Shortkut: The Con is On

Setting a film inside the world of Bollywood has been done before, and very brilliantly in movies like Rangeela, Luck By Chance and Om Shanti Om (and I'm sure there are others I haven't seen). The opportunity for humor is arguably there, so you'd hope that writer Anees Bazmee and director Neeraj Vora would take full advantage of the acting talent they have and come out with either a satirical or situational take on the industry. Unfortunately, what we end up getting is a muddled mixture of both, with a few jokes here and there, but the movie doesn't quite reach it's potential despite a promising storyline.

Shekhar (Akshaye Khanna) is a hard working and talented assistant director, who is all set to make his own film. Life seems to be going his way. He's married famous actress Mansi (Amrita Rao), he's finished writing his first script, he's even sold it to a reputable producer, signing bonus and everything. Enter Raju (Arshad Warsi), the very definition of "non-actor", who wants to be famous despite the fact that he can't act. His biggest obstacle though is that he seems to be blacklisted in the community. Kya karoon? No sweat. He simply steals a copy of Shekhar’s script and gives it to a producer who is willing to cast him as the hero. The film is a superhit and before you can blink an eye, Raju becomes superstar "King Kumar" with five hits to his credit! How? We don't get to know. It just is. Most likely Raju has gotten very crafty at steeling scripts.

*mini spoiler* In the mean time, poor Shekhar, overcome by depression, decides to leave his dreams of filmmaking in the dust, gets a job at a catering company and, when his wife says she wants to help pay bills, goes into a drunken fit of dejection. Who wants to live with that? Not Mansi. *spoiler over*

Will Shekhar ever get his life in order? Will he get his revenge on Raju? Will Raju ever learn to dance?

There were things about this film that I liked. Namely the acting. Though a little typecast, Arshad has always been a master at playing the overconfident, smooth talking liar, which is probably why we see variations of this role come his way often. As Raju, he is the exact amount of annoying in his portrayal as the shallow, uncouth ass, and it's his performance that holds the plot together. The only thing I didn't quite understand, and this is due mainly to the script more so than Arshad's acting, was why the heck he was so hell bent on destroying Shekhar. Hadn't he already done his damage, especially since there was nothing really to reciprocate on his end? As I reflect on Arshad Week, I realize I've seen more of his movies than I thought, and one thing I remember about many of those films is that he always sticks out to me. There's just something about him that makes me sit up and take notice, and look forward to seeing much more of his work.

I am not a fan of Akshaye Khanna. I pretty much hated him in Race and was indifferent in DCH, but, despite all the eureka yelling moments, I actually kind of dug him in this. He was likable through most of the film. That is, you really wanted to him catch his break and make it, even when he was exercising his right to be an ego maniacal male. The sole reason for Amrita Rao’s presence is pretty much just to add a touch of glamor, and she glams it up just right in my opinion. However, the romantic angle isn't required, and the film often lags during the scenes between Shekhar and Mansi. I think the film could have benefited had it been purely about the power struggle between our two male leads.

There were lots of things I liked about Shortkut. There were some truly funny moments like Raju disguising himself to meet a noted producer (and is it just me or did he not look a little like Robert De Niro?), or when Raju has problems getting even one line right so Shekhar has an assistant squat beside him reading his dialogue to him. I also liked the climax (though immediately it felt almost like a carbon copy of Frank Oz's Bowfinger). This movie also has one of my current favorite tracks, Kyun Hota Hai Dil Deewana, which I loved before I saw this and then loved even more after watching it in the film. In 3 and half minutes we get to see Arshad in all his comic glory, with a little bit of sexy thrown in from both him (yes I said it) and Amrita. LOVE IT!

The music in it's entirety is done by house favorites SEL, but not all the tracks are as ipod worthy as Kyun Hota Hai. I think Mareez E Mohabbat, at least in the chorus, is pretty catchy, but can someone please tell me why Anil felt the need to showcase himself and Sanjay in the picturization? Despite being sung my another house fav Sonu Nigam, the worst song of the bunch with the most ridiculous lyrics (sorry Javed Akhtar) is the nauseating Kal Nau Baje.

So, overall, probably not the best movie to feature for Arshad Week, but it's all I had. And as I type the finishing touches up my husband has walked through the door with Ishqiya! I CAN NOT WAIT!

