Thursday, November 23, 2006
Talking of DVDs, I watched some interesting and inspiring flicks and one particularly forgettable one. The forgettable one, Jaan-e-mann! Firstly, a name like this doesn't inspire confidence. Secondly, after watching the promos, it looked like Mujhse Shaadi Karogi part 2 (and I hadn't particularly enjoyed part 1). Thirdly, the music, supposed to be real cool, left me cold. Now Im not very fussy about filmi music. I enjoy anything from 'Kya Housala' (Dor) to 'Aaj Ki Raat' (Don). Even 'Just Chill Chill' does it for me. Bare the 'Humko Maloom Hain' track, the rest of the music was just average. Same goes for the Soundtrack of Vivaah. Sorry Ravindra Jainji, I'm into old fashioned music, loved songs from 'Veer Zaara' and the new 'Umrao Jaan' (more on that in a bit), but Vivaah was a disappointment. I completely missed the magic of Chitchor and Heena. May be I'll enjoy the music more after I watch the film, but I'm not too hopeful.
Moving from forgettable to interesting movies, two films produced by UTV that I recently watched were 'Khosla Ka Ghosla' and 'Pyar Ke Side Effects'. They were tightly scripted, with songs only in the background, had interesting story lines and composed of talented actors like Boman Irani, Anupam Kher, Rahul Bose, Ranvir Sheroy, Vinay Pathak and others. Among the women, Mallika Sherwat was good in 'Pyar Ke..', Tara Sharma was OK in 'Khosla..'. I've seen Ranvir's performance in a play 'The Blue Mug' and always thought he was a fantastic actor. So its great that good theatre actors like him and Vinay Pathak are getting meaty roles in interesting films.
Umrao Jaan's music is really good, if you are into melodious ghazalized songs . Anu Mallik, the composer has really hit done well with this score. I like almost all the songs in the film, especially 'Pooch rahe Hain' and 'Main na mil sakoon' where I coud actually feel the pain in Alka Yagnik's voice. Just a tiny prick in the balloon, though. The tune of the song 'Jhoote Ilzaam' is a straight lift from the old Lata number 'Yun Husraton ke Daag'. The film didn't meet the same standards. J P Dutta should hopefully have realized by now that its not enough to have great music, period costumes and big stars leading to big hype. The direction leaves a lot to be desired. Till date, I only liked 'Border' and 'Yateem' among his other films. And to add to that, UJ is a very long film. I (and other people also, I think) are getting used to the 2+ hour long duration (thanks RGV).
There were a number of reasons why I wanted to watch the Mahesh Bhatt written 'Woh Lamhe'. I loved the soundtrack, love Shiney Ahuja and can tolerate Kangana. More importantly, it was rumoured to be Parveen Babi's life story. If Im not wrong, Mahesh Bhatt already made another film on the same story. - 'Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayi'. The music of that film was also quite popular then. 'Woh Lamhe' is good. Very good portrayal of a schizophrenic by Kangana. I actually felt sorry for her and the character played by Shiney. A must watch, I'd say.
Finally coming to the inspiring movie 'Dor'. Nagesh Kukunoor has the knack of choosing stories that are very realistic and still have the filmy magic to them. In Dor, a woman from Himachal is looking for a woman in Rajasthan. They have a strange connection. One's husband is dead and the other's husband will die, unless fate intervenes. And how it does! What starts as a plea for forgiveness ends up as a friendship that cuts across all barriers set by society. Beautiful! Excellant performances by the lead starcast.Shreyas Talpade is amazing, and boy can he mimic. Gul Panag looks beautiful and emotes well as the strong and silent crusader, never giving in to melodramatics. And Ayesha Takia is perfect as the young widow, yearning for a normal life and some happiness on the side. As always, I will be waiting for Kukunoor's next film with bated breath.
