London Dreams/Munnabhai MBBS

Wow, what happened to April. I don't know about you, but it seems like time is perpetually stuck on fast forward. Either that or all the days are melding into one giant cluster. Anyway, though my time has been taken over once again with card designing, I still have managed to take in a few movies. Here's a couple of thoughts...

Sometimes all it takes for me to watch a film is one song. In this case it was a few, as I think the soundtrack to London Dreams is just about brilliant. And that's a compliment to the Shankar Eshaan Loy team, because it meant I was willingly going to sit through an entire movie with Salman Khan!

London Dreams stars Ajay Devgn as Arjun, the man who's only aspiration in life is to perform at Wimbley Stadium, thus setting right the disastrous embarrassment his family suffered at the hands of his grandfather. Salman Khan plays Mannu, the childhood friend with a natural gift for music that could possibly help Arjun achieve his goals, if a predictable case of the green eyed monster doesn't set in first.

I actually didn't mind this film. I thought Ajay was his handsome brooding self, though to be perfectly honest I could have done without the physical self-discipline. Despite the fact that Vipul Shah probably should have cast someone a little younger for the role, he carries it well. Salman, well what can I say about Salman? He had some fairly important scenes in the film and yet I managed to laugh out loud several times at scenes that were sometimes intentionally funny, sometimes not. If there's one thing I can give him credit for, he sure knows hot to play the ignorant buffoon to a tee! Asin, as the boy's love interest, wasn't nearly as memorable or engaging for me as her role in Ghajini. She was lovely to look at though.

What I remember most about London Dreams is the ending though (and probably not for the right reasons). All I can say is someone must have gotten a heck of a deal on plastic water bottles. Not a bad time pass film I suppose.

I watched Lage Raho Munnabhai quite some time ago, and was really impressed with the way Rajkumar Hirani told his story Munna. Would the first in the series be better or worse than it's successor? The film starts off much in the same fashion that LRMB does, with Munna's goons participating in some charade that's relevant to their "social work". Soon, we discover that it is time for an annual parental visit from the Mumbia crime don's family and watch in amazement as every single person helps transform the area into a very effective looking hospital facade, complete with patients and medical instruments. Oh the lengths we go to impress our parents. However, enter Dr. Asthana (Bowman Irani), and soon all hell breaks loose, shattering Munna's duplicity and breaking the trust this small family had. Deciding not to roll over and give up, Munna decides that he has to turn his lies into reality and heads off to medical school, a journey that includes more hi jinx, some heartwarming moments, lessons learned and some romance all wrapped up in a pretty comical package. Though the be honest, I could have done without the romance bit.

Sanjay Dutt is really just the perfect actor to play Murli Prasad Sharma, and I find it very interesting to take a character that's suppose to be rough and make him so completely sympathetic. Murli craves acceptance from his father, yearns for love and understands the differences between what is morally right and wrong. So he does a little bit of kidnapping on the side - most of Murli's road's paved with good intentions. LRMB was the first movie I'd seen Arshad Warsi in, and I loved him as Circuit. He is the perfect accompaniment to Munna's character, and though he doesn't have a whole lot of extensive dialogues in the film, his sheer presence, his expressions and mannerisms make him a force of comedic talent. Bowman, as always, does a good job in a role that's more caricature then realistic, but what else do we expect from Mr. Irani? Jimmy Shergill has a small role as a patient that's bound to draw out a sympathetic tear, and Gracy Singh (Dr. Suman Asthana) gives the film some feminine charm.

If I had to compare the two, I would say that Lage Raho has a slight edge for two reasons: Arshad Warsi's role as Circuit is more developed, giving the actor more opportunities to shine, and the music is catchier. I had to revisit youtube to even remember the songs in MBBS. However, M Bole To is fun to watch.

One last note. I'm not sure how accurate the info I found is, but I read somewhere that Shah Rukh was the initial choice for Murli, and all I can say is thank goodness that wasn't the case because Sanjay personifies Munna 100%, and the movie would have been very very different had Shah starred.


Or I am more aptly naming this "Hot Holy Damn, Arshad Warsi is Too Sexy For Words!" Okay, now that I've got that out of my system for now, I have to say that I was very excited to see this movie. I remember seeing the promo trailer eons ago and thought it reminded me quite a bit of the Cate Blanchett/Billy Bob Thornton/Bruce Willis film Bandits. While that movie did include a love triangle between the three leads, that is where the similarities end.

Directed by first time director Abhishek Chaubey, who cut his teeth writing screenplays and assistant directing for movies like Omkara, The Blue Umbrella and Kaminey, all which were critically acclaimed (though to be honest I tried watching Kaminey once and fell asleep). What Chaubey achieves in this film is the perfect balance of comedy, gritty realism and romance resulting in a wonderfully compelling, extremely well written story of two down and outs who find much more than either of them are looking for.

The movie begins with Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) finding themselves in a bit of hot water with Mushtaq Bhai (Salman Shahid) for something we're not quite sure, but there's a history there and it involves money and ice. Our boys are resourceful though and find themselves at the doorstep on an old cell-mate, who has unfortunately expired. However, his widow, Krishna (Vidya Balan) cautiously let's them in, and thus begins the foundation to our story.

Both of the men are instantly drawn to Krishna, for she is a crafty sorceress, selectively choosing which sides of her personality to expose to each man. And it works. Tapping into both Khalu and Babban's desires, Krishna hatches a plot that will solve all of their financial problems, but no scheme ever goes off as you originally plan, and what ensues is a roller coaster ride complete with unexpected twists and turns.

Ishqiya is one of those films that relies heavily on performance. It is almost entirely dialogue driven so you'd better hope that you have actors on board that can give the script the kind of genius it requires. Luckily for us, we get that in all three actors. Naseeruddin Shah is one of the those actors that demands respect even if you've never before seen another one of his movies. As Khalu, he expresses every characteristic of an aging man who falls for a young woman so wonderfully that you believe he has a genuine chance of winning her. His performance comes off as effortless, which is almost what you'd expect, but still leaves you in awe.

Thank God that we are getting to see some strong roles played by equally strong women. Vidya Balan has been on my radar for some time, but in this film she just shines! There are not many actresses out there than can emote such a variation of emotions at once. Yet, as Krishna, Vidya perfectly plays a character which requires her to look madly in love, vulnerable & helpless yet tough & menacing, the epitome of grace one moment yet wild and seductive the next, sometimes without even uttering a word. Absolutely one of the very best roles I have seen of Vidya's ever. Plus I'd kill to have Vidya's eyebrows (Okay, not really relative to the film, but they're really awesome!)

Arshad Warsi, oh my gosh, what can I say? There's something about Arshad that compels me to watch him. He is often the only good thing in otherwise sub par movies, at least for me, but in Ishqiya, I was absolutely blown away! With his kohl ringed eyes, ready wit, goofy grin, aggressive sexuality, angry stare and lovable roguishness, Babban is a force to be reckoned with. *spoiler* Though it was reported that he was very nervous about a crucial kissing scene in the film, it paid off big time, and is one of those erotically charged scenes that will be remembered in Hindi cinema for some time.*end spoiler* With Ishqiya under his belt, maybe we'll get to see Arshad in roles that he was born to play, instead of the secondary comic relief, because, man on man, does he have something very special! I'm very much looking forward to watching his first home production Hum, Tum Aur Ghost where he plays the lead romantic role. Also, if anyone is interested, Filmigirl will be hosting an international watchalong of HTAG on May 7th. Go here to register.

A quick note on the cast's chemistry. One word: perfection. We get a complete sense of camaraderie between uncle and nephew with Babban and Khalu in every sense. They love and fight with each other as real family would in a very believable way. The sexual tension between Khrisna and Babban is undeniably sweltering, and I applaud Chaubey for pushing the envelope.

