Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Directed by: David Dhawan
Starring: Anil Kapoor, Karishma Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Kader Khan
Released: 1994
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Many years before Farah Khan brought to life Main Hoon Na that revolved around a college and terrorism, there was David Dhawan who created a movie based on the two as well. Main Hoon Na is not even remotely a copy of Andaaz, as the two stories are different, and where Farah Khan´s movie changes easily from comedy to family drama and action flick, David Dhawan stayed faithful to what he could do best and maintained the light spirit throughout, yet still I found it curious that the two movies have the same feel. Main Hoon Na, aspiring to be a modern day classic in my book, is of course far superior to Andaaz in every department, being a slick, polished and witty massala of the memorable team Farah-SRK, while Andaaz is what it is: a typical 90s movie with loopholes, bad cinematography and Shakti Kapoor.

Anil Kapoor armed with his trademark moustache and wearing glasses (signifying he is a civilized and educated man this time) comes to a college as a new teacher, however his peaceful nature and young age make him a favourite target of student jokes and tricks. One of the girls in particular disturbs his inner balance – Jaya (Karishma), who, after pulling a practical joke on him, seems to annoy him with every single thing. Anil puts up with everything up until the moment he finds an „I love you“ note addressed to him. He gives it to Jaya (as he believes it was her sending it) without much of an explanation, and thus starts an avalanche of other similar notes. Unknown to him it was not her who sent them, but one of other students trying to avenge for previous punishment, and while Anil thinks he is love object of Jaya´s, she in return believes she is his, building this belief on the I love you notes he keeps giving her „back“

The film is also an unashamed eyeglasses porn.
When truth comes out it is already too late for Jaya, who is head over heels and for real in love with the teacher, and in order to gain his affection leaves the school and moves next door, only to be rejected again and again. Until finally Anil decides to bring home – a wife! Marrying in a hurry he chooses Juhi Chawla in an orphanage, with a conviction him marrying will shoo Jaya away forever. Originally he wanted a woman who could cook, sing, be educated. Juhi is none of that and quite useless, however Anil is not angry for long because she still possesses the erotic female parts and basically the whole second half of the film could be called „The tales of a horny husband“. One song in particular made me stare at the screen in a complete disbelief of what was actually happening! The first 13 seconds will be enough for you to understand!

Karishma, who dominated the first half completely, being adorable with her huge eyebrows and frizzy hair, is immediately sidelined not only by her love interest (now interested only in jumping into bed with the wife at every single opportunity. Compared to the latest Dhawan movies it was all still innocent, which can give you an idea of how distasteful are his films now.), but also the script, which is a shame. Her character henceforth doesn´t really make much sense and looses all the appeal.

You may be wondering by now where the terrorists fit in. They don´t fit in at all – and yet they are present. The „action“ subplot is limited to about three or four short scenes during the film, only to overwhelm it in the last 15 minutes, and basically holding no importance at all. In fact the whole terrorist thing is just a way how to get rid of Jaya in the end.
Let´s get laid darling.

Let´s get intimate!
Actually, let´s get kinky.
I really enjoyed the movie (after all I love myself some 90s with all the cringeworthy stuff and guilty pleasures they represent).It is one of the few rare pictures where I didn´t cringe at Anil Kapoor´s comedy, maybe because he kept the acting rather calm and came of much more convincing than his usual let´s be as loud as possible and let´s put my head forward and bulge my small eyes way of acting „funny“. The ladies steal the show from him (I guess after working with Madhuri and Sridevi he was used to that already anyway), Karishma breathes the life into the story in the first part, Juhi with her gorgeousness and comic sense nobody can match takes over in the second, in spite of being given just an extended cameo. She was a pure delight to watch and left me longing for more.

It´s no Main Hoon Na for sure, but it is worth a shot if you are looking for something fun or if you are missing the naughty but not yet completely over the top vulgar David Dhawan.

Friday, 23 March 2012


Directed by: Raj Kapoor
Starring: Raj Kapoor, Nargis, Prithviraj Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, Leela Chitnis
Released: 1951
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Sometimes you see sparks of brilliance in a starting artist. They obviously need more time to grow and polish their skill. But that was not really the case of Raj Kapoor. Awaara was his third directorial venture after movies Barsaat and Aag, but instead of sparks of brilliance it completely shines with it from beginning to end. A very talented actor, he was no less amazing behind the camera. With Awaara he not only entered film history, but also proved that if you have capable performers and are able to give everything a form, you do not need a complicated story that would take you on a roller-coaster ride with various unexpected twists or sudden changes of heart. All you need is talent and will. And a lot of belief in what you are doing. Awaara stands as a testament to that.

