Wednesday Watching Post: What Are you Reading and Watching and Thinking About at the End of February?

Happy Wednesday!  Half way through the work week!  Time to talk about what all we have been doing this week, what we have watched and read and thought about.

I’ll start!  I’ve been doing more reading than watching this week.  I’m halfway through the book Karachi You’re Killing Me, which is super fun and I highly recommend it.  Moviemavengal sent me a link to a New York Times column on Karan Johar, which was super good and thought provoking (click here to read it).

On Friday for the first time I double-billed it at the Indian movie theaters.  Because The Ghazi Attack was in so many languages.  Which meant it was screened almost every hour, so I was able to go to a super early show of that and then a late show of Running Shaadi.  I missed dinner and didn’t get home until midnight, but it was worth it!  I had a super busy weekend (we built cardboard houses in Sunday School, which meant I spent Saturday driving all over the city collecting boxes), but I did manage to squeeze in one of my Netflix DVDs, another R. Balachander, Major Chandrakanth.

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76 thoughts on “Wednesday Watching Post: What Are you Reading and Watching and Thinking About at the End of February?

  1. Can’t wait for Noor! I liked the book, too. I also read the Karan Johar NY Times op-ed. Very well-written (I need to read the author’s novel, too). Also almost to the end of reading An Unsuitable Boy. It is so repetitive but that’s my only complaint. The rest is fun with a bit of insight thrown in. I think Johar really does have a good sense of who he is and his arrogance is forgivable because he’s come so far from the awkward kid he was and, honestly, he is a hugely important figure in the industry.

    I’m excited about both of the releases this past week, but won’t be able to see them until DVD. Haven’t seen a new-to-me Hindi film in a couple of weeks. Tried to watch Rocky Handsome, but after watching John Wick 2, it paled in comparison and I only got about half way through. I could tell that the Korean film was probably awesome and I may have to check it out. I was definitely intrigued by the possibilities of the plot, but once the completely silly bad guys turned up I tuned out.

    Finally watched Mirzya last night! I’m still formulating my opinion, I think. It was a gorgeous film to watch and the songs are definitely some of the best of the year. I had been listening to them when they came out and I think I like them better on their own than when I saw them paired with the images on the screen. Harshvardhan Kapoor was not very compelling. I know his mumbling and his scruffiness was part of his character’s persona, but I found it contrived. He’s also needs to redeem himself after the Filmfare thing, but I’ll give him a couple more films until I form an opinion about this acting potential. Kher was much more promising, but I agree with your review that neither screamed “star.” Someone compared the historical bits of the film to Tarsem Singh’s work and I think there was some definite influence. I really liked Art Malik and I wish we saw more of him in Hindi films.

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    • I haven’t seen anything by Tarsem Singh, but I have a warm feeling for him because I have read a couple of interviews, and he did a great job of discussing why he ended up coming to America for film training and to build a career, without insulting the Indian system.

      Agree about Rocky Handsome, I was watching it thinking “I bet this was really good in the Korean version”. It was fine in the Hindi, but clearly just a shot for shot re-do.

      I need to get Mirzya on DVD. I was just blown away by the visuals when I was watching it in the theaters, and I think I want to buy it only so I can re-watch the songs, and see if I still like them that much. The rest of the movie-eh.

      And yes! Also so excited about Noor! Although I wonder how they will handle all the violence and politics and stuff that is so Karachi specific now that it is set in Bombay?

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  2. I’m geared up for Veeram especially after watching Kari Kimmel’s rendition of “We will rise.” Finally got around to watching Jolly LLB v1.0.The plot is interesting but I lost interest midway when they inserted an unnecessary wedding song.From what I’ve seen, Arshad makes a better Jolly than Akshay. But he is too old to be paired opposite Amrita Rao who looks more like his younger sister.

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  3. I watched Baahulbali for the first time, but probably not the last. Now I can see everything that was wrong with Mohenjo Daro, and I am waiting impatiently for Baahubali 2. I re-watched Main Hoon Na, which is my least favorite Farah Khan-SRK film, but still entertaining on a cloudy laundry day. Now I am in the middle of Koyla, which I love even though I have a feeling I shouldn’t. But Amrish Puri is my very favorite villain/character actor, Madhuri Dixit is my favorite dancer, and it is amazing to watch Shah Rukh Khan carry a film with almost no dialogue at all for most of it. Facial emoting FTW!

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    • YOU HADN’T SEEN BAAHUBALI??!?!?!?!?! Thank goodness you’ve been keeping that from me, I would have been laying awake nights worrying about it. Such a good movie! Except for the little rape-y scene, and the racist bits. But otherwise, perfection! Maybe you were wise to wait this long? It’s kind of the theory I followed with Harry Potter, I put off reading them until the week before the last book came out, then read them all in a week. This way, you only have a couple months to wait for Baahubali 2, instead of almost 2 years like the rest of us poor saps who saw it in theaters.

      I am so glad you like Koyla! I do to, even though it is such a different Shahrukh movie. No dialogue and this very rough physical character, which is just the complete opposite of his usual persona. It does fall apart slightly at the end, too many plot threads to resolve, but I think that might just be a Rakesh Roshan problem. Same issue with Koi Mil Gaya and Karan Arjun and Kaho Na Pyar Hai. He sort of doesn’t know what to do once the fighting is over. But oh, the Madhuri dances! So good! And if you watch closely, very interesting statements on what makes a man and woman “married”. Plus, helicopters!

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      • Yes, helicopters. And just after Main Hoo Na, which also has helicopters! As for my lapse in not seeing Baahubali, keep in mind I have only been watching Indian films for about a year and a half, and I spent the first year watching all of SRK’s movies, plus Fauji. I have missed an awful lot, and it will take me years to catch up. But I am looking forward to it!

