Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer (semi)hiatus.

Hey guys, and thanks for participating in Khanna Week/Khanna-o-Rama, whoever did. Sadly, since then I've begun working at a summer job and unlike all you wonderful regular people, it seems like university + blogging is a combo I can do no problem but work + blogging is like this unclimbable stone wall when it comes to my mental and occasionally physical energy. Funny how that works.

I'll try to watch a movie during my now increasingly limited free time, and I'll try to blog as well, but obviously none of this "post every three days" madness I was going through in March and in April. Maybe I just need to learn how to do less taxing updates - instead of long write-ups, maybe post a song from a movie I love or talk about a particular scene. 

Oh yeah, I visited the UK in early May!

This picture was snapped at a store in Soho, London that sold tons of old posters. Sivaji Ganesan of olde was misplaced under "Bollywood", don't they know anything? I didn't buy it but I was mighty tempted!

And a stand of Raajneeti at a movie theater. I am not sure why but I am looking forward to seeing this film. Katrina's role looks promising, there's a fantastic character actor cast and Ranbir looks really, really good on the poster. Um, shallow, what me?

Anyway, the summer is looking lovely over here. Now if only 3 Idiots was FINALLY released on DVD (6 months, Vidhu Vinod Chopra - really? really?) and I had an endless supply of lemonade, this summer would be made. Hope it's looking great wherever you are! (If you are one of the upside-down country people and it's winter over there, my deepest and dearest apologies. May my Vinod Khanna picspams keep you warm through winter!)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Closing Khanna-o-Rama with a picspam.

My favourite picture of Akshaye.

I'm going to employ virtual CPR on you because I know you just DIED.AT.THIS.CUTENESS. And why wouldn't you.

All Bollywood magazines should remake this photo shoot. Bollywood stars - EATING. I'd buy the magazine. Twice.

No idea what is happening here but I dig it. I dig it a lot.

Film poster of Gulzar's Meera (review here) which is my most favourite movies with Vinod. And gorgeous Hema, what's not to love.

Thanks for participating in Khanna Week, even if it was just by reading all of our posts! And eternal thanks to Beth for coming up with the idea of the love fest!

EEEDIT: Well, turns out Khanna Week isn't over in a week! Joy of joys! Except .. I have no more posts scheduled up. I might spin some more, I'll definitely keep following all of yours but this may or may not be the end of Khanna-o-Rama for me, for now, anyway. Still, the Khanna love never really stops on these here parts!

Jallian Wala Bagh - meh.

History lesson: Jallianwala Bagh was a square in Amritsar, which is nowadays synonymous with the bloodshed that took place there under colonial times in 1919. Hundreds of protesters (maybe even over a thousand, counts vary) were slaughtered by the British. Decades later in 1940 Udham Singh murdered Michael O'Dwyer, who was responsible for the orders to kill the protesters.

Story: Jallian Wala Bagh (1977) the historical event and paints portraits of freedom fighters around it. Some of them, like Om Shivpuri's character, are decidedly non-violent in the style of Gandhi, but others, like Vinod Khanna's character, use violence to do what they see fit. The story and dialogues are by Gulzar, which promises goodness but ...

Sigh: ...just kind of isn't. Everything feels very haphazardly put together, the characters barely connect, their relationships are fuzzy and even though some of the dialogues are full of accurate patriotic pathos, there is much, much bad acting, especially from the British cast who speak Hindi slower than a snail on sandpaper. I was especially disappointed in that the film had Shabana Azmi as a young woman who refused marriage until her country was free, (especially when she has a brilliant line about a bird starting to nest in a cage, ie. she doesn't want to begin a family in an India ruled by the Brits). For one, she has no scenes with Vinod, and they are by far the best actors in this movie. And secondly, the script totally forgets she exists for the second half of the story. What the..?!

Groan: I totally get why this subject was considered ripe for a film, but I feel like instead of nationalistic pathos they should've gone for more character development or exploring interesting themes (and as the film was written by Gulzar - though not directed by him - I know there was potential there). I don't object to the British being painted like the villains they are in this scenario, but a little ambiguity could've gone a long way when it came to the portrayal of Udham Singh - it's not like his actions were universally appreciated, even among Indian nationalists of the time.

Bright sides: But okay, there's a good moment here and there in the film, some fairly obvious back-and-forth edits balanced with some pretty effective ones. One of the two songs in the film is quite good. And it's relatively short - 120 minutes or so. But ...

Blehhhh: It just feels like nobody's heart is in it. There is much bad acting, and even Vinod seems unenthusiastic (and there's too little of him! some of his early scenes are good stuff but .. so little of it!). I feel like I'm missing some juicy behind-the-scenes gossip here. Or then the film is simply incredibly lazily made, which it certainly looks like (budget looks small, lots of shots are totally out-of-focus) - like they thought that the nationalistic message is going to make up for the lack of an inspiring story, compelling characters, good acting etc.

