Monday Morning Questions Post, Last Week of August!

So excited about September 1st coming!  Not because of Baadshaho (blech!), but because of my paycheck.  And because of the 3 day weekend we get in America.  I’m gonna clean my whole apartment!  It will be so much fun.  Getting the vacuum out and everything!

So, as always, you can ask me questions from the personal (“What is your favorite cleaning song?”) to the specific and factual (“what is a song about cleaning in Indian film?”) to the general discussion topic (“Is it better to watch a movie while cleaning or listen to music?”)

 

And as sometimes always, I have a question for you!  I finally saw Luck By Chance, which has been on my “should watch someday” mental list for ages.  I’m curious, what are the films that you know you would like and you are planning to watch but somehow have never gotten around to it for years and years?

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43 thoughts on “Monday Morning Questions Post, Last Week of August!

  1. I will start with a question about something that is a constant source of irritation for me. Why are the English subtitles so terrible? The mistranslation of raula in JHMS was glaring; even though I didn’t know the actual meaning, the use of the cliche phrase “all hell will break loose” was like fingernails on a blackboard. I know translation is an art; I took six years of Spanish and had to attempt translation of poetry in the advanced courses. But surely in a country with so many people who speak excellent English, there must be someone who can do better translations.

    Rant over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have no “real” answer, I can’t remember ever reading real research on this. But my guess would be that it is a combination of elements. First there is the general disrespect for the films as art. The dialogue writers for films, traditionally although all this is lessening in recent years, are classical poets. It’s not a matter of translating the dialogue enough so that you can understand the plot, it’s translating the pure beauty of them. Which is something that would be hard to argue to the Indian public/people paying for subtitles, that this films are high art and deserve to be translated by someone who specializes in poetry, not just the regular film types.

      Plus, there is the tendency to lump everything together. This film deserves a very high level of subtitles, the beauty of the dialogue, the Gujurati and Punjabi influences on certain lines in order to build the characters, it needs a lot of thought. But something like Raabta, whoooooooooooo cares! Just throw up any old thing to convey what is happening. Makes it harder to argue that subtitlers should do a better job when sometimes it just isn’t worth it.

      And then there’s the stuff that revolves around English usage. The people with a high understanding of English aren’t necessarily the people who are going to be going to/enjoying these films. Talking about back in the day, the classic era of films through maybe the early 90s. Subtitles could be very bare bones because no one besides people who spoke Hindi as their native tongue were watching. Or if they were, they were just as likely to need Tamil or Telugu or Bengali subtitles as English. Now it has started to flip, the people with a high understanding and complex usage of Hindi aren’t necessarily working on these films, there is so much “Hinglish” in use now, there is less of a sense of the shadings of meaning available in Hindi.

      And then one final thing is that the films can be incredibly complicated to subtitle, just because of how complex language is in India. In this film, “Harry” drops in and out of Hindi and Punjabi, using various idioms that are not translatable. Whereas “Sejal” drops in and out of Gujurati accented Hindi, with a lot of “Hinglish” thrown in, her conversation with Klara for instance with that “Klara-behen” tossed in the middle of English-without-articles. I don’t know if there is a good way to convey all of that, you would need to give the literal translation, the colloquial meaning, and a [Punjabi] or [Hindi] after it.

      Anyway, those are my thoughts! I am sure more people have more to say.

      On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 7:15 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

    • See because most Bombay films these days contain so much English it is almost near redundant (in their heads) to work on subtitles. Plus, every Bombay film these days seems to have dialogues that are crammed full of references to previous films, not just pop culture. And then there’s the Bombay hindi problem which means a translator would need to be well versed in punjabi, marathi, bhojpuri, rajasthani, bihari plus dialects etc. I guess bollywood just assumes their audience speaks hindi. The hindi nationalism debate is hot in India right now for this precise reason.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. And my “haven’t watched yet” film is Utda Punjab. I know it’s brilliant, but I am a delicate flower when it comes to sad or violent movies, and Indian films are so emotionally intense! I am thinking I should watch with a friend or two. I did that with Dil Se, and it worked.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I saw Udta Punjab once, in theaters, with 4 other people. And it was pretty hard to take even there! Although if it helps, it’s really just Alia’s scenes that kill you, the rest of it has a kind of black humor tough to lighten it up. And Alia ends up completely happy, rewarded for all she went through, so that’s good.

      On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 7:18 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Her performance in Dear Zindagi is similar, but not nearly as good. However, I was awfully happy that for once she got to do a big emotional breakdown scene NOT related to rape survival.

