Thursday, 31 March 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

I cannot tell how surprised and excited I was when Lime(tte) passed this award to me among several other blogs. I have only been blogging here for a month or so, which makes it even more special! What else can I say then thank you?

There is a duty though, coming hand in hadn with this award. To cite Lime(tte): The receiver must name 7 facts about him-/herself, and then pass it of to seven bloggers, that he/she admires... As a fairly new person to the whole blogger community, I could not find 7 blogs, but hopefully those I chose will be smashing enough!

The 7 facts about me:

1.)  I am the founder of the only Bollywood discussion forum in the Czech republic. It is called "Bollywood - a somehow different world". Sadly, there are not many people interested or even remotely familiar with Indian cinema, but thankfully those blessed few have found or are finding their way to my forum. I only hope more and more people will be hooked, like it happened in Germany!

The current banner of my forum. I change the banner every month.

2.) I am a history buff. My favourite era has to be the 19th and early 20th century of Imperial Russia, especially the tragic family of the last Tsar Nicholas II. There is everything in their story from unending love and devotion, self-sacrifice, incurable illness, raging hate, shameless plotting...... It is simply a story no writer could ever make up! One part of my fandom for this family comes also from their photos - there are thousands and thousands pictures of those beautiful, serene people and one almost feels like travelling through time looking into those faces, that have been lost in the storms of time.... And guess what - I learned to colour those black and white images in Photoshop, as you can see below!
The last Imperial family of Russia in 1904.

3.) The best book I have ever read has to be "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. tolkien, closely followed by his "Silmarillion" and others of his works. I also love the whole "Chronicles of Narnia". Then there are historical novels by amazing czech lady Ludmila Vankova, with whom I even corresponded for some time. See, I wanted (and still have hopes) to become a writer myself, and she inspired and encouraged me greatly. The problem with my writing is that I have many ideas, but once I start I find it difficult to finish, because in the middle it seems to me all I have written so far is trash.....

4.) I used to hate several people in Bollywood. First I was not crazy about Rani Mukherjee. Simply from the reason she looked somehow mean in the images I saw and her eyes seemed weird. Today she is among my absolute favourites and the longer I watch her the more beautiful she seems to me. She is such a wonderful, energetic woman with great acting skills and killer charisma, no wonder she won me over! Another one I couldn´t stand at first was Salman Khan. I still don´t consider him a great actor, but he actually started to amuse and entertain me. Dabangg sealed my affection for him. And lastly - I used to hate Kajol. Not her fault at all. Just when I fell in love with Madhuri Dixit and started discovering Bollywood, I had a nasty interaction with some fanatical Kajol worshippers, and they REALLY spoiled her for me when they started attacking the ones I loved. As a person, who cannot shut up about her loved ones either, I wouldn´t mind them going on about her - cause well, I understand! But badmouthing other star just so your favourite might look better after that is unforgivable! My Kajol dislike is finally gone now, but it took about eight months. Glad it´s over.

Rani ........ re-coloured by me! :)

5.) Two years ago I became a PROUD aunt to my little nephew Petr. He is the first child of my elder brother and I love him dearly. Since he was a baby, he would want to watch Bollywood songs with me, as he like the colours and all that. His favourite one is Dola Re Dola (the kid has a taste!!!) Once he surprised me. When he heard the song playing, he started to make adorable though bit uncertain swirls with one of his hands behind his neck!

6.) I enjoy almost all kinds of music, but mostly I groove to bollywood songs - and to some good rock! In my humble, but firm oppinion, the best male voice that I have ever heard belonged to the late Freddie Mercury. He is somebody whom I love no matter what. And his music is pure genious. Just listen to this - it is so beautiful, so sad and yet so regal, if you understand what I mean!
7.) There are three countries that I love and would love to see, feel and live - simply get to know them well one day!!! First one is England. I fell in love with it when I traveled there with my school for several days. We lived in Oxford and made daily trips to places like Warwick, Avebury, Strattford upon Avon etc. How can I describe the peace that filed my sould roaming around that beautiful countryside? And also in London I felt a great sense of belonging, in spite of being a stranger. Second country that fascinates me immenselly is Russia - mainly for it´s grand history. Because whatever happens in Russia, be it in your oppinion good or bad, it has always been on a great scale! I would so love to set my foot to Petersburg, see with my own eyes the former Tsarskoye Selo, visit the beautiful Livadia....... And the third country is of course India! In my mind a country so different, so colourful and so unendingly providing one with new discoveries and new adventures. I wonder if I will ever be so lucky to go there. But I would really love to!

But enough about me already! Here are the blogs I love/like/admire and which I believe deserve the award!

In no particular order:
Bollywood Passion
Get on the carousel
Irish beauty
The Bolly ´Hood
Tollywood is my Bollywood

There are not seven blogs because of the reasons I have already mentioned, and also because some I would have given the award to have already been meantioned by Lime(tte).

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Dil To Pagal Hai

Directed by: Yash Chopra
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Karishma Kapoor, Akshay Kumar
Released: 1997
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

It was my fourth Bollywood movie and also the one that confirmed my love for Bollywood forever. It was the last step that I took in my obsession with Madhuri Dixit, Shahrukh Khan and Indian cinema in general. It is for me what Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is to many others – the ultimate romantic Bollywood movie. It doesn´t have much of a story. It has a rather slow pace. It has kitschi things like running on green meadows and feeling each other´s presence, even while you don´t know the other one exists. And it is primarily not about twists of fate, but about a feeling.

