Sunday, 26 May 2013


Directed by: Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Starring: Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, Shashikala
Released: 1966
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing 

Not many films venture beyond portrayal of love between hero and heroine – or rather not as many as I would like. Films that don´t only tell story of romance, but include an intricate web of relations, old and new, some of love, some of respect and some of hate. And more than one are complicated, and more than one has to be kept in mind while making decisions. Anupama is such a film.

The story opens with a blissfully married young couple, Mr. And Mrs. Sharma, very much in love and seemingly on their way to even more happiness, as they soon are expecting their first baby. However after a long and complicated labour the lovely Mrs. Sharma dies, leaving behind a baby girl Uma and a completely desolate husband, who is unable to even look at his daughter, unless he is completely drunk. Uma thus grows up into an extremely isolated young woman with little confidence in herself. She is craving for her father´s love, or at least an approval, and at the same time she is terrified of him and his drunken expressions of paternal love. But her life seems to be changing upon meeting a group of friendly young people, a handsome writer and poet Arjun among them.

The character of Anita „Annie“ played by Shashikala, got on my nerves for most part. I understand she was supposed to be a completely opposite of Uma (who speak so little in the film you actually fear she has gone mute), but there is a point after which „over-the-top“ transforms into „highly unconvincing squirrel after a barrel of coffee“. The film also drags a bit in the middle, but it is all worth it in the end - end, that refuses to be a melodrama full of clichés. The story progresses, the characters remain who they are, they don´t do things which are drastic, extreme or completely unexpected, they stay true to themselves, even though, of course, changes make them take actions.

Dharmendra may be known best as action hero, but his good-natured, humble poet was played with much feeling, beautifully. His character is a daydreaming writer, yet never a hopeless case of uselessness (as it sometimes happens with artists shown in films – they are in love with a girl and their genius mind). He is earthy, calm, pleasant. He doesn´t go around giving lectures on the meaning of life – and whatever might come close to it feels very natural and never pretentious.

Young Sharmila was stunningly gorgeous. At times I had a feeling her big 60s hair interfered a bit with who the character of Uma was supposed to be – a very shy, introverted girl who never goes out (apparently the director had the same feeling, but Sharmila refused to listen), but for most part the innocence was so clearly mirrored on her face it let one forget about anything else. For a long time in the film I was worried that she had not much to do apart from looking glorious, but her character ultimately proves to be a heart-stealer. Uma collects up her courage and walks out on her old life with dignity and without need to have a nervous breakdown and throw a fit while making her father feel like crap for mistreating her for so many years (even though that is exactly what he deserved).

The gorgeous black and white cinematography is visual delight, and the music too matches all the beauty the film is stuffed with. My two favourite songs have to be Kuch Dil Ne Kaha and Dheere Dheere Machal. Indeed, Anupama is beautiful.

Saturday, 18 May 2013


Directed by: Rajkumar Santoshi
Starring: Sunny Deol, Amrish Puri, Meenakshi Sheshadri, Moushmi Chatterjee, Raj Babbar, Om Puri
Released: 1990
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Ghayal is a child of its time, a film about revenge that the bad guy brought upon himself with his own greed and ruination of our hero´s family. It can be also fitted among the then very popular slot of „innocent young man wronged by society goes bad“. While that to me personally will always be predominately Anil Kapoor´s kind of thing, Sunny Deol was the action God of the time, and those who doubt his acting abilities should watch Ghayal to know that Sunny, when he wants, can be very, very good (or put on another Santoshi´s masterpiece – Damini).

The beginning is slow, unhappening and frankly rather unrelated to the rest of the movie. We are introduced to Ajay (Sunny), an unwaxed and not-looking-like-a-tank amateur boxer (actually a pleasant relief and reminder that you don´t have to be one huge hairless pack of unnaturally looking abs to actually have the strength of ten other men – at least on the screen) with great love for his brother (Raj Babbar) and bhabhi (Moushmi Chatterjee) and running around the trees with his beautiful girlfriend Varsha (Meenakshi) to the beats of what in my childhood was known as Lambada. We finally get to the plot about thirty minutes later (those thity minutes are actually stuffed with one song after another because the makers realized there was no way they could squeeze them anywhere in the rest of the film), when Ajay´s brother goes missing.

