Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak


I can still picture it. The moment when Raj sees Rashmi riding her horse, knowing full well who she is, his heart is nonetheless lost immediately. With an equal share of humour, romance and drama, Mansoor Khan has created a timeless film, perfectly blending the oft repeated themes of 'Romeo and Juliet' with a youthful Indian spin. The storytelling has an innocence, freshness and simplicity that is one of the film's biggest assets, aside from the pairing of Juhi and Aamir. Even amongst the warring, the hatred, the tough Rajput ideals and principles of family honour, we are graced with a sweet love story - one that shows us the process of how the boy and girl fall in love and their subsequent courtship.


The movie starts out on a very serious note - that of honor killings - and I had no idea how common it was. After visiting The Bollywood Fan's blog (who, incidentally has a fantastic joint review of this film with Bitten By Bollywood here and here) I was sent to one article, which lead to another and another. It truly is horrifying to read that all of this happens between the people we are supposed to love the most, but it all really lent a huge credibility to the beginning of this movie. Thank goodness, the grim and horrific happenings dissolved quickly and lead the way to a movie with great heart.

Having only seen a small handful of Aamir movies, but loving them all, I am well aware that this is a man who plunges himself into his roles. I've really only had the opportunity to see the serious side of him with his roles in Ghajini, Lagaan, Fanaa, Taare Zameen Par, etc. so it was a very different experience for me to see a young hearthrob grace my screen. Had I seen this movie when I was younger, sillier and more prone to obsess over movie stars, I may have added Aamir Khan to the list of actors and musicians whose posters graced my bedroom walls. Aamir captures the charm and yes, awkwardness, of Raj perfectly.


Juhi Chawla gives us an perfectly endearing performance - one in which I can only assume was probably cutting edge in the late 80's - the independent, strong willed and unusually forward Rashmi. I have an affinity for strong woman characters and loved how Rashmi held no pretense about who she was and what she wanted. For example she leaves her 'assigned' place the other side of the campfire to sleep next to Raj, she flirts with him through Gazab ka Hai Din and she is the first to tell him she likes him. Even in a typical scene of the heroine being harassed by goons, Rashmi gives it to the man hitting him 'right where it hurts.' At the risk of sounding completely cliche, YOU GO GIRL!


While Aamir and Juhi are no doubt the stars of this film through and through, the young couple are extremely well supported by Raj Zutshi as Raj's cousin and Shehnaz as Rashmi's friend, Kavita, while the older brigade Dalip Tahil, Reema Lagoo, Beena, Asha Sharma and in particular, Goga Kapoor (who I also think looks a little like Amrish Puri) give a good account of themselves. Alok Nath, however, was my favorite supporting character as Raj's sensible uncle who tries to be the voice of reason, but is all but neglected at every turn.


Breaking my teeth on movies like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Veer Zaara, Don - the Chase Begins, and Om Shanti Om, I always thought of Udit Narayan as the voice of Shah Rukh Khan. Little did I know that QSQT was also his debute as a playback singer, and not only did he go one to be the voice of Aamir for many more movies to come, but he won a multitude of awards for those songs, the first being for Papa Kehte Hai. I can't go on without recognizing that behind every good man is an even better woman. Props to Alka Yagnik for matching Udit every step of the way!

My fav's from the film:





I was not at all surprised to see the multitude of awards that this film won. I imagine the Filmfare awards are to India like the Academy Awards are to Hollywood, so for a movie to win everything from best movie to best direction to best actors to best music, it has got to be something special. I think it deserved them all and, even if I was a little late in joining the QSQT bandwagon, I'm sure I'm in good company.

It's a Shah Rukh Monday

I wonder if I ever had to quit Bollywood for some crazy reason how I would survive. I was away all weekend at a scrapbooking retreat with no internet and no dvd player - only my ipod to appease my cravings - it was almost like I was going through withdrawl. Thank God I had my crazy friends to keep me distracted or I don't think I would have made it. If I wasn't so tired from lack of sleep I may have well stayed up all night trying to cram a weekend's worth into one night.

At any rate, I sometimes miss Shah Rukh as much as my own children (sad, I know), so I was thrilled to see him in the news this morning. First the Malaysian datukship now a British doctorate.