Rahul (who else then Shahrukh Khan with that name, right?) and Nisha (Karishma Kapoor) are the best of friends and together with a bunch of other friends they form a famous dance troupe. Rahul is a director and choreographer, Nisha, as it would seem, the best dancer for miles and miles around. Nisha loves Rahul, but never told him. After all, Rahul is one unromantic and cynical guy, who hates all the lovy-mushy stuff. He loves only one girl, but she unfortunately exists only in his mind and resembles more of a fairy then a human being. And Rahul wants to make a new play based on this illusion, which he lovingly calls Maya. After everyone around him makes it clear they do not understand her character, he still sends them all to blazes and is adamant. Rehearsals start. And as soon as they do the nightmare of all directors strikes – Nisha injures her feet and is unable to dance. Depressed and angry, Rahul stays in the rehearsing hall till the late evening and without much of a thought he starts playing the drums. To his great surprise the gentle, rhythmical tinkling of somebody´s anklets comes to him in return from the neighbouring hall.......

Pooja (Madhuri Dixit) is an orphan raised by family friends, whom she affectionatelly calls uncle and aunty. She spends her time with day-dreaming, for which her friends make fun of her. But nothing can shake her belief that God has created everyone as a part of a couple, and only left it to people to find each other. She stubbornly believes she will eventually meet the man of her dreams and they will live happily ever after. Therefore she is nothing less then shocked when Ajay (Akshay Kumar with a rather ridiculous haircut), her best friend and son of „aunty“ and „uncle“, professes his love for her and asks her to marry him. She hastily agrees, still much shocked and not certain at all, but after a while she makes peace with the prospect and tries to convince herself that Ajay is the one. But then one evening she stays late in her dancing school. And once she hears somebody playing the drums nearby, she gives into the rhythm and starts dancing......
She´s beautiful, she´ s cute, she´s sexy..... Why doesn´t he love her?
Oh yeah...... right....... that´s why.

It is obvious, what will happen next, right? In fact, it is quite obvious what will happen since the first minute. The original message by Yash Chopra (for the first time ever not a cringe worthy one) is „Someone, somewhere, is made for you“ and it completely reveals the whole plot. The question here is not „what“, but „how“ and „when“. While the first half of the film moves really slow, introducing the characters and the relationships between them, it builds up the expectations that are fully satisfied in the second. The film sure does have several weak points, But I will get to those later. I found it fascinating that finally there is a film with no negative character at all – and still negative things happen. There is no need for a person to intentionally create problems, because there is love love love everywhere and it makes enough mess by itself, tormenting these nice, but still flawed people. 
Absolutely mesmerized and not believing his eyes. Why?
Oh yeah....... righ........ that´s why.
There is more to the characters than meets the eye, especially the leading pair, but one has to admit it is because of the sensitive and excellent handling of the roles by the actors more then because of the script. Many people feel that Rahul in DTPH is an extension of Raj from DDLJ. When I saw the movie for the first time, I could not make any comparisms as I had not seen DDLJ yet, but today I can surely agree. Rahul is however, a step ahead of a half-childish Raj. He is more mature in thinking, more aware of his aim, and he is more real in a sense that he is more possessive of the girl he loves. He even doesn´t hesitate to say things that he knows will hurt her, but only in hope that she might feel bad after that and come to him. He is selfish in his love, and yet so giving, offering her all his devotion. He is the character that goes through a development. Not exactly a stereotypical love-hater, but not convinced about romantic feelings, up until the moment he finds himself in love, he accepts this new feeling without fighting it. He is still as bratty and with an air of arrogance in the end, but love enriches him and really shows his depth. Shahrukh Khan is a brilliant actor, and even though I do not consider his performances in DDLJ or DTPH as award winning, he is as convincing as only he can be.

Then there is of course Pooja. Rahul´s fantasy about Maya is nothing else then Yash Chopra´s eternal fantasy about an ideal woman clad in white. But once illusionary „Maya“ takes the real shape of „Pooja“ right in front of Rahul´s eyes, dancing in a ray of moonlight, she is not at all a flawless creature herself. She is naive and seems to be all sweet and sugary, she could very easily be rejected as completely unrealistic. But one look into Madhuri´s eyes and Pooja becomes a real character. There is an unspoken, but strongly felt strength in her. What makes Pooja different from stereotypical heroines is not only her decision not to pursue her desire on cost of hurting people who raised her (which up until that point was not the trend in Bollywood movies), but also the way she carries herself. When she decides to give up her dreams, she does so with tremendous dignity. Her silence, smiles, pauses and eyes all emote without much dialogues. She does not speak too much, but you still know she is there, that she is feeling, thinking, longing..... Rahul represents passion in their relationship, while she is dutiful, with a great self-respect, but never cold or proud. Her drawback is her indecisiveness in the first part and her inability to clearly face Rahul in the second. What made me love the character is also the fact Madhuri got to play yet another completely different person. Pooja is like no other of her roles, it doesn´t resemble any of them.

