Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Post may be your last for the week...

First a small announcement. I'll be traveling from Thursday until next Wednesday so no daily updates! I will try to post my Aurangzeb write-up at some point and maybe some pictures since the reason for my travel is my family art show! If you're in the area, feel free to stop by and check out some art!

Secondly, this past weekend I met up with Asim from uPodcast in New York. When conversation turned to films, it sounded suspiciously just like an episode of uPodcast and got me thinking about things. Like how the only guys able to bring out the families anymore are the Three Khans (and to a lesser extent Ajay and Akshay and Hrithik) because with them you know what you'll be getting and what you'll be getting is a good time. Besides the fact that the Three Khans are wonderful, I think this also has to do with the fact that they're holdovers from the previous era. It's brand recognition that cuts across a lot of different ages and classes. EVERYbody knows Aamir, Salman, and Shahrukh. How many who aren't industry watchers or Internet gossip column readers know these new guys (and gals)?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Alia Bhatt: Genius of the Year

I wasn't sure about this based on the title but I ended up really enjoying it! I do like Alia and I think a lot of the flack she got for being "dumb" was unfair so it's nice to see her take those jokes and defang them. Oh, Alia! She's definitely my favorite from the new batch of heroines.

And it's rather sweet of Karan to let himself be the butt of the joke here… although his "hole" comment… I had to cover my ears!!

(And how sad for Arjun Kapoor that he can't even convincingly play "himself." He really is a mediocre actor.)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Songs! Let's pump up Friday with some picturizations!

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!! Man, is it me or was this an epically long week? Thanks for all the great conversation, though! I've been pecking away at a piece on Aurangzeb and something about our discussion this week got me thinking in another direction about it. Hopefully I can finish it for ya at some point soon.

Once again, I won't get a chance to see any of the new films this weekend but I'll try to get up a review of something.

Now! There are some song picturizations we have to discuss!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hi there, Haider.

First of all. I like but it feels ripped directly (and far less vibrantly) from Ravanaan. Or am I projecting things?

Secondly, Wow! What a great response yesterday, guys! I didn't know other people shared my experience with drifting from Bollywood to Korean (and other Asian) entertainment.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Well, Manipur doesn't want your movies anyway.

Today I want to link you to an absolutely ripping piece by Deepanjana Pal in Firstpost. She's one of the few online, filmi writers who has really hammered the production of Priyanka Chopra Starring in and as Mary Kom for their tone deafness on the role ethnicity places in the Mary Kom story.

Perhaps it's expecting too much of Bollywood, which is ultimately a commercial film industry and not obliged to promote national integration, but a film like Mary Kom could have gone a long way to indicate to both Northeast Indian as well as mainland Indian audiences that differences need to respected and accepted; embraced even.

Instead, Kom is being paraded around the country as part of the film's publicity campaign, possibly because the publicity team is well aware that whether or not the film releases in Manipur, Mary Kom needs the stamp of legitimacy from the real person. It's not just because the film is Kom's life. The decision to cast Chopra as Kom suggests the distorted view that Manipur needs to conform to a mainland vision of what makes an Indian, even after winning the country an Olympic medal.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Ride with that hip-hop faker… Vishal Dadlani!

This is an interesting conversation! Vishal talks a lot about Pentagram. If you haven't seen the Global Metal section on India yet, I'd recommend that, too! I'm not a huge metal fan but I can appreciate it.

I am a MASSIVE rock music fan. And obsessed with stories of bands and rock history. I still think Rock On is one of the best movies about being in a band that I've seen. There's something really specific about the bonds of being in a band that's hard to capture in fiction, somehow. Like the inverse of Inside Llewyn Davis. (Which was also excellent.)

The daily gossip hasn't revealed that much, although I have a feeling we're going to be bogged down with Happy New Year "tidbits" until it releases.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Random Weekend Roundup

This weekend I was in full relaxation mode and watched two very different but equally enjoyable movie adaptations of books I hadn't read. The first was Guardians of the Galaxy, which has been getting a lot of buzz around the ol' media-centric parts of the English language Internets. Although I have absolutely no interest in the regressive American style of comic books aimed at preteen boys and their preteen boy minded adult counterparts--i.e. Marvel/DC comics--I do enjoy the work of James Gunn, who directed the film, and since this was a property that hadn't been beaten into my skull ala Batman with a thousand reboots, I thought I may as well give it a try.

Friday, August 15, 2014

It's still entertainment!

This morning I was still thinking about Entertainment and how pleasant the romance subplot was. The "Tera Naam Doon" picturization just captures so much of Akshay and Tamannah's easy-breezy chemistry. And there's something so refreshing about it. I was trying to place my finger on exactly what--it's not just that they're comfortable with each other but the characters are just very comfortable and content in their relationship. Romantic love isn't the main focus of their lives, though they clearly love each other. There was just so little… drama around the romance. I really enjoyed it.

(I think my favorite part of the song is where he bites her ear. It feels so much more intimate and sexy than piles of "lip locks" or simulated sex scenes from "bolder" and "realistic" films. To me, at least. And you can watch it with your mum in the room.)

Entertainment was just so… laid back and charming! The more I think about it, the happier I get. If Sajid-Farhad do Housefull 3, it will be a REAL treat. The Dhoom 3 of the Housefull series, I bet you.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Entertainment: It's Entertainment.

Warning: I go a little more into the plot than I usually do but I certainly don't give away all the gags or ruin any major points. I'm trying something new with putting more plot in. So if you have any feedback, I'm happy to hear it. I'm not sure why this took me so long to write, except that I'm rusty.

Also, P.S. Happy New Year is REALLY not to my taste. It's about as far from the opposite of my taste as you can get--Sonu Sood, excepting--so I probably will try to avoid it and discussion of it. I'm just not a fan of SRK as he is today.

Entertainment, like Kick, was directed by first time directors with long histories of doing something else in Bollywood. Sajid Nadiawala (Kick) is a producer; Sajid-Farhad are the writers behind recent comedy blockbusters Golmaal 3 and Housefull 2. And much like Kick has the stamp of a cost-conscious producer all over it, Entertainment is very much a film by a couple of writers. Though Entertainment is in the mold of Golmaal 3 and Housefull 2--fourth-wall breaking filmi humor, zany plotting, ridiculous characters, groan-worthy puns, and just a dash of honest-to-goodness masala dil--Sajid-Farhad put their own artistic stamp on the material. They do not attempt any of the massive, complex comedy-action set-pieces that Rohit Shetty (Golmaal 3, etc.) delivers so well and their slapstick’n’boobs-per-minute ratio is much, much lower than Sajid Khan’s (Housefull 2, etc.).

Not the worst thing I've seen this week.

I promise, PROMISE, that reviews are forthcoming. I guess my brain is taking longer to kick into gear than I had hoped. Still, one doesn't require much brain power to appreciate this:

From "a sources" aka some marketing materials probably sent around to every two-bit media outlet:

A source says, "The brief for Ranveer's look was to create a fantastical, magical wanderer who would literally come in and toss things up. Being a Chinese food brand, some Oriental detailing needed to be worked into the outfit, but also the sense of adventure, madness, exuberance, fun - basically everything that Ranveer is. They created a Shaolin chef meets steampunk meets The Mad Hatter meets the Wild West look. The whole look was done in distressed leather with hints of dusty gold. The highpoint was the hat that they made for Ranveer. The basic hat came from an old hat-making company in London. This hard-leather top hat we embellished with eccentric accessories from Chor Bazaar - things like a pair of original World War II motorbike glasses, a compass, collapsible telescope, postcards of old kings and celebrated army officers, medals of victory, clock faces, pins and feathers.

He wore this outfit with a pair of winged gold boots, a nod to Hermes - the Greek God of messages and good news. This was topped off by a pair of round yellow-glass sunglasses and a rakish red scarf."

I'm sorry to disappoint anybody expecting me to be outraged because I actually kind of enjoyed the blend of unapologetic orientalism and crass marketing on display. I mean, is there a better man for it than Ranveer Singh with an oddly Javed Jaffrey circa 1985 hair-style?! And he's taking his duties to make "Ranveer Ching" charming and attractive so seriously, how can I be mad? I grew up listening to the Strawberry Shortcake soundtrack, what do you want from me? If companies want to give me songs and dancing in exchange for listening to sales pitch, I'm okay with that. Now how about a spin-off short marketing film where "Ranveer Ching" has to fight off some spaghetti monster or something, hmmm?

Oh, and speaking of outrage, I did appreciate this response to somebody seeking to ban PK because of the poster.

