Thursday, December 20, 2012

Where On Earth Have I Been?

Where have I been? Not in Bollywood, unfortunately.

First of all, I want to give a huge, heartfelt THANK YOU! To all of you who have continued to read and support my blog, despite my silence. I have read all of your comments. I apologize that I have not been able to get back to most of you.

Life dealt me some unexpected cards since I last posted. But alas,  I have emerged a stronger person and ready to move on with the rest of my life. Things are going quite well. I am in good health and have actually begun writing about some of the major changes I have made in the last couple of years.

I have a brand new blog now, meant for those of us who want to change our lives in ALL areas. She Colored It Indigo is a look at how and why we can all benefit from healing our past, celebrating our present, and co-creating our future.  I invite you to read and begin this journey with me. Here is the link:

As for Bollywood, I haven't forgotten about my favorite pastime! Simple, lighthearted tributes to the films I have grown to love these past few years. I will be writing soon! Just watched a movie with Padmini in it it the other night (Ok, I'll admit, it was Mere Naam Joker), and I absolutely cannot wait to see more of her! Stay tuned. Life is finally coming together for me.

Again, I humbly thank you for all the supportive comments and emails I have received.


Friday, October 2, 2009

What's Your Rashee? (Go See Wake Up, Sid Instead)

I never, ever thought I'd get sick of seeing Priyanka Chopra's lovely face, but hey, there's a first time for everything.

Went to see What's Your Rashee last night on a whim because I trusted Ashutosh Gowariker so much that I didn't care how far I had to travel (30 mins, so, ok, not too bad) or how many tests I had to study for. It was Ashutosh Gowariker, yaar! How could anything possibly go wrong?

Well. In the movie, Harman Baweja plays a guy who has to find a bride by the 20th of the month. He puts out some type of personal ad and, thanks to his dashing good looks, is flooded with responses. To narrow them down, he decides he will only meet one girl for each zodiac sign. All 12 of these women are played by Priyanka Chopra. YAWN. Here's the thing (in my humble opinion): Priyanka did a fine job of acting "different" for each character (and she deserves praise for this--this is the first time any actress anywhere has played 12 roles in one film!), but she just wasn't interesting enough to keep me entertained for 12 poorly written mini-stories. Gosh, I really feel bad saying that, because I could tell she tried to give each underwritten character their own identity. But the film was so drawn out that it was boring nonetheless, and I walked out feeling like Priyanka and I needed some space. Then we had her paired with a dud like Harman Baweja who's less exciting than my microbiology professor, and, well, there you have it (And this guy is supposed to play Siddarth's character in the Hindi version of Bommarillu?!?Say it ain't so!).

Why didn't Ashutosh Gowariker go the cameo-role route and have 12 "surprise" actresses pop up to represent each sign? Then at least I would have had something to look forward to other than the ending credits (literally--I spent most of the last hour praying that each woman would be the last and that we'd already covered all the rashees, only to discover, to my dismay, that nope, we hadn't met the Leo girl yet...ARGH!!).

I can't help thinking that the film may have worked had it been a more charismatic duo than Harman and Priyanka. I'm thinking Anil Kapoor and Sridevi could have pulled this off back in the day, or even better, what about Rani and Abhishek? Now wouldn't that have been a blast?

More bad news: The song picturizations were boring (except for the very last one which was really cool--see below under "The Good News") and awkwardly placed, a shame since most of them were actually really pretty. 90% of them felt like fillers. I cannot tell you how badly I am jonesin' for a good song picturization! Each new film seems to be let down after let down. :(

It was interesting(and quite bothersome) that it just seemed to be assumed that Harman's character was such a "good catch". Like he got to pick from 12 girls who would be just elated to end up with a guy like him. Sure, a couple of them said no, but they had external reasons for doing so like not wanting to leave India or rush into marriage. Why couldn't more of the girls just say no because...well, because they just didn't feel there was anything there? Couldn't there have been one girl who said, "I'm just not really attracted to you like that, but we can still be friends"?

One more nagging gripe and then I'll stop complaining: The ending wasn't all that, and there were stones left unturned a.k.a some of the subplots weren't sufficiently resolved. Not all of my questions were answered, and that sucks after you sit through a 3 hour+ snoozefest.


*Ashutosh Gowariker is still a kick-a** director, and the cinematographer did some nifty camera tricks. This certainly doesn't fall flat because of poor execution. The scenes were colorful and crisp and some of the shots were really gorgeous.

