July 2009 releases and Bollywood in mainstream America

We're half-way through the year, and around this time last year was when Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na took over, for which a shout out is in order. The multiplex strike is a distant memory, and there's a full slate of releases scheduled this month. As if it hasn't been official all along, Bollywood (it's in the name!) is in love with California, with two big releases at least partly based here. To top it off, I came across this at my local Best Buy store this weekend. I wonder if it's a pilot project for stores in and around Los Angeles, or a greater initiative of some sort.

Very interesting, and the prices are very reasonable too. Having said that, we know they need to do better with their selections when the only Aamir Khan film available is Mela (2000). Ouch. Partner (2007) is prominently featured. I thought it'd be a test case to prove Bollywood can do better with a Hollywood script (yes?), but Heyy Babyy (2007) put that opinion to shame. Not one Shah Rukh Khan film was available. Even *I* agree that's not a fair representation of our film industry :) Get with the program, Best Buy! How about putting Lagaan (2001) out there? Oh, well. Moving on...

Topping the July releases starring big names is Kambakkht Ishq on the third, with Akshay Kumar and Karena Kapoor in what promises to be yet another nonsensical comedy by Sajid Nadiadwala. At his peak, he's delivered with Salman Khan films such as Judwaa (1997) and Jaane-e-Mann (2005). At the other end of the scale is a film such as Heyy Babyy (2007), which I didn't like (but audiences apparently did, more than well). Akshay is a fine actor who is still often underrated, and the Hera Pheri series is probably my favorite comedy of the decade, but I wish he made better films. So, as you can tell, I'm somewhere in the middle when it comes to this particular film. But he's honest enough to tell the audience beforehand to check our brains at the door, and if I couldn't do that, I wouldn't be a true Bollywood fan, so... :)

On the plus side, very significant bits of this film are based in L.A., so it'll be nice to see nevertheless. The film will be selling a lot of the glitz and glamor of the city (of course!), but I wouldn't live in L.A. and Bombay if I were opposed to that :D On a personal note, the crew of the film were kind enough to have me on the sets so I could see first hand that the lovely Kareena Kapoor looks better in person than she does on camera (haaye Allah!).

Wish she too made better films, but at least she's working on it (read 3 Idiots!). The music (Anu Malik) is about okay; the title track is my favorite. The trailer to 'Bebo' feels as if it's Yeh Mera Dil from Don (2006) revisited. You can listen to the songs at this link. Official website: kambakkhtishq.erosentertainment.com

Next, there's the seldom mentioned Morning Walk, releasing the 10th. Starring Anupam Kher, Sharmila Tagore, Rajit Kapoor, Divya Dutta and others. Between its very interesting blend of music (Jeet Ganguli) and excellent cast, it's my sleeper pick of the month. Official website: MorningWalktheFilm.com

Luck, releasing the 24th, stars Sanjay Dutt, Mithun Chakroborty, Danny Dengzongpa, and Imran Khan. It's an action film shot in South Africa. Not too excited about all the violence that comes with bets, and guns (especially) not owned by law enforcement, which is the appearance the theatrical trailer suggests will dominate. Violence unaccompanied by purpose greater than wealth (e.g. in Ghajini (2008), and they had street fights, fewer guns there too) doesn't excite me enough to visit theaters. Haven't listened to its music (Salim-Sulaiman), and shall update this space if I like it.

Speaking of music, I must mention Jashnn, which releases the 17th. Its music by Toshi and Sharib Sabri delivers the solid soundtrack of the month, which I'd rate at three stars. Not sure what to expect of the Mukesh Bhatt film, though. The tagline reads: 'For every Nobody who wants to be a Somebody'. It's the tried and tested theme at issue. We'll see. Official website: Jashnn.com

And finally, there's Love Aaj Kal releasing the 31st. Saif Ali Khan's debut production is partly based in San Francisco, and as if the title wasn't enough to tell us what its segments are, the website is divided into sections for aaj (today) and kal (yesterday in this case; tomorrow when used with the appropriate tense). Based on this piece of information alone, we know where this film is going, don't we? Saif seems to like two dimensions. Aaj Kal. Hum Tum. What's next? Yeh Woh (This-That)? =)

