Well, it's that time of year again. The presents have been played with, the tree waits patiently to be taken down and plans for how to spend the last night of the year are under way. As it is so incredibly difficult to find a babysitter, we are going to be having a quiet night at home again (blah!), though I'm still going to have a martini in one hand an and apple pie shooter in the other (so yum!). Have to try and ring the new year in with a little style, right!?
As I reflect on the year that has been, despite not really making any new year's resolutions last year, it has been a year of personal growth, discovery and angst. I committed myself to a workout regiment and nutritional program that resulted in a huge milestone in my weight loss goal (50 lbs!), I made some really terrific friends online through twitter (thanks to Shah Rukh, who was really the only reason I went on in the fist place), I continued my Bollywood education (though you must forgive me, the latter half of the year it's been difficult to keep on top of my movie collection). I've also had to deal with the ongoing saga that is my friendship with my bff, and I sometimes think that things will never get back to the way they used to be, all on account of my marriage, which is also a continuing work in progress. My 6 yr old started grade one and my 3 year old finally got potty trained. I had moderate success with my card classes and struggled half the year keeping and getting kids in my dayhome. Ah, life, you are a roller coaster personified, aren't you?
Well, I am going to continue not making resolutions this year and am just going to keep trying my best to keep on the same track I'm on. HOWEVER, I really need to get back to the movie watching. I tried watching critically acclaimed Love, Sex Aur Dokha last night and couldn't get past the 2nd story. If this is parallel cinema, then I am going to firmly stay planted in the land of masala, heart wrenching kjo dramas and frothy, light hearted rom coms. I've got so many movies sitting on my dvd shelf waiting to be watched, but none of them are calling to me. Maybe some help from my bolly blogging buddies is in order? Here's the list of what's waiting downstairs. Help me out people, what do I NEED to watch?
Apna Sapna Money Money
Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge?
Chor Machaye Shor
Chori Mera Kaam
Chori Chori Chupke Chupke
Deewane Huye Paagal
Dil Hai Tumhaara
Duniya Meri Jeb Main
Gora aur Kala
Haan...Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya
Heaven on Earth
Hum Saath-Saath Hain
Insaaf Ka Tarazu
Maine Pyaar kyun Kiya
Mujhse Shaadi Karogi
Phir Hera Pheri
Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha
Seeta Aur Geeta
Now that that is out of the way, let me wish all my wonderful followers, commentors, friends and family a wonderful New Years!
I wish you Health...
So you may enjoy each day in comfort.
I wish you the Love of friends and family...
And Peace within your heart.
I wish you the Beauty of nature...
That you may enjoy the work of God.
I wish you Wisdom to choose priorities...
For those things that really matter in life.
I wish you Generousity so you may share...
All good things that come to you.
I wish you Happiness and Joy...
And Blessings for the New Year.
I wish you the best of everything...
That you so well deserve.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO MY DEAREST FRIENDS NEAR OR FAR!
Well, it's nearing the end of 2010 - I can't quite believe how fast this year went - and that usually means lists are going to start popping up all over the place. Even though I know that the year is not quite up, I seriously doubt that I will get a chance to see anymore new releases this year (especially since I'm going to try and do a complete Harry Potter reread and rewatch this month), so I'm going to recap what films I thought were outstanding or left the biggest impact with me this year. So, without further ado, here are my pics for the best of 2010.
The anticipation for this movie was probably the most I've seen for a film yet, and reviews were definitely split. Some raved about it, loving Shah's take on Rizwan and the love story between him and Mandira, some thought the depiction of Georgia was incredibly stereotypical and had problems with how American's were portrayed. I say a movie is a success if it gets people talking about it in any capacity, and MNIK certainly got people talking. I thought Rizwan was probably Shah's best character so far in his career and the movie touched me on many different levels. You can read my full review here. It was not an easy movie for me to watch, but will always remain one of my favorites.
When I think of Ishqiya I think of incredible acting by some very talented individuals (Naseeruddin Shah and Vidya Balan are both outstanding in this film), I think of a great OST (Ibn-e-Batuta and Dil To Bachcha Hai will probably always stand out as some of my favorites), but mostly I think of how incredibly hot Arshad was in this film, and his scenes with Vidya throughout the film are so steamy you can't help but sit up and take notice. If you haven't seen this film yet, go watch it and then come back and see if you agree with my review.
