October 25, 2014: A Commotion and a Verdict

Finally, in our Akshaye Khanna mini-film-fest, we come to Hulchul (Commotion, 2004), where Akshaye’s romantic heroism is blunted by slapstick comedy to the point where he becomes a caricature of the handsome leading man.  Akshaye plays Jai, the youngest son of virulently misogynist patriarch Angarchand (Amrish Puri at his eye-poppingly gruffest) at war with the family of Laxmidevi, a strong-minded matriarch (Laxmi).  The two wealthy families would do just about anything to ruin each other, and when Jai’s family disrupts the brilliant marriage scheduled for Laxmidevi’s granddaughter Anjali (Kareena Kapoor), her family vows to get even.

Jai and Anjali, college-mates and bitter enemies, are each instructed to pretend to love the other in order to cause rifts within the other family. Cue hilarious faux-romantic love ballad, which is pretty cute:

When they eventually realize that they are being used as pawns for everyone else’s revenge, they fall in love for real and want to marry.  Their only hope for happiness, it seems, lies in convincing at least one of Jai’s bachelor brothers to defy Angarchand’s strict “no women” dictum and get married first.  Will it be Shakti (Arbaaz Khan), ever loyal to his father?  Or Kishan (Paresh Rawal), a sworn celibate?  Or will it be Balram (Jackie Shroff), whose one attempt at marriage years ago started the whole feud to begin with?  Supporting performances by Arshad Warsi as Lucky, Jai’s hapless best friend, and Suniel Shetty as Anjali’s hotheaded but ultimately sympathetic uncle Veeru round out the all-star cast.

There are so many things to hate about this movie, starting with the fact that Anjali is introduced as the best law student at the college and then, after her engagement falls apart, she is turned into a bubblehead.  In typical Bollywood fashion, we are asked to believe that the 30-year-old, balding, heavy-faced Akshaye is an innocent college student.  (Kareena gets a pass—she was only 25 at the time)  Most of the slapstick is reserved for poor Lucky, who falls out of trees, gets dumped into a pot of boiling glue and is tossed around by tall, strong men as if he were a beach ball.  And—worst of all—the romance between Jai and Anjali comes flying out of nowhere, and their chemistry is so bad that Jai’s frequent uncomfortable looks seem perfectly justified.

Still, the story is cute enough not to stop watching, there is enough winking at comedy-drama tropes (can you say Weekend at Bernie’s?)

to cause smiles of recognition, and I can never get enough of Jackie Shroff.

Akshaye, sorry to say, is the unfunniest thing ever in this film; fortunately, he’s more often called upon to be the straight man than to provide the yuks.  Here’s an example of what passes for a funny scene:  Jai and Kishan infiltrating Anjali’s family compound in the guise of a cow.

If you insist on seeing it, at least it’s free and subtitled on YouTube:

Verdict on Akshaye:  C to C-.  Play your own age, buddy.

 

So what have I learned?  I admit to an adoration of Akshaye’s father Vinod Khanna, a frequent bromantic pairing with Amitabh Bachchan. But my opinion of Akshaye still stands:  his work is uneven (good = Border, Dil Chahta Hai and Tees Maar Khan; OK = Aa Ab Laut Chalen; not-so-good = everything else, including the otherwise excellent Taal, where he reminded me of a limp dishrag), his hair is mostly terrible, and for some reason he strikes me as an actor who doesn’t quite know what to do with his hands, or with himself when he doesn’t have a line—there’s that unsure awkwardness about him that a better actor can turn to advantage and which he does not seem to be able to accomplish often enough.

I also find it funny that just as we were starting this challenge, one of our mutually favorite bloggers, Filmi Girl, wrote a post about Akshaye wherein she calls him a “terrible hero” and praises his TMK performance.  I love it when people agree with me.

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July 1, 2012: Charming con-men

Well, we’ve let another month go by without a post despite our best intentions.  Life has just gotten in the way. But we have been watching, just not discussing!  Here’s Part I of what we saw in June, which is without too many snarky back-and-forth comments because Jenny is caught in the East Coast power outage situation…both involving charming con-men doing what they do best.