Everyone who knows me also knows that Madhuri/Shahrukh are my favourite jodi. I love their chemistry that is simply burning the screen. They don´t have to eat each other´s head to show you they are in love. One word, one look or just being in the same room creates magic. In a way they are a mature jodi with a great depth and it was also great to see them falling in love bit by bit. There was a slow development of the relationship, which I always welcome in Bollywood films in opposite to „saw-you-in-the-mall-once-will-you-marry-me“ types of romances.
The „main cast“ is complete with Karishma Kapoor and Akshay Kumar. There is not much to talk about when it comes to Akshay, except that he looks somehow nerdy and keeps his OK level of acting. His buddiness with Madhuri was cute though. Karishma, whom many are praising for her performance, was also good, but did not blown me away. While both Shahrukh and Madhuri are so effortless in their craft, that it might almost seem they are not even acting, Karishma does have a sort of Bollywood OTT-ness, which is most apparent in her emotional scenes. She also looks a little out of place at times among Shahrukh-Madhuri-Akshay, who are all in the same age-group, while she is much younger. Still, her and Shahrukh´s friendship looks very natural on screen.
The awkward moment when alcohol makes you tell your best friend you love him.
As I have mentioned earlier there are some flaws to the film, which I wouldn´t label as perfect or the best ever. The first part holds some „teenage“ silliness in some of the dialogues, for example all that Valentine´s day and full moon explanations were very cheesy and one can only curse Aditya Chopra for it. Similarly Karishma´s confession to Rahul on the bank of a lake (in Baden Baden :) )is way too long and on the verge of boring. Another scene that needed more editing was the whole Khandala bussiness and visit to Pooja´s teacher. But the rest of the film makes up for these. For every Valentine´s day crap we have Shahrukh Khan without pants, for every Karishma´s boring crying by the lake we have her excellent drunken scene, for every Khandala visit we have the „Aur pass“ moment (the most sensuous, romantic, gentle, beautiful and at the same time erotic scene of the world cinema). Visuals are beautiful, and I could not care less if there is not a one as clear market place in real India. If we can have superheroes flying through the air and babies delivered by a vacuum cleaner, can´t we have clean markets and studios too? I loved the idea of two people being so close to each other and yet never meeting.
Aur pass......
Aur pass...................
Aur pass...........................................................
The great part of the film is musical score – and what a score it is! Every song is beautiful to say the least. My personal favourites are Koi Ladki Hai and Dhoolna, but every single track makes you want to dance or at least hum along. I was not excited about choreography at first. In fact it looked more like an aerobic training, but once I accepted it, it fitted well. It was different from what we usually see. The picturization of two songs is especially beautiful: Arre Arre is wonderful in showing at the same time Rahul and Pooja bonding as friends and collegues, and their „inner selves“ being very much in love. And Dhoolna is simply a song that you need to see in a Chopra movie. Madhuri looked ethreal in all the outfits and colours and Shahrukh´s loving gaze was, I´m sure, not difficult to pull off at all!
The only problem of this picturization is you don´t  know where to look!
It is also important to realize that Dil To Pagal Hai together with Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge were very different from the rest of the films at the time of their release. HAHK was celebrating family values, DDLJ connected those with romance and finally DTPH was nothing but a tribute to love. It never promised to be anything else. Not perfect. But definitely a classic. Enjoyable, relaxing, touching, uncomplicated in narration but rich with emotions. A film about a feeling.
Someone, somewhere...... is made for you.....

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Bunty aur Babli

Directed by: Shaad Ali
Starring: Rani Mukherjee, Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan
Released: 2005
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Rakesh lives in a small city. Most of the time he spends daydreaming about his future career – and to his parent´s grief he does not aspire to become a ticket collector on train like his father. He wants to be successful and rich, a name everyone will know. His brain comes up with new bussiness plans and ideas of how to make money quickly and effectively. As of now he would like to start a bussiness of letting people to take a shower (that by the way is on the roof of his house and visible from everywhere, but nobody seems to mind), but his dreams are big and bigger. And then his father gives him an ultimatum: to go to a job interview or to leave the house. Stubborn Rakesh chooses the latter.

Vimmi lives in a small city. She is a clever girl, very much in love with her own beauty. She too has big dreams – of becoming a successful model and Miss India. However her parents have quite different ideas and they arrange her marriage with a suitable boy. They are shocked, that the girl is not excited over the prospect of „eating, drinking, walking and sleeping according to her in-laws wishes“ and even more shocked when one day, to avoid the wedding and have her path to modelling clear, Vimmi simply runs away from home.
The only entertainment in the village is the ritual dance among the naked men.
Neither Vimmi nor Rakesh are successful on their own. After bumping into each other on a dark night (and an escort to a loo) Vimmi and Rakesh find out their dreams are similar. They decide to go together to Mumbai and there their dreams are going to become true for sure, right? In need of money for the journey, Vimmi and Rakesh con a businessman who previously stole one of Rakesh´ s schemes and made money presenting it to be his own. And since they are very much successful and they both find conning really amusing, they continue to earn like that. Under the nicknames Bunty and Babli they steal from the rich and what they don´t need they give to the poor. Slipping easily into any avatar – be it the food inspectors, rich NRIs or local guides, they manage to pull of anything without getting into trouble. And once they reach Mumbai, they realize, they learned to love this exciting lifestyle, which also gives them both a lot of „fame“. Looting and stealing, deceiving and lying, they become the most notorious criminals of India. And what more – they fall in love with each other. But shadow is slowly creeping over their happiness. Because a certain ACP Dashrath Singh is following them like a hunting dog and the purpose of his life has practically became just to find them and put them behind bars. And he will go to any lenghts to do so...
Shed off your clothes and take a nice, cold shower for only 5 rupees per minute!

In a way I was scared it was going to be one of those done-to-death „follow your dream“ films, but I was proved wrong. The story (definitely not without a reason) reminds one of the famous american gangster jodi Bonnie and Clyde, however Bunty aur Babli lack any possible dark or drastic moments. Stealing for Bunty and Babli is something exciting and it provides adrenalin, but there is not one second when you could possibly imagine them killing someone. The story is actually not the main strength of the film. What makes it worth watching are the performances from all three main leads. I was never crazy about Abhishek Bachchan and I still find him rather uninteresting and not-overload of talent. He is usually not capable of becoming a character that he doesn´t primarily understand, but Bunty is definitely his forte. Fun-loving, ambitious and...well.... young a heart he delivers a very good performance (except for some dancing.... but more on that later). Rani Mukherjee is just perfect. Vivacious and bit spoilt, confident and strong-willed, she gets your love as soon as you set your eyes upon her. In fact, Abhishek plays second fidle to her, but they both brilliantly compliment each other, plus their chemistry is undeniable. Amitabh Bachchan is …... cool I believe is the word here. And he gets all the attention as soon as he is in the frame. But then – what else is new?