Next week, I might check out Ravi Chopra's Babul. Two reasons why I'll end up watching this film : Ferose is a big fan of Rani Mukherjee (and I have missed John Abraham too) and we don't really have much choice since only very few hindi films make it to the big screens here. So watch out for my review of Babul. I am expecting to see a film with lots of tears and too many songs.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Earlier, I did a post on the remake scene in Bollywood (this is not a politically correct term, but I don't want to type the very long term Hindi Film Industry every time I am referring to the Hindi Film Industry, Bollywood is just easier). I fleetingly touched on the Don remake. But now, being a Bollywood buff, I am all eager for the film's release, for a number of reasons. Farhan Akhtar, SRK, the awesome music, Boman Irani, the works.
Talking of the music, I only have this to say to SEL (duh!!? Shanker, Ehsaan and Loy) - You guys rock when it comes to your own compositions, and I forgive you KANK (that the koffee guy can be persistant in his demands is quite understandable). You even remix your own songs innovatively, but please leave the old classics untouched. Of all the tracks in the Album, I like 'Aaj Ki Raat', which is not a remix, the most, and I am looking forward to watching it on screen. It left me a very retro 'raat baaki baat baaki' feeling. The title song is really good too, with Shaan in good form again after Fanaa's Chand Sifarish (does anybody remember his 'Loveology' ?). The best part about the remixed 'Khaike Paan' is that they got SRK to sing/recite some of the lines, and he is a lot better than his 'Apun bola'. The track which lacks the most merit is 'Yeh Mera Dil' but I probably feel that way because I just can't get Asha Bhonsle out of my head. The rest of the tracks are the theme instrumental, remix of 'Main Hoon Don', and a medival punditz mix which is nostalgic.
Also listening to Woh Lamhe's soundtrack. Pritam is churning out hits after hits. This album has a few ghazals also. 'Bin Tere' is a hummable one, but 'Tu Jo Nahin' didn't impress me. After Gangster's 'Bheegi Bheegi' James returns with 'Chal Chale' which is a song about loving with gay abandon. KK is his usual awesome self in 'Kya yehi Pyar hain'. This will be as, if nor more, popular as 'Tu hi mera shab hain'. And then there is the slow romantic number 'So jaon main' sung by both Kunal Ganjawala and Shreya Ghosal. I have a massive crush on Shiney Ahuja and am looking forward to watching the film. The music is already a best seller.
I finally managed to watch KANK and here's my take - Both the ABs rocked. Preity, Arjun, Kiron were OK. But I couldn't tolerate Rani's weeping and SRK's scowling (even a die hard fan has limits, dude).
And the other filmi highlights of last week:
Being Cyrus - Dark, intriguing, funny.
JOQ: Why is Simone singh not in main stream cinema. Only a Karan Johar seems to want her. Nagesh Kukunoor, you listening?
Omkara - Mind blowing. No words can do justice.
JOQ: Does Vishal Bharadwaj have any openings for the position of an assistant?
Anthony Kaun Hain - Arshad Warsi rocks. The story line is interesting, but the ending was predictible.
JOQ: Isn't Sanjay Dutt tired of playing those Don/Killer/Gangster kind of roles? He can kiss these roles goodbye. He doesn't need them. He's got Munna bhai to play, like forever.
Chup chup ke - Priyadarshan has lost his touch. Neha needs to start shedding some clothes again if she wants to do any better. Shahid is good, but he can only be as good as the film, and cannot rise above the script. Everything about Sushma Reddy, her role, her costumes and her make up was sacrilege. Why on earth did she accept this film? But on the other hand, if my last film was called Chocolate where I played a reporter named 'Monsoon ', I would not mind playing third fiddle to Kareena, who, BTW, looked good and was tolerable since she was on mute. And lastly, Paresh Rawal needs to stop acting in every film that Priyadarshan offers.
JOQ: No more questions, your honor.
And there were others like Darwaja Bandh Rakho, Shaadi Kar Ke Phas Gaya that I wish I had given a miss.
Now I am looking forward to watching Bas Ek Pal and Dor.
P.S. Also 'Woh Lamhe'
Thursday, August 24, 2006
A fjord (or fiord) is a narrow inlet of the sea between cliffs or steep slopes, which results from marine inundation of a glaciated valley.
