Thursday, December 28, 2006

Go 'head Munnabhai!

Since my quasi-review of Lage Raho Munnabhai is way overdue and since I probably wouldn't do the film much justice anyways, I thought I'd repost the comment nic made about LRM since it was a cool little "teachable moment."

My comment is pretty long but I hope it will give you some Indian perspective on what makes LRM special.

Apart from the fact that it was quite entertaining, LRM was a hit throughout India, even in the south and even in small towns. This is a very rare event in itself since most new movies nowadays are designed for the city and overseas audiences. When I went to see the movie in Mumbai (Bombay) I could see people from all age groups in the audience. Even handicapped people and very old people had made an effort to come to the theater to watch the movie which is rare.

Now in India, movies are more than just entertainment. People take movies seriously, very seriously. They look up to movies as ideals to emulate. So you have some people jumping off huge heights after watching Krrish, people questioning their marriage after watching KANK, teens driving rashly after watching Dhoom and women copying the latest Bollywood costume designs.That's also why you have so many happy joint families, elaborate weddings and romance in Indian movies because that's what most Indians aspire for.

When Gandhi died, Einstein had correctly predicted "future generations would refuse to believe that a man like Gandhi ever existed" and that has indeed become the case with many Indians, specially teenagers. Most Indians read about Gandhi in history textbooks in school and acknowledge that he was an extraordinary human. But they also find Gandhi's ideals impossibly utopian. They don't think its possible to emulate his principles in practical life.

Also some Indians feel, perhaps only subconsciously, that we have not been able to carry forward Gandhi's legacy. The government in its public service broadcasts tells people, "Lets try and find the Gandhi in ourselves" but the common man doesn't know how to go about doing it. He wants practical ways to resolve his life issues.

What school history lessons could not do, this movie was able to do by presenting Gandhi in a lighter vein, showing how you can change people without resorting to force & violence. It showed that gandhigiri works.

The impact of the movie was that people asked themselves how they could apply Gandhi's ideals in their lives. Some people solved disputes amicably, even court cases were settled after using some of the methods in the movie. It worked for some, didn't work for others but the bottom line is people were willing to give peaceful conflict resolution a chance.

Also this movie caused an entire generation in India to rediscover Gandhi and that is no easy task. Teenagers actually became interested in knowing more about the Mahatma. Bookstores opened new sections on Gandhi due to increasing sales. People wanted to explore Gandhi's life and his ideology.

Outside the theater I could see people selling Gandhi's autobiography and many people actually buying it. Now that's much more than what you can expect from a movie. The effect may be temporary but it was a very positive one.

I only have three worthwhile additions:

  • I love Circuit and I'm glad Munna finally apologized for slapping him around.
  • Watching two old folks get married is about the cutest thing I saw all year.
  • Numerology IS a silly excuse to add extra letters to your name.
Okay, okay I have to ask: Did I just imagine they showed Munna married at the end of the first film? As my one friend said, "That must have been in an alternate universe."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Peace and Goodwill to all Mankind!

Merry Christmas everybody!!!
Hope you're spending the day with family and friends.

Ever wonder why folks were so excited about Jesus' birth? Here's a little snippet straight from Handel's Messiah (borrowed from the book of Isaiah), foretelling the birth of Christ:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Several hundred years before the birth of Jesus, an announcement was his arrival, his authority and his identity. Very, very cool.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bollywood's Hottest

According to Forbes Magazine, "Bollywood is hot."
Geez. I've been saying that all along...

To put it in perspective, Hindi films made up half of the 14 foreign language films that grossed more than $2 million in the U.S. this year--more than any other language. That is a record.
Well, black folks aren't the only ones who like singing and dancing. lol

Anyways, check out the Forbes commentary on the highest grossing Hindi films of the year here. Do you even have to ask what was first on the list? Only one man has the digits to take the world by storm!

[Side Note: According to the Times of India, the third installment of KMG/Krrish is supposed to hit screens next year. If they do more action figures of Hrithik, somebody needs to hook me up! Seriously.]

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

When life takes over

I know it's hard to imagine but lately I've actually had work to do at work--important type stuff and I'm the only one who can get it done. I've also been overwhelmed by social obligations aka celebrations of the joyous Christmas season.