The film (that I would easily recommend as a whole family watch) has a tremendous repeat value. There is nothing particularly GREAT in the way the story is told, nothing that would really stuck in your mind, and so you don´t get bored watching it again. What does stay in mind however is the soundtrack, that is simply superb. Energetic Dhadak Dhadak gets you dancing, Chup Chup Ke weaves romantic magic. Those two are probably the best tracks. Then there is of course the oh-so-famous Kajra Re, which is always better watched then listened to. Vaibhavi Merchant´s choreography has made history and Aishwarya Rai got fair ammount of attention during this short appearance of hers. True, seeing her making eyes on Amitabh is a little weird knowing he would actually become her father-in-law, but it doesn´t ruin the song´s appeal. Another big dance number is Nach Baliye, and here the dancing is somehow.... bad. The choreography has some good moments (like the „wave“ Rani creates being lifted by the dancers at one point) and the female part of Bunty aur Babli shakes the leg with an obvious pleasure, but Abhishek on the dance floor is like a lamb lost in the woods.

So if you want to know how to sell a national monument or loot a market center, hit the play button of Bunty aur Babli.
There is DEFINITELY something wrong with this picture...

Monday, 21 March 2011

Alibaba aur 40 chor

Directed by: Latif Faiziyev
Starring: Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Zeenath Aman
Released: 1980
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

In some Arabic country, in a city going by the name of Gulabad, there lives Alibaba, younger son of a wealthy merchant Yusuf. However it has been long years since Yusuf left for one of his dealing trips and he has not returned as yet. And so little Alibaba has never seen his face and all he knows is what his mother told him, and what his brother Quasim shared. The family is longing dearly for the return of its head, and unknown to them their dream is about to be fulfilled. Yusuf is coming back. However before he manages to reach the city, he and his caravana are attacked by the feared gang of 40 bandits under the command of even more feared (and rather sleazy looking) Abu Hasan. But fortunatelly Yusuf is saved by a kind king and sends the message home for somebody to come for him. Alibaba is overjoyed at the prospect of finally meeting him and sets out on his journey.
Zeenat Aman looking freakin gorgeous.
Hema Malini looking freakin much like Sridevi.
However as soon as he reaches the destination, a beautiful princess Marjeena falls into his arms (literally) and explains that her father has just been murdered by an usurper, who now is keen on marrying her. Alibaba and his father flee from the city, taking the princess (already in love of course) along with them. But (yes, another but) while on the run Yusuf is killed and Marjeena falls into the hands of a slave trader. Alibaba manages to buy her, but his greedy brother Quasim, who lent him the money, asks him to give up all possible rights on family property. To make a living for himself, Marjeena and also his old mother, Alibaba starts selling wood. While on one of his trips outside the city, he comes across the secret entrance of a cave, that serves the notorious Abu Hasan and his men as a lair and treasury. All he needs to say is a magic chant to be able to step inside...
Alibaba and Marjeena in the bandit´s lair. Private, but not the best place for romance.
The story after this features some more buts and howevers, and also some more WTFs. We get to see some magic, some greedy men, some more usurpators and also we get to see a princess and the woman she´s been chasing singing a song about which one of them is more sexy in a bar. Loads and loads of people swering they will kill Abu Hasan, so if you have not yet noticed he is the bad guy here, this should give you a hint.

As a little child I loved this fairytale, that figures even in Czech story books. The film was the joined effort of Indian and Soviet production, which only added to the attractiveness for me (think whatever you want about Soviet politics, but their movies were excellent). Hence it bears not only the unmistakable stamp of Bollywood (there are songs and dance, indian setting, family ties..) but also reminds us of beautiful Russian fairytales, especially as far as technical background is concerned. If we perceive the film purely as a fairytale, forgiving all the plot holes and some illogical editing, then it is sure to be enjoyable. Should we perceive it more „seriously“, then it does not live up to any standart really.
The three main leads – Dharmendra as Alibaba, Hema Malini as Marjeena and Zeenat Aman as Fatima, give a rather luke-warm performances. Zeenat is the only one who delivers some emotion. Hema Malini in her „just a heroine“ role does not have the space and seemingly not even an interest to shine, the dances she is given are forgettable. Dharmendra is good, but that´s where it ends. All the songs are rather unfittingly forced into the story and the disco colour-flashing floor in the bandit´s lair made me wonder if the shooting took place on the remains of the Saturday Night Fever sets. The visuals were most of the time beautiful though, and so were the costumes. The fight and battle sequences are well done and very convincing – but the convincing bit left me rather uncomfortable because my heart was bleeding for all those horses that simply MUST have been hurt during the shooting.

In the end I can only repeat: If you´re looking for a simple watch and you are willing to let go of reality and logic, or if you are a fan of Dharmendra/Hema/Zeenat (who does look gorgeous by the way), it is not a bad film. If you´re nothing of the above, you can live peacefully without watching it.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Munni or Sheila?

If we look back to the year 2010, this time from musical point of view, the two most talked about songs were Munni Badnaam Hui and Sheila Ki Jawani. Both were the so-called item numbers.

"Munni" was sung by Mamta Sharma and it was featured in the super hit film Dabangg (starring Salman Khan as a main lead). Picturized on Salman´s bhabhi, popular item girl Malaika Arora Khan, the song was choreographed by none other then Farah Khan. Incidentally the same person also choreoraphed the second song - Sheila Ki Jawani, for her own film Tees Maar Khan. "Sheila", very, very much pre-hyped (and boasting of being the "new Ek Do Teen"), presented us acting-wise useless but looking-wise hot Katrina Kaif, the singer was Sunidhi Chauha. Both the songs are catchy, both are sexy. However should I choose only one, I´ll go with Munni. Why? Reason 1. - Malaika is better dancer then Katrina. Reason 2. - There is actually more dancing involved in Munni. Reason 3. - I will always prefer desi mood to western-influeced one in Indian films. Reason 4. - In Munni Salman does some unforgettable and hilarious moves in contrast to wooden Akshay Kumar in Sheila. Reason 5. - Dabang was so much better then Tees Maar Khan.