A story told in a retrospective is, as I have already mentioned, very simple. It tells us about a young aspiring man ruined by life circumstances, but remaining pure in heart, and finally redeeming himself – a pattern very popular through all the decades and witnessed in countless movies from Ganga Jumna to Khalnayak and many, many more.
Mein toh asli khalnayak hoon in this story.
Once young and just married judge Raghunath takes his wife for what is supposed to be a romantic trip into the country. However as soon as they get comfortable in the house she is kidnapped by a goon Jagga. You see, Jagga was not always a goon. But Raghunath, whose greatest belief in life is that „good people are born to good parent and criminals can only conceive more criminals“, convicted him for a crime he did not commit simply because Jagga´s forefather had been bandits, sending him thus to jail. When he is released, Jagga, filled with a huge desire for a revenge, indeed becomes a goon. His plans to ruin the judge by kidnapping and raping his wife are only half-finished. Because Mrs. Judge has recently become pregnant and Jagga immediately comes up with a much better scheme of how to destroy the judge´s happiness and show him that his belief nature always tops nurture just may not be right.

When after several days judge gets his wife back, he is relieved and overjoyed. But as soon as her belly starts to grow so do his doubts and insecurities. While she is looking forward to the baby, he is becoming more and more scared she may have been unfaithful to him, until finally she throws her out of the house right at the moment she goes into a labour. And so his son is born on a dirty street, destined not to know his father (because his saintly mother with no self-respect really never tells him anything about him except praising him) and fight hunger in poverty.
Suffering from sock-ophobia.
Skip ahead a few years and Raj, as the kid is named, is a school-boy. His best friend is rich and carefree girl Rita, but their friendship makes an abrupt end as the girl moves into another city. Raj is at the same time forced to leave school and after his attempts at finding a job fail, Jagga makes an entry into the story again, manipulating the fate of the child according to his wishes and turning him into a thief. Up until he grows up and meets his lost friend Rita (who has grown up to be a lawyer), he never really questions the way he is walking on. 
"There´s new McDonalds across the street!"
 But together with flames of love Raj is soon consumed by flames of guilt and bad conscience. Both are captured gorgeous through several scenes I can imagine must have seem quite daring at the time (bathing together in a pond, changing clothes, singing about making love...) and of course through songs. The iconic Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi taking place in a dream and showing us both heaven, where innocent and pure Rita of high principles waits for her lover impatiently, and hell, from where is Raj trying to free himself in a desperate attempt to reach the skies. I hope nobody will ever try to re-release Awaara in colour, because the black and white give this particular song a beautiful fantasy quality. All in all the cinematography of the movie seems completely modern. Often the movies technically do not stand the test of time, but Awaara does – another proof of the timelessness of the movie.

Heaven... a classical dance...
Hell.... techno party!
Waiting has never looked more beautiful...
"Swich off that techno please...."
What makes it a pure classic is also a complex painting of all the feelings that can ever enter one´s heart. From vulnerability, love, hate, guilt to anger, revenge, passion, sacrifice and devotion. And all protagonists are perfectly perfect in capturing all those emotions. As someone who has a thing for family ties and clans I was excited to realize Awaara is among other things also a stage for a big family meeting of the Kapoors (although back then they were not yet considered the reigning filmy clan). Prithviraj Kapoor in the role of a judge nurturing his prejudice, is as imposing as he seemed to me in Mughal-E-Azam, only more human and bit less dignified. Shashi Kapoor as a schoolboy Raj, was a delight for my heart. You see, Shashi-ji is a huge crush of mine, and to watch him being adorable and good at such a young age just made my fangirl heart proud.
When huge crushes were little....
The stars of Awaara however (and understandably so) are the leading pair. It was my first encounter with Raj Kapoor the Actor. I had heard a lot about him being great, but was a bit wary since if anything I am a source of unpopular opinions, but all my fears were put to rest in the very first scene itself and I can finally add my voice to his praise. Excellent - that and nothing else can be said about him. He has a certain tragic to him, even when acting joyful. Some curious sadness is his main feature. And all his beautiful effort is met with even more success when he shares the screen with Nargis, who was just absolutely charming, enacting her role with admirable ease. I also need to say that I was initially a bit let down with her looks, that did not fit my idea of „beauty“, but more I watch her, the more I am in love with her face, with her clear profile and bright eyes, expressiveness and purity you feel from her. 
Jodi of dreams....

The gorgeous, gorgeous Nargis...
That much said Awaara did not touch the most inner me, although I cannot really explain why, because it doesn´t lack anything. I did have issues with the character of Raj´s mother, who was just too humble to make her any good. There is a limit to what a woman can take before she should stand up for her own image, even in a world as strongly dominated by men as India fifty years ago, but instead of being all tears over her faithful love to a man who not only disrespected her, but threw her out of his house while she was in labour and never tried to find out what happened to her, I was actually somehow disgusted. When your guy doesn´t deserve your devotion, he just doesn´t, and he can be a hundred times your husband. Not saying she should have hated on him, but the amount of love she still had for him and holding absolutely not even a slightest grudge against him whatsoever was just ridiculous.

Although I personally loved Shree 420, that has not only similar casting but also a similar theme, more, Awaara still remains a must-see. 
Hats off to you sir. Am a fan.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Dil Bole Hadippa!

Directed by: Anurag Singh
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee, Anupam Kher, Dalip Tahil
Released: 2009
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Veera Kaur is a self proclaimed "world-class cricket batsman, right- and left-handed", for sure the best one for miles around. However as a country girl travelling most of the time with a theater company, she doesn´t really get an opportunity to show her skills. On the other side of the world, in England, there lives Rohan, an accomplished captain of an English cricket team, up until the moment his father calls him back to India, where his own little team has been loosing for years. And even though it´s against a Pakistani team of his friend, he just really wants to win this time. Rohan, of course, leaves everything just to see his daddy gets a victory once in a while, and he becomes the new captain and starts auditions to find the best players.
No clever caption. Just enjoy her beauty.
What a better opportunity for Veera could ever come? However, you see, she is a girl, and as such not even allowed to audition. But taking an inspiration from her theater company, Veera does not give up – she throws away her kohl and bangles and becomes – Veer! Naturally now nobody has any objections against her being in the team. But this triumph has it´s disadvantages for Veera, one of them being forced to use men´s changing room. After being caught by Rohan in her female avatar in there, she quickly pretends to be Veer´s sister. And Rohan, after some arguing and bickering, falls in love with her....
Sometimes you have to forget you´re a woman...
...when you have man´s dreams.
But ouch! The pain of the changing room!
Few more meetings and Veera too falls for the handsome cricketer, trying as hard as she can to keep other girls away, as well as rediscovering the hindustani dil in him, that has been exposed to way too much English influence over the years. It is also easier for her to predict and guess what Rohan´s feelings and thoughts are, since he goes to be adviced to the person he considers Veera´s closest confidant – her brother Veer....
From English cool guy...
...back to the roots!
I am not a fan of sport films. They always show a man/woman who are in a way an outcast and should not be doing the sport or are past their peak, how they challenge everything and in the end overcome everything, make it to the big finale where they either win or loose, but if the latter, it has a deep moral subtext and they always earn more respect than the winner. There are sport films that, even though with the same formula, can step out of the mould (best example is Chak De India), but Dil Bole Hadippa is not one of them. It is quite enjoyable for one watch, but there is not really a repeat value and throughout I just felt something was missing and thus it all was incomplete. Especially once the final match starts, the film seemed boring – which was the exact opposite of what it should be.

Rani was just brilliant and her comic scenes were priceless, she owned the film completely, leaving just very little space for Shahid, who seems rather halfhearted anyway. Especially his emotional outburst upon finding out the truth about Veer being Veera, seemed very much rehearsed. There is one scene where I was willing to forgive all, and that I will definitely cherish always: the little stage show with references to DDLJ, MPK and of course HAHK. This was the first (only?) time I ever saw anyone actually word by word acting the famous HAHK scene, as as delightful as Rani and Shahid were, images from the original films were simply flashing through my mind and I caught myself smiling at them. The film, as every true Yash Raj production, is beautiful visually, very colourful without making your eyes sore, music is forgettable.
Shahid´s take on Shahrukh....

...and Rani´s on Madhuri.
The film failed to make the mark in history of cinema, it didn´t even do too well at the box office, and frankly I can understand why. The many flaws can always be forgiven and forgotten, but for that a movie needs to have a certain complexity, something that touches the heart or makes you think. Dil Bole Hadippa remains an OK one time watch without this quality.

Monday, 5 March 2012


Directed by: Indra Kumar
Starring: Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Dalip Tahil, Mukesh Khanna
Released: 1995
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

There is really only one legitimate and valid reason why to watch Raja and that is Madhuri Dixit. Without being biased in the least, this was a film she owned completely and fully, brought life and energy into it, made it not just watchable but actually entertaining, and ultimately carrying it completely on her delicate shoulders to the hit status. The title may have been Raja, but just like three years earlier when Beta became Beti, one screening was enough for janta and critics to re-christen the movie to Rani. The movie is essentially a typical 90s Bollywood masalla, with pyaar between the hero and heroine being impossible due to money issues and family enmity, with lovely songs, memorable dance number and poetic justice coming hand in hand with the redemption of the villains in the end. All Indra Kumar style aka with logical loopholes that are brushed away with a daring grin and lots of over the top comedy.
The only reason to watch the film.
Two wealthy businessman brothers Rana and Vishwa have just proposed a future aliance of their little sister Madhu with Raja, just as little brother of another wealthy businessman Birju. But as soon as the engagement of the children, who are indeed fond of each other, is confirmed, Birju looses all his property because of a big fire in a factory. Not only poor Birju is a beggar now, but his wealthy friends call off the engagement, and to top it all he gets electrocuted (!) which results in him being mentally challenged for the rest of his life. Fortunately for him his little brother manages to take care of him, even though the two now live in the outskirts of the city in poverty.
The only reason to watch the film.
Years are passing by and soon little cute Raja grows into rather un-cute Sanjay Kapoor, dreaming about the little girl whom once he was engaged to, and refusing all other brides (kind of highly presumptious of him if you ask me). It may be bit of a trouble looking for her though, as she too has grown up and Raja doesn´t even know what she looks like. She would have to literally run into his arms for him to find her. And she does, following a lost bet. While she, unaware that he is her childhood friend, falls in love immediately with his unattractive wooden self, he only falls in love with the gorgeous, lively and enchanting creature AFTER he finds out she is Madhu (makes as much sense as a dog with a taco on its head). But her brothers, who by the way have not aged a day, are opposed to this love, intending to wed their sister to a rich Prince. What follows is a whole avalanche of situations that rate from silly to completely insane, including Madhuri in nothing but a loose white shirt romancing Sanjay in the presence of a group of archeologists who are all apparently over 100, the run away lovers believing that those who were after them were only hunting them to give them their blessing, breaking apart because of a huge huge misunderstanding and getting married in what has to be one of the most bizarre wedding ceremonies ever, unless you consider walking the seven circles around a flaming fountain with one of your brothers nearly burning to his death normal.
The only reason to watch the film.
Raja was supposed to be Sanjay Kapoor´s successful re-launch ater his previous flop debut, and till this day remains his only hit. Or rather the only hit he ever starred in as the main male lead, because as I´ve already mentioned the movie was ruled supreme by Madhuri. Sanjay Kapoor never was a hero material. He suited small, unchallenging roles of nice uncles and brothers, but as a lead he is painfully weak a performer. The one unchanging expression, zero voice modulation, unimpressive dialogue delivery and of course a complete lack of charisma makes one wonder if this really is a brother of Anil Kapoor (whom I do not really like, but his X-factor is just incredible). All others overshadow him completely, from excellent Paresh Rawal to briefly appearing Himani Shivpuri. And of course – Madhuri.
The only reason to watch the film.
When she appears on the screen, it´s like sun coming out of the gray clouds. She enacts her character with admirable ease, providing not only powerful emotional scenes, but also her very much under-used (by the filmmakers) comic sense, which proves to be simply delightful. She shows that she owns the possibly most expressive face ever and is able to change expressions of all kinds within a second – just watch the following song!

After the watching you really feel it was not Raja but Madhu, who was the lead. She is girly, spoilt and even rather snobbish at first, yet still good at heart. It was refreshing to see a girl going after the guy (and not vice versa) and that too so openly, boldly and being completely unashamed of anything just to get her way.

Raja is heavily flawed, yet still a classic. And if I haven´t mentioned it before, it´s because of one simple reason only. Madhuri Dixit. She makes it all worth it and more.