Salaam-e-Ishq

Saw it with BikerGirl yesterday. Matinee on a holiday; I thought the theatre would be full, but it wasn’t.  We got our tickets, plonked ourselves confortably on our seats and sat and watched a more-than-three-hour-long movie.

I had fun; lots of fun. There were bits where I smiled with the characters, almost cried with them, there were bits where I drooled over John Abraham and bits where I drooled over Vidya Balan. I laughed out loud at the jokes, and tapped my feet to some of the songs. So, good fun.

It also tries out a new-ish format, weaving different stories together. But it’s not entirely successful at that. One of the stories is ham-handedly tacked on like the comedy track in a bad Telugu movie, and even among the other five, sometimes the movement from one to the other is very jerky and disorienting. As for the format itself, though fashionable, it seems to have worked well only in Crash and Love Actually. And this movie is no Love Actually, though I’ve heard hints to that effect. (All it aspires for, even, is to be a Romance Actually.)

As BikerGirl said, one lovable thing about the movie is its tongue-in-cheekiness, and an ability to laugh at itself. The filmi cliches are used in the ‘serious’ stories, and parallelly laughed at in the non-serious ones. Like the groom’s girlfriend bursting in on a wedding with a “Yeh shaadi nahin ho sakti“, and immediately after that’s sorted out, the bride’s boyfriend bursting in and looking sheepish, not knowing what to say, till he’s handed his line: “Yeh shaadi nahin ho sakti“!

The movie also pays it subtle homages to Love Actually: part of the story is set in London, and the airport is a favourite theme – the sliding doors through with ‘dream girl’ walks into Govinda’s life, John and Vidya saying goodbye in the lounge and bumping into Akshaye Khanna, and of course, the last, mad, only-in-a-Hindi-movie scene between Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla.

The single best thing about the movie, however, is the John-Vidya story. Two really good looking people, an amazing chemistry – bubbly sugary romance as well as the smouldering passionate setting-the-screen-on-fire, a wonderful plot, and characters that the actors slip into like hands into a well-worn glove. Well worth a whole movie of its own.

In all, three and a half hours well spent!

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My first step to celebrity status

My first death threat. Does this qualify? (No, no, look at the comment!)

It leaves me a little confused, though. He liked the movie, and I thought it was clear that I liked it too. But he still wants to kill me ‘slowly and painfully’.

Actually, it might not be me he wants to kill. He wants to kill a ‘him’, and whatever else my faults may be, I am definitely not a him. No way!

Um. Maybe I’m nowhere near the first step to being a celebrity after all?

Nightmares

of Rahul Bose dressed as a pirate inspire this post. If I get it out of my system, it might stop plaguing me!

Two movies last week – Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pyaar ke Side Effects.

Pirates was great fun. Johnny Depp as Cap’n Sparrow is Cap’n Sparrow, of course. The movie’s hilarious. Even Orlando Bloom is more likeable than in the first movie. There’s a wafer-thin plot, which leaves us dangling till the next one for the ending, and the story takes inordinately long to unfold (I couldn’t tell what was happening till the second half began), but as long as I can watch Jack Sparrow while I wait, I don’t mind. Watch out for the fight in the giant water wheel – I nearly fell off my chair laughing. All in all, really funny in the slapstick, slapdash way we expect of the Cap’n (and if you don’t like him, don’t watch it.)

PKSE on the other hand, just don’t watch. We actually walked out halfway through the second half. It started promisingly enough – witty, fun, wisecracking its way through. Then it started playing through every stereotype in the book. And in the movies. There isn’t any attempt to round out any of the characters – they’re all just the stereotype and nothing more. The commitment-phobic boyfriend. The nagging girlfriend who wants marriage. The girlfriend’s bitch of a best friend. The boyfriend’s horny slob of a roommate. The girlfriend’s overprotective father. The sister (could’ve been his or hers, but his because he’s telling the story) and her husband who don’t seem to serve any purpose in the movie, except to provide a foil/sub-plot of some kind. The break-up. The respective new girlfriend/boyfriend. I’m sure there would’ve been a reconciliation if I’d waited for it.

I know the movie’s supposed to be irreverent fun, but that doesn’t mean you reduce your characters to a bunch of caricatures! And why, oh why, the urge to have a ‘Baby Girl 3’ subplot? One that went on and on with no end in sight? And Rahul Bose talking to his penis is supposed to be funny? The references to ‘having coffee’ are supposed to be funny?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a prude. But I find this sort of unproblematised sexual objectification disgusting. It’s what happens in porn, not in a supposedly hip and sophisticated look at relationships and commitment.

No wonder I have nightmares!

Lagey Raho Munnabhai!

Yes, I went and watched it – immediately after the conference! Well, not immediately, but the day after, which is soon enough! We (yeah, as usual, BikerBoy, BikerGirl and li’l me) went to Sangeet.

Sangeet’s little and dingy and uncomfortable compared to the brand new theatres sprouting up in the city, but I think I like grey better than red. Sitting in those little crowded chairs, looking at the dirty chandelier as I climbed up the stairs, wondering when the little bits of metal sticking out of the chair in front would manage to get me – all worth it to be able to laugh loudly, clap, shout, and generally enjoy the movie as it ought to be enjoyed.

And that’s what I loved about it – the sheer madness of the movie, the joy, the abandon with which it was all done. The willingness to be mushy and sweet and syrupy, and the ability, inspite of it, to make you laugh, not cry. (Or laugh through the sniffles and tear-wiping, as I was doing.) All the stuff that translated into making me comfortable enough to laugh out loud, to sniffle and giggle at the same time, to clap, to even repeat dialogues!

Munna, this time around, is in love with an RJ with Gandhian ideals, and in the course of learning about Gandhi to impress her, develops a chemical lochcha that makes him see and hear Gandhi, whenever he wants. Great fun and numerous sub-plots result, all of which tie in with each other in a tighter script that I have seen in quite a while.

Munna and Circuit must rank among the great movie couples of all time, and they deliver again – amazing chemistry, wonderful comic timing, they are having fun, and you can see it! Vidya Balan is good, really good. And pretty too. Bringing in almost all of the old cast in the bit parts was a wonderful idea – it tapped into nostalgia for Munnabhai without making this a sequel to it. Boman Irani didn’t have to be Punjabi/Sikh – why did they make him?! But that’s practically my only grouse with the movie.

Loved it!

Playing Chaperone

Yesterday, BikerGirl and I played chaperone to a bunch of kids at a movie, so we got to watch Bommarillu. Apparently the movie’s set to become a hit, and I devoutly hope it does!

First off, it has Siddhardha in it – the cute kid from Rang De Basanti (yeah, shame on me, that’s how I identified him!) Now, that kid is not just cute, he can actually act. And how many Telugu movie heroes can do that? Of course, it also has Genelia playing the female lead – and she has a very irritating mudarababy attitude, baby-talking her way through the role. But apart from that, even she does a competent job with her role – and she actually has one! More on that later. Prakash Raj, another handsome man who can act, plays S’s father, and the rest of the supporting cast are competent too.

The story is quite simple – LeadBoy has controlling but affectionate Father who makes all his decisions for him – even chooses a girl for him to marry. Please note, this is not an evil controlling father, just an affectionate one who happens to end up controlling the lives of everyone in the family because he loves doing things for them. So LeadBoy simply develops a different personality for home and a different one for outside. Not very different – just makes sure his parents don’t know about the fights he gets into, his drinking bouts with friends, his jumping walls in the middle of the night…

Now, after LeadBoy’s engaged to GirlChosenByFather, he meets LeadGirl, and promptly falls for her free-spiritedness. This free-spiritedness is supposed to be evidenced by her tendency to make friends with everyone she meets, and a most irritating tendency to behave like a baby. Never mind, the idea is good – he falls in love with a person, not a face or a body.

Which brings me to the LeadGirl – she has a clearly defined character, instead of the singing bimbettes most movies thrust on us. She loves opentop buses, goes twenty kilometres to have a coffee at her favourite place (the bit where the cafe guy, her friend, yells – “rendu coffee, special – cuppu kadugu ra! – is priceless!), wants icecream in the middle of the night, tells everyone everything – she would be lovable if she didn’t screech her way through all of it! She even has a normal reaction to learning the LeadBoy is engaged to another girl – she tries to ignore him, but ends up telling him to choose – she can’t go around feeling sad all the while, she says.

And there’s none of the usual camera gazing at parts of her and reducing her to her breasts/waist/face/eyes/hair/toenail business either – I really couldn’t believe I was watching a Telugu movie!

Anyway, to get back to the story, the Father finds out about LeadBoy’s little romance, storms a little, and LeadBoy convinces him to let LeadGirl live in their house for a week before he decides that she is ‘not suited’ to his son. Rather unbelievable, but still…

So LeadGirl spends a week in LeadBoy’s house, unwittingly letting everyone know everything that he’s kept secret – from the fact that he doesn’t like white down to his plans to start a business of his own. Each time she does this, he scolds her, and they make up. Till the last time.

The day the Father is to announce his decision on LeadGirl, she interrupts him to say that she doesn’t want to marry LeadBoy. He’s not right for me, she says, and walks out.

The movie ends happily, of course, and the scene where LeadBoy tells his father exactly what went wrong is a lovely piece of melodrama. Not overdone, no blaming, no loud dramatic music in the background, but still enough melodrama to warm the hearts of a Telugu-movie watcher.

So, overall, I was pleasantly surprised. Go watch it, you will be too!