A couple of weeks ago, I had never heard of the word ‘Fjord’. Now, I have already seen it. August is vacation time in Europe since all the schools have their holidays. Our vacation was due too, we thought about driving down to some nearby country. But that was until a friend (God Bless his soul!) warned us that everyone would be driving down to some place or the other and the autobahns would be clogged. Hence we opted to fly using the cheapest airlines available: Ryan Air. One of the advantages of having a budget (how I hate this necessary evil word) is that it automatically narrows down your choice of places. Oslo was one of the five places that is connected via Ryan Air from Frankfurt Hahn (the nearest airport that is used by Ryan Air, the other being Karlsruhe). Since I had never been to any place more north than Hamburg, Oslo was the obvious choice.
Some basic facts about Norway: It is one of the Scandinavian countries (among others like Denmark, Sweden). It is called the land of the midnight sun because in the Northern part, the sun shines day and night during summer. Since we only spent most of our time in Bergen which is in the south of Norway, we didn’t really see the midnight sun. Oslo, the capital city is one of the smallest capitals in Europe.
We didn’t do anything much in Oslo, except for visiting the Vikings Museum. They have three huge ships known to be the best preserved ships of the Viking Age, if you are interested in that sort of thing. Bergen is a 7 hour train ride away from Oslo. A 10 minute walk from the Bergen Station led us to our hotel which was bang in the middle of the city centre and only a few minutes walk from the famous Fish Market. All the tourist shops and restaurants are located in and around the Fish Market. There are shops selling freshly caught fish, souvenirs, sweaters (a Norway specialty), flowers and plants. Bergen is a city surrounded by seven mountains, the highest of which is called Mount Ulriken. We took a cable car up on Mt Ulriken and had a magnificent view of the city. Those who suffer from vertigo would have to position themselves in the front of the cable car to have only the view of the mountain nearing and not of the growing depth below. I don't have a problem with heights, but Ferose was gripping the sides a bit too hard, wonder why ;-)?
Bergen is also the base for anybody wanting to visit the Fjords. We took a tour called ‘Norway in a Nutshell’. The USP of this tour was the fjords and travel in all modes of transport: Train, Bus, Boat and the famous Flam Railway. The first leg of the journey was by train from Bergen to Voss. Then we took a bus to Gudvangen which went over the hills and we had some beautiful views of the waterfalls. From Gudvangen we took a Boat to Flam. This was the main part where we cruised on the Fjords. The beauty of the Fjords is breathtaking. Luckily it was not that cold, so we could spend the majority of the 2 hour ride on the deck facing the beautiful mountains.
We reached Flam by lunch time. After a heavy meal of pizza and coke, we boarded the very famous Flam Railway. Flamsbana is one of the most beautiful railway lines in the world. It also is one of the steepest. On this train, we saw the magnificent scenery of the wild and mountains. Initially, there was a mad rush by all passengers (including me) to click pictures. But after a while I was content to just sit and enjoy the beauty of the hills. No picture would have done justice to what I captured in my mind. Wish I could take printouts of those snapshots!
The last part of the ‘Norway In a Nutshell’ tour was a train back to Bergen. I was glad that I had taken this very interesting tour. And further glad that I had decided to visit Norway, because it is certainly very different from the other European countries I have visited. One of the best things about Norway is that everyone speaks English and you don’t have to struggle with a foreign language. The people are very friendly and helpful. Bergen's tourist information centre is one of the largest I have seen, with very comprehensive information available. The only downside is that it’s an expensive country and one has to watch the expenses, if one is on a budget.
Monday, July 31, 2006
I picked up audio CDs of Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (KANK) and Omkara. KANK's music is very predictble, has a serious KHNH (Kal Ho Na Ho) hangover. 'Where's the party tonight' takes off from where 'Its the time to disco' ended. 'Rock and Roll Soniye' reminds me of 'Pretty Woman'. The title song is melodious and quite hummable. But the gem is 'Mitwa'. And for this song alone I would recommend buying KANK soundtrack. Shankar Ehsaan and Loy have composed this breezy folk fusion number and given the supremely talented Shafqat Amanat Ali a fantastic break in the Hindi Film Music Industry. The album also has a remixed version of 'Mitwa', but I am partial to the original.