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        • Okay, I guess I will allow the Bahubaali lag, it is Very Important to finish all the Shahrukh movies first. Now, Manam! Watch Manam! So far as I am concerned, if you only watch to Telugu movies in your life, those are the two.

          On Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 11:08 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. So, curiosity got the better of me, and I watched Gunda. I’ve been intrigued by this movie since I watched the “Pretentious Movie Reviews” episode on it. It looked like the most ridiculous, crazy, hilarious movie ever made and it certainly didn’t disappoint! It was so bad, that it circled all the way back around past good, and into some new frontier of sublime absurdity.

    The first half hour was literally people being murdered, then retaliation for those murders, in a seemingly never-ending cycle of vengeance and death. I thought, at first, that it may have been a comment on the nature of revenge and honor. But no- it was simply an excuse to show a lot of blood and for all the main characters to be able to say their catchphrases over and over again. Bulla, the main baddie, always announced his presence with some variation of “My name is Bulla and I always keep it open”. Now, I took that to imply that he is very powerful and can do whatever he pleases, wherever he pleases. He literally kills in front of a crowd, in broad daylight. I have since read that it actually just means that he doesn’t wear underwear.

    This guy, Bulla, shows up to fights (well, not really fights, just straight murder) walking a pet leopard on a leash. His brother is Shakti Kapoor, who walks around with a ridiculous samurai knot, and is fed vitamins by his brother to increase his sexual vitality (I think?). The hero is introduced about a half hour in to the movie. He fights one of Bulla’s men in a contest, beats him to death, and incites the rage and fury of Bulla. A girl half his age follows him around for marriage. He has a monkey for a best friend. He finds a baby girl in the garbage, brings her home and tells the girlfriend that they’ll be raising her, and she just says “sure, no problem”!

    So, at one point, Bulla orders the rape and murder of the hero’s sister. One of the gundas grabs her in a field, rips open her blouse, and kisses her neck a bunch. It’s foreplay, I guess? Some other guy wanders by, saves the girl from the rape and then she says “thanks” and continues on her way to school. Later they get married (her brother cries soooo much that it’s uncomfortable) and the husband- the guy who saved her from rape- delivers her to Bulla and his boys! What? Why didn’t he just leave her in the field the week before and save himself the trouble? Bulla’s brother opens her blouse and she dies! Just like that!

    The hero hammers a guy into the ground, right up to his neck, with his fist. Then he lops off the guy’s head with a machete! In one big fight, an extra threw such a nice jumping spin kick, that they showed it a dozen times in a row! During a dance sequence, the camera was spinning 360 degrees, but on a vertical axis! The filmmakers abandoned all rules of film making and just did whatever they thought was cool. And you know what? It was an amazing train wreck to watch! I felt like, in their minds, they were making Tezaab or Ram Lakhan or something, you know? God bless ‘em!

    I also watched Socha Na Tha. No surprise here- I loved it! It was a really enjoyable, and heartfelt, love story. I’ve liked all of Imtiaz Ali’s films, for different reasons, but I absolutely agree with what you wrote in your review. I wish that he would go back to his “roots” and make another pure love story like this or Jab We Met.

    I thought that Abhay Deol was perfect for this part. It didn’t even seem like he was playing a role. I’ve seen him in a few movies (Honeymoon Travels, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Happy Bhag Jayegi) and he’s been pretty good in all of them. Those were ensemble pieces, though, so it was nice to see him in the lead. Ayesha Takia was so awesome and fun and cute that I probably would have called an audible and agreed to marry her right from the start! Their chemistry together felt really organic and honest. They made a really sweet pair.

    The music was also really great! I loved the Abhi Abhi song on the beach and how spontaneous and fresh it felt. The song that played when Abhay climbed up her terrace and into her room was really good as well. Everything about the film was near perfection- simple storytelling, straight forward staging, clean, concise and well executed. The talent of Imtiaz Ali is quite clear and present, even in this early film. He should watch this and take some notes. The new ones seem cluttered, cloudy, and unnecessarily complicated, in comparison. And I seem to enjoy his later films more than most.

    How is the quality of the DVD? My one gripe was how poor the video quality was on Spuul. I’m sure that the low budget of the film contributed to this, but it seemed like this version was particularly bad looking- not sharp or vibrant at all, kind of washed out and blurry. This is definitely one I would like to own.

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    • The Socha Na Tha DVD is pretty good, not great, but doesn’t look faded or scratchy or anything. And holds up to hard wear, which I know because I must have watched my copy a dozen times 🙂 Such a warm feel good movie!

      I have not seen Gunda, and it sounds like I can skip it! Have you see Guru? The Abhishek-Aish movie? I ask, because the older mentor newspaper editor in that, Vidya’s grandfather, is the hero of Gunda! He cranked out terrible low-budget movies for years and years and years. And then in recent years, suddenly he has returned as this phenomenal character actor.

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      • I haven’t seen Guru but it’s been on my list for awhile. I’ll definitely check it out soon! Have you seen Disco Dancer? I guess Mithun Chakraborty (a much younger version) is the hero of that as well. A revival theater in Toronto was showing it a couple weeks ago. I couldn’t make it to the show but it looked along the same lines as Gunda. I’m sure it would have been a lot of fun to watch with a crowd.

        I also downloaded Socha Na Tha from Einthusan, just in case I want to watch it again before my next DVD order. It looked a lot better- Spuul’s version must just be a dud.

