Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mini-reviews, part saat (7).

[Previous mini-reviews here.]

Born out of a realization that August is soon over and I've barely posted, must correct quick quick quicccck.

61. Dil Chahta Hai (2001) - Surprise surprise, friggin' love this movie. It's fun, it hasn't got old for me so far, filled with actors whose work I enjoy to say the least, solid writing. There's a reason why DCH, a story of three friends, their loves and losses, is heralded as influential and ground-breaking. Previously discussed here.

62. Bluffmaster! (2005) - Wow, hard to believe this film is five years old by now. It may be half-based on a Hollywood film but it is nonetheless a great contemporary Hindi comedy and features solid performances by all leads (Abhi, Riteish, Boman - okay, given, I'm not the biggest fan of Priyanka here). If you haven't seen it already, by all means do, because it's not as talked about anymore and I don't want people to miss out on it.

63. Mission Kashmir (2000) - It puzzles me how this is one of the few films released on Region 2 DVD.. I mean, it has some good bits (Preity-Hrithik love story, some songs) but overall it is kind of a tragic wasted opportunity. The melodrama here just didn't gel for me. As this and Eklavya are the only VVC directed films I've seen, I'm afraid I don't really believe in him as a director. He's better off producing.

64. Black (2005) - I try not to be too vocal about my dislike of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, he's just one of those directors where your mileage may vary and my mileage wants nothing to do with his mileage. But I got into Bollywood actively in '05 and this film was all the range back then so I felt I had to see it. Yes, Rani gives a good performance. Yes, Amitabh is effective. And that's about it, for me. I can be into films like this ..just wasn't into this one.

65. Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) - This is the only Guru Dutt movie I've really liked but yet don't own. It's a gorgeous piece of film making, deserving of its reputation but I guess the hopelessness of the storyline made sure I didn't think I'd want to rewatch. This was years ago, though, now I am beginning to reconsider. Guru Dutt posesses a strange magnetism on-screen, even when his characters do dubious things, you root for them. It's quite a wonder.

66. Veer-Zaara (2004) - First time I saw this Preity-Shahrukh starrer? I loved it to death and found it beautiful and glorious. Second time? It was fun but maybe a tad dull. Third time? Made me wonder why the hell I was watching it the third time, all the flaws were more apparent to me than ever before. I am not sure what turned it from an epic love story I enjoyed to a dull film me and my friend ended up cracking jokes during but whatever, so that happened. I'd still recommend it to newbies desiring a dreamy, over-idealistic love epic ... but that's about it.

67. Kannathil Muthamittal (2002) - Despite the annoying Ayngaran Video logo plastered on the copy I watched, this Mani Ratnam Tamil film was quite an enjoyable cinematic ride. Especially the adult leads, Maddy (with glasses!) and Simran, were a treat. To be quite frank I've forgotten if I had any other complaints than the fact the child actor was annoying.. but I still wouldn't steer people away from this movie. It's a good 'un.

68. Teesri Manzil (1966) - So this is like a massive classic and people love this and people love Shammi Kapoor and it's facts like that make me really apologetic about how underwhelmed I was by this movie. It's a pretty good 60's film noir/detective mystery type of film but I just wasn't too fond of it, or of Shammi. Mujhse maaf karo, Memsaab!

69. Chak De! India (2007) - It's a feminist sports film with an awesomely script that portrays a great variety of interesting female characters. What's not to love? Plus it's just a solidly directed film that doesn't get old on rewatches. Oh and there's some dude with a beard, but who cares. Hockey, yay! I've discussed the film before here & about its feminist character portrayal here.

70. Hum Tum (2004) - Oh it's just this film with two ultimate favourites (a label that Rani holds strongly onto but Saif is sadly slipping from..) by a favourite director that I've seen closer to ten times by now. And it's my favourite film genre (romantic comedy) and its flaws I can easily forgive (the animation, what the heck!). So yeah. Is it a favourite? You bet your bottom rupiya it is. Previously discussed here.

See you in September, I promise I'll be better.

Subramaniapuram - the other side of the fence.

We all know rowdies, those street-dwellers with metallic weapons who do the bidding of some evil honcho, be it a corrupt politician or a criminal mastermind of another sort. Rowdies aren't henchmen, because they're never glamorous enough to don suits and smoke cigarettes; you don't find rowdies in 70's Hindi masala, you find them getting their asses kicked in Tamil masala, by the all-powerful hero, who has to fight his way through the ranks of rowdies to get to the Big Bad, the Final Boss.

Subramaniapuram could be interpreted as the story of these rowdies, in a world (or, in the real world) where there is no hero to conquer them, where the story is centered around them and only them. It's also an excellent dramatic film that sucks you into its world and doesn't let go, even as the credits are rolling.

The title of the movie is the name of the part of Madurai the film is set in. The story takes place in the 1980's, with what I assume are accurate fashion and set designs, having never been to 1980's Madurai. Our four main characters are friends and do the bidding of one former politician. They start out fairly innocent, and we see innocent affection as well - one of the continuing strands is the love connection between the politician's daughter and one of the guys.

Much is said with just looks between them, flirty and youthful and hopeful -- but is there much hope for them?

The plot is tricky to describe, since there is much going on while not much is actually going on. Things just kind of spiral out of control, and the guys end up in a loop of violence, escalating with each turn. Even if I could describe events as they unfold (and I honestly couldn't, not without a rewatch - one I can assure you will take place), I wouldn't want to, because the movie is best watched going in fairly ignorant.

The newcomers are all capable actors and I hope they've gotten more good roles after this one. The film is just one of those that excels on virtually every level; acting, cinematography, editing, story.

If there were any flaws, they'll appear to me probably in repeat watches to come, but for now the film stands as an utterly recommendable experience. Whether you want to look at it like I did, as a sort of parallel story of hero-centric flicks, or whether as just a film about how a group of friends end up blood-soaked..

...it's certainly worth a watch.

(A side-note: while I love a good Tamil masala potboiler, I have a soft spot for Tamil industry's more artistic/realistic ventures such as this one. I also loved Kaadhal which I also recommend and of course, am a fan of Bala, who is a director like no other in India. I came across the term New Tamil Cinema to describe these very new, very fresh film makers who have a knack for making films like Subramaniapuram and Kaadhal - realistic, solid story-telling without the usual masala flourishes. If anybody has recommendations for more films like this, throw them in my direction.. Even though Tamil DVD's are quite pricy, I've bought both Kaadhal and this one blind and haven't been disappointed by either so..)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Latest from a smart, funny individual!

...I'm just kidding, this is really another one in what is becoming a series on the depraved mind of Uday Chopra. No picture for this post because if the option is posting a picture of Uday Chopra or not posting a picture at all, I'm going for the latter.

So what is Uday up to in his corner of the Twitterverse? Well, either he is being superbly clever and witty and radically new, or then he is in some serious need of professional, psychological help. You decide. Look, I'll just come out and say it: HE'S INVENTED A SECOND PERSONALITY FOR HIMSELF.

You read that right. He's striving to be schizophrenic. This over-privileged s.o.b, I swear to Pran my head is about to explode.

Okay, I must admit in all seriousness I am not sure if he's doing that. But he is posting quotes by himself under an anagram of his own name - Daya Prochu. That's sane, right? I mean, we all do that, right? ....yeah.

Not only is Daya Prochu a representation of Uday himself, he is Uday's dark side.

"Virtues separate us...its our vices that bring us together...one more reason to be bad!" - Daya Prochu

"Hope and Faith are always there for those who want them...for the rest, there's Vodka" - Daya Prochu

"I'm just your regular, average, everyday Devil Worshiper" - Daya Prochu

...this is actually, genuinely rather frightening. Who does this? Why would anybody do this, in all seriousness? And yes, of course it could well be a joke but ...it's not funny in the least. It's lame, not to mention completely freaky.

"The only time it's ok to show someone you care, is when you don't really" - Daya Prochu

Really freaky.

Of course, then there's the typical tweets where he speaks binary (uhh..) and rambles at length about God shared a secret with him which allowed him to give up on Hope and I'm not even going to pretend to understand.

Still, he is thinking about quitting acting, a decision that actually makes me sympathetic towards him.

But Daya Prochu? I mean, what the ---

Uday, I think I'm done with taking the occasional dive into your Twitter and emerging slimy but victorious by the power of snark because I do genuinely think you might need to talk to somebody. That somebody isn't the internet. Adieu.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dhadkan - monitor your heartbeat and contact your doctor.

