Happy New Year's Eve

With all the best and worst of lists out there, I am reminded that I live too far away from a cinema and I am way behind on this year's films, so no 2009 lists from me, but it still was an interesting year in the headlines. Here's a few of the more memorable ones for me.

On Strike!
Bollywood producers and multiplex owners halt the release of oodles of movies over revenue sharing and leave poor filmi fans feeling the drought for way too long! Thank goodness for heroes like Shah Rukh and Aamir, who got together along with many others, to help along the negotiations!

Shiney Ahuja rape scandal
Did he or didn't he? Was it rape or consensual? Last I read, he'd been granted bail after being detained for 3 months. I think the trial has yet to start however, so this isn't the last we'll be hearing about this case. And I was just starting to like his movies too.

Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna arrested
Being a little kinky is okay in the bedroom, but apparently not okay on the runway! Both Akshay and his wife, Twinkle, were slapped with an obscenity case in April after Twinkle unbuttoned his jeans at a show during the Lakme India Fashion Week. An activist, Anil Nair, took offence and filed a case against the couple. Tsk tsk.

Hrithik and Barbara Mori hook up?
Well, there's been only speculation about this alleged affair, but it has certainly led to a lot of rumours surrounding the state of Hrithik and Suzanne's marriage, which has lead to even more rumours of Hrithik's new partying ways. That will teach these stars to have chemistry in their movies. Geez! Believe what you will, I just want our golden boy Hrithik back in top form!

Shah Rukh vs. America and the barbers
For someone who just wants to work, Shah Rukh had his share of newsworthy controversies this year. First, just days before it's release, the salon and beauty parlour associations were outraged over the title of his film Billu Barber. Always the gentleman, and not wanting to hurt the sentiments of the barbers, he did his best to appease them and changed the name to simply Billu on whatever he could.

If that wasn't enough for our handsome hero, Indian politicians and film stars reacted with outrage after Shahrukh was detained for questioning at Newark Airport in New Jersey on his way to Chicago to celebrate India's Independence Day. But how can you blame them? I would like to "detain" him as well, though I can't imagine there would be a lot of questioning going on!

And lastly, Neetu Chandra a lesbian?
Neetu Chandra’s steamy photo shoot with model Krishita Gupta for a men’s magazine backfired, when activists protested and halted the crew shooting the pictures midway. Neetu said, "The whole shoot was being done ascetically. But those men were a frustrated lot...". Frustrated you say? I can't imagine why. I thought men dug that sort of thing!

Well, on a personal note, 2009 also brought it's share of experiences for me, good and bad, but what I am grateful for the most is the birth of my blog and the friends it has allowed me to make as well as the vast wealth of knowledge it has afforded me. I don't usually do New Year's Resolutions anymore (does anyone ever stick to them?), but this year I'm going to make 3.

#1 - Laugh more

#2 - Keep blogging

#3 - Learn more Hindi (I'm ordering RosettaStone on Monday! Yay!)

I hope everyone has a fantastically fun and safe New Year's Eve no matter their plans and that 2010 brings with it happiness, prosperity and another year of fantastic Bollywood films!


Andaz Apna Apna

Well, it took a while, but I think I've finally learned to appreciate the fine art of Hindi humour and now that I'm watching with my eyes wide open, let me just say wah, wah, wah! Andaz Apna Apna is a full throttle roller coaster ride of non-stop hilarity with side splitting loopty-loops and slapstick bends at every turn. How's that for a metaphor?!

In a plot that has our two heroes trying to outwit, outlast and outplay each other, Rajkumar Santoshi had created a home run in field of comedy. Amar (Aamir Khan) and Prem (Salman Khan) are useless sons of poor, but hardworking fathers. Neither of them are content with what life has dealt them, so when the beautiful and rich Raveena (Raveena Tandon) comes to town looking for a husband, with friend Karishma (Karisma Kapoor) in tow, the two boys each hatch a plan to woo and marry her. Things are further complicated with the entrance of Raveena's uncle Teja and his henchmen who plan to steal the family fortune by any means necessary. If that wasn't enough, we also see the periodic entrance of Crime Master Gogo, whose aim is to recoup money he had previously lent to Teja.

I can't get over how funny both Aamir and Salman are in this film. I don't think I would have ever paired them together in a comedy, but they compliment each other so well, I can't help but compare them to some of the great comedy teams that I am familiar with like the Smothers Brothers, Wayne & Shuster or Martin & Lewis. Aamir is just about perfect as the brains of the operation. His comic timing is superb. His dialogue delivery, gestures, uninhibited style all compel you to laugh like crazy. It's really quite ironic that Aamir has emerged as one of the more serious actors in Bollywood today and one can only hope that he revisits this genre one day soon. I even enjoyed Salman as the bumbling, thick necked quasi-idiot Prem, and that's saying something.

From friends to enemies in one fell swoop!

Let me introduce you to my little friends...

Paresh Rawal and Shakti deliver some great bad guy comedy, but it's Viju Khote and Shehzad Khan who supply the most laughs with their dumbfounded nefarious intentions. They are smart boys indeed!

The girls also have their moments, but it is Karisma who was funny as hell in her outlandish costumes and doltish dialogue delivery more so than Raveena. Quick now, turn your head and bat your eyelashes and watch the boys fall for you!

Who was in charge on wardrobe? I say we assemble a lynch mob!

The nefarious end game: The chicken farm!

I think a lot of the humor in Santoshi's film comes from the inside jokes, which I'm happy to say I'm starting to get to the point where I finally recognize some of them (though I'm sure I have a long way to go). A few moments that I found especially funny in the film include :

- the opening credits (which I assume is the director's dig at numerology?)
- the entire opening sequence featuring Juhi Chawla as herself (Lord knows how many of these types of dreams I've had - or tried to have!)
- Amar and Prem land at the same guest house and squabble but appear as Lord Rama and King Bharata through the landlord's eyes
- Prem tries to propose to Raveena only to find himself making unusual visits to the loo instead, all due to Amar's handywork with the laxatives. I wonder what moving the tie from around his neck to around his head accomplished in there.
- Amar's whole amnesia bit, and Prem's doctor demeanor

- the entire climax including Prem and Gogo's unique fighting style (I laughed so hard here my stomach hurt! What the hell is that style called and can it be used for foreplay?)

