October 29, 2008

Aegan - Main nahin hoon na

This post will not be a proper review since I don´t understand any Tamil and it was screened without subtitles. But nonetheless I got most of the story, especially since Aegan is sort of a remake of Main Hoon Na.

As you can read, I did eventually manage to get a ticket. And so I had a blast watching this years big Diwali release with a Tamil crowd. I still have to confess that I would have preferred to watch the new Surya release but since Ayngaran, the producer of Aegan, seemed to have blocked most of the screens for the Diwali weekend, the Vaaranam Aayiram makers decided to move its release to November 14th.
From my point of view it seems like a good plan from Ayngaran to overkill with screens on this release, since judging from the reaction of the audience, the film left most of them pretty cold. So I don´t think word-of-mouth is going to be too good. The audience´s enthusiasm cooled down from a huge cheer Ajith got for his first scene to people starting to leave while the climax fight was still on. In the end everybody just wanted to get out as fast as they could. People seemed not to hate it, they just looked unaffected.

However, I still had lots of fun. Btw. Aegan is not a 1:1 clone of MHN. There are some more or less significant changes in the story. Not all are for the best I am afraid.

Aegan tells the story of a CBI Special Ops Super Agent called Shiva who gets called in by his boss (and father) to protect the daughter of a criminal-turned-key witness. Since said former-crook went AWOL after an attempt for his life through his former partner in crime, the CBI hopes to catch him when he contacts his daughter. So Shiva is forced to go undercover as a student in her boarding school in Ooty. It takes a while and some rope-action fights for Shiva to befriend Pooja (Piaa Bajpai) and her boyfriend Narain (Navdeep). Life gets even more complicated for our hero when he falls head over heals for his beautiful, very sparsely clad chemistry teacher Mallika (Nayantara) who not seems to be at the very least interested. Oh and there is the (very far on the) side-story of Shiva´s adoptive mother and brother who happen to be living in Ooty as well.

So you see. Pretty close but not a clone. And since even the filmmakers openly(!) acknowledged a close relation between those to two movies, why not compare MHN and Aegan

Action. Aegan has a lot of more blood and some very cool wire-action fights. But it sadly misses the cycle-riksha chase. Tie. 1:1

Comedy. The comedy track with the school principal and the weird teachers is equally nice in both film. Aegan has a comedy side kick for Shiva and he´s fun. One Point for Aegan 1:2

Romance. Sush and SRK sizzle. And the heartbreak of Sanjana due to Lucky´s insensitiveness. Her makeover. Lucky´s makeover. MHN has it all. In Aegan the romance between Pooja and Narain is already established and Shiva and his chemistry teacher don´t sizzle. They annoy each other and unfortunately us as well. MHN un point 2:2

Emotional highlights. SRK standing in front of his brother and stepmother with the urn of his father is heartbreaking filmi greatness. Aegan completely wastes that opportunity. We get a so-so flashback very late in the movie and no confrontation whatsoever in present time. We only see the happily reunited family right after the climax fight for 2 seconds. Bas. Another point for MHN 3:2

Songs. Farah Khan managed to fit all of the songs in MHN perfectly into the story (even the item-song-wali ones) Raju Sundaram doesn´t. Also I love "Chale Jaise Hawaien" and I don´t love "Yahoo Yahoo" Not even shooting on of the songs in Switzerland saves Aegan loosing that point to MHN. 4:2

Hero. SRK vs. Ajith. Tough one. But then. Not really tough. Sorry Ajith, as much as I like you and as much as I am not a hardcore SRK Fan. Major Ram Prasad Sharma is so taking that point from CID Special Agent Shiva. 5:2

Heroine. No-brainer. Sush and Amrita Rao. Every time. 6:2

MHN also gets one point each for technical execution, script execution and the overall "tribute to filmy history" theme.