My most recent viewing was Salman Khan's Dabangg. You can read my full review here. Arbaaz Khan's offering makes my list for many reasons, but mainly because this movie is just too much fun to not enjoy and it may be responsible for changing my mind about Salman Khan, not an easy task. I just posted my review so I feel like I'm being being a little redundant, but I can't stress how much I enjoyed this movie. Salman's characterization of Chulbul was so awesome you can't help but admire his candor. If you haven't seen this film, grab a group of friends, a large bucket of popcorn and prepare to laugh your ass off!
For me, it was an Arshad kind of year. Hum, Tum Aur Ghost was, so far, the first and only Internet watchalong experience I've had, which totally enhanced the film for me. As for the movie, I thought it was a nice twist on the usual romance churned out (not that I don't usually enjoy rom-coms, I love 'em), but I liked the added depth of drama that Arshad's first production had. This film was certainly panned by the critics and fans alike, but I thought it was a lovely film. Check out all my reasons here.
The one thing I have said over and over again is how much I hate being so far away from an Indian cinema. Movies I'm still really looking forward to seeing from this year include Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, Action Replayy, It's a Wonderful Afterlife, Golmaal 3, Tees Maar Khan and Guzaarish. I also still have Love, Sex aur Dhokha, Atithi Tum Kab, Ravaan, and Road, Movie waiting in the wings on my dvd shelves. I've said it once (or twice) and I'll say it again. So many movie, such little time.
So, there you have it. My fav's of 2010. What were your favorite films this year and why?
Looking forward to 2011 though it will be another year full of waiting (a Diwale release for Ra.One is just about going to kill us Shah fans!). I can't wait to see what the fraternity brings us!!!!
Coming soon...my favorite songs of the year!
Every once in a while a film comes along that hits the nail right on the head. A film that makes you retract all your pre-established thoughts regarding a certain actor or a certain genre of film. A film that begs to be watched over and over again because is it JUST THAT GOOD! The moment I saw the trailer for Dabangg I was compelled to see it, despite the fact that it was a Salman Khan vehicle. It showed great promise of being one helluva good time, and when something has that kind of pull on you what else are you suppose to do except give in and enjoy the ride? So that's exactly what I did!
My repertoire of true masala flicks is shamefully short, so I don't have a whole lot to compare Arbaaz Khan's offering to, but one thing I do know is that first time director Abhinav Kashyap knows his stuff. Dabangg has got a most excellent mix of actions, romance, comedy, melodrama, fantastic music, hot item girl number and the most brilliantly cheesy shirt ripping off sequence I have ever seen (and I am not kidding - I had to rewind and watch it several times!).
Besides the aforementioned shirt scene, there was so much I loved about this film. We get a bit of family history right at the beginning and then it's BAM! - right into the action. I have to honestly say that I didn't care for the violent action in Salman's Wanted, but here the fighting is choreographed so well. We get a bit of Matrix in there, but it's all done with a comical edge that it feels fresh and exciting. When Chulbul stops in the middle of a fight scene to dance to a ringtone I just about died laughing! This is the type of humour that is clearly present throughout the movie. That's not to say that the fight scenes are funny. Far from it. Salman Khan means business when he's dealing with the bad guys, even if he punctuates the ending with a chuckle. It's just the type of film that is way OTT and doesn't take itself seriously at all, which is 100% the point!
Central to the story is Chulbul's quest to win the headstrong Rajo's heart and hand, played strongly by newcomer Sonakshi Sinha, but, like any good Hindi film, there's so much more! We get family drama that sees Chulbul butting heads with a step-father (Vinod Khanna)who has never accepted him and his useless bhai Makkhi (Arbaaz Khan who looks strangely like an Indian version of Quentin Tarantino with a moochi to me), all while loving Hindi maa (Dimple Kapadia) tries to keep the peace. Politics plays a part as well as we see the corrupt, power hungry and extremely buff (!) Chedi Singh (Sonu Sood) looking to consolidate power and get rid of the competition, and that includes a certain cop that keeps getting in his way. There's a lot going on, but the glue that binds it all together is the self appointed Robin Hood who steals from the bad and gives to himself. It's all about Chulbul people!
And this movie is all about Salman Khan. There is not a single doubt in my mind that Sallu bhai is the only actor out there that had the sheer audacity, chutzpah if you will, to play this character. Every line, every expression, every dance move screams Salman and he does it with such panache that you can't help but enjoy the ride he's taking you on. I am generally not a fan of Salman, really only enjoying him thus far in Andaz Apna Apna, but whether it was his own personality shining through (as he has often said that he doesn't ever act, he just plays different versions of himself), or his snappy comic timing, but Salman is Chulbul, no doubt about it, and THE reason to watch this film!