But: ..but maybe it is, my only problem is that I'm of the wrong nationality to get it. The massacre was understandably an awful, traumatic event - I would never make light of the fact. But I don't connect to it, because it's not "my people" getting killed. While it appeals to me on a general human level, I don't connect to it the way somebody with family from Amritsar would.

Counter-but: But then, there's a reason why this movie isn't held high among the best patriotic movies ever or whatever. I mean, I only spotted it thanks to IMDb and only bought it because it had Shabana and Vinod. Probably not a single recommendation on the internet for this one. And that typically says something. Even if I don't always agree with the taste of the general public, bad films of the past are sometimes best forgotten. And this one was probably very much forgotten until some people such as myself spent our hard-earned money on the DVD of it and had to sit through it.

Try not to repeat my mistake, yeah?

PS. Even physical manpain didn't save this one. Seriously.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Three elephants in the room.

Hate to jam this post in but I feel like it has to be made; call me the Official Khanna Week Squee-stopper, if you must, but I assure you, happy posts will commence tomorrow once more - for now, let's deal with the things we might talk about but don't particularly enjoy talking about head-on.

I mean, they are in a sense the reason this Khanna fest had to be initiated - why are Khannas so unloved (or underloved or not adequately loved) by the great Bollywood worldwide consciousness (wow, does that sound spiritual? we could just call 'em fans).

Akshaye Khanna - I am not sure where I've read about this perception that Akshoo picks his roles carefully and is particularly choosy about which films he does. But I have read it and going by how little movies he makes, I could swallow it, too. But then I look at his filmography and just .. what the hell. I understand getting stuck in a rut, doing crappy film after crappy films because that's all you're offered but can that really be true for somebody who has shown considerable acting potential and is widely considered a solid actor despite, you know, all those countless bad films I choose not to name right now. I confess I know very little about the inside workings of the industry so maybe I'm missing a lot of key factors that play into this but sometimes I fear that the dude doesn't really care and kind of wants to cash in.

Rahul Khanna - Now here's a guy whose perceived pickiness with roles I could actually see as justified, as his filmography doesn't really have that many bad films. But it's so tiny! Isn't everybody on Twitter now? Doesn't everybody just want to cast him? (I do, but the only job I have available is cleaning my room. I doubt Rahul gets out of bed for the money I'm willing to offer him...)

Vinod Khanna - One word: Osho. (For the uninitiated, or the newbies, here's a little lesson in history - at the height of his career, in the early 80's Vinod Khanna joined his guru and withdrew from regular human life into a spiritual commune in North-East US of A. He returned to the industry in the late 80's.)

I spotted somebody commenting on a youtube video of some Vinod Khanna song that "he realized the futility of human existence" or something like that, and this made me realize how much a culture colours our perceptions of one man following his guru and withdraw from his regular job AND family life. I mean, Finns don't tend to withdraw from anywhere as hundreds of years of Lutheran work ethic kind of ties us to the home and work life so much so that the idea of "getting away from it all", in a spiritual way, not just for a holiday, is completely alien. (Not saying this is better - just how it is.)

But to somebody of India, it's not necessarily so. Now, I don't personally withdraw my own judgment completely because of this. I could, but it feels pretentious - I still have the opinion that from the point of view of a fan, who loves his 70's/early 80's films and isn't enamored with him returning to Bollywood when the films lacked inspiration and interest, and he was getting too old to be a hero anyway. And if somebody I knew left their family to pursue greater spiritual understanding, I'd consider them selfish. But I keep in mind - different context, different culture, different perceptions.

So I maintain my views as a fan. I think the man made simultanously the worst and the best decision he could've made. Leaving Bollywood in the early 80's? Abandoning a slowly sinking ship, good call. Returning to the industry in the late 80's? Sigh. No. Just no.

So there. Elephants sorted. Would be curious to hear your views on these topics. And sorry for squee-killing, just gotta be honest with myself & my readership here. I still love all three of these actors - trust me on that one.

[Elephant screencaps from the Tamil film Dhool.]

Friday, May 7, 2010

How to be awesome on Twitter like Rahul Khanna in 3 easy steps.

1. Tweet in your strongest language and treat Twitter like an English(/Hindi/etc) teacher you're desperate to impress. Or like somebody whose pants you want to get into via showing them how smart you are. Don't be afraid to get a little overboard with it - when the rest of Twitterland is busy forgetting where a, e, i, o, u keys are (or as they would say, 'r'), you'll stand out favorably.

1.5. Familiarize yourself with the concept of parody. Embrace feeling special.

Case in point: i wory der iz no1 left who cn spel. r v doomd 2 cmunic8 in dis biz-r nu lang? im nt redy 4 an x-istenc wid only ltd vowls n no capitls.

2. Find a round-about way of describing ordinary events or daily observations that arouses reader attention and imagination. Such as,

- Working out: An afternoon of certain cardio-vascular scintillation awaits me on the elliptical & in the pool.

A plebe way of tweeting this - "off 2 workout plz twitter notice how im in gud shape tnx bye."

- Being hungover at work: Struggling through meetings & wishing I was in 'The Hangover 2' so I could justify the excesses of last night as research.

A plebe way of tweeting this: "omg sooo hungoverrr @at wrk rite nw had fun last nite tho :D :D :D :D :D lol"

- Doing online banking: Impressed with my credit card company's online security. It's virtually impossible for anyone to access my account - including me.

A plebe way of tweeting this: "fuuuucckkkkk :( :( :("

3. Develop a very ordinary, relatable addiction to a mostly harmless substance. Coffee, chocolate, breath mints, any of these work. Don't go overboard with it - you want to seem relatable, not obsessed or consumed with desire for something completely strange. If your Twitter bio mentions your biggest goal in life is to get your own Ben&Jerry's flavour, trust me, nobody is going to follow you, you crazy icecream person you.

Example -
I confess my mini-bar sins to the flinty receptionist & guiltily await the inflated bill I must pay as penance. Mea maxima culpa.

And you're there! Well, almost. I mean, it helps if you a) have been in movies, b) are a globetrotter extraordinaire, tweeting from London then California, then Mumbai - a show that you lead an incredibly interesting life, and c) look like this:

So ... just don't get your hopes up. We can't all win in life.


Tweets - R_Khanna
Pictures -R_Khanna @ Twitpic
Everything else - Depraved mind of @Veraciously, whose biggest desire in life is to introduce Ben&Jerry's Veraciously Twitterliciously Peppermint!.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Inkaar for when you know it's thriller night.

I really liked the on-screen interaction between Vinod Khanna and Vidya Sinha in Meera, so much so I was pretty sad her role was (very understandably) small. Then I found out they've done this other movie together, called Inkaar (1977 on the source, directed by Raj N. Sippy), which was reasonably recommended so I knew I had to check it out.

Inkaar is a thriller about a rich man Haridas Chaudhry (Sreeram Lagoo), whose servant's son gets kidnapped by bad guy (Amjad Khan). They call the police, officer Amar Gill (Vinod Khanna) and the thriller follows their attempts to negotiate, get the child back safely as well as nab the baddie. Meanwhile there is mild awkwardness in the family, as Chaudhry's daughter Geeta (Vidya Sinha) had a fledgling romance with Amar back in the day...

And for comedic value, quoth the back of DVD box:
Who are the kidnappers? Will they be caught? Watch and see! Inkaar is the only trhuth!

I think I was initially disappointed because this film is an okay thriller, not a mind-blowingly excellent one. I think my expectations were way too high - it's a bit slow-paced at times, though it's got a lot of excellent features to make up for the lamer ones.

For one, Vinod Khanna as a plain-clothes police officer. Named Amar. How can I not be a sucker for it?

Ah, so much family pain. There is of course the rich man who treats his servant's son just like he does his own, for he is that good a man. Nothing about these characters particularly interested me, but thankfully we also get the romantic storyline.

With the beautiful though slightly-too-made-up Vidya Sinha. She was lovely in this, and I don't really see why she's not a more popular or common heroine in 70's films. Her filmography is quite short compared to many others. But I guess - sadly - every era has its share of actors who never quite get their due.

Well, whatever, she gets to be intense with Vinod in this one. Yay!

Though judging by her look, maybe not so yay. Well, they can always angst together.

Their romantic backstory begins quite lightly and comedically, probably the only light and comedic moments in the film. She's friends with his sister, he mistakes her for his sister and ...

Inappropriate touching ensues! Whoopsie.

He apologises, she's a bit coy, they're both pretty much smitten and the sister is much amused. Cue romantic song!

This picturization is definitely cute, but feels strangely out of place in a thriller of this sort. Like, I don't think the movie ever really goes masala on us, but it has those hints, and it's quite a weird mix. It works but I feel like maybe it could've worked better. But I guess every movie has to reflect its time on some level, and the mild masala elements can't exactly be erased from this film.

But of course, the couple works much better when they are being mournful and intense and ever-so-slightly angsty. YES.