I'm working on a couple of reviews, but until I can get enough time to get them finished, I'm going to spend some time with my super smart boyfriend.





Oh, and I WANT TO GO TO SAN FRANSISCO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


On the set of My Name Is Khan. Shah Rukh is set to hold a meet and greet on July 3rd at Fairmont Hotel, San Jose at 8 pm.

So close, yet so far away! *sobs uncontrollably*

R.I.P. Michael

I know this is not Bollywood related, but I felt the need to do a tribute to the King of Pop.

Memories of a teenager...
Thriller was one of the first lp's I ever owned. I remember listening to it over and over again trying to emulate zombie dance moves. As a 12 year old girl (I am truly dating myself now!), I used to sit in the school library looking at the one picture book they had of Michael Jackson fantasizing about how one day I would be Mrs. Jackson - this lasted well into the Bad years. Geez, now that I reflect I see a whole lot hasn't changed!

When I was in college, I came to a crossroads. Do I continue in my studies as an English major or do I follow my passion and take music. This was at the time Michael was going through his first rounds of child molestation accusations. I was enthralled as I watched the interview with Oprah in '93. The day he was acquited was the same day I found out that I'd been accepted into the music program.

Last year, a group of friends and I were out bowling and the jukebox was playing an assortment of music. Thriller comes on and K and I instantly start doing that same zombie dance that I'd practiced years ago, still fresh in our minds - sort of. Of course everyone laughed at us while we secretly made a pact to learn it step for step for our next gathering. We're still working on it.

No matter what you think of him, you can not dispute the fact that he was a very talented man, and that's how I will remember him.

Some fav songs:








Bollywood, how I love you. In my searches I came across this...



If you have any stories about how he may have impacted your life, I'd love to hear them.

Race


Exotic foreign cities, daring stunts, villainous plots, beautiful babes, thumping background score - it seems that Abbas-Mustan have covered the basics of "How to Make an Action film 101". However, like magicians, this directing duo have amazingly replaced solid storytelling and character development with an overly stylized package of glamour and hedonism and what we're left with is a movie that doesn't quite live up to it's potential.

The basic premise of the plot - the primary motive that drives the characters to do what they do – is as clich├ęd as can be. The opening narration, done by Anil Kapoor, goes on forever, and instead of showing us each of the characters by their actions and dialogues, we are simply just told about them. Then there's Allan Amin's action sequences - not world-class mind you, but passable... and we are treated to what I imagine is his favorite stunt - the car that starts somersaulting before it even hits anything - several times over.


And what of the actors? I liked Saif Ali Khan in 'Kal Ho Naa Ho', 'Hum Tum', even 'Ta Ra Rum Pum', so he was probably the reason I picked this movie up to begin with. It was a different role I've become accustomed to, but I thought his delivery of the serious older brother was believable - even with the beard and mammoth sized sunglasses that rarely leave his face. His expressions and the intensity in which he plays Ranvir Singh are top notch. Saif has come a long way in the last few years, and is undoubtedly one of the most under-rated actors in Bollywood today.


Akshaye Khanna played the abhorrent and sleazy Rajeev Singh well also, though he is an actor that doesn't make my roster of favorites. Having only seen in in 'Dil Chahta Hai', he was convincing as the anti-hero. Performance wise Bipasha Basu is good enough, and, while Katrina Kaif looks gorgeous, in the acting department she is strictly average. As for Sameera Reddy, her role, though minuscule has been well etched out, leaving no room for doubt about her brainless one-liners. In this movie more than any other I've seen to date, the woman serve more as desert than even a side dish.




Anil Kapoor, as the fruit munching detective RD, tries to deliver some much needed comic relief in the second (I thought the fruit bit was funny). His role, more than any other though, is riddled with holes. I mean, a detective has to report to higher authorities, don't they? Here he is the authority himself, who investigates crime like he's having a picnic on a beach. Uh-oh, deja vu has just set in - I'm sure I just saw this same cop character in another movie I just watched. Johnny Lever's cameo was funny, and it was nice to see him put together rather than all over the place.


