Wednesday Watching Post: What are you Reading and Watching and Thinking About the 1st Day of March?

Happy March!  Another month started, I am creeping ever closer to when I have to start looking for a new apartment (have I mentioned I’m moving when my lease is up?  I love moving in, but I hate moving out, so it is a complicated time).

Happy Wednesday!  This is where we can talk about anything and everything we have read or seen recently.  I’ll start.  Firstly, everyone is aware that the entire run of Golden Girls is on Hulu, right?  So that’s taken up a lot of my time.  I also finished off two more Netflix DVDs, another Allu Arjun where I actually liked his hair, and a Rajnikanth where he had the exact same hair as always.

And I am creeping ever closer to finishing Karachi You’re Killing Me!  I’d have finished ages ago, but I am trying to only read it while I am on the treadmill at the gym.  Because that way I will actually go to the gym.  I am also about halfway through Guide-the-novel, which is really really good and a lot more similar to the movie than I expected (also opens in present day and goes into the flashback much later), and different in other ways I didn’t expect (in the novel it is Rosie who chose marriage instead of dance)

And, a special commentator update: As you may have seen, Ryan C. commented on last Wednesday’s post that he had just gotten The Spirit of Lagaan through a bookseller in London, a super cheap old paperback copy.  And when he opened it, he discovered Aamir Khan’s signature!  He has confirmed that Aamir was in London around that time, so it could really be a copy from a book signing.  Cool!

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Feel free to offer opinions in the comments for Ryan on how best to display this, how to authenticate it, and your own personal feeling as to whether or not that really is Aamir’s signature.

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49 thoughts on “Wednesday Watching Post: What are you Reading and Watching and Thinking About the 1st Day of March?

  1. I am thinking of writing a visitor’s coloumn on SRK at behindwoods.com

    I would like to use some excerpts from you, Baradwaj Rangan and others. Call it a tribute or anything otherwise, but I should do this by the end of the week. If not in behindwoods, TOI blogs mostly. I’ll share the link once it is out.

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  2. Golden Girls was my absolute favorite growing up (even though I’m sure a lot of the more bawdy jokes went right over my head). Everyone thought it was kind of weird that a little boy loved a show about elderly women so much. I ended up working in a retirement home for nearly ten wonderful years until my oldest was born and I became a stay-at-home dad (it was much much nicer than Shady Pines). It was in syndication on local stations and aired about four times a day. I watched A LOT of episodes when my son was an infant. My wife bought me the complete series DVD set for Christmas shortly after. It’s really neat- the box holding everything is shaped like Sophia’s giant purse! I should totally crack that open and revisit the show. I think it’s awesome that it is on Hulu and easily accessible. Now people can rediscover, or discover for the first time, its brilliance!

    I’ve had to take a few days off from Indian cinema. My copy of Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy blu-ray from the Criterion Collection arrived on Monday, so I have watched the first two films and a bunch of special features. I love the movies. They’re films I come back to every so often and it’s always interesting to note how my feelings change as time goes on. I mean, I think all of the best movies have that quality.

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  3. I watched Veeram on Sunday.It is so short that it’s clear that it’s meant for an international audience.I can’t believe the Censer Board gave it an A rating though.It has a couple of intimate scenes but the script demands it and it was tastefully done.The movie on a whole was technically brilliant but poor in character development.The three duels were spectacular.It was worth bringing technicians all the way from Hollywood.The movie is essentially Macbeth with a thin veneer of the traditional Northern Ballads.Especially the prophecy about Birnam Wood coming up the hill.

    Kunal Kapoor was successful in channeling Macbeth especially in the last duel.Lady Macbeth was a dabbler in black arts and the witches were given a different (uncanny) treatment here.It makes sense why Lady Macbeth went mad.They used the traditional Northern lingo and the subtitles in simple Malayalam was provided occasionally.It was a novel experience watching a Malayalam movie with Malayalam subtitles.

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    • I’m jealous! I’m getting more and more curious about the movie, and it is apparently impossible to see in America. I am guessing, if they gave it a limited release in order to qualify for the Oscars, that meant the sold their North American rights to a mainstream American arts type distributor. So I probably missed it when it played for a week back in November at some arts theater near me, and it’s never going to pop-up at my regular Indian theaters. No DVD either, probably because they are waiting for the Indian release to be over.

