Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday Gossip: the Boondoggle edition

Attention anybody in Oman - Shahrukh will be coming on February 13!

And onto news!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vishwaroopam: After all, it was you and me.

I watched with glee While your kings and queens

Fought for ten decades

For the gods they made

I shouted out,

Who killed the kennedys?

When after all

It was you and me

Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones

“Men are just monkeys with their tails in front.” - an old lady whose village has just been destroyed in Vishwaroopam

It’s impossible to talk about Vishwaroopam without acknowledging the massive controversy surrounding it. As has been pointed out elsewhere, I am not familiar with the internal politics of Tamil Nadu nor am I Muslim. I’m just going to preemptively state that I’m speaking for myself and myself alone. I’m not representing anybody. I’m not getting paid. And I’m certainly not advocating for anything other than global peace, love, and understanding between all peoples. Okay?

Tuesday Gossip: The as long as your belly isn't falling out it's fine edition!

Good morning! I hope everybody is doing well today! We have to start with some sad news so...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Gossip: The I know what audiences want Edition!

My review for Vishwaroopam should be up later today or tomorrow but, yes, I finally got to see it and, yes, I thought it was superb. After Thuppaki, which painted every Muslim as a potential member of a "sleeper cell" of terrorists, I was very wary of going into Vishwaroopam, which deals with a similar topic. But the two are worlds apart. Vishwaroopam has complex characters and a somewhat murky plot. There aren't clear cut good guys and even Rahul Bose, as the big bad villain, is allowed some moments of humanity. The difference between the two is that Thuppaki is about Muslim Terrorists (capital M, capital T), while Vishwaroopam featured human beings who happened to be Muslim and perform acts of terrorism , if that distinction makes sense.

Because of the sensitive nature of the topic, I can understand the knee jerk reaction to tar Viswaroopam with the offensive tag but, at least to my non-Muslim eyes, I think the distinction was clear enough. Whether or not it was wise to make a film about it is a different question... but I think the film accomplished what it set out to do.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Gossip: The Khans better watch their backs edition!

Some odds and ends today but the REAL treat is the video... don't you want to know!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Gossip: The Model-Actress Edition

Rachel Saltz dismisses Race 2 as vapid. Funny, that's what I usually say about her reviews.

Well, it looks like neither snow nor protests have shut down my local cinema, so hopefully I'll get a chance to go this weekend! But not Race 2.

Friday, January 25, 2013

3 New Trailers!

Up first is Commando aka VIDYUT JAMWAL DOES STUFF AND I LOVE IT. I really want to parachute Vidyut into that guaranteed-to-be-inane Imran-Bebo film.

Himmatwala looks like the kind of film that I'm really going to enjoy but that the critics will hate. Ajay was a good boy and listened to Sajid Khan. And it looks like there will be a white guy for me to try and interview!

The one quibble I have with going to see it is that my money will be helping finance Jackky "Uberdouche" Bhagnani's next project.

I saved the best for last... the long awaited (by me) Neil Nitin Mukesh-Ameesha Patel starrer SHORTCUT ROMEO!!! THIS IS GOING TO BE THE COMEDY OF 2013!!! FILMFARE BETTER DUST OFF THOSE BEST COMEDIAN AWARDS BECAUSE I GOT TWO WINNERS FOR YOU RIGHT HERE!

Friday Gossip: Everybody panic... SNOW! Edition!

We had our first snow yesterday and they are expecting more tonight. DC looks pretty in the snow, no? I just hope it doesn't prevent my movie watching... I may end up having to go on Sunday instead of tomorrow.

Kamal Haasan has given a statement about the banning of Vishwaroopam:

Dear Friends,

While I am touched by the voices in support for me and my film, I am appalled at how my film is construed to be against my Muslim brothers.

My statements in favour of that community have marked me as a sympathizer. I have always gone beyond the call of my duty as an actor to voice my opinion in favour of what was humane and civil. I have been part of an organization called Harmony India which worked for Hindu Muslim amity.

As I said to @Moimeme yesterday, I trust Kamal Haasan enough to at least go and see the film before passing judgement.

AH! And my other above the cut news is that I went to go see Red Baraat at the 9:30 Club last night and they were fantastic! There is something quite special in this digital day and age to see real live instruments played well. Upcoming tour dates are here and they'll be in Philly, New York, and Boston in the next week or so. Check them out, guys!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday Gossip: Oh, so he wants to do REAL cinema edition!

It's snowing this morning! First snow of the year! Ah, no angry comments on my last post, which is nice. ♥ I do want to respond to Archee, who asked if shouldn't we just look at NPH's video as the equivalent of the whorey gori stereotype in Bollywood. But I don't think they are the same thing. IMHO, at least, Outsourced is more the equivalent of the whorey gori or Apu from The Simpsons. I don't think he's pretending to be desi but he is mocking an art form he's not even trying to understand. Not that Bollywood is perfect or un-mockable but that dismissive attitude towards a style of narrative that connects with a billion people (or more) worldwide is really arrogant.


On to relevant topics! We'll be getting Vishwaroopam this weekend but not everyone is so lucky. The film has been banned in Tamil Nadu for allegedly being offensive to Muslims. (And yet Thuppaki was okay?!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An open Letter from Filmi Girl to all those Americans making Bollywood parodies... please stop.

The hand of fate must have been directing my research last night.

I had been looking up articles relating to “Gangnam Style” for a completely different essay when Neil Patrick Harris’s latest “Puppet Dreams” Bollywood “parody” video fell right into my lap and proved my point. Which is this: Americans (and more broadly, those operating in the American-dominated cultural sphere) are either unable or just plain unwilling to engage with foreign cultural products beyond LOL! PEOPLE IN OTHER COUNTRIES DO FUNNY DANCES! LOL!

Bollywood fans, if you’ll indulge me, I need to talk to the Americans in the audience.

Wednesday Gossip: Isn't she being awarded too much edition!

I had time to post after all this morning!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday Gossip: Ekta Kapoor Cleavage Show edition!

AH~ It's so hard going back to work after a three-day weekend... well, at least there is (hopefully) a new film to look forward to this weekend.

Now! On to news!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Filmfare Award Winners 2013!

The usual mix of WTF and "oh, that's nice." Winners a few pics under the cut.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Gossip: Blame Saif's Numerologist Edition!

GOOD MORNING EVERYBODY! Apologies for the slew of 1990s music tweets last night. I watched two back-to-back documentaries on the 1990s scenes in Seattle and the UK and it was a total trip down memory lane. And then I ranted about how sucky One Direction is. (SERIOUSLY WHAT IS THE POINT OF A BOY BAND WHO JUST WEARS NORMAL CLOTHES AND STANDS AROUND?!)

Don't blame me, though, blame the fact that there are no new movies in theaters this week. What, like Race 2 is too good to release on January 18th and have to wait for numerology reasons until the 25th when - sorry, Saifu - I'll have to pick Vishwaroopam instead?


On to what little news there is!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Get your violence on! Two new trailers...

Shootout at Wadala features John Abraham's shiny abs running around downtown Mumbai. This looks like it could be okay but I'm not sure how much I trust a "gritty" film that hangs on weak actors like John Abraham and Tusshar Kapoor. Don't get me wrong, I like John but I'm not confident he can pull this off. We'll see, I guess.

More important to my interests is this: OMG IT'S SONU SOOD AND HE'S DOING STUFF!!!!! SONU SOOD! SONU SOOD! *whistle whistle*

And Ram Gopal Varma's Attacks of 11/26, which actually looks... good. And by good I mean, really gripping. Also, Nana Patekar. Nana Patekar could make acting his way out of a paper bag into gripping cinema.

It's an interesting contrast, these two. One is glossy violence and the other is realistic. One we're supposed to take people dying seriously and the other one we're supposed to cheer the gangsters. How cool are those "anti-heroes" really? Like, would we all be cheering for Shahrukh's Don if we weren't sitting in our comfortable theater seats in New Jersey and London?

(Also: SONU SOOD!)

Friday Gossip: No, not Sam Huntington... that's Jay Baruchel. The other one edition!

Red Baarat is coming through a town near you in support of their new album!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Filmi Girl's GOLDEN BOMBER Manifesto

I had been debating on whether or not to post this here but I decided to just do it just so that if anybody started Googling Golden Bomber they would find my thoughts. I mean why have a blog if I can't post MY THOUGHTS ON JAPAN'S GOLDEN BOMBER. Besides, most people who have been reading my blog for any length of time know that after Indian films, my second love is Japanese pop culture. Thought there might not seem like any real connection at first, let me just say that it's no mistake that Rajinikanth has a cult following in Japan.

The Japanese have as deep an appreciation for sentiment and artifice as any massy audience in Chennai. They're fine with lip-syncing singers, slapstick comedy, bad celebrity impressions, and terrible puns. Japan also shares India's love for extremely precocious child actors, bikini bodies, straight men with flashy dance moves, and gangster movies.

And just like Indian movies, Japan's pop culture tends to be painted with the same broad "LOL AIN'T THEY WEIRD AND UNEVOLVED" brush strokes by both the Western media and cultural gatekeepers. There's only the minutest difference between Smash's racist "Bollywood" number and Gwen Stefani's racist Harajuku Girls. So, you can understand why I would want to push out my interpretation of Japan's word-of-mouth hit of 2012 before the "LOL AIN'T THEY WEIRD" people find it.

One of the reasons I'm doing this here is that, apparently, no other outlets were really interested, which is a shame because I think this group is one of the more creative and genuinely surprising groups I've come across in a long time. But I guess they don't fit into the narrative of "ROBOTS, BAGEL HEADS, SCHOOLGIRL PANTIES."

In the West, thanks in large part to the cultural revolution of the 1960s and then the alternative counter-revolution of the 1990s, artists are now expected to write music that is confessional. I was listening to an interview with Ben Howard on BBC Radio 4 and he actually said something along the lines of, "Well, I may get taken to task for this but originally I started writing songs just because I like music. I didn't get interested in lyrics until later." As if writing music for music's sake was something to be ashamed of! No wonder Western artists rarely last a few years - once they get all that pain of being young out of the way, who wants to hear four decades of songs about how the baby won't shut up or how the mortgage payment is due?

Art can be confessional, sure, but that shouldn't be the default. What about beauty? What about engaging an audience? What about some fucking entertainment?

When I was a little girl, my Uncle Jon gave me a t-shirt that said: "WHO SAYS PRO WRESTLING IS FAKE?" with an angry wrestler face on it. I loved that shirt and maybe the sentiment underneath crept into my worldview through osmosis. Because really, fake is such an ugly word. Are the injuries and struggles of pro-wrestlers fake just because the outcomes are pre-determined? Is the enjoyment by the fans fake?

Is my emotional engagement with a Bollywood song fake because the actors aren't really singing on set?

(PS somebody should really tell Tom Hooper that there is a better way to record a musical than having actors sing live on set.)

Frank Zappa, in his fantastic autobiography which everybody should read talks about how the men (and it is men) in charge of the music business slowly changed from the big fat old guys with cigars who would put out whatever as long as the kids bought it to young, "cool" guys with ponytails that insisted that they were the cutting edge of hip. And, for Zappa, this was a real straightjacket on artist creativity. You can't be weird and crazy when you have to pass through some ponytail guy's definition of what's hip.

The thing with Japan is that the fat old guys are still in charge of the music business.

And now, with that amazing introduction, meet Golden Bomber.

Thursday Gossip: Is Vishwaroopam out yet? What about now? Edition.

Are you in Portlandia?! SCREENING OF DON AT THE HOLLYWOOD THEATER on January 31st!! If you can go, please do! For me. It is one of my dreams to see some of these classic 1970s films on the big screen, like they were supposed to be seen.

In Vienna, Bollywood evenings at the Indian Embassy!

Also, there will be a Bollywood-style Carmen in Bradford in June!

No word on what the films are at my local theater this weekend. Usually they have the film listings up by Thursday but nothing yet. I think there might be nothing to see until January 25th. (VISHWAROOPAM!!!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday Gossip: The more mass-oriented than Rowdy Rathore edition!

The most interesting gossip today is this: IIFA in Vancouver? I thought they were out of the running... hmmm... is it worth trying to go this year? I'm not sure I have the money after my globe-trotting this fall.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Alex Pandian or In Praise of Ridiculous Films

Since I’ve already been getting negative feedback for my endorsement (tepid as it was) of Alex Pandian, I figured I may as well devote an entire post to the film. Let me set the scene. It’s a Sunday afternoon, grey and foggy. And I can feel a grey, foggy attack of ennui brewing on the horizon. I have so much to do but I don’t feel like doing any of it and the world threatens to collapse to a single point on the couch. I really need to get out of my head for a few hours. Enter Alex Pandian, as charming as a spring breeze.

Tuesday Gossip: WHY DO I BOTHER edition.

Did you ever have one of those days where you just wonder why you bother? And I'm not even talking about the people who were apparently just so offended that I found Alex Pandian to be a pleasant time pass...

(A word of warning, I may or may not be a leetle cranky this morning.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Gossip: The juggling five films edition!

So, I saw Alex Pandian yesterday. I wasn't sure if I wanted to write it up or not, since it's a very unsubstantial film, but I think I might try. If you're thinking about going, my short review is this: it's a pleasant enough time pass and Karthi is very charming.

Okay, let's see what the news outlets have spewed up today!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Gossip: The Half-Baked Edition!

I've been eagerly reading all of the reviews for Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Blah Blah Blah. Here is Subhash K Jha's take on it.

Matru, Bijili and Mandola's story remains stuck in a region of half-realized possibilities. These are characters here suffused with a warmth and affection that don't quite render themselves to a cohesive narration. The plot and the characters meander to scattered zones of expression where they seem to be not as comic in their self-importance as they script meant them to be.

Stuart asked in the comments for the last post about why I enjoyed reading negative reviews of a film I didn't want to see and, in truth, the reason is pretty selfish. It's just satisfying to see my views echoed in the critical class. For a film like Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum there are no surprises but with a Vishal Bhardwaj film where I've been going, "Meh. It looks half-baked and Imran Khan can't act" and then for the reviews to come out and instead of the usual praise they go, "Meh. It's half-baked and Imran Khan can't act." Well, it's just satisfying in a selfish way.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

This is a public service announcement...

Sponsored by Just Blaze and the good folks at Roc-A-Fella Records... um... actually just sponsored by me.

Mr. Omi Vaidya has tipped me off that BIG IN BOLLYWOOD, the documentary about his experience with 3 Idiots, is available on Comcast On Demand this month.

For just $2.99, Comcast subscribers can watch the film in their very own home! But only for one month.

On Demand -> Movies > Movie Collection - > Cinema Asian American or just search for "Big in Bollywood"

So, what are you waiting for?!

Saturday Gossip: Really looking forward... to that new Atif Aslam song!

GOOD MORNING EVERYBODY! It's still kind of grey and icky here but the weather is supposed to perk up. Maybe the weather will get a kick out of all the horrible reviews for Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola because I know I sure have... also the horrible box office numbers.

Now, let's hit the news!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Gossip: The Young and Talented Edition!

Well, the verdict is in and - surprisingly - the critics (and audiences) seem to mostly agree with me on Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola in that Imran Khan totally sucks and the film is overly whimsical. Also, as this review points out, the film seems to be based on Brecht's play Mr. Puntila And His Man Matti, though nobody is mentioning it. The linked review also says this:

Khan delivers a flat, insipid performance.

Best man for the job, eh, VB?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Zila Ghaziabad. Why aren't I watching this RIGHT NOW?

Oh. My. God.


I've been tracking this film for ages because I love a) Arshad Warsi and b) Charmee. Also c) KICK ASS GANGSTER MASALA!

This is going to rock on the big screen!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to watch the trailer like five more times and then start my countdown clock. Maybe I'll use a screen grab of Arshad at like 0:53.

Thursday Gossip: Hotty Naughty Edition!

Alex Pandian is coming to my local theater! WOO! First masala of the year! Let's hope it's a lucky one, like Vettai was.

At least for American viewers.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday Gossip! Sorry, Neil's Wednesday Gossip!

Good morning!!! A bit rushed today since I was dealing with a sick kitty...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuesday Gossip: Dama Dam Mast Kalandar!

Here is something for Americans to keep an eye on - an exhibition at the Smithsonian on the Indian-American experience will be opening in autumn 2013.

And now news!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday Gossip! The "Chalk-a-Block" edition!

Hello, lovelies! Ready for another week? READY FOR 2013?!

I'm really hoping I get to start my movie-year off with a bang this weekend... and by that I mean I hope Alex Pandian will be screening at my local cinema.

But I won't know until Thursday... and onto news!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Filmi Girl's Top Ten Films of 2012! Now let's get ready to kick in 2013!!

I waiting to post this until Asim put up the episode of upodcast where we talked about our Top Five of the year. I was limited to talking about Hindi films only on upodcast but we all know my tastes run further south...

So, without further ado, here are my TOP TEN FILMS OF 2012!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday Gossip: The TEAM URGIS FOREVER edition.

It's the weekend! What is everybody up to? I ended up watching Kurosawa's Drunken Angel last night on Hulu because I had heard that Kasagi Shizuko singing "Jungle Boogie" was fantastic (which it was) but the rest of the movie would have been better in the hands of Raj Kapoor (and with at least five more songs).

Or maybe I just don't have the patience for movies without songs any more...

Anyways, let's hit news!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Gossip: A visit to the Bad Idea Club...

Good morning, Internet!!! There isn't anything worth watching this week, so check out this new book on masculinity in Bollywood!

According to [co-editor Rohit K.] Dasgupta, writings on masculinity are a new area of discussion in India. "Masculinity in Bollywood has seen a sea change from the sensitivity of Dev Anand; we are now confronted with the hypermasculinity of John Abraham, Salman Khan and others."

And on to news!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

ABCD Song Teaser: Muqabala

Basically I have never wanted youtube to be in 3D so badly...

I'm already calling ABCD as my favorite movie of 2013.

Thursday Gossip: Acting like a heroine edition

Happy January 3rd! If you're in America it's 1-3-13 today. Somebody call out one of Bollywood's many numerologists to tell us what it means!

I just checked the film schedule at the theater and no new releases for me this weekend... which is just as well, I have a lot to catch up on after my holidays. Including a half-written best of 2012 list! I'm debating on whether I want to post it before or after Asim posts the uPodcast episode I recorded on the Best of 2012. I don't want to ruin the suspense... hmmm...

Okay, let's get down to business!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Chennai Express: First Look!

So... Rohit Shetty + Shahrukh Khan + Deepika Padukone.

This is either going to be amazingly entertaining or like nails on a blackboard. Much depends on Rohit Shetty's ability to wrangle King Khan and on pulling a comedic performance out of Dippy. Neither of those things are impossible but I suspect Rohit will have his work cut out for him in channeling Shahrukh's energy in a productive direction.

Things could travel swiftly into the intolerable category considering one of the USPs is "lots of romance." Because everybody loves romance between uncles and twenty-something girls.

(And by everybody I mean nobody except the uncles in question.)

Wednesday Gossip: HAPPY NEW YEAR edition!


Filmi Girl is back and ready to get down to business! This party gettin' hot… or should I let Honey Yo Yo Singh and Jazzy B take it from here:

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