Final Result. 9:2

A landslide victory for Main Hoon Na. Aegan is a wasted chance. It would probably not be so obvious if it was an original story but so it is but a MHN minus the heart. Following more closely to the MHN script might have made a terrific Kollywood film. Pity.

All pictures copyright Ayngaran.

October 23, 2008

Too slow. Bleh.

I really really really wanted to go and watch Ajith in Aegan this weekend, but since there was some Internet/electricity/server trouble at the office I just couldn't log into the thecinema.in or the inox website yesterday. So I tried this morning and ALL tickets (and we´re talking about 10.000 at Satyam cinemas alone) for this weekend are already gone and only very few tickets for the late shows which I can´t attend on Monday and Tuesday are left.


October 20, 2008

The Blame Game

I´m sitting at the airport in Brussels waiting for my flight back to Chennai after veeery busy 5 days in Berlin (hence no update) but now looks like a good time to do a quick follow up on my last blog post.

Ever since I wrote my piece there have been press releases (from both sides), SRK sort of apologised to his German audience through a special video message and the German fans are ripping each other apart on account of who the truer fans are. Those who are pissed at SRK/his management for their share of the messing up but still love him as an actor/posterboy or those who already forgave and forgot everything, deeming SRK and "his people" the victims of the whole drama.

I am still standing by any word I wrote. Just in case you´re wondering. And I of course will go on watching any Indian film I can in cinemas or buy the (original) DVD´s of the ones I can´t and that look promising to me.

October 14, 2008

oops, they did it again or how to ruin a pretty well-doing market

SRK´s Temptation 2008 concerts in Germany have been canceled today. Three days before their scheduled dates. Back in August the German stop of the Bachchans Unforgettable Tour met the same fate. They informed their audience 4 days in advance about the adjourment sine die.

The big honchos in Mumbai seem to have got something wrong. Ever since the Johars and YashRaj started to make their profitable deals with REM and RTL2 the German market seemed to look like fat firang tourist in Chor Bazar to the Filmi Industry-walas that could easily be skinned for money.
Except, if you trick somebody and want to keep on milking him, don´t become too greedy. You can only screw us so far. To steal a line from K3G: Tum sirf entertainer ho, parameshwar nahin. For us Non-Desi Europeans you just produce films we like (sometimes very very much) with stars we like (and sometimes honestly love) but you can´t do whatever you like and not pay a price for it.

Take the DVD market for example.
Primary rule: If you want to sell films in Germany you have to dub them. Cinema in Germany has been German-dialogues-only ever since the first talkie in the 1920ies. Same goes for the Video and DVD market. Thankfully there are companies like REM who cater to a niche audience with high quality releases. Due to their cooperation with the RTL2 TV station they were able to produce top standard Bollywood DVD´s that sold fantasticly.

Enter greedy Bollywoodproducers. And swamp the market with C-grade movies, flop-films and bad quality production. That in itself would not be such a problem had they not tried to go the tourist-gouging routine. Even the King Khan has made some really really bad movies over the years. Sell them to the unsuspecting K3G, DDLJ or KHNH fan and you get somebody who will think twice if he will ever again spend 18,- to 24,- Euro on a BW DVD.
Mistake born out of greed #2: Quite a few of those crappy DVD´s had SRK (the only BW actor that really sells in Germany) on their cover. Even without him being in it. Instead customers got such shiny moments of Indian movie history like Hottestm@ail.com or Husn Bewafa.
Is it any wonder that sales of Bollywood DVD dropped like the stock market during the last weeks? Two years ago you had entire sections in DVD stores dedicated to Indian films. Now you can be lucky if you get a tiny part on the "B" shelf.

Then the TV ratings started to drop as well. Films were edited beyond recognition. And the big selling K3G-style extravaganzas were a thing of the past too. You just can´t expect films like D:2 or Krrish to work for an audience that is used to watch Hollywood quality action or SciFi films. Sorry. But, no.

