Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Weekly Bollywood Song - Yahoo, Chahe Koi Mujhe

Yahoo, Chahe Koi Mujhe from Junglee

Junglee is an amazing classic, a gem of the 60s, and such a light-hearted and romantic musical. It is mostly famous thanks to the "Yahoo song". And no wonder, this song is joy, wildness and the aura of Love itself, and all that in the same time. In the end, you will find yourself "Yaaaaaahooo"-ing too. Gosh, I loveeee old Bollywood!! 


Mr. & Mrs. '55

Directed by Guru Dutt 
Starring: Madhubala, Guru Dutt, Johnny Walker, Lalita Pawar
Released: 1955
My Rating: 7/10

I love old Bollywood. I love it. And Madhubala is among my absolute favourites, hence her movies are always on my to-watch list. She is one of the finest actresses ever, and she used to give great performances even when much was not given to her and even when the movies were not that worthy of her talent. Madhubala... the name of Love, Talent, Beauty and Passion... Ahemm... I should stop showing my obsessed love with her... Anyway - I knew I also had to watch it because it is a Guru Dutt movie in the first place, and he is considered as one of the finest directors of all times, so I needed to start somewhere. The story of Mr. and Mrs. '55 is very social, and that is what makes it interesting the most.

Anita (Madhubala) is a young and carefree heiress under the care and control of her aunt Sita Devi (Lalita Pawar), a fierce feminist whose latest success is the passing of the Divorce Act Law in India. She is very suspicious of men and would prefer her niece to be unmarried and free, instead of being submissive to a man. Nevertheless, as Anita turns twenty-one, they learn that to get her whole inheritance from her father, she has to marry within a month. Furious, Sita Devi however comes up with an idea: she tries to set Anita up with a sham marriage, a "marriage of convenience" which will lead to a divorce, to an unemployed cartoonist Preetam (Guru Dutt). However, Sita Devi does not know the pair has already met, at a tennis-match and that it was love at first-sight for the former. When they are married, Anita's aunt forbids Preetam to try to see her ever again, nevertheless fate has other plans in store...

Guru Dutt is quite a milestone in the history of Indian cinema, and also quite original. Mr. and Mrs. '55 is a very sober movie, and as an actor, his work is as much subtle and delicate. He has great dialogue-delivery as Preetam, he never over-acts, and seems to be self-conscious of his performance. In the end, he gives Preetam a very elegant picture, despite being an almost-homeless unemployed artist. The supporting cast is also excellent, Johnny Walker proves he was, in a single movie, one of the best "side-kicks" ever in Hindi cinema, if not the best. (you said Johnny Lever? Come on!) But the one to deserve an absolute mention is Madhubala. She had perfect comic-timing, and some of her scenes are unforgettable. And she is a sunshine in a movie somehow filled with "lovely" melancholy. I have to say the movie possesses incredibly timeless pinch of humour, humour which is never over the top but discreet, clever and always there; that is, I believe, thanks to the dialogues, the script is amazingly well-written and some will remain in your mind.

Technically, the movie reminds one of old Hollywood-movies, the cinematography is very professional and flawless (unlike many Indian movies of the times), from the editing to the cinematography, everything is well-thought and well-made. The soundtrack is also, if I had to choose one word only, beautiful. Every song is beautiful and their picturisation is too, for example, "Jaane Kahaan Mera Jigar Gaya Ji" is lovely and heart-warming when Johnny Walker and his love-interest dance during the lunch-break at work, on the sly and like little children. There is some sincerity and soul into this that you have to love it. 

However, what puts the movie down is its uncomfortable message. Uncomfortable in the sense that one wonders if they should like this movie or not. Mr. and Mrs. '55 denounces, obviously, the westernisation of Indian society, using the example of the Divorce Act but also of the feminist movements. And that is there it does not work. The character of Sita Devi, played by Lalita Pawar, is an anti-male and fierce feminist, the character is a very "vulgar" caricature, extremist in her views, the movie only shows the excesses of such movements, which also had good sides. Traditionnal Indian marriage is promoted, as being the good, when there are also bad sides to it. I think that one scene which is unforgettable is the one when Anita asks her sister-in-law if her husband beats her sometimes, and the answer is pretty much "well... but he loves me". I am sorry, but it does not excuse it; Guru Dutt's message is rather biased and too manichean to agree with it. (if we forget we do not live in the same times). The movie would have gained more having a more fair and unbiased view on the matter. 

The meanie aunt and her faithful servant... Booh! And she's a feminist. That's even worse!