There are so many others that there's bound to be something that will tickle even the most discriminative funny bone. The thing about Andaz Apna Apna is that it is not a movie that tries to be funny. It just is.

I have to admit that I tend to favor the more contemporary songs, but there's something to be said for the more classic filmi music. All of the songs are fun listens in their own right, but in this film they are enhanced about 1000% by the picturizations. Whether watching Amar annoy Raveena with his utterly ridiculous dance moves to the point where she feels the need to club him over the head to end her misery in Dil Karta Hai, or watching the foursome romp in night ware complete with Amar's phallic nightcap in the completely enjoyable Dil Mera Dhak Dhak Dole music director Tushar Bhatia gives us a soundtrack on par with the rest of the movie for sure.

While I would not recommend this to someone new to Hindi film, it has landed firmly in my list of fav comedies. It is definitely a movie worth buying (I know I'm picking it up my next venture into the city), if only to watch over and over again. Despite the language barrier (as there's probably a ton that gets lost in translation), I have a feeling that this is one that will continue to get better with each viewing.

New Song Promo - MNIK

I can not wait for the soundtrack to hit.

Facebook Countdown:
1 month, 16 days


Sometimes you just can't remember all the movies you want when you head to the store, or they just don't have it through the online rental service you use. When that happens, all I can say is thank goodness for youTube, which is where I finally got to see Parineeta - a film I was told housed a smouldering chemistry between heartthrob fav Saifu and beauty Vidya Balan. And I was not disappointed.

Directed by newcomer Pradeep Sarkar, Parineeta is a very simple love story set amidst 1960's Calcutta. Shekhar (Saif) and Lolita (Vidya) meet as children, he the son of a wealthy and driven businessman, she an orphan taken in by a loving neighbor family. They become fast friends and we watch their unspoken love blossom until Lolita discovers Shekhar's father's plans to usurp her family home out from underneath them. Enter Girish (Sanjay Dutt), to further complicate the situation by helping out the family with their financial desperation as well as providing the chink in the lovebird's armour.

After my last review for Mission: Kashmir, bollywviewer made a comment about how she liked that the characters were grey instead of entirely black and white. I think that this is the case for sure in Parineeta. Shekhar is a character that starts out content and casual, happy to be making music and living his life day to day as he's always known it - with Lolita always present. When their situation changes, we see a different side of Shekhar emerge, one that's full of anger, jealousy and cruelty. Even Girish, who is by all definitions a gentlemen, ultimately has ulterior motives with his bail out. All of this is what makes the characters interesting and human, and not knowing if all will work out in the end for our heroes is what keeps us engaged.

Sarkar could not have asked for a better cast in his debutante film. Up until now, Kal Ho Na Ho has been my favorite Saif movie, but instead of the boyish charm he exhibited in that one, he gives us nothing short of a powerfully complex performance in this one. He is able to emit a very diverse range of emotion, and does it all with finesse. Plus, there's no facial hair, no bandanas and no sunglasses. Now this is the Saif I met and fell in love with!

For Vidya's first movie, you can already tell that she's going to be a star. Not only is she is gorgeous, but she brings out the nuances and contradictions of her character in every scene and she does it with ease. It was a much meatier role than I've seen her so far, and, though her beauty has always left an impression on me, I think I was most impressed with her range in this film (even more so than Bhool Bhulaiyaa, which I just saw and enjoyed her in).

It was interesting seeing Sanjay in this film. Not only did I just watch him in Mission:Kashmir in which he had a very serious role, but I've been witness to the Dutt/Balan pairing in the very funny and charming Lage Raho Munnabhai. In this film he plays the role of Girish with sincerety and a maturity completely in line with his character. It's difficult to not want to root for him to win the girl in the end.

Visually, the movie is beautiful to watch and cinematographer N. Nataraja Subramanian has given us a movie that looks and feels like it belongs in the 60's. Musically, I needed to revisit the songs to refresh them in my memory before discussing them. One note: regarding filmi songs, I have to say something I'm sure I've said before. I think it is so important to have the right playback singer represent the right actor. What I mean is that you need to believe that Saif is singing, even though you know he's not, therefore the voice that seemingly comes out of his mouth must be believable. I think Sonu, while completely perfect on his own, is also a perfect match for Saif.

After completing a second listen to all the film's songs, I've decided that Shantana Moitra has created a classic soundtrack chalk full of beautiful melodies enhanced with wonderful singing. Piyu Bole is a sweet song, perfect in context and easy to listen to. Kasto Mazza, which made the list of fav train songs at Darshit's blog, is upbeat and an excellent addition to the "on top of the world" feeling that Shekhar is experiencing. We also get to see a stunningly beautiful Rekha in the jazzy throwback number Kaise Paheli Zindagani, which is a complete departure from the sound of the rest of the film, but still fun.

Parineeta is a beautiful and heart wrenching film that is an absolute must see, especially for those Saifu fans! Thanks everyone who recommended it to me.

Mission: Kashmir

Vinod Chopra has created a movie that clearly displays the disharmony that a region (and a country) can possess over the always sensitive matter of religion. The film's writer Abhijat Joshi was asked if he thinks this film makes a statement by fostering social or political change, he says:

"It would be a pity if a potent medium like cinema, with its massive reach, fails to make an important statement in a country with innumerable problems of terrible magnitude. Mission Kashmir is an anguished outcry against violence. Mission Kashmir is neither anti-Hindu nor anti-Muslim. It blames fanatical forces on both the sides for turning a paradise like Kashmir into a hell."
Wikipedia lists 21 different types of religions in Canada and, though we too have our share of spiritual discord, I can't imagine anything like Chopra depicts in his film happening over here. It's one thing to create a piece of actiony fiction, but another when it's based in reality.

Mission: Kashmir is the story of SSP Inayat Khan (Sanjay Dutt), who, after losing his son due to the effects of a well known terrorist, decides to find and eliminate said terrorist. However, his actions have consequences (as most actions do), and he unwittingly orphans a young boy named Altaaf Khan (Hrithik). Inayat and his wife take in Altaaf, and things look like they might work out for all parties involved, but, alas, Atlaaf discovers a black mask in a desk drawer and thus ends what could have been a happy life. Instead, he runs away and turns into the very angry, very buff adult Altaaf who is now in cahoots with another terrorism group hell bent on creating a religious war between the Hindus and the Muslims.

I don't often like war/terrorist movies, but usually Bollywood offers a little of what I enjoy in a film despite all of the violence (ie, Kajol and Aamir's incredible love story in Fanaa). What propelled me to watch this can be summed up in one word: Hrithik, but once the film began I didn't know if I would be able to get through even the first 20 minutes simply for the amount of adolescent homicide. I think had Chopra focused on this one either being a revenge thriller or a political drama, it could have worked for me, but I felt like Altaaf's story is overshadowed by the mission which I found difficult to follow most of the time. Plus, I felt like we should have been privy to the years between Altaaf running away and meeting up with him again as an adult. For instance, we never find out when or how Hilal Kohistani finds Altaaf and his personal journey from boy to man is taken for granted. Props have to be given to Chopra and his team for an appropriately intense and gripping climax.

One thing that Chopra has going for him in the film is the cast. Sanjay Dutt is fantastic as the nationalistic Muslim cop. I think I've only seen Sanjay in Lage Raho Munnabhai, and I liked him in that too, but as Khan, we get to see a different side to him. He's very human and his performance is completely genuine. Hrithik does well as the angst ridden young man in search of retribution and excels in the action sequences. Jackie Shroff gives us a brooding and menacing performance, but looks a little too much like a pirate for me. Aargh matey. Sonali Kulkarni and Preity Zinta add some much needed femininity to an otherwise testosterone-brimming film. Preity is gorgeous and disarming as always with her natural effervescence in the supporting role of Altaaf's childhood love, and Sufiya Parvez is equally effective as the matriarchal voice of reason.

Interestingly enough, the team of Shankar/Eshan/Loy have provided the music for the film, but with each composing their own songs separately. I think each of them have their place in the film, whether it's the ironic Rind Posh Maal or the beautiful So Ja Chanda (note: if my kid spit water at me during a bath, I don't think we'd continue frolicking in the water!) or the catchy Bumbro. Maaf Karo is the only one that doesn't really fit into the film's theme, but I still like it. It's a fun picturization (well until the ending that is - I've never seen such an upbeat song end so disastrous). Overall, a very good score (upon second listen) by a great musical team. Cinematographly speaking (is that a word?), the movie possesses some beautiful scenery, but is often very dark, almost too dark for me, during the terrorism bits, and that takes away from the story a little bit.

Will I watch this again and again? Probably not, but it is all about the journey after all, isn't it? On to the next one...

Merry Early Christmas

I usually really love Christmas, with all that it implies, but for some reason, this year I am having a really hard time getting into the spirit of things. So I thought, "I wonder what fun Christmas items I can find in the area of Bollywood youTube?" but my search didn't turn up much (except for one bit that looked extremely offensive). However, I found something that ticked my funny bone in an entry to Shah Rukh's Dance Pe Chance contest last year:

As I wind up to host a pre-Christmas family dinner tonight, I just wanted to wish all of my friends out there in blogland a very merry Christmas.

शुभ क्रिसमस
Śubh krisamas

On the tube...

With Christmas approaching dangerously fast, school concerts, Christmas parties, and trips to overcrowded malls have seem to taken over my blogging time. However, there's always time for movies, so here's a couple of quick looks at what I've been watching.

The Namesake
Mira Nair has created a fantastic slice of life film portraying an NRI couple as they create a life and raise a family in the US. The first movie I've really seen with Tabu in any kind of substantial role, I was blown away by her. I think I read once somewhere that Rani was considered for this movie, and, don't get me wrong, I love my Rani, but I can not see her in the role of Ashima for one second. Really the acting from the entire cast was genuine and believable, even Kal Penn (in a role that doesn't require finding White Castle).

fantastic script, fantastic cast, outstanding story. Nuff said.

Bhool Bulhaiyaa
The first Bollywood "spook" movie I've seen revolving around a vey superstitious community that believes the town's royal mansion is haunted by the spirit of a wronged Kathak dancer. The film houses a large ensemble cast, but the film clearly belongs to Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan. Shiney Ahuja, Amisha Patel, and a host of others have smaller roles.

What I liked: the suspense is believable, as is the explanation of it all. The soundtrack is a clear winner, with a good combination of love songs (Labon Ko) to upbeat dance numbers (Lets Rock Soniye, Bhool Bulhaiyaa title track), to classical fare (Mere Dholna), with picturizations that fit the movie very well (especially Vidya in Mere Dholna with it's fantastic dance sequence - quintessential Bollywood!).

What I didn't like: The movie feels like it should have ended a good 20 minutes before credits role, however, we do get to see a very creepy scene with Vidya that makes up for it, but then the actual ending seems both too neat and unfinished for me.

Chandni Chowk to China

I get a lot of flack for taking up space on the pvr with my movies, so I thought I may as well watch this one, which I recorded during Diwale. I seem to be on an Akshay kick lately, and even though I've heard not very many good things about this one, I invited my sister over and reved up to watch the East meet the South East.