I am not sure who told me or where I read that Dhadkan was quite a lovely romantic movie. It's not. It's the kind of clich├ęd, semi-tired (although in an amusing way) melodramatic film that we don't really see much of nowadays because I think after the early 00's most of Hindi film industry decided that after the likes of Lagaan and whatnot, they could probably do better than this. And they did! Well, some of them did.

To be fair to whoever planted the idea in my head that Dhadkan might be worth my time, it's not totally without merit. Melodrama, even less-than-average quality melodrama, is after all pretty entertaining. The tropes are all here - poor and rich, evil in-laws, crying maa.. But perhaps because of the tropes, the film ends up being pretty forgettable.

It's a story of Anjali (Shilpa Shetty), a daughter of a rich man, who makes the devastating mistake of falling in love with a poor man named Dev (Suniel Shetty). Actually, no, her only mistake is falling in love with an incredibly creepy man, nevermind the fact he's poor.

It's hard to pin down what makes Dev such a creepy, strange guy. He's a typical crazy-in-love Bollywood hero, extremely devoted to his love, nothing can break it, he'll die without the love of his life and all this nonsense but what really makes him strange and unbalanced is his over-the-top reactions to everything. Suniel barely has time to act from all the shouting he does.

Look, nobody's ever said Bollywood heroes can't be emotional - by all means they should be. But not emotionally unstable or completely unhinged, like Dev comes off as.

So needless to say, this love match doesn't quite work out as when Dev goes to Anjali's house to ask for her hand, he ends up shouting at her father and obsessing about his sandals (to paraphrase the dialogue, "YES MY SHOES HAVE HOLES, I AM POOR BUT I WILL MARRY YOUR DAUGHTER ANYWAY BECAUSE I LOVE HER NOW AND FOREVER."). Anjali is brokenhearted but tells Dev she will marry who her father asks her to. Dev shouts at her that this is not the last she'll see of him. Oh, goody.

So Anjali is forced to marry the rich, handsome and courteous Ram (Akshay Kumar). What a terrible fate! To marry this ...perfect stranger who doesn't shout at her! Ugh!

Naturally she angsts a bit. But it doesn't take long for her to find him quite a lovely man to be forcefully married to - he's nice, respectful, devoted, hard-working, insert every possible positive adjective you could think of, because that's how good Ram is. Forget seeing the softer side of Khiladi, this man is practically marshmallow.

And of course, he is much better when in comparison to his awful family who hate their new daughter-in-law and even hate Ram. But he knows they hate him! But he loves them anyway! (Yes, it's that kind of a film.)

But sometime after Anjali and Ram's marriage has gone from forced to blissful, guess who's back? Dunh dunh dunnnnn!

Thankfully the film seems to recognize that Dev is hopelessly unhinged and does not portray him as Anjali's perfect man. He's just there to set the final melodrama into motion and boy, does he ever.

So that's kind of Dhadkan for you, right there. Lots of melodramatic twists, okay songs that look more 90's and 00's, a truckload of make up on Shilpa's face, and tons of Akshay looking dreamy. If you think you might be into that, well, I can't recommend this film but I can certainly let you know it exists.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The end of blogging hiatus.

Hi again, long time no talk. It's August which means holiday for me, and also means enough time to not only watch movies but blog about them as well and read other people's blogs about films and squee on Twitter. Yay! A couple of things before we continue with the usual programming...

1. How are you? I'm fine. The summer was fun but uneventful for the most part.

2. I still live in a blissful ignorance of what everybody thought of Raavan/an until I get my grabby hands on either or both DVD's. If you could assist this happy Raavan-less bubble I've created for myself, that'd be splendid. If you spoil me, I will hate you fiercely for the rest of my life. So the blog remains RAAVAN/AN SPOILER-FREE SPACE thank you very much.

3. I've also not seen Raajneeti yet, though definitely plan to.

4. Reviews will be forth-coming of the following films -- Housefull, Rocket Singh, Road Movie, Dhadkan, Mr India, Subramaniyapuram (Tamil), Veer. It should tell you how little I've watched during the summer that Housefull and Veer are the only ones I managed to watch between May and August. The others I've watched in the past couple of days.

5. To celebrate the return of full-on filmi love, let's have a schmoopy DDLJ fanvid! (By Smurphmurph.)