Friday, January 29, 2010

MINI HIATUS

Hey, folks, I am sick as a dog and I probably won't have time to post again until Tuesday - maybe Monday.

Send me all your love and kisses and I promise to drink plenty of fluids and watch only the most masala-est of Bollywood until I feel better.

xoxo Filmi Girl

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dev.D: The Eternal Love Triangle...

Yes, so it took me a year to finally get around to watching Dev.D. I have my reasons, though, and they are as follows:

#1 Devdas isn’t exactly my favorite story and when push comes to shove, I prefer comedy over drama.

#2 A lot of the same people praising Dev.D also fell all over themselves for Kaminey, which I thought was merely ‘meh.’

#3 Anurag Kashyap has denounced No Smoking, which I thought was brilliant, so I was unsure if I would like his new direction.

#4 I really – and I mean really – hated the promotions for Dev.D, which made the film seem like soft-core porn. The official site has been taken down but you could hear “phone sex” clips from Chanda, which just struck me as extremely tacky and exploitive, not to mention it alienates half the potential audience for the film i.e. me and my fellow ladies.

Anyways, yes, it took me a year to get around to watching Dev.D but I’m glad I did because it is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. Anurag Kashyap does something really interesting with the old chestnut that is “Devdas” and plays with filmi clich├ęs while he’s at it.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the story of Devdas (“Dev”) and Paro. They are childhood friends who grow a romantic attachment while he is off at university—in London in this adaptation.

Dev is kind of a spoiled little dick. His father sends him off to boarding school because he’s afraid of corrupting influences at home. He doesn’t realize that you can only corrupt the willing…

Dev grows into a big spoiled dick who gets off on the secret, long-distance relationship he has with Paro.

Paro, who grows up to be the gorgeous Mahie Gill, also gets off on their secret relationship.

Where Dev.D differs from, especially, the epic 2002 version of the story along with numerous masala films, is that the childhood romance is just that—a romance. A fantasy. They can’t sustain the reality of being together.

And some nasty stuff goes down in which Dev dredges up the old male double standard where it’s okay for him to act on sexual impulses but any woman who does so is a whore.

She moves on—he does not.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to Chandramurki aka Chanda aka Leni. And here was where Dev.D really hooked me—I was pleasantly surprised to find that Chanda is actually given a backstory and personality. She isn’t just the adoring sop of the 2002 Devdas. It’s kind of like when Helen was allowed to have a love interest and tragic past… (I’m looking at you awesome 1967 film Talash.)

(I’d be really curious to know if Anurag deliberately cast a white actress as Chanda or if he saw Kalki and changed the character to be white.)

We are introduced to Chanda –still known as Leni—as she is getting ready for a day at high school.

She clearly has discovered that it can be nice when men notice you and we are shown Leni rolling up her skirt and pushing down her socks. Things that many, many high school girls do.

She has a creepy older boyfriend who enjoys getting blow jobs and we see that, too. Leni enjoys the attention and she enjoys playing at grown-up things but for all that, Anurag is careful not to actually sexualize HER for the camera. She’s just a girl.

But then her creepy older boyfriend films her giving him a bj and you can see the difference in how his camera films her.

Of course, the film gets around and Leni’s life is ruined. What I found interesting is that it’s not LENI who feels guilty, it’s the reactions from everyone around her. She’s embarrassed—mortified—but she’s not guilty. Regretful, yes, for being stupid but not full of shame. I liked that.


And we see her with the headphones and cigarette like a female version of Dev…

Everything unfolds just like you expect—Leni becomes Chanda, falls for Dev, who is still hung up on Paro, who is married to a widower—but with a fresh spirit that should keep you hooked until the end.

So, besides the smart decision to make Chanda a fully realized character instead of just a pretty, pining prostitute, what is so great about Dev.D

I will tell you!

The performances are excellent all around.

I’ll admit I’m not the biggest Abhay Deol fan. I find his acting style a little too restrained for my tastes but Anurag got a fantastic performance out of him. He manages to be both rakishly charming and a total asshole all at the same time. He never lets us forget that Dev is a horrible person but it’s not unrealistic. And the scenes with Chanda really humanize him—a lot.

In the hands of a less-skilled actor, Dev could have been a total disaster. He’s basically the male equivalent of the poor, little rich girl. He thinks all his ennui stems from his foiled relationship with Paro but we—and Abhay—know that there is more to it than that. Dev is so cut off from his surroundings. His wealth cushions him from certain realities and he literally isolates himself with headphones in a lot of scenes. It’s all an extension of the drinking and drugs that he numbs his life with.

Paro takes a back seat in this adaptation but I loved Mahie Gill. She definitely has potential and I hope directors sit up and start casting her in things. She has these gorgeous, heavy-lidded eyes…

My favorite scene of hers was during “Emotional Attachyar.” We see her totally break with her fantasy of a life with Dev and accept happiness on her own terms.

Her husband (Asim Sharma) is standing to the left and you can watch his face go through the second half of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam in about 15 seconds.

I honestly don’t have room to say all the good things I want to say about Kalki Koechlin, so I’ll keep it to: FILMFARE HAD BETTER GIVE HER BEST DEBUT OR ELSE THEY ARE ON NOTICE.

She is luminous. Yes, I just used the word luminous.

And I’d like to give a shout out to Dibyendu Bhattacharya, who played the pimp/drug dealer Chunnilal.

Along with the performances, I really enjoyed the various commentaries on filmi sexuality.

Leni is a big fan of Madhuri Dixit and actually names herself Chanda from the character in the 2002 Devdas. Chanda is put into a series of progressively ridiculous costumes and we see the preparation. We see the wigs, the fake fingernails, the persona. We see Chanda on the phone, totally uninterested in the phone sex she’s having with some off-screen punter.

What we don’t see—although it is clearly insinuated—is Chanda having sex. The camera isn’t there to exploit Kalki but to show things from Chanda’s point of view. I appreciated the distinction, which was totally missing from the promotions.

The other thing I really appreciated was the inclusion of both songs and dance, even though they weren’t traditional picturizations. He used songs like Vishal Bhardwaj did in Omkara, where they were included both because people like songs and because songs can convey emotions.

We get a combination of montages with actual musicians and dancers and the song themes are cycled through, creating a nice flow. Dev.D really shows how even “realistic” films can utilize the film song in effective ways without resorting to either chiffon in Switzerland or the epically dull and pointless montages from films like Wake Up Sid.

I would like to say that Dev.D could have been a hit on the Western art house circuit but I think the filmi references are too Bollywood-specific. Not to mention the fact that one pretty much needs to know the story of “Devdas” before sitting down to watch.


What would be interesting is to sit some Bollywood virgins down and have them watch the 2002
Devdas followed by Dev.D and see what they think.

Any guinea pigs?

Thursday Goss!

Thursday, Thursday, Thursday!

You know what that means--tomorrow is Friday! Can you even wait? This has been the longest week...

I should have my post on Dev.D up tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Let's see what the stars have been up to!

* Piggy Chops is confirmed for Don 2!

* Subhash K. Jha thinks Rann is RGV's best since Company

* Arshad Warsi talks Ishqiya

* Shahrukh Khan is going on Jonathan Ross! (I wish he could have gone on Conan... that would have been amazing.)

* Here is good news for non-Indian residents: Striker is being released on youtube the same day as in theatres--everywhere except India.

* Some kid was arrested for scamming people into thinking he was Salman Khan.

And because this song was stuck in my head: "Roop Tera Mastana"! They don't make them like this anymore...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Asal! Are you excited yet?


Can you even wait to see Asal? Starring Ajith Kumar - who also WROTE THE SCRIPT - and Bollywood starlet Sameera Reddy, it appears to have all the makings of a super-duper masala hit!


My understanding is that Asal is meant to capture the same sort of excitement and coolness that made Billa a hit! I approve of every part of that goal.

Let's see some pictures! (Taken from the kind folks over at Thala Ajith Fans who have the best watermarks ever.)


We can assume Ajith will be kicking ass and taking names...


The short-sleeved sweater with the bow-tie look is not one that I expected...


I hope Sameera Reddy does well - I like her. The other actress is Bhavana!


I like her look. I think she's very pretty.


Sameera is gorgeous, too, of course!


And if we are lucky, she, too, will be kicking ass and taking names.

Wednesday Goss!

Just an FYI, I started watching Dev.D last night and I'm loving it so far. I got as far as the interval before I had to go to bed but I plan on watching the rest tonight. All signs point to another winner by Anurag Kashyap!

* Katrina Kaif seems confirmed for the female lead in Zoya Akhtar's Road Movie, which means, I suppose that now I have to see it.

* I love how everyone is acting like Siddharth hasn't released a film since Rang De Basanti.

* Southern cutie Padmapriya, who is opposite Sid in Striker sounds like she is a pretty awesome chick.

Every regional film industry has its own set of requirements and I am game for it. I have no issues with skin show, if the shot is aesthetically done. I like to use my body like a prop."

* Abhishek Bachchan is doing Anurag Basu's next film. I enjoyed this very filmi quote from a "source":

"Hrithik required his father to back Kites and now Abhishek's close friend Goldie will produce his next and that the movie will be Anurag's most ambitious project till date. It truly has a genius script."

Was this "source" the scriptwriter? Oh, Bollywood and your delightfully exaggerated manner of speaking... never change.

* Rakhi Sawant - who shares my tastes in films, apparently - is threatening a hunger strike until the censor board uncensors her item song!

* This is probably the most important thing you will read all day: some poor schlub of an assistant accidentally saved Akshay Kumar's number with Akshaye Khanna's name so that Akki is getting all of Akshaye's text messages.

The whole story is hilarious but my favorite part is Akki's quote:

"However, I’m now wondering that if I’m getting all of Akshaye’s shooting alerts, how is he managing to reaching his shooting on time?"

HA HA HA!!! I like the mental image of Akshaye Khanna sitting around his house like, "Why aren't they texting me the time I need to be onset?! Have they replaced me?!" And getting all worked up about it while Akki is all, "WTF, dude." and deleting the messages as they come in.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Gossip!

I don't know what to lead with... so, I'll just dive right in!

ETA: I found my lead story. Prepare to be amazed at this filmi sting operation!

* Randhir Kapoor throws a party and doesn't invite Deepika Padukone. "So, does he have to invite the whole world to his parties?" you might be asking yourself. Well, the cleverboots behind this piece not only got a source to tell her that it was a party for the Housefull cast - which Deepika is a part of - but she got Jiah Khan to text her basically confirming the fact.

Jiah, Jiah, Jiah!! First your castmates prank you into stealing silverware from a restaurant and now you're falling for the last minute deadline machinations of Mumbai Mirror journalists?! Somebody get this girl a secretary to answer this stuff for her.

* Ishqiya director Abhishek Chaubey thinks most Hindi films treat actresses like mannequins.

"I always felt that women characters in our films are like mannequins who are dressed well but don't have much to offer in terms of narrative of the story, which is driven only by men. But Ishqiya is a film where you will see a very believable woman character."

Maybe he just saw Race?

* Salman Siddiqui gives you Pakistan's pop music history in 60 seconds.

Pop pioneers The Bugs (1963) comprising five youngsters Neil Qalandar, Parwana, Bundah, Muchar and Munna also released their debut album Soz-o-Saz (SOS) in 1970. The album included four English-language songs, ‘I go there,’ ‘Might as well face it,’ ‘Blue ships,’ and ‘Give her a pill,’ that even back then balanced eastern influences of the bansuri and tabla with western instruments.

My only question for Salman is: WHERE CAN I FIND THIS ALBUM?

*checks ebay really quick*

*album is not on ebay*

Question remains unanswered.

* Prakash Jha insists that after Rajneeti, Katrina Kaif and Ranbir Kapoor will both deserve National Awards. Well, if Priyanka can win one, why not Katrina?

* The IIFAs will be in Seoul this year!

* Cute moon-related tweets from @iamsrk!

* Riteish Deshmukh hope people will take him seriously after Rann.

* The BBC tackles the Pakistan/IPL fiasco.


Director Anil Sharma—a veteran journeyman who scored a homeland hit with Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001), about the 1947 partition of India—and his action director, Tinu Verma, use a restless, roaming camera and inventive angles to propel the story, even as it shifts from desert battlefields to the real-life University College of London to gladiatorial combat and a climactic clash at a mountaintop fort. Stateside Bollywood fans more accustomed to modern-day musical romances or stylish crime thrillers will be pleasantly surprised to find a period piece that's more “Xena: Warrior Princess” than A Passage to India.

Fortunately, I have the genes necessary to appreciate works on the same irony level as "Xena: Warrior Princess," so Veer and I are totally good.

You guys, I'm so sorry I didn't get to go this weekend. I promise you that as soon as it is out on DVD, I will review and SCREENCAP the heck out of it, so sit tight!

* Ramya may be up for the lead in the Kannada remake of 3 Idiots but she's not feeling the love for remakes these days.



Monday, January 25, 2010

Vogue India! You are my Inspiration...

Vogue India had a nice series that featured designers talking about their style icons... I have the filmi ones for you!

DIMPLE KAPADIA


Text: "A divine fire and ice combination that spells power and fragility in equal measure. Capricious, captivating, and utterly charming, she makes our clothes look magical." - Sandeep Khosla and Abu Janni


KAREENA KAPOOR


Text: "She is beautiful and always fashionable no matter what the occasion. I love dressing her... She makes heads turn in my Indian as well as my Western clothes." - Manish Malhotra

PRIYANKA CHOPRA


Text: "What I like most is her versatility. She carries off a lehenga with as much aplomb as she does a gown." - Ritu Kumar

Monday Gossip!

Good morning, folks! I'm disappointed to report that due to my poor time management skills yesterday and the decision on my local theater's part to play on TWO SHOWS of Veer instead of the four that they usually screen for new films, I did not get to see Veer.

Never fear, though, because I am determined to watch it and as soon as I do I will report back to you about Jackie Shroff's golden arm and how many times Salman takes his shirt off.

Now that we have that settled:

* Siddharth talks Striker and has a kind word for his fans in Germany and Poland!

"More people in Germany and Poland watch my films than people in the north. They’re kind enough to follow me, although I haven’t had the chance to visit them yet. I want to do more work and be less bratty and lazy for them."

* I think somebody has been slipping drugs into Katrina Kaif's water supply. First she starts running her mouth off on winning a National Award and now she is talking about getting married in 2012.

Kat, please tell me this is just you joking with the press.

* And now Deepika says she is not single. I don't think she's patched up with Ranbir, since Karan was just telling the fangirls that Ranbir was single, so who knows who Deeps is dating now.

* Here is an interesting profile/interview of Anil Kapoor from the Boston Herald that doesn't mention Anil's Bollywood career at all. It's so funny to read about Anil Kapoor from a non-filmi perspective. Nobody asks about Sonam or when he and Sridevi are making Mr. India 2 or the infamous THERMOS INJURY...

* Another problem for Veer!!!! Copyright violation! Is this film already the biggest fiasco of the 2010s?

* And another wrinkle in the Pakistan-IPL public relations fiasco: Preity and Shilpa are now claiming that they were threatened into snubbing the Pakistani players.

PICTURE TIME!

Arjun Rampal threw a success bash for his National Award win and guess who showed up?! The most tired and haggard celebs you will ever see!


SRK!


Preity Zinta!


Gorgeous Bebo!


And can I just say that this is the best I've seen Saif looking in... months, if not at least a year. Saif!! Your widow's peak is cute! Stop covering it up! And is it me or does his face look mobile?


Keep on, keeping on, Farhan! (Somebody should make an icon of that...)


Aspiring actor Purab Kohli!


And the lady of the evening... Shahana Goswami!


Isn't she lovely? She came with her lady friend, costume designer Niharika Khan.


Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl