January 29, 2007

Bollywood Blogger! Let´s meet. In Vienna.

There is no way I can fall asleep with the storm knocking with a speed of 75mph/120kmh on our windows (and we have lots of big windows) So why don´t I shoot forward and tell you what Michael, Beth and I have come up with.

There will be the first Pan-European/International-Bollywoodblogger-Meeting in Vienna on Saturday March 10th. And you´re all invited.

Kyun? Because we can. And because Beth will be visiting Vienna then. And since that is a very special occation and calls for a celebration anyway and since Michael invited himself too, we thought, hey, why not meet all of us?

We don´t have an agenda yet. But what we have is ek pura din, the whole saturday. And that means we will talk, eat, drink, watch (a) movie(s) and party. Plainly speaking a bunch of nice people with a vast interest in indian cinema (yes, it´s not BW-exclusive) will meet a bunch of nice people with a vast interest in indian cinema. Sounds fun, hai-naa?

So far I already have almost definite consents from some very cool people and I hope you will have time to show up too!

I´ll keep you posted with any news concerning accommodation and program and what else I might not think about right now (while the bloody wind throws around my -as I thought- heavily secured flowerpots). Oh and fire away with any questions you might have. Haan, email bhi, if you don´t want it public. babasko [at] gmail [.] com

UPDATE 1/31/2007: Yaaahooooo! Great feedback and already an impressive (if a bit heavy on the germanspeaking side) line-up. Beth. Michael. Marco. Maini. Oliver. Kaddele. Maria. Birgit. Maja and "my" complete Viennese BW gang.
ad Accommodation: If you´re short on funds. Don´t worry. As long as you make it to Vienna, we´ve got a couple of sofas for you (Not that there´s going to be much time for sleep).

...Yahaan - well, hello Jimmy!

I´m a bit cautious when it comes to commenting on movies with a political message and "...Yahaan" tells a beautiful love story embedded in the political background of the Kashmir conflict. Something I am in no way qualified to comment in depth about. And still, this one here is, I feel, one of the few mainstream Hindi movies that almost successfully omits one-sided propaganda from their storytelling.

In Yahaan we meet Captain Aman (Jimmy Sheirgill) newly based at RR force in Srinagar. During one of his assignments he meets Adaa, a local muslim girl. Who happens to live in a house next to the bunker he gets stationed at.

A cold night, the search for chai and an interfering grandmother lead to a private encounter and love starts to bloom but not without difficulties that are a notch up from the usual Bollywood fare. The lovers face opposition from almost everybody surrounding them. The army ("Don´t mingle with locals") the locals ("Don´t mingle with the occupying force") the militants (for sure danger for live and limbs from this side) and of course Adaa ki khandaan khuch bhi nahin with the situation.

Even though the love Aman and Adaa feel for each other is "the real thing". So there are wonderful tender moments and horrible violent encounters that keep interchanging.

The lovestory is in fact nothing out of the norm for a nice average Bollywood romance. You have the sincere lovers. The -at first- disappoving family. A jealous villain. And sacrifices and courageous acts.

What makes it special is that this story is played before a quite realisticly painted background of the situation the Kashmiris find themselves in today. Incredible beautiful sceenery. Incredible unjust violence. The judging of the political side, as I said, here is fairly neutral and if it tends to one side then it´s that of the average local Kashmiris. Who are forced to lead their lifes in the crossfire between local (and imported) militants and the Indian Army.
That realistic approach is aided through the great cinematography of Jakob Ihre, a Swedish cameraman. Who captures the scenes and people with a kind of raw-ish almost european feeling. And beautiful poetic pictures. The post-production work of Shekar is great. Hey, Sanjay Gupta, watch this movie. Color correction as a visual effect can be done without giving your viewers a headache.

What also makes this movie worth watching are the actors. One highlight is Adaa´s grandmother, who has some fantastic witty moments. Or Sree, Adaa´s little sister.
The militants are for once not the cliched guys with big mustaches and booming voices. Minissha Lamba playing Adaa is sweet.
But who really surprised me was Jimmy Shergill. Boy is he good here. He´s playing my so far favorite Indian Army character. Quiet. Dedicated. Human. [girly moment on] and hot damn, he does looks fine in a uniform, even the mustache looks sexy on him [/ girly moment off].

It´s a pity that I had the Yahaan DVD lying here unwatched for more then a year, for fear of a smallscale propaganda-ish production not worth to being watched. That, was clearly a mistake.

PS: Since I´m a Devanagari illiterate can somebody translate or at least transscript this to Latin letters for me?