What about you? Do you want to see Munni go badnaam, or would you rather drool over Sheila´s jawani?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Minireviews: Romantic comedies of 2010

I hate luv storys

Directed by: Punit Malhotra
Starring: Imran Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Samir Soni
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

One of the absolutely weakest films of 2010. Let´s face it: Imran Khan is a sweet boy but an average actor and Sonam Kapoor is a pretty girl and a below average actress. The best thing about IHLS was ironically their pairing, since both are visually perfect for chocolate teenage crushes and given their limited acting skills they do not overshadow one another. As a directorial debut of Punit Malhotra the film is not bad, cinematography is excellent and music pleasant. Unfortunatelly the story itself is terribly weak and clichéd. At the very beggining J (Imran Khan) complains about the Bollywood films being all the same, starting with the hero not believing in love and ending with him being hopelessly infatuated (or better yet – married). A ironically this is the very plot of IHLS, without any inovative idea or even a bigger twist. From this point of view the movie can be described as pointless. It shows us that even a well tailored film can be a terrible bore. After few minutes I realized I´m only waiting for the moments when Imran´s fat friend appears on the screen in one of his absolutely amazing T-shirts.


Directed by: Rajshree Ojha
Starring: Sonam Kapoor, Abhay Deol, Amrita Puri, Ira Dubey, Cyrus Sahukar
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Only little things saved Aisha before sinking even lower then IHLS. As a fan of Jane Austen´s books I was very much curious about how would Bollywood deal with her novel Emma. Well, not that well. The basic story stays the same, but there is nothing of its original charm. The blame rests with Sonam Kapoor. The only movie she has not managed to kill off so far has ben her debut Saawariya, and that only because Sanjay Bhansali has a magical ability to make even a wooden table act. Aisha stands and falls with Sonam´s performance, that is simply bad. She has no idea a thing like voice modulation exists, her expressions are non-existent, her screen-presence equals to zero. Her advantage is her beauty, but that can hardly save a film. Plus points of Aisha coudl have been capable Abhay Deol, good music, nice costumes and a beautifully fresh debutant Amrita Puri. But is Sonam Kapoor „acts“ in her father´s production project, everything is bound to be focused on Sonam, Sonam and Sonam. And so Abhay and pretty much everybody is unforgivably sidelined. Sonam Kapoor is a living proof that talent is not automatically inherited.

Action Replayy

Directed by: Vipul Shah
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai, Aditya Roy Kapoor
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Story about a guy who travels to the past to change unpleasant present is not exactly original. The best movie ever based on this thought has to be the popular American series „Return to the future“, which for me personally is one of my favourites and most enjoyable movies I´ve seen. While „Return to the future“ has a very realistic touch (in spite of dealing with very much unrealistic theme), Action Replayy borders with fairytales. And the story develops in a similarly naive way. Either you have the feeling Kishen (Aditya Roy) is not doing anything, or he is doing some truly silly stuff (best example and the worst case being the singing contest). Visually the film is very colourful, sometimes so sugary colourful you might feel slightly sick. The best performance is by Aditya Roy. I have never been impressed with Akshay Kumar as an actor, and he did not convince me otherwise in this, but I guess we could describe hims as „good“. I was looking forward to see Aishwarya, however as „old“ I wanted to slap her and as „young“ she was annoyingly over the top. But still – you can forgive her a lot because she is simply beautiful to look at and is a great dancer. Average movie that doesn´t really give you anything.

Anjaana Anjaani

Directed by: Siddhart Anand
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

How two self-murderers lived happily ever afer. When I was watching the film for the first time, I was a little schoked and a little excited, because you cannot také away from it that it is original and has many unexpected situations. But then I wanted to re-watch it and found out it lacks any serious repeat value. What bugged me throughout was the setting – what was the point of it all happening America. Change New York to Mumbai and it will not have any effect on the story whatsoever. Also some morbid joking may not be too easy to digest and one questions himself if the jokes have not passed the border of good taste already. Ranbir Kapoor is possibly my favourite actor out of the new lot and he does not disappoint. Priyanka was a darling when happy and silly, but the emotional scenes were not all that convincing, and some even looked too fake. But yeah, as somebody else has pointed out elsewhere, the film does show you she has the most stunning legs. The Ranbir/Priyanka jodi was new and refreshing, even though more they look like buddies and not lovers. The main hero of the film is the soundtrack.

Break Ke Baad

Directed by: Danish Aslam
Starring: Imran Khan, Deepika Padukone
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Again I was a bit uncomfortable with most of the film taking place outside India, this time in Australia (btw shot in Mauritius) with no real reason. Again we are meeting Imran Khan, but in a much better film. Imran is an actor completely dependant on the script, direction and co-star. And to give him Deepika was a hit into the bull´s eye! Their chemistry is very natural, their interaction as well. Cute, uncomplicated story about what happens when your best friend (and boyfriend) starts to get on your nerves is pretty much comparable with I hate luv storys, because here too the level of predictability is fairly high, still it deserves a much better rating. Deepika was a pleasant surprise for me. I already liked her as both Shanti and Sandhya in Om Shanti Om, but she was a little lost beside Shahrukh Khan. From this point of view Imran compliments her greatly and gives her space to shine. And more – her Aaliya is nothing like the characters I´ve seen her playing before and to me it proved Deepika has a truly great potential and is versatile. She does not play herself over and over again like Sonam (no, I have no love for Sonam). As a lover of pre-2000 Bollywod I´m always happy to detect hints to older films, here it was for example Mr. India and Tezaab.