Though the story and performances are undoubtedly key in the success of Ishqiya, I have to make special mention of the wonderful cinematography. No gringy cities, no European locations, only rural India, and every frame is shot to enhance its beauty. Also, no Hindi movie would be complete without music. The film's music, from Vishal Bhardwaj, is brilliant. Not only do we get to hear some beautiful older tunes (if someone knows what the opening song is called by the group of singers when Babban and Khalu are dancing, let me know), but there are clear winners on the soundtrack. Dil to Bachcha Hai and Ibn-E Batuta, which has been stuck in my head for days (watch the dvd special edition for a fun picturization), are my favorites, but the whole soundtrack is beautiful. Even the background score is fantastic, and fits the overall feel of the movie perfectly.

Run, don't walk, and watch this film. It is officially my new favorite Hindi movie. Also, make sure to watch all the special features on the dvd. In addition to Ibn-E Batuta, there's also a terrific making of featurette, as well as loads of deleted scenes (including a small shower scene for those Arshad fans!). Absolute perfection.

Top 5 Thursday - Item Songs

I've mentioned before, probably more than once, that twitter has become an increasingly large part of my daily life, so when my fritters (twitter friends for anyone not familiar with tweetspeak) came up with the idea to do a top 5 Thursday, of course I was in! Last week was actually our first, but the subject was your top 5 favorite sexy pics of your #1 celebrity crush, and I didn't think you'd want to be submitted to pic after pic of sexy Shah Rukh (though if I'm wrong let me know! I can always post them). So I thought why not start posting them here as a weekly feature?

I know everyone's expecting me to put songs on here like Dard-E Disco, Maahi Ve, Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte (and believe me I super love them too), but I am always looking to expand my knowledge, and, in my research to find my favorites, I have come across some songs that I'm going to call my new favorite item songs. So without further ado, my new favorite 5...

Having recently discovered the wondrous magic that Helen possesses (yes, I think I may actually want to be Helen, and I know: get in line!), Mehbooba Mehbooba from Sholay is my newest very favorite item song. I can not get enough of this song, and Helen, gosh, well, she is just magnificent in it! I haven't seen Sholay yet, but I bought it on my last visit to the city. Now I just have to find time to fit it in!

Another movie I haven't seen is China Gate, but how can you see an item song like Chamma Chamma and not instantly see how great it is! Urmila Matondkar is fierce and anyone who can dance like that, with that much gold on them, is just simply amazing in my books. Plus, I loved learning that this is the song that opens the Indian inspired show in one of my favorite movies, Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge (even then I must have know I needed Bollywood in my life!)

Okay, it could be John, but I think Shut Up & Bounce is one of the better current item songs that features a nearly naked man from the last couple of years, I think. Actually, I totally dig the opening guitar riff and I totally wish I could pull of Shilpa's bikini-cover up thingy. Feel free to pause several times during the song if you wish (I know I always do!)

Well, I couldn't very well have a fav's list without any Shah Rukh on it, could I? Another movie I haven't seen, but I discovered Kaal Dhamaal a while ago. It could very well be one of the sexiest items numbers featuring a man that I've ever seen. Tattoos, leather, bondage, waterfalls, what else could you ask for, plus it's all very animalistic, which is appropriate considering the movie takes place in the jungle.

One of my least favorite movies in the last couple of months was De Dana Dan, but I simply can't stop moving my a** to the soundtrack. Hotty Naughty is total fun, I can't get enough of Neha Dhupia's costumes (gives me great Halloween ideas!), plus how can a song set in a casino NOT make me want to go back to Vegas? The clip cuts off too soon, but it was the only one I could find online.

And a bonus?
I know it's cheating, but I couldn't do an item song list and not put what is probably my most very favorite item song of all time on it, could I? I don't think any explaination is needed, now excuse me while I go practise dancing on a train...

Chance Pe Dance

Okay, I'm going to say first off that I had no expectations for this movie. Okay, if I'm being honest, I had one: to drool! After the credits rolled, however, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it, starting with Shahid in all his goofy glory from the first song to a very cute opening sequence that has Sameer dancing, ironing his breakfast and wiggling his way through what is one of the most enjoyable opening sequences I've seen in a film in a long time.