'Omkara's music is different. There's the 'Beedi' item number which is for the masses. The haunting and romantic 'O Saathi Re' is mindblowing. The rustic 'Lakad Jalke' introduces new talent Rekha Bharadwaj (any connection to Vishal Bharadwaj, I wonder?). But the most important song that conveys the theme of jealousy and passion is Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's 'Naina thag lenge'. Pay close attention to the lyrics. Suresh Wadkar makes a comeback with the lori type 'Jag Ja gudiya' (not that he had really retired, but I haven't heard him sing for a mainstream Hindi film since Maachis. Wonder why the industry ignores him. His unforgettable 'Sanjh dhale' from Utsav is my all time favourite). Over all, a good album, but might not be liked by everyone. The reviews of the film are very good and I read glowing words of tareef for Saif's perfomance, but that will have to wait till the pirated version of the DVD is available in Frankfurt.
While on movies, I watched Golmaal recently and it was really really funny. My conclusion - any movie that Arshad Warsi is a part off will definitely be a notch above the others. His comic timing is fabulous. Ajay Devgan has the main role, but the others have enough screen time to showcase their talents. Sharman Joshi makes a good follow up act to 'Rang De Basanti'. His character is believably sincere. Paresh Rawal is efficient and Sushmita Mukherji is the perfect match to his charater. She is almost like Nirupa Roy (remember her eyes blinking furiously in the Big B's hit 'Mard' where she plays a blind woman?), only, a lot funnier! The surprise package is Tushar Kapoor. Without revealing too much, I'll just say that Tushar didn't leave anything unsaid! The film is definitely paisa wasool!
I am desperately trying to find out which movie halls here would be screening KANK. I know it will be candy floss, Karan Johar Style, peppered with the who's who of fiimdom. And I know it will be one big senti drama. But I still want to watch it first day second show, and its not possible here :-(.
Nowadays, I am reading 'Eldest', the sequel to 'Eragon' which is the story of a boy and a dragon. I liked 'Eragon' very much. Hard to believe that the author was only 16 when he wrote it. I am looking forward to the big screen adaptation. I read Mary Higgins Clark's latest 'Two Little Girls in Blue' and was quite disappointed. It was preditable and the theme of twins being telepathic was not sufficient to make the full novel engrossing. I found a second hand version of 'Death on Cape Cod', which is a short stories collection by the same lady. I am optimistic that this one will return my faith in Ms Clark.
August is the month of vacations in Europe and I am going on one too. Next week this time I will be in Bergen in Norway. More on this later!
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Picture vivid blue skies, snow capped peaks, cows with koo-bells, Kajol running into the arms of her beloved admidst yellow fields...wait wait wait, wasn't that scene supposed to be in the sarson ke khet in Punjab or were we only led to believe it was so? Whatever! But one of the reasons for the success of Yash Chopra's films (DDLJ, Darr, Chandni, etc) is the dreamlike beauty of the locations. Its what has made Switzerland a must-see destination for most Indian tourists who can afford to take a holiday abroad. And by the sheer number of desis that I saw there, it looks like a holiday abroad is quite common these days.
Anyway, back to where I started...blue skies, bluish green lakes and landscapes to kill, that's Switzerland, folks. It is THE beautiful place in the world and I was lucky to visit it twice in the same month. On my two short trips, I covered Zurich, Lucerne and Interlaken. Zurich and Lucern are similar to other European countries - pretty cobbled pathways, beautifully erected buildings, a river side with restaurants where unsuspecting tourists could be led to make a serious hole in their pockets and a main street with all the branded shops.
Interlaken, the city of Lakes is slightly different. It does have its share of shops and restaurants, but the real beauty lies in the surroundings. Interlaken and the nearby places could be explored by foot, bike or car and I was able to use two of those options. My first trip was by car with dear hubby driving and we discovered how enjoyable it was too just go wherever we liked (..the navigation system in the car was a big help!). On my second trip, I was with my older sis. It was her idea to rent bikes and explore. We traced the path alongside the river to the two main lakes that are on either sides of Interlaken - Lake Thun to the left and Lake Brienz to the right. Wherever we went, all we had to do is stop and take in the beauty around us, the hills, the cows, the greenery and the lakes. And I say it one more time at the risk of repeating myself (again!).