      Oh well, I am sure it will be on einthusan or somewhere like that in a few months.

      On Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 10:08 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Unfortunately it didn’t do all that well here either. A lot of people were unhappy with the liberties taken with the tale.The colorful costumes(traditional Kerala attire is predominantly white) and the exotic cave-like palaces coupled with the deviation from the tale they were all familiar with annoyed them.According to them it’s neither fish nor fowl.Plus the director had managed to offend some Mohanlal fans.But it is manna from the heaven for Shakespeare aficionados.

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  5. I watched Koyla twice, once with my mullet-loving friend, who adored it. She is wonderfully besotted with SRK and of course claims it’s his versatility as an actor but the makes little gurgly sounds when he flashes his dimples.

    Darr arrives today by Netflix DVD. I think I am going to need some light entertainment before I watch that, after Koyla.

    A propos of Golden Girls, I own the entire boxed set, and wrote it off as a professional expense because I have a chapter on GG and other media icons in my in-progress book on women, fashion, and age. Binge-watching Golden Girls — it’s RESEARCH, people!

    I am sorry to say I am reading dull academic stuff, but taking notes on everything y’all recommend for the future.

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    • Darr is pretty dark. I might prescribe a sample of Yes Boss in between it and Koyla, just to be on the safe side.

      On Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 11:12 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • See, that’s why I have my Shahrukh shelves in chronological order! It’s fascinating seeing what years he had more films coming out, and how it suddenly slowed down around 2000. And the variety in the same year! Anjaam and Karan Arjun and Zamaana Deewana all next to each other!

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  6. I made it through Bhaag Milkha Bhaag after a false start a while back (get it?!). I can definitely listen to Farhan’s awesome voice for hours (he’s like the Indian version of Keifer Sutherland for me). I thought the love scene with the Australian girl was very poorly shot and choreographed, but was pleasantly surprised by the actress at least having a bit of talent in the other scenes. Those were my superficial responses. It was truly a heart-wrenching film that meshed the political and the personal so well.

    Watched the director’s episode of KWK. I find Zoya a little pretentious but I loved her answer to the question about what is Farhan best known for: his looks, his acting, or his filmmaking. She said looks immediately and then corrected herself to say filmmaking and joked he would kill her. I think the answer really is his filmmaking after Dil Chahta Hai and the Don movies. And I think much of the acclaim for BMB was because of his physical fitness…as much as I do think he’s a sexy dude…I don’t think his acting is that great.

    Otherwise, I kind of fell for the laid-back charm of Imtiaz Ali. Maybe I’ve never paid him much mind in interviews or behind the scenes things. He’s definitely living his life on a different plane than others and now I understand why his movies can be a little out there. Kabir Khan isn’t like what I expected him to be, but I kind of liked his suave, urbane manner, too.

    The actual discussion was mostly serious, which was a pleasant change for KWK.

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    • I’m so far behind on KWK, I’m not even worrying about catching up any more, which is strangely freeing.

      Oo oo! I get to tell my Bhaag Milkha Bhaag story again! It came out before I had a car, so I had to keep cadging rides from friends to get out to the Indian movie theater. I managed to put together a group to see it, one friend was picking me up after work and taking me direct, and another friend and her boyfriend were meeting us at the theater. We ran out of gas on the way to the theater, and missed the first 15 minutes (which turned out to be fine, since that was just setting stuff up). But the reason I love this story is that we called our friends for help, dragging them out of the theater just before the movie was supposed to start. And they ended up leaning against their car eating huge movie theater popcorn and watching us put gas back in the tank.

      I agree completely that Farhan gets too much credit just for his body work for that movie. I mean, he does a really good job, but I think there are plenty of actors who could have done just as well. For instance, Diljit Dosanjh! It would have been a perfect role for him. With Farhan, it feels like everyone is grading his acting on a bit of a “and he can act too!” curve. If he wasn’t a brilliant director and writer, being an average actor wouldn’t be nearly as impressive.