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        • Disco Dancer was, I think, Mithunda’s big break. Or at least his most memorable role. You MUST see the title song! Heck, show it to your kids! It will help them learn their letters:

          If you want to see a better performance from young Mithun, he is also the second lead in the original Agneepath. It’s an action part again, but with some real acting scenes in there too.

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          • That song REALLY makes me want to see Disco Dancer! I’ll also be watching the original Agneepath in the next few days before my Spuul membership runs out. That might make for an interesting double feature!

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  5. This week also accidentally had a theme: “Trouble in the Haveli, with Raima Sen”. The first installment was Monchora, a Bengali film with Raima and Saswata Chatterjee (Bob Biswas in Kahaani) and some guy as the love interest. It has to do with family jewels being stolen. Naturally Saswata is involved, but this time he’s craven and funny rather than scary and evil. (He is so great, and I would love to see him in a sympathetic role). It’s bit light, and the ending is quite unsatisfactory, but with no songs or fights it clocks in at an efficient 90 minutes, so it was a nice film for Friday when I’m usually exhausted. (I’ve only seen one modern Bengali scene with a real dance sequence. It was obviously made with a budget of about thirty-four dollars; it’s just the two leads rather sheepishly dancing around a park in regular clothing to very simple choreography). It has a staple of Bengali films, one of the reasons I like them so much: an intelligent, capable, Lizzy Bennett-esque heroine as center of the film (Raima!)

    And then I saw Parineeta. This film is gore. geous. Calcutta in the 60s is my happy place, and I usually get there via actual Bengali movies made in the actual 60s, but this has such beautiful shots of the city! and Howrah bridge! and Saif in long 60s sideburns! and Vidya in a tight salwar that I think may be meant to evoke Sadhana! The main problem is the same one I have with Devdas: the bratty man-child at the center. Although, props to Saif for making the character a bit sympathetic. Saif I think just comes off as a strong, masculine type which makes the character seem a bit less of a spoiled baby–I don’t think someone like Shahid, for example, would be able to pull it off. But honestly, when Vidya is choosing between calm, gentle, kind Sanjay, which is apparently just unimaginably rich to boot, and a borderline-abusive, whiny, moist towelette of a pampered young babu, you just go “Girl, come on. I know you swung in the swing and sang Tagore together but come ON.” Such a great role for Vidya, though, in her first Hindi film although I’m assuming she did regional before.

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    • I love Raima Sen! Based solely on Parineeta. Which is why I am happy with the ending! Sanjay is OBVIOUSLY the better man, But then, Raima is the better sister, so it all works out. They can have their wealthy London household with lots of kids and money and power and fun nights out at low-class nightclubs and solid common sense, let Vidya and Saif stay back in Calcutta and stew in their poetic misery.

      Vidya had done regional before, and she had also been a main character on the hugely popular family sitcom “Hum Paanch” (she was the glasses wearing daughter). So I don’t think she was known to the audience, but she knew what she was doing in front of a camera, you know?

      Two other things I always have to point out about Parineeta. Did you notice we essentially don’t see Saif’s best friend again after they have a fight in the car and Saif kicks him out? I always get distracted picturing him living on the streets, begging, slowly walking back to his home, going on this whole epic journey over several months, until he finally pops up again at Saif’s wedding.

      Oh, and everyone always gets very excited that the exact same train Saif rides in that train song is the one his mother rode at the beginning of Aradhana. Which I guess is a cool trivia, but also makes me think “THOSE CHILDREN ARE RIDING A 50 YEAR OLD TRAIN!!!! GET THEM OFF IT!!!!”

      Oh, and one more thing, using the birdbath at the end-macho and dramatic, or a hilarious visual? I tend towards the second.

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      • OK, I guess I can reconcile myself to the ending if I think about Raima and Sanjay being happy together. The other person we don’t see any more is Dia Mirzya, and I know she’s a bad, western-clothing-wearing golddigger but did she deserve to have her fiance break through a wall with a birdbath to get to his ex in front of all the guests at her wedding party?

        Oh, my God, that’s the same train as in Aradhana?! I had no idea.

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  6. I went on youtube looking for the karwa chauth scenes of Baghban and I found the karwa chauth scene of Baabul instead. I ended up liking the chemistry between Salman and Rani so I decided to watch the entire movie. Overall, I liked Baabul a lot more than Baghban. It was not too over-the-top and the message was nice. I really liked the romance between Salman and Rani, I thought their relationship was really cute. John Abraham looked so young, and he was quite skinny too! It was kind of weird to see him so young. He really reminded me of Sidharth Malhotra for some reason. I think Baabul mainlyy worked for me because of Rani Mukherjee.

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    • Rani is amazing. But personally, I think I still like Baghban better. With Baabul, I feel like it just takes so loooooooooooong to get the plot going.

      But the plot is a lot more interesting than Baghban. When I was in college in my South Asian history class, the teacher was talking about Sati and widow issues and stuff, and mentioned that there was a movie about it (meaning Water). Only, everyone thought she meant Baabul! Because the whole class (except me) was desi, and Baabul was the movie they had all seen which had taught them about the issues of widow remarriage and all that.

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  7. I watched Disco Singh last night. It’s another Punjabi film by Anurag Singh, the director of the Jatt & Juliet movies, starring Diljit Dosanjh. I liked this one. It wasn’t as good as the original Jatt & Juliet but it was better than the second one. It had a better balance of love story and comedy. Diljit plays a band leader/singer, decent, simple and kind, but not doing very well supporting himself with music (he has sold only one copy of his debut album). While playing a wedding, he finds himself in a photograph with a famous model/dancer and an infamous gangster. When the gangster’s wife sees the photo on the society page of the newspaper, and thinks her husband is cheating, he pretends that Diljit is the model’s boyfriend. Diljit and the model are forced to pretend that they are a couple in love (and you can guess what happens from there). There is also a cute subplot where Diljit keeps coming to the rescue of another girl who is always finding herself in trouble. Everything comes together, and is wrapped up nicely, in the end.