I can't wait to go back there again, but this time, I would like to stay for a longer time in one of the small pretty villages. A cottage by the river, and just the quiet hills around.
1) Swiss fondue, supposed to be a speciality, didn't impresss me at all. (May be I still need to develop a taste for Swiss cheese.)
2) There are more Watch and Jewellery shops than people in Switzerland.
3) Aishwarya Rai can be seen endorsing Longines in most shop windows.
4) SRK was conspicusous with his absence from the same windows (expected him to be flaunting his Tag Heuer) but Brad Pitt more than made up for his absence!!
Friday, April 07, 2006
watching - Season 10 of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. My favourite episodes? The One with Ross's Tan, The one where Amy babysits Ella...oops I mean Emma and the one with Phoebe's wedding.
Law & Order - The Premier year. Pleasure to watch BIG (Chris Noth) from Sex and the City in this mindblowing cop and lawyer drama series. Can't wait to lay my hands on the spin off - Law & Order SVU (Special Victims Unit).
Also watched for the second time - Salaam Namaste and Kal Ho Na Ho. Goes to show how badly I need to go to Frankfurt for the next set of hindi DVDs. Would like to watch 'Water', 'Taxi Driver 9 2 11' and 'Maalamal'
listening to - The soundtrack of the new film 'Ankahee'. It has some soulful tunes that sort of grow on you. Reminded me of the soundtrack of 'Saaya'. 'Ankahee' is supposed to be based on the Sushmita Sen - Vikram Bhatt love story. That Sen has disapproved of this film made on her private life only makes it more interesting.
still listening to - Zinda..what a mindblowing, amazing album. The double CD pack comes with lounge and club versions. Have to say I prefer the Lounge one, especially for the title song by Strings (I lovva lovva them)
visited - Had been on a weekend trip to Amsterdam with hubby and buddys. Didn't see no Tulips. Didn't see no lap dances and didn't do no dope (I am a good girl ;-)). But I did see the Anne Frank Museum. And I enjoyed it (not the right word, given the theme of the museum, but can't think of a relpacement right now) despite not having read the book.
eating - Thai, Thai and more Thai food. I say, bring on the Khai Phods and Phad Thais!
drinking - champagne a few hours back, was a farewell party thrown for a colleague who is leaving
Trivia: This year is Rembrant's 400th B'Day.
Friday, February 24, 2006
One must start at the beginning. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is, arguably, the guy who started it all by blowing up 50 crores in the making of a film about a guy who's tragic story was unknown to few people, thanks to Saratda, K L Saigal and the living legend, Dilip Kumar. Also to burn his hands in an equally expensive venture was Akbar Khan who made the magnum opus Tajmahal, even as the retouched version of 'Mughal-e-Azam' put an end to any curiousity about the film. Unfortunately Naushad's remarkable compositions for the film went unnoticed.
Today, every director worth his salt is making a remake. Be it RGV, J P Dutta or Pritish Nandy. Even a young talented director like Farhan Akhtar is making 'Don', THE Amitabh Classic. What convinced Farhan that he could recreate Bachchan's charismatic portrayal of Don? SRK, who's playing Don might be able to do a 'khaike paan banaras waala', but can he actually become a very stylish Don AND not look funny while singing 'Main hoon Don'? I almost had a heart attack when I read that Kareena Kapoor was to do the Helen number. Puhleeze...!! I am OK with Urmilas or Ishas trying their luck with 'Yeh mera Dil'..but Kareena is a big NO.
Let me move on to some other remakes that are quickly gathering a lot of publicity. Not only is Ram Gopal Verma remaking Sholay (that, to me, is the ultimate blasphemy), he is even remaking James. Whether audience will want to go watch Mohit Ahlwat doing the dishum-dishum and generally sulking at the world, is left to me seen. RGV's Sholay has Amitabh playing Gabbar's role. The lesser said about this remake, the better.
Then there is the J P Dutta's Umrao Jaan that's in process, with Aishwarya Rai playing the title role and I am left wondering if they will come anywhere close to Muzaffar Ali's original. The only reason I will ever watch this film is because Abhishek Bachchan plays a key character.