      My biggest reaction to Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (besides how well it handles the topic, and interweaves the present and past), is that the soundtrack is wonderful. It’s another one of my top Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy picks. Along with Lakshya, Kal Ho Na Ho, and Mirzya.

      Oh, also, did you recognize the actor who played Nehru? He’s a regular father-type character actor in dozens of other films, usually with a comic touch. He was Shahrukh’s boss in Ra.One? Anyway, he did a good job playing Nehru here, but I couldn’t take him seriously at all because I kept waiting for him to go into a comic bit!

      On Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 5:33 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I don’t know what I’ll do with that extra hour on Sunday evenings when I watch KWK! It’s wrapping up soon and I will definitely miss it.

        Cute story…and I really wish I had a gang to go to Hindi movies with (preferably with a car, too!). I did when I lived in Ohio and made it out to the multiplex a few times with some friends. It bothers me so much that I live in the Philadelphia metro area and I can’t easily get to see Hindi films in the theater. I sometimes think about moving just to have more options! But that might entail moving across the river to New Jersey.

        BMB does have a great soundtrack. I really love the romantic song with Sonam. That trio definitely has some versatility. I think my favorites are Salaam-E-Ishq, D-Day (I really love everything about that movie), Dil Dhadakne Do, and Mirzya with sentimental favorites Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (such a weird comfort watch film for me…and their music is a real highlight).

        Nope, didn’t recognize the Nehru actor…I’m still not great at picking up on character actors…some I immediately recognize (like the army coach in BMB).

        I just started Force 2 on Netflix. I loved the first few minutes!

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        • New Jersey is really The Promised Land for Indian film fans. Every theater has them! And every big show comes there, and you’ve got all the shops to buy DVDs from. Totally worth it, you should do it!

          Hey! Another person who loved D-Day! There were some small imperfections about it, a couple of things that felt a little sudden to me, but overall it was just a beautiful film. “Beautiful” is a strange thing to say about a dark spy drama, but that’s what it was.

          Still haven’t seen Force 2! Speaking of spy dramas. Let me know how it is!

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          • D-Day is absolutely one of my top ten Hindi films. I still do not understand how it wasn’t a bigger hit, or at least more of a critical hit. I think Nikhil Advani’s reputation as Karan Johar’s ghost-director has haunted him for a while now. And he has made some clunkers. I’m also an apologist for Salaam-E-Ishq, too. I agree. “Beautiful” is a weird but appropriate word for it.

            Force 2 was a big let down after the first few minutes. I love the British show MI-5, so I’m often in the mood for this kind of spy drama. I read somewhere that Sonakshi Sinha’s role is faux feminism and I agree. Throughout she is made to look silly or incompetent and by the end she’s relying on Abraham’s character to keep her job. Not a good look for her. I didn’t watch Akira partly for this reason, too, expecting a faux tough girl character. These two and Tevar have to be her worst film choices yet. I’m hoping if there’s a sequel (which I will still watch probably) that her character is written much stronger because it really wasn’t her performance that bothered me, just the script. John Abraham has his moments. And I kind of got a kick out of the model playing the Hungarian spy. Second film in a row where the token white chick has some decent acting skills and on-screen presence.

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          • Did you ever get around to seeing Akira? You might, I saw it with a big group of female friends, and we all loved it. For exactly the sort of female empowerment, men are horrible, reasons we wanted. Well, not “men”, but “The Man”. All these people who discount what she says and believe the older powerful man.

            On Thu, Mar 2, 2017 at 2:07 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. I rewatched Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani last weekend and I still think it’s one of the best rom-com’s in the recent times!

    I also saw Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year and I really liked it! Ranbir Kapoor was really good, and you wanted to root for him and his team of underdogs. I also really liked the rest of the partners of Rocket Sales Corporation too. My favorite was Gauhar Khan as Koena; she was really impressive. Apparently she’s also acting in Badrinath Ki Dulhania which is really exciting!

