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?

Advertisements

August 8, 2011: Handling the Obvious

Julie M:  The weekend has started…watched Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai this evening. Dumbest. Movie. Ever. Do NOT get me started on the ridiculousness of plot, the awkwardness of action, and the stupidness of dialogue. Plus the entire first half read like product placements for Coke and fancy cars. Favorite stupid moments: Hrithik’s obvious spray tan in the 2nd half, the ENTIRE sequence on the cruise ship and the infamous mesh shirt.  And this one.  Check out the video below and carefully watch the sky as it flips from daylight to dark to evening to daylight and around and around, randomly.

Why did I watch it to the end? Well, you know why.

Jenny K:  Okay, tell me how you really feel about it. I’m assuming that you don’t want to keep a copy of KNPH? I think, if you’ll scroll back that I said, “There are two clips of KNPH that you have to see”. I didn’t say you had to watch the whole thing…you asked for it.

And you didn’t like the mesh shirt? The biggest problem I had with his “look” in this film was its dichotomy. His head, in his down-under look, was much more conservative. Shorter hair, wire rimmed glasses, etc, while the bottom half was…well, packaged for easy viewing, is the phrase that keeps jumping into my head. Sort of gave the impression of a high school gigolo with his inner stockbroker struggling to get out. I think it’s safe to say, Hrithik’s look is refining with age. Didn’t really scare me once in ZNMD, except perhaps, with the contrast vests and the rolled up pants, which I wish he’d take a vow against. It’s like he’s trying to make himself look shorter, or something?!?

Ah, Product Placement! That’s a fact of life in film, the world over. Some producers are just more subtle about it than others. Example, Mr. Subhash Ghai, who brought you Ishq Bina, a “Meet-Cute via Coke” scene in Taal (which I loved, so I overlooked it)

and the even worse, the “Coke as Tragic Memory Trigger” scene, same movie (less forgivable)

well, he went on two years later to commit Terminal Product Placement Saturation (TPPS) in Yaadein. Jackie Shroff is a trouper, (the things SG asks him to do!) but his character is shown as so in love with Coke that he can’t go to the grocery store without clasping a can of it to his manly chest. He seems to be singing more to it than to the images of his dead wife. And I’ve never before considered a Coke-Themed wedding, but the bride doesn’t seem too happy about it either. Chee!

Julie M:  I did notice the Coke product placement in Taal in the middle of MY FAVORITE SONG!! but generally in Indian film it has not been so bad (not as bad as in American films, chee!), until KNPH, where it is egregious. Or maybe I was bored with the movie and it hit me harder. Anyway.

The weird thing I noticed–well, one of the many weird and stupid things–in KNPH was that in the 2nd half his skin was way darker, like, is there more sun in New Zealand than in INDIA??!! or was that to drive home the point that this is supposed to be a different person? I liked the little glasses, actually, but hated hated hated the logo shirts (more product placement, or part of the character?). The cargo pants were, um, delicious, if that’s the right word. But overall, if I want to see the Ek Pal number I can catch it on YouTube, ditto the flashy number from the 2nd half (forget what it’s called). Do not need to own the movie. If I were to actually buy a Hrithik movie (so I can see it anytime, mmm) it would definitely be Dhoom 2. In fact, I’m going to, and hide it in a special place so B doesn’t get jealous. Krrish shows him off pretty well, too. And…sigh…I might just end up seeing Krrish 2 in the theater, kicking and screaming all the way (not!).

[Jenny K’s comment: You’re assuming that B isn’t reading this blog on his own time…]
Julie M: Tonight I am giving myself a Kajol double-feature, with Minsara Kanavu (aka Sapnay) and U Me aur Hum. Drinking iced chai. Wanted to make myself biryani but it’s too hot to cook much, so am making chorizo instead.

[later that evening]

Julie M: Wow. I should NEVER do a Hindi double-feature ever again, no matter how many videos I have to watch before I have to get them back to the library. It was just too crazy much and I am wrung out.

Minsara Kanavu was fun but had several key flaws. Far too many slapstick-y moments, and I couldn’t understand her attraction to the Deva character (who I could have sworn was gay, and not just because he was a hairdresser). For that matter, the entire ending was just unbelievable. Great Rahman music, although this number (note the product placements!) was more Broadway than Bollywood:

Kajol was adorable.

U Me aur Hum was typical. Meet way too cute, then huge melodrama in the 2nd half. The WQ (weepiness quotient) was turned up to 11–maybe the highest I’ve seen since KHNH–and even though I saw it coming for about 45 minutes I still bit and, yes, cried a little at the end. It was great in the first half to see Ajay smiling, laughing and happy since I’ve not seen it enough in the films I’ve seen him in. The second half had amazingly real, incredible, emotional performances by both Ajay and Kajol (disappointingly, in the next-to-last scene their “old” makeup looked obviously fake and bad which put me off liking it as much as I could). The music did not strike me as anything special…except the drunk number “Dil Dhakda Hai” was fun.

I think that Ajay does better in films where he is not called upon to “sing” even though he did slightly  in this one song. He just looks too uncomfortable.  Maybe it’s all the strippers.

I haven’t decided yet what I am going to watch tomorrow, but I have to watch two. I’ll definitely split them up…watch one early in the day and one in the evening. And get out of the house in between, for sure.

Jenny K:  Try yourself a triple feature sometime, but not until you’ve been in training a bit longer. I think it involves doing serious shots of chai, alternating with ladoos (for the sugar rush) and short bursts of bhangra dancing in between shows to send the blood back into your feet. I’ve only tried it a few times at high density film fests, usually involving Bachchans.

A few years back, Filmfest DC programmed Bawandar (with a planned visit from Nandita Das, that didn’t happen that day) and two presented by BigB himself (with LittleB in tow), Dev and Black. I gathered my few senses left me and raised my hand to ask AB, Sr. a question…and he picked me, looked straight at me with those intense eyes, and expected me to be coherant…tall order. I think I managed it, as he nodded and answered it, but I don’t, to this day, remember what he said, as all my concentration went into not falling over and mumbling something along the lines of “I love your…eyes…I mean… movies, and can I stow away in your luggage?” I settled on smiling and nodding a lot.

Oh, about Sapnay, I do remember it being sorta Disneyesque. Kajol’s character could have been played by Haley Mills in her heyday, if she coulda handled the Tamil, but I thought it was sweet. And I’m glad you said Prabhu Deva’s character seemed gay (I’m betting he was going for kookily carefree, with those long legs, it would be an easy option, I’m thinking). He’s thought of as quite the ladies man in real life, I hear. And I think I’ve said before that he’s one of my favorite choreographers (Hrithik’s “Main Aisa Kyon Hoon” from Lakshya and Madhuri’s “Kay Sera” number from Pukar) and he can do no wrong, dance-wise, in my eyes.

Julie M:  Great number! He kind of reminds me of a younger, Indian Tommy Tune with a dash of Fosse. Maybe it’s the height and the legs.

  • Categories

  • Blog Stats

    • 56,575 visits
  • September 2017
    S M T W T F S
    « Jan    
     12
    3456789
    10111213141516
    17181920212223
    24252627282930
  • Archives

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 21 other followers