Its music by Pritam Chakraborty is about average (and closer to that of Kismat Konnection (2008) than to that of Jab We Met (2007), i.e. for the worse). The one outstanding track is Yeh Dooriyaan by Mohit Chauhan, who, since his first big Bollywood hit in Rang De Basanti (Khoon Chala), has been unstoppable. To be fair to the music, I have yet to listen to the songs (especially Twist) in a club, so maybe I'll favor it more when at the right time and in the right place. It's a film written by Imtiaz Ali, whose last product, Jab We Met (2007), we know we like. And it stars Saif opposite Deepika Padukone. I wasn't convinced at first, but there's this *hilarious* bit in this theatrical trailer (exactly 45 seconds in) that I think our films took too long to borrow from reality ;)

So, for a packaging job well done, part of me is looking forward to it! If they use the music from Yeh Dooriyaan for their theme and through the score, which I think they will, the elements are in place for a biggie. I also have a feeling the ladies will like the film a lot more, but I'll shut up for fear of inviting trouble :) Official website: loveaajkal-illuminatifilms.erosentertainment.com; listen to the songs at this link.

Quick question: Am I the only who thinks this had might as well be Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika in Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008)?

Here's the complete listing of July releases (source: IndiaFM.com):

July 3
Kambakkht Ishq

July 10
Dekh Bhai Dekh
Mohan Das - A Man Lost In His Own Nation
Morning Walk
Sankat City
Short Kut - The Con Is On

July 17
Bachelor Party
Perfect Mismatch

July 24

July 31
Ek Second...Jo Zindagi Badal De?
Fast Forward
Love Aaj Kal


Bhargav Saikia said...

Good observation..Saif resembles Ranbir in that picture!

Not expecting much from Kambakkth Ishq but I atleast hope that it'll entertain us thoroughly, even if it doesn't have a fabulous story to tell. Lets see. I wish Shankar Ehsaan Loy had scored the music for KI.

Morning Walk looks interesting. Two of my favourite actresses are in it (Sharmila Tagore and Divya Dutta), so I'm definitely looking forward to it.

And of course, there's Love Aaj Kal. I'm desperately waiting to watch an out-and-out romance..hopefully LAK will deliver! Fingers crossed.

Just started listening to the songs of Jashnn; really very well done. I used to watch Toshi in Star Voice of India..he has come a long way!

Darshit said...

OMG !! What a collection!! Do they need any adviser :P

OMG Again. You met Bebo? That pic u've taken? Tell me more more more. I loved Nadiadwala's JaaneEMann. So looking fwd to this.

I don't know why, but Imran is not taking any advise from Mamujaan, does he? Why he's choosing such movies? I can predict from first promo that Luck is gonna fail instantly. :( And Jashnn - as you know I loved its music and looking fwd.

But the most awaited is of course LoveAAjKal. Only worry is Deepika. But I think its all about Saif. And he will satisfy. And the great theme of Yeh Dooriyaan, it must have been used throughout the movie and would surely bring tears :P

And No, you are not alone to get confused with Ranbir. I saw this amongst first look pics, and instantly commented on Imtiaz Ali's FB status, that it does look like B.A.H.

[Yes, Imtiaz is active on FB, HERE

shell said...

I saw that AajKal wallpaper before and never thought anything, but now I can totally see the Ranbir reference. There are so many movies i want to see, but I'm starting to think they will never come my way. Stupid theatre! I may have to live vicariously through everyone else.

bollyviewer said...

Just checked BestBuy's Canadian site - no Bollywod DVDs there! :-( You're so lucky to not even have to trek all the way to the Indian store for them.

I cant wait for Love Aajkal - hopefully it wont turn into the dud that Tara Rum Pum was. And I totally thought that was Ranbir in the pic till I read your comment!

Morning Walk has the potential to be a family tear-jerker, a boring film or a very good one. With such an awesome cast (Sharmila and Rajit Kapoor in the same film, with Divya Dutta, too!) I am hoping for the last.

Re: Kareena's good films, you should check out Govind Nihalani's Dev - its a very interesting movie and she did a great job there.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a big fan of Kareena (I admit that she didn't annoy me as much in Jab We Met or Omkara, but I still can't really like her), so not expecting much of Kambakkth Ishq. Even if she wasn't in it, the story does not appeal to me at all.