Basically, I haven't watched a Bollyfilm in almost two weeks. This, while suffering from a flu/cold/sinus infection that can only be described as bio-terrorism. Times are hard. I didn't even check out Baabul when it played at the Belcourt on Sunday. No John Abraham for me (or Salman for that matter so I suppose I really should count my blessings).

Also, I keep meaning to do a post called "the dark ones" or "views of blackness" or something or other but more pragmatic life-related things keep getting in the way.

L'chai-im! To life!

[I'll be back at some point.]

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bollywood Boy and...Christ

I had been vaguely musing over the fact that I'm quite overdue for an introspective theological post and lo and behold I was drawn into deep thought by a pop lit book masquerading as journalistic inquiry into Hrithik Roshan's meteoric rise into cinematic reign.

When I finished reading Justine Hardy's Bollywood Boy, yesterday, I couldn't help but pause in thought over the cost of fame, the weight of adulation, sameness in difference--life in general. [I won't bother reviewing the book. Folks have done an accurate enough job on]

The thing that started my head spinning was this, "You know I am so tired all the time. I can't remember not being tired." Spoken by Hrithik during his interview with Justine, these words, in the last 5 pages of 264 hung like a heavy mist in the dialogue of my mind. Dang, I thought. How many times have I said that in the past year? Their dialogue continued leading Hrithik to say, "I just wonder what it would be like if it could all just stop and I could get on with learning how to act." By the time I completed the last few pages of the book, the mist hadn't lifted, it had settled. I wonder what it would be like if...I wonder.

In about 15 seconds my mind connected these questions with my personal quandary of existence: What is the point of pursing something that you would wonder about if you had not pursued it only to be wondering after receiving it what it would be like to be released from it? Does the weight of unmerited adulation exhaust more completely than the glare of undesired obscurity? What is the difference between being dead tired from inescapable success and being tired from the inescapable monotony of normalcy if in either instance, you are unable to escape? Any difference is merely outward.

My mind quickly switched gears:
If difference is merely external, only an internal stability will weather the innumerable questions of possibility--an internal stability I don't believe I possess--a complete and clear sense of purpose to weather obscurity and the monotony of life. Hmmm. What else could make life more bearable? Love. Love? Love. It is so easy for me to love beauty and its manifestation in mankind. Purpose is not something that can be gathered from beauty though the aching absence of purpose can be softened by love. Perhaps love redirected will produce the needed result. Weird. A verse from my Sunday school days came back to my mind, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul and your mind." [ref] It rang like a nursery rhyme weighed down only by the settled mist.

So began my dialogue with Christ:

I do not see you Messiah in all things. I see beauty and I love it most. I do not feel drawn by your words, rather feelings of retreat. The song of beauty offers escape so sweet, so easy to follow. I sing in harmony with it, a song I learned when first I learned to choose. How then can I find such sweetness in your voice? How can I be drawn so easily to your side, to your otherworldliness that I will sing your song, your praises, your harmony as if it were the only song I had ever known? Why can I not rest in your love? Find in your eyes fragility, humanity? See you everywhere, hear you in the pauses, in the words that are not said and receive you, believing that you will receive me every time?
I asked and I received. It's a curious thing--barely explicable, too fresh to unwrap--a quiet, growing sense of receiving and being received by an invisible, omnipresent and personal being in my response to questioning whether he was beautiful and being shown that he was. ;)
He is.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My Lucky 7 - Picks for Newbies

I got an email from a very cool girl yesterday asking for Bollywood recommendations. I'd like to pretend that I'm some sort of expert but quite honestly, I cast my net wide and normally gather the opinions of much better informed persons than myself when deciding what to watch.

Thus, at this point in the game, I feel fairly confident in making some "newbie"
recommendations since I know that all my choices will be fully supported by the readers of this blog. [Ha! Has anyone who reads this site ever been hesitant to correct me?]

That being the case, here's my recommendations to a girl who's seen only Bride and Predjudice so far. (Did I mention I don't get that movie?) Fresh off the email circuit:

My Lucky 7.
Bollywood Guide for the Western Eye

My next suggestion would be to jump on over to Monsoon Wedding. It's a nice transitional film with plenty of Hinglish but will warm you up to reading subtitles. It's not proper Bollywood in that it doesn't have any big dance numbers but it has cultural elements that will become all too familiar after a few films.

