Thursday, December 4, 2008

Do Hanky

Do Raste was a movie by Raj Khosla that released in 1969. This was a momentous year for Rajesh Khanna. Here was a genuine boy next door who wore bush-shirts over slim fit trousers. His diction (or should I say dialouge delivery) was to die for. He had worked in some avant garde movies like Ittefaq and Aakhri Khat. His Aradhana was a super duper hit. He was well on his way to his Phenomonen status and unequalled adulation.

But what to do, it was the time of the CLICHE. You would take a look at a girl in a saree with the palloo draped over her head and you said, ahhh here is the girl who will make my ghar a swarg. A girl with a bouffant and shamlessly bared arms n you went - nahi nahi, ye ladki mere ghar to nark bana degi. Smokers were BAD people, milk drinkers were innocent. Poor were good and Rich were bad. Villagers were good hearted and City dwellers were evil. Balraj Sahni, Jeetendra, Rajendra Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz, Sharmila Tagore were safe people, you couldnt trust Jeevan, Pran, Prem Chopra, Bindu, Helen and Faryaal.

So Do Raaste was a tale of a middle class family that believed in staying together. The mega-mom Veena had taken a step-son into her affectionate heart and promptly gives birth to 3 more children. The step-son (Balraj Sahni as Nabendu) vows to take care of his step-siblings like his own on his fathers death-bed. His wife (Kamini Kaushal as Madhvi) vows likewise and denies her children milk so that her step-in-laws may be comfortable. The oldest of the steps, Viju (Prem Chopra) is brainy and Nabendu takes huge loans to send him abroad to study. There is an undercurrent of expectation that he will take care of the rest when he is ready to earn big bucks.

The audience already knows that Prem Chopra (Viju) is a bad egg and there is trouble ahead. To top the cake with the cherry, he is married off to Bindu (Neela). Hey, the audience is buzzing .. bahut bura hua. Neela is a nagin in disguise and takes care of Viju's purse and makes him leave home. This is the pits.. no hero ever leaves home, it is always the evil villian. BUT hope is alive because the younger step is now tan tan tana Rajeeesssshhh Khanna. So the audience heaves a sigh of relief. Yeh zaroor is khandan ki izzat ko bachayega. Rajesh Khanna (Satyan) entertains the audience with some songs and a romantic track with Mumtaz (Reena). Chup gaya saare nazaare oye kya baat ho gayi, sings Reena with an innocent pout. Tune kajal lagaya din me raat ho gayi, sings back Satyan with a short shake of the head and a blink. What became a mannerism later is a fresh thing then. The females in the audience are sold hook line and sinker. What a looker !

Neela is up to her tricks to divide brother from brother. Nabendu bears it all stoically, he faces layoff right at the moment, his wife has to sell bangles, he has to sell some tasteless furniture, kids are kicked out of school, his step-mom dies of medical neglect, moneylender is claiming the house. To top it, his good step-brother Satyan (who looks at least 27) is still an undergrad, his step-sister cant work. Only their good neighbour, Jayant, who plays a pathan, helps them. So we have a tiny track on hindu-muslim ekta.

However, while the Nabendu group is going hungry what is Neela-Viju duo up to? They are throwing parties where Neela wears a foot-high bouffant with some loose curls dangling about her face. (She looks simply gorgeous with her large eyes slashed by thick eyeliner and the Marge Simpson do). AND they visit strip-tease night club. Gasp ! That is the PITS. There is a pretty good dancer who loses a couple of her veils while Viju smokes furiously and Neela seems to be ENJOYING HERSELF. The message is clear, this couple wants to enjoy life. The audience that has already wrung out one tearfilled hanky and is preparing to use another, gasps in horror. Look at this major slut, she is grinning and partying.

But thankfully, Madhvi bhabhi comes into her own and brings about a closure by going to Viju to beg him for some financial reprieve. While Viju and Neela are busy insulting her back, Satyan pops up at the door. How he found about about his bhabhi's whereabouts are going to remain a mystery to me forever, but he does take the bull by the horns and unlike his forgiving brother Nabendu, he does some plainspeaking. Among the things he says in his clear voice, he also intones - Jis ghar me mard aurat ka ghulam ho wahan me kabhi nahi reh sakta. There were many appreciating ceeties and claps at this. Then he locks his bhabhi in a room, and beats up his brother. Nagin strikes again, and hits Satyan on his head with a heavy flower pot.

Suddenly this emotional potboiler turns into a thriller. What will happen next? Will Satyan die? Will he require an operation? Will he complain to the police against Viju and Neela? But of course, Nagin realises that she cant wish away this part of the family and reconciles with them after Satyen tells the police he fell from the stairs. The audience squeezes out the last teardrops and goes home.

The movie was marred heavily by several cliche-ridden dialouges and situations. I dont think the writer had to do any hard work at all. Some camera movements were really strange. There was a song where Mumtaz and Rajesh Khanna were shot standing behind some coloured screens. The effect was definately kitsch there. But the beautiful songs probably stayed with them, and drew them back to the cinema hall. The lover-boy Rajesh Khanna sings - Yeh reshmi zulfein, yeh sharbati aankhen, inhe dekh kar jee rahe hain sabhi. Mumtaz did her bit by wearing a terrible orange saree and a behenji makeover for the naughty Bindiya Chamkegi. I wish she had worn a peppy pajami kurta for this one. Then there was the aforementioned - Chup gaya saare nazare oye kya baat ho gayi. And also 'Khiza ke phool pe aati kabhi bahar nahi, mere naseeb me e dost tera pyaar nahi'. Lakshikant Pyarelal gave some memorable numbers for this otherwise drab movie.

This was posted on PFC - follow the link under the title else here -

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Talash - 1969

The movie came out in 1969, the IMDB informs me. My cousins were crazy about movies and I remember a lot of excitement among them for this movie. It was supposed to be uber stylish, lots of lavish sets and songs and such good stuff.

On Diwali, I was flipping channels and came across the movie airing on SAB, and stayed to watch. I had missed a few reels but could recall the scenes. The movie had opened with Sulochana doing the 'kapde see see' stuff. All Bollywood movies of the late 60s and early 70s started with a widowed mother sitting by a sewing machine and talking about having raised their kids by stitching clothes, and living in genteel poverty. Cut- and Rajendra Kumar (Raju) is a fresh graduate - BA mind you. Before you double up with laughter, BA in those days was equivalent to an MBA from IIMA. He is snapped up by Balraj Sahni for his 'Industries', right off the campus. Suddenly things are looking up and the young fellow is off to the snow capped hills (where?where?) to celebrate his newfound success with OP Ralhan as Lachchu. Err.. if the 'young' men look too old to be fresh-out-of-college-students, we are to turn a blind eye. After all, Rajendra Kumar was Jubilee Kumar and OP Ralhan was the producer/director/writer of the movie.

