Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Watching and Thinking and Wondering About the Day Raees Releases?

This is our weekly discussion area.  You can come back here for the next 7 days, tell me about what you just watched, and what you thought, and what you are thinking of watching next, and anything else.  If I have something interesting to contribute in response, I will!  Otherwise, I hope another commentator sees it and responds better than I could. (I will always respond, of course, but sometimes it might just be “wow, sounds great!”)

I’ll go first.  This weekend I watched 6 movies, which are now all stacked up waiting for me to review them.  Under my old system, the reviews would go up any old time, but with my new theory, I will be scheduling them out weekly.

Tonight, of course, Raees!  And unless it is both terrible and uninteresting, I will probably be writing a full detailed scene by scene breakdown, which should keep me busy for the next few days.  And also unless it is both terrible and uninteresting, I will be seeing it at least 4 more times as all my friends slowly become available and nag me into giving them rides to the movie theater (I tell you, a car is both a blessing and a curse!)

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64 thoughts on “Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Watching and Thinking and Wondering About the Day Raees Releases?

  1. Enjoy Raees! I won’t see it until DVD, but I’m thinking it’s a winner already. I watched Befikre last night for the first time. I may be in the minority that didn’t think it was that bad. I loved the dancing and music, Ranveer’s comedy timing and antics were on point and his charisma is just unreal, Paris looks amazing. I think your comparison to La La Land is apt (I haven’t seen it yet, but can pretty much guarantee that I won’t like it as much as this because it will be way too self-conscious and pretentious compared to this one). Vaani Kapoor is clearly talented and I liked that in a role that easily could have been Manic Pixie, she portrayed a woman who had a real character arc and was worldly without being jaded. I did hate the opening sequence because, uggh, most of those were just bad screen kisses…get real actors next time, Aditya! I get that Chopra was going for aggressively modern here but to me it just seemed like every other Yash Raj romance (pre-marital sex and progressive parents are not unusual in Bollywood any longer) and that’s not a bad thing. Kind of reminded me of London, Paris, New York with Ali Zaafar. The ending at the wedding was stupid but at least not as bad as Dilwale’s last scenes. I loved the after credits scene though. Really the only romance this year besides my “cult” favorite, Sanam Teri Kasam, that I really enjoyed…of, course, there weren’t many traditional rom-coms to choose from and I’m hoping for big things next year. Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Phillauri, Meri Pyaari Bindu, Mubarakan, and others. I feel like there are more legitimate rom-coms on the 2017 slate then this past year and other romantic dramas, too. I can do without some of the sports films for a while!

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    • I haven’t seen London Paris New York, but I went to Befikre with a friend who had, and she had the same response.

      Interesting thought about the rom-coms in 2016! I hadn’t considered it, but yeah! Not just with all the sports films, but the feminist films too. We had all these movies where the heroine was so much more than her love story, which was great, but I am kind of ready for a love story again.

      On Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 8:41 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I love the feminist films, too. Neerja, Parched, Dear Zindagi, and Pink and so many other films had strong female characters this year (including Aishwarya in ADHM!). I’m a cinema buff, so I’ll watch just about anything and enjoy and analyze it, but when push comes to shove, there’s always been one reason why I connected to Hindi films and it was because I found in them what Hollywood films are lacking: unapologetic, escapist romance. When Hollywood comes out with a rom-com, it’s just so blatantly pandering and paint by numbers (Bridget Jones’s Baby being a recent exception as here the pandering and the stock situational comedy works).

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  2. I watched Ala Modalaindi last night (thanks to T.J Stevens for the recommendation). I liked it a lot! It was a very nice, and funny, romantic comedy. A few scenes in particular- the drunk episode with the two leads at the beginning and the zaniness of the climax- had me laughing out loud. I’m sure were several jokes that I didn’t pick up on in translation. I didn’t really ‘get’ the hair loss jokes since the guy has thick head of hair and doesn’t really seem to have anything to worry about (although I suspect it was simply in service of the doctor’s office gag).

    The two leads were wonderful. Nithya was so good, and lights up the screen every time she appears. Her face is so expressive and I love that. She has such a down to earth charm about her, I guess what they would call a “girl next door” quality. She really seems like a woman that you would fall for in real life, not just admire from afar, like a lot of actresses. This is the first film I’ve seen with Nani, but he was also really good, and believable, in his role. They both have a natural and likable style of acting. The two had excellent chemistry, looked nice together, and I was cheering them on the whole time. The rest of the cast was good as well, particularly the actress that played Nani’s mom.

    I enjoyed the songs. The first one, with the two leads drunkenly dancing in the streets, was fantastic. I liked the Ammammo Ammo song a lot as well (the one they’re wearing scarfs). I thought the lower budget showed on the musical numbers, but they did a really good job with what they had to work with. And, true to the spirit of the film, they really shouldn’t have been heavily choreographed and over the top anyway. They were down to earth and easy-going, like the characters. The camera work was interesting, as well, and a few shots caught my eye while I was watching (I should really start taking notes, my memory is awful). The one moment I can remember is when they are saying goodbye and shaking hands, the morning after the drunken escapade. The camera does a few close-ups of the hands and then cuts to an overhead shot of the actors. It wasn’t an obvious choice and it worked very well. It was effective in showing the awkwardness of the situation, but also the spark that had been ignited between them.

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    • I’m so glad that you liked Ala Modalaindi! Like you, I also liked the drunken scenes in the beginning and the climax! Since I recommended the movie, I decided to rewatch and it I realized that there are quite a few humorous film references that you may have not gotten. One example of this is that Nani says “Me a raho Simran” (“I’m coming Simran”, sorry for butchering that :/ ) when he is on his way to propose to Simran. And this is the dialogue from DDLJ!

      You should totally watch Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju when you get a chance! In my opinion, Nithya has never looked as beautiful as she looks in that movie. Sharwanand, the hero, is super handsome too 🙂 The movie is a period romance spanning two generations and it’s one of my most favorite movies.

      If you liked Nani, then I have quite a few recommendations to make!
      – Like Margaret said, you should definitely watch Eega because it’s a really good movie.
      – You should also check out his debut, Ashta Chamma, which is another crazy romantic comedy in which the heroine is a Mahesh Babu fangirl (like me 🙂 )
      – Pilla Zamindar: this is a coming-of-age movie of a spoilt kid who is forced to fulfill some requirements on his grandfather’s will to gain access to his wealth. (Both this and Ashta Chamma are on Einthusan with subtitles)
      – Nani has had five hits in a row and I’ve enjoyed 4 of them. If you can track down Bhale Bhale Magadivoy (funny rom-com; hero has short term memory), Yevade Subramanyam (a really beautiful coming-of-age story), and Gentleman (decent thriller) with subtitles, I think you would enjoy them. If not Krishnagadi Veera Prema Gaadha (love story) is on Einthusan with subtitles.
      – I know that Nani and Nithya did a Tamil film together called Veppam but I’ve never seen it.

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      • Thanks for the further recommendations! I will add them all to my list and try to track them down. I did enjoy Nani’s performance and would enjoy watching more of his films.

        I settled in to watch Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju tonight, only to discover that it doesn’t have English subtitles even though Einthusan says it does in the description. I tried to find a separate SRT file that I could add but had no luck. I discovered the reason: the official DVD doesn’t have subtitles, so there is no source for them. It’s a shame- it looks great! I think I’ll watch Eega on Friday, so my boys can stay up a bit later and watch with me.

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  3. Just saw Raees twice in a row. We booked the 10:30 show and the next show at 1:40, which was a better idea than I even knew. I was so keyed up the first time and hanging on the subtitles, I missed stuff. Of course I will see it again (and maybe again). Obviously no spoilers: so I will only say this: something is deeply wrong with Anupama Chopra and the way she interviews Shah Rukh vs the way she reviews his films. Her review was so off the mark, I hope it doesn’t deter anyone. She praised Kaabil which is so ordinary. (no, I haven’t seen it but the previews were so mundane. Yes, he’s gorgeous. End of story) So, I leave you with this until it is time to comment on each and every scene: Raees left me breathless.

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    • I watched those Anupama Chopra videos- the “Facetime” interview and the review. I couldn’t believe the negativity in her review (actually, I could because that seems to be her thing now). She’s been wrong so often, I now take her reviews with a grain of salt. I’m glad to hear that Raees was fantastic. How was Mahira’s role? I won’t able to go until next weekend, but I’m really looking forward to it!

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      • I was with Molly for the first two shows today. I won’t offer any spoilers either but I will say that the performances all around were outstanding. I can’t wait to discuss it with all of you soon!

        For those of you/us who are not Hindi speakers, seeing it twice in a row was indeed helpful. Once you aren’t focusing so much on the subtitles you can really watch the movie.

        Mahira’s role is not huge but she is luminous. I’ve only seen her in Humsafar and in some interviews before this, and she seems always to be luminous. And hers is a strong female character. The real story in the film belongs to Raees, and to the cat-and-mouse game between him and Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s character. Nawazuddin is something else. So Mahira is important to the story but not the central part of the story. I don’t want to say more at this point. Except that this ban on Pakistani actors is really stupid and keeping us from seeing her in more Hindi films!