    The budget must have been about five times that of Jatt & Juliet. The movie looks great! The songs are fantastic and well filmed, with lots of extras and costumes and all of that fun stuff. It makes me kind of sad that Jatt & Juliet was so threadbare and cheap looking. If it had this sort of production value, it could have been an absolute masterpiece. At the same time, I’m sure the success of the first Jatt & Juliet movie is a big reason why the subsequent films look so much better. Disco Singh was no masterpiece but it was a nice timepass and definitely worth checking out.

    I also watched Aaina last night. I loved that one! I wasn’t expecting a lot from it, being a secondary 90s Yashraj title, but it was actually really good. Juhi Chawla and Amrita Singh were both so good and believable in their roles. Amrita was just so spoiled and entitled and horrible- such a rotten human being. I was disgusted by her! Juhi was so sweet and kind and I really liked her pre-marriage look with the glasses and plain clothes, hair in a braid. Still, no matter what is stripped away from her, she still has that smile that lights up the universe! I liked Jackie Shroff as well, although no matter how old he is, he always looks like he should be playing the woman’s dad instead of her lover. He was about my age (35) when he made this and he looks old enough to be my dad! I guess he’s aged well because he still looks the same now, 25 years later. Anyway, it’s always a little creepy at first, watching him romance women (I felt the same thing watching Rangeela) but after awhile, I just kind of went with it.

    The songs were really good! They weren’t necessarily the most catchy or memorable songs, music wise, but the visuals were lush and beautiful and lots of fun. My favorites were the song just before Juhi and Jackie kissed for the first time, with all the extras (was that considered a Garba?) and the showdown between Juhi and Amrita at the party. Juhi also did some great dancing during the pre-wedding song- I was pretty impressed.

    It was a fun movie with a pretty crazy, but ultimately satisfying, ending. I’m really glad I watched this one as this good quality version seems to only be available through Spuul. I always have an awesome time watching this era of Hindi cinema. My brain says the newer movies are much better but my heart really really loves these 90s movies where everything is ramped up, over the top, beautiful and romantic.

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    • I just watched Mann tonight, which is about as 90s as it gets, and it made me all happy! So I am no one to judge.

      Aaina after all is really a pretty decent movie! Great performances, script that more or less makes sense, and fabulous Yashji direction. Although the big flaw is obviously WHO WOULD EVEN THINK OF AMRITA SINGH OVER JUHI??????

      Disco Singh sounds great! I’ll put it on my mental list for the next time I feel like a silly Punjabi film.

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  8. Have you ever seen Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke which is directed by Mahesh Bhatt and starring Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla. I was watching Rajeev Masand’s 2016 Actresses Roundtable and Sonam mentioned that this was one of her favorites. By the way, this roundtable was really fun and it had Sonam, Anushka, Alia, Vidya Balan, and Radhika Apte.

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    • I have seen it! It’s really cute, and feels very small. No big dance numbers, no elaborate costumes, just a small sweet story. It’s also another great Kunal Khemu child performance.

      It’s a remake of Houseboat, which was a very strange Cary Grant and Sophia Loren movie from the 50s, but I like the Indian version better.

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  9. I watched the original Agneepath last night. I liked it but not nearly as much as the remake. The 2012 version is truly a shining example of remake-done-right. It is a complete re-imagining of the story and actually improves upon the original.

    Amitabh was great, as I expected, and the voice that he used was very interesting and effective. I’ve only seen a smattering of his films from different eras in his career, but this voice had a different quality than any other I’ve heard- deeper, guttural, jarring and sharp. Was this a voice he used in other films or was it unique to Agneepath? I also liked how he would smile while delivering the harshest and most condemning lines of his dialogue. It was as though society had let him down and betrayed him to such an extent, that all he could do was grin in disbelief. It was unsettling at times. His revenge, and the entire purpose of his life, was implicit and deliberate. He looked so worn out and exhausted at times but plodded along, never resting, until his vengeance was done.

    I found the rest of the movie to be a mixed bag. I missed the pure evil and menace of Sanjay Dutt’s Kancha and Rishi’s Lala. Kancha in the remake felt like an insurmountable mountain for Hrithik to climb and it literally took every bit of his strength and life to defeat him. The Kancha character in the orginal was powerful, sure, but he seemed like just another sleazy, selfish gangster. He was a bad guy but not all that evil. I also thought that Hrithik being completely cut off from his mother and sister for so many years was more effective in the remake. It added to his anguish and sense of isolation from society. I did enjoy Mithun Chakraborty’s coconut vendor character. This was a much better role for him than playing the hero in Gunda. He doesn’t have the presence or acting chops to carry a film, but as a supporting character, he could really shine. He provided a small bit of comic relief and was completely believable as the simple, but entirely loyal and reliable, sidekick. The scenes of him being accepted, for the first time in his life, into Vijay’s family were touching. I also thought the Commissioner role may have been more effective in the original. The “sindoor” scene was really well acted, sincere, and one of my favorite parts of the original (I don’t remember them using that in the remake).

