Monday, 27 October 2014

Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge

Directed by: David Dhawan
Starring: Salman Khan, Karishma Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Om Puri, Anupam Kher
Released: 2000
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing – experience

Often my readers accuse me of not being able to appreciate films which are meant to be „just fun“, films that are purposefully mindless, silly and unrealistic. They say I cannot enjoy anything that is not meaningful. And so I sat down and tried to think of a movie that was all that and I would have liked it. I did not have to think for long. A line up of such films exists and Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge (which at first confused me because the title was just too similar to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) is one of them. Coming out of David Dhawan´s workshop, it ranks among his better efforts, before he went into a long and fruitless period before being somehow revived by his (so far) latest outing of Main Tera Hero.

It is a story of Sapna (Karishma Kapoor), white-clad, long-haired, blue-eyed virginal niece of three rather eccentric uncles, who all make her their personal crusade by forcingly trying to shape her according to their own lifestyle. Thus the strong, wrestling sportsman tortures her with rigorous exercise, pious devotee insists on her spiritual development and the forever young disco lover just wants her to be a modern vixen. Naturally the poor girl wants nothing but to be herself, and so one day she secretly joins a group of tourists traveling to Switzerland. Among the travelers is also Raja (Salman Khan), already determined to make Sapna the Queen of his heart. But conquering her is the least of his troubles, since ultimately he will have to impress the uncles. All of them.

Judging by the wardrobe neither were sure of what the climate of Switzerland actually was like.
Now, you really cannot look for „meaning“ and „depth“ in this one, can you? But you can enjoy it immensely and I did. Perhaps because even the over the top performances seemed earnest, perhaps because it was cute and fluffy and funny without need to use profanities or lewd sex jokes. Maybe it was Johnny Lever dancing. Maybe I was simply in the right mood. Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge serves you comedy laced with youthful enthusiasm of the main leads and great combination of great supporting actors, and there are some hilariously choreographed (but back then highly cool) catchy songs (complete with puzzled foreign onlookers). Not all films that may claim to have the same hold my love, and I suppose many times I just go by instinct (and my, am I picky!). Some films just do not feel nice. This one does.

Unlike the horrendous Biwi No. 1, this film provides greatly for all Salman-Karishma shippers, among whom I count myself. They are one of the grossly underrated jodis. Neither of them is a stupendous actor, but they bring out the crazy best out of each other. They seem very well suited and there is cheekiness to them both which beautifully underlines their chemistry.

As usual my feminist side was not entirely happy with the movie, since there is lots and lots of men deciding for the girl in this film. Even the happy ending is ensured only thanks to Sapna´s grandfather. At few points it actually gets regressive (talking here about two scenes especially: when Sapna is immediately sexually attacked while thumbing a lift, and when Raja hits her when she is dancing with two horny men. Given both things were stupid of her, the whole thing played it on stereotype that INDIAN girls do not behave „like that“). Well, at least nobody makes a big deal out of Sapna´s change of image from baggy clothes and pigtails to sexy mini-skirts and fashionable hairdo.

So there you have it. That „pure fun“ film I like. Go and watch it. It might just be the right thing to brighten your afternoon.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Bobby Jasoos

Directed by: Samar Shaikh
Starring: Vidya Balan, Ali Faizal, Supriya Pathak, Kiran Kumar
Released: 2014
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great amazing – experience

I had the best will to love Bobby Jasoos. After all, it was meant to be about one girl´s ambition. A funny, light-hearted venture starring the wonderful Vidya Balan, it was all wrapped in bright colours and promised to supply me with some sweet (and very much needed) entertainment. However even with me feeling very gracious, love never really happened. There is still lots to like about the picture.

Bilkis, called Bobby, is truly set on her dream of becoming a successful private detective, and nothing, not rejection from a detective company, not stern disapproval of her father, can discourage her. And when an opportunity comes her way, she grasps it. With enthusiasm. So much enthusiasm she actually shows why the detective company has rejected her – Bobby has no inkling about what to be a detective is about. She is supposed to find a young girl for an old man. And she does not even stop to ask him why. Naturally this comes to bite her later, which, however, I had anticipated from the very beginning. Bobby does learn her lesson, but since we are supposed to really root for her and unlike the rest of the world appreciate her intelligence and talent, the damage is done and there are dents in the character which actually made me agree with those who keep telling her she needs to learn first before plunging into something. It was really this shortcoming of the main character, combined with a very simplistic “investigation” without twists, that lessened the enjoyment for me,