*Priyanka's so prrrety. And now we know that she's not afraid to bare down and scrub the makeup off to play a quirky character. I don't think Aishwarya would have played someone like, for example, Anjali (The first girl Yogesh meets).

*Harman is hot. Why couldn't I have bumped into him when I lived on Sunnyside and Ravenswood? ;) He's not a bad dancer, either, but I don't think he's half as good as he thinks he is.

*We see women with power and real jobs. One is a doctor, the other president of a corporation (at least I think she was president--she sure held a lot of clout).

*The last song was really neat. Like Aamir in Ghajini, its picturized on multiple Priyankas, and she does an awesome job of dancing differently for each character. Oh, and the guitar song was pretty, but got boring after awhile due to poor picturization.

And--**** BIG SPOILER ****--- Yogesh ends up marrying the girl with my zodiac sign! Hooray!(****END SPOILER****).

After writing this post and reading Darshit's review, I went to go see Wake Up, Sid starring Ranbir Kapoor and Konkona Sen. I really enjoyed it, so much so that it'll be awhile before I can say anything other than "Omg! That was so awesome!!!". So if you're looking for something to see this weekend, bypass What's Your Rashee and check out Wake Up, Sid instead.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Guide is Good, Guide is Great (1965)

As soon as Guide ended, I wanted to hit "play" and watch the whole thing all over again. It was just that good (And had it not been 2 a.m., I just might have done so!).

I couldn't resist this photo of Waheeda any longer; I'd seen it in practically every book I've read on Bollywood. Sigh, time to watch the movie about the woman who leaves her husband for Dev Anand and becomes a dancer, I told myself. If you're gonna twist my arm, that is. ;)

While I thought the film had a rather slow beginning, everything was all good once Waheeda started dancing and Dev started...well, falling in love with Waheeda's dancing.

But so did I! I loved that this film gave Waheeda sooo many opportunities to show off her talent! And man, did she ever. She danced in the streets. She danced on stage. She danced when she was pissed off at her lover. And, when she finally got her hands on a pair of jingly new anklets, she pranced all the way home in them, unable to contain her excitement. Yep, all Rosie wanted to do was dance, baby, dance!

After she ditched her cad of a husband, Rosie became famous. Hooray! More excuses for colorful dance sequences and costumes. Which Vijay Anand was more than happy to provide.

Dev Anand, the tour "guide" who encourages Rosie to leave her husband and pursue a dancing career, was just as passionate about Rosie as she was about dancing. I loved that he never looked at her like she was "tainted", despite what family and friends had to say. Sure, Raju had issues of his own, which became more apparent with Rosie's success. But he never made her feel like she was less of a woman because she was divorced. To the contrary, he treated her as a queen deserving nothing but love, his love, which he was more than willing to give. Ironically, it was this pedestal he placed her on that caused him to feel inadequate, which led to his insecurity, which contributed to the eventual meltdown of the relationship.

The interesting thing about the breakdown of Raju and Rosie, as a couple as well as individuals (Which I didn't post a spoiler about because its pretty obvious; As Rosie becomes more and more popular, you just know its all too good to be true), is that I never fully figured out whaaaat exactly went wrong. Or whose "fault" it was. I just couldn't pick a side! I'll admit, I usually pick the woman's side (Team Aniston!!), but its usually the man's fault anyways, especially in Bollywood! Here, I wasn't so sure. The characters were so passionately portrayed that I felt the pain in both directions. On the one hand, you have Raju's growing possessiveness and alcoholism that would drive any woman away (Run Rosie, he's not man enough for you!!). But on the other, you realize all he wants is Rosie's attention (That cold-hearted, unfeeling witch!).

But Guide was more than just another Barbara Streisand-type tearjerker (which I am always up for, by the way). After things with Raju and Rosie hit a heartbreaking climax, Raju is sent to prison, and the flashback ends. Back in the present, Raju struggles on his own spiritual journey that brings him to an unexpected crossroads, equipped with "dream" sequences that reminded me of one of Raj Kapoor's films (I especially liked the whole Ego/Id conversation that appropriately displayed question marks in the background). Its this bend in the film that makes it unique, and probably something I will understand more and more with each viewing experience. That's what made me want to watch it again--I feel like I'll notice something new every time. And maybe even understand the whole thing a little better, because I've gotta say, I didn't fully "get" the ending (****SPOILER**** I get the whole concept of enlightenment, but...why Raju? Ahh, could it be to prove that everyone and anyone could be as close to God as they want to be?*****END SPOILER*****).