There was a lot about this film that I liked, besides Shahid's delicious abs. I think it's rare to come across a film that is 100% completely original these days, but that's not to say that you can't take a story that's been told a hundred times and not make it feel fresh and genuine. Sometimes some of the most endearing truths of life emerge from situations that work in a direction opposite to the unique. However, words on a page are simply that, until they are brought to life, and, in this case I can think of no other actor that could have done Sameer justice other than Shahid. His performance felt honest and real to me, and was much more convincing than the route Farhan Aktar's character took in Luck By Chance. In an industry where it's eat or be eaten, it's often very easy to get lost and discouraged, and it was relatively refreshing to see Sameer continue with his dreams despite losing pretty much everything. He goes through the predictable grind, but with such extraordinary sincerity and involvement, you realise the one truth about life’s vagaries. Every struggle, no matter how similar on the surface, is different underneath.

Bollywood's changing. There's no doubt about it. It seems more and more films are being made following a "Hollywoodized" formula. Whether or not that path is going to benefit the Hindi film industry or kill it is the subject for another post, but it makes me wonder the future of the "Bollywood hero". Though I don't see the notion of an aging leading man as anything but completely natural and necessary (I need my Shah Rukh Khan for many many more years), it does raise the question of where does the next generation of actors fit in? Up until now I've viewed Shahid with a certain amount of distant curiosity, but after seeing him in this movie, I believe that he has really got that "thing". You know, the IT factor that keeps the film scrips coming and keeps the girls lusting, even when compared to some of the other up and coming actors like Ranbir Kapoor or Imran Khan.

A touching moment

It was interesting to learn that Genelia was not the first choice for this film and that Jiah Khan actually completed half of the movie before she was replaced, and I say thank God! As with Shahid, I've only seen her in two other movies, and in Life Partner she was so abrasively annoying that I didn't know if I'd be able to watch any more of her films. However, as Tina Sharma, she was absolutely a delight to watch. Independent (no meddlesome boyfriends or parents here!), self-assured and adorable, Genelia is perfect in this movie, and perfectly natural as well. I loved that she had her own career, lived on her own and lived by a set of principles that extended past her own little world. She probably is underutilized in a girlfriend kind of role, but, with that being said, I think she plays an important role in Sameer's life, and some of my favorite scenes are between her and Shahid (for the record, I liked the chemistry between the two of them - Genelia's best pair up that I've seen to date).

Now that I've got my love on for this film done and out of the way, there were a couple of things I had issues with. For someone whose career path is choreography, Genelia's opening dance sequence was completely juvenile. Which brings me to my second point. Chance Pe Dance was marketed as a dance movie (with the only dancing we really get to see during the song picturizations) when it's not actually about the world of dance. Don't get me wrong, I'm okay that it was the story of a struggling actor, but then market it as such, otherwise you leave the viewers a little confused. This leads me to my third point. I was warned about the special effects during the song sequences being distracting, and I agree, with One More Dance being the worst offender. And can I just add that I absolutely love watching good dancers, but the thing that irritates me most is when all you get to see if above the waist. What I mean is I want to see the whole body move when it's dancing, including the feet, and if filmmakers can show Hrithik Roshan in all of his dancing glory, then surely they can do the same for Shahid, who I believe is one of the best right now. Also, I was worried about the introduction of the dance teacher job, and I thought to myself, "Please God, don't turn this into a movie about children." However, it was just a detour, albeit a completely unnecessary one (although the scene where the kids all give their lunches to Sameer was touching). Keeping that in mind, I totally felt ripped off when the kids finally got their chance to shine on stage, all we got to see was a choppy slow-mo version of their dance.

Hey, if Jewel could live in her van for years...

"No worries, pop, I'm getting work, really!"