There among the hills, the hero finds amour. He runs into a village belle, Sharmila Tagore as Gauri and promptly falls for her. His 'sidekick' - OP Ralhan (Lachchu) also finds himself intrigued by Rita - a dancer. It is Helen, of course, and the audience heaves a sigh of relief, a few good cabaret numbers are in offing. So our lovesick birds sing a few songs and though our good hero would have made an honest woman of the girl immediately, he needs 'maa ka ashirwaad', another clever cliche to stretch the proceedings. He needs to go back, get MKA and return before the next pooranmashi. If he doesn't, the girl vows to throw herself off the cliff. They get engaged and sing another song - Juneli Raat ma.. which is a tribal song, and I had to avert my eyes each time RK appeared on screen in his sleeveless top (ugh) which is passed off as the traditional thing to wear for your engagement party.

Raju returns to Mumbai to find that his boss (Balraj Sahni) favors him immensely, despite him overstaying his leave. There had been some incident earlier about Raju returning the boss's purse after he had dropped it intentionally to test Raju's honesty. Now, honestly, which fool would keep a measly purse in exchange for a JOB? Raju finds himself elevated to a partner after he clinches a takeover bid for his boss. He gets an imported car and a big bungalow to live in. He also gets invited to the homecoming party for the boss's daughter.

It is Tan-tan-tan time as the perplexed Raju discovers that the boss's daughter, Madhu, is Sharmila in a brown wig with sea-green eyes that match Hrithik Roshan's. Herein lies the beauty of the film. It is a Romantic Mystery. Who is this girl? Is that girl from the hills with brown eyes and black hair the same girl? How is it possible? The hero stays for the party while a great song plays - a song that brings out the situation perfectly - Tere naina talaash karen jise wo hai tujhi me kahin deewane - sung by Manna Dey..

Raju rushes back to the hills to check out the girl again and finds Gauri blowing on the chullah. He stays a day and Gauri sings him this wonderful song - Aaayega re udke mera hans pardesi. Raju runs back to find Madhu where she was. Now comes a great track of love versus passion. Madhu woos him with her riches and glamor. She wears backless cholis, nighties with decolletage and gowns and drives fast cars and invites him into her bedroom and plays seductive numbers - Kitni akeli, kitni tanhaa si lagi, unse mil ke me aaj. Her father too showers his largesse on him.  Should Raju accept a life full of wealth and ease or give them up and keep his promise to the girl in the hills.

Alas, it was that time of the decade when movies had to be stretched to full 3 hours, melodrama had to be added in huge helpings, humour had to be pushed down the throats of the viewers. Hence we have to watch the parallel track of Lachchu, OP Ralhan, who hogs as much space as the hero, which is why I put 'sidekick' in quotes earlier - this guy is almost like a 2nd hero. Lachchu finds that wooing Rita has its complications, her father had murdered one of his mates and is being blackmailed by another. On top of that, Lachchu's father is a miserly fellow and wants him to marry a rich Parsi girl - Tuntun - (who looks lovely in a tight churidaar kurta and a bouffant). So the movie does not conclude until we have had the full dose of the dying mother, dhishum dhishum, car chases, missed planes and hero running after the heroine who is off to throw herself down a chasm.

I loved the movie for its simple story, compared to later potboilers when there had to be Great Villians, here the issue is really inside the hero, as he struggles with his conscience.

The songs are all good, the music was, after all, by Sachin Dev Burman. My top favorite is - Aaayega re udke mera hans pardesi.

The cabarets by Helen are scintillating - Mera Kya Sanam and Karle Pyaar karle. The indoor sets are definitely good, Balraj Sahni's office, the rich Sharmila's bedroom with its huge wardrobes and a large bed. The cars they drive are all top-down convertibles, which was a rage then. The outdoor shoots on the snow-capped hills are not too impressive, the scenes seem to have been shot in a single location.

Rajendra Kumar wears suits to hide his paunch. The actors then didn't think of their body as a temple. Balraj Sahni, with his slim physique, looks really natty. Though his acting skills are quite wasted here. Sharmila gets to wear some ethnic skirts for her tribal get up and glamorous sarees and maxis (ugh- I am glad we saw the end of this fashion) and nighties. Helen looks very pretty with her pout and bouffants and bows and wow legs.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dev Anand the Eternal Hero

I am sure most of us wish Dev Anand's filmography - at the bottom of this page - stopped with Des Pardes that came out in 1978. Dev Anand was begining to look old and his mannerisms were getting too pronounced, even so, no mean achievement for someone who was close to 60 then. It was the right time to hang up his boots, a phrase that Dev Saab never knew.

I looked through his filmography and tried to tick the movies I had seen, and found my memory playing tricks with me. Some of this movies I have seen on Doordarshan in bits and pieces and find I cannot remember entirely. I can remember the songs of many of these movies and associate them immediately because I can recollect the drone of the announcer on AIR saying 'Ab suniye Afsar film ka gana, Suriya ki awaz me jise likha hai ... ne, sangeet nirdeshak hain ... ' After a tiresome list of sunnewale, the melodious voice of Suriya would sing - Man mor hua matwala. What songs they are. I am tempted to list them right here, but I think they should come after some movie talk.

The first movie on the list that I have seen is Baazi, a romatic thriller made by Guru Dutt. But alas, do not remember much. I remember Jaal very well. It is not a movie one can forget in a hurry. In Jaal Dev Anand played a tough crook bent upon cheating and looting. Geeta Bali is drawn to him and falls for him helplessly, she realises that when she is roused from her sleep to the sound of him singing - Yeh raat yeh chandni phir kahan, sun ja dil ki dastan. This song alone is worth the price of the DVD, though the movie is good too, a classic. There is some wonderful play of shadow and light in this song. You can see why Geeta Bali was so special here. You can also see how devastatingly handsome Dev was then.

Patita with Usha Kiron was another movie with some social message, she was (or pretended to be) an unwed mother here. I dont remember how the movie ended, I think the Mother of the boy - Lalita Pawar was the one who threw spanner in the works, but the songs were to die for.

"Kisine Apne Banaake Mujko Muskurana Sikha Diya"
"Andhe Jahaan Ke Andhe Raaste Jaayen To Jaayen Kahaan"
"Yaad Kiya Dil Ne Kahan ho Tum"

and the toppers

"Mitti Se Khelte Ho Baar Baar Kisliye"
"Hai Sabse Madhur Woh Geet Jinhe Ham Dard Ke Sur Mein Gaate Hain"

I have seen Pocketmaar, which starred Geeta Bali, Dev and the ubiquitous baddie KN Singh, it was a good movie.

CID is not to be missed, for the debut of Waheeda Rehman, for the lovely songs, for the handsome Dev Anand, for it was a slick thriller.

"Jaata Kahaan Hai Deewaane"
"leke pehla pehla pyaar"
"aankhon hi aankhon me ishara ho gaya"
"e dil he mushkil jeena yahan"

1958 to 1965 - This was the glorious period of the rising star Dev Anand, he was young and in his element. The filmmakers of this era were good and made good wholesome romantic comedies. Dev Anand was the consummate flirt, circling his heroine, looking into her eyes, touching her hair, enough to make any woman swoon. No wonder he was such a heartthrob.

I feel I have seen Paying Guest, Love Marriage, Bambai ka Babu, but dont recollect them so much. They pass me by in a blur of lovely songs, with Dev Anand always, always, romancing his heroines.

