Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Kuch Kuch Hota Holiday

I have been watching some forgettable Bollywoods--I never thought I would say that a Sharukh film would be forgettable, but Dulha Mil Gaya was very forgettable. You could tell that it took nearly 2 years to film, it seemed to have lost what little bit of chemistry there was. The whole 'My Fair Lady' take on making the plain girl have her husband in name only fall for her got stretched pretty thin. Sushmita Sen's role was very superficial--and after Main Hoon Na--this was bad--I finished the movie with a desire to watch a good movie.
My friend Erin has lent me a bunch of her movies that I have not seen, and she has taken some of mine--which meant she had Paheli, which cheers me up all the time--and I was not in the mood for a sob fest...

Well, I let this stew for a few days to decide what to see--Alex was off with friends for a holiday celebration--I decided to watch the inner part of the Inner/Outer World of Shahrukh Khan (yes, I did the guilty pleasure bit, and when Nehaflix had it on sale---I got it a while ago!
I think I had seen much of this disk via YouTube and other interviews, but it was wonderful to see some of the stuff I had missed. I had been waffling between re-watching KKHH and Main Hoon Na--since lots of the inner world followed SRK around while filming Main Hoon Na--my choice was obvious. It was heart warming to see SRK with his kids(though it was done a few years back (in 2005), and his daughter, Suhana, was very cute! I got to see some of the places that Anupama Chopra wrote about in her biography of SRK--including the school he went to in Delhi. I even offered a silent prayer when he too went to pray at the graves of his parents.

Re-watching KKHH after nearly 4 years--and reading more about SRK, Bollywood, India and experiencing more of life (yes even we oldsters gather more experience as we move forward)--this movie seemed totally new, yet still an old friend. I was able to better understand many of the cultural nuances that I missed with a viewing earlier. I could almost see the passages in Rachel Dwyer's book All You Want is Money, All You Need is Love that discussed this movie in particular at length. Rachel's books on Bollywood are a wonderful insight into how the film industry reflects as well as shapes Indian culture.

Watching this film after seeing SRK's inner world that discussed his many injuries and surgeries and how he copes with the pain--made me wince every time he fell and landed on his shoulder or knee--it still amazes me that he says when he is working, he feels not pain. My love and respect for SRK grows larger each time I watch his movies--and the more I learn about him, the more I feel that he is a very special person--he seems to enjoy making people happy, and expects little for himself and is very grateful for all he has.

I suppose, that during these next few days of holiday time, I can hopefully watch some more films-I know I wish to re-watch Aja Nachle to revel in Madhura Dixit's dancing!

Well, here, on Christmas Eve Eve--here is hoping that you get your Bollywood love--however you can!

Namaste, Yaara!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I went to see this fabulous movie yesterday. I not only brought an old(but young) friend that I have only recently discovered loves Bollywood--but I also gave a knitting buddy her first exposure to Bollywood on the Big Screen!!

This movie has a topic that is very relevant and timely--assisted suicide. You might not think that this would make for an uplifting movie, but it does. While the main character's, Ethan, body is slowing shutting down-he is trying to convince the government and those who love him that he wishes to die--and has come to terms with this.

We see, via flashbacks, the wonderful full life that Ethan has lead--he was a world renowned magician. During a performance, his equipment was sabotaged, and he was left a quadriplegic.

Even after he is incapacitated, he does not stop enjoying and living life--he writes a book about embracing life, even when give major obstacles. He hosts a radio show that plays music to encourage and uplift.

Yet, even with all his accomplishments, he cannot look past the fact that he is dying slowly--his kidneys have shut down, his lungs are slowly losing the ability to provide him breath--and his constant pain is something he tries to hide.

His caretaker, Sophia, with her elegance and formal manner, hides her love for her patient, as he hides his love for her.

Even with the somber topic, this movie is uplifting and wonderful.
The theatre was full, and usually when I go to Bollywood movies at this theatre, the Indian audience tends to cheer, laugh and yell at the screen--even serious movies. When I saw Kaminey, there was much talking and chatter during the film.
Well, during this film, there was silence during most of the movie--and toward the end, I swore I heard sobbing--or maybe that was me. Meeting folks in the lobby after, the majority of the movie goers seemed highly moved by this film.

