a love story or a coming-of-age story or both or neither, and the ending really kills most of the fondness I had for the movie. I hate to say this because I know Imtiaz Ali normally writes good stuff (he scripted this): the ending is just bad writing. I disliked the second half so much I began skipping and what I did see of it was not good. I suppose the ending in some ways may seem logical. But I just wasn't into it.

And now I have to recommend everybody out there watch CNBC TV18's Beautiful People interview with Abhay Deol. Part 1 of 3 is here. Seriously, seriously good stuff, including what makes an independent film in the Hindi film industry (vs non-Indian ones), art vs craft etc. Some people may disagree with me on the interviewer but I rather like her. She puts actors on the spot, and doesn't necessarily make them feel comfortable by patting them on the head and showering them with compliments all the damn time. Her interview about Salman Khan is also worth a look; Salman looks positively pissed off at her, but he reveals a lot of stuff and in the end I think he's just frustrated at certain things fame has brought into his life, which he'd rather keep quite simple. Beautiful People, based on what I've seen, is ALWAYS a good watch.

PS. I want to coin the term Hindie for Hindi 'independent' films. Of course, it makes no difference when spoken out loud but I just kind of dig it.