Jhootha Hi Sahi

Directed by: Abbas Tyrewala
Starring: John Abraham, Pakhi Tyrewala
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

John Abraham is not my idol, but I find him a very likeable actor. With Jhootha Hi Sahi he shed off the "useless sex-symbol I do not find sexy" tag he had in my book previously. The film about a guy who by a printing mistake becomes a part of a help line for people on the verge of commiting suicide turns out to be a sweet romantic film, not exactly a comedy but still lighthearted and giving you several genuine laughs. The leading pair, which has a freash and cute vibe to it, is supported by a bunch of entertaining friends, every single one of them captured with all their chief characteristics even in not that big scope given to them individually. Jhootha Hi Sahi was another undeserved flop of 2010.

Band Baaja Baraat

Directed by: Maneesh Sharma
Starring: Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

The last film I´m going to mention here came to the theaters only in December, but quickly became a hit. Deservingly. More then capable directorial venture of debutant Maneesh Sharma, great dialogues, excellent soundtrack and most of all powerful performances by Anushka and Ranveer – all that raises „BBB“ as the film is often called, to the best romcom of the last year. Though your intuition tells you how it is going to end, the way to the finish is completely unpredictable. It is really entertaining watching the two young people in their attempts to create a successful company with all the problems that might come along. Humour is always spot on and never over the top. Ranveer and Anushka create a very natural jodi, they look comfotable with each other. None of them has classical beauty, but their charisma substitutes for that and their talent is unquestionable. Anushka proves once again that she is possibly the best newcomer of the past decade. Ranveer as debutant deserves an honourable mention. The great plus of the film is the sense of reality, be it in the way the characters dress, talk or how Delhi is presented. On the top of all that the movie feels beautifully desi.

Monday, 14 March 2011


Directed by: Yash Chopra
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Rekha, Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor
Released: 1981
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Shekar (Shashi Kapoor) is an army officer. Brave and disciplined while in uniform, unruly and almost childish out of it. He loves to spend his days with his head resting in the lap of Shobha (Jaya Bachchan), the girl he loves, planning their future together. And in the evening he likes to drink and be merry. Meanwhile his brother Amit (Amitabh Bachchan), a play-writer, actor and poet falls under a spell of Chandni (Rekha), a fresh and beautiful girl whom he saw dancing at his friend´s wedding. Sending her flowers and cassetes with his own voice, expressing all the gentle feelings she has woken up in his heart, he slowly wins her over. Just like his brother Amit now plans to get married. But then like a bolt out of the blue comes devastating news: Shekar has perished while on army mission. And it also turns out Shobha is pregnant with his child.

Amit decides to sacrifice his love for the sake of his brother´s fiancé and marries her, sending a message to Chandni that she better forget him. But even though he has the best will to make Shobha happy, neither him nor her are capable of being so. After they are involved in a car accident Shobha looses her unborn child and not both she and Amit are really desperate, because they find themselves trapped in a marriage without love and reason. While in hospital Amit meets Chandni again. She got married to a nice, honest doctor (Sanjeev Kumar), but does not really care for his feelings for her. On the contrary – the old love between her and Amit is rekindled and after a while they both succumb to their desires. However together with their passionate and secret affair comes carelessness and neither Shobha, who has learned to love her husband, neither Chandni´s spouse are blind. . .
Amitabh and Jaya. Falling asleep just seeing them.
I must admit that had it not been for the controversy related to this film I probably wouldn´t be even interested in watching it. Silsila, translated as „Affair“, came to the theaters at the time when the rumours and gossips were on about the alleged secret relationship between Amitbh Bachchan and Rekha. But not even this tidbit managed to lure enough audience and the film flopped. But this is Yash Chopra film and box office collections are not important for those, and just like Lamhe that flopped ten years later, Silsila is today among the revered classics.

The greatest strenght of the film is really powerful starcast. All the actors put a really honest work into their performances. Amitabh Bachchan, who has the meatiest role, is completely natural. Jaya an Rekha both compliment him. Sadly, even though Rekha is unarguable better actress, she does not have much to do except for looking sad and beautiful. Still her presence is strongly felt in every scene, and she does not even have to speak. Her dark gaze is enough to do the magic. I have never been a Jaya fan, she still yet has to convince me, but yes, she was good here, though not lovable despite being „the good one“. Interestingly enough there is much more on-screen chemistry going on between Big B and Rekha then Big B and Jaya.
Amitabh and Rekha - hell yeah!

The script deserves a credit for presenting well the points of view of all the characters and making one feel the pain they all go through. Silsila telling a story about extra-marital affair could have easily become a hysterical, sobbing and whining cliché with evil mistress and poor wife, but it did not. The story is told very sensitively and in the end you feel sorry for all the characters, which is quite rare. The most interesting message is that as long as something is forbidden, it may seem sweet and desirable, but as soon as it is permitted, it looses the charm and problems, not perceived before, emerge from the shadows.

My greatest problem with Silsila was incredibly slow pace of the film. It really gets boring at times. Not even several exciting-ish moments (will they catch them together/ will they not ) do not help and I kept staring at the timeline wishing it was finished already. And when the message at the end appeared – I wanted to die. „Love is faith and faith is forever“. Really? Like seriously? What the..... Songs are good and beautifully picturized, all bearing the uncanny Yash Chopra signature. Throw some plus points in for Amitabh Bachchan reciting poetry truly beautifully. When you´re in a mood for not-that-typical romance without much excitement, you can watch Silsila, even though you will, like me, probably only look for some secret signs happening between Big B and splendid Rekha.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Yamla Pagla Deewana

Directed by: Samir Karnik
Starring: Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Dharmendra, Anupam Kher
Released: 2011
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Somewhere in Vancouver, Canada, there lives a rather happy NRI going by the name of Paramveer Singh (Sunny Deol). His family includes a blonde, non-Indian wife, two little sons and old mother. Paramveer dreams of going back to his homeland, but his wife Mary is completely opposed to the idea, being completely convinced that all Indians are crazy (unfortunately the events that are about to happen will do anything but prove her wrong). And so Paramveer is left with his dreams and spends his days going to job and grocery shopping for his family. If somebody happens to have a brilliant idea of robbing him, he simply beats them up without a wink, then he buys the latest Punjab newspaper for his Maa and peacefully goes his way. But nothing lasts forever and one day the family learns, that Paramveer´s father (Dharmendra), who run away thirty years later after a fight with his wife and took his second son, a mere baby, with him, managed to bring little Gajodhar (Bobby Deol) to his own image AKA the two of them lie and loot and nobody is safe before them. Th grief-stricken Maa pleads Paramveer to take a trip to India and bring her husband and son to her, because after 30 years...well, she kinda misses them and believes once they come they will turn into angels. Paramveer, as a good son, does exactly what she asks and leaves at once to India.