I do think, that with this film, Bhansali has become one of my favorite directors. He makes you feel that you are in the shoes of those on the screen. His attention to detail and love of depth has you scanning the background looking for hints as to where he will be taking the viewer.

I encourage you all to see this film--if possible, on the big screen.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


This movie has been sitting on top the TV for quite a while--gotta love Netflix, but if they realize how long I keep a movie--I am in trouble. Alex had to go to a meeting this morning, so I decided to watch Paa.
Mind you, I am not a huge Abhishek Bachchan fan--even in the roles I like, I find him a bit underwhelming. He doesn't have the charisma on the screen that Shahid Kapoor or SRK have-but he ususally does a great job--umm, let us forget about Drona, in that movie, even the horse seemed embarrassed to be there.

This low-key movie has the romantic start that many expect--the young lovers in college. When Vidya discovers she is pregnant--he lover Amol, feels not ready for family, marriage etc. He suggests terminating the pregnancy--Vidya just says that she will no longer be a burden to him. Vidya is worried that her mother will be upset and throw her out-but her mother is her biggest supporter.

When Auro is born, it is obvious there is something wrong--the diagnosis shortens his life expectancy--Progeria--a rare genetic disorder that causes rapid aging--Auro's family treats him not very differently--the school he attends, treat him like a regular 12 year old.

Auro wins a contest--meets.........well, I think you need to watch this charming film yourself, so I am not going to give away any more--other than Auro does meet his father--and you have a sad but happy ending.

The extras are not much on this disk, just showing the progress Big B underwent for the prosthetic makeup!! Alex was home by then, and marvelled that he felt no big Hollywood star would allow to have himself filmed while the mask and prosthetics were being made!! Gotta love Bollywood!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Peepli [Live]

A rainy Sunday--perfect day for a movie. My friend Deirdra and I decided we would head to the Worcester area to see the new Aamir Khan productions--Peepli[live]. I had read interviews with Aamir, Deirdra had heard an interview on NPR--I had been wanting to see this movie, but with car issues and Alex needing the car to work inventory--I saw it as a near impossible objective. Well, Deirdra was just as intrigued by this movie as I was--so we headed off, fighting rain, accidents on the turnpike, and heavy traffic returning home from weekends.
As always, the Sunday matinee was pretty much deserted. I was surprized by the number of 'anglos' in the small crowd--though, there were enough Hindi speakers in the theater that they seemed to get some of the in jokes that the subtitles did not properly translate.

I could give you a synopsis of the plot-but it was more the ideas, concepts, and the statements made (overtly as well as covertly) about the press-not only in India but in the world. Natha and his brother Budhia are struggling to save the family farm--the bank refused the loan once again. The local politico suggests that maybe one of the brothers should consider suicide, since the government will pay reparations to families of those who die.
The story is really about how the local newspaper reporter--Rakesh--gets disillusioned by the 'big city' press.

As the story goes "Live"--and all the news folks descend on the small dusty village--everything gets its day on the news, and I mean everything!! goats, cranky mothers, the neighbors, the police force--everything gets a moment in the limelight. As the 'suicide watch' becomes a bit of a sideshow-Rakesh seems to feel that the real story is not being addressed. This movie is about 'the real story'. How many times do we turn on the news and see the mole hill rather than the mountain--the trivial story rather than the broader picture.

As Deirdra and I discussed the intricacies of the story, and how it effected us--she brought us a story that I had passed over in the newspaper that she thought was not appropriate for the local NPR station to cover. JDSalinger's toilet--and its recent sale! on that note--that's it, I can say no more about the movie--for it all comes down to toilets--in real life as well as in the movies.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Name is Khan--is coming!

Well, I got the notification today that my DVD copy of My Name is Khan is on its way. I am kind of nervous about it arriving--which version will it be? Will it be the international, edited version(without the embarrassing hurricane bits), or will it be the version I saw at the theatre that shows first run Hindi films?? The hurricane bits were cringeworthy--but if they take them out, how will it affect the movie?
I still have a backlog of films to finish/or just plain watch! I have a SRK film in the DVD player that even my meager knowledge of Hindi is telling me that the sub-titles don't give you all the information you need. I finally broke down and bought (on a major sale from Nehaflix) The Inner/Outer World of SRK--so many things seem to refer to the interviews etc on this DVD--that I felt I finally needed to become a voyeur into SRK's life.