This film is chalk full of songs. Do they all contribute to the flow of the film? Nope, but you can be sure of one thing, they'll get your feet moving. Race Sanson Ki is surely the catchiest song for me, but some of the choreography reminds me in parts of Michael Jackson's Thriller. By far the sexiest video of the bunch is Khwab Dekhe (Sexy Lady) complete with water dancing and oh-so-subtle song lyrics like "Breaths are wavering/My desires are crazy/I feel like touching your wet lips all the time ". Yikes. Cold shower please! Pehli Nazar Mein is my favorite. The combination of Atif Aslam’s vocals, soft strumming of the guitar and Sameer’s poetic lyrics makes for good music and is the highlight of the movie.



'Race' is not a great film but delivers what it promises to deliver I suppose. It's slickly photographed and has some exciting action scenes, however, there are so many twists and turns, shifting the needle of suspicion from one to the other character with numbing velocity, that by the end of it nothing really comes as a shock. Abbas-Mustan takes you from the world of horse racing (which is where I wish this movie would have stayed - I mean what was the point anyway?) to car racing, literally overusing the race theme to death. If for nothing else, watch for the hot, steamy videos.

(gratuitous half-naked pic of Saif. *sigh* )

Hote Hote Pyaar Ho Gaya


Shortly after my obsession with this fine film industry I signed up for Netflix and looked for films with any actors that I was familiar with. Kajol was one, thus lead me to the film 'Hota Hota Pyaar Ho Gaya' which I received and watched last night. Suffice to say, if you are looking for a film that literally shoves the message that there is nothing greater than an arranged shaadi, then this one's for you.

The film starts off like 80% of the other romantic Hindi films do. Feisty young boy meets even feistier young girl and the two fall quickly in love, much to disapproving parents. This is probably where the similarities end. Both are arranged to be wed to others, but instead of trying to convince parents that they are meant to be, decide to wed their respective partners and then make their lives so miserable that they've no choice but to divorce them, leaving the two free again to live happily ever after. What ensues is far from exceptional story telling, for the script is loose and the scenes look like discrete units strung together. It's a pretty amateurish attempt at making a complex storyline work.

Written and produced by Firoz Irani, this was his one and only attempt at directing, and I wonder how he was able to get such established stars as Kajol and Jackie Shroff to even make this film. Kajol's performance as Pinky, the stubborn spoilt daughter is, perhaps, the highlight of the film, though I found it hard to digest the change of heart after such deliberate rebellion. Jackie Schroff, as Kajol's miserable husband, gives a very restrained performance most of the film. He looks the mature, tolerant man he plays, and since that was what he was expected to do, you can't blame him for the weaknesses of the film.




The film is chalk full of "in your face" symbolism (check out the vermilion that is spilt conveniently landing on a picture of Kajol right in the part of her hair), bad dialogue, terrible dancing, forgettable music. Everything in this movie feels rushed. The dramatic parts are not dragged out nearly long enough. The sub-plot with the villainous bad guys (I don't even know what their deal was anyway), was superfluous and served nearly no purpose, but, boy does Jackie have an accurate arm - even when facing death in the eye!

Ayesha Jhulka plays Shobra, the under appreciated traditional wife of Bunty who turns into a modern day seductress the second she takes of her glasses and lets her hair down via Hollywood's 'She's All That'. Though the Bollywood wife who dons modern clothes just to draw her husband's attention may be just a little too cliche, it certainly grates on you when, despite the husband's superficiality, the woman goes on gushing about how much she loves him. Atul Agnihotri's character, just as his career in film, is insignificant. Halfway into the movie I almost forget he was even in it.

To get to the point, 'Hote Hote Pyar Ho Gaya' isn't the stuff that makes you wonder why all movies aren't made like this. In fact, you're certain all movies, however they are made, shouldn't be made like this. And a particular shout out to the ending for splashing the movie's so called message right on the screen - just in case you missed it!

Happy Father's Day!

I can't believe it's been almost a week since I watched a Bollywood movie. I'm not sure what's going on, I think Hollywood's taken over. I caught 'The Proposal' on Friday night with the girls - which was hilarious; then, last night it was 'Marley & Me' with the hubby. Who knew you could cry so much over a dog! WTF!? That movie confirmed all at once why I don't have pets and why I need one.