    The songs were another area the remake improved upon. There weren’t many songs in the original and the ones that were there weren’t great. Mithun’s disco song was okay (and I’m sure contained references to Disco Dancer that I didn’t catch) and his song with Vijay’s sister was kind of cute and funny (I liked how even in his fantasy number, he was all bandaged up and limping). The item number at Kancha’s place was nowhere near as wonderful as Katrina’s in the remake- Kancha’s lair felt like Hell itself! The remake had those beautiful Priyanka songs and that really great number for the Ganesha festival. They really provided a nice break from the bleakness and severity of the main plot. It seemed like the original didn’t have enough of that sort of relief (and definitely could have used it!).

    I may have liked this more if I had watched it first. The remake was amazing, and one of my favorite contemporary Hindi films. This was good but it felt like a bit of a slog at times. It was kind of unrelenting in its misery and vengeance. At the same time, I appreciated what the original brought to the table and I realize that without this, the remake would not exist. I’m glad that I watched it but I don’t think it’s a movie I would ever want to revisit.

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    • You are so smart! That is a unique Amitabh voice!!!! Never used before or since. He spent a long time building it up and worked really hard on it. And then, according to gossip, had a crisis of faith and asked to redub the whole thing in his “normal” voice, but they wouldn’t let him.

      I find the two films fascinating looking at them together, because it really makes you appreciate Amitabh! He alone carries that first film into greater heights. Even though the script and the characters and even some of the actors aren’t as good as the sequel, it’s still worth watching just for Amitabh.

      By the way, did you recognize Amitabh’s sister in this? It’s Neelam! From Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and the sister in Hum Saath Saath Hain.

      On Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 3:01 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I thought she looked vaguely familiar but I couldn’t place her. The VJ in KKHH- I can’t believe I didn’t catch that! I really should have recognized her from HSSH since we just watched that a couple weeks ago. Shame on me!

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        • Oh, I can never recognize her either! She has one of those faces. But her name is burned into my brain thanks to all that “The Neelam Show!” chirping that Little Anjali did.

          On Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 4:12 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  10. Check out this interview of Rajeev Masand’s with Karan Johar. The first 20 minutes mostly discusses Karan’s book, but Karan gives a tour of Dharma’s new office starting from the 26:50 mark. I thought this was pretty neat!

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    • That is so cool! It would be amazing to spend a day in the Dharma production office. It seems like such a comfortable and creative environment. I love the wall-to-wall framed photos from films. I would decorate my rec room like that if frames weren’t so expensive. It looks awesome!

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      • I would love to spend a day in the Dharma office too! It would be really fascinating to see so many projects being worked on all at the same time.

        You should also check out Rajeev Masand’s interview with Anushka and Karnesh Sharma about their production house, Clean Slate Films. Obviously they aren’t as big as Dharma but it was interesting to hear about their ideas and plans for the future. Plus they talk a little bit about Phillauri too 🙂

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        • I just noticed this Clean Slate video. I’m very interested to get a glimpse into a much smaller production outfit. And I always love Anushka’s interviews. I’ll watch it first thing tomorrow!

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        • There is an Ikea about an hour away. I haven’t been there in over a decade (when we first bought our house and needed furniture on a small budget). That’s a great idea!

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  11. A crazy thing happened last night: I watched Shivaay. A couple of months ago, my wife “came out” to her Desi co-workers about being a fan of Indian movies. They were shocked and delighted! Now she has many great conversations about the films, actors, songs, etc. One of her friends has been bringing in DVDs to borrow but they have all been movies we’ve already seen. Yesterday, he brought Shivaay and was delighted that he could finally lend her one that she hasn’t watched! She came home last night at 11:30 with two extra large cups of tea and said, “we need to watch this tonight, since tomorrow is Aamir Saturday and Sunday night is the Oscars”. I thought the trailers looked so ridiculous and I think Ajay looks like a jerk, so I never planned to watch Shivaay. Plans change, I guess. Just after the “falling tent sex” scene, my wife announced, “this is dumb. I’m going to bed. You can fill me in tomorrow.” Um, what? I’m thinking of presenting a scene-by-scene recreation in our living room. Naturally I will play the role of Shivaay. My kids can play the various bad guys and officials. And I think our beagle Chloe could do a better job as Gaura than the girl in the movie. Chloe can’t talk either, and she communicates through brays and howls- perfect! Seriously, I should win some kind of husband-of-the-week award. I stayed up until 3:30 in the morning, living in the world of Shivaay!

    I’m not sure where he got the DVD but the quality was really good- great picture, sound and English subtitles (although, it may have been fun to watch this without subtitles). The action/stunts/visual effects were impressive, I will say that. That chase scene where he ran, full speed, though a pane of glass and didn’t break stride and then later kicks out the windshield of a car, glides in and takes over the vehicle was pretty awesome. The mountain stuff at the beginning was amazing. The fighting while falling down the mountain at the end was pretty cool. A thirty-minute cut of Shivaay with just the action scenes would have been more enjoyable. The stuff in between was so terrible anyway, and I didn’t feel anything for the characters, so cutting it all out wouldn’t have made much of a difference (other than only wasting a half hour of my time, instead of two and a half hours). And was it really only two and a half hours? I think Ajay wove some magic into this thing where time stops, Shivaay plays for eight extra hours, and then time kicks back in. It seemed to go on forever.

    Why does Shivaay smoke drugs all the time (and why in the dirtiest, most scuzzy looking sideways pipe)? I wouldn’t want someone high on drugs leading me on a perilous journey through the mountains. It makes him think that he’s Godlike! I was yelling during the tent scene, as he smirks at impending doom, “no Shivaay, you aren’t invincible. You’re just really really stoned!” I thought that fatherhood might temper his behavior but nope- he’s still out swinging from mountains with his baby on his back, later racing with her up dangerous cliffs, out smoking his drugs when she goes to bed at night and praising the Lord for it! There is no tempering Shivaay! His daughter was super annoying though, maybe he tried to kick the habit and just couldn’t do it. Was she really mute? And why? She made those yelps and squeaks; maybe Shivaay could have worked with her on her speech a bit more. Was he out careening through the mountains all day, instead of talking and reading to her? Shivaay really wasn’t a very good father, was he?