Ajay looking for his brother uncovers some serious dirt hidden behind a good name of a millionaire Balwant Rai (Amrish Puri FTW), and after being denied any help by the corrupted police and a series of very unfortunate events he finds himself in jail for the murder of the very brother he tried to save and with his dearly beloved sister-in-law committing suicide. It is time for revenge.

Once past the long start, the movie keeps an even pace and brings one happening after another without wasting the time anywhere (least of all on Sunny-Meenakshi love story). Action is good and even though there will always be liberties taken in films, it is not the typical Bollywood over the top beat up. Ghayal, in many ways, feels realistic, although, as many other movies of its kind, could be viewed as way too optimistic about reformation of the criminals and keeping the righteousness in mind, that actually has to be pretty messed up due to serious reasons. Same kind of doubt needs to be given to honest policeman Om Puri, who is apparently a great investigator, yet has a shock of his life when he realizes there might be bugs in how the system works. I could have enjoyed more of bonding between the prisoners, who later do not hesitate to give their lives for what, quite frankly, is not at all their thing.

Still, Ghayal is a good action flick and Sunny Deol in the lead delivers a fine performance, not short of his trademark abuses. There is intensity to his dialogues and his body language says everything. Meenakshi Sheshadri is completely wasted, even Moushmi Chatterjee as Sunny´s sister-in-law has a better, more complex role. Meenakshi is in the film just for Sunny to have a girlfriend (like the right Bollywood hero does) and the songs, but not even her wonderful dancing skills are used. Pity. I suppose Rajkumar Santoshi just really wanted her in the film, after all, didn´t he have that infamous obsession with her for years? I can´t say I blame him....

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Hum Tum

Directed by: Kunal Kohli
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Kirron Kher, Rishi Kapoor, Rati Agnihotri
Released: 2004
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

It surprised me greatly how much I enjoyed this film on a second viewing after not being impressed by it the first time around. Usually this isn´t the case, rather you find yourself underwhelmed (or even embarrassed) by something that made you cheer, but watching it yet again ruins the magic, reveals the flaws, until you brush it aside with apologetic smile. I suppose the knowledge of what to expect actually helped the movie in my eyes, because previously I have been looking for something epic and genius (yep, another film over-praised) – and that just isn´t there.

The story is not that complicated so you wouldn´t be able to guess who ends up with whom in first five minutes. As soon as you see flamboyant, free-minded womanizer like Karan (Saif) and serious, sophisticated and elegant Rhea (Rani), you get the drift. They are to hate each other at the beginning and throughout the film he will realize she is not snooty and she will find out he is not useless. And they will fall in love. And you are right. From sight-seeing in Amsterdam, through brief meeting in New York we actually cover several years to find Rhea getting married to Sameer (Abhishek Bachchan in a short cameo), while Karan seems not to have changed at all. And another time shift – a year later: our leads find themselves in Paris. Karan unchanged, Rhea a widow, even quieter, more melancholic and introverted than before.

But indeed they finally find a way to each other, indeed they meet a few obstacles in form of confusion over their own feelings and inability to express them, and indeed they finally walk away from us with arms wrapped around each other. Kunal Kohli in the director´s chair however makes sure to give you a feeling of good cinema, and not just another mediocre fest. It is all about the presentation, the form – and actors, who all give a beautiful performance, although that changes nothing in Saif winning a National award for the film being a ridiculous turn of events. Rani looks utterly beautiful and her outfits are all stunning from wedding attire to a pink saree she´s wearing near the end.

I was extremely delighted to see Rati Agnihotri (as Saif´s unreasonably young mother – there is only 10 years between them, but oh well, it´s Bollywood aka Sexistville), even more so since she did have some very nice scenes, and I was even happier when Rishi Kapoor appeared (as Saif´s father), and actually squeeled when he and Rati shared a frame for a few moments. Kirron Kher pulls off yet another loving and funny mum, not failing to charm. Her whacky, loud Maa characters can certainly get tiring, but if you manage to keep her films apart and don´t watch them too soon one after another, it does strike the right chord.