Anyway, I need some help. There's a few movies that I've started to watch and, for any number of reasons, never really got into them. Also, my pvr is starting to fill up. As there is never any description for those ones, I could sure use some help sorting the questionable from the worthy. Here's the list:

Yes Boss
Mela
Ghulam
Blackmail
Phir Milenge
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam
1947: Earth
Hote Hote Pyaar Ho Gaya

Think that's enough?

Also, it's been a while since I posted a gratuitous picture of SRK, and since it's Father's Day today, what would be better than a mini photo tribute to one of Bollywood's favorite Dads.







Happy Father's Day everyone!

Dhoom 2


*may contain spoilers*

Phew, I needed that! Round after round of serious drama has made it's way onto my DVD player, so I was beside myself after watching this movie - a movie with plenty of vigor, sex appeal beyond what any mere mortal should be exposed to and the finest action sequences I've seen from a Hindi film yet. Right from it's opening sequence, Sanjay Gadhvi has directed a film that you know is going to be much more than a standard cops-n-robbers movie. This film is loaded with style, smarts and humor. Dhoom 2 is chalk full of beautiful locations (can someone just move to Copacabana, which, until now I thought was just a Barry Manilow song), state of the art gadgetry usually reserved for the likes of James Bond and stunts that are perfectly executed (sand surfing anyone?). It certianly is a thrill ride from the word go and I loved it!

Hrithik's character Aryan is extremely intelligent and suave beyond belief - comparable to Pierce Brosnan's Thomas Crown or Val Kilmer's Simon Templar (though Simon Templar's disguises were MUCH better). I remember posting a while back that the more I see Hrithik, the more I enjoy him, and this movie did it for me. The man can certainly dance and he pulls off the loverboy image with as much aplomb as Shah Rukh, but I wonder if he'll hold up to the testament of time or if his pretty boy image and his rock hard abs will slowly fade away with age. Well, no matter, even as the so-called villain, Hrithik ruled this movie much to the chagrin of Abhishek, whose role was completely overshadowed. The only thing that bothered me about his character, and this is due to lack of story rather than acting ability, is that the movie fails to produce any kind of motivation for Aryan's chosen career path. Also we are supposed to believe without question when he gives it all up so suddenly and without relapse.


Abhishek Bachchan plays Jai (a reprisal from the first Dhoom, which I haven't seen), the hero cop very solemnly and soberly. His is a role that seems to be reduced to a mere supporting player. Why is he after this "A" with such vigor? Are there implications we don't get to see in this case, and what of his pregnant wife at home (I think I forgot he was married by interval). Bipasha Basu is smoldering as the tough lady cop, but her character Shonali is disappointingly and inexplicably dropped at the interval point in which another character, an identical twin called Monali, is introduced. Both Shonali and Monali have little significance to the movie’s story.


There's no doubt that Aishwarya Rai is one hot lady with legs that any woman would die for. Though no one should be allowed to refer to themselves in third person and get away with it, I definitely felt the chemistry between Sunehri and Aryan (the revolver scene with the kiss was one of the most intense I've ever seen in a Bollywood movie. Hot stuff!). I haven't seen Aish in much else, but she pulls off the role of girl caught in the middle convincingly enough even if I somehow sense that this bad girl image is somewhat forced. If anything else, her moves in 'Crazy Kiya Re' are worth emulating. I've heard nothing but bad things about Uday Chopra, but as the sidekick who wears his heart on his sleeve, he manages to raise a few laughs, even if the jokes tend to become a little too repetitive and you feel like he's got way too much screen-time than his character deserves.


As for the music, I thought that each of the tracks were likable in their own way, though I was way to distracted by Uday's disjointed and jerky dancing in 'My Name is Ali' to appreciate that one. Most memorable for me were the title song 'Dhoom Again' and 'Dil Laga Na', but that may be due more to the dancing than the music and lyrics.





So, a big round of applause to Sanjay Gadhvi for giving us a shiny bright action packaged present. Now, next time, he just needs to pay greater attention to the story.