Don't have much to say on the other releases, but I am very much looking forwards to Love Aaj Kal. Saif is amazing in things like Omkara, but I still love him the most in romantic comedies. And this plot seems good from what we know so far, and settled nicely along the lines of films I enjoy. :)

Nice post! I actually have an Indian grocery about two miles from my house that sells a truckload of Bollywood movies, but a lot of them are really cheap copies that are out of sync, bad quality, or no subtitles. :(

Filmi Girl said...

Great run-down!

You know I'm going to see all of the big releases but I'm most excited about Kambakkht Ishq - the Kareena/Akshay pairing is one of my favorites. :)

As far as Love Aaj Kal goes, I'm going in with very low expectations from Deepika, so I might be pleasently surprised. ;D

theBollywoodFan said...

Bhargav: The entertainment quotient will have to do it for Kambakkht Ishq. With you on Sharmila Tagore and Divya Dutta in Morning Walk. And I too hope LAK does well. I was telling someone about sincerely wanting to like the movies I see...so fingers crossed for a good month for films. I think the music to Jashnn sounds even better in the car and at night. That's the right ambiance for it!

Darshit: It seems they could certainly use some advice. And yes, it was fun to meet Bebo, but these guys have my commitment to not share any pictures, so my apologies for that :( I think it's good for Imran to not take too much advice from Mamujaan just yet. He'll realize what he's working with when he's away from the AKP banner =) Not sure what to think of Deepika by now. She had everyone rooting for her with Om Shanti Om, but her other works have been duds as far as I'm concerned. And thanks for Imtiaz Ali's Facebook link!

Shell: Hang in there! I can certainly relate. There was a time in my life when the nearest Indian DVD place (read grocery store) was an hour away, and the nearest theater about three hours away. Needless to say, I didn't make those trips often enough, and keeping up with movies was very difficult. On the bright side today, at least there are online media outlets that legally stream Indian movies! (Some, with subtitles.)

theBollywoodFan said...

Bollyviewer: Hate to sound picky, but I didn't like the Best BUy Bollywood selection at at all. Luckily, there's this Indian video store within a 30 minute drive of where I live, and I almost end up there every other week. Is this a good moment to try to sell California to you? :P

I have seen Dev, and I agree on Kareena doing an excellent job in it. I miss the Kareena of old. Since Jab We Met, she's only done the likes of Tashan, Golmaal Returns, and now Kambakkht Ishq. Can't wait to see her in Main Aur Mrs. Khanna and 3 Idiots with Salman and Aamir respectively. Should be interesting.

rhilex: Thank you for your visit and comment, and welcome to the blog! As I was telling Bollyviewer above, it is after films like Omkara and Jab We Met that Kareena's kind of drifted into (exclusively, it seems) glam doll mode, which had me worried for a bit there. I think you're right about Saif and the kinds of film that work best for him.

Those copies of movies are always annoying, aren't they? One would hope viewers wouldn't compromise when it comes to quality, but there are obviously enough out there buying them for the supply to not end. Such a shame...

Filmi Girl! Of course, Kareena and Akshay! No matter what, it seems the film is best consumed on the big screen. If my local theater plays it, I'm there. Good strategy with Love Aaj Kal, probably should employ it :)


ajnabi said...

We don't have a Bollywood section in our Best Buy; I know cuz I was just in there a couple weeks ago. But, man, "new releases?" Do they have a time machine or something? Some of those were new a looooong time ago!

I really want to see Kambakkht Ishq. I know it's not highbrow but, well, that's fine with me. *blush*

theBollywoodFan said...

Ajnabi: Nice to have you back, and 'ajnabi' no more! Look at you knowing the chronology of the films! :) You're right, some of those were a very long time ago, LOL.

The thing I like about Kambakkht Ishq is that Akshay Kumar encourages prospective viewers to check their brains at the door. Pretty powerful statement in admission of the kinds of movies he's said he likes to work on, which only adds more credibility to it all, I suppose. I just hope it's not another Golmaal Returns. Pretty low benchmark, as you can tell, which means I'll probably like it! =)

Anonymous said...

Adab and thanks for the update nawab. I'll check my local Best Buy to see what Bollywood titles they are peddling. Perhaps I should go to their Mall of America store, since I am close by and they may have the mose amped up selection.
All the best!

Pitu said...

ROFL at 'Yeh Woh' :-D 'Morning walk' looks interesting and I will prolly catch 'Love Aaj Kal' at the theater if only because I have faith in Imtiaz. But I do think the Saif-Deep jodi is awful :( Other than that, meh, dry run at the box office :(

theBollywoodFan said...

