November 23, 2008

Dostana. High gloss. Little brain. Bahut mast.

So there are those two hot Indian ladke in Miami Beach and both are looking for a nice place to stay. The perfect location would be rooms in an apartment owned by this beautiful fashion magazine editor. Only, her auntyji rightfully does not think it to be wise to let two virile guys (one looking like AB2.0 after loosing just the right amount of weight and the other bearing an undeniable resemblance to John - we have a winner in the 6-pack contest - Abraham)

Idea! Since one is a photographer and the other one a nurse, what would be more natural as to pretend to be a gay couple. And by being that posing no danger to the landlady´s honour. So they move in and become the thickest of friends. Until both fall in love with her and the plot somewhat thickens.

Obviously the part with both guys getting more and more entangled in their pretend gayness is very very funny. Yes, of course there are the stereotypes. But hey, those are straight Indian guys pretending to be gay and the film manages to not make a farce of it. The only minus point is guy number 3. Well at least Bobby Deol got rid of his mane a while back but still, it doesn´t gel.

My favorite part? The Kirron Kher bits where a riot.

Oh and btw. Dostana set the bar for the most romantic date. I will only say KKHH. I challenge every guy to top that.

Yuvvraaj - at least it didn´t have a shower scene with Anil

I am utterly confused. It´s a fact. Yuvraaj is a bad movie. Think creepy 90ies bad. But somehow it works. And I don´t have the faintest idea why it does.

The one and only reason for me to make myself brace the rain and watch Yuvraaj yesterday was that I wanted to see how Subash Ghai framed those parts of the story that played in Austria and Czechia (For those interested, except for one tiny piece which might really have been Czechia they shot most scenes in the Tyrol and Salzburg). Cinetirol can be happy. They got a beautifully shot tourism adfilm.
As for the rest of it. Yuvraaj is old school. In a bad sense. Everything people (outside and inside India) make fun about in Bollywood Films is there. Hell, Ghai even used the freaking "thunder" to accent the gravity of what´s happening on screen.

So it took a while to get into it. Mithun helped a bit. As did Zayed who finally looked good again in a film. But a film starting with Katrina stangling her poor chello was not easy to digest. Salman loosing his shirt exactly 15 min into the film did´t help either. The Extras were really really really bad (Bollywood, seriously, you need to get yourself some better white Extras, or at least make them stop looking straight into the camera or at the AD because they have no idea what to do and what not) The costumes will feed Bollywoodfugly for months. Don´t forget Filmi physics like hurricane-like winds in rooms but not even one moving hair when driving an open convertible at 60mph.

As for the story. Been there. Done that. About 1.23.042 times. Three brothers. Not on speaking term. A reluctant father-in-law to be. An unjust will. Evil greedy uncles, aunties and cousins. And POISON. There has been poison! I think that was the moment when I made my peace with Yuvraaj.

So it is an old school film. With an old school story. And old school sloppy filmmaking.
And in the end I came out and had to confess to myself that I had actually had a good time. One part of the Bollywoodfan in me who acutally got hooked on Indian cinema because of films like that, had a fun retro-flashback. Even while the other part cringed and hated Ghai because he ruined my believe that Bollywood was finally over making films that way.

PS: As for the locations. The ones I can name are Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Kristallwelten in Wattens, Festung Kufstein and quite a few other locations in and around Innsbruck.

November 21, 2008

Dasvidaniya bitter-sweet goodbye

Sure Dasvidaniya (Goodbye in Russian) is nothing but another version of a "bucket list" film. But it is an endearing Indian version.

Amar (fantastic Vinay Pathak) finds out that he has 3 months to live. Problem is that you cannot call what he did with his live up to that moment as "living". So after a pep talk from his alter-ego he starts to write and work down a "10 points to do before I die" list. It contains not really spectacular things. No skydiving or dancing on the terasse of Eiffel tower. It is real stuff like buying a car or meeting old friends that give him a chance to finally live before dying.

Dasvidaniya is a small film with an excellent cast. It´s quiet and sweet and funny and it made me tear up add the oddest scenes. I loved it for being unspectacular. And for small but shining moments like Amar explaining to his guitar teacher why he started wearing all those threads and rings. Or the first scene on the brigde. Or the love declaration. Or... There are so many wonderful moments in it.

Yes, it is a niche film. But if you, as I do, have a weak spot for off the beaten track films and are as happy as I am to see Rajat Kapoor, Neha Dupia or Saraubh Shukhla on the big screen then you have to go and watch this.

November 14, 2008

Vaaranam Aayiram - ahh, lets make that 500

Back in 2006 when I wrote about Peralagan I titled the post "Surya. Wow". That could be a very fitting title for this post as well.

I managed to watch a charity preview of Vaaranam Aayriam (Thousand Elephants) yesterday (with Gautham, Sameera and Surya attending *squee* )
I had high expectations for the combination of Gautham Menon, Harris Jayaraj and Surya. To make it short. Not all could be satisfied.
Inspired by the relationship with his own father, Gautham tries to tell the story of a father-son relationship told to us by the son (Krishnan and Suriya both are played by Surya) in flashbacks. We are led from the 60ies when the parents met to present times.