Dismissing the plea, the apex court told the petitioner, "If you don't like then don't watch the film but don't bring religious facets in it", adding that, "these are matters of art and entertainment and let them remain so."

Haaaa! I hope we start to see this attitude more often. Don't like; don't watch. It's my philosophy for my blog--don't like me; don't read.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday is coming, coming!

So many good intentions, so little time. Also, it's really hard to type with a sleepy, contented cat sprawled on my lap.

First of all, today, this really charmed me:

Okay, sure, neo-Bunty aur Babli, yes, but I like Richa Chadda and Nikhil Dwivedi is pleasingly gormless.

But the second thing I have for you today is this episode of On Point where poor-stand-in-for-Tom-Ashbrook Jane Clayson talks to author Jim Davies about his book "Riveted," about what keeps us "riveted" to certain forms of entertainment. I just thought the concept was… riveting. Heh.

The main thesis is it takes both strong patterns and deviation from the pattern to hold our attention. But there was also a nice line about how great works of art are ones that offer something new each time you view them. For me, all of those put together are the appeal of a good masala film. I love the strong pattern recognition in a good masala film. One of my favorite beats in Entertainment was when Akshay finds a picture of his father with his two cousins--played by Sonu Sood and Prakash Raaj--and says, "They look like villains." HA!!!!

One of the main reasons Western film-types find it hard to understand masala is they haven't learned the patterns. You have to have seen enough films to just know Pran or Sonu Sood or Ranjeet is the bad guy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday can kiss my… oh, can't say that with British readers around, can I?

Good morning, friends!! I'm so sorry I missed you yesterday. I'm not sure if you saw my tweet but I had been feeding my parents' cats over the weekend and needed to drive over to their place early Monday morning to beat the rush hour traffic. The highway certainly looks different at 5:30am… but who are all these people up and going to work then?!

Anyhow, there has been some sad news that Robin Williams has died and it might have been suicide. This may not surprise you but Robin Williams's style of acting--as well as his film choices--were not to my taste. In fact, I tended to actively avoid his work as much as possible.

Friday, August 8, 2014

I don't dance at weddings; that's not my job.

First of all: KICK REVIEW PODCAST! And please do let me know your thoughts on spoilers. I've tried to be exceedingly careful because a) I used to get complaints about giving away the plots of films and b) I know too often "reviews" are just rehashing the plot and you can get that on wikipedia and I feel there should be something out there for somebody who hasn't seen the film but wants an idea of what to expect but… maybe that's not useful to you guys? I'm happy to change my internal guidelines on spoilers but only if you think it would be useful.

OKAY! And now for possibly the most gripping piece of cinema I've seen out of Bollywood this year. I highly recommend watching the entire video. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thursday Mini-Rant… Who ARE you dating?

Good morning!! I'm feeling MUCH better today! And I had the chance to talk with my buddy Asim from uPodcast all about Kick! Hopefully you can listen to that soon. We had a good chat. I think we only really disagreed on one point--I find Nargis's presence infuriating and Asim doesn't mind her. And, better yet, we agreed on which three films we are NOT looking forward to. I'll let you guess which ones while you wait…

Just a quick thought today as I was browsing through the trade papers, is it me or is there something really creepy about all these old guys feeling outraged that young actresses won't confirm who they are/aren't dating?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Flashback Wednesday

I'm not feeling very well today so please have a fun song from Tu Chor Main Sipahi!

For no other reason than I was thinking the other day that it would be fun to watch every single Akshay film and write about them. For science. We'd get to see the change-over from that older style of filmmaking to the new one.

Although I suppose one could get up on the ol' soap box about Tabu now playing a hero's mothers while Akshay is still romancing twenty-somethings but that tune has been played so many times before… we all know it's ridiculous.

Let's just enjoy the trip down memory lane!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tuesday Two-fer.

Quick note, Kick review is almost done! I should have that up for you soon--if anybody cares anymore. Although it does seem like there are plenty of handwringing posts in certain media outlets insinuating (by which I mean flat-out stating) that Salman Khan fans are idiots and his films are Everything Wrong With Indian Cinema and etc. So maybe people still do care.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Happy August!

Good morning! My apologies for bailing on you at the end of last week. You have no idea how crazy it got at work!!

Anyways, this past weekend was one of my favorite weekends of the year--Shore Leave weekend! My mother and I have gone every years since about 2008.

(When my mom sent this around, the general response was: Somebody looks happy. LOL! It's true!)

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