I don't have much to say about the music from CPD, though I will say this. I loved the background score. The "Doo-be-doo-be-doo-ba" bit totally fit the mood of the film, fun and light. The only song that stayed with me though was Pump It Up. Could possibly have something to do with finally being able to see Shahid's spectacular bod, but what can I say? The man knows how to rock it!

There's lots about this movie that doesn't make much sense, but it's still a very fun ride. Definitely watch it if you are a fan of Shahid or Genelia, even if you have suspend a few brain cells and just go with the flow.

One of my fav scenes:

Sameer, you've got that look in your eyes...

I'm One, Can you Believe it?

As I was doing a survey yesterday about my blog, I realized that I am officially one year old this month. My how time flies! I actually started a blog about random musings well before April of last year, but I had a difficult time maintaining it. Didn't hold enough appeal for me I guess. Then I met and fell in love with the Hindi film industry and decided to resurrect the dead goat that was my blog and "Shell's Bollyworld" was born.

As I talked about in my spiral into Bollywood post, there was (and still are)very few people who I can share my love of film with (and believe me I have tried!). What I discovered online was a completely wonderful group of people, more extensive than I could have known, that not only shared my interest, but actually made it more fun than I ever could have thought. The blogging community has become like a second family to me, one that extends past simple comment moderation. Passing the boundaries of blog posts, I've met even more fun and fabulous people on sites like twitter and facebook and even got to meet one of my very first commentors, Old is Gold just this month. In an attempt to be even more connected, I started a blog network of sorts that opens up even more avenues of communication within the community. See this post if you would like to participate.

The very first blog I found was via an article in Filmfare magazine that featured filmi blogs originating outside of India. Your one stop shop for all the little tidbits that Mumbai has to offer and beyond, FilmiGirl not only delights me daily with loads and loads of gossip (I wonder how she manages to do it every single day!), but her essays are introspective often sparking debates or inspires others to respond via their own blog post. She also has a wicked sense of humor that's not only evident in her dailies, but when she announces she's going to do something like the deconstruction of Dhoom 2, you know you're in for a treat.

Then I found Beth at Beth Loves Bollywood and all of a sudden I discovered I had the capacity to develop a whole new appreciation for knitwear, scarves and Shashi Kapoor! Not only are Beth's film reviews intellectually insightful and thoughtful, but she also has fabulous cha cha moments and was the brain child of last year's filmi Secret Santa (which I think was a fabulous success! Can't wait to do it again this year!)

I remember getting the first commentor on my blog who wasn't my sister. It was exciting and exhilarating and led me to bollywooddeewana, whose blog is a vast array of knowledge, ranging from movies from nearly every decade to fashion in the industry. I thought it was funny when we recently connected on facebook and I had to investigate his page before realizing who I had just friended!

Meeting Old is Gold was a fantastic treat, and when I started blogging I never thought I would find someone online that was so close in proximity to me geographically speaking. It simply amazes me that someone would know that a movie is from the 50's, not the 30's, just by who is singing a particular song, but that's why I look to OiG for guidance. She inspires me to look beyond what I know and one day I'll expand my filmi horizons. In the meantime, I know I can always get a good laugh reading her always hilarious screen caps!

It's so hard to keep up with everything that comes out these days in terms of music, but that's when I turn to Darshit's blog Movies, Music and Me. He always has reviews of new music up right away and has been responsible for steering me to songs I would have never even known about (from Shaapit, for example). I always love his fantastic song lists and they always expose me to more filmi goodness, whether we're seeing songs on trains, Holi or best of's. Fantastic stuff!

One of the bloggers who I hold the highest respect is The Bollywood Fan. Holding a veil of secrecy over his real life (I think he is the only blogger who's real name I don't know) he is a vast of knowledge when it comes to Bollywood. A huge Aamir Khan fan, his reviews are wonderfully in-depth - if you haven't checked out the links related to Lagaan week you absolutely must. I never realized so much could be said about a movie! I've had the opportunity to engage in some very interesting debates over language with him and it is always a pleasure! I'm still waiting, tbf, for your take on MNIK!