The film also features some really nice camerawork. I think the director was really trying to push the envelope - when you compare this film to the camerawork of so many other commercial Hindi films, you can definitely tell the difference. I'm not sure if every angle is considered to the tee, but it does give the film more depth and interest, when we have shots like this, or shots like these:

Bad guys - notice Amjad Khan's first appearance as a menacing pair of boots, and of course the other two baddies in post-coitus. Premarital sex leads to hanging out with Gabbar Singh, proven!

The poor kidnapped child and beer being poured at the forefront of the shot. Alcohol, bad!

Amjad Khan's Gabbar Raj Singh. Bad. Bad, bad, bad! But again, very handsome and visually interesting shot. Kudos!

But the film never really grabs me so much that I don't remember by initial reasons for watching; intense Vinod Khanna (in a suit) and Vidya Sinha being beautifully sad. Good stuff.

And there's a Helen song! I mean, of course there is. And she sings at a bar and Amjad Khan's character leers at her.

And what about star of our Khanna week, Vinod? Well, I can't say I found any incredibly interesting layers to this character. He's a good guy, he's a cop, he gets the job done and has much compassion for the family of the victims. There's a bit of dishoom-dishoom. He's naturally very involved with the case, still having feelings for Vidya Sinha's character, and struck by the cleverness of the baddie.

On the completely superficial side? Digging this shades + suit look a lot.

Ah, seventies. Such a gift for eyewear fashion.

Would I recommend it? For the Vinod afficionado, yes. For others? Not particularly. Maybe in a year's time I'll do another rewatch and find this film clicks with me more than I realized on the first two watches but my review kind of remains - it's okay, it's solidly made, but it's not particularly inspiring.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Redefining villain with baby bunnies. Akshaye in Aaja Naachle.


Aaja Naachle only really begins 27 minutes into the movie, when Diya (Madhuri Dixit) goes visit a local politician Uday (usually referred to by his title Raja) about the local theater Ajanta, which he plans to tear down and turn into a mall. Raja offers her pizza he made himself. He likes pizza. She brings up the plans to tear down Ajanta. She asks him not to. He says he will despite.

But not before he offers her pizza.

You evil son of a bitch.

Eventually they make a pact - if she can revive the village's theater life with local talent, the mall deal is off.

Look at this heartless, animal of a man. All that pizza-making and flirtation only covers up his true nature, that of a villain who makes heroines dance on broken glass and shoots henchmen for the heck of it.

Except .. no, wait. Akshaye Khanna's villainous Raja is the fluffiest, cutest villain you will ever meet. Put him next to a sharpei puppy and you'd still be going, "That sharpei puppy is up to no good."

Villain's Log, Day 47: "I made pizza and a cute lady talked to me. Yay!"

And then he watches her perform and likes it and just grins to himself like he's just crushing on her hardcore (which he obviously is, in his own cutesy smug manner). These is not even a pinch of ruthlessness in this man's body.

And then he's just super-cute with the daughter. Is this supposed to be menacing? "I'm the bad guy", followed by a smug but adorable smile. What are we to think?

Oh the venomous exchange of words! Except he naturally takes it as an opportunity to flirt and make puppy eyes at her whilst pretending to actually have some debate about the Ajanta issue. Diya takes it more seriously, providing more fuel to the fire of dramatic tension because, well, somebody has to!

She delivers a healthy dose of "oh snap!" and he's all, "Hee, I like this lady."

This pattern repeats itself.

"Oh, what am I doing here? I just bought these new Ray-Ban's and wanted to show off them and my awesome swagger. Did you know they gave me an ominous background score for these scenes?"

"I am so evil! And adorable. And hot. Do you like ice cream? I like ice cream."

"But not as much as I like kittens fighting. Or you. Whoops, what am I saying? Oh that's right, I'm the bad guy. Grr. Evil things! Fire and brimstone, murky polluted rain ..and then rainbows! Pots of gold! ..Dammit."

"You're a better villain than me, Irfan. That's why I like playing golf with you. Do you like pizza?"

"Oh, you want to sabotage the play due to business profits? Well, that's not cool. Don't you know fairies die whenever you stop believing in the goodness of mankind? Think about it for a minute."

Villain's Log, Day 82: "Got awesome seats at the theater today because I'm an MP. Yay!"

"PS. Really enjoyed the play. 5/5!"

Sadly Diya is leaving to return to the US. Our heroine won! What does our villain do? Curse and retreat back to his lair, possibly kidnapping her daughter as he does so? Not at all. Instead he's like, "Oh, what a shame. Well, I'll give you a call sometime."

And then we have our Starbucks ending. Who knows what the future will bring.. But what we do know is that our terrible villain has left behind the days of evil schemes and all that.

What a relief!

And some bonus cute Khanna!face for you --

Serious Business.

File this one in the dictionary, as definition for awesome!face.

"God willing I'll make more guest appearances this worth watching."

...If only , Akshaye, if only.