Bhoothnath


Take one legendary Bollywood superstar, one slightly annoying yet amiable child, a handful of seasoned but extraneous actors, and a split personality plot and you get 'Bhoothnath'. Vivek Sharma's directorial debut starts off sweetly enough, and once you realise that it is aimed at being a kid's movie, the first half pretty much works. All is likable even through the third act, where the movie abruptly and unapologetically turns into a handkerchief-friendly melodrama-fest, but what does one really expect from a Chopra film?

That being said, there were some things I enjoyed about this film. The story rests on two shoulders — the experienced Mr. Bachchan as Bhoothnath/Kailash Nath and the raw talent of Aman Siddiqui as Banku — and both shoulder the responsibility beautifully, complimenting each other wonderfully in this grandfather/grandson type relationship (I admit I was not immune to tearing up a few times). Amitabh Bachchan continues to surprise in every film. Any other actor would've been exhausted by now and I applaud the fact that he doesn't take himself too seriously all of the time. It's a refreshing change.


As for the rest of the cast, each contributes in a moderately passable way. Satish Shah is a caricature as the school principal who eats all of the kids sandwiches and Rajpal Yadav plays the drunken bum to the hilt. Though I'm not one to turn down a man in uniform, especially when it's Shah Rukh Khan, he is simply just there with not much substance to speak of (he must have just come off the item song for 'Masta Kalandar' ponytail and all) and Juhi Chawla's performance - that one time mistress of misfits, an on-screen comedienne without compare - ends up as the most laboured one.


The story is mostly aimed at kids, but Vivek Sharma throws in some adult content right before intermission. The unanticipated accident minutes before interval and the emotional moments that follow are brilliantly executed. Ditto for the penultimate 20 minutes, right up to a pooja being organized to 'free' the spirit. Simply outstanding! In fact, the emotional quotient takes the graph of the film to an altogether different level. Even the opening credits were interesting when the candle burned out and the smoke turned into the title of the movie.

Vishal-Shekhar creates a soundtrack which feels immature, but maybe that was their aim. Among the songs, 'Aandhi' is probably the worst picturization I've ever seen in a Hindi film. Dressing the kids up like teenagers (especially the girls who nearly looked like streetwalkers - oh my!) was unnecessary and did not suit the mood for the film. The only song that really stuck in my head is 'Mere Buddy', in which Mr. Bachchan attempts to come off as one cool dude (which works for some I suppose).



Overall, if you can get past all of the impertinent fragments, 'Bhoothnath' is a lovely look at relationships between the young and, shall we say experienced. As someone who never had good relations with her grandparents, I enjoyed it even though it left me feeling a little melancholy. Something happy now please!

Naach Everyone Naach!

Last night was the first dance episode of 'So You Can Think You Can Dance' - a show I've been following since it's first year. I love watching dance and was so thrilled when Joshua and Katie did a Bollywood dance to 'Dhoom Taana' last year. I was even more excited when the show featured another Bollywood dance this year to 'Jai Ho'! I'm so happy to see this wonderfully intricate and extrememly hard (I know - I try every day!) dance style being presented on this show. It's just another wonderful part of Indian culture being exposed on this side of the world and I can't express enough how wonderful that makes me feel!

Katie & Joshua - Season 4



Jason & Caitlin - Season 5

Rang De Basanti


I was just thinking the other day how, out of all the Hindi films I've seen, there's only been 1 or 2 that have evoked any tears from me. Today I add 'Rang De Basanti' to that list. I am not Indian, nor would I characterize myself as an outwardly political person, nor do I, as Canadian, feel like I face the kind of struggles a lot of other people in the world do, but I am patriotic and I carry a huge amount on empathy for others which is probably why this movie struck such a chord with me. I probably won't be able to do it justice in this review so I will simply take a deep breath as I try to express why I totally and completely loved this film.