Thank god the Berlinale 08 happened. SRK and OSO came, saw and conquered. The hard-core fans, still loyal and actually pretty active in promoting the thing they love, stroke up a frenzy. SRK made the evening news. And the German fans were led to believe that the slump that hit the Bollywood Trend in Germany was finally over. Especially since some of the Multiplex chains started to screen current films and both the Unforgettable and the Temptation Tours were announcing shows in Germany.

Bollywood Concerts and Germany do have a rather shaky past.
The local promoters like SensAsian are, lets be frank, crooks. Plain and simple. They talk, they announce, they sell tickets and they mess up, go into hiding, take the money with them and piss of the fans. Just look at SA´s track record. Apart from the very first "Dinner with SRK" in Offenbach in 2005 everything else was either canceled or had to be cut short.

And now we have the latest of their disasters and this time it is not simply Shilpa Shetty´s Miss Bollywood or the Bachchans (which both probably got canceled due to bad pre-sales). This time it really hits hard. This time it is SRK. I know of more than a few cases of Fans who literally had to scrimp and save to be able to afford a once-in-a-lifetime journey to one of the concerts. So this time it is personal. And that is bad news.

First they demand outrageous sums for - lets be honest - a tacky playback show and the fans pay it. And now the fans already sitting on their packed suitcases have to hope and pray that they get their 50,- to 250,- Euros back. And I am not even talking about the hundreds of fans that will surely loose money because their plane tickets or hotel reservations can´t be canceled.

(You want numbers? Lets take this very dear friend of mine. She shelled out 150,- for the ticket, 100,- for the airfare, the hotel for two nights would have cost her another 100,- add to that food, public transport and maybe some merchandise and you have at least 400,- . A sum that she was willing to spend on "her" SRK. She earns about 900,- each month. After deducting her fixed costs she has about 300,- for food, petrol etc. Do the maths!)

So, Yo! Greedy Bollywoodproducers and greedy Bollywoodstars!
If you want to save what is left of your start rebuilding some credibility in Germany to maybe have some kind of a future here: Don´t do deals with promoters you know have let you down in the past or distributors that do more damage than good. That can´t be too hard, can it?

There is that (very crass but nonetheless true) saying "don´t crap where you eat". And eating you seemed to do just fine in Germany for the last few years. But by crapping on our heads once too often I feel that you finally crossed the limit of our hospitality.

EDIT 16/10/08: Thanx to the great feedback to my rambling. To answer a few questions I was asked a few times. Yes, please copy the text if you want to (just give me credits for it) and no, I don´t have a German version of it, sorry. And since I am at a business convention for the next 3 days I won´t have the time to translate it either.

October 06, 2008

Kidnap. Meh.

I find it so hard to write about movies I feel indifferent to. I really wanted to love this one. I am a Sanjay Fangirl. I really like Minissha Lamba and I was very curious about Imran Khan (No, I haven´t been be able to watch JTYJN yet. I won´t until the DVD comes out).

But what is there to say when a movie just leave you "meh"?
Let´s try it that way:

What I liked.
- Most of the Action (except for Sanjays running. They should not let him run in the bad shape he was in while they were shooting the film)
- The twists in the story. Well, most of them.
- Imran.
- Minissha when she was allowed to do more than just being eyecandy/mannequin for skimpy clothes.
- Sanjay when he didn´t run.

What I didn´t like.
- Vidya Malvade. Autch. Too young. Too single-faced. Too awful.
- Sanjay when he ran.
- Minissha when she tried to be supersexy.
- The songs. Bleh. The opening song? Just wrong. The wedding anniversary song? Bollywood Fugly. The Item song? How very uninteresting. The lets-seduce-my-kidnapper song? Well, that was kinda sexy. But. How stupid can you be?

All characters and their story left me emotionally cold. I just couldn´t have cared less about anyone on screen. But then again. Sanjay Gadhvi is responsible for Dhoom and D:2. So what was I expecting?

All pics copyright to Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd.