Jaan-E-Mann, 2006

Directed by: Shirish Kunder

I was going to log this film under the “Seen but Unwritten” and forget about it but then I realized it was Salman Khan’s birthday, and I thought I should honor it. Somehow.

This film is brainless fluff. There are some funny parts, some sad parts, a love triangle, sequins and cool lighting effects. Otherwise, there isn’t much to recommend and it is simply a film that I watched because I was snowed in and it was almost 3 hours of time killer.

Sparkly trees? Me want.

The plot centers around Suhaan (Salman Khan) and Piya (Preity Zinta) who were high-school-college sweethearts and who eloped when their parents disapproved of their pyaar. Suhaan is a wannabe movie star who lands his first Hero role by strutting into a casting directors office and rips off his shirt*. When the director of his film learns that he is married he demands the Suhaan live apart from his wife until the film comes out so that his Hero image is not spoiled. Instead of shrinking away in to the background Piya files for divorce and moves to New York City. With his movie a flop and a demand for Rs. 50,000 in alimony Suhaan and his uncle Vakil (Anupam Kher) determine that the solution to their problems is to get Piya married again so that the demand for alimony is null and void.

Luckily Champu (Akshay Kumar) comes knocking on the door looking for Piya. Champu was a fellow classmate of Suhaan and Piya and has always nursed a love for Piya. He feels that he can win her now, as a NASA astronaut, compared to the geek he was in High School/College. Suhaan and Champu fly off to NYC and start wooing Piya.

In true love triangle ishtyle Piya must make a decision between Suhaas and Champu…

This movie was so painfully long.

I just have to get that complaint out in the open. Thankfully it was not drawn-out because it deviated from the plot at all, there was just so much jammed into the 2 hours and 80 minutes that it dragged. And dragged. And dragged.

Pacing was not helped by the songs which were awkward, ill placed and so non-lyrical that it often felt that the singers were singing phrases to songs that were completely different from what the accompaniment was playing. It literally made my brain hurt. It was like rapping on top of songs that sounded akin to the ones that would play as Shashi and Mumtaz ran around a forrest. It just made no sense.

Given the rather shallow nature of the subject matter I applaud the trio of main actors in their effort and devotion to their roles. Akshay Kumar was as close to normal as I’ve ever seen him and so spruced up in a suit and slicked back hair that I was having many “fan myself” moments. Salman Khan was my first filmi crush so there is not much I will say against him. He was very funny in this role, light hearted and heartbroken at turns with great effectiveness. Preity was given a great role and did well in it as the independent woman.

There is not much I can find to nitpick about this film. It’s seamless in its charm and besides an oddly paced section is fun enough to bring some cheer on a cold, snowy day.

Also: Shashi!

*Oh, the casting couch stories that are in my head!

Tees Maar Khan, 2010

Directed by: Farah Khan

I had no intention of seeing this film and if by some chance of I happened to see it I definitely had no hope of liking it. It was over promoted, toted Katrina Kaif and just looked so, so, so terribly eye-roll inducing.

I saw it, on the release date no less, and while I am not at all going to praise it for being what it is not (e.g. fantastic) I can honestly say that I thought it was fun.

TMK has many faults, but it boasts enough redeemable characteristics that make it not a total waste of time and money.

As usual, the bad first, then the good:

I have to start with the elephant in the room: Katrina Kaif. I can’t determine whether or not she really cannot act or if she’s simply pulling one over on us and might actually be brilliant. While my bet lies firmly in the former, I still have moments of doubt. Katrina Kaif is fine to watch…when she’s dancing. Even then (while dancing) her face has this lost look like she’s watching the choreographer step-by-step, but she seems more real when she’s too busy concentrating on shaking her hips than on extracting emotions out of herself.  I do not know what compels her to be so superficial and robotic when she is delivering lines. Must she be so breathy and flighty? I am sure Katrina Kaif the person has some substance, what is the harm in giving some of that depth to your characters? And I know she very well can’t help it, but the way she speaks. DEAR HEAVENS! It is insufferable.

I did however, like her in this outfit. 
The problem very well might be based in the roles she is given. I was not too upset by her performance in Raajneeti so she very well might have potential; however, the role of Anya in TMK is just so superficial that I have problems accepting Farah Khan’s inclusion of it. Why, Farah? Why? Not that I am one to get on a soap box, but can’t there be more to a woman’s character than anticipating Nip Slips, mini skirts, vanity and hair tousling? Had Anya’s character even served the smallest purpose I could have over looked the annoying and overt objectification but the movie would neither suffer in any way, shape, or form if Anya had been written out.

There were a lot of extraneous moments in this film that could have been left out. The story would progress nicely but every half hour or so the pace would hit a huge snag. A lot of non-essential stuff was left in the film that could have been left on the cutting room floor with no harm done to the overall story line. Again, this is my inner Minimalist having an overload moment, but I just groan with scenes and story lines and characters that do not support what our attention is supposed to be focused on. If it is important enough either make it a dedicated secondary story line or make another movie. All in all I am only thinking about 2-3 minutes here or there, probably 20 minutes tops, that would have been better served hacked out and placed in the “deleted scenes” category.

The three sidekicks?
Total keepers.
This is mainly just a personal pet peeve, but I find it cheap when directors or actors knowingly poke fun at themselves. The joke about Om Shanti Om was just so… dry. Also, if you’re going to call OSO a “bad” movie in the middle of TMK, you need to check your judgement skills.

