Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I have been a bit remiss! A Bollywood mini-marathon!

I have seen a number of new and old Bollywood lately, yet haven't written about them. I just found the first Bollywood movie made! Who knew, You Tube! Only one reel of Raja Harishchandra still exists, and someone has put it on You Tube, it is a silent film, and this version has some of the 'behind the scenes' of Phalke's work on the film.
I have watched just a bit, and have found it fascinating!

I have been doing a bit of Bollywood marathon the past few days--Saturday night was off to the cinema for Krrish 3: I was disappointed--I guess I expected more, the hype was incredible leading up to it. The reviewers had nothing but glowing praise(unlike the panning they did of SRK's Chennai Express).  Then I raided Erin's movie supply(as well as got back some of my stuff!

I gorged myself on Sunday with Cocktail and Chennai Express (I even watched the making of stuff). I was thoroughly entranced and very much enjoyed Cocktail: Deepika and Saif have such great chemistry together and the story was sweet.  Re-watching Chennai Express was just so much fun! I had forgotten how much fun a good comedy/action flick can be.
SRK is not afraid to refer to his old movies, make fun of his image and just plain have fun. I had not seen a film directed by Rohit Shetty, but Erin was kind enough to lend me a couple of his films. I normally don't like action films, but this seemed so tongue in cheek! The communication via songs(using melodies from so many films!), the tag line that was so evocative of Om Shanti Om, the  patent SRK moves from other films--it was just so much fun, it totally perked me up!

Monday I took off from work for a doctor's appointment, so when I returned home--more movies!  A sweet film that Barfi- this sweet little romantic comedy made me realize--there is someone for everyone.

Ranbir Kapoor is fantastic in this role as a deaf mute young man who falls for an autistic young girl. Barfi's father works for Jhilmil's father--when Jhilmil's grandfather passes on, he leaves all his money in a trust to his granddaughter(not trusting his own son). The sweet relationship between these two develops from a protective one to one of true and enduring love.

Then, I needed another shot of SRK--I had my copy of Jab Tak Hai Jaan for some time--and even though wooden Katrina Kaif made me very frustrated when I saw this film in the theatre( I rooted for Anushka Sharma to get SRK in the end)--I watched and enjoyed it for a second time. I even watched the extras of making the movie--I usually avoid them, for even though there is a lot of great stuff--mostly it is in Hindi, with no subtitles, but I got through quite a bit of the extras. One day I may watch the interview with Yash Chopra--but I do know that will be in Hindi only, even though Yash spoke English well, he was more comfortable with Hindi. It was kind of sad to see some of the comments from the actors that they hoped that this would not be Yash's last film(he had said he was going to retire after this film)--all the actors who had not worked with him before, and those that had, kept saying he was an actor's director. Watching Yash traverse the harsh terrain of the locations where they shot gave me even more respect for the eighty year old director: he was taken too soon.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thinking of a class

I have been toying, for a number of years, of the idea of teaching a basic class on Hindi/Bollywood film.  I have an extensive library of books and films, so doing the research, gathering materials--no big deal, I just poke through my stuff. Well, my Bollywood stuff, my precious books, most are still in crates since our move--not enough bookshelves to hold them!! I still need one big bookcase in my room for just my Bollywood stuff!
Well, that being said, I have decided to try and do this whole class thing!  I began to surf the Web for syllabi of courses that have been taught at various colleges and universities around. I began to look at these syllabi, and found something striking!! I either own most of the books and movies that these instructors are using!  Many of these classes have been taught in the past 6-8 years, so none deal with the fact that this year, 2013, is the one hundredth anniversary of the Indian film industry. None deal with the fact that the Indian film industry is larger that Hollywood, many deal with the fact that the Indian film industry(mainline Bollywood from Mumbai) makes more films each year than does Hollywood.  Humm, I find a lack there!  A few deal with the fact that Bollywood has appeal all over the world, in parts of the world you would not expect--Russia, Germany, Nigeria, much of the Arab world. Many of the books that these classes refer to do deal with these issues, so I guess it is discussed in classes.
Many of the authors of the books used are fast friends of mine--Rachel Dwyer, Mihir Bose, Jerry Pinto, Anupama Chopra; all authors that got me hooked on learning more about Bollywood.