Whew! Such a long post already--and I didn't even get to rave about the the music (And was it just me or did I catch a glimpse of Shashi Kapoor in one of the songs?)!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Did This Really Happen Or Did I Just Dream It?

All I know is, I touched SRK's hand. And I am never going to wash it off!

I'm still in shock and just can't stop thinking about it (OMG!!!). The South Asian Carnival, though poorly organized and insanely chaotic, was definitely worth the $25 I paid for a ticket. And the five hours I waited to see Shahrukh Khan.

Beth and I didn't quite know what to expect. We'd heard horror stories about events like these and, quite frankly, found the idea of SRK sitting in a booth happily signing autographs from fans lined up in an orderly fashion pretty farfetched (And it was--the event was nothing like that, which I'll describe).

The day began smoothly enough. Beth and I arrived around 12, when the event was scheduled to start, and were amazed that the crowd was smaller and calmer than we'd anticipated. The Rosemont Convention Center was spacious, clean, and (thankfully) air-conditioned. We waited in a long line by the doors to the event in what seemed to be a huge lobby and marveled at all the SRK fangear and posters.

After chilling in this room for about 45 minutes, the Rosemont staff and event organizers tried forming us into two separate lines and began collecting tickets. That didn't really work and it ended up being more like cluster of people clamoring to get their first glimpse of SRK. Of course, he wasn't even there yet. Instead, there were rows of overpriced vendors and two empty stages, one of which already had a long line to the right of it. The room was more like a huuuuge auditorium, and there was plenty of empty space between the vendor booths and the autograph stage.

We grabbed a place in line by the autograph stage and realized it would probably be hours before SRK showed up. Gulshan Grover appeared and the line started to move, but became longer and longer on the back end.

With a sinking heart Beth and I realized we would eventually make it to meet Gulshan, but would then be sent to the end of the line way before the Shahrukh portion, given he was the headliner and would likely be saved for last (Not that meeting Gulshan wouldn't be awesome in it's own right, and at one point I did get to shake his hand, but I honestly did not recognize him). We decided that at this point, Shahrukh probably wasn't even in the state of Illinois, and we'd be better off trying to find something else to do while killing time. While chatting with some newfound friends from Bollywhat, we learned about SRK's unfortunate disaster at the airport and, although we felt awful that Shahrukh had to endure something like this in our country, we began to wonder if he would even show. Or, worse yet, had America made such a poor impression on him that he would be less likely to return to the states? Was this my last chance to meet SRK? Arghh!!! We didn't know whether to go back in line, browse the vendor booths and kill time, or leave altogether. Luckily, Dia Mirza showed up and suddenly our faith was restored!

Dia was even more beautiful in person, though different looking than I pictured her. She was much fairer and shorter than I imagined, with a dazzling smile and a tiny frame. One thing I really liked about her was her interaction with the crowd, laughing and joking with her fans, and even participating in a trivia game.

At the other stage, there were two guys signing that I didn't recognize, but they were so lively and energetic that I enjoyed them nonetheless. In fact, this was the only clear shot I could really get of them since they were jumping around so much!

After Dia left the autograph stage, Beth and I were fortunate enough to nab a spot smack dab in the front of the black fence surrounding it--only a mere 3 or 4 feet from the stage! This spot, we decided would be close enough to get the very first glimpses of SRK's entrance--and would give us the opportunity to remain intimately close to him throughout the signing! So, we forfeited our chance to jump back in line (Which was now monstrously long, extended so far we couldn't even make out the end of it)and wait for an autograph that might never happen for standing at this golden spot. I think this was a the right decision, though it made us maximum targets for extreme pushing and elbowing. But we remained firm, planted in the same spot with barely an inch of foot space for a good 3 hours!

The spokesperson for the event was hilarious. Every 10 minutes or so, he would jump on the mike and say "Just a few more minutes" and "he's going to be here very soon". He kept trying to get the crowd to spread out, as the black iron barricades we were leaning against were badly caving in from the mounting pressure of pushes and shoves. But his attempts to encourage our attention to the fashion show and performers on the backstage were in vain as all everyone could think about was SHAHRUKH KHAN. Still, I found his little BS minispeeches and chides to "hold our horses" quite entertaining. And, as the moment drew nearer, he let some of us (including me!) jump on the mike to share some of our favorite SRK films/dialouges.