Hum Dono is another unforgettable movie. You got Dev Anand here in a double dose. As a rookie army officer Manohar and Major Anand. Manohar is sent to the family of Major Anand as a bearer of bad news of his being lost during war. Because they look so similar, Major Anand's distraught family thinks Manohar is Major Anand. For the sake of the sick wife, Nanda, Manohar plays along. He has to deal with own girlfriend, Sadhna who wonders why her beau is not attentive any more.

The songs? To die for - the timeless classic - Abhi na jao chod kar, ke dil abhi bhara nahi - is so beautifully choreographed that the images linger with you forever. Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya - deserves to be listened to closely for its zen philosophy. Allah tero naam is one of the best gandhian bhajan we have from hindi films.

Asli Naqli, Tere Ghar ke Samne are other two films I have watched. Asli Naqli brought the beautiful Sadhna together with Dev Anand once again. With numbers like koi sone ke dil wala (was it from this film?), Tujhe jiwan ki dor se, Tera mera pyar Amar the movie was a sureshot success.

What can one say about Tere Ghar ke Samne? It was one of those ultimate rom-coms. Dev Anand and Nutan light up the screen with their effervescence. The songs - oh the songs !

Yeh tanhaai haay re haay jaane phir aaye na aaye"
"Tu kahaan yeh bata, is nashili raat mein"
"Dil ka bhanvar kare pukaar" - my fave fave fave
"Dekho rootha na karo"
"Tere ghar ke saamne ik ghar banaoonga"
"Dil ki manzil kuchh aisi hai manzil"

This last song featured my mother as a dancer who had an 'item' in this movie.
you can see it here

Guide was the best of Dev Anand. It dared to go where no movie had been before, into marital discord, with the woman leaving her man. It explored the denegeration of a man, why love fails and even explores spirituality. Only Vijay Anand could have pulled off something like this.

"Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai"
"Gaata Rahe mera dil"
"piya tose naina laage re"
"din dhal jaaye hai" - (my fave- i will always maintain that Dev Anand looked his handomest in this song)
"kya se kya ho gaya"
"allah megh de"

If we divide Dev Anand's career into different phases, then the 40 - mid 50 would be the early phase with the romantic Suraiyya and Geeta Bali phase, mostly romatic thrillers and comedies. from '55 to '65 again some more romantic thrillers and comedies (but better) with Waheeda, Nutan and Sadhna, with some classics like Hum Dono, Tere Ghar ke Saamne and Guide. Then comes the third phase from '66 to '78 which started off well with thrillers and ended well with Des Pardes. Here he had co-stars like Vyjayanti mala, Hema Malini, Zeenat and Tina Munim. I am not going to talk about what comes after, because it was pure crap.

Jewel Thief was a slick thriller that released in 1967. I saw it much later in a re-re-re run during the times when reruns ran in theatres. I was taken in by the suspense totally and gasped quite like the original viewers who must have found the climax quite mindblowing. Vyjayantimala was exquisite, Ashok Kumar was the gentleman crook, there were a bevy of sexy females (oh well, in one peice swimsuits, but it was the 70s) and Dev Anand who was getting stylised now. His headshake, pursed lips and the hand gestures were popping up more often. The gorgeous songs were still melodious.
"Raat akeli hai, bujh gaye diye"
"Yeh dil na hota bechara"
"rula ke gaya sapna mera"
"Aasmaan ke neeche hum aaj apne peeche"
"Dil pukare aa re aare"
"Hoton pe aise baat"

Right on the heels of Jewel Thief came Johnny Mera Naam. The songs here were kinda chaalu, but the movie had the new star Hema Malini and a good story. It was Vijay Anand again, after Guide and Jewel Thief. Dev Anand mouthed 'Johnny mera naam, nahi' during the climax to the delight of his fans.

I have seen Mahal and Duniya - both passable fare. I think Mahal had a lovely song - but I cannot recollect it right now.

Prem Pujari was a war movie, well made and very watchable. With lovely songs like
"shokiyon me ghola jaye "
"Phoolon ke rang se, dil ki kalam se"

I have lost count of the number of times I saw Gambler. It used to be rerun endlessly on a fledgeling channel in the early days of cable television. The movie had lovely songs, ok story, Dev Anand in full tashan.

"Churi nahi ye mera dil hai"
"Dil aaj shayar hai" - wonderful wonderful song
I am not able to remember all the songs and the internet is not helping much, but a cd is totally worth buying, trust me.

Tere Mere Sapne was a sweet movie, an adaption of The Citadel by AJ Cronin, with some more lovely songs.
"Jaise Radha ne mala japi shyam ki"
"E maine kasam li"

Hare Raam Hare Krishan was again a bold movie, parents divorce, children seperate, sister turns up in picturesque Kathmandu with a bunch of druggie hippies. A gooood movie with an amazing debut by Zeenat who pulled on a chillum with panache. The songs were more disco, but Dum maro dum is something else. A must watch.

Yeh Gulistan Hamara was not half bad. Dev co-starred with Sharmila here, the songs not too good but ok sorts. Chuppa Rustam, a passable thriller with a good song - Dheere se jaana khaityan me.

After this, it was more or less just dragging on for Dev. The formula was set, exotic locales, good music (according to the times), a pretty nubile heroine. The movies like Heera Panna, Jaaneman, Bullet, Warrant were horrid to passable.

Des Pardes marked the debut of the last of great Dev Anand heroines - Tina Munim. The movie was well made and good. But after that - ugh - Avoid.

Even some of his chalu movies have been uplifted by divine songs. I have listed most of them, but missed many. Ok - internet helped finally, the Mahal song I was looking for is this
"Ankhon ankhon me dekho"
"Yeh duniya wale poochenge"

I once owned a cassette of Dev Anand songs... was great.

My wishlist: I wish to see Kala Pani, because it was the only movie where the two most beautiful people of the Hindi film industry came together, Madhubala and Dev Anand.

I wish to see Teen Deviyan because it starred him with Kalpana Kartik and had some of the most sublime songs ever.

"Khwab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat"
"Aise to na dekho"
and my top favorite -
"Kahin be-khyal ho kar"

I have to admit Dev's oeuvre is limited. His movies are mostly romantic comedies or romantic thrillers. Why was he up at the top of the charts along with Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor? I guess the answer is PURE CHARISMA. He had such a magnificent screen presence, that it was hard to forget him. His immaculate waistline and hairline took care of his longevity. He was always seemingly involved with his much much younger heroines, which reinforced his romantic image.
Though he was called the Gregory Peck of India, I beg to differ. With due respect to Mr. Peck, our Dev Anand has a niche of his own, the eternal romantic.

  1. Mr Prime Minister (2005)
  2. Love at Times Square (2003)
  3. Aman Ke Farishtey (2003)
  4. Censor (2001)
  5. Return of Jewel Thief (1996)
  6. Gangster (1994)
  7. Sau Crore (1991)
  8. Awwal Number (1990)
  9. Lashkar (1989)
  10. Sachché Ká Bol-Bálá (1989)
  11. Hum Naujawan (1985)
  12. Anand Aur Anand (1984)
  13. Swami Dada (1982)
  14. Man Pasand (1980)
  15. Lootmaar (1980)
  16. Des Pardes (1978)
  17. Darling Darling (1977)
  18. Kalabaaz (1977)
  19. Saheb Bahadur (1977)
  20. Bullet (1976)
  21. Jaaneman (1976)
  22. Warrant (1975)
  23. Amir Garib (1974)
  24. Ishq Ishq Ishq (1974)
  25. Prem Shastra (1974)
  26. Joshila (1973)
  27. Chhupa Rustam (1973)
  28. Banarasi Babu (1973)
  29. Heera Panna (1973)
  30. Shareef Budmaash (1973)
  31. Yeh Gulistan Hamara (1972)
  32. Haré Raama Haré Krishna (1971)
  33. Tere Mere Sapne (1971)
  34. Gambler (1971)
  35. Johny Mera Naam (1970)
  36. Prem Pujari (1970)
  37. The Evil Within (1970)
  38. Mahal (1969)
  39. Duniya (1968)
  40. Kahin Aur Chal (1968)
  41. Jewel Thief (1967)
  42. Pyar Mohabbat (1966)
  43. Guide (1965)
  44. Teen Devian (1965)
  45. Sharabi (1964)
  46. Kinare Kinare (1963)
  47. Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963)
  48. Asli-Naqli (1962)
  49. Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962)
  50. Hum Dono (1961)
  51. Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai (1961)
  52. Maya (1961)
  53. Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1961)
  54. Bombai Ka Babu (1960)
  55. Ek Ke Baad Ek (1960)
  56. Jaali Note (1960)
  57. Kala Bazar (1960)
  58. Manzil (1960)
  59. Sarhad (1960)
  60. Love Marriage (1959)
  61. Amar Deep (1958)
  62. Kalapani (1958)
  63. Solva Saal (1958)
  64. Baarish (1957)
  65. Dushman (1957)
  66. Nau Do Gyarah (1957)
  67. Paying Guest (1957)
  68. C.I.D. (1956)
  69. Funtoosh (1956)
  70. Pocket Maar (1956)
  71. Dev Anand in Goa (Alias Farar) (1955)
  72. House No. 44 (1955)
  73. Insaniyat (1955)
  74. Milap (1955)
  75. Munimji (1955)
  76. Baadbaan (1954)
  77. 'Ferry' (1954)
  78. Taxi Driver (1954)
  79. Armaan (1953)
  80. Humsafar (1953)
  81. Patita (1953)
  82. Rahi (1953)
  83. Aandhiyan (1952)
  84. Jaal (1952)
  85. Tamasha (1952)
  86. Zalzala (1952)
  87. Aaram (1951)
  88. Baazi (1951)
  89. Do Sitare (1951)
  90. Nadaan (1951)
  91. Sanam (1951)
  92. Sazaa (1951)
  93. Stage (1951)
  94. Afsar (1950)
  95. Birha Ki Raat (1950)
  96. Dilruba (1950)
  97. Hindustan Hamara (1950)
  98. Khel (1950)
  99. Madhubala (1950)
  100. Nili (1950)
  101. Nirala (1950)
  102. Jeet (1949)
  103. Shair (1949)
  104. Shayar (1949)
  105. Udhaar (1949)
  106. Hum Bhi Insaan Hain (1948)
  107. Vidya (1948)
  108. Ziddi (1948)
  109. Aage Badho (1947)
  110. Mohan (1947)
  111. Hum Ek Hain (1946)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rock On! Its Magik

There cant be a better title for the blog than the title of the movie. It is all about college dreams, music and rock and roll, and of course, friendship. On the other hand, it is all about the making of music and how it is, here, synonymous with chasing your dream.

To begin with there are these four cool dudes who have this rocking band. They seem to have everything going for them. But cut to a decade later and the guy with long curly hair is now working as an investment banker who never smiles, a dull gujju jhaveri who looks dull, a music-man who seems to be scraping it, a guitar dude with droopy mouche who looks henpecked and dull. And then there is the bored wife who seems to have only one thing on her mind- why doesnt my husband smile. Its been 5 years and she is tired of waiting for her life to pick up.

A chance encounter between the wife and the gujju triggers her curiosity about the past life as a rocker that the husband has never mentioned. She thinks this could be the reason the hubby never smiles and tries to get the rockers back together. Hubby frowns at the effort and has words, wife tries to leave, upon which hubby realises he has unresolved issues with his band and needs to get back together with them.

Story is wafer thin and is spread out like butter on the brown toast of a person trying to diet. Farhan Aktar (Aditya) as the lead singer of the band and the investment banker has zero charisma. He is competant and good looking even, but not charismatic. Luke Kenny(Rob) as the scraping musician and the killer-at-the-keyboard is just about adequate. Purab (KD) as the gujju jhaveri and the killer-drums of the band is good. Arjun Rampal as the droopy mouche loser of the present and the magic guitarist of the band is WOW. All of a sudden this wooden model boy has turned into this bankable performer. He looks fabulous, acts fabulous and is the cherry on top of this movie.

The Girls : Prachi Desai thankfully gets into sweet short dresses that highlight her hep young self. She does a good job as Aditya's wife Sakshi who is trying hard to make her marriage work. Shahana Goswami as Debbie is the dress designer turned fishmonger and a very bitter wife to Joe. They love each other but cant deal with life. Koel Purie as Devika is a friend of Sakshi's who takes a shine to KD.

The music and the rock and roll performances of the band Magik is Magik. The music and the stage performances mesmerise. It makes the movie totally watchable and such unadulterated fun.

We have mighty few genres of movies in the Hindi film industry. Its usually just masala mish mash of action, comedy and drama. It is refreshing to see a movie in the hitherto unexplored genre of a rock-band movie. The movie has no pretensions and is purely about the four rockers and what they did and how to get them back together. For just this reason, we have to be very grateful to Abhishek Kapoor.

The songs dude... are to die for and are on my playlist already. Farhan Akhtar the singer is really good. The guy is nothing short of a genius. He has directed some sublime flicks, he is adequate as an actor and now the singing thing! His voice which sounds raspy when he talks, takes on a different timbre altogether when he starts singing. The music by Shankar Ehsaan and Loy is sheer JOY.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dark is the night

The Dark Knight was one of the most awaited films of 2008. By Batman afficiandoes at least. Bruce Wayne has just lost his girlfriend to a man who deserves her better. His speech reflects his jealousy as well as his attempt to be fair to a good man and a good woman. Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhal) and Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) are the white knights, fighting criminals in a lawful way. Poor Bruce Wayne has chosen the dark path because he thought it would be more effective, killing dark with dark. Harvey wisely combines his white ways with the dark to nail the mob in Gotham City. But alas, his acts has repercussions that nearly crush the city and its inhabitants. Increased attack on the Mob force them to bring in their trump card, the Joker.

The Joker turns out to be the worst nightmare that Gotham has seen, and Batman has combated. Why? Because the Joker has no agenda but mischief. He has no plans and no ambitions. He is this maverick villain who is very hard to figure out.

Before he is done, there are innocent people who are slashed viciously, blown up and burned, their integrity tested, their personalities twisted.