I guess I need to ponder and research and get this thing together!



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Still Watching Shahrukh! Part 2

I have been re-watching and re-reading some of my favorite Bollywood flicks and books!
I had thought I would re-watch DDLJ today, I had re-read the book written on it--but fate changed my mind.
Today I re-watched Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham! I guess I was in the mood for more of a tear jerker. This flick was an early millenial release--it was released in 2001-and is one of the few flicks I like Kareen Kapoor in! This story of the adopted son who is cast out because of whom he wishes to marries really tugs at my heart. See, my folks sorta didn't approve of the ex-husband(and why he is now ex is another whole long story---pretty fitting to Bollywood!). Whenever I watch this flick, I really miss my late dad now--he has been gone for about 5 years and I really wish I could give him a call and go hang out.
I love the sappyness of this film-but some of the costume choices (especially for the dance fantasy number in Egypt) are odd-the whole see-thru shirt dealy for SRK boggles me--as does the entirely leather outfit!
This film has some great chemistry between SRK and Kajol--they always have wonderful moments together.


Last weekend, with lousy snowy weather, I needed a touch of bright color and fun! So I watched Paheli!  This story is based on a Rajasthan folktale about a ghost who falls in love with a young bride. Her husband is so intent on making money, that he leaves the day after he brings home his bride. The ghost sees this, takes the shape of the husband and returns to the bride. The ghost is honest with the young bride and tells her what he is, and she falls for him as well.  The color and photography in this film is wonderful--the one place I really want to see from this film is the fabulous step well they filmed at. It is a magical and fantastic place--this is where the ghost first follows and falls for the bride.--wouldn't you if you saw this place?
This film is full of fun and magic-the ghost is totally upfront with the bride--and manages to convince the greedy father that a wise man promised him a boon of 5 gold coins per day!

Well, if you got to spend time with SRK in this avatar, I would fall for him too! They changed up the tale a bit to give it a more positive ending, but it is a very feminist slant they give it! Rah to SRK!
A couple of weeks ago I watched Swades--or we the people. SRK is a weather scientist working for NASA and feels at a loss--his parents are dead and he has lost track of the woman who raised him--his nanny. The pensive SRK heads from Washington DC to India to find his nanny. SRK must have had a blast filming this--he is a major techie--and working at NASA  must have been a dream come true!.
This film is full of great symbols-SRK's character is working on a water mapping project--and this water image play thru the entire film.
You watch his character grow and change-accepting the land around him as part of him. This is finally brought to home when he takes his first drink of water from a water wallah boy at a train stop, and then again when he dives into the cistern to see why the pump isn't working. The story is slow in places, but worth watching. There are few 'dance' numbers, but the music by ARRahman is fabulous!
I had wanted to watch a bunch of fun, upbeat SRK flicks--I found the ones I love and see as upbeat all have some serious subject matter and a great message! humm

I have a couple of movies from Netflix that I need to watch--Wake up Sid!  and Barfi!--these may be my next films to discuss!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Reading Bollywood--still!

Well, my dear friend Erin returned a bunch of books and Bollywood films the other night--got me to re-reading some old staples!

One compact wee book is Bollywood by Ashok Banker--the copy I have I got thru some Indian bookseller online--so it has a nifty cover of Bollywood poster art.
If you recognize that image--it is from Lagaan!  One of my all time favorite films--though it is one you Have to see in 2 parts!! The movie runs nearly as long as the 3 day cricket game in the film.

Re-reading his entries on important Hindi films has gotten me wanting to find some of these films from the 50's and 60's and before. 