 Julie M:  In my ongoing quest to see more of Abhay Deol, last night I watched Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008) Here’s the trailer:

There wasn’t much to the plot: Abhay plays Lucky, whom we first meet when he is caught despite being a very successful thief. We then flash back to his youth, where at 15 he started his life of crime, then work our way up to the present through more flashbacks, then we move forward again in “real” time.  A bit confusing but it works.  Here’s a great scene where the young Lucky is trying to convince his father to buy him a motorcycle, who pretends (up to a point) to go along with the idea:

All along we trace Lucky as he works for a crime boss (Paresh Rawal, in one of three roles he plays in this film), meets and romances a girl, and tries to go straight by funding a fledgling restaurant (restaurant owner also played by Paresh Rawal; the third role is as Lucky’s father). He moves around a lot, but his quest for respectability is thwarted at every turn.

A pattern develops: every time he is frustrated or feeling like things have gotten out of his control, he steals stuff. Not to fence or make money from (although he will sell a couple of things when in need), but mostly just to surround himself with. As the movie progresses you see his stash room getting more and more crowded, eventually pressing in on him until all he has is one chair (which he has also stolen) in the middle of towers and layers of STUFF. He gets caught a few times, manages to escape each time, and then the film abruptly ends after one escape with a montage of still images implying that he has married his girl and has gone straight…or has he?

OLLO has an indie feel in its plotting and cinematography, and resisted the impulse to go broad in its comedy, which I appreciated–but to me it never really got off the ground.  I kept thinking that there would be some defining moment for Lucky, some realization of why he steals that would cause him to stop, but although the reason is fairly obvious to us (a kind of crappy childhood with an overbearing father and a handsy stepmother, and a raging case of very low self-esteem, although he is handsome and charming as all get-out), he seems completely unaware. There are a few hilariously funny moments–like when he steals a tiny yappy little dog and then his face indicates that he immediately regrets it–but it’s not rollickingly funny, more of a “smart comedy.” His courting of his reluctant lady (Neetu Chandra) is sweet, though, and Abhay was the perfect choice to play Lucky. The best reason to see this film, though, is Paresh Rawal–three distinct characters, three looks, all fantastic.

There is music throughout as background, and its hip-hop feel works with the plot and action without seeming like a series of music videos, but this is probably the best song as a song:
   (sorry it’s a montage, they didn’t have the cut direct from the film)

So if you’re an Abhay Deol fan, put this on the “to watch” list.

Jenny K:  The things I do for Indian cinema promotion…Earlier this month I was looking for something to watch at the theater with Kathy and as I went through the list of my local Regal cinema, lo and behold, I saw a telltale title. Rowdy  Rathore. Now, it’s not a very promising title, I’ll grant you….I pictured lots of partying Punjabis dancing about to Daler Mendhi, which isn’t really my scene, but, I checked closer into it, and found the surprising fact that my local cinema was trying out Bollywood offerings once every two weeks. Hooray, I thought. I don’t have to go all the way to Falls Church for a fix! So even with Akshay in full-action mode, Kathy and I girded our lions for Punjab, metaphorically, and bought our tickets.

Julie M:  I’m shocked, SHOCKED, that you would voluntarily go for an Akshay action movie, but it’s been a long, hot summer, Indian-film-wise, so I understand the urgency…

Jenny KRowdy Rathore was all I expected and a bit worse. A twin plot…never seen that before…where Akshay plays a conman, Shiva, and his non-related twin, policeman Vikram Singh Rathore. I kept hoping for a teary-eyed maa-ji to pop up with a story about how she lost one of them at a Diwali Mela and hoped against hope that little Shiva had found a home and someone to love him, but no luck.

Shiva’s talent is at conning money out of strangers and occasionally his friends, too. He often uses the hypnotic talent he has for conjuring up a drumming rhythm which gets everyone dancing, whether they will or no. Here’s the first big dance number showing it.

I was really excited that it was Prabhu Deva’s first big Hindi movie offering as a director, and you know how much I love his dancing and choreography. Well all through this number, he kept making little cameo appearances, and I even got a tiny dance duo with Akshay at the end, but sad to say, it just succeeded in showing AK up, dancing next to PD. His choreography just works better on long-leggedy guys like himself and Hrithik, and just makes all-torso guys like our hero look short and a bit clod-hoppy. Not that he wasn’t trying his darndest, but it didn’t really work for me.

Julie M:  PINK PANTS??!! Really? (although after Akshay’s yellow outfit in Bhool Bhulaiyaa I shouldn’t be too surprised, the man does look kinda awesome in bright colors)

Jenny K:  Also, his leading lady Sonakshi Sinha was lovely, but seemed to be too young for our Shiva, especially at the beginning. She grew on me a bit as the long, long, long chop-socky fest went on. The plot had to do with Shiva being mistaken by one and all for the straight arrow lawman Vikram, who is being persecuted by the goondah element in his village for his stringent restrictions on their larceny. Even Vikram’s extremely adorable daughter, whose name I’ve forgotten already, thinks Shiva is her daddy. Shiva is saddled with the pint-sized charmer and must protect her from the onslaughts of the dacoits until the real daddy shows up to thrash the ever-lovin’ heck out of them. Lots of blood, lots of tears, lots of thwarted villainous gnashing of teeth.

Julie M:  Much as I love Akshay, that trailer would have totally turned me off.  Not a fan of endless thwacking of villains.  If I hadn’t heard your plot summary, I would have vowed never to see it.

Jenny K:  He uses that “mental rewind” thing really too often to be funny. Also, what’s with that horrible haircut and moustache?? Makes him look like Hitler on steroids! Well, Kathy and I have done our duty, and since then, the theater doesn’t seem to be making good on their promise of a new Hindi film every two weeks. Sad, but to be expected, when all they offer the general public is crazy, tongue-in-cheek slapstick fighting. I would have hoped they’d start with a popular masala film to get others hooked, but those are getting few and far between, these days, aren’t they? Oh, dear…

Julie M:  Nevertheless, I’m hoping RR comes out on DVD and into my library, because Akshay’s smile just gets me. True, he’s not the “dancing hero” type, but he has other charms that are not lost on me.

So, here are our bad-boy heroes together:  which would you rather have conning YOU?

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.

August 4, 2011: Pairs and Parallels

[Jenny K’s Note: Now that we’re caught up with our back posts, we’re just dating the new ones, and not numbering them: Part 1, Part 2, etc.]

 

Julie M:  THANKS for the super-box of movies!! An abundance of riches. Even though it was almost 10pm when I got free last night, I couldn’t resist diving in. By totally random chance (the close-eyes-and-grab method) I selected Cheeni Kum. Two of my fave actors, Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu.

I liked the fact that it was a love story with two mature people instead of pretty kids. I liked that they didn’t attempt to do the sappy love-song numbers themselves, but had them as background. I liked BigB carrying this on his own instead of being the occasional elder and somewhat ridiculous foil to the younger hero (JBJ, BaB and KANK, I’m talking to you). There were some wonderful moments where we got to see pure joy on BigB’s face, a rare occurrence since I didn’t think his persona owned that emotion. However, overall I would call it merely a serviceable romantic comedy, slightly engaging yet entirely predictable, with obviously manipulative heartstring-tugging elements (the little girl). I kept thinking that I had seen Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery do the same story, or a version thereof, but with a little more charm and chemistry.

Jenny K:  Well, I’m glad you’re surprised. Fun to see how much of “the library” can fit in one small box. No rush to get them back. I liked Cheeni Kum, too, but actually don’t remember that many details about it. He was a chef, and she was a customer with a discriminating palate. That was a challenge to him, which he wasn’t used to. I thought both BigB and Tabu did a good job, but Paresh Rawal, again, made the biggest impression as her father. Amazing what he can tell you with just a slight adjustment to his face…he probably was not responsible for the over- lengthy scene on the roof of his house. Talent and all, it dragged a bit, and could have been cut a bit to it’s benefit.

Not quite sure which CZ-J movie you’re referring to. She did No Reservations where she was a cranky chef, but it was with Aaron Eckhart. Then she did Entrapment with Sean Connery, and there was chemistry, yes, but it was based on them being pupil and teacher, and was a thriller, not on a romantic comedy. Perhaps you are just thinking about her personal life, hmmm?

 

Julie M:  I didn’t say that they HAD done a movie exactly like it…it’s more like BigB and Tabu had the CZ-J/SC vibe, and I kept FEELING like I was watching the other set of actors. I felt the stirrings of a rom-com relationship in Entrapment, so maybe that was it. Paresh Rawal, he was the slapstick overly-frightened uncle in Bhool Bhulaiyaa that I just saw and I couldn’t get that persona out of my head, because I hated it in BB.

No, my objection to Cheeni Kum (which I didn’t love, but didn’t hate: same feeling as Jab We Met for me) was that it was nothing different except for the actors. I’ve quit going to that kind of film out of Hollywood–seen one, seen ’em all. This had the smell of “vehicle” for me.

 

Jenny K:  You’re so darned literal! I had my toungue firmly in cheek…it was all a build up to more effectively pick on Michael Douglas, which, is, given his current state of health, questionable on my part. But old habits die hard, and good jokes are hard to find. Official retraction, so there’s no misunderstanding… I like Michael Douglas as an actor, and I hope he rides his health problems out successfully. There. I feel better now.

But actually, Cheeni Kum was something rather daring in Indian cinema. The May-December thing, at least at their age, while it may be done in life with older, richer guys marrying younger women, it’s not done in popular cinema that often, unless it’s a period film and the girl is a teenager and the older man is the villain in the piece. That I have seen, frequently.

[the next day…]

Julie M:   Tonight’s feature…Iqbal. What a sweet movie. Completely predictable (except for the coach didn’t die: that would have hit all the cliches) but fun, a lot of heart, and made me cheer. Shreyas Talpade…he was good as the friend in Om Shanti Om but glad to have caught his debut movie. (hot hot hot) This is definite Heartland Film Festival stuff–that’s our local–affirming the human spirit, yada yada. And I got to watch more cricket, sort of. 

[Jenny K’s Note: Hey, the whole movie is on YouTube, again…]

Jenny K: You’re a brave one…the thought of watching cricket, except in its edited form, daunts me. I’m assuming that Lagaan gave me its “good parts version” and even then, wasn’t there over an hour and a half of just game footage? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but if I didn’t have the emotional backstory of the players in that one, would I have enjoyed it so much? Don’t think so, but maybe I’ll check out a local team sometime. There has to be one, somewhere around DC.

So, Shreyas Talpade floats your boat, does he? I grant you he’s cute as a puppy, but to quote, “hot hot hot,” did I get that right? Ah, you do seem to like those young things, Shahid, Zayed, now Shreyas. Heaven help you when you see Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Naa. Imraan Khan would be just up your alley in the story of to cute kids who just think they are friends, to learn differently, later. Aamir’s nephew, BTW.

Or maybe Ranbir Kapoor, Rishi’s son. Try Sawaariya, or maybe Bachna Ae Haseeno. Yes, that one might do. A coming of age story about a young guy who thinks he’s a player and it takes three women to knock it out of him. 

In any case, as long as you’re watching the cute little halflings, it leaves the old guard, literally, to me. No, Naseerji, you are not safe from your number one fan! He’s still so cute…though I’m not stalking him. No, really. Just collecting his films….

 

Julie M:  Now, now, I am not ALWAYS a cradle robber. I like Shiney Ahuja, and he’s not a puppy. And Farhan. And, so help me, the big teddy bear that is Boman Irani. And Ajay. AND Shreyas is a bit older now than he was in Iqbal.  Oh, and my library does have Sawaariya, so I’ve requested it. 

 

Jenny K:  Poking around about your HKA post, looking at the trailer and I had thought from looking at it that the guy she slept with looked familiar, and it was KayKay Menon. I think he’s got really good acting chops. I really liked him in Sarkar with BigB and Deewar (the newest one) also with BigB and Akshaye Khanna. Sometimes he reminds me of a young James Woods, don’t know just why. Here’s an interesting article on him from The Hindu newspaper.  

Shiney Ahuja, I only know from that bit in Fanaa, where he was unfortunate enough to meet Aamir in that helecopter. And yes, watching the clip of BB, I think I might have to watch it. It’s rare that Akshay’s sense of humor tickles my funny bone (Never, never, never go see, rent or even touch a copy of Garam Masala, no matter how funny anyone tells you it is. Painful!) I actually giggled once or twice in that trailer. But. I will say that I love him in the yellow outfit. Best thing he’s had on in years! Except the black coat at the end of Bewafaa, which was very fetching. However, it was too late in that film to save it from “awful” status…now, come on, really…is he supposed to be a rock star giving a concert or did he just get confused and stumbled into a random Victoria’s Secret stage show?   

Julie M:  I think both BB and Tashan might change your opinion of Akshay. He’s not over-the-top in either of them, and NO martial-arts stuff whatsoever in BB. (a little in Tashan, towards the end, but it’s not the point of the film)

 

Jenny K:  BigB seems to be allowing a number of his films and Abhishek’s out on Youtube and I found this one on Hulu via IMDb, that I just watched myself last week, Baabul. It was sweet, even if it did have The Shirtless Boys in it (Salman and John Abraham, oddly, fully clothed this time) with Rani. I’ve decided that Salman is more endearing when he only stays for half a film. You should poke around and hunt some up. Oops! Hulu put in a commercial even before the end of the credit song!  

 

Julie M: Re: Cheeni Kum: Purely by chance I found this description of an older movie, Autumn in New York, about a cranky restauranteur and a woman half his age:  

(Warning–there are spoilers in the article) Some elements of plot similar to Cheeni Kum but a completely different outcome. Although–I can totally see this version having the dramatic elements that would make it attractive to Bollywood.

I say this because I watched Matchstick Men last night, which has some elements disturbingly close to the plot of Bluffmaster:  

(Spoilers there, too) But, as we have seen with Ghajini/Memento, elements of a Western film can be appropriated and integrated into a Bollywood film and become a totally different story without affecting the original.

 

Jenny K:  As to Autumn in NY being like Cheeni Kum, you wouldn’t think so if you had seen it. I did, and if you (and Wikipedia) say that he was a restaurant onwer, it may be so, but I don’t remember that being a focus of the film, at all. He may have owned it, but I don’t think he was a chef, and really it only focused on their relationship, or not relationship, and her illness, and if he should be with her, etc.

There was a feeling of Cinderella about it, he had her make one of her crazy hats for a mythical someone, and it turned out it was for her, herself. Then she had to find something to wear with it and go out to a ritzy dinner with him. All very NYC fantasy date for the dying chick. I remember something about her changing his life so much that he put up a Christmas tree for the first time, and there is an image I remember of the tree on his penthouse terrace in the snow.

Very pretty images, sort of a dying woman’s postcards to her lover. You are definitely right that from the melodrama aspect, it SHOULD have been made over into a BW movie, long ago, even if it hasn’t been already. Cheeni Kum is just a much more cranky, crotchety piece, mostly due to AB’s onscreen personality. Love him to pieces…even if this isn’t his best film, by a longshot. 

I read the Matchstick Men synopsis, and then compared it to the Bluffmaster one, which I remembered pretty well when I had reviewed it, and aside from him being out conned at the end, I didn’t find it too close a copy. I think all twist, reverse twist, and twist back again films all feel like they’re from the same bolt of cloth. Which, perhaps they are. On Wikipedia, they say Bluffmaster is an adaptation of 9 Queens, which I never saw, but, again, after I read the synopsis…just that there were two conmen, one who ended up conning the other, was the only similarity that I saw.

Oh well. I think Hollywood is so paranoid about this sort of thing, that they are always crying “PLAGIARISM!” when it’s not even merited. Now Ghajini, what it copied was too specific not to be from Memento, though as you said, it ended up feeling quite different by the end, and in my opinion, suffered in the comparison. Sorry, Aamir…you can’t save everything.

 

Julie M:  Come on, even the introductory con in Matchstick Men was the same con as in Bluffmaster. Obvious to me.  The con that Matchstick Men pulled in the beginning was the same as in Bluffmaster: sell a crappy product to an unsuspecting consumer on the phone, then show up posing as government agents “warning” about the scam and get the consumer to sign a form disclosing bank account information so the scammers can loot it. I’m sure it’s a relatively common scam so it makes sense that it’s used in both films, but it was rendered practically verbatim in Bluffmaster as in MM. Also, there was the scene in MM when the Nic Cage character [Spoilerswakes up in the “hospital room” and finds out that he’s been scammed, and goes back to revisit all the locations and people and finds out they were all faked. Same exact scene in Bluffmaster. I will say that the cons were more elaborate in Bluffmaster and there was the difference that the girlfriend character was actually behind the whole thing (the daughter character in MM was recruited by the scammer). [End of spoilers.]

 

Jenny K:  Okay, okay, I give on the Bluffmaster/Matchstick Men one. That first con does sound overly suspicious, hadn’t remembered that. But, I hold to the Autumn in New York statement. Completely different setup, premise and feel.

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