Now that I’ve had my rant let me add some joy:

First off you can’t deny Farah Khan’s style. The woman is my soul sister; she loves glitter and sequins and using enough bright colors to make an acid tripper die of bliss. Plus you’re not going to find better song pictureizations than under her command, they are such productions. The dancing? Puh-lease. No one can touch her in choreography. No one. Our Ms. Khan also has a soft spot for the melodramatic that, yes, might come off as campy and contrived but nonetheless has its own spirit and enthusiasm.

The music was good. It didn’t blow me away but it didn’t disappoint either. It was lively and entertaining and distracting enough in good cinematography to smudge out the fact that the songs appeared seemingly out of nowhere and almost at random.

Akshay Kumar is a total doll. I’ve swallowed my pride and have come to terms with the fact that I just want to be all over him all the time. Don’t ask me why, I don’t think I can tell you. He has swagger, he’s kind of absurd and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t really give a second thought towards what people think about him. Every role I’ve ever seen him in has been fully embraced and personified through him. I can never tell if he’s just being himself or actually putting on the role of the character, he’s so effortless and seamless that it is just fun to watch him.

Having said that, I also have to give justice where it is due and tell you that this is not Akshay Kumar’s film. At all. Tees Maar Khan belongs and is stolen completely by Akshaye Khanna. His character is so completely absurd and Akshaye plays it so seriously that you’re just sitting there with your mouth hanging open in giddy delight. It is worth seeing this film just to watch Akshaye. In fact I thought the movie really started picking up and coming to life when he entered the story. Take that with a grain of salt, but he really breathed life and energy into the film just when I thought I was going to have to endure  something stale.

Another +1? Sallu. Doing awkward, arms-flexed Sallu dance moves. During a qawwali. Enough said, right?

It is also nice to see Anil Kapoor dancing around in maniacal glee with his Oscar taunting Akshaye Kumar. I literally died with laughing at that. Anil is just so likable, to have crossed over into the big bad Hollywood AND still respect and honor his “roots”* is just so endearing.

TMK is a comedy and I am happy to report that the writing is sharp and quite smart. It is always so tricky getting comedy from subtitles since puns and wordplay (which from the reactions that came from the audience suggested that was the kind of comedy it was) are always lost somewhere in translation. There are enough obvious and witty moments to keep the subtitle-dependent entertained and chuckling.

My advice would be to turn off your brain and just let Tees Maar Khan happen to you, if you expect or demand greatness you’re going to be severely let down. With your brain on Auto Pilot you’ll be amused and entertained enough to enjoy the film.

Also, count the pelvic thrusts. I think there were over 100 before we were even 10 minutes into the film.

*Sup, Jenny from the Block?

A Reluctant Convert, but a Whole Hearted One Nonetheless

It’s 70s Week!

Since my Netflix hasn’t arrived yet, and there are NO 70s flicks on Watch Instantly (the horror!) I thought I would try to communicate my conversion to the greatness that is Masala!

However, I could only get so far in changing the lyrics to “I Will Survive” before I gave up, and rightfully so. Why mess with a Karaoke classic?

There have been few 70s films in my life up until recently. I lament all the time I spent avoiding them because I was scared of them. (No lie.) My fear was becoming like what every other Bolly watcher was: Obsessed with a youthful (not growling and fatherly!) Amitabh; amorous for some mop-haired, open buttoned, crooked smiling pretty boy (guess who); constantly praising Neetu whose awkward mutton chopped …things… hanging down by her face made her look insane; happy with WTF-ery; and adamant that the 70s were “The Golden Age” of Bollywood, not the 90s; and all together fine with the fact that Shah Rukh was nowhere to be found on any frame!

I thought to myself: “They are crazy!”

Turns out, either I was the crazy one, or they’re really persuasive, those Masala-loving types.

The first time I sured up my guts and asked Beth for a… what did I call it… “Vintage Amitabh”(?) she directed me towards Parvarish. It was sent to my house and for the next four hours (or so) I sat on my couch in that terrible half-awake-but-not-really mode. I succumbed to my desires and napped through most of it. I tried to re-watch it, I promise I tried, but it just didn’t work for me. I sent it back knowing that I was right and that 90s KJo flicks were where it was at.

Then came Don: The Chase Begins. Ah, great memories, one day when I went to post “Khaike Paan Banaras Wala” on a friends Facebook, I got an Amitabh clip instead.

WHAT!? It was a remake?

Finally my interest was piqued, I got Old Don and watched it with zeal! “This could be it!” I thought, excited that I might finally be in the 70s-Lovers-Club!

Alas, I was not. It would take something more profound. More heart stopping. More…well, I think you know what is coming…

More…lovely and amazing and beautiful and darling and dil melting and smoldering and wonderful and perfect and all around Shashi-tastic.

The film, was Kabhi Kabhie.

I was warned by more informed folks than I to watch out for the “Wedding Night” scene. Thinking it would surely come at the end of the movie I was unprepared when within the first TEN minutes I was subjected (gladly) to Shashi Kapoor and all of his magnificent wonders.

You know that feeling where you are watching something so incredible, and all your muscles are incredibly tensed up and all you can do is focus on what your eyes are looking at? I was so there. I couldn’t move. Hell, I couldn’t breathe, and he wasn’t even the one singing! He was just love-doving around looking ever so fine. I couldn’t help it. In the Tweet that made me famous, my love for 70s films was secured. I was on board, and ready to go.

Thank goodness too! There is a great treasure trove to be found under the banner of Masala! And I’m going to confess it, here and now:

I, Erin B.G.W., do believe that the “Golden Age” of Bollywood happened during the 1970s, and not, as I previously thought, the 1990s.

The End.