Banker's easy style writing about his favorite films makes you want to hunt down and watch movies.

Another book Erin returned was Rachel Dwyer's Top 100 Hindi Films. I thumbed through this book and re-read some bits, noting that I had put marks on the films I owned or had seen--I haven't nearly as many I really should!
I haven't just been reading Bollywood--I have been watching--I am trying to do my project of re-watching my Shahrukh Khan films. I re-watched Paheli yesterday--even to the point where I watched(sans subtitles, lots of Hinglish) the Making of the Song release parts of the DVD.  Not going to say much here, other than it did its usual of lifting my spirits--the bright colors, peppy music, strong story for a woman's choice!  Nuf said for now! More to come.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Shahrukh Films I have seen and loved! Part 1!

Someone told me the other day--you should write about all the SRK films you have seen!--humm how would I do that?? I have seen nearly all the films he has made, the good, the mediocre, the outright awful--even some where he just did a cameo!
Any SRK fan will recognize this picture from Billu--it was the Marjaani dance bit he did with Kareen Kapoor(not a bad number, even if it does contain Kareena)!
Some of his films have left me wondering--why he did them. I know he made specific choices early in his career to not do romantic 'chocolate box hero' roles--this is a quote I read in a book written about him--and his early roles reflect this!

My first film I ever saw with him was Kal Ho Naa Ho--my goddaughter brought the film back from India--and said I needed to watch! Well, that film not only hooked me on Bollywood, but it made me the biggest SRK fan in the Northeast!

The heart wrenching interaction between SRK and Preity Zinta makes me cry every time I watch this film! The story may be hokey, the songs so so--but SRK is in top form as the romantic lead. The first time I saw this film, I had not seen any other Bollywood films, so I missed the subtext and references to other great BWood films--Lagaan, DDLJ to name just a few. As well as I did not recognize the significance of the cameos of Kajol and Rani Mukerjee and other female leads of SRK's!  I had much to learn!

After seeing this film, this made me want to find more SRK films on Netflix--or buy what I could cheaply--and my collection began! 

My next film of SRK's that I love and have seen many many times is Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge or DDLJ. This was SRK's first romantic lead--and boy does he do it up well--no sappy romance for him-he is a cynical Indian raised in London who falls for a very traditional Punjabi young lady. This film set the bar very high for Bollywood romances after its release and has been hinted at and referenced in many films since. I used to try to watch this film on the anniversary of its release every year--but have been remiss of late--my dream one day is to head to Mumbai and see it in the Maratha Mandir theatre where it has been playing since the films release in 1995!! According to the Wiki entry on DDLJ--this film is in the 1001 Must See Films before you die(along with Mother India)!! So I guess I have seen all the Bollywood I need see??? NOT!!

There are so many films--I think I may need to do more than one blog post Ms Aish!!

Missing movies!?

Well--I have watched a few films lately--several were great--one was a waste of my time(sorry Erin!).

Khanaai (2012)--Starred Vidya Balan--and I never thought I would love a thriller so much!  I had read so much about this film and when I finally got to watch, I was glued to my seat!  This thriller is a murder mystery(I think!)--it is a very hard to classify film, even for a western film! Vidya(the character's name is the same as the actress'), very pregnant, heads to Kolkata during the Durga Puja festivities --there is  a real symbolism between this celebration and the story that gets told(and when I totally figure it out, I will let you know).Vidya is in Kolkata to locate her missing husband--he left for business and never returned to London.
Vidya struggles with the heat, her large belly, the crowds and the lack of co-operation from authorities as she tries to find her husband. The police think she is crazy--but one officer is assigned to help her and ferry her around Kolkata.
She checks into a semi seedy guest house, where her husband had stayed--this place is not very clean, the 'running' hot water is provided by a small boy!  Vidya spends much of her free time in the hotel room cleaning it!
Vidya convinces the young police officer that her quest for her lost husband is part of a conspiracy--which seems to be true as many of the people she talks to about her husband end up dead!
I won't give up too much of the story--don't want to give you any spoilers(sweetie--oops sorry another passion!)  But I never expected the ending that was!! I will need to watch this film a few more times to figure out all the clues--and they were very well placed/hidden--the 'running water-boy' at the guest house, the woman in HR of the company where her husband works, so many clues were tossed about!
This film was made on a very very small budget--there are not multiple costume changes(I kind of think that the actress used her own clothing!), there are no dance numbers, no lavish sets--but this movie hooks you in well and good!
One thing to consider when you watch this film--keep in mind--nothing is as it seems! This film is a perfect mystery film--clues and red herrings abound, but the ending is.... well--you must see it !