Adab Sita-ji: Isn't that mall you're referring to where they have those Lego play areas? If it is, even if Best Buy doesn't have the DVDs, I guess there's something to take away from the visit! (At least for someone like me, LOL.) I'd be curious to know if they have something.

Pitu: It's been a rather quiet first half to 2009. Wouldn't be surprised if the dry run continues, as you say. Seems Kambakkht Ishq is set for a decent start. And I wonder when Deepika was signed for Love Aaj Kal. The thing with it is, it seems there have been other efforts to replicate the Jab We Met effect, and with music by Pritam (e.g. last year it was Kismat Konnection). At least this is Imtiaz again, which should make it interesting. Still, nothing I can say I'm absolutely excited about.

Just an unrelated (to LAK) thought...I'd rather just have a sequel to Jab We Met, focusing on the complexities of relationships and adding the necessary fluff. But wait, there's likely Abbas Tyrewala of Jaane Tu for that, so we might be covered after all :)

Aline Khan said...

Hello Bollywoodfan!

First of all, I agree, what type of portrayal of Indian cinema is this shop giving when there is only one AK film, no SRK films but there is Chandni Chowk to China? :-) Lol.

I also wanted to comment that unfortunately "haaye Allah" does not rhyme with Kapoor. :-(

And last but not least, your title for Mr. Ali Khan's next production really made me smile: "Yeh Woh".

Yes I know, I am feeling a bit cynical today, but I sear I would not even harm a fly...

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Aline! That's hilarious but true! There can only ever be one rightful claimant to 'Haaye Allah'. :) Let's hope the collection at the store(s) gets better. It's particularly important because I assume the majority of those checking them out will not be very familiar at all with Indian movies. Oh, well. And I know you well enough to know that even at your worst, you would never harm even a fly ;)

Saadia said...

I was at a cineplex in London to see Kambakht Ishq recently.

i) My husband and I walked out of the movie hall while it was playing because we found it too raunchy, distasteful and vulgar.

ii) I too saw that poster for Love Aaj Kal and thought it was Ranbir. When I came across it the second time, after watching the trailor, I realised this was Saif.

iii) Which reminds me. After watching a play at London's West End Donmar, I ran into Sharmila Tagore. The lady i've adored for so long. She was totally rude. Big put off!

theBollywoodFan said...

Saadia! Good to have you back! :) Thanks for sharing the info.

i) Not at all surprised at your take on Kambakkht Ishq. Most of my friends who've seen it thought the same way. I'm waiting for the DVD, and that only because of L.A.; har cheez ki had hoti hai, na? Good thing I had some practice with Singh Is Kinng, which, when I was seeing on DVD, I knew I would have walked out of were it in a theater. Speaking of Kambakkht Ishq, there's this interesting post by Pitu.

ii) Love Aaj Kal is going to be interesting, and I really can't say I'm all excited about it. Hope I'm wrong, but I hardly trust Saif and Deepika with quality.

iii) Ref: Sharmila T; Woah! That's interesting (and I want to say not very surprising, sadly), but if she was with the Nawab, please don't tell me! (Most South Asian cricketers I have met in very informal settings, were great and very down to earth. Oh, well.)

Saadia said...

Thank you for welcoming me back. Yes, I've missed this.

Trust me, Singh is Kinng was a beauty compared to KI. At least it had a fun soundtrack!

Mrs. Tagore was with a lady-friend. We were actually there to see Jude Law as Hamlet, in theatre. Why do you say, though, that you're not surprised?

theBollywoodFan said...

Singh is Kinng a 'beauty'?! That kinda sums it up. :) And yes, it did have a fun soundtrack, and several parts of it were funny. Sounds like you had fun in London! (Never mind the 'not surprised' comment. :)

Achcha, yeh bataaein, have you seen Garam Hawa?

Saadia said...

Haha. NO. Not going to let you escape so easily! Why?? ;-)

And nope, haven't seen Garam Hawa? Will be looking into the suggested link. Thanks!

maxqnz said...

"Trust me, Singh is Kinng was a beauty compared to KI." - SACC? KI is THAT bad? The idea of a film worse than Singh is Krapp gives me nightmares. Thanks for the warning!

Saadia said...

Haha. Glad to be of service.