        I’ll also echo Molly’s and Ryan’s sentiments on Anupama. What is with her and Shah Rukh?

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    • I can’t wait to watch it a second time! I just got home (review going up as soon as I write it), but I had that kind of carried away with it feeling so I couldn’t focus on all the details. Looking forward to seeing it a second time so I can get more subtle bits.

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  4. I watched the Malayalam film Traffic (2011). This was a very well made and interesting film and I can totally see why it was so important in the recent history of Malayalam cinema. I thought your review was just perfect. You covered everything so nicely, I don’t really have much to add. I hadn’t really heard the term “hyperlink” before, but I have definitely seen many of these style of films (Short Cuts, Magnolia, Pulp Fiction are some of my favorites). A few years back, when they were in fashion in Hollywood, they were churning out movies like 21 Grams, Crash, Babel and a bunch I’m forgetting. I liked Traffic more than most of those movies.

    The acting was very good, and considering the small amount of screen time each character had, I thought the performances were remarkable. It’s so well written and plotted out. In such a short time, each character is fleshed out just enough to warrant sympathy and interest in their stories. To have such a large ensemble of main characters all so relatable, and equally important, is no easy task. I related the most to the parent characters- the journalist’s parents that had to make the toughest decision of their lives, the sick girl’s parents, and the disgraced police officer trying to regain his daughter’s admiration. The movie star father character was particularly interesting. It was fascinating to watch his facial expressions and posture change as he went from an arrogant and prideful actor to a worried father realizing that, at the end of the day, his influence and control doesn’t extend to matters of life and death. He’s just as helpless as everyone else. And I really loved when his wife put him in his place!

    Have you watched the Hindi remake yet? I’m very curious to see how this story would be served with a larger budget and special effects. I think a lower budget can sometimes add a grittiness that is lost in the glossy sheen of more expensive productions. It also forces more creativity in how things are staged and shot, and in this case, it definitely works to the film’s advantage (i.e. the driving scene through the slums that was pretty amazing). I think it might lose some of that chaotic quality that made it work so well.

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  5. My exciting Raees-related news is that it also released in Japan today! Unfortunately in Tokyo only, where I do not live. However, this is considerably sooner than we get most Indian movies (PK released this past December, for comparison), and it means that it will not be blockaded on Eros, etc. for years and years.

    So, I watched Rustom and I am beginning to realize that I do not experience Akshay in the same way other people do. I like him in comedies and romantic movies (loved him in Special 26!) and I like him as a person (I also was impressed by him during Rajesh Khanna’s funeral. I had not read your informative post and was foggy about the relationships, but I knew he wasn’t Rajesh’s son and I thought wow, this dude is stepping up). However, when he is a heroic role like this or Airlift, I just feel there’s too much jaw-clenching and staring into the middle distance. It does not work for me. And Ileana was fine but I have a hard time with roles where the women has to cry throughout the entire movie (cf. Pinjar). I did enjoy the movie movie, though, with the twisty plot and the period setting. I liked the set decoration, and I’m going to need the green earrings that Esha wears in one of the courtroom scenes.

    I am about 2/3 of the way through Guide, because I am very busy these days and have about 30 minutes of free time per day to sit and experience the magical world of Guide before I pass out. I started on Sunday, and it really is the perfect film for the day of the Women’s March. (The evil husband saying “I still have rights over you!” and Waheeda going “Have you?” with the most Waheedaesque eyebrow lift!) So far, the most jarring part is when she is free of said evil husband for the day, and she’s riding in a truck with Dev, and she playfully lifts a pottery vessel off a walking woman’s head and frolics around before smashing it on the ground. She shows a lot of bratty behavior in this part to indicate her anger at her life, but it’s not clear in the movie how we’re supposed to feel about it. Watching in 2017, it’s a horrifying scene where an immensely privileged woman completely ruins the day, if not more, of a destitute woman, but maybe it played more humorously in 1965. Other than that, though, and the fact that Einthusan does not work well with my tablet so I have to watch the whole thing with the stupid “favorite” button in the corner, it’s one of the best movie-watching experiences I’ve had. I can really get into Rosie’s struggle for freedom and I love the depth of the characters. (I’ve always loved R.K. Narayan anyway). This is the first thing I’ve seen Dev in and, whoa. Not sure how it will play out in the last third, but looking forward to it.