Other than that Bobby Jasoos is a pleasant enough experience. It has vibrance of colours but does not go overboard with it, and the setting and the characters exclude charming warmth which at no point runs out. It is not funny enough to be a full blown comedy, but remain light-hearted from start to end. The film only has one purpose – to please. And it does just that. All the actors do a commendable job, and Vidya Balan in naturally their Queen. She, for much part, carries the story on her shoulders and proves yet again she is simply mega-talented. Not to mention super gorgeous. All her "covers" are done to perfection and if I did not know, I wouldn´t have recognized her in most of them (I decided to to question how is Bobby doing all that make up and so, because such a question is pointless in this movie). After disappointing borefest of Ghanchakkar and half-baked Shaadi Ke Side Effects, Bobby Jasoos gives Vidya her rightful screen space. I suppose that after Ishqiya and Kahaani the expectations of her movies have rocketed sky high and it is difficult to match them. In comparison this film pales nearly to insignificance, still it is a huge improvement from the last two Vidya´s outings.

Ali Faizal was a pleasant revelation for me. Handsome and with a spark, he matches Vidya and completes her performance with his comic timing. I certainly would not mind seeing lot more of him in years to come. The bit of the necessary Bollywood glitz is added to the product thanks to several songs, which are aptly used and display cute chemistry the two leads share.

Bobby Jasoos is worth a watch, and if you are in the right mood, you are bound to enjoy it with all its shortcomings. Try, if possible, to forget all you´ve seen from Vidya before, and few things can stop you from having a good time.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Love Aaj Kal

Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Rishi Kapoor
Released: 2009
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good  great – amazing – experience

The story may not be great and performances of varied quality, but there is something lyrical about Imtiaz Ali films, which makes them an enjoyable watch, even if only once. Love Aaj Kal is the least emotional of his movies, least complicated, not reaching the amazing entertainment offered by Jab We Met or even emotional wreckage of Rockstar. But it has its share of charming moments and overal is a pretty, pretty picture, using flashbacks very well, without confusing the viewer, and heightening curiosity as the story goes on.

We are given a glimpse of „modern“ and „cool“ relationship between architect Jai and art student Meera, who have great time hanging out together, all on the backdrop of London. Jai, who is really the one carrying the narrative and the story unfolds from his point of view, considers romantic love an old-fashion concept, and when Meera is offered work in India, he very sportingly supports her to leave him, breaking up with her on friendliest terms possible. How very modern and cool indeed. However as the time passes by, he notices his sloppy attempts to move on are all destined to fail. And being constantly nagged by an elderly restaurant owner, who paints in front of Jai his own story of love he had once lived, Mr. Architect is quite shocked when he realizes Love has probably happened to him. Unfortunately it seems Meera actually did move on...

Deepika Padukone does not have much to contribute to the movie, aside from her utterly gorgeous face and drool-worthy wardrobe. After getting used to her very much exciting self from the last two years, I was actually surprised to revisit the somehow awkward, extremely camera-conscious Deepika with pitiful dialogue delivery (which has so evolved since then!). She doesn´t ruin the scenes she´s in, but the director very wisely let Saif Ali Khan do most of the acting instead, giving him most of the dialogues, and so our dear nawab goes on like a chatterbox, rarely stopping an endless flow of words whenever he is nervous or emotional. Sometimes his monologues actually get so long you wonder if Meera´s turn to talk would ever come (and sometimes it really does not).

The most charming bits of the movie, however, are introduced to the viewer by Rishi Kapoor and his narration of the old-school love story several decades ago, in India. The warm, brown colouring of all the scenes in the „past“ gives them a unique mood, very different from the rest of the film. In fact, it felt so nice, I caught myself wishing it would have been the main bit of the film, or a film of its own! Even more so since I felt it was left rather unsolved, even though Neetu Singh´s brief appearance in the very end of the movie gave away the final result.

Love Aaj Kal concludes a very simple fact: Love is Love, no matter if one searches for it or not, no matter where, no matter how it happens, and no matter how modern and cool you consider yourself. You can never bee too cool for Love. It´s just about how thick you are in the head to realize it happened. Very good production values, very likeable actors and very charming story telling make Love Aaj Kal a nice film, if you are in the right mood.