Mann - now thats an Affair To Remember

Sick day movies part two. Remember "Sleepless in Seattle" where every female character at one point starts to ramble and even to blubber about "An Affair to remember"? I could so relate to that. It is a fact that this films story is the epidome of romantic screenwriting (forget the Warren Beatty-Annette Bening 1994 humbug btw). And of course perfect Bollywood remake material. Short question: Was there an Indian adaption of it before Mann in 1999? Or did Bollywood really wait 42 years to remake that story? Whatever. Sigh. Aamir in the Cary Grant role. Manisha Koirala doing the Deborah Kerr one. Where are the bloody tissues?

Mann is a bit hard to digest in the first 45 minutes or so. Karan (Aamir) is super annoying as the ladykiller. The Rani Item number belongs to the Bollywood Fugly ouevre. And there is a terrible hindi version of the terrible "l´italiano". The comedy track on the boat annoys so much it hurts (same director as Masti or Pyaare Mohan...´nuff said) But you have to keep at it. Do. Not. Give. Up. On. It.
Because from the point on when you finally get to scenes of the first shore leave you´re rewarded tenfold. Aamir is so great when he does the "my playboy image is just a facade" and the "no compromises. I´ll give up everything for love" and the "meri zindagi khatm because she didn´t show up"

And there is Anil as Manisha´s fiance. And Manisha suffers sooo heroic. Sigh. And the climax is better then in the original. Double Sigh. And there is even a childrens-choir singing (again the Hindi version of) "We Shall Overcome"...

Ok, true. It is a chick flick. Most definitely. And still such a perfect companion for a sick day spent in bed. Just don´t forget to keep the tissues within reach. And not just one.

January 28, 2007

Lamhe - selfmedication Bollywood Style

Wanna know the perfect movie to watch when the long overdue flu has caught up with you and you spend your well deserved sick days at home in bed? Lamhe. Kyon? Kyon ki it´s long, it´s slow, it´s heartwarming, the music makes you happy and you can blame the red eyes and nose from heavy crying to the cold.

Virendra Pratab Singh has just turned 18 (Anil in 1991! - a bit hard to digest but who cares) when his Daijaa takes him for the first time to his ancestal mansion in Rajasthan. Being brought up in the West his level of facination for his legacy is pretty low. In fact he spends his time mostly indoors whining about the heat and the sand. Until. Until he spots a lovely local girl dancing in the rain and generally having a good time.

Good thing it turns out that the girl is Pallavi (Sridevi) the bubbly daughter of his late dads best friend a local Thakur. And since he´s young and his homones are in overdrive he falls head over heals for the khoobsurat ladki. Little does it matter to him that she is some years older then him (and will later become his sister-in-law in real life) Still, he does not confess his love her her but silently enjoys every minute he gets to spend with her. Then destiny starts to throw in the usual heavy obstacles in the stories way. Some evil relatives of the Thakur cause him to die of a heart attack not before he made Anil the caretaker of his daughter. Bingo. You´d think.

Turns out ladki already is in love with a spruce Airforce pilot and so Anil draws back and even though hearbroken makes it possible for them to get married. Story khatm? Not by far.
Destiny strike two. Only about nine months later the young couple dies in/after an accident. (Evidence to the fatality of Sridevis injuries? One lone blood infusion hanging beside her bed AND an oxygen bottle)

On her deathbed Shridevi puts her newborn daughter in the hands of Daijaa and Anil to be brought up under their wing.


Fast foreward 18 years.
Anil is still unmarried and for these 18 years managed to avoid meeting his ward. But the sweet girl has had it with his attitude. On her 18th birthday (the 18th anniversary of her mothers death) she finally comes face to face with her caretaker whom she heard so much about. And falls head over heals in love with him. Ek baraa problem hai. She is the spitting image of her mother (not really difficult to portray since Pooja is played by Sridevi as well) And Anil has real difficulties to adjusting to that. He still blames her somehow for the death of the love of his life. Yup, it isn´t easy for him. Daijaa and Pooja relocate to England to Anil´s house and Pooja unaware of Anil´s love for her mother innocently starts to pursue her jaan.

Aided by Anils best friend Anupam Kher they try to break down the emotional Berlin Wall that Anil has built around his heart. And in that course also get rid of Anita the woman who also waits to be married by Anil.

Lamhe is not the most exciting of movies out there. Its slow and pretty far fetched in parts. And I guess the 19 years age difference between Anils character and Pooja is a bit much for many viewers. But what still makes it a must see is an unleashed Sridevi. And the songs. I can´t decide which one I love most. Especially the ones in the first half are great. All of them.
Btw. Lamhe is supposed to be Karan Johars favorite Yash Chopra film. And you can see in his own work that he´s heavily influenced by it. It´s one of my favorite tearjerkers too. So my suggestion? Watch it. You don´t even need a flu to enjoy it. But keep the tissues within reach. You´ll never know when that nasty cold will strikes.

January 14, 2007

Minnale and 12B - didn´t I watch these stories before?

That just shows my luck at picking DVD´s. Didn´t watch any films for more then two weeks and then I pick those from my huge still-need-to-be-watched pile that are, in the case of 12B a Tamil remake of a British movie I didn´t like too much, and in the case of Minnale the 1:1 Tamil Original to the first movie I reviewed on this blog: Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Mein.

So I can make this short. For the story of Minnale go the RHTDM post and replace Saif Ali Khan with Abbas (whom I never liked that much) and Diya Mirza with Reema Sen.

My watching RHTDM is a gazillion of movies ago but I still think I liked the Hindi remake better then the Tamil Original.
Mostly because I could not sympathize a bit with Abbas, whereas liking Saif (and the way he played his character) made the heartbreak in the twist a bit more satisfying.

12B is a Tamil version of Sliding Doors with a little different twist. Here we have the guy (Shaam) missing/not missing the bus #12B one fine day and we watch what happens to his love life simultanously in both unfolding storylines.

In one life he gets the girl he was running after (Jyothika) and gets his share of trouble and in the other he doesn´t, and gets another share of problems as he takes ages to find what he has in another girl (Simran) he meets.
Michael at
bollywoodblog.de (warning: german text) didn´t like the climax/epilogue. Me neither. One thing in favor of 12B though: there is a special appearance of Suni(e)l Shetty. And he gets soaking wet bhi. Not as good as having John Hannah in Sliding doors, but hey, who am I to complain.

January 07, 2007

Bhagam Bhag - just what the doctor precribed

What was that?!
Thank god I checked my brain at the entrance (a security measure I took up for watching all Priyadarshan movies nowadays). Priyadarshan and I share a love/hate relation. I love Virasat. What I thought of Kyon Ki you can read
here. And I can, lets say, tolerate Hulchul and Garam Masala.
Last sunday marked the end of my waaaaay to long filmi dry spell. Yes. I know. Sorry. I wrote that I already would be back by last week. But that was before three of my staff opted out of the remodeling of our Film/Animation/Webdesign Student Lab and so I spent the last of my holiday vacation weeks removing drywall, building workstations and rewiring our network. And had another reason to fall flat on my bed each night without watching any movies. Not one film between Dec.18th and Jan.7th!

So by Sunday I was willing to take any chance to get back to meri nice shiny filmi ke duniya. And if it meant watching Bahgam Bhag. Good thing I did. What didn´t we laugh.

Indian theatre company led by Paresh Rawal gets an engagement in London.

Choti problem hai. The testosterone overdosed heroes (Akshay "I´m in dire need of a shave" Kumar and Govinda) of said company scared away the heroine. Not a big problem it seems though. London, as we all know, hosts a fairly big desi community and somewhere there eki nai khoobsurat ladki should easily be found. You´d think.

First obstacle. The heroes, who of course fight each other for everything from girls to roles, get in each others way constantly. Second, the word heroine resembles the word heroin. Enter Sharat Saxena and Manoj Joshi. And London Policewala Jackie "Woohoo" Shroff.

Third, in their pursuit of their still nonexistent heroine they find the wrath of Shakti Kapoor and Razzak Khan and their very strange gang of thugs. One positive aspect though, while angering these guys Akshay also encounters a very beautiful, if fairly suicidal, Lara Dutta.

Who of course is A) perfect heroine material and B) not who she pretends to be. Btw. somewhere on the line we also have Arbaaz Khan coming in as the husband of Lara and then we can finally start with the story. And our guys can start to bhag.
The storyline starting with the intermission actually could work as a nice episode of "
Murder, She Wrote". Only a slightly bit more chaotic. And hysterical. And loud. And ultra. And weird. And so very much away from a realistic story. Whatever.

Everybody and their grandmother turned up in this film. Whenever you thought, ok, now we have 3 storylines and 7 main characters another one (of either) turned up. Bahut masti.
My biggest regret is that Govinda had so little to do. And dance. I hope he´ll get more significant screentime in Salaam-E-Ishq. Bhagam Bhag is clearly an Akshay Kumar solo vehicle.

Which in itself is not a very bad thing, especially since he´s good here. But as one can see in the absolutely hilarious climax there are so many deserving characters and storylines in this film, there just was no prominent screentime left for anybody else but him.

So you´re looking for a well thought out and stringent executed storyline? Don´t. Watch. However if you you´re game for a totally crazy comedy with over-the-top overacting and stupid jokes, check your brain at the entrance and enjoy the ride.
Even lame jokes work if they come in rapid fire succession. Especially if they are shouted at you by a hysterical Akshay Kumar. Kasam se.

PS: See, that movie has so many people in it I forgot one I really liked. Rajpal Yadav. Very cool taxiwala. Whose life would be so much easier if he was a few inches taller.

PPS: All pictures courtesy of the films official website.