Director Rakeysh Mehra, I think, set out to make a film about political unrest and patriotic youth, but what the film emerged to be for me, more than anything else, was a story about friendship. You expect Aamir Khan to deliver an astounding performance and he does, despite looking a bit old to play the younger DJ, but he gets into the skin of the character and delivers a knockout performance from start to finish managing to bringing not only smiles but tears (with one of my favorite scenes being the one where DJ breaks down in Sue's apartment after Ajay's service). Yet, it is not Aamir only that you applaud in the film. Every actor is unique and leaves an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of even the most jaded cinema buff. Atul Kulkarni (Laxman) is fantastic, Kunal Kapoor (Aslam) is understated and natural, Sharman Joshi (Sukhi) is by turn hilarious and heart-breaking, Soha Ali Khan (Sonia) is a revelation, Siddharth Narayan (Karan) is absolutely outstanding, and even Alice Patten (Sue) was great as the British foreigner (she also inspired me to continue with my Hindi lessons!). This ensemble of actors is truly inspired and you can't help but feel that if you sat down with this group one evening, you'd hear stories of their experiences as a unit.


The first half of the film focuses on our group on protagonists aptly capturing the lives of the youth. The dialogues are crisp and written extremely well. This is a movie where the lines themselves are humorous and where the movie does not rely on silly situations to provide a forced "comic relief". And then comes the second half, where suddenly the plot just takes off, but unlike the MIG-21's, does not come crashing down. What you see is something that leaves you gaping at what happens, not just because you cannot imagine such a daring step being thought of and executed in a Bollywood movie, but simply because of the extremity of what happens itself.


There's huge debate on the climax and how illogical the last sequence of events are, but I've decided to look at it as the director's attempt to push his message across, even if it's somewhat far fetched. What Mehra asks us to do, however, is not far fetched. He asks us to take a good long look at ourselves, and then asks us to do something about what we see when we do. This is entirely the sort of movie that will put you at odds with yourself because there is a little bit of all of us in its characters. Thus, we sense that the things they do (or don't), we may well do (or not do). There is a moment, early in the film, where DJ, explains to us that he should have finished college years ago, but he remains there because on campus people know him, he has a name, he has the warmth and affection of his peers. If I leave this place, he says, I'll disappear into the hordes that have gone before me, and I will be and feel as insignificant as them. Certainly a sobering thought if there was one.

Cinematically speaking, the film is beautiful to watch, though the mixing of scenes from the freedom struggle with the present scenario worked only most of the time. At first I thought the sequences were stricly Sue's filming, then they became more elaborate I thought "How is she shooting this with her hand held?", then it became evident that they were entirely just narrations from the past... I think. See, confusing. Also, maybe it was just my copy, but the narrations by Sue's grandfather, which were recorded in English and then dubbed over in Hindi were missing any subtitles, as was Sue's monologue at the end. I'm sure I missed huge things during those times.


The music in this film is beautiful, melodious, and inspiring and served well to push the movie forward without overshadowing the story. The most touching and most creative piece of the album is 'Luka Chuppi' by far. Lata Mangeshkar has never sounded better in this maa-beta tune. Full props to Mr. Rahman for invigorating the piece with a sensational play of the guitar and the classical touch of the tabla. Not to mention Rahman has sung this piece with passion, as he does all his songs.



The cast, the music, the visuals, the dialogue, the whole movie in fact, is a vast mosaic of all these, a whole that is not propped up by one or two of its parts alone, and that what qualifies it as a masterpiece in my opinion.

Here's hoping

In conjunction to the teaser trailer I posted the other day, here is the full trailer for Love Aaj Kal. July 31st can not come fast enough as long as they play this one in Calgary. I can't wait!




New Tag Heuer Ads




What watch?

Think what you want about her acting, but there's no doubt that Deepika is a stunner. Check out her pics from Latin America's Vogue (incidentally, she's the first Indian actress to grace their cover - good on you girl!)



'Pardes' song "I Love India' is STILL in my head, so as I ponder when I may be able to travel India, I wondered about Aamir Khan's foray into Indian tourism. Here's the ads he did for them.





A bahut achcha day to all!

Pardes


*may contain spoilers*

I could dissect 'Pardes' into a million little morally questionable pieces or focus on the exaggerated stereotypes of the typical American NRI, and while I may mention the things that really pissed me off about this film later, I am going to focus more on what I liked about it and leave the more in-depth debates to the filmi scholars.

