Billu [Barber], 2009

Directed by: PriuadarshanSigh.

I’ve seen this movie twice now, with both viewings almost over a year apart; the first time I loved it, I gushed, I cried, I got warm fuzzies, I adored. The second time I rolled my eyes a lot.

I’m a jaded, bitter, angry adult now folks, and nothing is going to give back my youthful cheer.*

Here’s the thing, I like this movie. I think the plot, story, acting, costumes, locations, the music… everything come together to make this a beautiful, touching film but for some reason it just fell flat on me last night and I was not charmed.

I know exactly the reason why: Shah Rukh Khan.

Before I get an earful about how amazing he is and how beautiful he is and how this-and-that he is please just understand that post-Indian internship Erin cannot deal nicely with SRK. Things happened, opinions were ruined, someone was a complete DBag…etc.

Now, while I can still respect him as an actor and for his body of work, the relationship he has with the audience and the love he inspires I cannot, myself, watch something like Ae Ae O without feeling the need to emphatically roll my eyes several times.

Billu, in my opinion, should have not fussed about renaming SRK as “Sahir Khan”. If he’s going to essentially play himself with nods to Shah Rukh Khan films he might as well have spared Kinko’s the effort by not having them erase his name and change it on the posters. There are plenty of posters, and banners and movie posters and merchandise all brandished with “Sahir Khan” that would have saved considerable time, effort, money, resources by just keeping SRK SRK.

Why they chose to defer to an alias when everyone just assumes he’s playing himself anyway is unknown to me. It’s weird, really.

Not to mention that for me, personally, SRK seemed to really be dialing it in on this performance. I don’t blame him, as a character Sahir has no depth (Except at the end. Maybe.), he shows up on screen, does some dance moves, squiggles around an item-girl-cameo, waves at the adoring crowd and slithers off in an overly-embellished leather jacket.

If you’re going to dial in a role, this is the one to do it.

NOT to spend my whole post ragging on our beloved King Khan, let me just continue onwards.

This is one of the few movies I like Ms. Dutt in, and I think she does a great job of being an impoverished, star-struck Maa. There was something so rustic and relaxed about her that I typically don’t see. Maybe it’s a director, maybe it’s the role, maybe it’s magic. Who can tell, and who is going to listen to me try to explain it? No one.

Irrfan Khan is an actor I’ve always loved. He’s so brooding, so serene…. he brings a nice dejection to Billu’s character that really helped me to relate to him on screen. He’s humble, he’s dirty, he’s quiet, he’s withdrawn. Wah. He’s wonderful.

While I have my qualms with the film, and may not be as awe-struck as I was the first time ’round I won’t deny that the soundtrack is brilliant in its diversity of styles; ranging from ballad to rock to folksy to hip-hop**; neither will I rob the production of praise for its cleanliness, style and overall beauty.

Sigh. Again.

*Excuses
**or rather my totally wrong, Opera student perception of “hip-hop”

Mumbai Monday, Got a Mandolin?

 

Today my thoughts are filled with mandolins, chubby Shah Rukh, and yellow mustard fields! It’s DDLJ to the max!

As of February DDLJ has been playing in theaters for 750 weeks at the Maratha Mandir Cinema in Mumbai.
Can you guess where I will be on one of my weekends? If you guessed going to ever screening that I can shove into my schedule, you’re absolutely correct!

Actually, in my mind, the experience goes something akin to this daydream I had about the same time I found out I had the internship…

I’m working as KJo’s personal assistant, and he shoves me in a rickshaw (oooer) and sends me to the theater saying he’ll meet me there with a “surprise”. True, I think it’s an odd situation, but I’m KJo’s assistant, I’m bound to run across something wacky sooner or later. Anywhoots there I am in the lobby of the theater, kind of miffed that he’s late. I hear a faint, “Erin!” shouted and I turn dramatically, my hair fanning out and gently slapping my face in a very seductive manner. As I raise my eyes (because everyone looks at the floor while they’re spinning. Duh) the wind machines start and my hair billows about me. I lock eyes with Shah Rukh, staring at me in his very Shah Rukhy, irresistible manner…and we weep at each other.

The daydream ends somewhere with me falling on my face and chipping my teeth on the floor. Although, Shah Rukh is so distraught at my pain that he spends the entire film whispering his lines in my ear.

1. I obviously have a very over-active imagination.
2. 70% of me thinks this will actually happen.
3. There are filmi wind machines all over the place in India, right?

Regardless of my absurd fantasies, I will be seeing DDLJ in theatres, and I will probably cry from excitement.

You know what I just thought of? It won’t be subtitled! O well, as it’s one of my top 5 films, I think I know most of the lines by heart anyway.

(p.s. 35 days until I land in Delhi and head off for my Camel adventure!)

My Name is Khan, 2010

Directed by: Karan Johar
 
I walked back into my apartment about 30 minutes ago and my roommate looked at me and said: “You were only in Vegas for one night?” 
 
Was I really only gone for 48 hours? 26 of which were spent solely driving and/or catching snippets of sleep at gas stations? I feel like I have traveled much further, and much longer. 
 
This adventure didn’t seem like it would be so…tiring…when we started out, but I’m exhausted. Regardless, I had a good 12 hours to think about my feelings concerning My Name is Khan on the drive from Vegas to Idaho and I’m going to try to set them as eloquently as I can.
 
I am a “take it at face value” kind of a movie viewer. I don’t (or can’t, I think I’m starting to find) over analyze, I can suspend my belief incredibly well (Avatar, excepted) so I know I’m going to get some flack for this, but I loved the entire movie. Even the second half. Yep.
 
By intermission I had cried off all of my waterproof gel-eyeliner (I might add that it is impossibly difficult to get me to cry for any film). By the end of the film I looked at K and L and asked “10:30 showing?”. We saw it twice within 20 minutes of our first viewing ending; but the conversation we had standing outside of the Palms casino (desperate for fresh, cool air) was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had with anyone concerning anything. I don’t know why I feel the need to express this here, other than my desire to get it out of my head, and the coming to terms with something that haunted my early teen years.
 
My Name is Khan isn’t the love story Shah Rukh and Kajol and Karan have all be touting it to be. Yes, it is a story about a couple and the effects on their life in the pre and post-Septermber 11th world. Yes, it is about the distance a man goes to prove to his wife that he loves her; but to me, it was something deeper, something more meaningful. For me, it was a film that showcased the hope of humanity.
 
Rizvan’s ideologies are in complete agreement with mine. Regardless of skin tone, religion, ethnicity…etc there are only good people and bad people. Good people are everywhere, bad people are everywhere. Such black and white views of the world may be shockingly…blunt, but it is my view. I don’t write people off because their religion is different than mine, or they speak with an accent. What right do I have to be so forcibly judgmental? We learn about people by what the do, how they act, not because they are grouped into a mass with general characteristics. 
 
My emotional reaction to My Name is Khan caught me by surprise. I don’t know that I was entirely prepared to relive a very confusing time in my childhood. I grew up with the headquarters for the Islamic Society of North America literally in my back yard. It is all of three miles from my house. The daughters of various leaders were my friends through middle and high school. After September 11th I watched hatred from my community lash out at my friends. Hatred that I knew was inherently wrong.  Despite knowing and associating with these people for years, how did everyone suddenly turn on them and assume their conjunction with such action? 
 
I, as a twelve year old (was I really that young?) didn’t understand. I had no answers, and I was not in agreement with my adult superiors. Why should I stop talking to my friend just because of her religion?
 
The scene in the film, the one in the classroom, made my blood boil. I remember sitting in the same situation as my Muslim classmates, with bowed heads, had to listen as teachers indoctrinated my fellow classmates with lies. Teachers who should have known better than to breed hatred. 
 
Just as the scene where Rizvan’s mother draws the stick people with the lollipop and the stick indicates, we’re all human. If we took the time to care, to change our perceptions and get to know others, if we let people “keep our $500 dollars for the non-Christians”, the would would be utterly different.
 
I don’t profess to be a Utopian, but there needs to be more tolerance, and more love.
 
I found My Name is Khan to be a timely film, if in that realm alone.
 