Not far behind is Pritish Nandy who is making Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam. No prizes for guessing who'll portray the sadistic husband. The one and only Salmaan Khan. They got atleast that one right! Priyanka Chopra, who plays the alcoholic wife better start liking the poison. I don't know how else she is going to match upto Meena Kumari's histrionics. The joke is on John Abraham who is playing Bhola, the ghulam in love with his malkin. Don't get me wrong, I quite like John (more on this later). But why pick a stud with six packs and biceps to play the innocent servant, a role made so memorable by none other than Guru Dutt?
A point in favour of Ashutosh Gowarikar who is making Akbar Jodha. Now this is one story I have not heard or seen before. I look forward to a very well researched product, with fine technicians and good music.
Until then, may the Almighty save me and the rest of the movie buffs from the remakes.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
I soon got weary of remembering all the details. Then I thought about Rang de Basanti, the latest Aamir Khan film that I had enjoyed only last week. Aamir's character in the film reminded me of an old college friend who never wanted to stop being a student. Everytime I met him after I passed out of college, I felt that time had stopped moving on. Although Aamir is 40, he looked quite ok as the 30 something guy whoz still in college. And the music....it was haunting and sweet and tugged at my heart. Especially 'Tu bin bataye..' and 'Lukka Chippi'. But I think the title song is the best, full of energy and very young. I found the ending of the story exaggerated, but the message came across. Not sure how much of an awakening it will lead to, but Rakesh Mehra proved that he can do much better than 'Aks'.
Here's something interesting. I landed in Mumbai airport at midnight and I had to while away the time before my connecting flight which was only next morning. At first I was irritated because there was hardly any space to sit down. Every available chair was occupied. Finally we (I was accompanied by my sis) found space on the marble edge of a really desperate landscaping attempt. Seriously, who wants plants inside an airport? After a while, I was almost dozing off, when I felt someone shaking me hard. I opened one eye, and saw JOHN ABRAHAM walking a few feet away. My sister, who had cottoned on to it much before me, skipped across to get his autograph. I was dead-still for a few moments, making sure it was not a dream. And then I walked over, shook his hand, and told him 'Hi John, its great to meet you. I am huge fan!' And he gave me the sweetest smile in the whole world, before walking away. He looked exactly as he did on screen, handsome, sexy with a raw magnetic appeal. From the corner of my eye, I saw his girlfriend Bipasha walking past him. But I was too excited to really notice her. Sigh....it was wonderful! There was no question of dozing off after that. My eyes and ears were perked up, just in case I met anybody else interesting!
Thursday, January 05, 2006
But he did make it big, and how! Its almost twenty years now since his acting debut in the television series 'Fauji', and he can be rightfully described as one of the biggest stars in the world. A recently released Autobiographical DVD attempts to capture the persona of SRK, the phenomenon that he has become and the very humane individual that he is. There are two parts to the DVD, very aptly titled "Inner" and "Outer" worlds.
The outer world is mostly about his shows in the US, where he is accompanied by other actors. The mass hysteria, the popularity of Hindi films and stars, and the spontaneity with which Shahrukh handles the live audience are all very well captured. Not to mention the unlimited energy he puts into each act. On a side note, I couldn't help noticing that how some women who look so glamorous on screen look so normal, almost plain, without makeup. I wouldn't give them a second look if I see them on the road sans the grease paint. And this is Rani Mukherji and Priyanka Chopra I am talking about, who figure occasionally in this part of the show.
The inner world section talks about some very interesting bits. For instance, did you know that Shahrukh had an older sister living with him? Did you know that his son thought his father was Aamir Khan for a really long time? Many more such facts come to the surface. SRK goes back to his school in Delhi and its touching to see how much he loves being there. And then there is the forever long queue of fans waiting for one look from him. Its amazing to see how well he handles all the attention. He never refuses a fan. Such is his popularity that he actually has to sign autographs even while he was visiting his parents' grave.
This DVD, a must-see for all Shahrukh fans, contains immeasurable amount of information about their beloved actor. Also for those who are just plain curious about him, he'll be a revelation, much beyond the Rahuls and Rajs that he has portrayed on the silver screen.