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    • I have a shameful confession: I still have not seen Guide. I own it, I keep meaning to watch it, and yet I haven’t. But I am also strangely competitive about watching movies, so keep commenting about it and that’s gonna drive me to finally do it!

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  6. I had another two-movie night yesterday. I watched Koi… Mil Gaya and the Malayalam movie Neram.

    With Koi Mil Gaya, I totally bought in and just went along for the ride. And what a ride it was! I thought the songs and dancing were awesome. The ones with Hrithik and the kids were so much fun and so joyful, I couldn’t help but smile. I loved the two with Hrithik and Preity dancing through the hills and lakes (it make me realize how much I miss those dreamy, cheerful style of songs in today’s movies). Also, the one in the disco, when Hrithik is realizing the extent of his new powers was amazing! I guess that means I loved every single one of them.

    I liked the style of the film, even if it was a bit dated and silly. It was a fun, adventure that reminded me of so many of my childhood favorites from the 80s- simple, easy to follow, paints with broad strokes, a lot of heart. I thought Hrithik, Preity and Rekha all did a wonderful job with their roles. Hrithik completely went for it and, it may not have been a perfect portrayal, but it suited the film perfectly. The kids were all really good as well, although none really stood out. The landscapes and scenery were absolutely stunning. What a gorgeous setting for a film! The special effects were really dated and definitely could have been better, however, there was a certain charm to Jadoo’s character design and the spaceship. I would have loved to see what this could have looked like with a bigger budget and better quality effects house.

    Years ago, an acquaintance and fellow film buff relayed a crazy rumor about how Spielberg had “borrowed” the idea for E.T. from an Indian director, whose script had made the rounds of Hollywood years earlier (through the 1970’s). I had a laugh, wrote it off and forgot about it for years. Last night, when I was reading about this film, I discovered that the script was called The Alien, the “Indian director” was Satyajit Ray and Koi Mil Gaya seems loosely based on that original script. I’m still not sure if the Spielberg story is true, but boy, does E.T. share some similarities with this!

    Neram was decent but not on the same level as the other Malayalam films I’ve watched. It was a nice timepass, and entertaining, but I can’t imagine ever watching it again. Traffic, on the other hand, seems like a film I will watch many times, looking for things I missed and just appreciating the craft of weaving so many different stories together so seamlessly.

    There was a quote from Tarantino at the beginning, and this movie definitely wore his influence on its sleeve. So many qualities of his films were present: the crime narrative, the low level underworld characters, the sense of humor and black comedy, multiple, converging stories, and the ending even had that Tarantino feel where everything comes together through dumb luck and happenstance, for all the wrong reasons.

    It was funny, and pretty sharp, at moments. It managed to maintain a pretty good amount of tension throughout the movie (it helps that it’s pretty short, under two hours). The performances were good, although, I would have loved to see more of Nazriya. She really didn’t have much to do. It felt like a waste. I was surprised to find out this was the first film of the director of Premam. The style and elegance is definitely here, but in bits and pieces. It came much more fully formed in Premam. I will be very interested to see what he does next (and hope that it involves Nivin)!

    The best part of this movie was a song during the closing credits that was part dance number, part outtake reel and part behind the scenes featurette. It looked as though they really had a wonderful time making the movie and it was a joy to see!

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    • I haven’t seen Neram (moviemavengal watched it and her review warned me away. Not that it was bad just, like you said, unremarkable). But that ending credits song style, I’ve seen more and more in the southern movies! Malayalam and Tamil and Telugu. And I love it! It’s always fun seeing the actors who played these intense characters suddenly turn goofy and silly as real people.

      Koi Mil Gaya, that one I have seen many many many many many times. Or, as my friends call it “The Jadoo movie”. As in “Let’s watch the Jadoo movie again! Please please please please please please please!”

      It really is so joyful and silly, and yet also sincere. In the same way as Mr. India, made for kids and not ashamed of it. And Rekha is amazing (looks like I will have to do her for next Tuesday just so you know her backstory!), playing her age, but still dignified and powerful, not just a “mother” role.

      On Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 3:09 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Oh, the speech Rekha made at the canteen, after the bad guys wrecked Hrithik’s scooter, had my eyes welling up. So good!

        Are the Krrish movies really terrible? Are they worth watching?

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        • They are really terrible and they are not worth watching! Maybe you will disagree, but is you start Krrish and don’t like the first few minutes, forget it, it doesn’t get better.

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          • Ha! That sounds like a good plan. There are so many legitimately good movies I haven’t seen yet. I probably shouldn’t waste my time on the bad ones.