Perhaps I shall talk about the film now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest? I apologize for the rant, but I was never quite old enough to understand my feelings about September 11th, as I was so young when it happened,  and it was as if this film brought it all back, and I was finally mature enough to understand what I was feeling. 
 
Theek hai! Filmi stuff from here on out! 
 
I must give my congratulations to Karan and Shah Rukh and Kajol! This film was stunning from every aspect. The cleanliness of the transitions, the beauty of the shots, characterization, costuming, and performances were on a level that left me in awe. 
 
Karan Johar has produced a spectacular film. The quality of this film is like I’ve never seen before. Were I to watch it a million more times I could not put into words the cleanliness of the shots and the little tidbits that were touching. There was an obsessive, planned out nature to the cinematography that came across o-so subtly. It was stunningly beautiful on the eyes. 
 
Shah Rukh completely disappeared under the guise of Rizvan. He has never performed as a character so endearing, and so complex. K’s first emotional reaction to the film came as soon as he appeared on screen. She has an autistic sister and said that his actions, movements, and characteristics were so on point, so true to life, that it caught her off guard and touched her greatly. What research and study had to have gone into this role is mind boggling. It is the performance of his career, if not his lifetime. 
 
Kajol, I believe, is the only one could have pulled off this role. She was real as Mandira. Some may call her grief over dramatic, but for me, it was tangible. While I did not (and could never) agree with her character’s decision that hate was the answer, it was an honest path for her character to take. While it broke my heart to hear her declare her path, it also resounded within me that it was true-to-life. 
 
I was glad for the attention paid to the choice Reese had to make. Fearful that such a fundamental part of his character would be forgotten I was pleased by it’s inclusion. It is amazingly human to take something too far before we’ve realized what we have done, and the impact it makes on other’s lives, and on our own individual life as well.
 
The building up and dissolving and rebuilding of relationships, be it between Rizvan and Mandira; Sameer and Reese; or the Khan and Garick families was sublime.  It added a dimension to the film that I found fascinating. It was another element to the film that showcased the reality of life. 
 
I do not condone the perpetuation of stereotypes concerning the African American residents in the Georgia scenes. In a film about acceptance and understanding it was a huge snag that left me more than a little put out. 

Also, the songs were not subbed. And we all know how that might be my number one petpeeve of all time. 

 
The flood, the stabbing, and the media-storm… you know what? I can take them. They didn’t detract in anyway from the film for me. Yes, a little far-fetched and imaginative, but this IS Bollywood, is it not? I understand the desire for the film to be more universal than that, and as far as I’m concerned the goal was achieved. 
 
My Name is Khan was worth the 30 hours shoved inside my Toyota Matrix and the seemingly unhelpful sleep in the parking lot of a Flying J. It was a film with a message that we need to respond to. We all need to try to be a little more like Rizvan. If we cared a little bit more, and took the effort to look outside of ourselves more often, we could be the bearers of the hope that this film inspires. 

*Update: I’m hardly eloquent, thankfully L is! While not a BollyBlogger she did take some time and post her thoughts about My Name is Khan. They flesh out all of my holes and offer deeper insight into what I was attempting to say. Her post can be found here.

**Also, I understand that my title for my post is not at all in harmony with the timbre (woah, a lot of music terms right there) of my post. That lesson you learn in forth grade about not titling stuff until after it’s written? Yeah, I wasn’t paying attention that day… ;)

***The huge gap at the top of this is making me angry. I’ve tried to fix it. I can’t.

Gratuitous self-promotional pic of K, L and I infront of the Bellagio Fountian…
Though you can’t really tell, our heads are too big :)

Yes Boss, 1997

Directed by: Aziz Mirza

I hadn’t seen a Shah Rukh movie in over a month (a new record since the 6 month hiatus last year. A bleak time) so in honor of his new found Twitterdom I cracked open the Netflix envelope I had laying around and popped in Yes Boss.

This was also my sister’s first run-in with my man, the King and had my marvelous SRK DVD collection been anywhere BUT in Idaho (I was in Indiana at the time) I would have preferred to introduce her to something like DDLJ, KKHH, K3G, or the ever power conversion tool: Om Shanti Om and the marvelous, greased up and sexy abs. Yum.  But, as it was I had to make do with what I had.

For the first 30 (or so) minutes I could not get into the story. I was yawn city. However, once the crazy and twisted “what the heck is he doing to himself and Juhi?!” love triangle started I was as onboard as a person can be.

Here’s what saved the film for me (Love triangles aside):

1. Reema Lagoo. One of my top three favorite filmi Maas! (I mean, we all know how I feel about Kirron Kher…) She’s just so real and motherly, like she would make you mango lassi and aloo chaat every day after school and throw an extra gulab jamun in your lunch tiffin just because she wanted you to have a good day. She also comes across as tranquility personified, and that’s very comforting.

2. Juhi Chawla and Shah Rukh the couple. Ahhhhh, I wish they were filmed together more often! She’s so wholesome looking and he’s so golden boy. They’re like “the couple” in high school (I was that couple, oddly enough… but I digress…). I loved all of their little “dates” that were just brimming with laughter, that’s what love is: fun, and they had it with extra to spare. They are sweethearts and they just compliment each other so well! I need to hunt down more of their movies.

3. Juhi’s comedic timing is perfection. Especially the “sad statue” bit. She didn’t have a ton of laughs in this movie (she was too busy being crossed and double crossed and “playing a farce”) but when she did she played them up so wondrously.

4.  Shah Rukh’s ties. They were horrendous. I don’t know what was worse, the Marylin Monroe, acid/emo tye-dye or the Jafar (as in Jafar from Disney’s Aladdin) tie. I’m so glad the 90s are finished.

5. Costumes in general. They were tragic. 90s fasion sort of looks like everyone is wearing a pillow case. Ugh. There were some redeemable bits, like SRK in pastels (ALWAYS good!) and Juhi’s pink sequined dress, but otherwise it was another reminder about how grateful I was to have been a child in the 90s and not a teen or young adult. Phew!

6. The songs! None of the songs on my disk were subtitled, which was a HUGE bummer. HELLO! They are a HUGE part of the action and story of a film! What’s the deal?! It was the same in Paa and I was just so annoyed. How much extra can it cost to ensure that the audience knows what is going on? I don’t even care if I just get vague ideas about the words/ideas, even that would be great, but to leave out the subs all together is just so frustrating. That being said the music really was great, nice and 90s-ish YRF-esque music.

7. Switzerland. Enough said. Mountain dancing, the man in a heavy coat the girl in chiffon and no sleeves, galavanting in snow, epic helicopter shots, running towards eachother… A-One! (or should I say “first class”, since that’s how the weather was described before they went to Swizty?)

8. The epic and random showdown at the bad guy’s Lair of Seduction for Beguiled and Put-Upon Girls. There is glass shattering, a broken fish tank, a delaration of pyaaaaar, and out of NO WHERE Shah Rukh’s Maa walks in. Talk about greatness!

9. Karwa Chauth. I love Karwa Chauth moments! I don’t know why, but I always get sappy and weepy and all romantic. Maybe I am a softy, somewhere down under my tough skin.

10. I thought I could think of ten things… but now the last one is eluding me…

However, I did get to watch this with K and L when I came back to Idaho and it was just too fun. It’s totally a watch-and-commentate-along kind of film. I attempted to Video-Blog (“vlog”) about it with L but it didn’t work out for a few reasons… I have TB or something so I have a man voice and am litterally strung out on medicines that make me insane and I was acting realllllly drunk (we are both, in fact, Temperance types, I think L played along acting drunk to make me feel more stable… ) but I’m uploading them anyway, since I spent so much time on them (i.e. not)… please enjoy my degradation and check out my super awesome B’wood hair swoosh at the beginning.

Also enjoy: how I obviously hadn’t gotten out of my Immaan Dharam thing, since I mock it, my bare and beige apartment room (I had been deep cleaning and dusting so everything is missing) my squeaky laugh, my attempt at being civilized, my extreme Laguna Beach-ness, and basically a 4 minute summary of everything I just typed up.