Micheal Caine and Morgon Freeman are such established actors, that they just have to walk on to the set to give it grace and dignity. Morgon's half-smiles when he deals with corporate upstarts convey a world of dialogue. Micheal Caine as Alfred is perfect.

Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent comes across as a personable man bent upon going the right way to defeat the dark forces until he falls ..

Maggie Gyllenhal as the new Rachel Dawes had to look good mostly, which she does with panache. But this Rachel is also torn between the two men in her life, the dark and the white knight.

Christian Bale is perfect as Batman and Bruce. For a change he actually tries a different personality for both, a casual billionaire who cares less about what is going on around him. Seemingly interested in just womanising and having a good time, he changes when he dons the batsuit, becomes faster, bulkier, gruffer.

Heath Ledger as joker is iconic. He has made history. He gave the role his all. His joker is never menacing, but is playful and comic always. But his deeds belie his appearance as he happily slashes his way through the film, killing and maiming people without remorse. The scene when he skips happily out of the hospital and watching it blow up is going to be around in my mind for a long long time.

Happy viewing folks.. dont forget to watch this one.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Went off to see Hancock yesterday with my son. The movie was handpicked by him out of several offerings. Long live innocence. The movie gets into the groove right away, with police chasing the baddies. Hancock is drunk senseless, ill dressed, foul mouthed and foul tempered. Nevertheless, he lands up to help. The baddies are bashed up and left hanging from some pointy tower in LA. The general public does not know whether to laugh or cry because a lot of property is damaged by Hancock.

In comes Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), the good hearted loser. He is saved by Hancock from being crushed by a train in his usual destructive fashion. But Ray refuses to bash Hancock, he highlights the fact that his life was saved. Hancock delivers him home and is immediately taken by his beautiful wife and son. The wife seems to dislike him for some reason.

Ray decides to give Hancock a makeover, and tries to make him more people savvy. He gets Hancock a proper super-person suit instead of his usual shorts and shirt. He tries to teach Hancock how to get on the good side of public, damage less property, say some good lines.

The surprise comes when Hancock learns about his past.... which involves Ray's beautiful wife Mary (ahem.. Charlize Theron).

A good story, something different from the usual pat explanations that other superhero's have.

My only grouse with this movie was that it was over too soon. We cant do with a movie that gets over in an hour and a half.. I barely got time to finish my popcorn. Hancock II are you listening ??

Friday, June 20, 2008

A review of Raakh (1989) by my friend Usman Khawaja

Aamir as Aamir at his adamant best - ashes to ashes.

This dark movie is set in the bizarre twilight zone of the degenerate and venomous world of the Bombay underworld, where there is only one vice that rules - might is right.

It's protagonists search for their own existence in alignment with their ideals for justice and an uneven fairplay and use each other as pawns in a game of violence and corruption.

Aamir is a rebellious scion of a well to do muslim family who in a rash act of rage provokes the gang rape of his Hindu girlfriend by a group of mafia men. The graphic unsentimentality of the act at night in a desolate public spot is chilling.

The relationship breaks up, the girl shuns him and her indifference to any mode of justice drives the youth to extremes, he elopes and lives with social outcasts, where he is helped by a rather shady cop who works outside the parameters of judiciary.

Aamir is totally natural and very effective as the angry, violent and impulsive youth, this is his definitive best act as yet and he needs to go back to his roots as this was his second movie itself, his raw dynamic talent resounds in every scene and the minimalist cinema with expressionist photography enhances his violent deadly role. He is matched by the rather insanely dishonest cop played by Pankaj Kapur and Supriya Pathak as the rape victim who blames him for the incidence in a powerful role. The police are indifferent as there are no witnesses and the victim will not report the crime, although it is acknowledged.

The brilliant young director (Aditya Bhattacharya) has a frustrating setting for a social comment on a grim subject, the perception of acquisition of justice and the means to aquire it, both are unimportant as the net result is more violence and the act leads to anarchy and nihilism. This is a very profoundly effective cinema beautifully shot with minimal dialogues and light, the brooding shadows reflect the title itself which refers to the ashes of the remnants of the living characters in a metaphor as their existence has been reduced to a void which can never be filled.

The finale is bleak and the desperation of the human existence is shown to be damned forever with no hope of redemption, the conclusion is left open to the audience.

This is an anthology of violence, justice and lost youth within the framework of an unjust social hypocrisy where law is invalid and might is right, that might be unreasonable but it could be a universal truth, nevertheless Aditya and Aamir create a dark masterpiece which goes beyond its baroque, brooding beauty with hypnotically lit frames that remind you of the psychological impact and spirituality of the works by Caravaggio and La Tour, an eerie light that explores the human soul and questions its conscience, the answer is inconclusive but still great cinema .

- jbz7879

Monday, May 26, 2008

Narnia !

I scrolled the mouse up and down on the list of my blogs. Should I write about Prince Caspian/Narnia/CS Lewis/Neil Gaiman on my book blog or the movie one! The train of thought and research started from the movie surely.

The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian is 2nd in the series after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Pevensie children are feeling miserable away from Narnia. The way they talk about Narnia makes you feel as if they are on some kind of drug, which they are deprived of. Lo and Behold, Susan's magic horn is blown in far away Narnia and the kids are transported back to Cair Paravel. They dont recognise it anymore, and realise after a bit of sleuthing, that time in Narnia has taken a quantum leap. They find Narnia has gone underground and the wicked Talmerines rule it. The silver lining is that they can help restore Narnia to its former glory if they reinstate Prince Caspian to the throne.

Thus begins the battle between the remaining Narnians and Talmerine. After the intervention of Aslan, the battle favours the Narnians and the children can return to London to catch their train to the school.

Some good special effects, a nice story, (and Ben Barnes) manage to keep the movie afloat. Fantasy afficiandoes agree that the movie could be better. It is certainly better than LWW.

We can look forward to the third in the series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This time around Peter and Susan Pevensie will be missing. Lucy, Edmund and a nasty cousin Eustace Scrubb are the ones who will make it Narnia and join the delicious Prince Caspian on an adventure to the end of the world. Ok, this is the movie part. Now over to for the book part of it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bravery goes Awry

The movie starts nicely, with Rahul Bose bungee jumping. Then cuts to him at a party, uselessly explaining the excitement of the jump to a housewife. Now why was he trying to talk to an auntie at his friend's engagement party. And why does an engagement party have precisely four young people against a horde of older ones?

This goes on throughout the movie, one good scene pitted against another quite useless one.

Story :

Javed Khan (Deepak Dobriyal) is an army officer accused of killing his senior officer at point blank range. He has not attempted to escape, nor said anything in self-defence. Major Akash (Javed Jaffery) is the prosecution cousel at the courtmartial of Javed. It is supposed to be an open and shut case, and they cant find a defence lawyer, so Akash arranges for his friend Major Siddhant (Rahul Bose) to step in. As the location is Srinagar, Siddhant treats it as a fun posting and makes plans accordingly. Kaavya Shastri (Minissha Lamba) is posted in Srinagar as the rookie reporter of Dainik Bhaskar. (Oh really ! do national newspapers send a rookie to a place like Srinagar, and that too a woman?) Anyhow, Kaavya pretends to be Siddhant's cousin to gain entry into the forbidden army territory and get some scoops on the Javed Khan story. She shakes up Siddhant and gets him into trouble for talking to reporters.