I remember watching Amitabh Bachchan in 'Mohabbatein' and 'K3G' and thinking how severe this man is, so serious all the time (my catalogue of his movies remains small to this day), but then I saw 'Veer Zaara' and was delighted to see a softer, likable side to his acting. I mention this because this is how I felt about Amrish Puri in this film. With 261 movies to his credit, he's probably played every role under the sun, but I've only seen him in eye boggling characters that were so over the top it was hard to imagine anyone is actually like that in real life. As Kishorilal, Amrish gave a very restrained yet amiable performance. It was a more honest depiction than I've seen from him before and whether you saw the ending coming or not, I don't think Kishorilal could have been portrayed any better.


What can I say about Shah Rukh Khan that I haven't already said? At the risk of sounding like a broken record I have to say that, had he not been in this film I may have not felt compelled to watch to the end. As Arjun Saagar, Shahrukh is impressively subtle yet very powerful. He pulls back and literally hands the stage to Mahima Chawdhry and Apurva Agnihotri. He is comical in the scenes in the farmhouse where he makes arrangements for the NRI son's visit and almost tragic as the story progresses. His evolving relationship to Ganga is the highlight of the film and, contrary to normal filmi expectations, he never tries to steal her away. The only thing I would have changed was his wardrobe. I'm not sure why he seems to be always dressed in the most ridiculously oversized suit jackets.


Mahima Chawdhry, as Ganga, is gorgeous, confident and very impressive in her first film. In doing my research I discovered that Madhuri Dixit was first slated to play the lead, and while I think Madhuri is stunning in everything I've seen her in, I thought Mahima did a fantastic job. Not only does she do justice to the innocent heroine, but really kicks it up a notch at just the right moments. On the other hand, the other newcomer, Apoorva Agnihotri (Rajiv) is unfortunately not as impressive. I know that his was suppose to be the so-called villain in this flick, and maybe it's to his credit, but I could not stand him. I couldn't stand his arrogance, his disrespect, his looks - all of it made my skin crawl. I would have rather saw someone like Akshaye Khanna in this role, who would have played the insolent son brilliantly I'm sure.


Director Subhash Ghai (who also wrote the story and screenplay) plays his cards close to his chest very effectively. He tries to confuse us a little with the girl looking at pictures of both Shahrukh and Apurva without knowing which is her intended but that whole incident is a red herring and would have been better served had it gone on a little longer. There are a only two ways of breaking up the engagement and still retain the innocence and indian-ness of Ganga and he uses one of them. This is where the debate begins. Stereotypes of any kind can be harmful, be it against NRI's, American's or any other nationality for that matter. Instead of instilling every negative American stereotype into Apurva's character, Subhash Ghai should have gone with a few shades of gray rather than strictly black and white.

The other things I thought were superfluous include the two "bad guys" who appear on the train ramp towards the end who seem about as scary as a Richard Simmons exercise video; the entire subplot with the other family who Ganga's betrothal was promised (I don't even remember their names - all I remember was how hairy the sons chest was. Yikes!); and the subsequent kabaddi game which seemed like an overly complicated game of tag that I just didn't get.


Also, the music didn't seem to add that much for me. The only song I even remember is "I Love India" which is still stuck in my head. For the most part I thought there was an overabundance of music in the first hour or so that only seemed to bog the story down. I was thrilled when it picked up the pace after interval.

Overall, I'm glad that I watched this film. For all of it's hackneyed stereotypes and my aversion to Rajiv, I left satisfied and also squealed "OMG, I was there!" with delight when they showed a scene in front of a Las Vegas motel who's sign graces my photo album. On to the next one!

The hardest part now is the waiting

With the strike over we need to prepare for the flood of movies heading our way. While I have a looooong wait still for new Shah Rukh, I suppose I'll have to pass the time happily and hopefully with gifts from our other Bolly favorites. Some promo pics and trailers to tied us through....


What age difference? Saifu looks amazing in this film!







Bebo and Akki...together again. This star studded Hollywood infused Bollywood is sure to be a huge hit.




Shahid in a double role...hmmmmm....


And the countdown begins..............

Does age really matter that much?

I can't even imagine Shah Rukh looking physically any better than in 'Om Shanti Om', but apparently Farah Khan has other ideas - as long as she doesn't turn him into one of those grotesque over muscly meatheads. More on 'Happy New Year'.




Also, in my rounds I discovered this which makes me very sad. To me, acting is not in the same category as professions like fashion or sports, where youth is valued and once you've past your prime you may as well pack it in (though there are some exceptions for sure). Hollywood has some great examples of sexy older men still doing romantic leads like:

Richard Gere (Nights in Rodanthe)


Pierce Brosnan (The Thomas Crown Affair)


George Clooney (Leatherheads)


All of these men, even including Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise are examples of classic leading men who still pack a wild punch in the love department (and each and every one of them is older than Shah Rukh). Just because we age doesn't mean we don't love!

Lakshya


*may contain spoilers*

I don't like war movies. I never have - I even fell asleep during 'Saving Private Ryan'. When I put 'Lakshya' on, I didn't know what it was about as it was recorded on my pvr and there's never any description for the movies on B4U, so I was amazed that, not only did I make it through 'Lakshya', but I actually enjoyed it.

The first thing that struck me was how cinematically stunning the opening scenes were. Rolling hills, magnificent mountains, beautiful clear skies. Right from the beginning to the finale, the movie skillfully captures the captivating visuals with expert cinematography. The breathtaking landscape that comes alive on screen leaves a strong impression.


I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was a Farhan Aktar film, since I've already become a huge fan of both his direction and acting. I'm sure there was a lot riding on this film for him, being his sophomore attempt, but I think he did a fine job. With 'Lakshya' there is a sense of maturity in Farhan's storytelling and direction, and the plot is extremely grounded. While the first half of the movie focuses on the angst of a young man, his directionless life, and his subsequential maturing and metamorphoses into a soldier, the second half the story moves into the battlefield, into the bunkers and shows the realities of war, the loss of lives and the triumph of the human spirit. There is no denying that the battle scenes and the special rock-climbing operation are brilliantly picturized. The research gone into giving the film its authenticity is admirable. However, the war surprisingly and suddenly takes the film over, and, as a result, the hour and a half long pre-interval parable seems to have been lost in the process.


Acting-wise, Hrithik Roshan excels in his portrayal of Karan Shergill. He has brought out the transition of irresponsible, aimless youth to a determined and focused person extremely effectively. When his character returns to military training you see his metamorphosis into a man obsessed. The scene where he reconciles with his father over the phone before setting out on his mission is dignified and soulful and was the only scene in the entire film to bring a tear to my eye. Priety Zinta, as Romila Dutta, was strictly okay for me. It was nice seeing her play a strong independent woman, but her character, and the romantic subplot, could have really shone had she been more involved in the war in a journalistic nature. Just imagine Karan trying to plant that flag and save the girl from peril!


Om Puri, Sharad Kapoor, Rajendranath Zutshi, Sushant Singh, and Boman Irani round out an amazingly stellar cast in strong supporting roles. However, the biggest disappointment comes in the lack of depth in Sunil Damle’s character, played by Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. The Colonel’s character poses absolutely no challenge to Mr. Bachchan’s acting abilities, plus I had a hard time concentrating on his dialogues due to his weird wig-like hairstyle.

The music by Shankar-Ehsan-Loy suits the tone of the movie, especially the score, which was mellifluous and patriotic at the same time. Though there still are several lyrical songs in the film, there is also a lack of the usual big Bollywood numbers, save one, as Farhan wisely limits them to carefully selected arenas and uses them strictly to propel forward the story. He does, however, recognize that he has one of the most gifted dancers in Bollywood and in the film's only real item number, 'Main Aisa Kyon Hoon', he lets Hrithik cut loose in a strange and wonderfully choreographed piece by Prabhu Deva.



I was really surprised to read that this film flopped in cinemas in India. I thought that, between the star power, the visual spectacle that it was and the patriotic message in embodied, the population would have flocked to theatres. At any rate, it must have had at least a little something special for me to stay glued for it's entirety. I can successfully cross "War" genre off my list!