Aaaw but they were sweet together. So... forgiven!
In the end, Mr. and Mrs. '55 is a very nice piece of comedy, very well-made and told, technically flawless for this time. It however looses some points on the rather debatable message. It still remains a must-watch, for any comedy/Bollywood/Madhubala/Guru Dutt fan, and it would be pity to miss it. Because any Bollywood fans need to discover Guru Dutt.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Mini-reviews: It's CRICKET time!

Just last week, India won Cricket World Cup. While euphory wins India, it reminded me of two Bollywood movies about cricket, and I think this is the best occasion to review them on my blog.

Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker
Starring: Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley, Paul Blackthorne
Released: 2001
My Rating: 7/10

Lagaan is the story of a whole village, this is the story of cricket, and in some way this is the story of India. I think the one mistake you can make before watching this movie is to believe it is a historical movie. Wrong. It is a sports movie first. And one should go with this expectation only otherwise Lagaan reveals itself very surprising, and not in a positive way. Its main flaws are the length and the fact that the story is only about cricket. If you love cricket and the unbearable suspense a match gives, then you will love Lagaan. But despite those "details", Lagaan is a really well-made film, the visuals are superb. The soundtrack (AR. Rahman - take a bow) is so beautiful, you will always remember "Chale Chalo" and fall in love "Radha Kaise Na Jale" with the lovely and graceful Gracy Singh dancing as the picturisation. I have to mention her, she has a charm which reminds of those old-school actresses. Pity we don't see her anymore, because she had potential. Aamir is, as always, good and shows his perfectionism once again, though I wouldn't call his performance amazing. To sum up, at a first watch, Lagaan is an excellent sports movie, with amazing soundtrack and great performances; but it is also a big cricket match, and we never go back watching a cricket match twice... 

Dil Bole Hadippa 
Directed by Anurag Singh 
Starring: Rani Mukherjee, Shahid Kapoor, Anupam Kher 
Released: 2009
My rating: 8/10

Veera (Rani Mukherjee) is a young village girl with big dreams. She is passionated about cricket and wants to make it as a professional. When her village's cricket team, now captained by Rohan (Shahid Kapoor), looks for a new player and that she tries her luck, she painfully learns that her only mistake is to be a woman... She then decides to pretend to be a man to pursue her dream. If you want to watch a typical, fun entertaining and Punjabi-ish movie, then Dil Bole Hadippa is perfect for you. It is not original, but its strength lies in the female-oriented story and in Rani Mukherjee's performance; those two facts are enough for it to be a really good and enjoyable movie. The soundtrack is catchy and effective ("Ishq Hi Hai Rab" being the best and a very lovely song), the visuals are sheer delight (this is Punjab for God's sake. :) ), lively and colourful. Shahid as the male lead is good (and the chemistry he shares with Rani is very nice) but he is totally over-shadowed by the incredible Rani. Dil Bole Hadippa is her movie throughout. She carries it on her shoulders alone, effortlessly, and with the charisma which is her trademark (and with a pinch of flawless comic timing). She proves once again she is one of the finest actresses ever, and only for her, Dil Bole Hadippa should have been a hit.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Weekly Bollywood Song - Thare Rahiyo

Thare Rahiyo from Pakeezah 

There are moving stories. There are moving movies. There are moving actresses. There are moving songs. Pakeezah is a moving movie telling a movie story starring a movie actress (Meena Kumari, I love you.) , and "Thare Rahiyo" is a moving song. I think this is a milestone in Lata Mangeshkar's career. Nothing can beat her old songs, her voice is sheer magic and out of this world in this song. I also have to talk about the picturization, especially Meena Kumari. The Tragedy Queen.  Her beauty is breath-taking here, her complexion is fair and glowing, her eyes deep and expressive, she looks like an angel. All this to say: 


My Bollywood-ish Cinematic Alphabet

I have come across a new fashion on Lime(tte)'s blog (very interesting blog btw. I advise you to take more than a look on it), which is to make a cinematic alphabet. And as I have no imagination and that I love such ideas. I thought of making mine as well, only aur sirf made in Bollywood.

A for Awaara 

B for Black

C for Chaalbaaz

D for Devdas 

E for Swades
Hehehe... I am such a cheater...
  F for  Fashion

G for Guide

H for Hum Aapke Hain Koun
I want this sari. I want this sari. I SO WANT THIS SARI.
I for 3 Idiots

J for  Jewel Thief

K for Kuch Kuch Hota Hai 
Cheesy, OTT movie... But still I LOVE you Kjo for this!
 L for Lajja

M for Mughal-E-Azam

N for Nagina

O for Om Shanti Om

P for Pakeezah
Q for Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak

R for Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
S for Saawariya 

T for Taare Zameen Par

U for Umrao Jaan (1981)

V for Veer-Zaara

W for Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
I had to cheat for this one... I wanted to put this movie somewhere muhahaha

X for... well I found nothing to cheat with for this one.

Y for Yes Boss

Z for... No I will stop cheating...

I have the feeling of having forgotten some movies, so it might be I edit this later, but well... here it is! Thank you for reading! And do not hesitate to do your own alphabet too. I would see it with pleasure!

Don - The Chase Begins Again

Directed by Farhan Akhtar
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal, Boman Irani
Released: 2006
My Rating: 7,5/10

Here to read my review about the original Don

It is never unsual in Bollywood to remake movies, whether they are from other parts of India like the South or from other countries like the USA. But it is rare to see a remake of a Hindi movie in Bollywood, especially when it is a classic like Don. Not only because some people might think that nothing can be better than the original Don, but also because expectations are very high, not only in matters of storytelling and also performances. Does the new Don meet those expectations?

I have to say in the beginning, my first impression was that they only re-made the movie to give it a modern (and globalized) look, the look of our times; but more the story went on, and more I was surprised...

If you have watched the old Don, the story is (almost) the same. Don (Shahrukh Khan) is the King of the underworld and police is trying its best to catch him. The story now happens in Malaysia (no Bombay sight for this Don), and deals now with drug trade (I said it was modern). Police officer D'Silva (Boman Irani) believes the best way to break this drug gang is to catch Don, who is the lieutenant of the drug lord Singhania. During a chase with the police, Don is seriously injured and captured by D'Silva. The latter keeps it a secret (even from his fellow police officers) and finds a look-alike whose name is Vijay (also played by Shahrukh Khan). He wants him to infiltrate Don's gang, and in return he will make sure the child Vijay adopted, Deepu, gets an education in a great school. There starts the game of mirrors and subterfuge...

Stylish, breath-taking, EXCITING are the words to describe the new Don. Seriously, I could praise Farhan Akhtar over and over after watching this movie (it was already the case after I watched his Dil Chahta Hai but for another reason). I had really low expectations before watching it, because 1. it is a remake and 2. remakes are most of the time very less good than the original. Don is the exception to the rule. Scriptwise, it is even better than the old Don with surprising and unexpected plot twists... I am not going to reveal anything here, and if you have not watched it, then I could only advise you to run and find it.

Don is also, as written above, very stylish, full of visual details. You better not blink once, or else you will miss something! Everything can be a hint, every gesture or words of the characters can reveal its importance in the end. I think that if you have watched the old Don, then you are more easily fooled by the story. I was under the impression of only watching a remake. But the new Don is not remake, it is an original movie on its own.

Before revealing my thoughts about the performances, I wanted to mention the soundtrack. I admit, I was not in love with how they remade the songs of the original soundtrack at first. Techno is not really my thing, and I thought there was too much of it but after listening to "Main Hoon Don" and "Khaike Paan Banareswala" several times, I started really liking it. They are really catchy. In the end, the soundtrack is really effective, and it worked!

Now I want even more to eat Paan from Benares...

Another thing I looked forward to was the performances. And nothing disappointed me. Priyanka Chopra is very good as the fierce and strong Roma, Boman Irani gives us a refreshing change from his usual comic roles and the sober acting as D'Silva he gave is flawless. But the words which had been being on my mind for a long time after watching this movie were: I love SRK. I love him. I love him. Really, I love him. He is for me the best actor ever, and after watching Don, I felt really proud of being his fan. No other actor could have done this. Equalling the legend Amit-ji in one of the latter's most cherished roles. He was as good as Amitabh, he was even as much different. He made Don his own. As much as the original and the remake are different, Amitbabh's Don and Shahrukh Khan's Don are totally different. He was amazing.

Gosh... He is HAWT!

In the end, Don proves he is the Master of the Subterfuge as he fools not only the characters in the story but also the viewers until the very end.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The Weekly Bollywood Song - Dil De Diya

Dil De Diya from Ram Avtar

I love Sridevi. She is definitely one of the greatest actresses to have ever hit the Indian silver screen, she was a complete package. And hearing the news of her considered comeback, then it always gives me the envy of re-watching some of her dances. She is also a great dancer, actually she is my second all-time favourite dancer in Bollywood. She does not have the perfect technique, but there is some enjoyment and joy when she dances that makes me love her dancing. I am never tired of watching her dance, and "Dil De Diya" is one of my favourites from her, and I think this one is also quite underrated. She is so feminine and sensual in it. She is so lovely, joyful and energetic. This is definitely one of her best dance numbers. Enjoy!