Two biggies for Diwali releases coming our way October 16. (And a very HAPPY DIWALI to all; please refer to my Diwali post from last year.) Previewed Blue here, and the other, Main Aur Mrs. Khanna (Me and Mrs. Khanna), is by all means intriguing as well. Starring Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, and Sohail Khan, it's a simple love story based purely on the emotional quotient. Its plot and screenplay will make or break it. For what they're selling -- see the official website for more (its Wikipedia entry is a sheer misrepresentation) -- I think they've got the cast right.
Salman and Kareena were rather good together in Kyon Ki (2005), and there's reason to believe this can work, especially with doses of comedy, Kareena, and an underrated Sohail...*if* debut director Prem Soni gets it right. The soundtrack (Sajid-Wajid; listen at this IndiaFM link) is quite average, with the standouts being 'Don't Say Alvida' by Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghoshal, and 'Rabba' (Rahat Fateh Ali Khan). Am I the only one who is reminded of Every Breath You Take (The Police) when listening to 'Pyaar Ka Vaada'? Several trailers at the UTV Motion Pictures YouTube channel.
The Salman Khan film I'm really excited about, and more than enough so to see in theaters, is a friendship saga, London Dreams (October 30). The storyline is appealing, the characters (played by Salman, Asin, Ajay Devgan, Om Puri etc.) invoke tremendous curiosity, the music (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy; listen at this IndiaFM link) makes my top three soundtracks of the year, and they've filmed in my favorite city in Europe (Paris)! Its trailers promise a beautiful balance between style and substance. Comparisons to Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and Rock On (2008) will abound, but it appears this is going to be very different.
A few notes on the lyrics by Prasoon Joshi, which are the best of any soundtrack this year. It's fair to say Joshi has officially cemented himself as being in the same league as Gulzar and Javed Akhtar (just saying he's broken the top tier). He's used a style of Persian poetry to weave his magic with words in a couple songs here (in 'Khanabadosh' and 'Jashn Hai Jeet Ka', for example) -- called 'rubaayee' -- which is a level only the very best reach. 'Mann Ko Ati Bhavey' is *perfect* for Salman. 'Khwaab Jo' should be popular in the awards circuit next year, and 'Tapkey Masti' and 'Yaari Bina' are simply marvelous dance tracks. Urban and rustic, beautifully-worded, and one that makes us hope it's translated competently on screen, four stars to this remarkable soundtrack, and many compliments to Joshi and S-E-L for their fine work.
Also on the thirtieth of October is Bollywood's take on the one and only Aladdin, aptly titled 'Aladin'. Generations upon generations (quite literally, we're talking since early eighteenth century!) have grown up reading or listening to Aladdin's tales. But this isn't that Aladdin. It's Aladin Chatterjee (Riteish Deshmukh) and Genius the Genie (Amitabh Bachchan) versus the Ringmaster (Sanjay Dutt), with Jasmine played by newcomer Jacqueline Fernandes. The music (Vishal-Shekhar) is disappointing, but I like Bachchan's casting as the genie; he was great in Bhoothnath (2008). Also like the effort to make Aladin more culturally relevant to India, but not sure of the direction. Regardless, I'll check it out for Amitabh and Sanjay. (Official website: Aladin.ErosEntertainment.com.)
Having said that, I must note that an obvious bias plays into my view -- Disney's Aladdin (1992) happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time. (Who remembers that fantastic platform game on the Sega Mega Drive (aka Genesis in the U.S.) back in the day?) And here are Jasmine and (well...) I =)
Aside: So I was at Goofy's Kitchen at Disneyland (Anaheim) last weekend, that's where the picture's from. Parents -- for kids three to ten years old, this is an incredibly exciting place. For those like me at a child's birthday event, the food absolutely makes up for a lot. (Mickey Waffles, anyone?) If you're ever in Southern California with family, I'd highly, highly recommend you dine there.
Moving on to November, and the sixth sees Katrina Kaif -- check that: KATRINA KAIF! -- opposite Ranbir Kapoor in Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani (A Fantastic Tale of Unconventional Love). Ranbir's performance in his [early] October film Wake Up Sid might have only received very positive feedback, and I'm looking forward to its DVD, but we knew since seeing him in Saawariya (2007) that he can act. Here, it's a Rajkumar Santoshi-directed comedy in which he plays yours truly (that's right; read hopeless Katrina admirer :) The soundtrack gets a around three stars for being pleasant -- Aatif Aslam fans, check out his two songs, one with Alisha Chinai. Plenty at the film's official (and rather fun) website: AjabPremKiGhazabKahani.tips.in.
Tum Mile starring Emraan Hashmi and Soha Ali Khan is, per its posters, "a love story that goes beyond romance...", centered around the 26 July 2005 floods in Bombay. Everyone from Bombay knows at least one person who was somehow impacted from the crises of the flood, so there's an obvious interest in the theme. Then, we have two good actors in Emraan and Soha, who have quite a bit to work with here. The music (Pritam) is Emraan standard (i.e. good, here's Darshit's review; listen at this IndiaFM link), with the rock version of the title track being my favorite. (By now, hopefully every mention of Pritam triggers a disclaimer of his inability to not plagiarize. So please remember, there's an excellent chance some tunes to songs in Tum Mile are not original.) Official website: TumMile.in.
And finally, there's Kurbaan, releasing November 27 (that's Thanksgiving Weekend in the U.S.), produced in part by Karan Johar. Starring Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor in a film that carries, from the theatrical trailer, a theme reminiscent of the Pakistani film Khuda Ke Liye (2007). As an Indian American Muslim who has lived in Pakistan, I can vouch for the accuracy and authenticity of Khuda Ke Liye. So, if you plan to see Kurbaan, or if you've seen New York (2009) or plan to see My Name is Khan (2010) -- whew -- please consider Khuda Ke Liye (it was a box office success in India as well) to be mandatory viewing.
The soundtrack to Kurbaan (Salim-Sulaiman) leaves some to be desired, I'd expected much more. (To be fair, I've only listened to it a couple times.) 'Ali Maula' is the most authentic of the lot. Then again, I might be more of a purist for the genre, so probably not a good critic of its appeal to the masses (but people, that Arabic bit in Shukran Allah could've seriously been better researched and pronounced!). Official website: Kurbaan.com
Release Dates (source: IndiaFM)
Oct 16: All The Best, Blue, Main Aurr Mrs Khanna
Oct 23: Bal Ganesh 2, Shaabash! You Can Do It
Oct 30: Aladin, London Dreams, Love Ka Tadka
Nov 6: Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, Jail
Nov 13: Dulha Mil Gaya, Tum Mile
Nov 20: Pyaar Impossible, Right Yaaa Wrong
Nov 27: De Dana Dan, Kurbaan