And he is lucky – as soon as he sets his foot into the city of Banares, he becomes a victim to one of his brother´s deceptions (and it makes him happy!) and soon he finds also his rather drunken father in the company of a girl more then half his age (and it makes him even more happy!). The father does not want to confirm Paramveer´s identity, because he brought his little „Goju“ in belief he is a single-child and his mother had run away from them. But after Paramveer saves his skin more then once he accepts him to accompany him for a time. Meanwhile Goju has other troubles altogether. He is in love. After much thinking and many unsuccessful attempts at not making a complete fool of himself he finally wins over the girl he loves. Unfortunatelly she has five rather strickt brothers who immediatelly drag her home and are planning to wed her to the first NRI who would be willing. Goju is uhappy. But what would be the family for, right?
Deol & Deol

Yamla Pagla Deewana is basically from the same mould as Dabangg, but then it went a different way. It too has a nice desi touch and smells of the wonderful 90´s masala, but in the end the feeling one has is that the three Deols just really wanted to act together – even if for the heck of it. It would be futile to search for any message or a deep thought, you wouldn´t find one. It is a light comedy that simply happens and doesn´t ask for more then your laugh. Dharmendra, Bobby and Sunny all are basically playing caricatures of their most famous characters, especially Sunny, an honest guy with pure heart who will beat anyone up for his family and doesn´t even have to lift his hand (literally) and Dharmendra as a light-hearted Casanova with a weak spot for alcohol. The first half of the film concetrates on Paramveer looking for his father and brother and then his attempts to get closer to them. However the comical scenes could be counted on the fingers of one hand and it all rather drags at times too – contrary to the second half!
Deol and . . . eeeeeh . . . Deol.

That is where the fun really begins. The story turns almost grotesque and even finds a way how to quite seemlessly bring all the characters into one place. While in the first half the footage all belongs to the three Deols, in the second we have not only five Punjab brothers (one better – or worse? - then the other) and after a while even Paramveer´s blonde wife and two kids! Among the brothers Anupam Kher excells and every single of his appearances is hilarious. Of course we get to see some fighting scenes faithful to „Sunny Deol“ style and who would even dare to doubt it will all end well and Anupam Kher will not shoot anyone, nah?

I wouldn´t recommend the films to the Bollywood begginers, because there are some jokes related to several famous movies (Raja Hindustani and Sholay immediatelly come to mind), and also not everybody is ready for Johnny Lever (even though I must say he was not as half as crazy/funny/annoying as he usually is, and in fact I quite welcomed his appearance from purely sentimental reasons).

Music is nothing special, very forgettable and except for Chadha de rang the songs are not even visually pleasing.

If you´re a Deol fan – you are going to love it.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Biwi no. 1

Director: David Dhawan
Starring: Salman Khan, Karishma Kapoor, Sushmita Sen, Anil Kapoor
Released: 1999
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I could hardly believe that a movie like Biwi no. 1 could actually be such a hit. In fact Biwi no. 1 is one of the most atrocious Bollywood movies I have seen and with its cringeworthiness triumphs even over a „gem“ like Raja Hindustani. The not-so-original story goes as follows – Prem (who else then Salman Khan with this name, right?) runs a successful family company, is seemingly happily married to Pooja (Karishma Kapoor), who manages to cook, worship, clean, take care of two children, mother-in-law and a dog, and still looks absolutely glamorous. However the marital bliss bores Prem to death and as soon as opportunity arises he starts romancing one of his company´s models Rupali (Sushmita Sen). Rupali does not cook, does not clean and she only takes care of herself, but hey – she is sexy and instead of a saree she wears mini skirts. And since her dream has always been to marry a rich guy, she soon accepts Prem romancing her. By the way – he somehow forgets to tell her he is already married.

The two lovers take a trip to Switzerland (as if there were no other countries in Europe) but all the privacy is lost when they run into Prem´s friend Lakhan (played by Anil Kapoor which results into a vain but constant expectation of him bursting into a notorious song starting with „ram pam pam ram pam pam rampa papam pam pam. . .) and his wife Lovelee (aka Tabu being wasted) and they keep running into them all the more they try to avoid them. Inevitably Rupali learns about Pooja´s existence but Prem quickly comes up with another lie about his marriage being arranged and his wife being mad. Rupali believes it without questioning. Some time after their return Pooja, the biwi no. 1, learns about this biwi no. 2, thanks to her dog, who tracks Prem down to Rupali´s house because he knows it is not appropriate for his Master to spent Karwachauth with some other woman. After this Pooja asks her husband to choose between his mistress and his wife, but only ends up heart-broken as he moves in with Rupali. 
It is really not as it looks like.

Time to turn B.I.T.C.H
What follows is Pooja´s war – even though I stayed unsure if she started it to get her husband back or to make his life hell. There is nothing inovative in the steps she takes against him and most of them are in the end more awkward then funny. As expected I was on her „side“ while watching Prem cheating, but as soon as she herself turns into. . .well . . . a bitch, she lost all my sympathy. In fact, Rupali seemed more appealing at times. The only thing that I appreciated was that the movie did not presented Rupali as being an evil person. All the characters, though, are acting somehow dumb and leave the viewer completely confused everytime. As much as one protests whenever a hero chooses the traditional Indian girl (traditional being the most important part) over a western wanna-be, it wouldn´t be as bad here, since the hero and heroine are already married and have family. But instead we are given the revelation that only if the wife too starts showing some serious skin and doing sexy photoshoots she can win her hubby back. And still – nothing is working (not even the emotional blackmailing of their two children, who do not hesitate to call upon the divine Big B himself to support their cause). Only after Rupali is deceived by Lakhan and leaves Prem he goes back to his family.
Emotional blackmailer no. 1
Emotional blackmailer no. 2
Emotional blackmailer no. 3
It is a film where everybody lies to everybody, nobody really bothers to understand the other, and all except the dog have no idea what to do. All the characters (except the dog again) end up being very unlikeable and one really does not care for them at all. Some atrocious acting involved. While Karishma and Anil Kapoor are stricktly OK, Sushmita Sen leaves no impression, Tabu is wasted and Salman Khan should be banned from ever trying to cry on screen. Saif Ali Khan in a cameo has no chance of saving anything. The children are extremely annoying – and the same word can be used for the musical score. There is not one memorable or even hummable song, and lyrics like „Ishq sona hai, ishq chandi hai, sona, sona, sona, sona“ are everything but golden.

Watch only if you are a MASSIVE Karishma Kapoor fan or are in a masochistic mood.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

No one killed Jessica

Director: Raj Kumar Gupta
Starring: Vidya Balan, Rani Mukherjee, Myra Karn
Released: 2011
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Possibly the most awaited film of the beggining of 2011 released on 7th January and it is rather non-bollywood-ish in the sense you will not find here any lovesick jodis running around the trees. But the sky high expectations do not really work here. It is a good attempt to make a different, and as possibly some cynical people might call more „real“ cinema, that sadly could have been better. No, in fact – it deserved and should have been better because of many reasons. Let´s get to the story first though.

In the night of 29th April 1999 somewhere in Delhi Sabrina Lall, a rather dull, boring and more then ordinary girl, is woken up by a telephone call announcing her sister Jessica has just been shot. Sabrina hurriedly makes her way to the hospital, but thre is nothing she or doctors can do. Jessica dies as a result of her injury. The shaken family can now only ask „how“. Turns out Jessica, who used to make some extra money as a barmaid in a prominent disco club, was shot by one of three young men, to whom she refused to give drinks, because there were none left. The three did not want to hear that and after a heated argument one of them pointed a gun at Jessica and pulled the trigger. Seemingly a very simple, saddening case. There were over 300 people present in the club, the killer was detained almost immediately and so was the gun. What a shock it is then for Sabrina and her parents, when almost all the witnesses claim they were not there! And even more painful is a sudden change in the behaviour of Jessica´s friends, who are affraid and not willing to give any clear testimony.
Sabrina - art of being a grey mouse
Why? Well, the accused killer is none other then Manu Sharma, son of a rich and influential politician, who has no trouble saying that if his son is not innocent, he will be. And so the un-ending carrousel of lies, interrogation, manipulation, bribing and threats start to spin and does not stop for the next seven years. And finally in 2006 Manu is declared innocent, because there were not enough proofs. Sabrina, who has been fighting for justice for such a long time already, is spent and exhausted. And when her mother dies and father falls ill, she does not want to fight anymore. Unknown to her at first a much stronger and fierce fighter has appeared though. Successful journalist Meera, who once refused to invest her time into the case, because it seemed so trivial and simple, finds out after seven years that „No one killed Jessica“ and her sense of justice raises like a storm...
You all shall hate this guy..... And he´s not even the killer!
As you can see, it is truly a story with potential – and even more so when you know it is based on a real event. So it is somehow sad to add that the script is not at all that amazing. The film starts on a catchy note (with some really inovative and interestingly done opening titles) and grabs your attention immediately, bringing to you a rather turbulent and disturbing story of Jessica´s dying. However after first 30 minutes the tempo of the film slows down very much as we reach the judicial court. Only after an hour the true heroine (and maybe we could even say „hero“) of the film takes her rightful place. Rani Mukherjee as Meera is incredibly charismatic, oozing unboud energy and completely makes the rest of the footage hers. Vidya Balan as Sabrina gives a solid performance, but can come off as rather indifferent and apathical at times. There is nothing memorable about her. Unfortunatelly neither Sabrina nor Meera are flawlessly portraited characters. One understands that Meera is an independent and really brash woman with a vocabulary that could easily put every agressive drunkard to shame, but why is she like that, who is she really you never get to know. It would have been nice if she was actually given some background, but that does not happen. Sabrina looses her realistic feel in the moment when she declares she is too tired to fight anymore, because you cannot make a single difference between her at the beggining of the case and after it is ended. I don´t think the actresses are to be blamed though, let´s blame the script.
You don´t, really don´t want to make her angry. Unless, of course,  you want to enrich your swearing vocabulary.

The script also fails in the second part. How come that as soon as Rani decides to do something, she manages exactly what she wanted without a slightest problem? I was waiting for some twist, some trouble to arise, but nothing came. Obviously the politicians who put so much effort and money into bribing and threatening are not that bothered as Meera reveals their manipulative tricks and destroys their reputation. It is also somehow puzzling that Meera starts her own investigation without informing or even asking Jessica´s family first.

It is not a film that would deserve to be called a classic and a message that maybe not all is right in the state of India has been presented with much more conviction and insight in other films. Plus points to „No one killed Jessica“ go because of excellent Rani and an attempt of depicting an event that has caused so much controversy not that long ago. And then of course there is a brilliant soundtrack by Amit Trivedi. His „Dilli“ is going to play in your ears for a long time after watching...