    One thing that I found interesting is that Sid from Wake Up Sid and Harpreet from Rocket Singh both were bad students who barely got a degree. Sid was from a rich family so he was able to take some time off and then he was given a position at his father’s office. Eventually Sid finds his passion in photography. Harpreet on the other hand directly started going interviews right after he got his degree. Becoming a salesman was kind of his only option though we are shown that he had a natural flair for it when he persuades the DJ to stay at the party. I found it interesting that Ranbir played these two parts that were kind of similar in the same year but still made them very characters to the audience.

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    • Interesting point about Rocket Singh and Wake Up Sid! You could even say the same is true of Ranbir in YJHD, his character isn’t a failure at school, but it’s not his main interest, and his career is found outside of it.

      It reminds me of watching 2 States with my parents. They were a little disturbed by how Arjun dismissed one of their teachers at one point by saying that they would go out in the world and get good jobs and he would just be here teaching. In America, that would be disrespectful, seeing teachers as lowly and money over all. But in the Indian context, it felt like a statement about how there have been generations of revering rote learning, educational medals and all that. And now, finally, the people who think outside the box and are more than just test performance are getting their chance to do things in the real world. The same kind of message as 3 Idiots and Tara Zameen Par, just presented in a different way.

      I do have a bit of a hard time with Wake Up Sid because of the whole “pursue your passion, don’t just do what your family has always done” message is being delivered by Ayan Mukherjee and Ranbir Kapoor. Who are both 4th generation members of the family business! It just happens that the family business is film.

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      • Maybe Ayan Muhkerjee was someone who wasn’t interested in school growing up which is why his characters are like that. About Wake Up Sid, I look at it more like Sid’s journey in learning how to take care of himself and not be selfish. It would have been interesting if he still left his home, grew up, and realized that he did want to work in the family business after all.

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        • I would definitely watch that movie, someone growing up and realizing he had a responsibility to the family business. Although, is that kind of Aamir’s journey in Dil Chahta Hai?

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          • That’s true. Maybe Ayan was inspired by this but he wanted to take the story in a different way.

            I’m really interested in seeing what Ayan does next because both Wake Up Sid and YJHD were kind of coming-of-age rom-com films. Ayan referred to his next movie as not a superhero movie but a romantic fantasy film.

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  8. I love 2009 Ranbir Kapoor! I finally watched Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani after putting it of for a long time. I think comparatively, I liked APKGK less than Wake Up Sid and Rocket Singh but that is saying a lot because both of those movies are really good.

    I thought both Ranbir and Katrina Kaif were really endearing and cute as Prem and Jenny! Prem was the kind of lovable loser that you wanted to root for until the end. I really like the way that Rajkumar Santoshi made APKGK. He completely gives in to the idea that this is a fictional world, and he starts off by setting up the movie as a story that a talking statue is telling to a journalist. He continues the narrative in the same over-the-top fantasy world, while still making the movie really cute and endearing. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the comedy in APKGK! I usually don’t really get the comedy in Hindi films. This is one of those movies that I wish Varun had done; he would have suited this role really well. Actually APKGK was giving me a lot of Main Tera Hero vibes based on how the movie was being told. But I think Main Tera Hero focused more on the comedy while APKGK focused more on the romance. Another thing is that Prem reminded me of Humpty Sharma because both characters were lovable losers who were willing to help Jenny and Kavya in any way that is needed. Another thing about APKGK was that the music was really good. The background score in particular was done really well! Overall, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani was a really fun romantic comedy starring a cute Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif.

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    • I still haven’t seen APKGK, because I also don’t usually like comedies and it looked like a really broad one. But your rave is making me think maybe I should check it out! At least before Jagga Jasoos comes out, sounds like it might be a little similar in tone, as well as in cast.

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  9. Are you following the Anushka Sharma’s #ShashiWasThere campaign for Phillauri? It’s pretty funny 🙂

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  10. I haven’t watched much over the week – or rather I haven’t watched much full-length. I have been putting together a playlist of song clips to show at a club event and so have watched little bits of lots of movies, extracting songs and putting some subtitles into a few of them or finding them on YouTube.

    I did watch Kaante a couple of nights ago – bought the DVD years ago. I don’t know how it compares to Reservoir Dogs cos I have never watched a Quentin Tarantino movie but I thought it was very well done.