What I have really begun to treasure though is the FABULOUS group of women who not only share their thoughts in blogland, but provide constant wit and laughter daily in twitter. Who else allows my inner fangirl to misbehave as much as she needs to? #SRKAngels, Jocelyn, Daddy's Girl, Erin, Ani, Anita, Alex, Reema, Pitu, Suzy, Christy, as well as new friends who haven't ventured into blogworld yet (that I know of), I derive as much joy in our twitter convo's as I do experiencing the unique humour in every single one of your blog posts! You all inspire me to become better than I am, and I want to thank you for that!

And, finally, my wonderful sister who not only has a fascinating blog of her own, but also introduced me to Bollywood, inspired me to start my own blog, and created my banner(she's bahut talented). Thanks sis! Love you!

There are so many more fantastic people and blogs out there that I have found and more that I am discovering all the time, so I thank you to everyone for helping me evolve and learn. It has been a wonderful year, and I hope the next year brings even more filmi goodness. I really hope that the IIFA's next summer give us all a chance to get together! Let's see if Toronto can contain our crazy!

Love you all, my Bollywood family!

Bhangra Baby!

Last year, my sister and I were so excited to attend a Bhangra dance competition in Calgary, only to find out that the show was cancelled (and this too only when we drove in to go). It was a huge disappointment, but when we discovered the show would be back this year we immediately made arrangements! What we got was a fantastic evening full of amazing dancing, some unexpected singing and a whole lot of fun!

Our day started with the hour and half drive, of course the ipod blaring and lots of car dancing, until we reached the Indian area of Calgary to meet OldisGold for some preshow get to know ya time! There's something really cool about meeting a blogger friend in person for the first time. After spending too much money on movies, we headed over for some eats, and, over lassis, butter chicken and dal, we talked about Hrithik's extra appendage, how I'm cheating on Shah Rukh with my newly formed crush on hunky khol wearing Arshad Warsi, mangoes, and the blogger get together in Boston and how we need to plan another one (IIFA in Toronto next summer, anyone!?). Then we did a short tour of the jewellery boutiques in the area before we had to rush off to get to the show. It was so nice to meet Ira, but way too short! Next time we must plan to spend more time visiting!!!

Arriving at the Jubilee, we were quite obviously the minority, but I love people watching, so it was awesome to see all the gorgeous kameez', sari's and bahut handsome desi men! We weren't able to get tickets with Ira, so, after planning to find each other after, we headed to our seats. It was a packed audience, and I could feel the energy in the room as the competition started, the Punjabi spirit was high! There was lots of amazing dancing and really, the competition as a whole blew my mind. All 8 groups made the dancing seem so effortless, watching them just move across the stage almost like they're floating, it really was just amazing. The music was incredibly loud and fantastic and I had a hard time staying in my seat throughout. Chair dancing sometimes just doesn't cut it! The energy, that incredible dhol drum beat, there really is nothing like good Bhangra beat!

The winners:
Pehchaan Apni Nachdi Jandi (PANJ) - Surrey, B.C
(not from the actual show, but you get the idea!)

My faves of the night:
Shan-e-Punjab Arts Club - Surrey, B.C.
Incidentally, Shan-e Punjab also got the largest audience reaction, especially when they brought out some junior dancers towards the end of their set. They came in 2nd! Again, the clip isn't from the Calgary show, but still so good.

My favorite part of the show, however, was near the end. While the judges were off in deliberation, the stage was house to all the teams as they waited, and two musical guests, Calgary's The PropheC and Vancouver's Raju Johal. With all of the impromptu singing and dancing that took place I felt like this was probably the closest I'd ever get to a Punjabi wedding! Even the stage crew was getting into it.

We had a too short goodbye after finally finding Ira amongst the masses, and then made our way home the exact same way we came. It was quite possibly the funnest and most lively nights I've experienced, and I can't wait to go again next year! Thanks to my sister for accompanying me! Hadippa!