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    • premam happened since neram was well recieved .it had a shoestring budget.everyone involved in the film were new comers..nivin or nazriya werent big stars then..still the output was promising so everyone including audience supported it ignoring minor glitches

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  7. premam happened since neram was well recieved .it had a shoestring budget.everyone involved in the film were new comers..nivin or nazriya werent big stars then..still the output was promising so everyone including audience supported it ignoring minor glitches

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      • Well, since you’ve seen Premam, OS Oshana & Bangalore Days already, you might not enjoy Neram that much… But for the average Malayalee who watched Neram before, it was a very good watch back then, especially given the budget.
        The director and the lead cast were known because of this hugely popular song:

        As Hari told, Neram happened because of Premam. See, Sai Pallavi was not an actress. She was a dancer who once featured in one of the Tamil reality shows and had a non-existent movie career. The director (Alphonse) happened to see one of her dance videos on You tube and thought she’s best fit for Malar. Sai was doing her MBBS in the US. Alphonse approached her via Facebook and she thought he was some stalker and rejected him.

        He again contacted her Mother when she was in India and he sort of overheard her telling her mother something negative about him. He sent her the “Neram” DVD and that’s how “Premam” happened.

        In Kerala, it became a cult because of Sai Pallavi (even more than Nivin). I remember when Premam released, people were saying that not since “Clara” from Thoovanathumbikal, they’ve seen a character so wonderful…

        Neram is not a must watch, but was good for a newcomer who hasn’t assisted anybody. He just made a few short films and then got directly into movies (interestingly, something Anjali Menon said in one of her interviews – “no matter how much you do assistant direction, you got to make a film. Doesn’t matter even if it’s from your cell phone”).

        Btw, the song that Ryan told is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuuypjzzqRw

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        • Hmm, maybe I should watch Neram after all. I’d dropped it off my list after hearing that it really wasn’t as good as OSO, Premam, and Bangalore Days. But I do really love that cast. And I find it interesting to watch a good director’s “lessor” works sometimes just to see where they are coming from.

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          • It’s definitely worth a watch and it is a short and fast-paced film. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I thought it was terrible. It isn’t bad by any means!

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    • I’ll tell you a secret: I’m sick again. I whined about it so much last time, and I’m not nearly as sick as I was then, so I didn’t want to mention it in blog posts. But I’m going to spend as much of the weekend as possible in bed, trying to be sick really really fast so that I am healthy again by Monday, because I hate taking days of work. So, no driving out to theaters for me.

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  8. Deewar was incredible. I shouldn’t have even bothered trying to go to bed right afterwards. I lay there thinking about it for a couple hours.

    Even though I didn’t know the specifics of India’s social and political climate when I watched, I could FEEL it on the screen. The film bleeds discontent. Amitabh’s performance was so powerful, so raw and truthful, it didn’t even feel like a performance. As you wrote, he becomes “the embodiment of an entire country of unhappy disenfranchised lost people”. There isn’t even really a western comparison to this. It would have to be an amalgam of Deniro from Taxi Driver, Pacino from Serpico, Clint Eastwood from the Leone westerns, and maybe Bruce Springsteen during the 70s and early 80s. Even then, I still don’t think that comes close to what Amitabh represented in this film. Those examples represent certain corners of society or scenes or cities- Vijay takes the entire weight of the Indian people on his shoulders! I realized that I was witnessing the birth of the weight, the power and the gravitas that he brings to every role he plays. And it was amazing to watch.

    I’m sure that Shashi gets overshadowed but he was so good in this as well. It was nice to see him alive for the whole movie (after Silsila and Doosra Aadmi)! I also thought the actor that played Amitabh as a boy was fantastic and casting did a wonderful job finding a kid that possessed the physical attributes (ridiculously long arms and legs) but also the penetrating scowl and barely contained rage. Parveen Babi was great. That scene where her and Amitabh are casually in bed, smoking and talking, after just sleeping together, caught me off guard. I’ve only watched a few movies from that era but that doesn’t seem like something that was often shown in Hindi cinema (those sorts of scenes aren’t even so implicit these days). In fact, I’m sure that Parveen’s western style of dress, drinking, smoking, openly sleeping with a man before marriage, was every bit as revolutionary and liberating at the time as Amitabh’s role.

    It was a three hour movie that felt like an hour. There wasn’t a single wasted scene, shot or moment. Every line of dialogue seemed crucial, important and in service of the plot and story. I can’t imagine even one minute that could be removed without feeling like something was missing. I loved the story about your friend’s mom having seen Deewar in a theater and then never feeling the need to watch another Hindi film again. It really is that good!

    I only found out afterwards that Deewar translates as The Wall. What a brilliant title for this film! It’s so evocative and can take on so many different meanings. In a broader sense, it can be the wall between the rich and poor, the powerful and the powerless, the bosses and the workers. On a smaller scale, it can also mean the wall between brothers, who have traveled different roads, for similar reasons. It can be the wall between a mother and a son (although that one seems the easiest to crumble). It could be a wall that is put up between lovers (that Amitabh breaks through during that scene in bed, when he reveals a large part of his story to Parveen). On a personal level, it can mean the walls that we put up between ourselves and everyone else as protection from pain, disgrace or vulnerability. Amitabh himself seems like a wall- hardened, sturdy, impossible to collapse and built from the bricks and mortar of the working class. Such a perfect name for such a perfect film.

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    • I’m so glad you saw it! And that you appreciated it. It is such a brilliant movie, anyone would always be able to enjoy it. But I think it lands a little better if you have already seen a fair number of other Indian films.

      Now that you’ve seen Deewar, you may want to rewind and watch Zanjeer. It’s not as good, and not as perfect an “Amitabh Movie” (really, nothing is), but you can see the birth of that power he has onscreen. And you can see him with Jaya when they are actually in love and adorable (onscreen and off, they got married right after Zanjeer came out). Or, you can fast-forward and check out Trishul, another Amitabh-Shashi brother movie with another angry Amitabh (although this time he softens up by the end).

      The title, “Deewar”, had been used before for a fairly famous play that was an allegory for Partition, with two brothers who are separated. In that case, the “wall” or “border” was even more an obvious metaphor. I find it interesting that 20 years later, it was used for a film not about Partition, but just about brothers, but the meaning had drifted to be more about that.

      On Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 11:46 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. I was upset about not being able to see Raees, so I watched a bunch of movies this weekend. Most of them were great! We were really spoiled with wonderful films to watch! I watched Singh is King, Annmariya Kalippilannu, Eega and Roja.

    I enjoyed Singh is King, even though it was my least favorite of all the movies I watched. It was a silly but entertaining comedy. I purposely selected it as something light to watch on Friday evening. It had some funny moments and some nice action scenes. It was exactly what I was in the mood for. I thought the songs were pretty great (and there were lots of them)! Akshay Kumar was really good and I think this was a nice sample of the unique talents that he brings to the table. The Jackie Chan comparison was apt- the martial arts (I’d love to see more of that), the physical comedy and the way he projects seriousness and honesty, even through the goofy and jokey façade. I’ll have to watch Miracles again for a comparison (it’s been probably a decade or more) but I could definitely see some similarities. Katrina was also good and this was one of the roles she thrives in- not too much dialogue, lots of dances, only appearing in about half, or less, of the actual movie. It’s probably not something I would watch again but it was entertaining.

    I LOVED Annmariya Kalippilannu. It was fantastic. It would definitely be in my top movies of last year, and probably my favorite non-Hindi movie (I really loved Sairat, but this was just so wonderful and hopeful). The performances were stunning- from the lead actress to the “hero” to the scumbag PE teacher to the little boy that had a crush on the lead. Amazing. I loved this little world that the filmmakers created. Malayalam films seem to do such a wonderful job of coming up with this beautiful coming of age stories. I’ve watched quite a few anime shows over the years and the “slice of life” genre has always been my favorite. These films remind me of those. Your review was great and I don’t have much to add, only that I had the same issues with that one aspect of the ending. If only they had figured out a way to end it without that character returning, it would have been a near-perfect film. It didn’t feel like he earned or deserved that spot. Everyone else put in all the time and effort and he just swooped in when it was convenient to bask in the glory. This feels like one I will watch again and again (my wife was in bed when I watched it, so I will definitely be watching it again with her soon). I’m so glad you reviewed this because I may have missed out on this one.

    I also LOVED Eega! What an incredible movie. It could have been a disaster, in so many different ways. Due to the expert storytelling, creativity of the people involved, really great CGI and tremendous performances by the actors, it was an absolute gem! I watched it with my boys and they both loved it, especially my three-year-old. My oldest got pretty upset when the Nani character was killed and checked out for a bit but once the fly started up his mischief, he got back into it. My little guy, though, sat there glued to the screen for the entire run time. His only beef was that Nani didn’t turn back into a human at the end (I can’t blame him, he’s been watching the animated Beauty and the Beast repeatedly since Christmas). Once I explained the month-long life cycle of a housefly and how Nani loves the woman so much that he’ll keep coming back for her, he was okay with it. They went crazy for the fly dance at the end! Also, I read them the subtitles pretty much up until Nani became the fly, but after that, they followed along with no trouble. I would give them little bits and pieces but they didn’t need much- a testament to the wonderful storytelling. Thanks to both you and T.J Stevens for the recommendation!

    I finally got around to Roja, which had been on my list since you posted one of the songs a month ago, or so. I loved this one too! It was my favorite of Ratnam’s “Terrorism Trilogy” and that’s saying something because I liked the other two films a great deal. The performances were great (the two leads, but also Pankaj Kapoor and the actors who played the Colonel and Achu). I thought Madhoo really stole the show as Roja. The second half, where she transforms from a scared and worried new village bride to a woman of strength and conviction that refuses to be pushed around and talked down to, was a sight to behold. The songs were AMAZING! I loved the two songs shot in the village and that one in the mountains of Kashmir was breathtakingly gorgeous. Such wonderful and unique locations. The choreography was beautiful and rich and I loved how the villagers were incorporated into the dances. And the songs themselves had such pretty, catchy melodies and the instrumentation was fantastic. Even though the second half has been accused of being overly patriotic and a bit over the top, I didn’t find it so bad. It was definitely the most accessible of the three movies. And, by that point, I was so invested in the characters and story, I was right along for the ride. I’m so glad I watched it (not sure why I put it off so long)!

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    • You had such a productive weekend! And I am so glad you watched Eega with your kids, and did not watch Roja with them!

      I have to confess, I was a little upset that Nani didn’t become human again at the end too. But if we ever get Eega 2, I am hoping for some kind of “reincarnated into the grown body of a coma patient” kind of thing.

      I’m glad you watched Singh is King knowing that it would be a little silly and a little light. I wish Akshay could do more real fight scenes, but I’m not sure how many people there are in India at his level! He ends up defeating a whole series of stuntman instead of having one really good “duel” with someone who can match him. If you do go back and watch Miracles, don’t expect too many parallels. The innocent from the village becomes head of a gang through a mistaken identity, then has to organize a “millionaire for a day” facade for the elderly rose seller who brings him luck. Basically, Pocketful of Miracles but with fight scenes and comedy, and an explanation for why our “hero” is a crook.

      I’m so glad you watched and enjoyed Annmariya! I am showing it to my parents tonight, and I hope they love it as much as you did. Except, as you say, that ending which really gave too much credit to a character who didn’t put in any of the work.

      And finally, Roja! Amazing, right? I’ve probably mentioned this to you before, but just in case, this was the soundtrack that helped make Rahman a national craze. And brought Ratnam to the national stage as well. The film was dubbed into Hindi, which was almost unheard of at the time for Tamil films, and then everyone in the country fell in love with Ratnam and Rahman. For the nationalist parts of it, I read a fascinating article which talked about how there is a slight difference in meaning between the Hindi and Tamil versions of the film. In the Tamil, apparently, it comes off a lot more layered with ethnic identity mixed in with national.

      On Sun, Jan 29, 2017 at 5:06 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • That’s an excellent point. I didn’t really consider that aspect, when it came to Akshay. Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, etc. all have pools of ridiculously talented martial artists to work with in their films- often dozens within a single fight scene.

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    • I am so glad that you and your kids enjoyed Eega! I was about 13 years old when I first saw Eega in the theater and I loved it back then. I was actually in India for summer vacation when it came out and my grandma and I would make jokes about how a fly is going to get revenge on us if we kill one 🙂 . Eega was actually a really popular movie among the kids in our family friends group back when it came out. It would be played at practically every single party for about a year!

      If you really liked Eega then I would recommend Magadheera, Maryada Ramanna, and Baahubali which were also directed by S.S. Rajamouli. Baahubali is Rajamouli’s biggest movie so far and it was a huge sensation when it came out! Baahubali came out in 2015 and the second part is coming out this April.

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      • I’ve been meaning to watch Baahubali for a long time (and this seems like a perfect time with the second part coming out soon). S.S. Rajamouli impressed me so much, I’m sure they’re all great movies. All three are on Einthusan with subtitles so I’ll definitely check them out!

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        • Baahubali would be another great one to watch with your kids! Magadheera has a big first half/second half divide, the second half might be another good kid one, but I don’t know about the first.

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  10. I rewatched Veer-Zaara after two years and my opinion on the movie hasn’t changed much. I first watched Veer-Zaara when I was seriously getting into Hindi movies and by the time I saw it, I had just saw K3G, KANK, KHNH, DDLJ, etc which were movies that I loved. So I was surprised when I didn’t really like Veer-Zaara because it was the first movie in this era that I didn’t really like. Plus at that point Shahrukh, Rani, and Preity were some of my favorite actors. Well, I still didn’t like Veer-Zaara much. I think the first problem for me is that the movie moves along really slowly and I didn’t really like any of the songs either. One thing I realized is that this time I was able to tell the difference between Urdu and Hindi thanks to Zindagi Gulzar Hai 🙂

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  11. Since I loved Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, I was thinking of watching Bunty aur Babli soon. Have you seen it and if you have did you like it? And what about Kill/Dil?

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    • Bunty Aur Babli is brilliant! Really really good in every way. Great script, great characters, great songs, great performances. Cannot recommend it enough.

      I haven’t seen Kill/Dill, but I think I saw an interview with Ranveer where even he, the hero of the film, said it was bad and he was sorry he made it. So you might want to avoid that one.

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    • I loved both Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Bunty Aur Babli. I thought they were both delightful! I was surprised to find out afterwards that a lot of people didn’t like JBJ. Kill/Dil, on the other hand, I found to be practically unwatchable. I rarely give up on a movie once I’ve started but I only made it about 45 minutes in. And I’m a huge fan of both Parineeti and Ranveer.

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    • I finally saw Bunty aur Babli and I hate the fact that I’m doing this but I felt that Bunty aur Babli is not as good as Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. While I really liked Bunty aur Babli, I loved JBJ! The songs in Bunty aur Babli are actually pretty good after listening to them a couple of times; my favorites are the title song and Chup Chup Ke. But I felt that the songs in JBJ were more creatively shot when compared to Bunty aur Babli. I thought the love story between Rakesh and Vimmi was cute, and Abhishek and Rani were pretty charming. Overall, Bunty aur Babli is a pretty fun movie!

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      • I’m actually kind of excited to hear you say this! Bunty Aur Babli was much much more successful, and got a lot more critical acclaim. And I love it too (partly because it is a really good movie, and partly because I feel nostalgic about remembering seeing it in theaters). But I love JBJ equally much and I have so few other people who do! I am delighted to know there is someone else in the world who really loves JBJ.

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        • Ending of Bunty aur Babli seems like there could have been a sequel where they end up working as undercover police or something like that. Were there any plans of a sequel because I’m sure Adi Chopra would have loved to make a sequel after Dhoom 2’s success.

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          • I always had the same feeling with the ending. But so far as I know, there were never any firm sequel plans. I wonder if it was a “I don’t really know how to end this” situation? If they were originally just going to end with them reforming and running off but then decided that was too much of a downer? And so just threw something together to be a happier ending (Amitabh recruiting them), and then a cool image to end it on (the sunglasses and black suits bit).

            On Wed, Feb 1, 2017 at 4:45 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That’s probably what happened. They probably wanted something happy and decided to make the ending open-ended as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had planned to make a sequel but then scrapped the plans after the failure of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom.

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  12. I saw Ustad (or is it Ustadh?) Hotel last night. It was really good! I’ve been so spoiled with all of these beautiful, charming and moving Malayalam films the last couple weeks. I’m sure I’ll hit a ceiling eventually but what a ride it has been.

    I really enjoyed, and related to, the circle of the grandfather, father and son- the parallels between the generational father/son relationships, the themes of wanting to carve one’s own path and break free of parental expectation, and how dreams become fluid and not as concrete as they seem during youth. The movie had a nice, easy flow and the setting was amazing (I always love those shots of the sun hanging low in the sky, burning with the sunset). The food also looked incredible and it made me very hungry!

    Dulquer was really good, especially since it was so early in his career. Thilakan was wonderful in the grandfather role. I haven’t seen him before, and I understand he played the mean father role in quite a few movies, so those extra character wrinkles were lost on me. He did come across as a man that gave everything he had to his passion, even if his relationships suffered. At the same time, though, it also seemed like he had some regret and was trying to “right the wrong” by showing his grandson the ropes. I like that idea that no matter how fractured a father-son (or mother-daughter, brother-sister, etc.) relationship seems to be, it doesn’t take all that much (an apology, some understanding, open communication) to fix it. Of course, that isn’t always the case in real life, but what a nice thought.

    Nithya lit up the screen, as usual, and I LOVED that song that she performed with the band!

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    • I’m so glad you liked it! And Nithya is wonderful, always. I really like that song too, and I assume that it is a folk song or something? It is so catchy, and sounds so different from the rest of the soundtrack.

      On Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 5:04 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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