Happy Birthday Shashiji!!

Despite thinking that Shashi Kapoor is one of India's cinematic treasures, I have seen only one of his movies (and that too very recently - see my post on Shaan). However, it is Shashi week over at Beth's blog and today is Shashi's 72 birthday so, here's my little tiny contribution and tribute to the wonderfully charming legend - just a couple of songs that I find completely fun and irresistible!

The hair, the smile, the moves, Shashi you are MAHVELOUS!!! Can't wait to see more! Happy Birthday!

Shamrocks and Movie Flops

Okay, so it's not an Indian holiday that graces the blog today, and I'm not Irish, but I've been celebrating every year since I was 18 years old, so I thought I would quickly wish everyone else out there a Happy St. Patrick's Day. For the first time in 17 years I am stuck at home with the kids while my husband works, not even a babysitter for when he gets home, and so the extent of my celebrating is done right here and now. Boo hoo!

May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire!

And now for some Bollywood...

I haven't been able to get much time lately for any movie watching (I blame twitter!), but I did manage to get through a couple, and I do mean get through. Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and De Dana Dan made their way onto the dvd player, but neither movie was able to hold my attention. Actually, if you asked me, I'd be hard pressed to remember what APKGK is even about. All I pretty much recall is the movie has tons of songs (I did actually really enjoy Prem Ki Naiya - it's totally fun!)

I was excited to watch De Dana Dan, just because I love the music! So energetic and fun, I thought how can the movie be anything but just that. Well, it certainly tries to be funny, with hijinx galore, but it just feels so forced that I barely so much as even chuckled throughout. At the core, a good story line, but it loses focus half way, and I found that there were way too many characters to try and follow. I lost interest about half way through. Too bad.

I dare anyone to listen to this and not want to dance!

The common link: Katrina Kaif. She's obviously a beautiful woman (there are many polls that prove people adore her look), but I just can't seen to warm up to her acting. She doesn't ever leave much of an impression on me and I keep thinking maybe this movie will be the one where she impresses me, but so far I haven't discovered that film. I'm almost desperate to watch a really interesting, get yourself lost in, kind of movie. With over 30 or so movies to choose from I keep picking the wrong ones. Maybe I should just put on Dev.D already.

Is anyone else looking forward to Housefull. I know, I know. How can I say I want to watch some quality film, and then follow that with a blurb about Housefull, but it has got a fantastic cast, music by my favorite's Shankar-Eshaan-Loy, and Akshay's nerdy avatar. With only 3 other movies under his belt, we'll see if Sajid Khan can give us a movie that makes us laugh instead of cringe.

Calling All Bloggers

As the Bollywood blog community grows and expands past these blogging walls, it becomes a challenge to find everyone on sites such as twitter, facebook, etc. So when Beth (from Beth Loves Bollywood) mentioned we should have some sort of master list of who's who, I thought that was a fantastic idea. Then I thought, wouldn't it be nice to be able to send someone something every once in a while if you wanted to, like a birthday card for example. I think so, so here's what I was thinking:

I would love to create a master list, so to speak, of our wonderful Bollywood blogging friends. Once it is compiled, I will send out a copy to anyone who would like one. Here's the information I was thinking of including:

*http address for your blog
*twitter username
*mailing address
*your name
*any other info you'd like to include (ie. birthday, anniversary, shoe size. Just kidding!)

If you don't feel comfortable giving out all of the information that's okay too.

So, if you'd like to be included, email me your information at, I will organize it all and send it out automatically to anyone who gives me their information hopefully by the end of the month.

Also, feel free to pass this on to anyone who might not necessarily read this post as well. I don't want anyone who would want to be included to be left out because they don't follow my blog.

Hope to hear from you all soon and have a wonderful day!

Shaan - More fun than a barrel of monkeys

If you look at my roster of movies watched, there's not a lot on there that pre-dates the early 90's, but I've been desperately wanting to watch something, ANYTHING, with Shashi Kapoor, so when Filmigirl recommended Shaan, I ordered it immediately. There is very little about this film that isn't totally absurd. With a bond-like opening complete with a gyrating woman flashing scenes from the movie on her spandex clothed body, I knew I was in for a treat! We get beautiful and smart women, fantastic heroes, the evil villain and his henchmen, man eating crocs, plenty of dishoom dishoom, a diamond heist, carnival sharp shooters, man eating beagle pups, a Helen dance number and a monkey! My goodness, could it get any better?