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham is typical Bollywood fare in both its strengths and weaknesses. The music and costumes are fabulous. It has a strong cast but at times the story slows down unnecessarily and other moments are rife with silliness that probably weren't supposed to be silly. Nonetheless, it's one of the highest grossing Hindi films ever.

Since it was one of the first Hindi films I watched, Dil Se will always be close to my heart. ;) Mani Ratnam is an amazing director. I'm still searching for one of his films I won't like. It's not typical Bollywood industry fare but it is uniquely Indian. It combines star-crossed lovers, political intrigue and a great soundtrack. What's not to like?

A lot of people really like Lagaan. I don't much care for Aamir Khan so for me, it was a long three hours. It's a story that takes place during the British Raj so from a socio-historical perspective, it's an informative film. Also, if you don't know anything about cricket, you most assuredly will after watching.

Devdas did very well at the Cannes film festival when it premiered. I found the music a bit more challenging than most of the other films. The feel of the music, like much of the film, is the slightest bit dark but it's beautifully offset by the most fabulously ornate costuming and production design you've ever seen.

Another beautiful film with a fairy-tale like feel is Paheli. It's only about two hours long (made with Western audiences in mind). It's an unusual film by any standard and visually stunning. One of my favorites.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and recommend Munnabhai M.M.B.S. as the last of the "Lucky 7." The film is very silly--it is a comedy--but it left me feeling warm and fuzzy at the end, no small feat, so it makes the cut.

Also, if you haven't seen Bend It Like Beckham, you totally should. I don't know any girls who've seen it and didn't like it! It's not Bollywood but it is Indian.
I chose the films I did because it seemed like a nice sampler of styles and subject matter: modernism vs. tradition; love vs. arranged marriage; family ties; the effects of political unrest; colonial oppression; love across boundaries of class, race and/or societal commitment; frustration with bureaucratic ineptitude and of course, gangsters.

Okay folks, weigh in.
Boys in particular, I'd like to hear what you have to add!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

King Khan as Prince Asoka

The tagline for Asoka is: Only the dead have seen the end of war. In many ways that about sums up the film...

[This is my second encounter with Sinister Shahrukh in a month!]

Asoka is a pretty cool story. Shahrukh did a great job progressing through angst-ridden agressiveness to impassioned love to calculated vengence. It was a treat to watch. As much as I may not care for Kareena, off the top of my head, I can't think of anyone else who could carry the "warrior princess" vibe.

The cinematography in the film was very impressive though a bit self-reflective at times. Every other scene had moments that were not necessarily narrative but were visually appealing. My absolute fave was Roshini Si. I loved the monotone set/costume scheme, use of shadows--contrast of dark and light and that weird slow-motion reverse thing they kept doing. Very cool.

One strange thing was Asoka's periodic nose bleeds. I'm guessing it's significant because it would be to strange to do on a whim. Anyone want to drop some knowledge on that one?

While this was a serious film and presented itself as such, it still had a very Shahrukhophilic feel. The Badshah treated us to no less than 5 variations on bathing. As an encore, I present:

"Seven Faces of Shahrukh"

I. SRK Pouty
II. "Come and get it" a.k.a. "Tiger Eyes"III. The depths of despair
IV. Passion by SRKV. Vengeance Cometh
VI. Badshah forever VII. Au natural
or, Variation on Bathing, Part 4

At any rate, Asoka is one of those rare films that even anti-Bollywood menfolk can be convinced to watch. In fact, I added it to my list when my physical therapist, a film fanatic himself, mentioned it. It's the only Indian film he's seen and he loved it.

All that aside, I have one last question. If you were going to battle where there was swords and stuff, would you wear this outfit? Just curious.

And because I can, I'd like to point out that the framing of the next to last scene of Asoka reminded me of the last scene in The Passion which was awfully eerie. Asoka came out first (2001) so I guess it's just one of those strange coincidences...