Add to the action, the hoopla, the amour a killer OST by Sajid-Wajid complete with some very interesting choreography. Munni Badnaam, Hud Hud Dabangg and Humka Peeni Hai are all extremely danceable. I won't ever forget project Munni, but even if shaking your tail feather isn't quite your thing, the songs are seriously catchy, even the movie's ballads are interesting to watch on screen.
(Loving the dancing in this - esp the belt move!)
Over the top and extremely fun, self mockery or not, Dabangg makes it's way onto my list of one of the best films of the year!
I need to preface this review by telling you that I am a HUGE fan of dance. I love shows like So You Think You Can Dance for exposing and promoting so many genres of dance and I can watch item songs for hours admiring the dancing, so ask me how excited I was to put on a movie called Naach? I had high hopes, the kind that Chance Pe Dance didn't quite fulfill, and I loved Rangeela, despite it's nightmare inducing speedo scene. However, that being said, I was familiar with the type of work he's done currently, yet that didn't seem to stop me from treading into the murky disconnected "realistic" world that is Ram Gopal Varma.
There is a basic, very basic, story involved. Aspiring actor meets aspiring choreographer, she teaches him how to dance, they fall in love, he makes it big and leaves her in the dust. Will she find her own path? Will the two lovers reunite and make mediocre music videos again? Will you even care? If you are brave enough to venture into this territory, you just might find out.
One thing I have to give Varma credit for, he doesn't pollute the finished product with a lot of plot twists or dialogue. There were so many points in this film where I wondered if perhaps the writers had gone on strike and all we were left with was more tantric twisting from Antara Mali and brooding stares from Abhishek. In fact, there was so much stretching in this film I thought we were getting ready to run a marathon. Don't get me wrong, Antara has got one hell of a killer body, but watching someone do this
all in slow motion is just not my idea of fascinating dance! Shall I go on? Well, let's just say it gets old FAST! We get it, Antara. You are a contortionist. And completely full of yourself. Next time I want to take a hot yoga class I'll call you. Then you won't have to actually pretend to "act" in any more movies. Okay!? Have we got a deal? Good!
I have to say that the girl does have a few good thoughts in the film. This is my favorite:
However, it didn't save us from this nightmare worthy move.
There's a lot of debate that floats in the blogging community over Abhishek's ability to actually emote as he acts. I've always been on the side that usually enjoys his films. That being said, he is completely lazy in this movie, relying solely on those sullen looks I mentioned earlier and deadpan delivery. I'm guessing he gets excited over his big break, but mostly I think he's just bored with it all.
That being said, Abhishek gives me my favorite line of the movie:
If you can wade through all the drivel, there is one thing that redeems this movie, if only slightly, in my eyes and that is the wonderful performance of Ritesh Deshmukh, who plays film director Diwakar. A different role for me, as I'm used to him being the underdog buddy or love interest, but he was extremely convincing from the word go. In fact, the chemistry between Ritish and Antara was much more credible than with Abhishek. He looked like a love sick puppy and I just wanted to hug him and tell him to go find a girl worthy of his affection.
Not only did I not get the dancing (which was far too abstract for me), but the music did nothing for me either. I get that Varma likes to experiment within his filmmaking, but it's just too out there for me I guess. Plus I never realized that music videos were that big in India? Is there a whole platform I'm unaware of? Someone please educate me!!
And a final word from the master of meh...
Don't be too sure RGV. Not all your audience are mindless drones.
Oh My Gosh! I simply ADORE Farah Khan, so how excited was I to catch the newly released trailer for her new movie starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif?
Check it out!...
How fun does that look!? Seriously! Farah's movies are just above brilliance for me. The costumes, the style, the music! I can not wait! This could just be the movie that does it for Akshay and Katrina for me.
And the newly released Tees Maar Khan theme song.
Very James Bond sounding, na? I wait with anticipation to hear the rest of the ost! I'm sure it will deliver.
Wishing my beloved darling Shah a wonderful 45th birthday!
You are my light when it's dark, my joy when there's sorrow, my happiness always.
Wishing you many many more wonderful years of love.
Just in case you want to refresh your memory, check out all the reasons I love Shah Rukh here.
And to commemorate this very special event this year, a few of my favorite Shah songs:
Mere Mehboob is one of my go to songs for when I need cheering up. Shah is adorable to the nth degree in this, plus the song is so catchy. It just instantly brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. Poor Sonali doesn't stand a chance!
Though I've probably posted this on my blog several times, I can not not do a fav's list and leave Kal Ho Na Ho off. It is, without a doubt, my favorite Sonu song, and a wonderfully beautiful picturization in a film that will always remain one of my all time favorites.
This song still remains #1 on my top 25 played itunes, even after 2 years of constantly putting new music on there. Even though I haven't seen the original Don yet (though it sits on my dvd shelf waiting its turn), this song doesn't serve any purpose in the updated film except perhaps to pay homage to the original. That being said, I LOVE that they put it in regardless. It's fun, Shah looks fantastic, the music is peppy and Udit is so perfect that it just flows so seamlessly between his singing and Shah's bit.
I fell in love with this song immediately when I saw it. Yes Boss was a film that I tried watching when I first started watching Hindi film and I didn't quite get it. When I finally got around to putting it back on the dvd player I wondered how I could have NOT gotten it back then. Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaoon is a cute little song, but what I like about it the most is how completely cute and quirky Shah is in it trying his very best to win the gorgeous Juhi over without her quite knowing it. Such perfection!!!
Om Shanti Om will always be a movie that I will hold dear to my heart. It was the first movie I bought online, the first time I saw Shah in all his ab glory, the first film I watched over and over and over again. Ajab Si was also the first song I learned the words to. Beautifully sung by KK, it's wonderful how Farah uses it twice in the movie when Om sees Shanti for the first time. It's a whole lot of firsts and that's why it lands on my list.
Okay, so I could go on and on, but I think I'll stop at five for now. What are your favorite Shah songs?
As I finish up this post, it is nearing the end of Shah's birthday in Berlin, or Rome or wherever he is tonight! Once again, happy birthday my darling!!
A mistaken identity, hit men, murder, petty thieves, a diamond heist, romance! Raj Kaushal's Anthony Kaun Hai? promises to be a non stop comic thriller, according to it's dvd sleeve, but I'd have a hard time categorizing it as such. To me, it plays out more as a comedic crime drama with romantic undertones. Certainly there doesn't seem to be any real elements of the typical thriller, in my opinion, but that doesn't mean that this movie isn't worth your time because there are so many things that work for it.
The film is told in a series of flashbacks as Champak 'Champ' Chaudhary (Arshad Warsi) attempts to convince the cool and stylish Master Madan (Sanjay Dutt) that he's been the victim of mistaken identity. Champ, a small time crook specializing in documentation fraud, is arrested the day of his nuptials and spends 6 months in a prison where he meets a supposedly dumb and deaf inmate, Raghuvir Sharma (Raghuvir Yadav), serving a life sentence of stealing diamonds. The two hatch a plan to spring Raghuvir from prison, reclaim and split the stolen gems, and live their lives in splendor, Sharma with his daughter Jia (Minissha Lamba) and Champ with his lost love Rosa. However, as it usually goes, life has other plans when a series of hit men derail the two's plans.
While this movie was most likely marketed on the existing comedy genius of Arshad and Sanjay as a pair, this film belongs solely to Arshad. I mentioned recently that I enjoy Arshad's comedy, but was more directly drawn to those roles of his where the comedy is more subtle. Rather than the in your face physical haha's or overblown laughs that seem like they try to hard, I much prefer the subtle, more realistic comedy, and that's what we get from him here (aside from the hair and beaded beard that is!). Because the basis of the film revolves around his story and how he becomes mistaken for Anthony Gonzalves, Arshad has plenty of screen time to fill, and his recounts are compelling to watch. The thing about Arshad is, even if he's playing a small time crook and deadbeat, he is always still so likable. Now that is a quality you can't fake! Also I think I am officially turning watching Arshad's films into my very own drinking game. Is there a single film of his where he's not chugging back a beer, a shot, a jigger of some sort? I'm beginning to think not, but that's okay - I'm all for method acting!
A shout out to Sitaji - I'm not sure if this is Johnny Walker, but it is for sure whiskey and it has a black label, so I'm entering it into the Sitaji collection of JW sightings (though it could also be JD?)
Sanjay Dutt features prominently in the film as the suit wearing, wine drinking, Ferrari driving hitman Master Madan. Apparently the only thing he likes more than money is film (aaah, an assassin after my own heart), which is ideal really, otherwise there would have been no story! He is all business when it comes to dealing with those in his way, but he does it in such a refined manner. Yes, there is a place in this world for the gentleman killer after all.