Saturday, November 24, 2012

An afternoon with SRK--Jab Tak Hai Jaan

I know, I have been remiss with my entries this year--but it has been a crazy year. Moving, trying to get permanently re-hired at work, lack of funds and motivation to see a Bollywood flick!

Well, when I heard that the Indian grocery had a an advert that Yash Chopra's last film(and of course SRK's new film) was going to be playing in a nearby town, I jumped to see it! It was a special deal that a small indy theatre had arranged--but the owner of the theatre didn't get the word out really well. I finally called and talked to the wonderful young man running the place and got times--so we (the terrible trio of crazy white ladies who love SRK) headed to Agawam for the Sunday of Diwali to see Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

With all the secrecy during the filming--the title wasn't released until the film was nearly done, the lead actresses kept under wraps, story line minimal--SRK tweeted about some of the shooting in Kashmir and Ladakh--about the beauty of the area and how difficult it was to film in remote areas.

The publicity began as Diwali neared--some of the big promos began about the time of Yashji's 80th birthday--SRK did a long interview(I sure hope they subtitle those on the DVD release).  Many of the cast seemed in promo mode when they attended Amitabh Bachchan's 70's birthday party, though Yashji wasn't seeming well during the festivities and went right to the hospital after the party.  Word was that there was still a few scenes they needed to film in Switzerland--you need to have some stuff filmed in Switzerland for a Yashji film!

When Yash Chopra did not recover from his bout with dengue fever and died October 21st--the entire Bollywood community wept--what would happen now to this film--would they film that last bit, would it release for Diwali??

Well--they did not go to Switzerland, they premiered it the day before Diwali in a lavish tribute to Yashji--they put a tribute to Yashji in the beginning credits as well as the end credits.

How was the film?? It was  grand SRK film--his brooding, exuberant, wonderful self held the film together. I tried not to read reviews prior to seeing the movie--but, I was really concerned about his pairing with Katrina Kaif(I was hoping against hope that she was not his primary love interest, and was hoping that Anushka Sharma would win out--they had such great chemistry in RNBDJ!!).

From the leaked photos from the London shoot, I knew that Katrina was the main focus--but why?? She is such a wooden actress--it amazed me that SRK could get such hot and heavy scenes--yes there is a kissing(several) on the lips!! with such a stiff young lady in his arms!!

If you are going to see a great female lead actress do her best--this is not the film for you--this is a SRK and Anushka film. Anushka's character really brings out the best in SRK's character--she gets him out of his funk, brings him back to London to face his past--which becomes all that he can face.

The return to London and the accident that wipes out his past was a bit hard to swallow--but SRK manages to make it believable, even if Katrina is so standoffish and won't let him into her life!

Go see this film---it is a typical Yashji romance--boy loves girl, girl is one he can't have, boy finds new life--still loving girl!  We shall never see a film like this again, for even if Yashji hadn't passed after this film--this was to be the last film he was to direct in his long career.

Rest in Peace Yashji--your legacy of romance is secure!  We love what you did for Bollywood films during your career--and even if SRK won't admit he is a romantic hero--SRK is my romantic hero!!