Oh well, to have several days to do nothing but knit and watch Bollywood!--and now I found I have a friend who is also a Bollywood nut---humm need to really find out HOW she got hooked! My dear, sweet goddaughter got me hooked by making me feed her while we watched her Hindi film class homework, and then when she brought home Kal Ho Naa Ho from a trip to India--I was sunk for good into my obsession!

Oh well, let us hope I have time to check out My Name is Khan this weekend--I so look forward to the extras!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obsession-in love and Bollywood

I have had this movie sitting around for a while--Darr:A Violent Love Story. This was one of Shahrukh's early roles--done right after he did Baazigar (according to IMDB, they were both released in 1993). For those of you who don't like it when SRK plays a psycho/obsessed kind of character-this one is not for you. For those of you who don't like SRK playing a not very nice guy-this film is not for you either. But this film is one of SRK's great early films.
When SRK went into the film industry from television, he did not want to play what he called 'chocolate box' heros. Lightweight roles, shallow characters who romance the ladies and have not much else to them. SRK knew he was not the typical looking Bollywood hero--he was short, kind of dark, had a crooked nose and big teeth--hey, this is not me saying this, this what he told Anupama Chopra when she wrote The King of Bollywood.

Shahrukh has great depth in his acting, no matter how much folks might poke fun at the bollywood film industry, many of these actors have great talent. While watching this movie, I was trying to pick out other aspects of the type of film this was--the depth of obsession SRK has with Kiran is showcased by the photos he has in his room. The closeness he has with his dead mother, is a true sign of his mental illness--he often spends hours on the 'phone' describing to his mother all that he loves about Kiran.

Shahrukh still manages to charm people in this film. When his 'girlfriend' marries the love of her life, SRK manages to charm his way into the home of her brother and discovers where the newlyweds are secretly honeymooning. Even when he plays a psychopath, SRK's characters still have charm and grace--he may have stalked his girl and carved her name into his chest, but he still manages to spend quite a bit of time with the newlyweds.

Sunil(Sunny Deol) may be an expert naval commando, but he is kinda slow sometimes--SRK's character drops pretty broad hints about his love for Kiran, but Sunil is so in love, he misses this obsession.

Even though SRK was the newcomer in this film, he won more acclaim for his role as the psycho lover than Deol did in his starring role--I will have to admit, Deol is not one of my favorite actors. Deol is sort of another one of those two note Bollywood stars that folks mock in the west; he has intense, and sweet--that is about it! Sunny Deol has not aged as well as SRK(in my humble opinion)--but he has been doing more directing as of late, and I have seen him in some older stuff-I will have to try to find some of his newer stuff.

After watching this film of obsessive love, it makes me want to go back to revisit Rab Ne Bana di Jodi!! This is where SRK's obsessive love is shown is with a great gentleness and sweetness that make you want to find a Suri for yourself.

Well, namaste yaar, and go enjoy a Bollywood film!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Watching "Black"--a new twist on an old story

I had had this DVD from Netflix for quite some time (you really don't want to know exactly how long), I had heard and read many things about this movie. It was very wrenching, depressing, dark (what with a name like Black, you expect it to be full of sunshine?). I finally decided to watch it one night when my son was off with friends--he tolerates my Bollywood obsession, but doesn't seem to enjoy them too much. I settled in with my dinner, glass of wine and in my jammies, anticipating a very depressing film.
Well, it sort of startled me how it began, since I had read it was a take on 'The Miracle Worker'--I expected it to begin with a wild little child. When Rani began the narration and the black/grey palette spread out before me, I was intrigued. I had only seen Bhansali's films--Devdas and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam--on the small screen, and he does 'big' screen films. His other 2 films I had seen were full of color, movement, song and life. This movie is very different--it is contemplative, quiet and full of great emotion-it is not to say his other films lack emotion, Black has emotions that are much more raw.
The story line is, for the most part, similar to 'The Miracle Worker', with Amitabh Bachchan playing the Annie Sullivan role, Debraji--with the twist of he is an old, alcoholic teacher of the deaf/mute. We see many more of the flaws of the teacher in this film compared to the Keller versions--Bachchan is very flawed; he is egotistical and very much attached to his liquor. Once Rani's character, Michelle is able to understand, color begins to creep into the film--small bits that represent an opening to the world for a young girl forever in a world of black.
The ending of the movie is also a beginning-as the film progresses, you realize that Debraji is slowly losing his battle with dementia. He never tells his student-for whom he is a door to the world-that he may leave(in more ways than one), and when he finally just departs, she is heartbroken.
The small bit of color that had crept into Michelle's life is blotted from her world; until the rainy dreary day when her sister spots the beloved teacher. But the teacher, so deep into his illness has too lost his words and ability to understand--much like Michelle had been when Debraji came into her life. Michelle uses her ability to communicate via sign and a Braille writer- to attempt to connect with her beloved instructor---the film is her telling him about how much he means to her.