Minissha, Raghuvir and Gulshan Grover as Inspector Suraj Singh round out the cast. As the love interest, Minissha does a good job and gets a chance to actually act rather than just look good. There's something about her eyes that are kind of mesmerizing. Raghuvir and Gulshan serve as just filler to me. Not bad, but not great.
Like most films, there are flaws in Kaushal's film, but the biggest for me was the music which was helmed by Himesh Reshammiya. A strong effort I suppose, but even now, thinking back to the songs, I can't recall a single one which is strange because the film is chalf full of them (seven to be exact). I do, however, remember one song only because it includes a wet Arshad frolicking in water. I know, but what's a girl to do?
One last tidbit, specifically for Sitaji again, a variation on the "tight slap"....
Who exactly is Anthony Gonzalves? Well, I guess you'll have to watch to find out, but at least it will be an interesting ride!
I haven't done a top 5 Thursday in a while, so today I thought what better than showcasing my top 5 favorite actresses of all time. There are so many talented females out there, and lots of them come and go, but then there are those woman who continue to prove themselves on and off the screen continually making quality films. Though no one's repertoire is without the occasional flop, what defines a true actress to me is what comes next, that she continue to stretch herself and try new things, even if they don't work. Beauty, brains and passion define my top 5 ladies.
So much more than just dimples, Preity remains consistent on my blog and in my heart as a favorite actress. Though her filmography has lessened over the years, some of her work in the early 2000s lands on my list of favorites. Kal Ho Na Ho, Veer Zaara, KANK, Salaam Namaste, even Jhoom Barabar Jhoom - all movies enhanced by her beauty, tone and delivery. Cute, yes, but also brassy and socially conscious. See my previous post on all the reasons I love her here . Preity is the quintessential girl next door, and someone I could see being BFF's with!
When I think of classic and ethereal, Audrey comes to mind. She, quite simply, is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen grace the silver screen. While I haven't seen all of her movies, Breakfast at Tiffany's and My Fair Lady remain constant favorites and continue to stand the test of time even now. Also I'm pretty sure she is responsible for my fascination with large brim hats! What Audrey left was a legacy, one that would try to be replicated (I see bits and pieces of her in Natalie Portman every now and then), but can never be reproduced. Timeless and sheer perfection!!
Rani was my first. She helped introduce me to this wonderful world of Hindi cinema, and so she will always have a special spot in my heart. No matter what silly irreverent tabloid newsbits she comes up against, I will always hold Rani in a position of class. To me she comes across as a very soft but determined actress capable of doing both the romantic lead and the more serious stories. While some would argue she is past her prime, I think she's only getting better with age. The sweet little girl we saw enter the screen in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai has grown into a stunning woman. They say good things come in small packages, don't they!?
Kate has been my longest female crush. I first saw her in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures (which also launched the amazing Melanie Lynskey), the true life story of two best friends who lose themselves in a fantasy world and end up committing murder. It was the beginning of what would be a filmography chalk full of every kind of movie imaginable. Kate has done the blockbuster (yes, I admit I am a Titanic fan and saw the movie 8 times in theatre), the arthouse film, the serious drama, the crime thriller, the romantic comedy. She's pure theatrical gold and is one of the few actresses today that isn't scared to take anything on, including nudity. Not only is she ballsy, but without a doubt a stunningly gorgeous girl.
Arguably my favorite Hindi actress, there's nothing I don't love about Kajol. Not only do I think she is stunningly beautiful, but she has a fierce wit that can challenge anyone (I've seen her spar with the best and win). Her role as Mandira in last year's My Name is Khan, is one of my favorite female roles ever (as a mother it shakes me to my core everytime I watch her break down). Whereas some actresses decide to live a life as wife and mother when they get married, I applaud Kajol's decision to stay in the industry despite being a married mother of two. She brings so much richness to the screen even now, whether playing the blind girl, the terminal ex-wife, the distraught mother, Kajol's acting has matured just as she has. I hope she continues for a long long time. Plus we're the same age, so I consider her my Indian soul sister!
Upon searching youtube I stumbled across this song from the movie Yeh Dillagi, which I've never seen, but it's apparently a remake of the Audrey Hepburn film Sabrina, so now I must find it. Very cute song with Akshay Kumar. If anyone has seen it let me know how it is.
So there you have it. My top 5 leading ladies. Long live the strong female actress!!!