    (I still haven’t watched Bajrangi Bhaijaan- what am I doing with my life?)

    I get the impression, not only from the movie but from everything I’ve seen, that Ajay doesn’t have much of a sense of humor. He seems dead serious. I can imagine him directing this film, not really giving anyone solid answers, just meditative musings: “You don’t pass through the mountains, the mountains pass through you.” Wow, that’s really deep, Ajay, but I only asked where the makeup trailer was! One problem with this movie is that it takes itself SO seriously that it becomes incredibly funny. I laughed out loud when the consulate girl’s dad (or whoever; I couldn’t keep track of the many, many useless characters) pulled out the newspaper with the headline: Brave Indian Hero Rescues Poor Hapless Child from the Clutches of Pedophiles!!! (I may be paraphrasing slightly, but it was pretty ridiculous.) Why is the Bulgarian paper in English? And why did they hire a writer from the Weekly World News to compose headlines?

    This movie made Bulgaria seem like the most terrifying place on earth. If you step onto the street for five minutes, with a child, some van will pull over and snatch them up! There is no way you’re leaving that country with your kid! Large numbers of Bulgarians moved here in the late 90s. I’ve known dozens of Bulgarians and they are some of the nicest, friendliest people I’ve ever met! They used to tell me, “oh you should visit Bulgaria- the beaches and the hospitality are legendary!” They never ever mentioned the rampant child snatching! This movie is insane.

    I guess that what I’m trying to say is that Ryan did not enjoy this movie. This was definitely not Ryan’s cup of tea.

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  12. Watched Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke for Aamir Saturday and it was the perfect movie to get the awful taste of Shivaay from my mouth. I LOVED this film so much (and a tip-of-the-cap to TJ Stevens and Margaret for discussing it and piquing my interest). It just made me feel so happy. I’m sure I sat there, grinning like a fool for the entire two and a half hours. It was simple and sweet and fluffy and just absolutely wonderful. I’m becoming a big fan of Mahesh Bhatt as a director. I absolutely love his style of storytelling. This was very different than Daddy or Arth but it shared some similarities in the straightforward manner with which it was filmed and staged. I’m excited to watch his films with Shahrukh!

    Juhi was amazing in this! She is my favorite 1990’s actress and, similar to Rani in the 2000’s, it seems like she could do no wrong and elevated almost everything she was in with her presence. Her comic timing is excellent and is on full display here- perhaps the best usage of her talents that I have seen (although, I have soft spots for both Ishq and Yes Boss). And the faces she pulls in this movie are tremendous! She had a really nice connection with the children and managed to act childlike herself without being annoying. Aamir was great as the straight man. His restrained and grounded performance really allowed Juhi’s zany, lovable personality to shine. They’re a perfect onscreen pair! I loved the goofy slapstick comedy of the first half. I can understand people being turned off by that but it really worked for me!

    There were some great songs! Like you said, they weren’t big, elaborate, choreographed numbers. They all had a quality of a family goofing around and having some fun. The song at the fair, when the children and Juhi first meet and they have to perform an impromptu number, was really funny and well done. I loved the zoo and picnic song. It really illustrated the way that Juhi completed the family. The song where Juhi and Aamir realize that they’re falling for each other was fantastic as well. Aamir and the kids are dancing in the rain and Juhi is watching under a canopy with a shy smile and puppy dog eyes. That moment was also really touching because it came right after Aamir finally “figured out” the whole parent thing (with Juhi’s help, of course) and let the oldest boy take the lead with the kite flying.

    I think this movie will become one of those movies that I watch a dozen times, whenever I’ve had a bad day or I’m feeling down. This is a cheer up, feel good, smile-on-your-face kind of film. So so so good!

    On Friday I also watched a Tamil romantic comedy called Vanakkam Chennai. I ranted so much about Shivaay that I completely forgot about this one. It was cute! Actually, it was kind of a similar tone to Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (although not nearly as good). A young man from a small village and a young woman from London move to Chennai for work. He’s a software engineer and she’s a photographer, hoping to capture her Indian roots and culture in a photo series. They’re both swindled by a “real estate agent” conman and end up renting out the same apartment. They each try to have the other removed but a lawyer recommends that they both stay until the case is sorted out. They also have to pretend that they’re married so the landlady doesn’t throw them out for being an unwed couple.

    It was an enjoyable, funny and sweet little film. The male lead, played by Shiva, was not a typical hero. He’s kind of chubby, a bit unkempt and not really handsome. He is more of an every-man but he is kind of charming and comes across as a genuinely nice person. The woman is played by Priya Anand- the very pretty niece from English Vinglish, that helps Sridevi in her journey. I had put this on my Spuul list specifically because she was in it. This role suited her nicely. The two leads had nice chemistry. They seemed an odd pair at first- with her so beautiful and him so schlubby. As the film goes on, you realize why a kind, sweet village boy would appeal to an NRI girl who has spent her whole life with slick, fast-talking men in London.

    The songs were nice, and a good combination of realistic and fantasy style numbers. This isn’t a movie that has a deep message and aims to change the world. For a lazy Friday night- passing time until my wife got home after putting the kids to bed- it was just what I needed! (Then, of course, Shivaay came into my life and destroyed all the warmth and nice feelings with his icky pipe, icicle trident and illogical behavior.)

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    • I think Priya Anand was in the Malayalam movie I saw in theaters yesterday! She was fine, but I didn’t recognize her from English/Vinglish at all.

      I’m so glad to get your Shivaay opinions from the perspective of a father, by the way. I was watching it thinking “I don’t think my Dad got high every night after putting me to bed, but what do I know! I was asleep!” So glad to get confirmation that my suspicion that all that went on after I was asleep was dishes and laundry and boring grown up talk about bills.

      I love Hum Hain Rahe Pyaar Ki! It’s such a sad movie if you think about it too much (these poor kids’ parents die, and Aamir has to take over a business he doesn’t know, and Juhi is being forced into marriage!), but it is presented in such a happy way, that it doesn’t matter. If you want the same plot over again for some reason, you can check out One 2 Ka 4 and Thoda Pyar Thoda magic. But of the “uncle forced to be parent and magical spunky nanny sometimes played by Juhi Chawla comes into his life” genre, Hum Hain Rahe Pyaar Ki is definitely the best.

      for Shahrukh films with Mahesh Bhatt, Duplicate is terrible terrible terrible, and silly silly silly, but if you are in the right mood, it is delightful. Very 90s. And Chaahat is very melodramatic and over the top, but also fascinating because of how the gender roles are so completely reversed (Shahrukh is tempted to sell his body to a powerful nightclub owner).

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      • I liked Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic and I loved Rani as an angel! Saif was such an unsympathetic character for most of it but I guess that was the point. That movie presented the darkness of the situation a bit more- which is both good and bad. I adored the light and breezy tone of Hum Hain Rahe Pyaar Ki. Even the problem of Juhi’s dad not agreeing to the marriage to Aamir was solved by asking really nicely! I should probably check out One 2 Ka 4. I might watch either Chaahat or Duplicate tonight. I’m not interested in the Oscars so I’ll probably go down to the rec room and watch something.

        And, yeah, the only things going on here after the kids go to bed are Indian movies and those other boring “adult” chores you mentioned. I’m not cool as ice like Shivaay.

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        • Both Chaahat and Duplicate have Shahrukh torn between a “bad” and a “good” woman, so that’s fun! You can decide as a viewer which one you like best. The “good” woman is also of course very boring, but it’s Pooja Bhatt in one case and Juhi in the other, so she is charming enough to still be a viable choice.

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    • I really liked Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke too! I thought the first half was a bit too silly, but I ended up enjoying the movie as a whole 🙂
      According to imdb, apparently Mahesh Bhatt first approached Anil Kapoor to play the lead role of Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke. I think that would have been really interesting to see though Aamir did a pretty good job himself. I think this is my first Juhi Chawla movie other than seeing her in a small role in Chandni. I thought she did really well too. I was really surprised that she spoke Tamil so well since she doesn’t actually know the language. I loved how her character is Tamilian and speaks Tamil whenever she got really excited. I don’t think I’ve seen a main character speak that much Tamil or Telugu in a mainstream Hindi film barring Chennai Express.

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      • Wow, it would have been such a different movie with Anil in that role! I love Aamir in this part because he looks so young and boyish, it makes it feel like he really isn’t ready to be a father and run a business. It took me to a second watch to catch that it was a north-south romance, and I still didn’t know that Juhi actually speaks Tamil! That’s really cool!

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        • It’s true, that the dynamic would have been a lot different if Anil played the lead. But I think you’re right about Aamir fitting better because of his looks 🙂

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        • I caught that Juhi was Tamilian but her slipping into the Tamil language at parts was completely lost on me, obviously. That’s such a neat little wrinkle to the character!

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  13. Oh yes, Juhi’s Tamil was excellent during her arguments with her dad. And they had a traditional Tamil wedding too.Aamir clearly wants to make Juhi (and her dad) happy. Watch and learn Deepika and Rohit Shetty.That’s how you do it.

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  14. I didn’t catch Parineeti speaking Telugu in Daawat-e-Ishq(Loved the movie btw). She’s supposed to be from Hyderabad.A lot of people from there are bilingual.They speak Hindi as well as Telugu.But it didn’t make sense that she wouldn’t speak even a word of Telugu.

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  15. Chaahat was another good one. I still haven’t come across a Mahesh Bhatt film that I haven’t liked. This may have been my least favorite of the ones I’ve seen but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. It was more over-the-top and melodramatic but that wasn’t necessarily a negative. It still played well and was an engaging piece of storytelling.

    Shahrukh did a nice job. This role was different than the wealthy, metropolitan, more street-wise characters from a lot of his other 90s films (that I have seen). It was interesting to see him play a salt of the earth, straightforward village man navigating his way through the big, bad city. He brought an innocence and a simplicity to the part and seemed at ease within the character. Pooja Bhatt was really good and they worked well as a pair. I really liked the way that she teased him a bit- during their first meeting when she tells him that her name is Zindagi and later on when she plays the trick on him, after she realizes that his father is one of her patients at the hospital. She was really very pretty in this. She had sort of grown into herself a bit since Daddy. The song after the wedding caught me by surprise. She lets her hair down, is all wet and teases Shahrukh and makes him chase her around. She was quite sexy! She had been somewhat reserved and plain and I loved how after they got married she unveiled this other side of herself. I definitely would have picked Pooja!

    Ramya Krishnan was really good in her role as well. She was believable and looked the part. I really liked the way she performed the speech to Shahrukh at the end, when she finally asks “what does she have that I don’t have?” You almost felt sorry for her that she couldn’t understand. Most of all, I thought Naseeruddin Shah was amazing as the powerful hotelier that had an almost unhealthy obsession with his vampy sister’s happiness. It was awesome to watch him play a bad guy and sink his teeth into the part. He really seemed to be enjoying himself. This was probably a nice change of pace from his usual, more serious roles.

    The songs were pretty good. I enjoy how Mahesh Bhatt presents songs in his movies. They’re not so showy and they feel more natural and seamless (especially for that era). He seemed to be really ahead of his time. It’s a lot like the way most songs are staged now, twenty-some years later. In addition to the playful, sexy number I mentioned, I really liked the hospital song with Shahrukh and Anupam going back and forth with each other, with all the patients and staff dancing along in the background. The song that they did at the beginning was really good. I enjoy watching them play off of each other. There is a real comfort and familiarity there (probably because they worked together so often). You really buy them as a father and son.

    The last half hour was amazing! So much action and excitement! Shahrukh and Anupam fighting off the bad guys together, hand in hand, was really fun. The village scenes played like a spaghetti western- sand blowing everywhere, tight close-ups, and, most obviously, the hanging. Then, back in the city, Shahrukh clawed his way back, beaten and barely held together. The big showdown with Naseeruddin was so over the top and awesome and I thought the ending was great. It was perfect for the film!

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    • You remember this film much better than I do! Not just because you just watched it last night. I think I was so fascinated by Shahrukh in kind of a “damsel in distress” position, I didn’t pay as much attention to his romance with Pooja and the rest of it. I may need a re-watch.

      For Shahrukh as more of a young village innocent, he did that a fair amount in the 90s. Raju Ban Gaya Gentlemen is great, and will make you fall in love with Juhi Chawla all over again. Chamatkar is kind of a strange one, but another fun Naseeruddin role, and cute innocent Shahrukh part. Kabhi Haa Kabhi Naa is brilliant, and also one of the last times he played that sort of role. After that there was Chaahat and Trimurti (not really a Shahrukh movie, he was just one of 3 brothers), but otherwise it was all fast-talking city boys or NRIs.

      On Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 11:39 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • That’s very unusual for you! Your recall of films always amazes me. I’m kind of terrible with that. These “Watching” posts have been great for me to get some thoughts down before they’re forgotten!

        I’ll have to check some of those out! I have a Google Play card all loaded up, I just need to find the right time to rent Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. That’s one I think I’ll really enjoy. Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman looks awesome and right up my alley. So many great films to watch, so little time. It’s a wonderful problem to have!

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        • A couple years ago I decided to watch all the Shahrukh films I hadn’t seen before. So I saw a bunch of his lessor 90s films, Chaahat and Chamatkar and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and King Uncle, all in a row. Then tend to blur for me, I just remember the things that stood out as different.

          To choose between Raju Ban Gaya and Kabhi Haan, all I can tell you is that Kabhi Haan is the better film over all, with a better Shahrukh performance. But Raju Ban Gaya has a happier ending!

          On Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 12:54 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  16. I had a pretty cool surprise today. I had ordered the “Spirit of Lagaan” book through an Amazon seller in the UK for the ridiculous price of $1.67 (another 6 for shipping, but still, a great deal). It arrived this morning as I returned from dropping my son off at school. I put it on the table and forgot about it until after lunch. I opened the book to have a peek and discovered that the title page was signed by the author and, much more importantly, by Aamir Khan! I’m no handwriting expert but I compared it to photos of Aamir’s autograph online and it looks legit. It’s dated October 27th 2002- Aamir was in England at the time doing promotion for the book, so it’s entirely possible that it’s authentic. It’s signed “To Jayesh” but who cares! It’s exciting! I’d post a photo but I’m not sure how or if we’re able to.

    Now, I’m thinking, maybe I’ll remove the page and frame it with a nice photo of Aamir from the film. Or maybe I should just leave it intact in the book. What do you guys think?

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    • What a cool surprise! We’ll have to let filmilibrarian weigh in on if there is anyway to authenticate it 🙂

      Tough choice between cutting it out and framing it or leaving the book intact! Either way, you’ll need to do more than just leave it on the coffee table. For my Shahrukh fetish items (not “fetish” in a sexual way, but in an anthropological way), I have them all up around the TV, on the wall or shelves, with my ticket stubs stuck around the DDLJ poster frame for every movie I have seen in the past ten years, and my little incense burner going in front of the photo of me by the Maratha Mandir. If you don’t cut the page out altogether, I would vote for putting the book on a shelf propped open with a photo of Aamir in a frame in front of it, and possibly a nice candle or similar sitting nearby. Or, if you do frame it, see if you can get a frame from India at World Market or Ten Thousand Villages, that might be a nice touch.

      On Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 2:31 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Oh I love that idea! It’s the best of both worlds- the book stays intact and I can still proudly display it with a nice photo from the film. And the idea of the Indian frame is genius!

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          • That’s amazing! And didn’t you say in your book that you can skip the first twenty minutes of an Indian movie anyway?

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          • Yeah, but it’s DDLJ AT THE MARATHA MANDIR!!!! EVERY MINUTE IS GOLDEN!!!!! It was also fascinating, they only do one show a day now, and it is the afternoon matinee, so not peak time. And the balcony was still pretty much sold out. DDLJ really has staying power!

            You can skip the first twenty minutes normally though, for exactly this reason. If the film is planned to be seen in a theater, not on DVD or at a film festival, then you can assume people will get stuck in traffic or their sisters will make them late or there will be a line at the popcorn, so you don’t want to put anything too important at the beginning. Same reason the endings are so sudden, you know that as soon as the film starts to wind up everyone is going to start walking out to try to catch the train or get their car, so you don’t want to give them time for that, just poof! End!

            On Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 4:23 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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