For those people who enjoy action films (and I do), it definitely offers a fair amount right from the opening scene, whether it's a bit of kungfu or the all important training montage. Even the chicks get in on the action, however any kind of girl power exhibited by Deepika's Meow Meow character gets nullified by her ridiculous Miss TSM character. The title track is catch, and the beginning of the picturization is comical. Akshay tries his best to help the movie along, but his character is so completely hapless in the first half you just kind of shake your head. At least, once he begins to rise to his responsibilities, Kumar’s performance becomes more restrained and appealing and you get to see him without his shirt on for a while! ;)

Love the vamp look!

Completely all over the place, but enjoyable if you can manage to keep your brain turned off.

Life Partner

I bought this because of a song (big surprise), but what I got was a mixed bag of marital woes. It is a story of three men and the women in their lives. Fardeen Khan plays a man who wants to marry for love and has it in girlfriend Genelia D'Souza; Tushaar Kapoor belongs to a traditional family and thus, believes he'll find love in an arranged marriage; divorce attorney and self-proclaimed ladies man, Govinda is a commitment phobe who revels in procuring his next case. All is fun and games until "I do's" are exchanged and then all hell breaks loose.

Though the film does have some genuinely funny moments, the ignorance and selfishness of some of the characters was enough for me to rip out my hair. Genelia's character is 100% self-absorbed and clueless (a deadly combination and one that gives woman a bad name). I liked her in JTYJN, but in this film her irksome act irritates beyond the boundaries of her character and her nagging gets on your nerves. Poor Fardeen Khan looks literally harrowed. Tushar's character, while definitely sweet, is completely spineless and takes the side of his demanding father-in-law (Darshan Zariwala), who is not only chauvinistic but also has disparaging unapologetic opinions that include management graduates from IIM-Ahmedabad work as waiters in South Africa (though I bet had the graduate in question been a man his assessment would not have been the same).

Amrita Rao comes aboard with a snazzy item number, and the climax includes a bomb set to explode in 5 minutes, which is just about as long as it takes to set everything right in the world of love and marriage. Watch if there's nothing else available.

First Promo - Now, catch your breath


Okay, now that I'm calmed down just a little, here's the first trailer for Karan and Shah Rukh's My Name is Khan! I can't help but be overwhelmed by the anticipation and excitement of it all and if the trailer is anything to go by this movie is going to be AMAZING!!!!!! Not a terrorist movie necessarily, as some predicted it would be, but a look at what 9/11 did to the regular muslims in America and how it perhaps changed their lives forever, with a little sideline about what life is like for people with Asperger's.

I'm not embarrassed to say that the trailer made me tear up a little.

February 12 can not come fast enough!!!!!!!!!!

Who says a girl can't swing a bat?

Upon seeing the first pics of Rani and Shahid for this film, I thought this was a movie that was going to sum up everything I enjoy about romantic comedies. Usually I know I'm going to enjoy a rom-com before the opening credits even start, but at the end of it all I just kind of felt a little *meh*. There's been a couple of really great reviews on this film lately that delve deeper than the surface and look at theories such as "the sari point" over at Beth Loves Bollywood. Here's my take.

Rani Mukherjee shines in her media induced "comeback" (sorry Indiatimes, et al - in my books Rani has always been in fine form), as Veera Kaur, the small town girl who has big dreams of making it in the male-centric world of cricket. Realizing she has no chance to make it to the World Cup, she decides her only hopes to do so are to become male batter extraordinaire Veer Pratap Singh and try out for the local team set to play a yearly match against Pakistan. As Veera, she is the right combination of feisty and sexy and you want her to be successful in her endeavor. Veera's alter ego, Veer, is fun to watch but seems to have been created more for laughs than for any sexual tension it should have produced. Through it all though, Rani plays both roles with gusto and looks like she's having a good time doing it.

Playing Rohan, Shahid Kapoor is the captain of a English country cricket team. He returns to India to coach his father's cricket team, which has consecutively been losing the Aman Cup to Pakistan for the past 8 years, but only after his father fakes a heart attack to get him there. Classy. I usually enjoy Shahid's performances (though I've seen very few), but I found him almost completely expressionless for most of this movie. However, he does make up for it a little bit with some impressive dancing to compensate for his lack of acting ability (sorry Ajnabi!). Also it's easy to sometimes looks past the flaws because the man is so damn gorgeous. However, take a note: Shahid, seriously, if you are looking to shed the Shah Rukh Khan comparisons, doing a DDLJ reenactment is not going to help!

I suppose it wouldn't be a Yash Raj Film if we didn't have an amalgamation of themes all stuffed into one very colorful celluloid package. Anurag Singh gives us a plethora of plot elements (romance, sports, nationalism), but where I think the movie fails is in the execution of it all. The storyline is basic and certainly doesn't really offer us anything new, the romance between Rohit and Veera falls flat, the addition of Sherlyn Chopra and Rakhi Sawant contribute nothing to the film, and the climax is completely understated. I suppose the revelation of Veera's secret could have been way over done, but it's almost too subtle and you don't really get that big reaction that would then, of course, lead to the big reconciliation - even if I didn't buy their "love" to being with. However, I suppose Singh does deserve a shout out over trying to appeal to the ladies in the audience with an elaborate speech on women's rights.

Still cute though, na?

I liked Pritam's music in the film though, quite a lot, but anything that has a good bhangra beat to it is going to get my attention. Even the standard love song made it to my ipod. My fav's of the film are Bhangra Bistar, Ishq Hi Hai Rab, and Hadippa - the remix (good lord, Rani looks fierce and Shahid is GORGEOUS! -I could watch that man dance for hours!)

I was going to do this as a mini review (along with three other movies that are waiting to make there way onto the blog), but I guess I had more to say than I thought. Coming up: The Namesake, Bhool Bhulaiyaa and Chandni Chowk to China.

More SRK today

We are going to finally get a glimpse of My Name is Khan. Well, that is if you have access to any of the STAR networks. Shah Rukh will be showing a promo for the movie on December 16th at 10 pm (India time I'm guessing). I'm crossing my fingers that B4U will have it, but I don't think it belongs to the same network so I'll be looking for it on youtube and posting.