The force is strong with these two

Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor are Vijay and Ravi, two conmen whose ambitious but good-natured antics are a constant frustration to their policeman brother Shiv (Sunil Dutt). When criminal mastermind Shakal launches a vendetta against their brother, Vijay and Ravi gather a colorful band of thieves to attack Shakal’s underground fortress. I started laughing the moment we see Vijay walk into the motel for the couple's first con and nearly died from laughter during Aaje Jaate Huye. This is the glory that is Bollywood filmmaking!

While I originally wanted to watch this for Shashi, the movie is really owned by a very dashing Amitabh Bachchan. Though the film, no doubt, tried to cash in on the partnership of the two, it is the Big B that owns this film. He gets the funniest bits, the meatiest romance (though romance in general isn't fully explored in this film), and the best parts in the climax. This is my very first pre-facial hair Amitabh movie and I can completely understand how he became such an icon. Cool drink of water that he is, Amitabh certainly had what it took to get the ladies' attention. Bahut handsome!

Amitabh does his very best Manoj Kumar impersonation

Dear Shashi, you are the only actor who's been able to make an impression on me before I even saw you act. It's too bad that this movie only gives you glimpses of what makes Shashi Kapoor so special. Though he still gets to flash that sigh worthy smile, it's almost like he just there to pretty up the quota. There were a few times, when the story focused on Ami (and it does that a lot), that you almost forgot Shashi is in the movie. I wish that the roles had been more equal.

"Come darling, we have LOTS of time to focus on us, since I'm only in 3/4 of the movie"

I have to admit that, though I haven't seen very much pre-Brosnan bond, even I know that Sippy's Shakaal is based on the infamous Bond villian, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Because of this, however, all I could see was Dr. Evil in every frame. The lair, which was way more understated that I would have liked (with the exception of the giant gold eagle), even came equipped with rotating table and chairs that fling treasonous subordinates to their doom (much like I remember happening to Will Farrel). Kulbhushan Kharbanda plays Shakaal just right though with the right amount of criminal insanity that allows you to find loopholes in every plan he hatches. My favorite: the deadly gas that is released in the same room that he's in (sans gas mask), it lingers low to the ground at all times and is really only deadly if you suck on the canister it's escaping from. Genius!

"Yes, those are sharks behind me. Later you'll see rays and piranha too. Even I don't understand where my lair is"

A quick note about the supporting players. I've read that, at the height of his popularity, Amitabh didn't like to share the limelight so much in his films, and that's probably why the rest of the cast's roles were so limited. Sunil Dutt, gets a nice piece of the action for the first half of the movie and we get to see Shatrughan Sinha (Rakesh) flex his trigger finger throughout the majority of the film. No movie would be complete without a female counterpart, so we see the boy's love interests and kindred spirits in Parveen Babi (Sunita) and Bindiya Goswami (Renu) though Parveen totally overshadows Bindiya in almost every frame they're in together. Nevertheless, it's too bad that we don't get more of these sticky fingered ladies in all of their conning glory. Raakhee Gulzar gets the largest female role as Shiv's wife. It's too bad her character is so completely helpless and stupid (watch the scene where Rakesh is suppose to be protecting her and her daughter and see if you don't agree with me).

"We are so lucky to have such handsome smart men pursuing us, though they've just lost their brother"

"We don't have time to mourn, we are too busy showing off for you!"

Under no circumstances should this movie be taken seriously, but I sincerely doubt it was meant to be. I'm sure I read that the film was a flop in India. Whether Shippy was trying to manipulate the duo that made Sholay into such a hit or was just having fun doesn't really matter to me. Most of the time this movie exploded onto the TV screen in a series of unbelievable scenes, energetic songs, and classic dialogues.

I love this song. It's totally out of place in the film, totally hilarious in picturization yet completely darling. Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar do a wonderful job.

An absolutely fantastic gypsy style number sung by R.D.Burman and Mohammed Rafi and featuring the Helen, the one I've heard of and seen in so many blogposts. This is my first Helen song and I agree with all - she is one beautiful woman and a pleasure to watch dance!

For sure one thing is true: it has wet my appetite for more campy masala goodness. Can't wait for more!