Watching the interviews after the film, I was impressed by the amount of study and preparation that both Bachchan and Rani did prior to filming--though it did irk me that while lots of Bachchan's dialog in the film is in English, all the interview he does in Hindi, and my 'filmy' Hindi is pretty slow and poor--so I had problems following his comments. I do wish that either more Hindi film extras were either subtitled for us Anglos, or at least in English!

I do feel that this movie will become another favorite of mine, and much like and The Raincoat and Chak de India, will bring a new batch of Hindi films without song and dance to mainstream viewers-we shall see, and hope.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Contemplating a book

I have read lots of books on Bollywood--most are very scholarly, explaining the sociological aspects of Hindi films, how the music has made the films popular. Many of these books have been a hard slog for even me--a reader of dry dull histories!! I spend lots of time explaining and condensing down much of what I read--from books, on-line, and in various articles-to friends who want more understanding of Hindi films. Well, a friend of mine at work, whom I have re-acquainted with bollywood, has been trying to convince me to write a book that will help Americans in particular understand Hindi film.
Well, that idea has been sort of running around in the back of my head and it is starting to look like a decent idea! Many Hindi films are getting much wider release in the US, and I am doing my darned best to try and get more and more people wanting to watch them!
Well, many Americans thought Slumdog Millionaire
was a Bollywood film, well hey, it was filmed in India, it had Hindi filmstars (Irfan Khan, Anil Kapoor-to name a few). But, Danny Boyle is an English director, that bought the rights to a fabulous book, and made a movie in India--the only bit that was bollywood about this movie was the end credit dance!
Well, more I think about it, the more the American audience needs a book! But do I do something akin to an 'Idiot's Guide to Bollywood', or do I do my own take?? I still need to figure that out and have lots more ideas to hash out and a book to actually write!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Name is Khan-a week later, almost

I have been musing over My Name is Khan--I re-read the post I made fairly soon after seeing the movie, and realized I was gushing. I have had time to contemplate, and discuss the movie, as well as read many other reviews. I do agree, the movie is not perfect--some stuff is pretty hokey, other stuff just uncomfortable--there are times when SRK is in the small village(which reminded me of some 'historic' museum) seem pretty weird. Still, the movie is moving and helps to make a point.

Today I have been reading accounts by SRK of plans of Fox's to re-edit the movie for the American audience-even SRK says the film is too long for American tastes. After sitting in the audience of mostly Americans when I saw the Mira Nair film The Namesake--that did not seem too long--hopefully Fox bigwigs will realize that Americans can sit through a long movie. I have been contemplating what Fox might cut out--it would be hard to remove parts of the movie without totally changing it, and then it would be a terrible film. My main hope is that Fox does not dub the film, hopefully they realize that Americans aren't stupid and can read subs, sure that will limit folks going to a film with sub-titles, but it will not exclude all that many. It certainly would not exclude My Name is Khan from Oscar contention--let us hope that is their plan!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Name is Khan

So, I have now had 3 days to digest and replay this movie in my head. This is another very different Bollywood---no song picturizations, no crazy slapstick. This is a serious love story, story of hope, and how a simple man can make a huge difference. Yes, I have read all the reviews in all the various Bollywood news sources, Times of India, New York Times, and many other places. This movie is not perfect, Karan Johar has said that he let Shahrukh take the lead on lots of scenes, and Shahrukh did his homework. You really do see SRK as a man with Asperger's syndrome--an man who is brilliant, yet innocent, awkward and only sees things in black and white, no grey. SRK uses his skill as an actor to carry this movie. After watching many of his films over the years--from the great to the horrid--you can see SRK grow as a person and an actor--and this movie is proof of his skill.
I thought that Rab Ne Bana di Jodi and Chak de India really showed SRK's skill, but this movie tops that. I really don't want to give too much of the story away--but when Rizwan feels that he needs to prove a point to regain the love of his point--he sets out to do so. This quest makes the world realize that an honest, innocent man can change the world---you think this is not true? There have been many honest, innocent men who have done so in the past--Jesus, Mohammed, Gandhi--have changed the world. Rizwan sees the world as being inhabited by good people or bad people, and he is out to help those who need help.

This movie will change your ideas about Bollywood films--they can do socially important topics and do them well. It is not to say that Karan Johar could not have done better-the story in the first half could have been a bit tighter, and the second half's unevenness could have been smoothed over. Interviews with Johar have had him saying that SRK did lots of directing--maybe that should be the next step for SRK--let us see him do the directing!

This movie is a must see.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bollywood, my old friend

The holidays are gone, and the crazy working schedule has died down a bit--for now. I have been missing my evenings with Bollywood--have not been to the theatre for a while, missed out on seeing Aamir's 3Idiots on the big screen, amazingly, it played at the local Bollywood theatre for nearly a month! Here in the states, it got released a few days prior to release in India, and was a big hit here too. I have met a few more wonderful people because of my bollywood obsession.
After a crazy busy day at the yarn store, listening to Holiday music(stuff I had brought in so as to not have to listen to "Gramma got run over by a reindeer" for the umpteenth time on the horrid radio station that plays holiday music(bad holiday music) from Thanksgiving to Christmas--I needed a Bollywood pick me up--and put on AR Rahman. That caught the ears of a lovely lady, Rajshree and her mom(who was visiting from Mumbai)--and struck up yet another great friendship. Have found more of my students love Bollywood as well--and I have tried to share my love and interests with them.
The news lately has been pretty horrible, the earthquake in Haiti has made a large impact on my students--many are from the islands, and a number of them have family in Port au Prince that they have not been able to get in touch with--all we can do is hope and pray--and find solace in the things that make us happy and calm.

I have needed to see an old favorite movie--I began to watch " The Last Legion"--not a Bollywood, but a film full of old friends. Ben Kingsley, Aishwaryia Rai Bachchan, Colin Furst--to name a few. It is a rather good movie, as much as I saw of it, it seems to be a bit of a pre-Merlin tale--it seems to be setting up the Merlin mythology and carrying it from the falling Rome to England--need to convince Alex to watch it with me, and finish it!

I found with the sad news, harried work schedule, that I needed a shot of Shahrukh! Since his big new movie "My Name is Khan" will not be out to Valentine's Day weekend--I dragged out 3 of my old favorites to rewatch!
I first re-watched Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (KANK), and found that even though it was not one of Karan Johar's best productions, it still got to me and hit my heart. I then lent it to one of my major Bollywood addicts, and she did not like it--I think she did not like the more modern, western story of marriage gone wrong. I think it is the modern topic being dealt with that makes me like it. She also did not like SRK's character--he does play a rather bitter, angry man--very different from his typical roles.
More typical, I then watched "One 2 Ka 4". This tale of a man who dislikes kids, who wishes to be a tough cop who fights the drug lords--soon melts when he is trusted with the care of his dead partner's children. This more typical SRK fare cheered me up and made my evening.

Well, tonight I felt I needed SRK's newest incarnation--Surinder Sahni!! Watching "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" for what must have been the 8th time, got me wanting even more to find a way to visit Amristar and the Golden Temple and all the other wonderful, horrific and phenomenal places I have seen in Bollywood movies. I feel, when I watch these movies, that this is a place where I belong--where I would be at peace with myself and the questions I have about many things would be answered.
I guess it would be time to head to bed, since I seem to be getting a bit maudeling and I did not get any knitting done while I watched RNBDJ!! Oh well, hopefully I can make up the missed knitting time tomorrow!