Throwback Thursday: Raja Babu

And welcome back to my second Throwback Thursday!  I think I am liking these short posts as a way to get back into regular blogging.

Today’s song is “Sarkai Lo Khatiya”, I was first introduced to it by this list on Buzzfeed.  The first time I heard it my reaction was basically “meh”, but I’ve found that the more times I hear it, the more I want to listen to it!

So enjoy, the dance sequence is terribly silly, but then that’s half the fun right?  The red pajama suit certainly seems right for Valentine’s Day ;-).

-Video Courtesy of Ultra Hindi, a great resource for filmi videos!

Throwback Thursday: Saath Saath

Why hello there!

I know, I know, it has been an eternity since I posted anything, work got ridiculous and with all things it’s hard to get back into the swing of it when you’re feeling rusty, hai na?

Which is why I decided to start a bit small, and rather than doing a full fledged review for you guys, I thought I would participate in a little Throwback Thursday with you guys.

As a full fledged filmi addict, it was only a matter of time before I started discovering the vintage Bollywood music.  This ghazal by Jagit Singh from the movie Saath Saath is a recent favorite of mine, it’s so simple and so beautiful it’s hard not to like it!

video courtesy of Filmi Gaane

FFG: Aiyyaa

Here’s another throwback review for you, although this movie is not particularly old.  Aiyyaa chronicles the (mis)adventures of a young woman with an overactive imagination and a keen sense of smell trying to balance her mysterious crush and her crazy family.

File:Aiyyaa poster.jpg

image courtesy of Wikipedia

Ease of Pardesi Comprehension: Language 2/5

This movie does incorporate a decent amount of English, the way a lot of the newer Bollywood movies do.  And for my part it’s rather sweet to see Minakshi learning Tamil to impress a guy, it reminds me of my own attempts to learn Hindi for similar purposes  (and, I hope, similar results!).  The subtitles also seem to be fairly accurate, although with the songs they can be tricky.

Ease of Pardesi Comprehension: Subject 3/5

The theme of a young woman who shuts herself off from the outside world by focusing on a perfect imaginary world will not be lost on those who have seen the well known French movie Amélie.  There are also a lot of pop culture references that a non-Indian audience will recognize (*cough* Lady Gaga inspired outfits*cough*) and the overarching plot point of a young girl wanting to choose her own husband rather than letting her parents do it is, I would think, a well enough known theme for anyone who has seen at least one or two Bollywood movies.

However, there are references to other Bollywood movies (like, from the 80s) that will probably be lost on most Pardesi viewers, but not so much that the movie stops making sense. But then, this movie isn’t supposed to make a lot of sense to begin with, so don’t get frustrated if you get very confused.

Overall Quality of the Movie: 2.5/5

It was certainly a great movie to watch, if only for seeing Prithviraj play a moody painter/man of mystery.  However, I must admit that the ridiculous quality of the secondary plots makes it hard for me to want to watch this movie more than once.  One thing that I really did like about it (and I am going to try to do this without spoiling anything) is that the ending did not entirely sugar coat over the consequences of getting what you want.  In a lot of Masala love-triangle movies, the loser bows out gracefully, in a non-realistic kind of way.  In this case the reaction felt a lot more plausible, and all the more heartfelt as a result.

Number of Catchy Songs: 3

I really enjoyed the dancier songs in this movie, especially “Dreamum Wakeupam” (although I hear it is a horrible stereotype send up of the worst aspects of Tamil Masala movies) and “Aga Bai”.  The opening montage is also hilarious, and got to hear some new-to-me oldies but goodies like “Kate Nahin Kat Te Ye Din Ye Raat” from Mr. India.  My enjoyment of “Aga Bai” was previously mentioned here.

FFG Review: Madras Cafe

Hey there!

It looks like things have finally settled down here to the extent that I can finally start doing what I wanted to do in the first place with this site, namely, WRITE FILMI REVIEWS.  The aim is at some point to give you a mix of film reviews both old and new, so that you guys can get an idea of my thoughts on movies you have seen or movies you would like to see.  Since this one might still be in theaters, I will refrain from giving away a lot of spoilers, and focus instead on the merits of the film based on my patent pending movie rating system!

Ease of Pardesi Comprehension: Language 3.5/5

First off, let me just say that it was incredibly gratifying to watch a movie where I clearly spoke more Hindi than the only potential heroine in sight.  The downside to this was that throughout the movie her conversation’s with John Abraham’s character were incredibly confusing, since her dialogue never seemed to quite match his, at least according to the subtitles.  So at first I chalked it up to my limited comprehension of Hindi and really bad subtitles.  Until I double-checked with a native speaker who confirmed that no, it wasn’t just bad subtitles, but rather honest subtitles translating what is really a lousy script.

Ease of Pardesi Comprehension: Subject 2/5

On the whole the movie was pretty clear to understand, and the plot, for all that it was definitely complicated, never got so wildly out of hand that I couldn’t follow it (not like one of those two girls fall in love with the same guy only to find out that one fell in love with the guy’s twin who died before the movie started and has to hide from his evil uncle who is also the guardian of the girls sort of thing.  Or Baadshah.)

However, I still gave it a two because the story revolves around historical events that may not necessarily resonate with a foreign audience of my age group, because it is removed from us both historically and geographically.  I had no idea how extreme the Civil War in Sri Lanka had been, and was taken aback by the grim realities of it that many of us in the West may not be  aware of.