A little Christmas cheer

Ha ha. I love legos so here's a little Christmas story to brighten your day. Consider this your first Christmas present!

(If only I could be 10 again with the technology we have now...)

[via Bible Films Blog]

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Obscenity in Dhoom 2

Yes folks. It's true. There were several obscene moments in Dhoom 2 and only one involved Miss Rai. The culprit, as you may have already guessed, is one Hrithik Roshan. The following dictums were violated:

Offense 1.1.1:
At no time, ever, for any reason, should any form of liquid, gel, cream, or other water-based product be rubbed on Mr. Roshan's freshly waxed torso. This--while violated for a mere 10 seconds at most--was nothing less than debauchery.

Offense 2.2.2:
At no time, ever, for any reason, should hands or other body parts belonging to cast members--including Mr. Roshan himself--at any time caress Mr. Roshan's freshly waxed torso. Blatant titillation. Blatant.

Offense 3.3.3:
At no time, ever, for any reason, should Mr. Roshan's "V" and subsequent sport boxers be on display for public consumption. Nor should his jeans be placed in such fashion that they appear as if they...just...might...slip...if he moved in an unpredictable manner. Raising licentious, though unfulfilled, desires in innocent moviegoing audiences is never justified.

Offense 4.4.4:
At no time, ever, for any reason, should Mr. Roshan be seen locking lips with anyone other than his wife Sussane. It is not appropriate for women the world over to think that they too, given the right circumstances might be able to extract "some lovin'" from Mr. Roshan.

Because of the aforementioned offenses, not only was my dignity challenged but my ability to breathe was placed under undue duress. Having paid $11 to have my health and decorum disrupted, I will use the remainder of this time to recount other notable aspects of the evening:

  • Hrithik Roshan makes an ugly woman y'all.
  • Did anybody else know you could make those jetski things go under water?
  • One must have the body of a Greek god to masquerade as one.
  • Was it really necessary that Aish say, "I'm hot." Was it? They already made the poor child speak about her character in the third person. Must she also allude to herself so blatantly?
  • Aish moves like a girl, runs a like a girl and plays basketball like a girl.
  • Ali = Carlton = a hot mess.
  • Carnival in Brazil is Bollywood on steroids.
  • When Hrithik was wearing that white outfit and the ponytail weave, I kept hearing Riiiico Suaaave. [If you don't know why, you need to find out.]
  • I shouldn't even ask but, "Why is Snow White--the Disney version at that--in the dinosaur exhibit?"
The only real acting in this entire film happened just pre-kiss. Excluding the inexplicable end-of-scene turnaround, that was the most real moment. Frightening--why does Hrithik go psycho in every film?--but real. The present lawsuit simply proves the point that what is not seen is more powerful that what is seen. 'Cause all the grown folks in the room know what would happen after a meltdown like that and there's nothing PG-13 about it.

I now leave you with several conclusions:
  • Hrithik dances like a Chippendale, which explains my desire, yet complete inability, to look away.
  • Bips is one hott mama! This is the first film I've seen her in. Normally I see her in photos with John and for some reason *cough* I never noticed her before.
  • Uday is not annoying when he's being funny. Without him this movie would slosh around like a slurpee with no ice. The Baywatch thing - priceless!
  • Aishwarya and Hrithik are both such perfect looking, fabulous dancers that there's no way either of them are from this planet. I think however, they're both from the same planet, on which they are known as brother and sister. (Hrithik's extra digit is simply evidence that even in the best of laboratories, things do occasionally go awry.)
I rest my case.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Don't we all?

Not to be outdone by Will Smith, reports have it that George Clooney has recently stated that he loves Bollywood and would welcome the opportunity to perform in a Hindi film.

Geez, if everybody starts doing it, it won't be cool anymore...

Read the trascript and watch the video on CNN-IBN.

[For the record, they really need to stop calling him the world's sexiest man as if that wasn't Hrithik's birthright.]

Thanks Susan!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Is that Michael Richards with Jesse Jackson?!

Why yes, I think it is!

Oh, what a difference a few days and a PR campaign make! He's doing a good job of repositioning himself. One can only hope it is with sincere intentions. The NYTimes did a nice update on the Michael Richards fiasco in the Sunday paper. You can read it here.