However, the offshoot of this encounter is that Siddhant gets serious about the business at hand which is bad news for Brig. Rudra Pratap Singh (Kay Kay Menon), who seems to be involved in all this.

Other things

The movie is based on A Few Good Men that starred Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore. I thought it had been indianised well, bringing in the angle of an army officer disillusioned by the false encounters and muslim haters.

Good Scenes

The Kavya-Sidhant encounter was very well done. He is blabbering away trying to impress a pretty girl, while she is cool and collected, and delivers her punch at the end. I could see the movie again just to watch this scene.

The initial Brigadier-Sidhant scenes were very well handled too. Kay Kay is perfect as ever, as a Brigadier full of grandiloqence, cowing a Major to near silence. Rahul Bose is perfect too, as a man cowed down by a senior officer. During the second encounter - there was a great dialogue built around a single malt whiskey and the word 'nice'. Again, a scene I could watch again.

However !

The climax was just not able to live up to all the buildup. The evidence is too sketchy and not convincing enough, and was not been elobrated enough. A couple of quick scenes, and the movie is over. Deepak Dobriyal is an amazing actor, but he was made to stare fixedly ahead most times. There were stock shots of Rahul Bose walking about the Army area, and sitting in the court room looking around which were repeated. And even a lay person like me could figure out these were stock shots. The movie was so well written in parts, that you feel bad at the portions that did not work, because of shoddy writing. It is like a good promise gone bad. Well, maybe Samar Khan will improve and come up with something better soon.


This is definately a plus point in this movie. Rahul Bose, Kay Kay, Javed Jaffery, Deepak Dobriyal, Minissha Lamba, and the pretty girl who plays Javed Jaffery's fiance, are all good actors. Rahul Bose is cute too ! He looks good in a uniform. Javed looks a tad old for the role, but acts well. He even gets to dance a bit (too little). Minissha wears lovely salwar kameez and churidars here. I even stole one dress idea from this, a printed salwar with a plain kameez. She was good as the feisty journalist on a ramshackle scooter. Amrita Rao has a small role, which she does ok with.

The cinematography is pleasing. The songs, just a couple, are sweet.
Nothing wrong with seeing the movie, its quite wholesome on the whole.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Waqt is one of the most stylish films ever in Bollywood.

These days filmmakers clothe their stars in international fashion brands, have them ride fancy vehicles (from cars to planes to copters) and put them in lavish locations (nothing less than a trillionaire-worthy farmhouse in South Africa). The movies, however, lack substance to match the style and wind up looking hollow.

Way back in 1965 BR Chopra came up with this gem of a movie and spawned a new genre of lost-and-found, love triangle, thrills and chills, which has been re-attempted a number of times during 70s and much of 80s, and became a stock formula. This movie was the motherlode that started it all.


Lala Kedarnath (Balraj Sahni) is blessed with a devoted and a beautiful wife, three sons, and a flourishing business. He allows himself to be consumed by pride, and paints a magnificient future for himself and his sons. Right then, the town is swayed by a horrific earthquake that seperates the family. The eldest son is taken to an orphanage, the second son is adopted by a benevolant family, the third, a babe in arms, is left with the mother. Kedarnath is hit on his head and is not able to regroup his family. The eldest son Raja (Raaj Kumar) turns to a life of crime under Chinoy Seth (Rehman). The middle son Ravi, grows up to be a lawyer (Sunil Dutt). The youngest Vijay (Shashi Kapoor) has managed to get a BA degree, but has to work as a driver with Chinoy Seth. Circumstance brings the three brothers together. Raja and Ravi fall for Meena (Sadhna) which brings in an interesting love triangle. Meena loves Ravi and a shadow falls on Raja, who is willing to murder to get his love. But as he creeps inside Ravi's house to kill him, he finds out that Ravi is his own brother, thanks to Ravi's baby picture by his bedside.

Just at this time, the story turns into a thriller, with a murder done and Raja accused falsely for it. The last part of the movie is a courtroom drama which bring the guilty to the gallows (presumably) and miraculously brings the family back together. Lala Kedarnath is reunited with his grown sons and wife. The movie ends with a humbler Kedarnath acknowledging his debt to time (Waqt).

The movie was stylish through and through. Raja as the criminal, Ravi as the adopted son of a rich man, Renu (Sharmila) as his sister, and Meena (Sadhna) as a barrister's daughter are all rich people and it shows in their lifestyle. Meena's house is a grand bunglow with a vast drawing room that is carpeted from wall to wall. Her boudoir is similarly lavish with a round red bed with gossamer draperies. A staircase sweeps upstairs grandly. This again, became a standard staple in bollywood movies, used as an effective prop in many movies.

The women are laden with glittering diamonds and brooches and buckles. Achla Sachdev looks glorious in the opening scenes with her gotedaar dupatta and heavy jewellery, as befits a well-placed mistress of a rich household. The sarees the women wear when the scene shifts to Mumbai, are all fine organza with embroidery, or silk salwar or churidar with kameez. Sadhna is resplendent in every scene, faultlessly made up and looking gorgeous. Ditto goes for Sharmila Tagore. In the boat song she wears a kameez done up with numerous frills over her tight salwar. Sadhana wore a designer saree in this movie which was quite a trendsetter then. Her trademark, churidars with a kameez, which is such an essential now, was something new then. Sadhna's engagement dress, a fuschia silk churidar is beautiful.

The men are not far behind. Balraj Sahni wers pathani salwars in the initial scenes with zari waistcoats. Raaj Kumar wears natty suits as the gentleman criminal. A younger Sunil Dutt is attired in trousers and trendy shirts, tees and sweaters. Shashi Kapoor is nattily dressed in a spotless chauffeur's uniform, looking handsome as ever.

The cars the men drive are all imported sports cars, in colours like yellow and red. I am not good at spotting the brands but they look impressive. In fact, there is a smart car racing scene between Raja and Ravi, which is pretty good. The wheels move fast and the sequence has been very well picturised.


1. Ae meri Zohrajabeen
2. Kal jahan basti thi khushian
3. Kaun aaya ki nigahon me chamak jaag uthi
4. Din hein bahar ke
5. Ham jab simat ke aap ki
6. Mene ek khwab sa dekha hai
7. Chehre pe khushi cha jaati hai
8. Aage bhi jaane na tu

The songs are all melodious, with music by Ravi and lyrics by the great Sahir. The songs are picturised beautifully too. Kaun Aaya was filmed on Sadhana as she waits for Sunil Dutt. However, as she sings, Raaj Kumar comes in and is led into thinking Sadhana cares for him. Mene ik khwab sa dekha hai was a telephone song, and very sensuous too. Aage bhi jaane na tu was a party song, where everything glitters and is uber glamourous.

This album is a must have for people who love old hindi film music, though the heavy voice of Mahendra Kapoor is a spoiler.