    And I semi-binge watched an Israeli series on Netflix – Mossad 101. Well made series about a bunch of trainee Mossad agents being put through their training course. Nice little twist right at the very end.

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  11. I’ve been so busy this week. It’s been terrible! I managed to shoehorn a few movies into the weekend.

    I watched Bhoothnath with my kids. They really liked it until Bhoothnath’s backstory and then it kind of lost them (which wasn’t bad, since that was only the last 45 minutes or so). They got on the tablet (to watch Eega videos) and I watched the end myself. Some parts confused them a bit- like why Bhoothnath couldn’t grab the kid’s hand during the “accident” but in the hospital afterwards, he was holding it. I didn’t know the answer so I pretended that I was sleeping. Ha! Then I actually fell asleep for a bit. I doubt that I missed much! Amitabh was good, and pretty funny, as the ghost. Juhi was there, didn’t have much to do, but I’ll take her on my screen any day of the week. The kid was decent, I guess, but also kind of annoying at times. Some of the stuff between him and Bhoothnath was cute, like when he “tricked” him into cleaning up the house. The Shahrukh stuff just felt tacked on and the ending seemed forced. I don’t really have much else to say about it. It was pretty much exactly what I expected. I doubt we’ll ever watch it again.

    We watched Taare Zameen Par, for Aamir Saturday, and I liked that one a lot more. The kid in this was great! He did a really nice job- and it was HUGE job. He had to carry the film for the entire first half and be likable and charming and cute enough to make the audience care. And he was all of those things! Everyone was so cruel and horrible to him (not really on purpose, it was more ignorance and neglect). By the time that Aamir appeared as the art teacher, I was pleading for someone to take a closer look at this kid and try to understand the situation. It seemed so obvious, and should have been obvious to parents and teachers after all those years, that the boy wasn’t creating all of these problems out of disobedience or mischief.

    Everything was a bit over the top and laid on pretty thick, but it illustrated some of the problems and issues with the education system. How on earth could a kid get to grade three or four with his lack of reading and writing? How was this issue not addressed and tackled much, much sooner? My son is only in grade one and he’s doing an hour of reading and printing homework every night!

    Aamir was wonderful, and believable, as the teacher who finally noticed that the boy was dyslexic and started working with him one-on-one. The song that introduced him was really fun! I liked most of the scenes between him and the boy. The kid had shut down so much, emotionally and mentally, by the time that Aamir came. It really took an effort to draw the boy out of his shell. The film did a great job of showing how the school system beat the kid down and took away his spirit. And, it was very cinematic and heartwarming to watch Aamir build the boy back up and teach him in different ways that he could understand. I cried quite a bit. The scenes with people being so mean to a child really bothered and upset me. Also, there was a scene after he had been shipped to the boarding school, with his mom going through a flipbook that he had drawn. It showed the happy family standing there and the boy slowly disappearing from the portrait. That really got me! I liked where the story went and the ending, but I don’t think I would want to watch it again. The first part was just so difficult and made me feel so terrible.

    On Wikipedia, there was something about how the writer was originally going to direct. After a couple weeks, Aamir was very unhappy with the rushes and realized that the writer could not properly turn the beautiful story into a film. In a crunch for time (and with the kid aging) Aamir took the reins and directed it himself. Do you remember hearing anything about that at the time? I’d love to know more about what happened. That would make an interesting book!

    We also watched Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. I liked it. I need to stop watching these movies “inspired by” Romeo and Juliet. Recently, I’ve watched this one, Ram Leela, Ishaqzaade and Sairat (which wasn’t necessarily inspired by it, but was the same type of story, and it ripped my still-beating heart from my chest and stomped all over it). I also watched the Satyamev Jayate episode about honor killings. I understand that the concept is particularly suited to Indian society and culture but they’re depressing! I don’t find tragic endings to be romantic. I am a happy ending guy- all the way. I knew what I was getting into but that didn’t make it any easier to stomach.

