Thursday, June 30, 2011

Be back soon!!!

I thought I should take a quick second to explain my absence/lack of posting. I'm in the middle of apartment hunting/moving to a different area for a new job so I've been really busy and haven't been able to blog as much as I'd like to! I should be back to my normal routine in a couple of weeks, so bare with.

As busy as I've been, I have still been keeping up with B-town so I have a lot to blog my 6 hour IIFA-viewing extravaganza, reviews of movies like Dum Maaro Dum, excitement over fun songs like "Chandigarh Di Star," and sheer terror over official confirmation of the SRK-Katrina pairing (grrrr...).

I hope to update as soon as possible :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kapoor Khazana! Ranbir's Item Number?

Item songs are not just for sexy women anymore and the latest hunk to join the item number party is Ranbir Kapoor for the upcoming flick Chillar Party. The video starts off with a group of school children asking "Ranbir Bhaiyya" to do an item number for their movie. Ranbir agrees and the tapori style "Tai Tai Phiss" begins.

This video is pretty bad as far as item numbers go. However, the song itself is actually kind of wonderful. "Tai Tai Phiss" is super catchy, funny, yet danceable--all winning ingredients in my book. The video itself just seems lazy. To me, item numbers are special because of their creativity, interesting sets ("Dard-e-Disco"), immaculate choreography ("Ishq Kamina"), and the sexy star ("Munni"). "Tai Tai Phiss" pretty much has none of these qualities (yes Ranbir is hot, but not as he's shown here!). What we pretty much get is Ranbir dancing in front of a screen. How creative.

The set looks like it's been reused from "Right Here Right Now," just cheapened. Add in those less than spectacular "special effects" and you've pretty much got yourself a joke. Call me superficial, but where's all the glitz and glamor of a true item number? By the end of the song, I had the same reaction as those school children.

Ok so if this video is so terrible, then why is it a Kapoor Khazana? Because the saving grace of this whole charade is Ranbir Kapoor. Despite the lame set and what seems like a lack of effort, Ranbir Kapoor was brilliant in this song. Don't watch this song for a sexy Ranbir, but watch it for his hilarious expressions and even more hilarious dancing. Ranbir is acting a fool, but you can tell he doesn't care making his performance all the more enjoyable to watch.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Movie Review: Turning 30

Starring: Gul Panag, Purab Kohli, Siddharth Makkar
Director: Alankrita Shrivastava
Original Release Date: January 14, 2011

*Few Spoilers*

"Chick flicks" seem to be a newer emerging genre of Bollywood films. We fairly recently saw the release of Sonam Kapoor's Aisha and are now looking forward to Anushka Sharma's forthcoming film, Ladies v/s Ricky Bahl. Turning 30 is a film that also takes a stab at this genre, but whether it was successful or not is the question. In a Bollyworld where heroines are eternally 25, this movie actually tackles the issues that many middle-aged women face. So, how did it fare?

...not very well. The film starts off fairly promising. Naina (Gul) is left distraught when her boyfriend (Siddharth) suddenly dumps her and she realizes that she's almost 30 and single--a nightmare for most Indian women in society. She tries to come to terms with her situation with the help of her friends but encounters further complications at her job at a famous advertising agency. Naina tries various tactics to win back her boyfriend but is unsuccessful, until an old flame reenters her life creating even more confusion for a now 30 year old Naina.

A movie with a strong start trails off into an extremely predictable and overused plot, with really nothing new to offer. Naina's failure to let go of her ex-boyfriend becomes almost pathetic and unbearable to watch. Naina is supposed to represent an independent, modern woman yet can't seem to get by without a man in her life. There are far too many scenes of Naina simply crying to a background of cheesy music. The more interesting subplots of the film are given insufficient screen time. One of Naina's best friends reveals that she's a lesbian. Not only was her actual revelation somewhat rushed an unnatural, but the entire story seems to get glossed over. Naina's other friend deals with her husband's infidelity--another issue that is simply brushed off.

In a movie that is meant to break so many boundaries, there were a slew of cliches and stereotypes. I'm a modern woman so I must be a chain smoker who curses frequently. I'm an artist from abroad so I must be a hipster who wears colorful scarves. I just got dumped so I must get a (rather tacky) haircut. I'm a lesbian so I must dress in long Bohemian skirts. And the list just goes on.

But my biggest annoyance with Turning 30 was the language. The whole movie was pretty much in English, with a few Hindi phrases interjected here and there. This really shouldn't be a problem, but it made the movie seem so unnatural and unrealistic. The actors just couldn't seem to get the tone and flow of their English lines quite right, making everything they said seem forced as if they were just trying too hard to be young and "cool." I honestly believe that this would've been a much better movie if it was in Hindi.

One bright spot of Turning 30 was Gul Panag. Despite the pale storyline and rather pathetic character, you just can't help but love her. She has a certain charm and cuteness about her that draws in the viewer. There's also something about her voice that's very relatable. The rest of the cast was largely unmemorable.

Offbeat Bollywood films are often a nice change from the normal matka-jhatka-filled flicks--but only when done right. Turning 30 tried a little too hard to be urban, making the story and characters seem unnatural. I do commend Turning 30 for tackling untouched issues in Bollywood and think this film is a good start to a genre that will hopefully thrive in the future. Catch it for free on YouTube if you're bored and want a (somewhat stereotypical) glimpse into the life of the urban Indian woman. If anything, the move does manage to put a smile on your face at the end.

Final Verdict: 4/10

Monday, June 13, 2011

Aarakshan Theatrical Trailer

Finally, a movie I am truly excited for (besides this year's SRK releases, of course!). This theatrical trailer for Aarakshan really has me pumped for this movie. Directed by Prakash Jha and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Manoj Bajpai, and Deepika Padukone, Aarakshan is a story about caste reservations and controversial policies based on caste--a topic rarely touched upon in mainstream cinema.

I'll admit that this trailer does remind me a lot of Rajneeti (also directed by Prakash Jha) but I have bigger expectations from this movie. Rajneeti becomes largely predictable once you realize it's a modern adaptation of the Mahabharat,  but Aarakshan looks like it will be its own story, with its own message. Interesting, thought-provoking cinema with popular actors can also be a nice change from masala entertainers. Masala films are great in their own way, but sometimes one just thirsts for something more.

Even from a 3 minute trailer, I can tell that Saif is gonna give us one award-worthy performance. Man, is his dialogue delivery intense! Amitabh and Manoj will clearly also be memorable, as usual. And Deepika! She looks ravishing in her "simple" look. But I'm afraid that that's all there will be to her character and she will be largely wasted. Aarakshan looks like it will be a passionate, moralistic movie that will appeal to the masses as well as the critics. The film is slated for release on August 12, 2011.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kapoor Khazana! Kareena the Fashion Icon

Kapoor Khazana month  continues!

Ever since her debut in 2000, Kareena Kapoor's filmi fashions have been some of the most memorable, if not influential, to her audiences. Her outfits have either started real world trends, or just shocked us (in both good ways and bad!) In 2008, Kareena also became the first Indian actress to launch her own clothing line  No matter what, Bebo's outfits are usually the ones to remember. Here are some of Kareena's outfits that were the personally the most memorable for me.

 It was really hard to pick just one Kareena look from her infamous character Poo in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) so I went ahead and picked the outfit she was first introduced in. This outfit is the definition of diva (as was her character): pink jacket, mini skirt, sparkly tube top, and a fur scarf to top it off. Let's not forget those colored sunglasses that were oh so in style back then. Kareena's outfits in this movie were undoubtedly meant to represent the "modern" girl, with her skimpy tops and even skimpier bottoms. It was modern enough back then, but looking back it's just the epitome of 90s fashion--which just makes the whole thing even better, dontcha think?

 This look was from the adorable song "Eli Re Eli" from Yaadein (2001). I'm pretty sure that after watching this song I went around for at least a week with my hair in pigtails, and wearing any purple shirt I could find. Lavender became (and still is) my favorite color around this time, and now I'm wondering if this song could've had any influence on that. This look was normal enough, but somehow managed to make an impression on me.

 Ah, Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (2003). The movie with the talking cartoon bird. The movie was a little ridiculous but I always enjoyed the songs, including this one--"Bani Bani" and arguably the most beautiful red lehnga I have ever seen (I tend to hate red in Indian wear, for the record). Kareena looked magnificent in it and for a while afterward, I insisted on buying myself tikka forehead jewelry, just because Kareena looked so bomb in it. 

I also went through a lime green phase at one point. And this green kurti Kareena wears in the song "Let's Do Balle Balle" from Fida (2004) just screamed out to me. I loved everything from the color to the sleeves on this top and wanted something just like it (I never found it). I think this outfit was the perfect fusion between traditional filmi and modern filmi. It wasn't a sari but it wasn't skimpy halter top either. It had all the glitz and glamor of Bollywood but with a western twist.

Don (2006) was full of great fashion and Kareena's character was no exception. She played the small but pivotal role of Kamini and sizzled in this gold dress in the item song remake "Yeh Mera Dil." Kareena looks sexy, curvy, yet sophisticated in this glamorous gold number. If I had somewhere to wear this dress (and if I could pull it off) I totally would. But it seems like this dress would only be appropriate for seducing Don ;)

Only Bhatinda ki Geet from Jab We Met (2007) would wear such an outfit: a long t-shirt paired with a Patiala salwar. As ridiculous as it sounds, it clearly worked out amazingly as this fashion trend apparently became a craze among youth in India when the film came out. The outfit fit Geet's careless, free-spirited, and modern character perfectly. She also sports a similar look in parts of Golmaal 3 (2010). Generally, it's the perfect look for the modern Indian ladki. And it's just plain cute! Kareena's "Mauja Hi Mauja" outfit from this same film also made quite a splash, as I discussed in a previous Kapoor Khazana post.

Here we see little Bebo all grown up as she plays Avantika, a psychology professor in the film Kurbaan (2009). Her look was perfect for an Indian intellectual living and teaching in the United States.With her long Jaipuri-style skirts with churidar pants underneath and her beautiful paisley scarfs, Kareena embodies the character of a progressive Indian woman. Kareena's makeup was also done beautifully in the film. I took inspiration from her thick, winged eyeliner. Sounds simple enough, but hers was just divine.

From Desi diva in 2001 to geek chic in 2009's 3 Idiots. Kareena's look has surely matured as she plays med student Pia in this blockbuster film. The nerdy, yet sophisticated glasses paired with a tinge of Desi adaa (the nose ring) make for one sexy (future) doctor. Loves it!

As you can see, Kareena Kapoor is extremely versatile in her fashion and is able to pull off almost anything. Her looks have also progressed along with the times allowing her to fully adapt to each of the characters she plays. As of now, my favorite Kareena look is the one from Kurbaan (don't tell my 12 year old, pigtail wearing self). What's yours?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Movie Review: Dhamaal

Starring: Sanjay Dutt, Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, Jaaved Jaffrey, Aatish Chaudhary
Director: Indra Kumar
Original Release Date: September 7, 2007

* No Spoilers*

In anticipation of the upcoming release Double Dhamaal, I finally got around to watching its 2007 predecessor Dhamaal. Clearly inspired by a number of Hollywood films, Dhamaal isn't necessarily an "original" story. But because it's all about execution, I don't think that matters in this case.

You really have to be in the mood for a faltu slapstick comedy like Dhamaal. If you're looking for classy cinema with award worthy performances, then keep on looking because Dhamaal is mean to be a purely fun flick. And, for the most part, it succeeds in achieving that goal. The film essentially about a competitive quest for treasure--and all the crazy things that happen during that journey. The story seems simple and uninnovative. Yet, somehow, I found myself laughing the entire way through!

The first half of the movie is definitely better than the second, as the film seems to drag on a bit after a while. It was still pretty funny, but a lot of the plot twists seemed to exist only for the sake of making the movie longer, which can get a bit tiring to watch. At the same time, the fact that the "race for the gold" is dragging on because of the stupidest obstacles, becomes funny in and of itself. The second half of the film was also focused on the individual races of each of the characters. It seemed that unequal distribution of screen time to each of the characters made it a bit difficult to keep track of everyone, adding to the tediousness of this part of the movie.

Like I said, this movie isn't one full of amazing performances. No one particularly stood out to me as the "funniest" or most memorable, but everyone did a fair job. Jaaved Jaffrey's character, Maanav, was probably the most annoying, despite the fact that he did manage to get a few laughs out of me. At almost 50 years old, I think Jaaved is too old and mature to play these childish characters (Maanav is the dumb one that talks with a lisp and wears overalls that look like they're from Osh Kosh B'Gosh), and his tendency to overact doesn't help that. Sanjay Dutt's comedic skills are wasted in the film and he's easily forgettable.

The interesting thing about Dhamaal was the lack of a heroine as well as the lack of songs--two things that are usually typical of slapstick Indian comedies. It was kind of refreshing that a side love story wasn't at all present in the movie, or that we're not seeing the main actors constantly going gaga over some bombshell babe. The movie just stays focused on the absurdity at hand. The movie has a couple of songs at the beginning, but nothing interrupts the flow of the film afterwards. The songs are not memorable. Or so I thought until I realized "Dekho Dekho Dil Yeh Bole" has been stuck in my head for the past few days.

Overall, Dhamaal is a fun movie that is strictly time pass, but better than most Indian comedies of this type. Interestingly, the movie ended up even having a moral at the end, which was surprising. I went in with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised at how funny it actually was. Would I watch it again? Probably not anytime soon. But I do recommend you watch it at least once when you're in the mood for a good laugh (catch it for free on YouTube!). All of the loose ends were tied up by the end of the movie, so there's no clear indication for what the sequel will be about. But I'm interested to see what Double Dhamaal will have in store.

Final Verdict: 7/10

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kapoor Khazana! Bebo in Wax?!

June is  Kapoor Khazana month in the Bolly blogosphere, which means a lot of us Bolly fans get together to write in celebration of the notorious Kapoor khandan. So be sure to check out all the Kapoor Khazana posts this month. My first post is about my favorite Kapoor: the wonderful Kareena! And how fitting that it be about an actual Kapoor khazana!

There were rumors. Then they were debunked. And now they've resurfaced. But the lovely Bebo is supposedly being honored with a prestigious wax statue at the world-famous Madame Tussaud's museum. There has been some uproar regarding the issue. Does Kareena, who's been in the film industry for a little over 10 years, actually deserve a statue? Especially considering some veteran actresses who've clearly been overlooked (Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, Kajol, etc.)? My answer is yes!

There's no question that all the aforementioned actresses do deserve a spot in Madam Tussaud's hall of fame. But I still believe Kareena is a pretty good choice considering her appeal today. Bebo is one of the few Bollywood actresses that appeals to both older, traditional audiences and younger, modern audiences. She's not too new in the industry, nor is she too old (and Bollywood's definition of "old" for actresses is quite rigid), and she has admittedly made her mark in Bollywood as one of the most successful actresses of today. Why not honor her with a statue?

During her career, Kareena has played a variety of different roles within a variety of different genres. Within the first year or so in the film industry, she appeared in one of the biggest Bollywood blockbusters of all time: Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Even as part of an ensemble cast, starring among the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, and more, Kareena managed to remain memorable in the film, not letting herself be overshadowed by these big names. Her iconic character "Poo," though over the top, is still quoted by Bolly lovers. Kareena also appeared in a number of critically acclaimed films such as Dev, Chameli, Yuva, and Omkara, further grounding her status as a talented and accomplished actress.
Aside from K3G, Kareena has starred in a slew of superhit Hindi films like Don, Jab We Met, and 3 Idiots to name a few. To date, Kareena has won 6 Filmfare awards for her various performances. Not bad for an 11 year career. 

For someone who's accomplished so much in such a short time frame, I think a wax statue of Bebo is completely fitting! Now. I wonder how they are gonna style her? If it were up to me, she'd be wearing this iconic costume from "Mauja Hi Mauja." Popularly referred to as "Kareena Kapoor pants" during the time, Bebo single-handedly brought harem pants back in style for a short period around 2007. Probably because she looked sizzling in them! Jab We Met was also arguably the turning point in Kareena's career, so I think dressing her in an homage to that movie would be perfect. If not this, then an elegant sari would be best I think (Or perhaps her "Bole Chudiyan" outfit?! Sighhh).

I think Bebo herself really is a Kapoor Khazana, so she really does deserve this great honor. The wax statue will reportedly be unveiled in mid-August. I mean, what are we waiting for...Christmas?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ra.One Theatrical Trailer!

I am so incredibly conflicted right now. After watching this much awaited theatrical trailer for Shahrukh Khan's Ra.One I don't know what to think. The SRK fangirl in me loves everything about it. But the critic in me is very afraid that this movie could end up a disaster. Yikes!

This trailer, like the previous two teasers, still reveals very little about the film--which I think might be the problem. This theatrical trailer has no dialogue. It's simply a mash-up of glossy action scenes set to some (very good) background music. We, as an audience, get few clues about the plot and characters. We got a slight glimpse of Kareena (finally!) but nothing about Ra.One (Arjun Rampal). Most sources are saying that the Ra.One character won't be revealed before the movie. Is that really the best tactic?

I really hated the last superhero film to come out from Bollywood (Krrish) because of the lukewarm plot and the childish execution of the entire movie itself. Will Ra.One be any different? These trailers aren't giving me enough information to make a judgment! Most films use the best parts of their movies for the previews in order to draw audiences in. So will Ra.One be all action and no content/substance?

My inner SRK fan is just gawking over Shahrukh and marveling at how good he looks. I'm also relatively impressed with the actions and special effects. A lot of people are concerned that the movie seems too Hollywood-ized. I don't think that's such a bad thing in this instance. I have to admit, Hollywood has refined its special effects and action sequences. So if superior action/special effects makes Ra.One "Hollywood-ized" then I'm all for it.

But still. I'm afraid for this movie. I really really want it to do well, but I don't know how audiences are going to receive this type of film. The trailers not revealing anything except action also heightens my concerns. The only saving grace is that they're just saving the best for the actual movie.

Please, someone convince me that this movie is gonna be great.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Juhi on the cover of Ishq magazine

Juhi Chawla, who's back in the spotlight after the critical success of her recent release I Am, has landed the cover of what seems to be a German-language Bollywood magazine. Doesn't she look totally gorgeous??? Juhi is seriously the epitome of elegance, especially in this shot. And her signature smile just makes me feel so nostalgic for the Juhi days of Bollywood!

The sari she's wearing is so perfect. The color is beautiful and the work on it is so sophisticated, yet elaborate. Then again, this woman would literally look good in a paper bag.  And the 43 year old mother of two looks awesome for her age.

I'm anxiously awaiting a DVD release to watch I Am. Have you watched it yet? Thoughts?

Song Review: Chammak Challo (Ra.One)

Film: Ra.One (Release Date: October 26, 2011)
Singer: Akon
Composers: Vishal and Shekhar

(I'm not gonna bother with a YouTube link to the song just yet. Since the song was leaked online, it'll just keep getting removed. So search for it and I'm sure you'll find it!)

When I first heard that R&B superstar Akon would be recording a couple songs for Ra.One, I was afraid. Very afraid. It could either go terribly wrong, or have the potential to be a super hit (but probably nothing in between). Thankfully, "Chammak Challo" falls in the latter category!

If you're not familiar with Akon and his voice/style, it may take a while for you to warm up to the song. But I assure you--you will!  The track starts off strong and is able to continue with the same strength until the very end, never losing it's high energy pace. It's surprisingly catchy and will probably get stuck in your head whether you like it or not.

Akon did an amazing job. First of all, he's a superstar in the American music scene, and is Senegalese-American. Despite his lack of complete familiarity with Bollywood and India, his Hindi pronunciation is really, truly impressive. There is no hint of an American accent in his Hindi lines (quite a feat!) and the words seem to flow naturally. Katrina Kaif could learn something from this guy! And even though Akon is singing for a different market and audience, he maintains his personal musical style in the song.

I usually hate when English is used in Bollywood songs. It tends to sound forced, unnatural, and the singers' Indian accents don't help much with that "cool" factor they're probably going for. "Chammak Challo" is the perfect example of how an English-Hindi fusion in a song can actually work. Akon's grasp of both languages defeats that usual awkwardness factor that comes out of these language fusion songs. The lyrics also help with this, with lingo English lingo that is popular in R&B songs and Hindi lyrics that are typical of Bollywood tracks.

The best part of this song? It's apparently going to be an item number picturized on Kareena Kapoor! This makes me happy for two reasons. One, I LOVE item songs with a passion. Two, I'm just glad they're not gonna have Shahrukh Khan lip synch to this (hopefully?!). I love love love SRK, but imagine the awkwardness that could come of out that. The chorus (my favorite part of the song) is also perfectly suited for a dance number, so I'm excited to see what could come of this.

"Chammak Challo" is a unique song, but one that is sure to be a hit. It's also a great marketing ploy for Ra.One, which will now get wider recognition within second generation NRI communities, as well as non-Indian Akon fans. It's a step forward in the current globalization of Hindi cinema--whether that's a good thing or not, is up to you.

Overall, I absolutely adore this song, despite my usual inhibitions about Western singers in Bollywood. Akon has reportedly also sung another song for Ra.One so, seeing as how this wasn't a disaster, I'm actually kind of excited to hear it. And yes, Akon, I'd love to be your Chammak Challo!

Final Verdict: 4.5/5