My tiny problem with the storytelling is that the focus too often shifts from the father-son relationship. Especially in the second half. There are some episodes in the sons life that are just too long and distracting. And sorry, but the climax military thingy is plainly bad. I really hope that the Indian Special Forces are nowhere near as amateurish.

But. Big but. The first half is great. I luuurved the song picturisation. Especially the 60ies and 80ies songs. In fact the first hours or so I felt I was watching an almost perfect movie. Great storytelling. Perfect tempo. Cinematography is beautiful. SFX are the best I´ve seen in an Indian film so far. And I felt the "historical" bits were so sweet and authentic in acting, design, flair, feel.

And the biggest treat is Surya. He really nails it. The 16 year old as well as the 60 year old. Sometimes I almost forgot that this was one and the same actor just in different getups.
Well what can I say? He has been my favorite southern Indian actor for quite a while now and I think he is fast climbing to the top of my "All-Indian Fave" list. Watch out Sanjay/Nana/Atul!
And [fangirlmode on] he looks smoking hot. I still go by my quote from 2006 "He has that very attractive Umphh-factor of being a cool actor with intense eyes and a killer smile." And since he joined the 6-pack club for this film you can add that too (even if I felt the "Salmanitis" he displayed was a bit much) [/fangirl mode off]

But not only Surya was great. Simran is fantastic as Krishnans wife and Suriyas mother. Sameera Reddy surprised me in a good way and Divya was did wonderful

So. Watch it or not? Even with a few points of criticism. No Question. Watch it. For Surya. The great cinematography. The songs. The first half and parts of the second.

Oops. Almost forgot. Of course we need a disclaimer for this review as well. As I still don´t understand more than two Tamil words and the film obviously was without Subs I could only get the English bits of the dialogue. It was not too hard to follow the story though.

PS: I heard rumors that Gautham edited the second half some more since the first previews. I´ll probably go and watch it once more tomorrow, so I will be able to tell.

PPS: It´s confirmed. 15 minutes of the 2nd half have been cut. Reports tell that this helps quite a bit.

November 06, 2008

"German Blogger Barbara Skoda"

Well, that would be me. The TOI Website has an article by Anuradha Varma on the Fans reaction to the Temptation Reloaded disaster in Germany.
Where btw. some of the fans already filed charges for fraud against the promoters and quite a few of the claimants only converse via their lawyers with Sensasian anymore. The SRK youtube apology made it to the evening news on TV. Anyone involved with Bollywood in Germany is fighting for damage control and German Bollywood magazine Ishq is trying to extract at least parts of the truth behind the whole drama.

*of course I am actually "Austrian Blogger Barbara Skoda" since my home base is in Vienna, Austria. And we only speak German there (A fact that might be disputed by anyone living north of Munich). But I stopped minding the mix up. In fact whenever I get asked of my origin here in Chennai I resort to answering "Germany" for quite a while now. It is somehow the better option than to always explain that Austria is not Australia and most of the time giving up because people don´t get it...

November 03, 2008

Fashion - reality? not really!

It is a bit of a pity that Madhur Bhandarkar did not dare to go the whole nine yards with Fashion.
Working in the fashion industry is a tough job. Duh! Yes, we know that. And of course there is almost not difference between the Indian industry and Fashion business anywhere else in the world.

Whatever. Here´s the not so surprising story.
Smalltown beauty queen aspires to become model. No, Supermodel. Mom is ok with it. Dad not. Beauty queen travels to Mumbai and meets with gay friend and assistant designer. He makes her meet people and since aspiring model looks like Priyanka Chopra and the big honchos are neither stupid nor blind, she heads to the top at lightning speed. But being a country bumpkin she of course does not read the 500 pages contract nor does she listen to the warning of her coke-abusing fallen successor. So beauty queen now Supermodel looses her friends, lets herself get knocked up by her married boss, has an abortion and starts the coke/alcohol routine. Thank god she has an epiphany and heads home.
Sad little traumatized now Ex-Supermodel need about a year to sort of recover only to go back and show it to the world (now with the blessing of Daddy). She apologises to her best model friend and alibi-wife who is now pregnant from her gay designer husband, best gay now-designer-not-assistant-anymore friend and ditched former model boyfriend who is now engaged to some other girl.
She not only tries a comeback but also tries to help the other totally rundown former supermodel to get back on her feet. One succeeds. One dies. Go figure.

What have I learned from this movie?

-Every male designer in India is gay.
-Breaking up with your boyfriend makes you addicted to cigarettes and vodka.
-Kangana should not speak. Ever. And even less shout. It is unintentional comedy at its best to watch her yell at her boyfriend and then tumble down the stairs. The cinema roared with laughter.

-Indian models do not have eating disorders.
Everyone who ever watched America´s Next Topmodel knows that walking the ramp is similar to nuclear science.

The only thing I liked about the fim was its cinematography. And
Ashwin Mushran. The rest was boring. As movies tend to be that oversimplify the worlds dark areas and are so predictible that you can narrate the story plus all the side twists after watching the first 5 minutes of the film