    Aamir and Juhi were pretty good, if not a bit rough around the edges. Juhi, in particular, seemed so different than the other films I’ve watched her in. It was like she was trying to contain her bubbly personality. She felt a bit restrained and barely flashed that beautiful smile. Still, the magic chemistry between the two was definitely present. They complement each other well onscreen and they really “work” as a pair. I can understand the film’s success and how their careers skyrocketed afterwards. The songs were really good- catchy with memorable melodies. The supporting cast all did a nice job. Alok Nath, in particular, was very good as Aamir’s uncle that raised him while his dad was in prison. I’m glad I saw it but, again, it’s not one that I would be in a rush to watch again.

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    • It’s too bad you saw QSQT after Ram-Leela and Sairat and the rest, because QSQT is really the original. It was kind of revolutionary when it came out, at the tail end of the 80s, for having these very young leads and a setting and dialogue and everything that felt like what kids were really like nowadays. The industry had gotten kind of calcified in the years since Bobby came out, and it was a huge breath of fresh air. The tragic ending was a big deal too, to have these two incredibly young and real feeling characters die at the end, very different from the usual happy ending, or the usual perfect and poetic doomed lovers.

      There was a lot of coverage of the director shift with Tare Zameen Par. And it’s just one of similar stories. Aamir has a reputation of taking control from his directors. Any time a film comes out, he has to fight to give credit to the director instead of himself, and against the assumption that he takes too much control and doesn’t let anyone else do anything.

      My impression is that these stories both are and aren’t true. The big stars, all of them, take a certain amount of control over their films, in some of the areas that directors traditionally are supposed to control (at least in the Hollywood system). Stuff like costuming and casting and script re-writes. And, maybe sometimes, camera angles and arrangements and things. When you are talking about a first time director and an established star there’s even basic things like “I’ve shot in this location before, make sure you put the camera here because everywhere else you end up with a glare off that building.”

      And I know I’ve read comments before from experienced actors from Shahrukh to Anil Kapoor about how you sometimes just know that the movie is going wrong, the director or the producer are making mistakes, it’s gonna flop. The question is how you handle that. Aamir seems since the late 90s at least to have decided to just take control in that situation. Use his star power and say “no, we are going to do it this way”. That’s when he started getting the “perfectionist” title. Of course, it doesn’t mean that the director’s vision isn’t there, just that Aamir consistently tweaks it to make it match his higher standards. You can see that if you compare Lagaan with Jodha-Akbar, for instance. They are both good movies, and both clearly Ashutosh Gowarikar movies, but Lagaan just has that something extra.

      Now I am trying to think of a movie for your boys that might finally get them off the Eega kick! Maybe Bahubaali? But it might be a little too complicated for them. Have you shown them Ra.One yet? Or is that too sad?

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      • I haven’t watched Ra.One yet. I’ll try that one next! We started Bahubaali a few weeks ago but they had trouble following it (I thought it was awesome and I NEED to watch the whole film by myself). I love Eega but I’m getting worn out! Ordering it for the boys as an Easter present may not have been my finest idea…

        It’s interesting that you mentioned Lagaan, in particular. I just started reading the Spirit of Lagaan book and it seems like that film was the real turning point in Aamir’s career. It seems as though it was the first movie that he was really hands-on with (he very reluctantly produced the movie, as well, which I’m sure played a big role in the new attitude). Just based on the films I’ve watched, there does seem to be a big shift in his work post-Lagaan. He’s made fewer films but they’re a higher quality of work, and every film feels like an “Aamir Film” instead of just a movie that he’s appearing in.

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        • I’ll keep trying to think of good kid’s movies for you! And you should definitely try to finish Bahubaali, at least before the new one comes out in April.

          Lagaan was a turning point in Aamir’s career, but it is also slightly over-estimated sometimes. It inspired him to turn producer, it made him an international presence, all of that is true. However, my impression is that he had already turned a corner in his career which is why he wanted to try all those things. Lagaan the script had been shopped around to everybody, including Shahrukh who is an old friend of Ashutosh from back in his TV days and would have been a much more likely star to accept the script. Aamir was the only one really looking for something new to try. And he was the one who coordinated that massive effort to bring it to international attention, that didn’t happen overnight either. Coincidentally, (or not so coincidentally) his marriage was also breaking up at that time. It just feels like a lot of things were coming together all at once, which lead him to accept the film in the first place and then to develop it the way he did.

          He had started his slow down a few years earlier, and tried to take that move to the second level in 2000 with Mela. Which was a massive embarrassing flop. He needed something to redeem himself, and therefore made two totally different films in 2001 to make himself seem like a “serious” actor, and redeem himself to the new generation who considered the older stars a bit of a joke.

          In terms of his long term career, Dil Chahta Hai that same year was arguably more important. It showed that he could play a modern character, that the “kids these days” could relate to him and he could relate to them. And then he took a full 4 years off and came back with another massive embarrassing flop. Aamir’s great, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a tendency to creatively edit his filmography to make it appear that Lagaan was his only film of 2001, that he’s only had hits since then, and that Mela never happened.

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          • Have you seen Mangal Pandey? It looks terrible! It’s funny, I hadn’t even heard the name until I actually started going through his filmography, looking for films I’d missed. Everything I’d read about Aamir kind of went: Lagaan/Dil Chahta Hai – 4 year hiatus – Rang De Basanti/Fanaa. I also never really heard about Mela until it was mentioned on the KWK episode with Twinkle a few months ago. So I can absolutely see your point about the “glossing over” of certain aspects of Aamir’s career. I still love him though!

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          • I have seen Mangal Panday, kind of. In a “I’ll let it play in the background while I am in and out of the kitchen and running down to the laundry room” kind of way. I did hear a talk about it at a conference a few years back, and I was joking with the presenter beforehand and said something like “actually watching Mangal Panday is a real sacrifice for your research!” and she said “Oh, I didn’t really watch it, I couldn’t do that! i just had it in the background while I was grading”. So yeah, it’s that bad. It’s not even fun bad, it’s just dull and heavy handed bad. I would rather watch Tum Mere Ho a hundred times.

            On Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 1:01 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Just a side note, but — I only heard of Aamir with Lagaan (I’d stopped watching any Hindi movies for almost two decades before). Since I liked both the film and the star, I started researching him for other films of his, then got onto earlier news articles about him, etc. All of which is just to say, before Lagaan, the most used word for Aamir was “interfering.” The “perfectionist” tag only came after Lagaan got the Oscar nomination, not even during its theater run.

        On your main point, all big stars give creative input, but nobody except Aamir takes creative control and credit away from others. I’ve never heard such stories about anyone else.

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        • I’ve never heard those stories either, even when Salman traded directors for Dabangg 2, it was clear that the problem was with the director, not with Salman pushing him out. It’s only Aamir that really crosses the line to taking control.

          On Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 1:14 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

          >

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    • I remember when I watched Taare Zameen Par for the first time I was probably around nine years old and I cried so much. I felt so bad for the kid, especially when his parents left him at the boarding school. I hated his parents so much back then. Now that I think of it, I don’t think I ever saw Taare Zameen Par again. I wonder what I missed back then now that I think about it…

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      • It would be interesting for you to revisit it now, I bet. I felt sorry for his parents. You could tell that they were frustrated and confused and didn’t understand why their son was doing so poorly in school (especially since their older son was an overachiever). They probably subconsciously blamed themselves for not doing enough and then dumped that on the kid, as well. It did seem a bit crazy to me that the problems went on for as long as they did. Here, they start sending information about literacy programs in senior kindergarten if the child seems to be struggling.

        The one part that bothered me was when Aamir chastised the father, later on at the school. I know that it was meant to be cinematic and show that Aamir was really going to bat and advocating for the boy. He kind of stepped over a line, though, in my opinion. His dad wasn’t a bad man; he just felt helpless and lost (and didn’t have the educational tools or awareness that Aamir’s character had). The other teachers deserved such a lecture (they were awful) but I didn’t think it was necessary to speak to the boy’s dad that way. He made mistakes, sure, but he seemed remorseful. I didn’t think it was Aamir’s place to admonish him (especially in such a condescending way).

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        • Yeah, I think I should revisit Taare Zameen Par. Now that you mention it, it does seem weird that the problems went on for as long as they did. I guess it’s just a cinematic liberty they took to be able to use a slightly older child instead of a kindergartner.