FINALLY, around 5 p.m. or so, SRK appeared! It was a surreal experience. I spotted him from the back as he was approaching the stage door (our spots were so awesome!). He came out with so much energy and enthusiasm, graciously addressing and making eye contact with as many of us as he possibly could. AND, OMG, when he turned to Beth and I, he kissed the tips of his fingers and gave a humble wave/bow(Believe it or not, this was how he was throughout the whole thing; attempting to have as many "moments" with as many of us as possible)! I couldn't stop shaking, and tears of joy instantly sprouted in my eyes. The photos aren't the greatest, unfortunately, because my hands were trembling so badly! But the images in my mind are as clear as can be--we were so close I could see his eyelashes!

I loved watching Shahrukh interact with his fans. With every autograph and photo, he was so humble and gracious. He would kiss the little ones on the head, and was so warm and affectionate with his fans that I saw firsthand why he is adored by so many, myself included. He did a couple little dances, signature winks and dimple flashes, and my heart literally melted into a puddle on the floor. It was such an amazing experience, and I'm so glad I had Beth to share it with me!

When Shahrukh made his way to us on the floor, the crowd continued to push so much that there were a good four security guards surrounding him so I sadly did not get an autograph. But I did reach out and touch his hand! Seeing his exhaustion from the crowd's aggresion, I let go right away but it was soooo electrifying! His skin felt smooth and cool to the touch, a soft contrast to mine which was probably sweaty and gross. Sorry, Shahrukh!

Beth and I got a kick out of how thin he was. Much smaller in frame than he appears onscreen, yet not scrawny by any means. He was wearing a brushed black velvet coat that didn't have one speck of lint on it, a white V-neck T-shirt underneath (that exposed his sexy collarbone), and silverish shoes that kind of looked like Skechers (but weren't). I don't remember his pants, though I'm thinking they were faded jeans. His hair was duller than the shiny black I imagined it to be (probably dyed a softer color, it was still thick and gorgeous), but his light brown eyes were much clearer and brilliant than I realized--definitely a striking feature. His skin was about the same color it appears in his films, or should I say, "wheatish". And yes, hands-down, his dimpled smile was even more swoonable in person!

This encounter with SRK made the South Asian Carnival worth it. There was plenty of eye contact and he was so close for so long, but keep in mind that we really did get lucky. Shahrukh offered to dance at the back stage following the signing, as he was apparently willing to stay longer, but after the crowd kept pushing against the barricade with building intensity, the Rosemont security decided it was in the best interest of the fans' safety, as well as Shahrukh's, if he left. So he was really only there for about an hour. When he left, there were many people left in line and in the crowd who didn't get very close to the stage at all.

Here are some tips/facts should you ever make it to an event like this:

*Plan of Action: Ha. There is no plan of action. Everything is unorganized and your spot in line really ends up being luck of the draw. It all comes down to being at the right point in the line at the right point of time. I guess if I were to do it all over again I would maybe get there super duper early and try to plant myself as close to the door as possible. Then I would get to the line and try to stay in the front until the headliner arrived. Also realize, though, that this may not happen if security or event planners force you to keep the line moving.
*Don't Go Hungry: The food from the vendors was pretty darn expensive. A small serving of chicken biryani was $15. Corn was $6.50. I settled on 2 samosas for around $5. Oh, and don't go thirsty either (or pack something in your purse/bag). Bottled water was $3.
*Don't Have False Expectations: As I said repeatedly, Beth and I really did get lucky. The fliers for the carnival seemed too good to be true--and they were. Like I said, when SRK walked offstage, there were many, many people in line who didn't get very close to Shahrukh at all.
*Bring a Friend: Having Beth there with me gave me someone to share my excitement with. And having good company made the waiting much more bearable. But make sure the two of you are on the same page (Beth and I were). It would be tragic if one of you really wanted to leave and the other really wanted to take the chance of staying.
*Don't Pay Too Much: $25 was peanuts to pay for this wonderful experience. But to pay any more and have it not work out would have been all the more disappointing.
*Be Prepared to Be Pushed: Have caution with little kids; they may get injured if the crowd gets out of hand. And be prepared to say no to cute little kids as well; I can't tell you how many little ones tried to cut in front of me, and how many parents encouraged them to do so. I love kids; I love Shahrukh. I'm sorry, I would never do anything to hurt anybody, but I'm not going to let some 6 year old push me out of the way. My 3 year old daughter wanted to see "Rahul" just as badly, but I wasn't sure if it would be a good idea for me to bring her, so she had to sit this one out. And besides, the front row of a crowd of pushy fans is NOT the safest place for a child to be anyways.