Check out the new commercial for his Dishtv ad. Even as an aging man he's still handsome and charming and the commercial is totally adorable.

And lastly, an interesting news article about how Shah Rukh wants to conquer the porn industry. Even though it was in gest I can't say I wouldn't want to see that. What a cruel joke.

Welcome to Sajjanpur

With old man winter making a sudden and very rude appearance at my door, all of a sudden I have oodles of time to devote to catching up on some movies I've been waiting to see. Yesterday I finally managed to watch Shyam Benegal's Welcome To Sajjanpur. I didn't know anything about this movie when I recorded it except I liked the music and it starred Shreyas Talpade, who I had seen and enjoyed in Om Shanti Om.

This is not your typical cookie cutter family drama, masala piece or love story that generally makes up the majority of the Bollywood industry, and it certainly isn't like any movie I've seen so far. Oh sure, it does have a little bit of love story, but there is so much to this movie that is far beyond what I've been exposed to in Hindi cinema so far that I almost felt like I had to do oodles of research just to really understand what I'd seen.

The main vein of the film follows Mahadev (Shreyas), the only educated person in Sajjanpur. Mahadev, an aspiring writer, quickly realizes he can use his literary skills to make money reading and writing letters for the villagers, thus creating all sorts of opportunity for him to become entangled in their lives for good and for bad. Though Mahadev is used as the common link in the movie, Welcome to Sajjanpur is totally character driven, with each of the supporting characters given their own little piece of the pie. We see Yashpal Sharma as the scheming politician, the superstitious mother (Ila Arun) who's desperate to get her daughter married despite her bad stars, a eunuch (Ravi Jhankal) venturing into politics, and a Compounder (Ravi Kishan) crazy in love with a widow (Rajeshwari Sachdeva). Mahadev's personal story is that he falls for a childhood friend, the ever alluring Amrita Rao, whose husband is in Mumbai trying to earn money to bring her there.

Turn away now to miss the spoilers:
While each of the performances had their pluses, it really was the subject matter that held my attention the most. What is a eunich? Do people really marry their daughters off to dogs? Is it so hard to earn a living that one needs to sell their own body parts just to make ends meet? It seems as though Benegal has tried to fit as many social issues as he could into this varital sociological buffet, even approaching widow remarriage, which needlessly culminates into tragedy with an unexpected and unexplained honor killing.
Done with the spoilers.

For the most part, Welcome to Sajjanpur is a fun movie. The fast paced songs are catchy, the acting is done in fine form (with Shreyas being my favorite of the bunch), and the movie looks good. My only real disappointment with this film was the abrupt ending. We get a very convenient wrap up of everyone's stories, mostly with happy endings. Even Mahadev gets his happy ending even if it comes out of nowhere and then before you know it the credits are rolling.

My Name is Khan song?

Found this on youtube today. Not 100% sure if it's really going to be in the movie, but it's by Jal, and I liked it. If it is a song from the movie I don't imagine it will be situational. It definitely sounds like more of a background song, possibly underneath some serious movie moments.

What do you think?

Anyway, it according to my facebook countdown, we are 2 months and 9 days away from the big release. I read that there is a preview of the film at the beginning of the James Cameron movie Avatar which I am not interested in seeing but almost want to go just for the trailer! I'm crossing my fingers that that means I'll get to see it on my home turf.

I know these aren't new pics, but because I haven't posted any of him in a while, here's a few that I finally found and got to see from the India Vogue shoot with Kajol.


I knew from the moment that I stumbled upon a song that had Shah Rukh Khan dressed in drag that I had to see this movie. I was not disappointed. I've seen very few Hindi comedies, but most of them left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. I thought maybe I didn't get Indian humour, but I think all I needed was a good dose of old fashioned comic masala, which is precisely what Mahesh Bhatt's Duplicate has done for me. Slapstick comedy, evil villains, great music, mistaken identities: all of it translates into what has become #1 on my list of favorite comedies so far.

First, I have to mention that when I put this film on, for some reason I could not get the subtitles to turn on. However, I really wanted to see it, so on I forged. Something has to be said for a director who can convey the subject matter of his film beyond the barrier of language, which is exactly what happened for me. I knew what was going on from the first frame to the last despite my preschool Hindi (although I did understand some of the dialogues which made me very excited). Without seeing any of the great masala films from the 70's, I imagine that this film has some plot elements that would be right at home (death by television anyone!). However, there was one thing that had my sides splitting that was completely unintentional I'm sure. There is one scene where Babloo gets slammed into a large ceramic looking vase and instead of it falling and breaking, it simply dents a little when it falls. Classic.

Performance wise, this movie belonged to Shah Rukh Khan. Not only does he do a fantastic job of playing the naive, yet completely charming and perfectly innocent aspiring chef Babloo, and his nemesis, the leather wearing, evil gangster Manoo, but he maintains a distinction so clear between the characters that there was no mistaking who is on screen. When Babloo does impersonations of Manoo's tongue tweeks, I couldn't help but laugh hysterically. His nervous energy works in this film and I quite honestly couldn't picture anyone else even pulling it off. This is the Shah Rukh that is an acquired taste for sure with all of his over the top facial expressions and dialogue delivery, but is also a vital component in what makes Bollywood fun!

Duplicate features a full rounded cast too. Juhi Chawla plays Sonia Kapoor, the object of Babloo's affection and his boss. She is exactly as she should be in this film: sweet, comical and totally in her element. Farida Jalal, like Juhi, is always a pleasure to watch on screen particularly when she is given interesting roles like Babloo's strong, clingy, caring and loving Be-Be. Sonali Bendre is good as Lily, Manoo's girlfriend, though not a performance that lingers (though her sexy outfits do make her stand out while on screen). For me, she's the best in the song picturizations.