I'll spoil the ending for you:
“What is worse than a white man calling a black man a nigger?” [Dick] Gregory said, quoting his son. “Calling a white man Michael Richards.”
LOL!!! Michael Richards shall forever live in infamy...

The wifi on my laptop is burnt out. It's working about as well as a homemade radio. That being the case, my fabulous, photo-filled commentaries on Asoka and Lage Raho Munnabhai are stuck in Never Never Land. Hopefully this situation will be resolved by Thursday so I can recount all the ways Hrithik Roshan is Bringing Sexy Back...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's hard out here for a hottie

LOL! Looks like Hrithik's hottness finally got him in trouble...

Apparently, Bollywood Boyfriend #1 and Aishwarya Rai have caused a bit of a stir with their lip-locking in Dhoom 2. I know, it's hard to watch two such ridiculously beautiful people share a passionate moment and then go home to your ordinary looking spouse.

In the name of ordinary looking folks everywhere, there's a fella in Madhya Pradesh who filed a criminal case against the pair accusing them of obscenity. Personally, I think he needs to admit that this has quite a bit more to do with hotttttness than it does with actual offense.

Geez! As if Aish didn't have enough on her plate with her tree marriage and all...

BTW, I've seen the kiss--yeah, YouTube!--and it's only medium hott. Maybe it's more offensive in context. Can't wait till Thursday!!!
Story from Reuters.

Um, yeah. And on to the real reason why Hrithik's married to Sussanne and not me:

“While doing the scene, all I knew was that I had to answer the challenge set by Sussanne.

She said, ‘If you are going to do the kiss, make sure it’s the best g*ddamn kiss in the world.’

Eventually, both Sussanne and I loved the kiss.” Who was on his mind during the lip-lock? “You think of (the characters) Aryan and Sunheri, that’s it,” he states. [Hindustan Times]
I, on the other hand, would be far more inclined to take K-Jo's advice and lock Hrithik in the closet...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

From a non-Bollywood fan...

I've been keeping up with the blog of Ryan Nee, a guy who's spending this year in a "round the world" type tour. I found out about his blog from somebody (his brother I think) over at Ryan was in India the past few weeks and saw Dhoom 2 without subtitles on his last day in Kolkata. His description made me laugh out loud:

One of the few things I knew about Bollywood is that they release the songs from the movie well before the movies hit theatres so that people can sing along and get really into the movies as they're watching them. Sure enough, I somehow knew a few of the songs just because I've been in India for a few months. The whole movie was in Hindi, so it was a little bit confusing, but I understood most of what was going on. Actually, I guess you could say the movie was in Hinglish, the weird Hindi-English crossover language spoken by the Indian upper middle class. Dialogue went something like this:

Oh my god! Hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi. That's so cool, man! Hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi is all that I've ever wanted. Hindi hindi hindi hindi hindi. Oh, I know darling! Hindi hindi hindi.
I'm watching Anbe Sivam right now without subtitles. (I know, that's what happens when you obtain media illegally.) I like the movie. It's really funny but I'm not sure how engaged I'd be if there wasn't any Hinglish Tinglish Tanglish! How else is a monolingual supposed to know if they're following okay?

As for Ryan, you can read about his travels at If you check his older posts, he's got some pretty nice photos and mini-video clips of his time in India and China. I think he went to Nepal and Bangladesh too but I can't remember so you'll have to check it out for yourself!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hurry! Offer ends December 15!

Yeah, so rather than do something productive, I was checking my site statistics only to discover this:I was targeted for Citibank NRI Business ads featuring DON. (Does that mean my "ghetto pass" has been revoked?)

Anyhoo, besides getting a copy of the new DON if you set up a new account with Citibank NRI, even without making such a big commitment, you can enter a contest to win a walk-on role in an undisclosed film (!) or random things like (no lie) "trendy sunglasses" and "snazzy movie t-shirts." [Link] Don't think you're going to get something for nothing. You have to answer 5 true/false questions correctly and come up with a showstopping slogan to finish the phrase: The DON is one of a kind because---.

In case you're wondering, of course I entered. I don't have any snazzy movie t-shirts in my collection. Hurry! Offer ends December 15!