Eklavya, 2007

Eklavya: The Royal Guard, 2007
Directed by: Vidhu Vindod Chopra

Oh! My poor neglected blog! I promise I haven’t forgotten about you!
I’ve wanted to see this movie ever since my first-ever encounter with real Bollywood…I was young and impressionable and sitting in a crowded Desi theatre two blocks off of my college campus waiting for Salaam-e-Ishq when I saw the preview. Had I known that that encounter would be the beginning of the long road of Bollywoods to come I would have given the previews more thought, but I do remember Eklavya looking marginally interesting. If anything the lightness of “Chanda Re” playing under some man frantically screaming “EKLAAAAVYAA!” amidst a lush, beautiful set piqued my interest.

Three years later…I finally watched it!

I’m just going cut to the chase and say what everyone else says about this film: It’s stinking gorgeous. Drop dead, drool-worthy sets, stunning cinematography, rich colors and to-die-for locations. The thought “Damn, VeeVee Chop can really make a pretty movie” kept cycling through my mind as I watched it.

And that…was my only substantial impression.

Don’t get me wrong, I did really enjoy it but it just left me a little unsatisfied. The film is short (by Bollywood standards) and the ending left a funny taste in my mouth, since I disapprove of false evidence that allows for guilty people to go free and everything… Not that it really mattered, I guess, but it still was a little off…

I thought the story was very interesting. Full of twists and turns that, while a bit predictable, kept the plot moving. Because of the shortness of the film I don’t think as many characters were as fleshed out as they could have been. I love a good back story, and Eklavya just gave you the bare minimum. It was enough for the film to make sense and progress, but not enough to satiate my hunger for details.

Having only seen Saif in Love Aaj Kal (ugh) I was impressed by his rawness, he was sort of like the Rhett Butler of Bollywood (well, not really…but ok, not at all…ish) in this film, and if anyone can get me all flustered, Rhett Butler can. Everything he did was so internal and contained that it was thrilling to watch. I kept waiting for him to explode in spontaneous emotional combustion but he never did. Exciting!

I adored the Vidya/Saif jodi. She finally matched someone! Please, please, please keep them together! She didn’t out-pretty her man and she didn’t look older than him either! And the scene where they are talking together and just holding hands and playing finger-footsie was just too much to handle. It was so real! Who hasn’t done that? I adore when filmi couples act like real people and don’t go running to the nearest Swiss mountain (though, admittedly, I do love that too).

Amitabh can act. Why haven’t I noticed this before? I always thought he was kind of dead behind the eyes. Slap my wrists, yes, please, I’m not worthy…etc. I’ve always enjoyed watching him but I think it took Paa and this movie for me to actually see him as an actor. All hail Amitabh! His whole body emotes, and I’m such a fool for never noticing.

I was super confused by the time period in this film. At first I thought it was going to be one of those “timeless” films, like Paheli or the weird Saawariya, but it’s apparently set in contemporary Rajasthan. Whatever, it would have worked either way.

The music is subtle, used as incidentally and in more of a soundtrack sense. It fit the film perfectly that way… I couldn’t imagine any large song and dance numbers in this film that would flow logically, the music is beautiful and ethereal, the kind of stuff I live for.

To the costumer I give all of my heart. What a spectacular job! All of the fabrics and outfits were just too good to be true.

Oh! And I can’t forget the Sharmila cameo! She’s just so wonderful, na? I think so.

Kismat Konnection, 2008

Directed by: Aziz Mirza

I was fully intent on watching Wake Up Sid this weekend because everyone in the universe has been going crazy over it, however, I got about 30 minutes into the film before I realized that I am Sid (detailed description to come when I finish the film!) and that their constant gushing about Mumbai was way to much to handle, since I’m going to BE THERE in MAY! I couldn’t handle the combination of my chagrin over my similarities to Sid* and my over-pouring of happiness about Mumbai. I had to watch something else or I might have exploded into a million piece and died.

So I switched over to Kismat Konnection, a film I had been eying on Watch Instantlyfor a few months now… simply because the cover of the DVD just looked so delightful and full of twinkle lights (I’m a sucker for a good twinkle light…)

I read some of the reviews on Netflix and most of the people seemed rather so-so about the film, I was willing to give it a try since it has some of my key players (Shahid, Vidya and JUHI!) and because after a long, dreadful week all I wanted was brainless “fluff” (as one of the reviewers called it).

Perhaps it was the build up of a terrible week, but I adored this film. It was everything I needed, it had comedy, heart, super sweet, precious songs, a story I could get behind and crisp, beautiful cinematography.

First off, there was the use of my all-time favorite picture technique: the off-center, blurry-light background. Drop me on my head and kiss me, Aziz used this technique ALL OVER THE PLACE! Rather than overkill though, the effect really worked. It gave the film a mystical, magical feeling. I’m drooling just remembering it. If I could live in a blurry-twinkle-lighted world, I would. It was like food for my soul.

The story was so normal, so effortless. There were no “WTF” moments or deviations from the plot. It was strictly Raj Malhotra (nice name, haven’t heard THAT before) and Priya and their lives. Granted there is some silliness, since Priya is Raj’s lucky charm, but still… it seemed normal enough. It was just uncomplicated RomCom goodness. Let me indulge, ok?

I have been streaming the music on Dhingana for the past 24 hours. I can’t get enough! It’s not on iTunes (boo!) but it is just such good music. At first I was rather concerned that my favorite song of the film, Dakhuda Tumhi Ho, was performed by a playback singer with the vocal qualities of a goat (it’s a little shaky is all) but it’s actually grown on me, because the song is just that good. I’m actually listening to it this very second, and I think my dil is smiling.

Hello? JUHI FREAKING CHAWLA! I love her, I have a crush on her, actually, always have… She played the eccentrically delightful gypsy who guides Raj through his life’s woes. Her comedic ability still surprises me. I don’t think I’ll ever get over my first impression of her (as the dejected and cheated Seema in Salaam-e-Ishq) which was so serious and so emotional, but I’m getting there. I promise you I am! Also, she lived in a very Devdas-esque house with glittering mirrors and lush colors (not to mention her OWN fog machine!) Double plus!

I love the red walls and the blue lights. Design idea? Quite possibly…
I want a fog machine! 
This just made me giggle.

It took me almost half of the film to get aboard the Shahid/Vidya jodi. I love them both separatly, but they just seem to be on different planes that don’t gel well. My real hangup was how much older Vidya’s character looked compared to Shahid’s. Yes, she’s about three or four years older than him, but they way they dressed her and her hair style just made her look matronly. Church-y. Safe. It just contrasted awkwardly compared to Shahid’s cool, effortless, young, vesty wardrobe. Vidya also has such a timeless, beautiful, mature face that it just looks out of place next to the rather babyish face of Shahid. Whatever their looks the two had chemistry, and oodles of it. I have offically named Shahid the new Prince of The Smoulder (SRK being God, and Shashi being King… is there something with “Sha..” names that just make them good at it?)

Anyone mind scooping me up off of the floor? I’m melt city over here.

The ending was kind of…”ehh”. Instead of a huge shaadi and tears (well, there were tears…) there was a board meeting with a dramatic soapbox speech. I could have done with just five more minutes of pyaar at the end and not so much focus on the responisbilites of large companies. Regardless when the movie was over my mood was significantly improved and I was happy. It’s not going to replace Jab We Met (the ultimate in RomComs!)  anytime soon, but it would be a good alternative.

Extra Cuteness!

Sure hun, I’ll hold some nasty guy’s head for you. 
Dard-e-Disco much?
Manpris! These have GOT to catch on amongst white people. 
I can’t live without them. 
I was agog about that sweater/tie combo.