Overall Quality of the Movie: 2.5/5

Overall I enjoyed the twists and turns involved, but found the incomprehensible dialogue mixed with a convoluted plot a little hard to follow.  Plus, I’m sorry, but the journalist could have just memorized some Hindi lines.  That was weird.

Number of Catchy Songs: none that I can remember

I don’t think the focus of this movie was on the soundtrack, let’s just put it that way.

The Vigil Idiot, or why I am so glad I did not see Chennai Express

I know there are some of you out there, reading this (I mean, there has to be at least two of you, right?) who are thinking: “alright Gauri, I admit it, I’m curious about Bollywood.  But man those plots are horribly confusing and long-winded, and who has the time to watch all these masala flicks and try to figure out what’s going on?”

Well my dear confused reader, that is why the interwebs has blessed us with The Vigil Idiot.  You can find him on Mumbai Boss, which in and of itself is a great site for discovering all sorts of cool things that I, not living in India, do not get to experience (subtle level of bitterness mildly detected).

The strip is illustrated and written by Sahil Rizwan, and manages to be

a)laugh-in-the-middle-of-your-cubicle-to-bemused-looks-of-concern-from-your-co-workers funny and

b) provide pretty accurate explanations of every plot hole in the latest Bollywood releases.

Which is great if you want to be spared watching Chennai Express (I hear The Lungi Dance is causing quite a stir):

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Not so great if you actually sort of liked Jab Tak Hai Jaan (yeah well, I’m a girl, I’m entitled):

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On the whole though I think they would be a great introduction to the crazy stories that crop up all the time in Bollywood, and a must read for anyone who is developing any cynicism towards the genre (which must, regrettably, include me, since it is only a matter of time before one’s new found love of Bollywood turns into stale frustration at Salman’s Khan latest attempt to play the unrealistic beefcake cop).

Suffice to say that I am so grateful he only started doing a year or two ago.  Goodness knows what I would think of myself if he had done a comic review of Vivah.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, or Stellllaaaaa……

bhaag-milkha251image courtesy of 3 Bollywood Queens

A few weeks back I was following a thread on Quora, (you know, as you do) when someone asked an interesting question about whether the love story between Milkha Singh and Stella  actually did happen.  It was referencing the scene in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag where Singh (Farhan Aktar) has a romantic fling with an Australian girl (played by Rebecca Breeds) while in Melbourne for the1956 Olympics, which adds a touch of non-traditional spice to the movie.  The movie is happily flowing along, tra la la la, and then BHAM! It’s Farhan Aktar, making out with this white girl.  And then waking up next to her.  You get the idea.

Truth be told I was rather surprised that the scene was in the movie at all.  I would have thought that it might have portrayed a more negative image of the national hero than I would have expected, on top of which Indian-Anglo (let alone Indian-Australian) relationships can be  looked down on rather severely.  Short of highlighting Singh’s recommitting himself to his training as an athlete, I did not see the point, and initially I was quite pleased to see a mainstream film embracing (literally and figuratively) the concept of a multi-ethnic romantic couple on screen.

The more I thought about it however, the more I reached an alternate conclusion.  In the movie, we see Singh’s relationships with three separate women, and how they each in turn were impacted by the athlete’s determination to reach his goals.  The traditional and eminently suitable Biro (played by a rather pretty if perhaps under utilized Sonam Kapoor) is his first, and most lasting encouragement, a muse of sorts who propels Milkha to make a name for himself as a runner.  Stella, on the other hand, is the corrupting influence while Singh is in Australia, distracting him from his mission, and thus causing him to lose crucial focus at the Olympics.  By the time Perizaad comes along (Meesha Shafi), Singh is so driven and narrowly focusing on his goals for the 1960 Rome Olympics, that he won’t even give her the time of day.  Most importantly, the most racy scene in the movie is with a white woman, which does nothing to counter the prevailing stereotype in India that all white women are incredibly easy.

Now, I may be reading too much into it, as I am probably more inclined to feel offense at the slightest negative reference to white women as a general rule.  But when considering that most of the Bollywood films I’ve seen relegate white women to scantily clad back up dancers, it’s hard not leaping to that conclusion.

Plus, I don’t know about you guys, but the dance sequence for “Slow Motion Angreza” made me seriously cringe.  And I’m not even Australian.

A Quick Hello

Namaste!

I am afraid I have not really thought this out properly (which is obviously what every blog reader wants to hear) so I have decided that the best thing to do really is to just jump in and see what happens.  Primarily because that is not normally how I do anything.

So I bet you’re wondering why on earth a non-desi ladhki would have any interest in writing about Bollywood movies?  I can give you two reasons:

1) I love Bollywood

2) I am not originally from India

The thing is, I am a little unique.  I am about as wannabe desi as you can possibly imagine, and an entirely self-made one at that.  I’ve had Indian friends tell me that I am more Indian than they are, and believe me when I say that my family tree does not exactly have any coconuts hanging off of it.

So it occurred to me that I could provide some useful information and act as a bridge of sorts, between those of you out there who love Bollywood and Indian culture but don’t know where to look specifically to get your next fix, and the ABCD types out there who might enjoy a non-Indian perspective on films old and new, etc…

So check back soon, and I hope you like the blog!

Phir Milenge,

Gauri