So – why wasn´t I smitten the first time I watched Hum Tum? I expected seriously too much. As nice as the film is, it is no incredible piece of art or iconic romance. It doesn´t really stand out from the crowd, even though it belong to the better part of it. It is rather slow, and at times it drags. Saif doesn´t look his best. And the animated bits with two positively evil looking adolescents/children (?) are annoying and uttering some of the most clichéd dialogues. They are supposedly trying to tell us in what stage the relationship between Karan and Rhea is, but in fact they come off as completely unrelated. And not funny. And in the end they are two animated children. Who „fall in love“ with each other. Eww. Perhaps the animated little devils could have been growing up throughout the film? 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Dil Ka Rishta

Directed by: Naresh Malhotra
Starring: Arjun Rampal, Aishwarya Rai, Ishaa Koppikar, Paresh Rawal, Rakhee Gulzar
Released: 2003
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Was this a film or an Argentinian soap opera? Can´t decide for the life of me. It reminds one of a train wreck (or should I say a car wreck?) - you inwardly know from the start it´s going to be horrible to watch, but you just keep on watching. Mostly because you have no idea what to do and the feeling of being utterly helpless against silliness they are trying to sale you by being all so serious. This is definitely one of those films one wonders how did everybody manage to keep a straight face.

Who´s this guy anyway?
Arjun (with some really weird, unflattering hair that kept distracting me) plays a wealthy guy Jai, who supports charity and has a habit to talk to his dead mother´s anklets in time of need. He falls in love literally on the first sight with a beautiful teacher Tia (Aish) and soon after proposes to her. Much to his unpleasant surprise Tia is already in a relationship with a perfect guy, and hence Jai has to satisfy himself with creeping up on the couple here and there with painfully unfitting joyful music in the background as he does that (Hey hey hey... la la la.....). After he drinks too much one night, Jai causes a car accident. He survives, but his friend Anita (short and useless role for Isha Koppikar) dies on the spot as well as – gasp – Tia´s husband! Tia herself survives, but looses her memory. Her amnesia is that special Bollywood kind (see also Jab Tak Hai Jaan) when reminding her would kill her you know.

Because in Bollywood you´re supposed to root for creepers.
So now we have Jai, who, instead of going to jail for killing two people because he was driving totally drunk, offers Tia´s mom (Rakhee fuming flames and basically just waiting for Karan Arjun even though she´s in a different movie) he would whisk her, Tia and Tia´s little son into South Africa, where nobody can remind Tia of her past, and he would tell her the baby is his and Anita´s. Tia accepts all this without questions and pretty much from the next day till the end she keeps blabbering how important it is to move on from those who died (HA! If only you knew you´d be the mopy one!) and does everything in her power to romance Jai, who in his turn has bad conscience.

Mere Karan Arjun aayenge!
For God´s sake snap out of it, woman!
Indeed, every ten minutes felt like an episode of a soap opera, with mood swings and silly reasons for action. The ending is abrupt and pretty much useless. If you´re waiting for some drama when Tia remembers – she is probably the first on screen character who doesn´t and happily falls in the arms of her old creeper.

Arjun is a poor actor. I used to be quite impressed by him, but more films I see the more clear it is to me how limited and repetitive he is. There is no passion in him, and while his voice is pleasant to listen to, the intonation is far from being utilized. Aishwarya is better than him, but as much as I think she rocks in subtle, quiet, dignified and mature roles, she is a major pain in bubbly/funny/girly ones – and this is one of the latter. Somebody should stop her from laughing on screen! She dances beautifully, but no song is truly memorable, and to put give you a shocking news, I don´t think she looked good in the film either.

Dil Ka Rishta is a bubblegum nonsense, a kind of story I imagine Danielle Steel putting together to make some of her female readers teary-eyed. Not worth your time if you´re looking for recommendation.

Yo te quiero Don Jai!