*I had switched to KK because I didn’t want to have to watch myself on screen, oddly enough I found a lot of myself in Raj’s character. He was the end-all of awesome in college, and since graduation had made nothing of his life, he was (in his eyes) a complete failure and unnoticed. I know what that feels like on a different level, I was the shizzzin high school, in college I’m pretty much invisible. That’s a hard pill to swallow, and all of his outbursts of frustration and discomfort really made sense to me. That’s probably what made this films so enrapturing for me, I really understood Raj’s motivations and feelings.

Paa, 2009

Directed by: R. Balki

I thought I knew what I was getting myself into with this film. Auro, a boy with Progeria (Amitabh) and his father (Abhishek) bound around with happiness and laughter and we get a dil-warming film that makes us laugh and cry.

Uh, I was so wrong… but in a pleasantly surprising way.

Auro is the love child of two college kids, Vidya (Vidya Balan) and Amol (Abhishek) wannabe Doctor and Politician, respectively.  Vidya learns she’s pregnant and Amol asks her to have an abortion because “he has a career to pursue”, and she rightfully tells him that she does too. She returns home to India and keeps the baby all while studying and getting her doctorate. (Go Vidya!) Her son is born with a progressive and rare disease, Progeria, which makes the children age faster than others, so by the time Auro is 12 he looks like he’s around 70 or 80, and his body reflects that. He has heart problems, bone issues, but mentally he is fit and just as normal as another 12 year old boy. He loves his computer, video games and his best friends.
Auro first meets Amol when he hosts a competition at his school, which Auro wins. Vidya sees the award ceremony on the nighttime news and we are rushed into the “Do I tell him that’s his father or not?” story line that continues to get more and more pressing as Auro and Amol strike up a relationship and firendship.
On his 13th birthday Vidya tells Auro who his father is, so now Auro has the responsibility to determine if he wants to be a “hiccup” in his father’s very public life.
The movie comes to its climax when Auro suffers an attack and Amol and Vidya are brought together for the first time around their son’s hospital bed. The media storm is huge and suddenly everyone knows that Amol Arte, politician extrodinare has a son he never knew about, from an unwed woman. He asks her to marry her via TV (I would have said no) and she refuses until the two are brought together by Auro and he makes them do the “round and round and round” (wedding circles) around his hospital bed.  He unites them and whispers “Maa” and “Paa” right before he dies.
I was a sad-sack by the end of this film. Maybe it was because it was New Years Eve and I was sitting in a theatre alone (well, with two uncles at the verrrrry back) or maybe I was tired or maybe I was just really touched by the efforts of the Bachchans Squared.

I have never heard or seen Amitabh like that and it was a remarkable transformation. The makeup was a little strange, yes, but he genuinely looked as if he had progeria and everything about him was altered along with his prosthetics. His walk, his arms, his voice(!), the movements of his head were all so perfectly aligned with the character or Auro that you stopped seeing Amitabh and started seeing only Auro. It was a true testament to the depth and ability that Amitabh has as an actor that he was able to so completely disappear in this role.

Much like his father Abhishek gave a fantastic performance as well. He had sensitivity, care, compassion and love just oozing out of him in every scene (well, except for when he sticks it too the media…but…) so much that I just felt for him. His pain was my pain, his joy, mine…etc. It was just a treat to watch him.

Vidya Balan (whom I’ve only ever seen in Salaam-e-Ishq) also wowed me, but her character got on my nerves every once and a while. She was almost too concerned with not being the thing that ruined Amol’s life that it got in the way of her and her son’s happiness and in itself was a hiccup that she was so afraid to become.

Jaya Bachchan read the opening titles, sitting regally in a exquisite sari. She really has to be the most beautiful person in the world.

There were a lot of homey touches in the film, like Auro’s very teenage writing on his door and walls (i.e. “Knock, or I will “knock” your head off!) posters of bands, awkward tween crushes and preteen temper tantrums won over with a new XBox, I like those kind of additions to films; they make the experience more real and more familiar.

I feel like I’m Romanticizing this film, and I am, because there were some moments in the beginning and middle were I just wasn’t on board for the story line and I thought the flow was strange and there were a few stories that were just loose ends; but I was so touched by everything else, that all my complaints seemed to have vanished from my memory.