FFG Review: Tanu Weds Manu Returns

Hello again!

Wow, two posts in one week, I can’t remember the last time I pulled that off!

Tanu Weds Manu Returns First Look.jpg

Last week’s Throwback Video referenced the opening sequence of the movie Tanu Weds Manu Returns, with Madhavan and Kangana Ranaut reprising their iconic roles from the 2011 movie, plus a double role that definitely stole the show.  Things between Tanu and Manu disintegrate rapidly after the happily-ever-after we saw in the first movie.  On the brink of divorce, Manu finds himself Tanu’s doppelganger Kusum, a fiercely independent nationally ranked athlete from a traditional family in Haryana.  Old flames are rekindled, new sparks fly, and the whole time you’re praying that fire doesn’t break out.

Ease of Pardesi Comprehension: Language 2.0/5

As far as I can tell the subtitles were great, but there was a lot of slang in the movie, and the accents were hard to follow, especially Kusum’s Haryani accent.  That being said the film’s plot was pretty easy to follow, in spite of the craziness, making this a pretty straightforward viewing experience on the whole.

Ease of Pardesi Comprehension: Subject 2.0/5

While a lot of the film will be difficult for a Western viewer to relate to personally, there are plot points that are undeniably universal.  For example, there are aspects of the movie (like threats of honor killings or jokes about masculine delusion and female abductions) that are glossed over and laughed off, where as I personally couldn’t see any humor in it.  Even the main crisis of the movie might appear forced to a Western viewer, because divorce is a common and socially accepted solution for couples that cannot resolve their differences.  However, while the struggle that Jassi and Payal face after the birth of their daughter is not unknown to Western cinema, it is a radical departure for traditional masala films, and a great addition to the storyline.  Ranaut’s portrayal of two women who are both trying to forge their own path and identity in spite of familial and cultural disapproval will resonate with women everywhere, even though their methods of self-fulfillment are often seen contextually as overtly selfish, and not in a positive way.

Overall Quality of the Movie: 3.0/5

This was a hard call for me, because while I didn’t like the plot very much (especially the second half), I cannot deny that the film was incredibly well done, and that the acting was top notch, especially by Kangana Ranaut and Deepak Dobriyal.  I think the best thing to say was that I found the movie incredibly fascinating, not only to watch but to reflect on afterward.  There was a lot going on in this movie all at once, but it was still easy to watch and keep track of the plot lines.  In reading this review from Huffington Post, as well as this one from The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker (SPOILERS!), it is clear that the movie has received polarizing reviews, and in turn I have tried to reasses my initial dislike of the movie.  On reflection, is it possible that both of Kangana Ranaut’s characters are trying to interpret feminism as equality with men, including how they behave?  They both respond in very non-traditional ways to events as they unfold, and I feel that it is precisely because they are reacting in traditional masculine ways that makes it hard to watch. Or is that given the character writing too much credit for nuance?  It’s a tough call.

I think my favorite aspect of the movie is that all the male characters face the same realization at one point or other in the film: falling for a woman does not make her automatically perfect, and it does not mean she will automatically act the way you expect her to.  And that that’s okay, because life is messy and people are complicated.

At the end of the day, it is perhaps the fact that we are still talking about it, contradicting our own movie critics reviews of it (causing said movie critic to resign), and still confused about our feelings towards it, that makes this movie so compelling.

Number of Catchy Songs: 3

My two favorites for “Banno” and “Ghani Bawri”, but “Move On” was also particularly catchy.

So have you seen Tanu Weds Manu Returns yet?  What did you think of my review, do you agree with it? Did you like the movie? Feel free to leave some suggestions of Bollywood films you would like me to review!

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Throwback Thursday: Ram Teri Ganga Maili, and the Question of Subtitles

Namaste!

I will posting another FFG Review tomorrow, and in anticipation I decided to tie today’s Throwback video to the opening sequence of the movie.  Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985) is a Bollywood classic featuring Mandakini and Rajiv Kapoor. Sadly it does not have subtitles, but I hope you enjoy it all the same.

Video courtesy of Filmi Gaane, a fantastic YouTube resource for classic Bollywood songs.

This leads me to my question of the day.  The aim of this blog is to encourage other non-native Hindi speakers to give Bollywood movies a try, and I know the language hurdle is a difficult one for many people to overcome.  So my question to you is, would it help if I were to only include Throwback videos with subtitles, or are you happy enjoying the videos as is? I would love your feedback!

Kal Milenge!

FFG Review: Baby

BABY poster 2015.jpg

Baby theatrical poster. Image courtesy of T-Series via Wikipedia.

I want to start this review with a confession: I have no idea why this movie is called Baby, because I missed the first few minutes of the introduction.  So my best guess is that it was the narrator’s “pet project”, which is why he called it “Baby”.