All of this aside, we left the Rosemont grinning from ear to ear. It didn't matter to me that the sweat dripping down my back wasn't even my own, but instead a gross mixture of 10 other people's. All that mattered was I got to see SRK!!!!I would totally go see him again. Needless to say, I've had little else on the brain since, and I've felt the sudden urge to rewatch all his films. Heck, I'll even give Don and Rab Ne another shot. This was incredible!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rose Petals! Rain! Rishi!...Chandni (1989)

Maybe there's hope for me and Yash Chopra after all.

There was so much rain in Chandni!

Chandni. My Chandni! How skeptical I was about you and how you managed to be just what the doctor ordered after an exhausting (yet fun) day of trekking around town with two bouncy preschool girls...Yash-ji, how did you know that at the end of the day, what I'd really,really need would be a handful of rosepetal showers and a couple of dances in the rain?

It started as everything the DVD jacket claimed it would be: "Softly lyrical, throbbingly beautiful". While I personally wouldn't categorize all Yash Chopra romances that way, the music and imagery were just that. Chandni (Sridevi, rapidly climbing the scales of my heart), meets Rohit (Rishi Kapoor, in some serious sweaters!), and the two fall in love. Rohit worships the ground Chandni walks on, showering her with rose petals and even putting up an almost-shrine to her in his bedroom (See below--In a Lifetime movie, this would be called stalking, but Chandni doesn't seem to mind). You know the drill--it starts off so perfect, something terrible, horrible, tragic is just bound to happen, right?

Of course!

Bollywood Hero or Obsessive Fan?? Oh, right...Bollywood Hero.

But let me point out before going there that, while it sounds like the same ol' song and dance, Rohit and Chandni's romance wasn't nearly as boring and redundant as I expected it to be. In fact, it was pretty gosh darned entertaining, thanks mostly to Sridevi's ability to maneuver from being whimsically playful to full of panache. And though at first I was put off by how much Rishi had aged in the seven years since Yeh Vaada Raha, sooner or later I found him teddy bearishly cute with more than a few traces of chocolate left in his hero box. Apparently Chandni agreed with me--she even made a fat joke to his face!

Gee, Chandni, I know this isn't the most flattering sweater Rishi's ever worn, but...did you really have to call him fat?

Ordinarily, I find fat jokes offensive and rude, and I hate that they're so often used in Hindi films. But for some reason, it didn't bother me here; To me, it showed how comfortable Rohit and Chandni were with one another (and proved Rishi must have had a sense of humor about his weight gain).

Of course, the couple wasn't without their share of problems. For one, Rohit's high class family despised Chandni from the beginning. They felt she wasn't good enough to enter their home as a bride, and told Rohit so without any reservations. The only person in Rohit's family who seemed to understand was his brother in law, Ramesh (Anupam Kher--with hair!).

Maa seems to think choosing a wife should be akin to furniture shopping.

With all this negativity in the air from Rohit's family, you can almost smell disaster in the air. And of course, tragedy does strike. Rohit is left paralyzed, and Chandni powerless to do anything but love him. Of course, the pressures from his family and feelings of inadequacy related to his disability force Rohit to make the unthinkable decision: He must give up Chandni, freeing her from the burden he thinks he's become and allowing him to wallow in
bitterness. He breaks up with her coldly and abruptly (even painting over her photographs!), leaving her heartbroken and leaving me a weepy, mushy, mascara-racooned mess.

In happier times. How COULD you, Rohit?!?

Intermission goes by unannounced, and Chandni tries to be strong and pick up the pieces of her broken heart (she's stronger than I am at this point, because I still haven't stopped crying). She gets a job at a travel agency and guess who her boss is--Vinod Khanna (as Lalit)!! Things are looking better already. Rohit who?

