August 27, 2006

Babasko is busy, please check back later...

I´m too busy to writing blog. Not cool. I teach my 20 hours (western) music-history seminar next week, which wouldn´t put me under stress normally but they added another topic to the outlines. Last week. Grrrr.

So I´m sitting here working through the score of Mozart´s Magic Flute Overture. Never mind. In fact I love it. Its just that now I´m too busy writing proper reviews for two killer movies I watched last week. The new Chandramuki (Rajnikanth in spooky story) and the old Don (two words: funky and cooooool). Both deserve and actually demand serious blogentries. But that will have to wait until next week. So see you all later.

August 19, 2006

Doli Saja Ke Rakhna - Oh guys. Shanti. Please.

How much can a guy get beaten up? And that for virtually nothing. Haan, haan its for love. But really haven´t middleaged indian filmi guys learned to communicate yet?
Judge for yourself.
Inder, a MBA student, falls in love with girl.

Totally innocent. He hasn´t even changed a word with her yet, when the first of three brothers of the girl beats him up. Being a policewala he takes him and his friends into custody and they get a nice thrashing. Second brother hears about it and grabs his sports buddies to beat the boys up yet again. The boys survive and drag themselves to a doctor who, as wonderful filmi karma will have it, is the ladki´s third brother. He being educated does not beat them up, put injects some creepy substance into the poor guys derrieres. And all that before the girl even utters one sentence to the boy.

The bruses and abrations have one good thing though. The girl also falls in love with him. But there is trouble ahead. The bhais are still after our hero and his parents are also objecting a girl from that kind of family. So for health reasons the young couple runs. And finds shelter at one friends fisherman father. But before getting married doubts arise in both hearts. Can they hurt their families in that way? Isn´t it their duty to be good children first? So will they or won´t they?

Sounds cheesy. And it is. But it is also sometimes funny, sometimes sweet and endearing. And the reason why it works is the great cast. You get Akshaye Khanna and Jyothika as the lovebirds. Anupam Kher, Paresh Rawal and Amrish Puri. And Ninad Kamat, who´s participation once again drove me to madness as I could not place where I knew him from. Arghh he´s not even listed on imdb or indiafm. Even though he has a major role in the movie here. Har har, try and stop me. Of course I found out. Parineeta! Dus! But I´m rambling. Doli Saja Ke Rakhna is good old conservative lovestory masala fair. With decent music and nice pictures. And not only a must see for Beth and me.
P.S: Btw. Beth, I claim Inder. Sorry, but having lived in Myconos for two summers (and missing it terribly) I can´t pass on a guy who dances beneath my windmills.


"Manasarovar" and "Everybody Says I´m Fine"

Its been high time that my excursion into the off-mainstream side of indian cinema continued.

Let me start with a special thanks section (like any indian movie worth its name). For discovering "Manasarovar" I have to thank Michael of For "Everybody Says I´m Fine" my heartfelt thank-yous go out to Birgit who managed to get me a copy of this movie I´ve been searching for it seems forever.
Both are english-language films, but thats where the similarities end.

In Manasarovar we meet Malathy (Neha Dupey) a VP for a publishing house in Pune. Her position puts her together with George (Zafar Karachiwala) a management consultant. Through flashbacks we also get to know Georges brother, Ravi (Atul Kulkarni), whom Malathy also met some years ago after she had pen-pal relationship with him and who is now missing for two years. Its not always easy to follow the jumps in time but of course all characters stories are interwoven and lead to a philosophical open end.

Atul is great and its wonderful to see him playing a fun, slightly mad, heartwarming charakter. Neha had me go through that "I know I have seen her before, and I´m going crazy if I don´t find out this second" motion. She played the disco girl in Munnabhai who poses as "Chinku". But it was hard to find out, since her character and acting style is completely different to hers in Munnabhai.
Manasarovar is a movie to be rewatched time and again. Its calming way of storytelling and a beautiful cinematography and wonderful Atul make you want to revisit it.
Go and get your own copy. If you order it at you´ll get yours directly from the director. But before watching it make yourself familiar with the significance of Manasarovar lake in Indian mythology.