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  12. I watched Thattathin Marayathu. I wanted to watch a Malayalam film so I picked this one, almost at random, on Sunday night. Once it started I suddenly remembered that it was a Hindu/Muslim romance and thought, “oh no, more star-crossed lovers. I hope they don’t die in this one!” I almost stopped the movie but I figured that I would give it a chance. Death and doom and suicide seem out of place in Malayalam cinema (at least the ones I’ve seen) so I put my faith in the film. It didn’t disappoint!

    Nivin was very good although it was apparent that this was earlier in his career. He wasn’t quite as polished but that was okay for this role. He does very well playing a young man in love, chasing after the object of his affection, and, at times, flashes of his Premam persona were present. Isha Talwar did a nice job, however, she didn’t really have a lot of dialogue. She was an unattainable character, almost similar to the one Nivin played in Ohm Shanthi Oshaana. I would have liked to see a bit more of her character’s story (although they revealed more toward the end). This didn’t quite have the payoff of those other films but it was pretty satisfying. I was definitely relieved at the outcome (I got a bit nervous after Isha’s dad finally agreed to their marriage and Nivin couldn’t be reached).

    The music was great. The scenery and cinematography were beautiful. This was a nice, relaxing Malayalam film. I seem to recall everyone mentioning that this was more of a second tier film, not quite as good as Bangalore Days, Premam or OSO, and I would definitely agree. It will be interesting to revisit Bangalore Days and pay closer attention to the interactions between Nivin and Isha.

    Saathiya was fantastic! I really liked it a lot. Rani and Vivek were both great in it. I haven’t really seen Vivek in anything and was quite impressed with his acting. Rani was her usual resplendent self- she’s great in everything! The songs were so wonderful, musically and visually. I liked the wedding song at the beginning quite a bit. Rani dancing is so much fun to watch. I also loved Aye Udi Udi Udi- the one when they first moved in together and consummated the relationship. That one had a nice groove and was lighthearted, bouncy and breezy. It seemed very playful but also had physical undertones. It reminded me a little of Humma Humma from Bombay, if only in its mixture of innocence and sexuality, all coming together.

    I thought the framing device was very effective. They did a nice job of never drifting too far into flashback- the present-day scenes of Vivek looking for Rani, very concerned and worried, kept the film grounded. I never quite forgot that something terrible had probably happened. It gave the arguments and tension between the new couple an extra level of seriousness in the flashback scenes. I really felt for Vivek’s character. I’ve been in that position (not nearly to that extent) of not being able to reach my wife, she’s running late and it is a terrible, terrible feeling. Thankfully it’s always turned out that her phone had died or she was so busy at work that she couldn’t call back, or whatever, but those moments produce such a sinking feeling inside. I can imagine that worry being amplified when things aren’t settled and the relationship is in a rough patch. Those scenes were difficult to watch.

    I checked on Einthusan and they’ve finally added subtitles for Alaipayuthey. I’m very excited to watch that soon and compare the two films!

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    • I don’t have much to say about Thattathin, beyond what other commentators told me! It was Nivin’s break out role, Isha doesn’t really speak Malayalam which might be part of the reason she doesn’t have much of a character in the film. And the music is really really pretty. (also, if you ever want to see a Malayalam version of a sad romance, check out Kismath).

      I have so much to say about Saathiya! Firstly, this was a pivotal film for both Rani and Viviek. Rani had been around for awhile at this point, but she hadn’t quite hit the top top point. And then this movie, plus Chalte Chalte, knocked her firmly into “top heroine” territory. This was only Viviek’s third movie, and his first one that wasn’t a gritty action type movie. His debut was spectacular, maybe one of the best and most impressive debut performances of all time. And then this role showed that he could play the lovable romantic hero as well as the angry action star.

      Secondly, it’s maybe the only successful remake of a Ratnam movie. Shaad Ali, who directed, worked with Ratnam for years, including on Alaipayuthey, so he really understood the aesthetic and the ideas. And, obviously, the songs are Rahman and are from the original version too.

      I can’t wait to hear what you think about the original version!

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