Lalit, as Chandni discovers, comes across all business-like, but is really as soft as a grape on the inside. He's been nursing a broken heart himself, after losing the love of his life, Devika (Juhi Chawla looking deliciously seductive in a rain song--Go on and say it, Bollywood Fan), to some tragic illness we never know the name of. Poor Lalit, every time it rains he is reminded of his beloved, and since it rains a lot in this film, well, you can just imagine.

Meanwhile, it rains over by Rohit and he has a mental breakdown, realizing he has been a fool to let Chandni go (duh). I started crying again. As he washed the paint off Chandni's photographs, it felt like my heart was actually pumping out tears instead of blood, but I was loving every minute of it--yes, folks, this is the sort of emotional roller coaster ride I tune in for!

Soon Lalit (with the coaxing of his maa, Waheeda Rehman!) finds himself attracted to Chandni, and asks for her hand in marriage. Chandni accepts, and BAM!!! Guess who shows up again?


What will Chandni do? I've taken you pretty far in the plot, but don't consider any of this spoiler material since its all spelled out pretty clearly on most DVD jackets (at least the ones I've seen, anyways). The real question remains: Who will Chandni choose? Sensitive, well-established Lalit (bonus: Waheeda as a mother in law who adores Chandni)? Or spontaneous, lively Rohit (evil mother in law included)? Who would you choose? If you haven't seen Chandni you should stop reading now, because I'm now going to reveal her decision:


Of course, she chooses her true love, the one she's clearly loved from the very beginning of the film. This was all fine and dandy, and I even wanted things to end up this way, but two nagging thoughts kept this from becoming a perfect film for me. One, Rohit NEVER apologizes. Not once. Considering all the heartless things he said to her so stoically when he was dumping her, you'd think he'd have to beg and gravel for forgiveness. Instead, he prances into Chandni's apartment like a king, and gets all defensive and reverses the blame when he finds she's engaged to someone else. Red flags went up all over in my mind.

Secondly, what about poor Lalit? His last line in the entire film is just depressing. The least they could have done was killed him off so he could be reunited with Juhi. Geez.

****SPOILER END*****

Despite my qualms discussed in the Spoiler, I really did love this film. The music, the sarees (maybe even better than Sush's in Main Hoon Na) , Sridevi, and yes, the rain! Its definitely put Yash Chopra in my good graces again, though I still remain a bit skeptical about Lamhe and Kabhi Kabhie. Thoughts?


Monday, June 29, 2009

Okay, That Didn't Feel Like Bollywood, But...Pukar (2000)

Watching Pukar was, for me, a little bit like watching a "pretty good" Hollywood drama from the early 90s or so. The acting was better than decent, there was an all star-cast, and the story unfolded at a reasonable pace. That's not a bad thing, and apparently worked to its advantage; the film walked away with two national film awards and a boatload of other nominations, including Best Actor for Anil Kapoor (right on!) and Best Actress for Madhuri Dixit (yeah!).

It was strange; On the one hand, I found the story of Major Jaidev Rajvansh, a well-respected and admired officer of the Indian army who is horribly betrayed by somebody closest to him, incredibly absorbing and well-portrayed by a strong all-star cast. On the other, I found Pukar sort of dull. Where was the color? Where was the creativity in the song picturizations? My inner masala child desperately wanted to know.

Anil Kapoor, looking dashing in an army suit (quite the change from the Micheal Jackson white-sock look he sported in the last film I saw him in, Mann), plays Jai, an Army officer on a short return visit to his hometown. Madhuri Dixit is Anjali, Jai's childhood friend who also happens to be in love with him, something that is clear to everyone but Jai himself. Or is it? In the beginning of the film, its hard to determine whether Jai is simply ignorant to Anjali's feelings or if he just doesn't give a care.

Either way, the whole town(including Jai's parents) seems to share the same opinion-- Anjali's so gorgeous and such a natural on the dance floor, there's no way she's not going to snag him, right? I mean, it's have to be MISS INDIA walking through the door for Jai to turn his head the other way...

Which, of course, is exactly what happens. Jai meets Pooja(Namrata Shirodkar), a.k.a. the current Miss India, and is instantly hooked. He spends most of his time trying to convince her and her parents, who are adamantly against Princess Pooja marrying an army officer, that the two should be married. The rest of his time is spent dodging Anjali whenever possible, unless she is needed for moral support (or lunch--grrr!).