Let´s move to Mister Bose. Rahul Bose and I have a lot in common. We both blog. We love Rugby. We´re very goodlooking. Well at least he is. But I´m taller. Much taller. Whatever.
I really liked him in Mr.&Mrs Iyer, Chameli and Jhankar Beats. So imagine how desperate I was to get my hands on a film where he not only acted but - even better - one he directed and wrote too. And now I´ve got it. Yaahhoooo.
The thing is though "Everbody says I´m Fine" is not an indian movie. I´m mean it is of course - in the sense that the cast and crew is indian, it is set in Mumbai but the story and the movie´s execution and the look is international.

The basic storyline is intriguing. And very Arthouse:

Hairdresser is able to read the thoughts of his customers while he is cutting their hair. So we get snapshots of the lives of various customers in Xen´s salon. With each of their visits we are drawn more and more into various characters lives, guarded secrets and interactions. We meet a young happy go lucky student, an abandoned wife, a nosey socialite, a desperate hyperactive aspiring actor, a business mogul with a disgusting secret and one girl who´s thought are hidden even to Xen.

The movie has a feel like an intimate theatre piece. It has its small flaws directionwise and it takes some time for the story to pick up. But like Xen you get drawn into it. So if you happen to find a copy, get it.

UPDATE 2/21/2007: Finally! "Everybody Says I´m Fine" got released on DVD. You can get it at amazon canada

August 15, 2006

36 China Town - Beth, can I ask you one favour?

Ever since I found Beth´s blog in the blog-universe a) my bollywood universe expanded with a big bang and b) I put my tiny Akshaye Khanna crush on hold. Well, actually in real Bolly-ishq-style "I sacrificed my love on the altar of friendship" (thats a quote from Sajaan - I swear!) But.
But. Can I please get a date with Inspector Karan? Pretty please! Sirf ek bar. And we shall be home before midnight (well I´ll try at least). And I promise to restrain myself. Some.

Btw: 36 China Town is, ahem, ok. The story does not work all the time. There are some characters that are unbearable. The Kapoors are likeable. Aur Akshaye bahut garam hai. Bahut accha.

Sajaan - Sacrifice is bliss

Now this is my kind of movie. Just look at that! Dekho naa!

Sigh. My boys. Their hair. Sooo sweet. And a terribly dramatic story. Well not really, but I´m distracted here. Show some compassion.
Physically handicapped orphan befriends little rich boy. Gets adopted and lots of love and care from his new family. Grows up to be manager of daddys company while his brother (and still best friend) enjoys life and "the ladies". New assignment lands him in hillstation and in love with Madhuri Dixit. But being handicapped and adopted and featuring way too little self-esteem he only loves her from afar in form of his poetry which he writes under the name of Sadar. In good old Cyrano de Bergerac tradition Madhuri of course always not only loved the poetry but also the poet Sadar. And so, when she wants to meet him, Sanjay gets Salman to pretend to be Sadar.

And finds out that Salman loves Madhuri as well and so he "sacrifices his love on the altar of friendship" but Salman finds out too and "sacrifices his love on the altar of friendship" right in return. Enter Madhuri who kicks their saricfices right back in their faces. So who will get her? Salman? Sanjay? Neither? Both?

I know there is probably no understanding in hamare duniya for my hair-fethish but let me tell you: Its a wonderful world I live in. And I don´t care if I live in it all alone. Bah.

Muqaddar Ka Sikander - Tough one

Orphaned boy in Simla gets job with rich widower and daughter after a lot of pleading. Daddy can´t stand the lowly boys relationship with his little princess. So daddy packs bags and boy is out on the streets again. Except that he still has little memsaabs blanket that he needs to bring back and he broke her favorite doll and intends very much to replace it. So boy goes to Mumbai. And he´s out on the streets again. This time in an even more hostile environment.
But it looks like lady luck´s finally smiling on the, btw up to now nameless, boy. He is adopted by poor but loving widow, gets a name - Sikander -, a new little sister and he finds memsaab and her father. He even gets a clone of the dreaded doll. And wants to give it to her on her birthday. But poor filthy little boys are not allowed to the party so he sneeks in only to be mistaken as a thief - even by memsaab. The humilation is too much for his new mom and she dies of a heart attack. But not without Sikanders promise to be good and true.
Fast foreward some 15 years. Sikander, still uneducated, made something out of himself. He fights thiefs and smugglers by reporting them to the police. He built a house opposite formerly rich widower and memsaab. He´s about to get sister married to a good rich guy. But the neighbours still loathe him. And that only because they don´t know that Sikander a) never tried to rob the family and b) he pays all of now jobless sick lawyer daddys medical bills and c) Sikander still is deeply in love with memsaab. To get his mind of that hopeless situation a friend drags Sikander along to a brothel where beautiful Rhekha works.