The cut version of Waqt relayed on Indian Television is a letdown. One needs to see a full version DVD to get a feel of how sexy the movie was. The affair between Sadhana and Sunil Dutt is pretty passionate. Everytime they come together, things get steamy. From the duet where they 'sorta' kiss. The usual trick of showing the couple in a suspicious clinch. The phone song, Mene ik khwab sa dekha hai is practically like phone sex with the couple exchanging what seems like fantasies which are depicted in a dream sequence. One line goes -

aanch dene laga kadmon ke tale barf ka farsh, aaj jaana ki mohabbat me hai garmi kitni; sangemarmar ki tarah sakht badan par tere, aa gayi hai mere choo lene se narmi kitni
-- Woo Hot !

Not to be missed is the extremely sexy scene where Sunil Dutt and Sadhana go swimming. Thereafter they go to the changing rooms, and wrapped in towels exchange sweet talk through the partition. Of course, Sadhana's swimsuit covers more than the minidresses that heroines wear these days. But she is wrapped in a towel in the changing room and things get quite decorously steamy between them.


Jab tumse mohabbat ki hamne,
tab jaake kahin ye raaj khula
marne ka saleeka aate he,
jeene ka sha'ur aa jaata hai.

Sadhana sings the lines for her beloved, but they apply more to Raaj Kumar in the movie. The hardened criminal falls for the charms of Meena, his pretty neighbour. He yearns for the respectability of normal life, but Chinoy Seth wont let him go. He is suave and debonair in the movie, handsome and personable. He had some memorable lines which he delivered with style. Yeh chaku khelne ki cheez nahi hai, lag jaye to khoon nikal aata hai, and Jinke ghar sheeshe ke bane ho, Chinoy Seth, wo doosron pe pathar nahi maarte. There are no heated or bombastic exchanges between Rehman and Raj Kumar. Though they are partners, there is little love lost between them. Yet their exchanges are delivered in an ultra cool style which is a delight to watch.

Later, Raj Kumar got typed in these kind of crime-by-circumstance, sacrificing roles where he rarely got the girl, and often died in the climax. His trademark became lines begining with 'Jaani' and delivered with a hand rubbing the neck. But here, he is cool and fresh.

Sunil Dutt got a lot of bombastic stuff. First as the hyperactive lover, later as lawyer trying to save his friend. There is this unintentionally funny scene in the end. In the movie, Raj Kumar knows Sunil Dutt is his brother, and he know he is the son of Lala Kedarnath. So when the older couple discover each other at the fag end, Raj Kumar is the one who knows that he is their son too. Sunil Dutt is the only one who has no clue that he has all these relatives around him. But rather than feeling flummoxed and demanding explanations he just jumps into the group sportingly and goes for a family hug.

The overwrought scene at the end nearly mars the proceedings, but that was the demand of the times, the abrupt happy ending.

A classic for sure, this movie.

Monday, February 25, 2008

How Jalaluddin becomes Akbar and gets his girl

Ashutosh Gowrikar begins at the begining, to explain to us WHY Jalauddin marries Jodha. Jalal wants to blend in, not forever spend his life as an outsider bent upon conquering and pillaging India. Then, to bring out the romance between Jodha and Akbar, Ashutosh wanted to delay the consummation of wedding, which means he has to come up with valid reasons for the same. So in come the issues Jodha has with the cross-cultural marriage. I have started thus, because a lot of people have accused JA of being rather long and pointless at times.

Maybe in reality the proceedings between Akbar and Jodha were tad less romantic. Akbar was short and stocky and had an unsightly mole on his face. Jodha’s clothes were possibly not this well co-ordinated. I dont know how fastidious the couple was about physical hygiene. I even read somewhere that Jodha converted to Islam, her children were certainly brought up as Muslims.

But then the whole idea of romance is to throw a beautiful veil over reality so that we are left clutching our breast and sighing as a beautiful royal couple inch closer to each other throughout the movie. There was a happy couple seated next to me in the cinema hall and the girl had her head on the shoulder of guy during the consummation scene (Sigh Sigh).

The movie moves at a slow pace, savouring the twists in the plot, lingering over made up history. In the meantime, there is plenty to admire in the movie, the grand landscapes, the elobrate forts, grand rooms, the wonderful clothes, the breathtaking jewellery. My eyes widened at Aishwarya’s beauty showcased in those gorgeous clothes and jewellery. She quite looks the part of a regal princess, and for a change, does not botch up the acting. Thank god, she had no ’Sunehri’ lines here. Hritik makes a handsome king, he carries off the arrogance, the urdu diction , and the topi quite well. The expressions flit across his face. Here is an actor totally comfortable with what he does. He is completely believable as Jalaluddin Mohammed.

I quite liked the supporting cast, Sonu Sood as the unhappy Surajmal. Ila Arun as Mahamanga, Punam Sinha as the Begam, the hunky villian Nikitin Dheer as Sharifuddin (he rocked in the final hand to hand combat).

Now for my take on the story. A very Hindu Jodha finds herself married to Jalaluddin Mohammed and is sure she is going to be miserable. But she finds at the outset, that her mother-in-law is a warm and a loving person. She makes Jodha feel at home. The nasty king is actually a handsome well mannered creature who (surprise surprise) RESPECTS her. But our skittish girl leads the king to a merry dance before he can get into her royal bed. In fact, his riyaya ( sorry urdu hangover - meaning his janta) accepts him before Jodha does. Thanks to his summary dismissal of the hindu pilgrimage tax, they bestow upon him the title of AKBAR which means GREAT. But he has to vanquish some more enemies before he can live happily ever after. For this we get a wow hand to hand combat scene which could have been right out of WWF. After which Akbar shows the meddling clerics who is the boss, and gets to plug for Hindu-muslim ekta. As history shows Akbar really did care for all religions, I will not say Ashutosh was trying to put in a pop message for highlighting this.

Haider Ali (the writer) tries not to use too many esoteric urdu or hindi words, and confound the modern viewer. I liked the music, it was very apt. As the marriage immediately benefits the pilgrims to Ajmer Sharif, it is appropriate that the wedding was serenaded by Khwaja Mere Khwaja. It seems that the people who were put off by the song have not heard of the spinning dervesh and the sufi qwaali during which the devout would often get up and dance. Azeemoshan Shehenshah was a magnificent presentation. Kehne ko jash baharan and Inn Lamhon ke daaman are also well presented and very romantic.

The length of the movie did not bother me, I was totally engrossed. I loved the historical references
(faulty at times), I loved the grand spread and I loved the romance. Maybe the younger generation was a bit put off by these factors, but not me.

Only thing that mystified me was the thanks offered up to Shatrughan Sinha in the credits. Why? For letting his beautiful wife act in the movie?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Best Friend's Wedding - 1997

The first time I saw My Best Friend's Wedding, I did not appreciate it at all. I was in a bad mood maybe and was horrified at the successful career woman Julianne running after an obvious MCP Michael and his doormat-in-the-making girlfriend Kimmy. I have some recollection of writing something on it, kind of an early blog, along the lines of - 'Please Julianne, do not demean yourself.'

I have mellowed now, a movie is a movie. It is one of those eternal timepass movies, the equivalent of a good Mills and Boon, where you can suspend your better judgment and just be swept away in beautiful visuals, good acting, and marvelous songs. It seems to actually get better with each viewing.