          On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 10:55 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • She has a good fragile girl persona. I thought her role in Kapoor & Sons was completely accurate. My BFF lost both her parents recently and she has the house in the hill station and she’s a single child and she’s as vivacious and there wasn’t a single moment in Alia’s role that felt unnatural or forced to me when I compared it to what my BFF is like on a very similar situation

            Liked by 1 person

          • She was so good in Kapoor & Sons! i didn’t love that movie, but it was really interesting to watch Alia bounce of Fawad and Ratna Pathak and Rishi Kapoor and all these heavyweights and hold her own.

            Liked by 1 person

          • It’s more of an atmosphere film. It us again a multiplex film that would appeal to that upper middle class audience who either has a house in a hill station or has friends that have and they can understand the atmosphere of the film as a character within it.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. My questions come from our discussion last week about re-making classic movies. My favorite classic films from Hollywood (and English studios) are film noir, including detective/crime stories and thrillers like Rebecca or Gaslight. Are there similar classic Hindi films–or other regional films–in terms of the look and feel of film noir? Are there recognizable types like the hard-boiled hero and the femme fatale? If there are, what are some good ones to start with?

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    • There is absolute a history of film noir in Indian film! I did a whole talk on it at a conference once. And there are some classics of the genre, including a semi-remake of Rebecca.

      A great one to start with is CID. You can also check out Howrah Bridge, China Town (the old one), and the Rebecca semi-remake which is Mahal.

      Those are the black and white classics, they are a little deeper and darker. Then, in the 1960s, they kind of developed into more “fun” films, think something like To Catch a Thief rather than Murder My Sweet. Check out Jewel Thief, Teesri Manzil, Sharmila, Johnny Mere Naam for classics of that type.

      And for more recent throwbacks to this style, Byomkesh Bakshy! is amazing, and so is Johnny Gaddar.

      On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 10:15 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

    • If I’m thinking Femme Fatale then Aitraz is a really good example. Films getting remade- well I’d love to watch Sin City remade. I’ve just watched the trailer for Arjun Reddy and I kinda do see Vijay Devarakonda in these neo-noir remakes.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t really have any films that I can think of that I knew I would like and put off watching, especially with Indian films. Though it did take me a little while to watch Nil Battey Sannata even though I knew it would be a good heartwarming film. I have that problem with tv shows, especially if I get invested really fast in the first few seasons of a show and then I keep putting off catching up midway through the run.

    I can’t wait for the long holiday weekend. I’m already planning my viewing and reading goals. If Half-Girlfriend isn’t out by then I’m going to be so mad! I wish there were a good tracking site or a way to know exactly when a new film will be released on streaming or to DVD. At this point Mubarakan may be out before that one (which is I guess OK since I suspect I’ll like that one better!).

    And speaking of binge-watching, what is your record for number of films watched in a tv hour period (including having things on in the background)? I can consistently do 2 or 3 on some weekends.

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    • I usually shot for 2-5 per weekend. I kind of have to now that I have committed to new films on Fridays, and Monday Malayalam, Tuesday Tamil/Telugu, and Friday Classics in the morning. This weekend I was “bad” and only did 2, but that’s partly because Luck By Chance took twice as long since I had to keep pausing and writing notes.

      But I think the largest number of watches of a film straight through would be either my epic Devdas weekend (I never even posted a review of the Telugu version that I also squeezed in, along with the other 4 plus the novel), or my City of God weekend. In which I just watched City of God, but like 8 times in a row.

      On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 10:42 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Be warned, City of God doesn’t really land on the first watch. It’s complex, you have to pay close attention to see how everything kind of fits together. But on the second watch, when you know how it all fits, it’s just amazing. And then 3rd-20th (so far, for me) it just keeps getting richer.

          On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 10:58 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Where do you watch the South Indian films, especially Malayalam and Tamil? Or do you just have dvd’s of them, and if so, where do you buy them?

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    • I wish I had a good answer for this! Malayalam films are almost impossible to find. The best option is the bootleg streaming site einthusan. There are a handful of films available on googleplay and ErosNow, but it is pretty quick to watch all of those, and they are a mixture of actual good classic films, and terrible films that happened to have cheap streaming rights available. And, at least on ErosNow, most of them don’t have subtitles.

      DVDs are the best option, but it is very very hard to find them. I’ve done 4 massive orders over the past year or so, from a few different websites. And I was ripped off every time. Half the order didn’t arrive, or it arrived but about 3 months late, or this last time they took my money and nothing happened and I finally filed a complaint with Paypal and Paypal gave me a refund and marked them as a “bad” vendor. I’ve been ordering Indian DVDs for over a decade, and I have never had an experience as bad as I have had with these websites. So far as I can tell, they are actually middlemen, they list films, take my money, and then go around to stores in India trying to find the films, they have no stock on hand. Which means everything they list is just a guess as to what they will be able to find in stores, and if they can’t find it, they keep my money and I get nothing. What is better, if possible, is to buy the DVDs through ebay, where the actual Indian stores list directly. But there you will find a very very limited selection.

      The only reliable website for DVD sales is New Jersey Movie Time Video (njmtv.com), I just ordered Premam through them. It was the only place I could find it available anywhere online, no legitimate streaming available, no DVD through anywhere else (except those websites I have learned to be afraid of). It’s shocking, this was one of the all time biggest hits in Malayalam cinema, and it is just not anywhere, unless you go to einthusan and watch it pirated. Which is why I am so free with recommending einthusan, because if the film isn’t available legally in any way shape or form (except for the one website that still has an old DVD), then they aren’t exactly “stealing” from anyone.

      Oh, and for Tamil, SO MUCH EASIER!!!! Rajshri Tamil on youtube has a ton of films, most with subtitles, all legal. And the DVDs are available through reputable sites like Amazon US, plus a large number of films on regular pay streaming services like googleplay. And I just recently learned about herotalkies and tentkotta which have a massive selection for me to work through.

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      • Thanks for the detailed reply. So many people have recommended Eithusan that I recently (a few months ago) checked it to recommend films for someone. I was surprised that some didn’t have subtitles. But, more importantly, I was under the impression all this time that they were legitimate (the people who recommended it generally steer clear of pirated sources). So why do you think they stream pirated versions?

        Thanks for the tip on Rajshri Tamil. Rajshri is a great resource, but their films on youtube generally don’t have subtitles, so this is quite encouraging news.

        As for the places that ripped you off on dvd’s maybe you can publish their names so others can be warned? Have you ever tried Bhavani dvd?

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        • Every place that advertises Malayalam DVDs has ripped me off. Bhavani, myindiashopping, mymoviemall, everywhere. They might be fine if you are ordering something recent and readily available, but anything beyond that, it is a gamble.

          I’ve had einthusan literally recommended to me by movie store owners. They themselves use einthusan because it is the only option. I don’t know what is happening with the streaming and DVD rights sales in Malayalam films, but something odd must be going on because there are just no legitimate options and so this “illegitimate” one has kind of become legitimate. They fill a really massive gap. And I guess since no one cares to fill that gap legally, no one is really suing them or trying to hound them out of existence, and they get to grow like a legitimate website, with a really nice web design and long term users and stuff.

          Oh, and here’s the thing I didn’t realize about Rajshri Tamil, a lot of the stuff has the subtitles embedded right in the image. So if you look at the youtube video, it doesn’t have that little “cc” button. But if you actually play the film, the subtitles are there as a permanent part of the image. Especially on the older films, I learned to take a second to go into playing the actual film just to be sure, instead of just looking for the “cc” button.

          On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 12:53 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • There is a good collection of malayalam classics with subs in hotstar. Also feel free to dowload from einthusan,tamilrockers etc if the film completed theatre run.Thats the only option for nri malayalees to watch films. Filmmakers know about it .

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        • Hotstar has regional restrictions. I can download a thing that lets me watch it by changing my ip address, but it’s not ideal. Plus, I can’t get it on my TV, just the computer. I’m picky!

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  6. I have a few films on that been meaning to watch. I bought the DVD of Pyaasa and still there it sits on my to be watched pile. The other biggie is Deewar.

    As for subtitles, there is such a disparity in quality. I actually follow one subtitler of Malayalam films on twitter because he does such a good job. Vivek Ranjit @vivekranjit
    He worked on the Baahubali films, too.

    He’s started working for Anupama Chopra’s Film Companion Youtube channel and recently had a nice interview with Prithviraj. While I’m happy for him personally, internally I was screaming. “NOOOOOO!!!! Don’t take away time from your excellent subtitle work!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pyaasa and Deewar both deserve to be waited on! that is, don’t hurry to watch them just to get them over with, wait until it is the perfect situation (I still remember your story of being stuck watching Sholay with your unsympathetic brother-in-law)

      On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 5:10 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. So do you have a favorite cleaning song?

    I have a huge list of movies that I’ve been planning on watching yet I still haven’t watched. The movies that are at the top of my list are probably Guru, Highway, Chak De India, and Ram-Leela. I’ve seen parts of Highway and CDI but I never finished the movies. I think I may end up watching Ram-Leela first out of this list since it’s apparently one of my roommate’s favorite Indian movies.

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    • Guru has hot hot Madhavan, and Chak De has hot hot Shahrukh, so those would be my first choices from your list. