Hope you all had a great 2010, and best wishes your way for an even better 2011! Happy new year!!! For opinion on Bollywood’s hits and misses in 2010, visit Dunkdaft (here) and Apni East India Company (here and here). I blogged far less last year than I would’ve liked. Life takes over sometimes, and it appears positioned to stay that way. So mini-reviews are the theme in 2011. I hope you all are on board for those, beginning with this post. (As always, feedback on everything from the content to the format is encouraged.) Enjoy!
MAINE PYAR KIYA (1989)
Responsible for getting me out of the Bollywood movie-watching funk I fell into for a couple months was none other than the classic that only continues to 'handsomely' stand the test of time. Saw this on the phone via Rajshri’s official YouTube channel at this link, and split viewing sessions across a courthouse and an airport. Lesson learned (again!): Screen size doesn’t matter much when content is absorbing. And few could make it as absorbing as Bhagyashree and Salman Khan (budding style icon at the time) do in this film.
Q: For those of you who like the movie – and I’m guessing there are many of you out there who do – which are your favorite scenes/moments/songs?
Sure, “I love you” playing in the background score in what seems to be an infinite loop sounds corny in the twenty-first century. And sure, the songs aren’t all original. (That’s one major complaint with the film.) Yet, there’s a lot about this movie that makes one admire it, its cast, the industry it stems from, and perhaps even the mere notion of love. Salman’s big film is tough to beat. Truth is, I’ve always liked it more than the coming out parties of the other big Khans Aamir and Shah Rukh, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge (1994). (Sorry Juhi Chawla, who just joined Twitter at this link, by the way.)
If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for? Stop whatever it is you’re doing right now (but do come back to comment ;) and go see it for free at the producer’s official YouTube channel, with subtitles. It’s an all-time Bollywood biggie for good reason.
Movie rating: 5/5 (Of course! Really like the maturation of the couple's love over time -- no shortcuts, always respectable. Way to go!)
Music rating: 4/5 -- At least two major instances of plagiarism mar a fun and iconic soundtrack. My favorites are both versions of Dil Deewaana, especially the second. The antakshari song made the game more mainstream than anything else. And my girlfriend while in second grade can vouch for my being pretty good at Salman’s sax theme (46 seconds into this YouTube clip) on the harmonica!
My classification: PG (Gun use is inevitable, however.)
Also see: The MPK page at Hmong Chick's Hindi cinema blog
And finally: How 'bout this for a favorite tweet?! :D
PEEPLI LIVE (2010)
An Aamir Khan Productions film first screened at Sundance Film Festival -- visit this guest post for a detailed review from Sundance -- this came available on DVD and Netflix (streaming included, at least in the U.S.) recently.
There’s much to like about it: Nice script; Beautiful cinematography and art direction; Brilliant performances by some top-notch acting talent (give me performances by Lagaan (2001) and Meenaxi (2001) alumnus Raghuvir Yadav and Naseeruddin Shah -- if only a cameo -- any day; but really everyone in this is great); and most of all, accurate metaphors for a lot that is wrong with bureaucracy that plagues nations, specifically in India, of course.
Commentary on everything from bad husbands and mothers-in-law to dastardly politicians, agriculturalist societies, industrialism, capitalism, consumerism, hawkish journalism, bounty hunting, and apathy, is of the quintessence. I tend to think of it as almost a mockumentary on the Indian media circus, using the unfortunate and heartbreaking farmer suicide issue as the backdrop. I didn’t laugh much through this ‘dark comedy’. It even has a peculiar climax, which I hope wasn’t intended to make us laugh with dramatization and loudness best-exhibited by any standard Akshay Kumar movie. The fit of such an effort, its outcome, and the many directions this film stretches out into (which, it can be argued, is inherent in any depiction of a circus), are my only complaints.
Movie rating: 4/5 – Although it’s clearly not in the same league, the inspirational elements to it might well be the likes of Naya Daur (1954), Mother India (1957), Lagaan (2001), and Swades (2004). For the mere mention alongside these other films, I think this is well worth a watch.
Music rating: 3 without the integration, 4 with (and with is what counts!).
My classification: R (for language, some plot devices)
KARTHIK CALLING KARTHIK (2010)
This psych thriller starring Farhan Akhtar and Deepika Padukone would be among any top-five for any 2010 list I’d create. A decent script, an overall yuppie feel to go with a yuppie-themed plot, splendid dialogue, and a soundtrack that gives me my favorite pure pop Bollywood hit of the year (that’d be “Hey Ya” – sample it at this YouTube link).
I am often intentionally guilty of trying hard not to predict outcomes (films are more fun that way, I think), and didn't have any issues being manipulated by Karthik Calling Karthik. From a corporate professional's standpoint, one can see how the introvertedness is in line with Karthik’s compositional makeup – brilliant but shy, with lots of potential but a hidden fear to exploit it. I am not qualified to comment on the psychological professional (Shefali Shah, reliable as always), but one would hope she'd have figured things out much earlier.
On a positive note, if you’ve been following me on Twitter, you know about my "Deepikappreciation" tendencies. Ms. Padukone in this only cements her place among my top three (active) favorites. Sweet.
Movie rating: 3.75/5 - It's far from perfect, but has a fun first half and a more than watchable second for Farhan's performance.
Music rating: 3.75/5 (Very good, “Hey Ya”, "Uff Teri Ada", and its theme are hand-in-glove fits throughout, as is the background score)
My classification: PG-13 (Psych thrillers and attempted violence, some language)
BREAK KE BAAD (2010)
Imran Khan and Deepika Padukone (again!) star in an average romantic drama which lives up to the not-so-high expectations it sets from the very beginning of its supply chain. The music (Vishal-Shekhar) is pleasant. The performances (look out for Sharmila Tagore and Shahana Goswami) are sincere. The cinematography and humor work for the most part. Yet, it’s obvious something is missing, and it’s pretty easy to narrow down the culprit to the script. Not surprising in retrospect, since Break Ke Baad was produced by Kunal Kohli, who was involved in writing Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (2008), Fanaa (2006), Hum Tum (2004), and Mujhse Dosti Karoge! (2002)
It’s a decent ‘timepass picture’, and therein lies its value. Of course, if you’re a fan of either lead, you’d want to see it, although I’m afraid the trajectory of the early years of Imran’s career is starting to resemble his uncle Aamir’s, which might not be the best thing. Time to break out of the loverboy routine, dude!
A special shout-out to the unofficial L.A. Bollywood Twitter User Club members who showed up at our viewing event. Next up: Dhobi Ghat releasing January 21, starring Aamir Khan and Prateik Babbar. (Official website: DhobiGhatFilm.com)
Movie rating: 3/5 -- An average, timepass flick.
Music rating: 3.5/5 (Good!)
For Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics, Dhoop Ke Makaan and Ajab Leher are the pick of the lot.
My classification: PG-13 (for theme, language, and sexual situations involving a guy named Cyrus)
Official website: BKBtheFilm.com