The story is about a couple of out-of-touch best friends Michael and Julianne who had a torrid affair once. Michael and Julianne have teetered deliciously on the edge of friendship and love ever since. Julianne is a successful food critic based in New York and Michael is a sports journalist based in Chicago.

One day Michael calls up Julianne and announces that he is getting married and wants Julianne to see him through that.

 "It's amazing the clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy. "

Says George Downs Julianne's Editor and her current best friend when Julianne suddenly realizes that SHE wants Michael and runs off to Chicago to break up her best friends wedding.

The movie looks like a wedding planner's dream come true. The bride's side is always dressed in some pleasing shade of pastel, some variant of the color pink, blue, orange or floral. Julianne, the sensible career woman is dressed in browns and grays. The father of the bride owns a sports channel and is stinking rich. This allows the film to have several lavish sets. Kimmy (Cameron Diaz) looks ravishing with her blue eyes and babydoll clothes and hair. Julianne (Julia Roberts) looks amazing with her big hair that curls all over the place, a wonderful shade of warm brown, and with her equally warm brown eyes. Michael looks like a boy next door that girls always flip for, not forbiddingly handsome, but very likable. And don't even get me started on Rupert Everett. He looks very, very handsome.

Kimmy (Cameron Diaz) is the girl who has knocked the socks off Michael. Young, soft, yielding Kimmy seems totally romantic and impulsive. She believes that if you love someone you say it right then, and out loud.

Michael (Dermot Mulroney) is the wholesome middle-class guy who lives by his sweat. He works hard as a sports journalist and loves his job. He enjoys it despite the long hours, erratic schedules and a lousy pay. He always thought Julianne was his kind of a woman until he meets Kimmy.

Julianne (Julia Roberts) is the total career woman, the New Woman who does not think she lags behind men in any aspect. She is able to handle her career quite well, thank you. She can knock back drinks and not resort to any feminine wiles to woo men. She is a tomboy grown into a gorgeous woman in a sort of a denial of her charms. She is a commitment phobic and does not have any relationship that lasts a couple of weeks.

George (Rupert Everett) is Julianne's editor and her current best friend. He has this quizzical expression when dealing with Julianne because she surprises him constantly. He is smart, urbane, well entrenched in the art circles of New York yet is grounded enough to be able to see things as they really are. He is willing to stand by his best friend, Julianne forever and not pass a judgment on her. At the same time, he can give her hard-headed advice too, as a true friend should. What I love best is the way he drops everything at hand to be with his best friend in times of need. He looks divine, gorgeous, yummy.. somebody stop me.....

The film has a lovely soundtrack. 'Wishing and Hoping' the title track performed by Ani Defranco is really sweet. The topping on the cake is obviously Diane King covered 'Say a little prayer for you' which is practically the theme song of the film. There are other nice songs in the movie, but I like these the best.

There are some wonderful sequences in the movie, which are heartbreakingly poignant. When Michael tells Jules, "Kimmy says if you love someone you say it, you say it right then, out loud. Otherwise the moment just...passes you by". Jules has this bittersweet look on her face because she knows that the moment has passed her by. Then there is the difficult confession towards the end when Julianne knows she has to come clean and confess to the dirty tricks she has been playing to get Michael.  After that, the feisty catfight scene in the ladies washroom when the docile Kimmy springs her claws and goes publicly for the scheming Julianne.

But the scene I can watch many times over without tiring is the lunch scene where George joins Julianne as her newly declared fiance. Kimmy's mother leans over and asks George how he met Julianne. Julianne says, "Oh, he is my editor". But our flamboyant George is on a romantic roll and this is too bland for him. He launches into a hilarious over the top purple prose like description of their first meeting closing with all the guests at the lunch happily joining in as he sings 'In the morning when I wake up, before I put on me make-up, I say a little prayer for you'.

For me, the movie stands out for the lovely performances by the leading quartet of Cameron Diaz, Dermot Mulroney, the incomparable Julia Roberts and my favorite Rupert Everett. He starts the movie with Julia Roberts and rightfully closes it too, dancing with her to cheer her up. The movie would surely not have been the same without him.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A rose is a rose

Anyone who reads books has heard about The Namesake, written by Jhumpa Lahiri. It won the Pulitzer prize and was on the bestseller list too, the blurbs tell us. Mira Nair even made a successful movie on the book.

A friend of mine who read the book raved about it, and lent it to me. Luckily I had some free time on my hands at the time and read through the book almost at a stretch.

The book started a little jerkily, just before the arrival of Gogol in the world. Ashima Ganguly, displaced from Calcutta to USA, is yearning for taste of home in her pregnancy and has made a bit of chivda (or whatever the bengali's call it). She suddenly feels the labour pains coming on and is rushed to the hospital. She gives birth to a baby boy. Ashima and her husband Ashoke cannot even think of abandoning the conventions of their culture. Back home, the baby would have been named lovingly by some elder in the family. In fact, the name is on the way, posted by way of a letter. The baby's formal name is put on the hold, and the child is given a pet name, Gogol. Through a series of circumstances, Gogol never acquires a formal name.

The story, of course, is about how easily Ashima and Ashoke balance their Bengali and American way of life, and how hard it is for Gogol/Nikhil to do that. His attitude towards his name reflects his attitude towards the Bengali way of life and also towards the American way of life. He goes through his life, picking up american girlfriends, and an indian wife. How he finally makes peace with himself when he says at one time "Actually there is no such thing as a perfect name".

As we live, we learn more about ourselves (atleast some of us do). And it is these lessons that are the most valuable.

However, the standout point of the books is not so much the theme, good as it is. The standout point is the style and language. NEVER PRETENTIOUS. So much so, that the first couple of chapters almost sounded humdrum to me. Then the effect kicked in. The author was skillfully picking up sounds inside the heads of various characters and relaying them to us. She knew exactly how much to tell us about the character and at what time. Some facts are held up to whet our curiosity, and when we learn about them, it makes shivers run through us.

I was blown away because the story is so ordinary, and is so well told that it seems extraordinary.

I have always loved the short stories of Nikolai Gogol. He was a favorite of Ashoke Ganguly as well. He was once in a train accident when he was a young man in India, and reading a book by Gogol at the time. This accident and his surivival is his most life-altering moment, and is inextricably linked to Gogol. When time comes for him to name his firstborn, he thinks of Gogol. His son does not share his sentiments fully and hates Gogol the writer. At the end of the book, when he is at peace with himself, he picks up a book by Gogol, gifted to him by his father, and starts reading it.

Our names are the legacies bestowed upon us by our parents. Ram Khilawan may get a fancy schooling later and try to mask his downmarket name by calling it RK, or Ram K Prasad. Not being named flamboyantly like Amitabh Bachchan, poor Jatin Khanna calls himself Rajesh Khanna. Ava wrestles with her unusual name and bears the jibes of her classmates and some insensitive elders. What kind of a name is Ava? ask the philistines who never heard (in those times) of Ava Gardner.

But alas, I do not have the writing style of Jhumpa Lahiri and cannot write a book about my ordinary life and make it linger in the minds of readers like the fragrance of fresh jasmine.