After an embarrassing encounter between Jai, Pooja, and herself, Anjali is approached by a crooked man who works for a sinister terrorist named Abhrush (played by Danny Denzongpa, scarrry looking!!). In desperation, Anjali strikes a deal with said crooked man and sells her soul to the devil, so to speak, in one of the most messed up betrayals I've ever seen.

But man, it was so satisfying to watch. Things horribly backfire--no spoilers here, I'm sure you could guess that they would, and I've only just taken you into the real story--but its the characters and how their lives are affected by this one event that makes Pukar interesting. As you can see, Jai's far from a likable character in the first half of the film. Which ends up really working to the film's advantage--at first, you're like, yeah, stick it to him, Anjali! But then the second half rolls around and you get to thinking. Poor Jai. Poor unfortunate, circumstantially abused Jai (Did they really have to rip his army uniform to shreds--WHILE HE WAS STILL WEARING IT?!?)!

This is a prime example of another one of the film's strengths--the characters were so human! You loved them, you hated them, you forgave them. Even Pooja showed us Miss India could be one heartless witch!

But, ahh, did I mention how refreshing it was to see Madhuri in a role that gave her not only more to do than dazzle and dance, but also required her actions to be a pivotal piece in the plot?! I was elated! Yes, I know Mads is brimming with awesomeness, and she has to little but flash a smile and float across the dancefloor to show she's the whole package, but...she can also really act!! Note to directors---Use her!! (A moot point, it seems, since she's sort of "retired", and I realize I haven't seen enough of her films to solidify this opinion, but I love her so much to let her talent pass me by without mentioning it).

This was my first Anil/Madhuri film, and I realize, given the story, that it may not have been the most popular choice to start with. Because they were already an established pair in Bollywood, I'm guessing that most of Pukar's initial audiences were invested in Jai and Anjali ending up together from the very beginning. But not me--they had to really sell it to me. Which they did, thanks to their commanding screen presences and oodles of talent (there's a very heated argument/exchange/revelation between the two of them in the second half that literally gave me goose bumps, it was so emotionally charged).

The supporting cast was strong, including Om Puri, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, and Farida Jalal (as maa--yes!!). Most characters were given enough screen time to establish their presence in the film, but there should have been wayy more of Jai's parents, especially given the powerful encounter that follows this screenshot:

But alas, onto the negatives, of which were significant enough to mention. As I said above, there just wasn't enough creativity from a visual aspect. A dash of color or masala madness would have done the trick; After all, music was by A.R. Rahman! Yet most of the good songs seemed wasted against ho-drum deserts and waterfalls (which I normally love, as long as the settings and outfits change during the song picturizations, barely done here). The exception, of course, is "Kay Sera Sera" (Que Sera Sera?), a tune whose brilliance was done justice by Madhuri's vibrant facial expressions and graceful dance moves (along with a cameo by Prabhu Deva).

Since I expected to dislike this film (after I heard someone call it Puke-kar, lol, and you know who you are ;)), I was happily surprised to find it, for the most part, watchable, if a bit bland. Next up in Anil/Mads territory? Beta, a film I know next to nothing about and bought on a whim. Any other recommendations? I'll take 'em!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

There's Just Something About This Movie...Yeh Vaada Raha (1982)

After having a lovely filmi conversation with Anarchivist (and a few cocktails), I decided it was time to step into the Glorious Kingdom of Rishi Sweaters...

I get the feeling that Yeh Vaada Raha, the 1982 Ramesh Behl film starring Rishi Kapoor, Poonam Dillon, and Tina Munim, was an awesome place to start (despite the fact that my subtitles were pretty sparse and all in CAPS--frustrating). Also, there's a lot of screencaps here, but its just that kind of film!

It's love at first sight for Vikram (Rishi Kapoor), who meets Sunita (Poonam Dillon) in a temple and is instantly besotted.

And who wouldn't be? Sunita is gorgeous!

She rejects him, though, despite his efforts. Left with nothing but a cold shoulder, Vikram turns to his friend, Gogi (Rakesh Bedi), a painter, and sings a colorful song describing her beauty.

And--!Voila!...Before Vikram knows it, Gogi has composed a blind portrait of Sunita based on the words of the song (Which, sadly for me, were not translated)!

Sunita turns out to be a singer. She continues to reject Vikram until one night when she is mocked onstage (ironically, due to Vikram's actions--he has Gogi's paintings on Sunita hung all over town in an effort to locate the poor girl).

Vikram comes to the rescue by singing the song for her (and again, it wasn't translated so I don't know what he said, but it worked because Sunita falls for him after this).

Their romance blooms in no time at all, and is filled with lots of lovey-dovey, sunshiny things. Vikram, thankfully, doesn't stop treating Sunita like a queen just because he's won her over. To the contrary, he's quite the teddy bear boyfriend, sending a marching band over to sing to her on her birthday and gifting her with a promise ring. The two discuss marriage.

Of course, its not so easy. While Sunita appears to live modestly as a lounge singer, Vikram comes from a rich family. When Maa comes to town (Played by a witchy Rakhee), trouble begins to brew.

Maa despises Sunita from the start, and after meeting her, leaves in such a huff that she doesn't notice her saree is hanging out of the car door:

Meddling Maa digs up some damaging information about Sunita in an effort to discourage her son from dating her, but Vikram will have no part of it. He doesn't care about Sunita's past--He loves her and vows to marry her. I really appreciated the fact that Vikram didn't give this a second thought; He didn't even bring it up to Sunita. He gathers his beloved and his pal Gogi and the two race off to the temple to elope.

However, tragedy strikes and the three are in a horrible car accident. Though Vikram's badly injured enough to be confined to a hospital bed, its Sunita who suffered most from the collision. Her face is badly disfigured, and her doctor gives this information to none other than Vikram's mother, of course (Why???!!).

Of course, Maa uses this to her advantage and tells Vikram Sunita is dead.

Crushed, Vikram retreats into a mourning period of doing little but talking to Sunita's painting:

Meanwhile, Sunita is shipped off to a plastic surgeon specialist, a kindly doctor played by...What?! Shammi Kapoor!!I had no idea that was him until just now when I looked it up to write this paragraph. I knew he looked familiar--now I like the Good Doc even more!

Sunita undergoes multiple plastic surgeries, "8-10", according to her doctor. It must have been pretty bad--just check out the looks on the doctor and nurses' faces:

Not the most tactful medical staff, are they?

Meanwhile, Vikram continues to grieve for Sunita...

Anyways, after some time, Sunita's face is repaired. However, the doctor never knew what she looked like prior to the accident, so he had to use his imagination and give her a whole new face (Where's Gogi the Painter when you need him?)

Lovely as it is, its not Sunita's original face, and here's where Tina Munim steps in. Sunita freaks out, understandably, but eventually is calmed by the Good Doctor and starts imagining her new face and new life with Vikram, to the tune of the very catchy title song:

When Sunita goes to tell Vikram she's all better, she's hit with a crushing bomb--Vikram is engaged to somebody else. Unbeknownst to Sunita, all of this was arranged by Vikram's mother, and agreed to by Vikram only because he thought Sunita was dead.

Of course, Sunita leaves without revealing her identity, and Vikram continues to believe she is dead. She assumes a new name, Kusum, and vows to forget her past. Its not until one day Vikram hears her singing that he recognizes her voice as Sunita's.

I'll leave you here, because there's still the chunk of plot left to unravel, and if I go any further I'll start sobbing like I did while watching the rest of this heartbreaking-yet-lovely tearjerker. Will Sunita reveal her true identity to Vikram? Will Vikram accept Sunita's new face? Will Maa's deception be revealed?

As you can see from my screencap enthusiasm, I really enjoyed this film. It was just so touching and sweet, and I found that I warmed easily to sweater-clad Rishi. The songs were catchy and hummable, and I'll probably bounce over to Itunes to download them after posting this.

While both Sunitas were good, I found that Tina Munim brought more life and vitality to the role. I'd love to see more of her!

That's not to take too much away from Poonam Dhillon, the first Sunita. She was delicately beautiful, reminding me physically of a cross between Bhagyashree and Rekha. But, though I enjoyed her, I found her Sunita to be a little less thrilling than Tina's.

On a final note, I thought it was very considerate of the filmmaker to use the same voice to dub both actresses playing Sunita (since plastic surgery on the face wouldn't change one's voice). And, as I discovered while looking up the year of this film, that voice belonged to none other than Jaya Bachchan!!

Though not very realistic otherwise, this film was so touching that its a new favorite. I'd recommend it wholeheartedly, but warn to keep a box of tissues on hand--I was crying like a baby!


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