She falls in love with Sikander, which is not so good as very evil murderer is madly (and very jealously) in love with her and whenever Sikander goes there - to watch her dance only - he gets piss drunk. And to complicate things, Sikanders friend, a young lawyer, whom he sent to neighbours house to get the business afloat again, falls in love with memsaab too. And the stupid girl is ok with that.

So. Where does that leave us? We have accha Sikander, alone and still marked a thief by the people he wants to be loved by. He has a evil enemies in form of the hookers suitor and all those smuggler/thiefs. The one who loves him could ruin his reputation and with that the marriage of his sister. So what happens? Sikander finds out that memsaab does love the young lawyer, is heartbroken but wants them to get married, turns to hooker who poisons herself to save his reputation, evil suitor wants revenge for her death and on the day of sister and memsaabs wedding, kidnaps the brides. Sikander gets them back to where they belong and is fatally wounded. And dies. The End.

Oh, come on! What a kind of terrible life is this. I mean this is the kind of life to use when you want to tell somebody "Others have it much worse then you" Its the blueprint of destinys slaps in your face.
But its still one of the most successful films in hindi film history.
I mean, if only Sikander was a Hindu. Then he at least would have had a chance for a step upward in his next rebirth. But no, he´s muslim and that means no luck even on that front...
So, if you feel sorry for yourself, go and watch it. Or if you want to see AB senior suffer beautifully and Rhekha dance. Its a classic so you have to go and watch it anyway. And Beth, your fake-pretend-father-in-law looks nice in it too.

August 08, 2006

Outsourcing Bollywoodstyle

Michael started a new blog project with the help of Beth and they got me invited to play along with them too. So very cool. Dekho Naa.

Khoobsurat - Catch 22

OK, I´m in a dilemma. I really want to like this one. And it has some potential in the masala direction. There are ingrediences of my favorite kind of masala movies. But there are also some statements in this one that make it terribly difficult to lobby for it.

The plus side:

Smalltime crook with heart of gold is forced by circumstances (read: evil crime-lord) to pretend to be distant relative to con 50 lakh out of family. As fate will have it while trying to fit in, he spreads happiness among the lives of everyone. From bad-wig sporting dada to polio-stricken grandson everybody is happier in his life then ever before. Then there is of course eki ladki and a sort of ugly duckling/pretty swan story. Swan and crook fall in love. But that must not happen. So, in fact nothing new, but who cares when its told in a nice way.

On top of that we have the cast: Om Puri, Urmila Mandonkar, Jonny Lever (not annoying!!!) and hamare accha accha bhai Sanjaysaab

Then whats wrong with it?

Not really outspoken but pretty apparent statements like:

- A girls who reads too much hides herself from the world and her purpose in life (read: marriage) so why not set one of her books on fire to make her understand - ahem- something or whatever (I didn´t get it, I was so upset when he set the book on fire)

- Honesty and fairness in business is bad. If you work with the union according to union regulations you a) become an alcoholic and b) the union screws you anyway

- Your mother-in-law did not like you ever since you came into the house years ago? Make her some pickle aur sab teek hai.

And then we have the clothes issue. The movie is from 1999 (Jonny Lever even sings some lines from KKHH) and Sanjay was never ever ever ever dressed so horrific. Here is some evidence. See for yourself:

I really really tried but I just don´t have the strength to comment on the pics, sorry.

August 06, 2006

Omkara - Jealousy is a b****

Oh my. Saif. How could you. And then with those bad teeth too.

I just came home from the screening of Omkara. And I loved to hate Langda. Vikram Bharadwaj did not disappoint me with what he made of Othello. But since there are so many very cool Omkara reviews out there already like Maria´s(German), Filmiholic´s, Velu´s I will not get into storyline details or direction. Instead here are some random thoughts that shot into my mind while watching it. (Twice btw. went from one show directly into the other)

  • the "General" nomination scene. Ajay very very yummi. Kajol has a very nicely build husband at home. Indeed. And the hairy neck triangle thing of Viveik is gross.
  • Bhaisaab is extremely scary. Imagine meeting him in real life. And needing something from him. Terrifying thought.
  • Saifs acting is sooo good/1. Take the nomination scene. What happens in his face when Kesu gets the job.
  • Neither Dolly nor Indu have any talent for pillow talk.
  • Taking about pillow talk. The "am I a wolf or a ssssserpent" line was very hot.
  • "I just called to say I love you" - Pathetic. I don´t think Ajay needed to act in that scene.
  • Saifs acting is sooo good/2. Take the lake scene. His comic timing is impeccable.
  • I need that black blanket of Omi. Thats so my way of dressing.
  • Does anybody else see that Omkara digs his own grave with the demand of evidence to Langda at the train scene?
  • What happend to the smoking ban in movies? Haan I know it was necessary for the plot. But one could easily have ignited the brawl with any other thing. And why has nobody mentioned it or complained yet?
There´s much more that just doesn´t come to my mind right now. So maybe I will add to that list later.
Let me end this post with: I loved the cast. Everyone of them. I loved the screenplay.The language. The scenery. The cinematography. The lights. The music. The costumes. It could have done with a bit tighter editing though. Some cuts are in dire need of trimming. But for the rest...can´t wait to get my hands on the DVD. I need to see it again.

Kandukondain Kandukondain - get your Jane Austen together

I´ve never read Jane Austen. Oh, I own some of her books but I´ve never got myself to actually read one. It just didn´t grab my attention long enough to get into it. But thanks to cinema there is no shortage in movie adaptions so I´m at least able to join disussions about the characters and storylines without making a complete fool out of myself.
Its actually weird that I never got into the whole Brontée sisters, Austen thingy. Their books are perfect masala material. The changes of charakter´s backstories or storylines have to be minimal to fit it into "the masala scheme"

So what sets this apart from the Emma Thompson/Ang Lee version? Duh! Obviously its set in rural Tamil Nandu and Chennai (interesting sidenote: all the characters refer to Chennai as Madras) and its placed in present times. It also has the beautiful music of A.R.Rahman.

For all those who, as I, have not read Sense and Sensibilty, here a short breakdown of this Tamil version:
Widowed mother of three lives in house of very sick father and takes care of everthing with the help of her 2 older daughters (Aish and Tabu) One day Nana dies and leaves everything to "before-dads-death-never-had-the-decency-to-show-up" son and greedy wife. So Mum and daughters get mobbed out of the house. Not a too big problem wouldn´t the two sort of fiancées of the sisters get a grip on their life. Tabus guy, an actually really nice aspiring movie director forgets everything around him due to trouble with his first feature and stupid "we get married when I´m a made man" attitude. Aish´s beau is a stockbroker who goes broke with his chitfund (chitfunds have a sort of negative image in movies hai-naa? look BaB) and whines a lot. I don´t like him. But not all is lost as Aish has also caught the interest of Major Bala. From the outside not the perfect match. Mid-fourties. War veteran who lost a leg. Very grumpy. But heart of gold. Digs music. Has orchid farm.

And performs sort of an guardian angel function for the family with an emphasis on Aish´s career as singer. So after the granddad´s will disaster and ensuite heavy drama not all is well but teek hai thanx to the gutsy daughters and the Major. Until the second wave of drama rolls in and it gets highly dramatic right until the end.

Kandukondain Kandukondain (there has to be a short cut for that. Velu? Any idea?) is easily my favorite Jane Austen adaption. Even my beloved BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejustice with Colin Firth has to come in later now. Dehko naa!!