Have I said I love the music from this film? The picturizations are sometimes cute, sometimes funny, but all the time memorable and absolutely catchy and fun. Usually I post one or two songs I like, but it was so hard for me to narrow down my faves, so I've posted 4 of the 6 songs.

Babloo is probably the sweetest character Shah Rukh has played (though he does comes close in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. How could anyone resist that smile?

Well, what movie would be complete without the standard falling in love song?

Torn between two women is hard I suppose. I love how Babloo continues to snub Lily's advances for his imaginary Juhi. We know where his heart lies.

The tune for Ladna Jhagadna reminds me of a nursery rhyme song or something from The Sound of Music, but regardless it's still instantly catchy. Plus, kudos has to go to the costumers for coming up with Manoo's *ahem* interesting shiny metallic spandex top.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. My dvd drive in my laptop is not working. Argh Dell!!! And there seems to be a lack of any pictures on the web. Darn it anyway.

Final thoughts: I loved this movie so much I want to rewatch it right away. I'm sure there are other comedies out there that might be better, but this one was just perfect for me. I'm starting to get really torn over whether or not I prefer Shah Rukh now or his earlier stuff. Makes me wish I'd grown up watching him.

Hindi Lesson #1

Alright, all my Indian friends, in an effort to align my visual skills with my audio, I thought I would ask upon your help to correctly spell those words which my ear has learned through a program called Pimsleur. For those non-Hindi speaking peeps, maybe this will help expand your knowledge as well.

want - chahta
understand - samajhta/samajha
to eat - khanna
to drink - bheena peena
please listen - suniya
but - mugar/laiken
where - kahaan/kidtar
a little - tori tori thodi thodi
much - zyaada
very - bahut
well/good - achche/achchaa
and - aur
or - ya
speak - bolte/bolta
please tell me - batayea
here - idhar
it/they - voh
over there - udtar udhar
something/some - kuch
know - jhanta/jhante jaanta/jaanate
at my place - mere ghar par
too/also - bhi
how - kaise
later - badme
now - abhi
in the ..... - ..... mein
okay/alright - theek hai
yours - tumhara
ours - humara
when - gab kab
afternoon - doopahare dopahar
to do - karna

Well, that will do for now. That covers pretty much half of my lessons. Any and all corrections would be immensely appreciated.

It's Official...

Interesting envelope in the mail came today...

So does this mean that I'm officially Indian? lol!

December's going to ROCK!

Well, it seems I'm going to be making several trips in to the city this winter. The Sushmita Sen, Fardeen Khan and Shah Rukh Khan film Dulha Mil Gaya, which never seemed like it was going to see the light of day, is being released in December. So Shah Rukh and Aamir are going to battle it out again? Here's the trailer. Looks good, na?

*squeels with excitement*
Oh, it's going to be a good Christmas!

What I've been watching

I spent the whole weekend teaching and making Christmas cards and didn't get to watch anything new, which is probably a good thing since I'm so behind on my reviews. So, here's my quick catch up post with some quick thoughts on what I've seen lately.

Kuch Na Kaho
I love Abhishek. He's reminds me of the type of guy you want to bring home to meet your family, and he was adorably mature in this film of the bachelor who finds love where he least expects it. It also stars Aishwarya, who was decent in it, though her character somehow lost all common sense half way through the film. Arbaaz Khan, as Aishwarya's estranged husband, was effectively despicable. A very good timepass film, even though it is entirely predictable and the movie's climax just kind of comes and goes. Watch it for Abhishek. Shankar-Eshan-Loy does a good job at the music, and the opening credits are quite clever.

Cute & pretty! I love Abhi!

Krazzy 4
Even though I was warned this was stupid, I had to put it on because I spent the money renting it and I knew that Shah Rukh had a song in it, plus it starred my new favorite comedy team Arshad Warsi and Irfan Khan. It's about four mental patients who, on a day trip to watch a cricket match, lose their doctor (who actually ends up being kidnapped in an attempt to give the film a more serious slightly suspenseful political angle).

I actually didn't mind this one. I enjoyed the actors much more than the special appearance by SRK believe it or not. The song, the hair, the clothes, all of it seemed wrong, like it should have been someone else doing it other than Shah Rukh (I especially cringe at the hair - it reminds me of my hair that has been forever immortalized in a very bad grade 5 school picture!) Juhi Chawla makes an appearance as......you guessed it, the doctor (I think somewhere along the way she was unjustly typecast!) I'm not sure if Director Jaideep Sen was very confident in his movie making abilities because it wasn't enough to see Shah Rukh in a special appearance, but we also get Hrithik in an appearance shaking his money maker to the same song in the closing credits. Which one do you like better?

Love Aaj Kal
The movie that I was looking forward to the most, and the Bollywood film I am probably most disappointed with so far. Maybe it was the hype (it ranked as the #1 favorite movie of the summer along with Kaminey on my poll), maybe it was Saif (because I adore him), maybe it was the music, but I could not wait to throw this on. At the end of it all I came to a couple of conclusions. #1 - Deepika could have been replaced by a wet mop and it wouldn't have made any difference; #2 - I need more in-depth story that develops characters in order to emotionally connect with them.

While the abridged version of how Jai and Meera meet and fall in love is unconventional, it felt incomplete to me. I'm not sure if it was Imtiaz Ali's intention to show us that love knows no distinction between the past and present or to show us how much love has changed, but I found the love story between Veer Singh and Harleen infinitely more interesting than the one between Jai and Meera, probably because Veer and Harleen are more sympathetic than their shallow modern counterparts. There certainly is a handful of "don't know what you got" story lines out there, but if I wanted to watch someone preach about how this generation expresses love by taking each other for granted then I'd just take a look at my reality. It's called escapism for a reason. Also, while Giselle Monteiro is definitely beautiful and conveys emotions better than Deepika even without talking, I wish that her role had been buffed up a little with even a little bit of dialogue at least. I wondered why she was so tall until I found out she is a model. It was almost comical seeing her tower over her colleagues.

There were a couple of things I liked about this one though. It was nice to see Rishi Kapoor in a very likable, albeit too short, role. I thought Saif did a commendable job and looks especially convincing in the second half both in the role of a passionate Sikh lover and a desperate modern man tired of his ambitions. My favorite thing about the film was probably the music (Chor Bazaar is easily my favorite pick).

I hope that Kaminey lives up to it's hype.

Models and Stuntmen and vulgarity, oh my!

I had heard of the infamous fart in the face bit, so that, and the fact that hardly anyone liked this one didn't boost my expectations for this film one bit. I was expecting the lowest brow comedy out there and that's pretty much what I got. However, it could be that whenever I think of Kareena, the over the top annoying Pooja comes to mind, or that my Akshay repertoire consists of nothing more than an Bobby Deol/Akshay starrer that would land on my "could've missed that" list, but I will bravely go against popular opinion and state for the record, that I actually didn't mind this movie (okay FilmiGirl, you can start backing me up now!)

Before I lose all credibility, I'm just going to touch on why I liked it, and then I'll talk about what was abhorrent. First, I actually liked Simrita's character, for the most part. Sure she was a bitch on heels, but I've known many woman who've thought they were wronged by the opposite sex and I know how it turns you bitter and cynical. What I liked about Simrita was that, beyond the tongue lashing model exterior there was a rather normal person with a semi-sweet side. Plus, for someone who has a reputation for being a bit of a princess, I thought the role was tailor made for Kareena. It was a breath of fresh air (for someone whose maybe only seen a half dozen of her movies) to see her play something other than the completely self-absorbed IQ challenged pretty face I'm used to. She was fierce when she needed to be and fun when she didn't.

Akshay, oh Akshay, I fail to grasp the magnetism that you hold over the ladies. Sure you've got the kind of body I wouldn't turn away at the door, but beyond that I'm still waiting to be won over by that charismatic charm that I've heard you possess. That being said, while I despised the fact that Viraj belonged to that group of misogynistic males that I loathe, he did exhibit some redeeming qualities as the story progressed. Not actually date-raping the drugged model gives me some hope that even the most callous of men can resist temptation. At any rate, maybe it was the mantra, or the fact that finally his tight pants squeezed some sense upward into his brain, but I didn't hate him so much when the film ended.

What I really liked about this film was the music. Om Mangalam, Lakh Lakh, Bebo, and Kambakkht Ishq are all feet thumping get up and dance songs that I admittedly enjoy on their own much more than with picturization. Though this is one instance where I'm probably glad I don't know Hindi that well, as I'm not sure if I'd feel the same knowing the lyrics. However, all the songs make excellent additions to my aerobic workout playlist.

So, all that being said, there were things I hated about this film. The airport detainment scene was probably one of the most atrociously reprehensible scenes I've seen in any Bollywood film so far. That's what they do to you? Really? While the hot blond watches? Screenwriters, directors and producers, please give your viewing audience some credit and think of actual funny ways to deal with a scene like that. Please.

Also, I can't believe that with all the talent in Hollywood (A, B and C grade included), they couldn't have come up with anyone better than Denise Richards to play second fiddle to Kareena. At least she wasn't given any kind of story really or any decent dialogue, because every time she talked I cringed. Why on earth anyone would want to have babies with this chick, golden or otherwise, is beyond me. All of the other Hollywood cameos I thought were pretty ridiculous (except for yummy Brandon Routh) including the homage to Sylvester Stallone. Good thing he had all those Rambo and Rocky movies under his belt or he could have been in some serious trouble in the hood.

I guess that wraps it up in a nutshell. Not bad acting, good music, terrible jokes, all rolled up in a neat little actiony package complete with footage "borrowed" from some red carpet Hollywood event (the Oscars maybe?). Don't watch Kambakht Ishq expecting anything more.

A Point to Ponder

With the utmost respect towards all Hindustani's, and at the risk of looking foolish or "wannabeish", I feel the need to rant just a little today. I just finished going through my blogroll and read a comment that got my back up, one that focused on firang bloggers and the use of Hindi/Urdu in our predominantly English posts, something that I have been known to do once in a while.

While I realize this may open some healthy debate, here's my two cents:

I have heard several times throughout my lifetime from Canadians and Americans alike (not every Canadian and American, mind you) that if foreigners felt the need to come to our countries that they wished that they would at least learn our language. We are both indeed true melting pot societies which enable our countries to be spectacularly culturally diverse. While I wouldn't think that I'm one of those people who demands language assimilation, I can also say that I have never really been faced with a situation where there was a language barrier to the extent that I was ever frustrated.

When I first discovered Hindi film and started trying to learn lyrics, I remember thinking how beautiful the language was and immediately a desire to start learning Hindi emerged. I know through reading various other Bollywood blogs that this is something lots of people have at least attempted to do as well. It is my opinion that if I ever manage to make it over to India, which I fully intend to do, it is only proper if I understand the language of the country I will be visiting, so as not to come off as an ignorant stereotypical firang.

My question is, if someone is taking the time to learn a language OUT OF RESPECT AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES why should they be scorned or sneered at? I will admit if you don't know what you are saying then you shouldn't say it, a lesson I've recently learned after posting a Hindi/Urdu sentence I found on a translation website (which was very nicely pointed out to me by someone who spoke the language that it wasn't exactly accurate. I appreciated their feedback and will no longer post them). The last thing I want to do is offend anyone, but I think education should be celebrated and encouraged rather than stifled.

So, my final thought is so what if every once in a while you see the words haa.n, nahiin, dil, hai na?, pyaar/mohhabbat/ishq in a non-Indian blog? Good Lord, there are bigger problems in our world than whether or not we are trying to be something we're not. Maybe if we decided to help each other rather than put each other down we could start to eliminate cultural misunderstandings. To those bloggers who have been helpful and kind, this Canadian girl thanks you.

There's something about Shashi...

When I entered into Bolly blogland it seemed everywhere I went someone was talking about this person Shashi Kapoor. It was like he was in every classic bollywood movie being reviewed, I even stumbled into Shashi week (I think that was you Beth?). Anyway, the more I see of him, the more I am fascinated and filled with a desire to familiarize myself with his work.

My exposure to vintage cinema, even Hollywood, is at best minimal and before I experienced the great joy of Hindi film, I never really even had a favorite classic leading man. However, there is just something about Shashi that has got me wanting more. So my question to you, what is your favorite Shashi film and why? I'm desperate to get my hands of some of his work and will be compiling a "must see" Shashi list for the next time I get into the city.

More Birthday Stuff and whatnot

I'm posting this for all the die hard Shah Rukh fans out there.

And his new Airtel ad

Hmmmm. Wonder how much he got paid for that one. He sure didn't do much.

Have a great day everyone!


I can't believe I finally found this movie. I'd been dying to see it shortly after I started watching films and tried buying it several times online but it was always back ordered. So, my last trip into the city I finally found a copy. It was all I could do to not put it on the second I got home. I have to say that I liked it the first time, but it wasn't until I watched it the second (while I was crazily taking hundreds of screencaps) that I realized just how much I liked it. Obviously steeped in fantasy, on the surface it looks like the story of a ghost's love for a human and the path he takes to gain and keep her. Look deeper and it's a story of feminine solitude and redemption. Lachchi’s situation, having to choose between the husband who’s left her and the ghost who’s sought her out is the main vein of the film, and, though the film does star Shah Rukh and features a handful of male players, it is at the core, fascinatingly female centric.

The movie opens with female narration, Lachchi's family and friends bustling around her getting her ready for her upcoming nuptials. Break into the wonderfully colorful, beautifully danced and 100% female Aadhi Rat Jab. In fact most of the songs are predominantly female, with woman responsible for most of the dance steps (including one very crazy and difficult sequence during the celebration of the well). We also see a subplot featuring the amazing Juhi Chalwa as the wife who has to deal with a life of loneliness due to the absence of her betrothed. But it is Rani who demands the highest regard. She is nothing less than magnificent in this fairy-tale role that is tinged with the very real-life complications of an extramarital relationship. She wails when the ghost declares that this relationship will proceed only if she wants it to, and I thought her tears were due to her dilemma, being torn between moral transgression and marital bliss. But she reveals that she’s overwhelmed because no one’s ever asked for her opinion or permission before.

That isn't to say that I didn't absolutely adore Shah Rukh in what is my absolute favorite double role of his. What woman wouldn't want to have his ghost woo her? He's insanely romantic, sensitive and continues to consistently put her first - practically the perfect man. Though driven by money, his portrayal of the practical Kishanlal was also very genuine. One of the things I loved about the portrayal of this love triangle was that, even though he left her alone of his own accord, the writers don't make Kishanlal a typical Hindi-style villain. His only crime is his own desire to make his father happy, even if it means leaving. And even though I loved the relationship between Lachchi and the ghost, the romance of it all left me heartbroken, for in every love triangle there must be a loser. This was indeed a love triangle, and in SRK's portrayal of the distant husband, the love and need for his wife was very evident, especially in the scene where you see Kishanlal sitting on the floor clutching the cloth his wife walked on when they first arrived home. Could there have been anything more tragic than the thought that this poor man is alone with his dreams for 4 years, while his wife and her lover are happy and content, basking in family approval at the same time. One final word, when the two characters came together, Shah Rukh was spot on. There was a definite discernible distinction between the two characters, the overly confident ghost and the worried and confused husband, and his execution was flawless.

The film also boasts huge names in supporting cast roles. Anupam Kher, Suneil Shetty and Amitabh Bachchan all are featured in small roles. Well, don't blink or you'll miss Suneil, but Anupam Kher is good as Kishanlal's greedy father. Amitabh's role is, in itself, a paheli. I suppose there had to be some way to tell the ghost from the man, but his appearance as the strange herder was too convenient. I had hoped that he would have turned out to be part of the equation - maybe a ghost himself - but he was just a weird old man who had a neat little tidy solution to the riddle. I also have to mention the addition of Naseeruddin and Ratna Pathak Shah as the ghostly puppets. Their additional narration was indeed comical.

Of course, even with all these splendid performances, credit must go to director Amol Palekar, who does an excellent job of keeping his actors in check. He has done an excellent job incorporating what I can only assume is an authentic Rajasthani feel and, from the very first frames, we are bathed in color and song. Every theatrical aspect contributes to the overall feel of the movie - the cinematography is outstanding, the costumes are to die for and the music is beautiful.

Music Director M M Kreem and lyricist Gulzar have given us one of the most wonderfully classic sounding soundtracks I think I've heard to date. While the music has a more folksy flavor to it, what I really love is how the lyrics and the vocalists take centre stage. Of course we have Sonu Nigam featured prominently, but he's also joined by a myriad of absolutely stunning female vocalists. I simply can not get enough of Dhire Jalna sung by Sonu and the wonderful Shreya Ghosal and I'm not surprised that both won best playback awards for it. I wish I'd know about it when I had done my Sonu list - I think it would have ranked among my top 3. As for the rest of the songs, they are all amazing. This is one movie where the music not only adds to the beauty of the film but also confidently stands alone. My favorite soundtrack as a whole for sure!

Final thoughts: Paheli is a beautifully told tale rich with folklore and a very fine example of narrative from the word go. It really is no wonder that this film was India's choice to enter into the Oscars nomination ring. While it didn't end up receiving a nomination, it still remains one of the most engaging, authentically Indian films I've seen (with no traces of Hollywood skeletons I might add).

And just because I took a hundred screencaps and Shah Rukh and Rani's chemistry rivals even that of Kajol...