The movie centers around a team of highly trained covert operatives defending India from its many terrorist threats, most of which seem to come from right next door.  Akshay Kumar stars as the lead agent who uncovers a massive terrorist threat from within his own organization, leading him on an international spy chase through India, Nepal, and Saudi Arabia.

I have mixed feelings about this movie.  It was high intensity thriller, that much is certain, but the drawback was that the tension just dragged on forever in the second half of the movie.  Will they successfully complete the mission?  Will they get caught by the brilliant inspector hot on their trail?  Will any of the agents get caught and be disavowed by their leader? Will any one of these super agents shave his mustache? (Seriously, what is with law enforcement and mustaches?)

I also liked the way Shraddha Kapoor was portrayed in the movie, and was happy with the attempts of the law enforcement unit to defend their country from terrorists while still being sensitive to an increasing feeling of isolation among India’s Muslim youth. My only wish is that these elements could have been expanded more, while cutting out some of the nail biting tension that dragged on so long that it’s a wonder I have any fingernails left at all.

So without further ado, here is my breakdown of Baby:

Ease of Pardesi Comprehension: Language 3.0/5

The subtitles were accurate (except for the swear words interestingly enough), but didn’t do any translation of the Arabic used in the movie, but I am not a 100% convinced that the characters were actually speaking Arabic.  However, as in a lot of spoken Hinglish, the main actors would frequently use phrases in English to underline the seriousness of the point they were making, which is always helpful.

Ease of Pardesi Comprehension: Subject 3.0/5

While the subject of the movie is fairly easy to understand, I am not sure how much of it can really resonate with a non-Indian viewer.  This lead to an interesting debate between me and mere mangetar, because the issues of the movie are all too relevant and real for him in a way that I couldn’t relate too, and I therefore felt that the movie was a little heavy handed in its praise of India’s counter-terrorism methods and in the portrayal of the main villain.  He was quick to point out that American thrillers are guilty of the same cinematic simplifications, but I still was hoping for a bit more character development to really even out the motivations and make the story more compelling from a foreigner’s perspective.

Overall Quality of the Movie: 2.5/5

It was a fun movie to see in theaters, and I was really pleased to see a female agent in an Indian movie who can look after herself.  But the movie dragged in a lot of places because it was trying to cover too many things, and the story line being so cluttered made for a sloppy result in my opinion.  I hope in the sequel they go into more depth about the whole “disavowing compromised agents” angle, I think that could be quite good.

Number of Catchy Songs: 0

I think in the end there were only two songs in the whole movie, which was nice for a change, but I didn’t find either of them compelling.  I mean the credit song was just a lady in constricting body con dress singing over snippets from the movie.  Come on.

So have you seen Baby yet?  Do you think my assessment was fair? What did you think? Feel free to leave some suggestions of Bollywood films you would like me to review!

Throwback Thursday: Tridev “Oye Oye”

Namaste all!

I know it’s a bit late in the day, but I just had to post this while I still had a chance.  One of my Indian friends showed me this video from last week, asking me if I had ever seen it.  My initial reaction was something along the lines of, who hasn’t heard this song?  It was even referenced in Bride and Prejudice for heaven’s sake!

video courtesy of GloriaEstefanVEVO

It’s a pretty catchy song, and an easy song to recognize, so imagine my shock when my friend showed me this:

video courtesy of Bollywood Classics

My first freak out was over the song.  My second freakout was over seeing Naseeruddin Shah with non gray hair shimmying and dancing like any other Bollywood hero.  I could not believe my eyes!

So enjoy, and catch you all next week!

Throwback Thursday: Taraana

Hello all!
I couldn’t decide which clip to show you today (I have been stockpiling a bunch of great videos to show you!) but in light of the fact that we are experiencing some pretty intense rain over here, this one seems appropriate.  It’s an old one with some lesser known playback singers,  Usha Mangeskar and Shailendra Singh.  Or maybe they were big in their day and I have never come across any of their work.

Enjoy!  And stay dry (or go crazy in the rain, whatever floats your boat!)

Video courtesy of Kinshuk Bajpai

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Dilbar Mere…

Namaste all!

This week I have another gem for you, from the film Satte pe Satte. I found it after seeing this gem from Fawad Khan’s interview with Amitabh Bachchan:

video courtesy of Abu Bakar

I was so enthralled with the song I just had to find out where it was from, and with a little digging (thank you internet!) I found it:

video courtesy of Shemaroo, a very old and well known Bollywood film studio.

As a side note for my American readers, Satte pe Satte is a Bollywood remake of the classic musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!

 

I know this is going to sound a little sacrilegious, but I think I like Fawad Khan’s voice for this song over Kishore Kumar’s.

What do you think? Who sang it better?