August 9, 2011: Lovers and Other Burning Subjects

Julie M: Watched Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge [Revered Guest, When Will You Leave?]…somewhat funny, mainly due to Paresh Rawal. Ajay Devgan and Konkona Sen Sharma were serviceable, but as primarily dramatic actors I felt they were wasted in the comic aspect of their roles. A few genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Why why why do they have to insert those stupid boing-boing noises?? Would have been funny enough without them. And from the beginning I knew what the very end would be. Overall–I don’t generally watch this kind of farce-comedy in English (OK, I admit to watching and enjoying Hot Tub Time Machine but deeply regretted saying OK to The Hangover and Are We There Yet) and probably won’t watch more in Hindi either.

Here’s the trailer with English subs.

I think the fact that it was backed by Warner Brothers tells us a lot. This song is probably the best part of the movie:

No subtitles but you get the idea from the action that they are frustrated with this guest and want him to leave.

[Next day]

Julie M: Saw Sholay [Embers] last night. Two things I wish I’d known going in: that it was 3-1/2 hours long, and that it was a WESTERN. I Hate Westerns. From the first plot intimations I kept flashing back to The Magnificent Seven, except the village-protectors were somewhat-comedic crooks instead of professional gunmen (now picturing in my head The Three Amigos, who, despite being actors rather than crooks, were comedic), and there were songs and dances. It seemed only vaguely Indian…in my mind I kept calling it a “curry western”…everything was there: riding around on horseback, the dusty landscape complete with cactus, the rich rancher, the thirst for revenge, gun battles, the innocent townspeople, gun skirmishes before the Final Stand, etc. Even a train robbery. So this is an Indian classic? Hmph.

Having said that, I loved Amitabh’s character and the interplay he had with Dharmendra’s character. Even though he only wore one outfit in the entire movie he looked awesome in it (those legs! those hands! that hair!). And I thought it was funny that I had just seen ATKJ where there was an extended Sholay reference, and then I saw Sholay and viewed the source of the reference. And even though I Hate Westerns, I tried really hard to get past the conventions to see the life lessons: not giving in to bullies, grabbing some fun while you can, and the true meaning of friendship. (I could have done without the slapstick Hitler-parody jailer, though)

Here’s the opening scene:

My favorite song (probably everyone’s favorite too):

Note the orchestration sounds like the old Westerns too…

And if you want to see the scene they refer to in ATKJ, here it is.

I couldn’t find it with English subtitles, but essentially the villain (Gabbar Singh, the one with the beard) is berating his crew for letting two (how many? TWO! how many? TWO!!) strangers get the better of them, and exacts punishment. The guy on the right is the older actor that Chachaji pesters on the film set in ATKJ.

Anyway, I’m glad I watched it but will be sure to warn people that if they don’t like Westerns they will likely not enjoy this film. I can’t say that I entirely enjoyed it although there were moments that I recognized as “classic”.

 

Jenny K:  Sorry about that, I thought I had mentioned that Sholay was a Western, but maybe not. My mom had just the same reaction to the Hitlerized Jailer, too. “Speed up past that bit, let’s get back to Amitabh!” She didn’t like the “silly stuff”. And on the whole, I agree.

I thought Paresh Rawal was wonderful in ATKJ. He’s so versatile in things, hilarious, then touching, sometimes even in the same scene.  Though he does do more in comedy than anything else, I know he’s done a good bit of drama as well. He says he’s most proud of a movie he did last year, Road to Sangam, about a mechanic charged with delivering Ghandi’s ashes back home

and Sardar, a bio-pic he did a few years earlier, about Vallabhbhai “Sardar” Patel, a compatriot of Ghandi and Nehru who fought to keep all religions safe during partition. The movie’s on YouTube (in 16 parts, with subtitles) I haven’t watched it yet.

Julie M:  One of the movies I reserved from the library for this weekend is The Legend of Bhagat Singh. Can’t wait!

 

Jenny K:  As I remember it, Ajay did a good job, of course, but he seemed a tad old for the role. Bhagat Singh was 24 when he died. But that doesn’t seem to stop anyone in film these days, if they want a role. There was at least one other version of the story being filmed at the same time. This one with Bobby Deol in the lead…yet another over-thirty trying it on for size. I think Ajay’s beat Bobby’s to the cinemas, and I believe did better at the box office. I think it was a bit slow for my taste, but Ajay was very heroic.

The multiple Bhagat Singh films explains a joke in KHNH, I think, where Preity’s suitor came to the house with lots of kids in turbans, and when they are introduced to the family all are named Bhagat Singh, of course a very popular Sikh name, but not usually in multiples. When the family looks confused the father says something like “You can never have too many Bhagat Singhs!” This was just the time the other films were in the pipeline and making lots of press.

Though I will say, not having seen the Bobby Deol version…he looks a bit more like the pictures of Bhagat Singh that have come down to us in the papers of the day.  Both too old though.

[the next day]

 

Julie M:  Well, Saawariya [My Beloved] was a bust. The library DVD was all scratched up and it won’t work for more than 20 minutes at a time on any of my players or computers. I got a bit more than halfway through, watching in bits and pieces, and gave up. But from what I saw it is stunningly beautiful visually, and I loved how it was done kind of like a staged play. Not the least of the stunning visuals was Ranbir…this number just about made me faint, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

But then his hair inexplicably turned Beatle-esque (Ringo, I believe) and the bloom came off the rose a little. Still, he’s adorable and I could definitely stand to see more of him (but not THAT way—more of his acting! Acting!!).

This number was cute too:

Overall, too gushy of a story for me to exert the effort to finish the DVD (you know me, I am not the gushy romantic type) and I cheated online to see how it ended. Meh, for the storyline. If it were not directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali it would have been ordinary and boring.

 

Jenny K:  I may have a copy of it if you wanted to see the ending. Not sure, I think I picked it up in a discount bin somewhere. Blockbuster, not the pirated ones. That scene with Ranbir and the towel was a BIG scandal when it came out, but I remember thinking at the time when I saw it on the big screen that it wasn’t worth all the furor. They spoke in the reviews as if he were completely naked, but unless you were his neighbors across the street, you didn’t see it all…and it wasn’t necessary. I think that when he fell off the chair and was seated on the floor that I saw a pair of shorts on him past the edge of the towel in one shot. Still and all, he is a cutie. Yes, you definitely should pick up a copy of Bachna Ae Haseeno. I think it’s his best so far.

 

Julie M:  I’ll try to find BAH. It’s not at the library, so I guess I’ll have to get it another way. Sigh.

[Pusher’s Note: It’s available for rental at YouTube… ]

On another, and seriously disappointing note, it seems as if the my local theater here has stopped showing Indian movies, just since I saw ZMND there a couple of weeks ago. That means my closest first-run theater is now in Chicago. Grrr.

 

Jenny K: Don’t give up hope.  A lot of the theaters that carry Hindi films can’t afford to show them without the big crowds, so they only book them for a week, or at the most, two weeks so the locals learn to come early or miss out.  Then the theaters go back to programming American films in between.  It’s especially true at multiplexes, where only one or at most two theaters are dedicated to the South Asian community’s films.  Check again in late October.   Don 2 is coming out for Diwali… your theater will book SRK.  And I’ve heard a rumor that Hrithik is doing a cameo in it.

11 Comments

  1. Julie, I think the filmi gods are trying to protect you. Saawariya is completely regrettable except for the visual dazzle, which you can get from far better films, even ones by that director, and I will disagree vehemently with your co-writer here about BAH. I like Ranbir as an actor a lot, and he does not disappoint in BAH that way, but the story is so maddening. I think I’ve seen absolutely every one of his films, and my favorites for showcasing his talents (except for dancing, which you can fill up on on youtube) are Raajneeti (plus brainy specs as he is a graduate student in poetry), Wake Up Sid, and Rocket Singh.

    • I will definitely try to find those films you (and Jenny!) recommend, and watch BAH with a grain (tub?) of salt. I do know that the title song is a complete earworm–haven’t been able to get it out of my head for 2 days!! Thanks, Beth!

      • Yeah, it does stick in there and stay, doesn’t it? The trivia about it is fun as well. Bachna Ae Haseeno was a song his father, Rishi Kapoor did in a movie called Hum Kisise Kum Naheen in 1977. Gotta say that outfit is a candidate for the Fugly site, Beth. Well, it’s not exactly ugly, but I think it may have bankrupted the State of Maharastra of all the white paillette sequins that they had in their glitter bank. MAN! I’ve never seen so many on one costume, especially a male one. Leave it to Rishi to set the record! :-)

  2. How interesting! I don’t care much for Westerns myself and yet *Sholay* is certainly among my top 5 favorite Hindi movies. I admit that I am fascinated by movies that resonate with Indian audiences though that fascination doesn’t always translate to personal love for the movie, as it does in the case of *Sholay*. I am also fascinated by the ways that, when Hindi movies do borrow tropes from the West, they adapt and morph them to make them singularly Indian. *Sholay* is chock full of these to me – the issues surrounding Jaya’s character’s widowhood, the hints of diversity-related tension among the villagers, the strong bonds of friendship between men, and so much more. I just find so much richness in it, so much to learn from watching it and thinking about *why* it struck such a deep, resonant chord in its time (during the Emergency!) and beyond.

    Alas. I’m glad you saw it, even if it didn’t delight you the way it always does me.

    -carla (aka Filmi Geek, http://filmigeek.net )

    • Thanks for your perspective, Carla! I guess the Western genre aspects simply overshadowed the Indian characteristics for me. (I really, really Hate Westerns) But I did truly love the male friendship, which I saw was on a deeper level than just “co-bros” (did it approach and serve as a model for the deep friendships in DCH? Maybe!) which is what it would be in an American Western. However, to me it seemed like the filmmakers really, REALLY wanted to make an American Western and they Indian-ed it up according to their own perspective.

  3. Rishi has sooooo many good outfits! My favorite is probably the silver MONTY outfit from “Om Shanti Om” in Karz.

    • Link, please :-) Rishi is growing in my estimation by leaps and bounds, or is that by leather and beads???

  4. KYAAAAA? You haven’t seen the giant record player/disco/tribal/tippy-toe prancing song???? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS29KERO_d4

    • Now, I have ! Thanks. Though I feel like I’ve seen this outfit before. Is this the one that SRK “watched” filming in his Om Shanti Om? He then tried to wear Rishi’s jacket home? Why he wanted it, I don’t know. Got to love his Intergalactic Squaws as backup dancers.

      • That’s the one! “Intergalactic Squaw” is a GREAT term – and a very useful one at that!

  5. This was one of my favorite outfits in OSO!


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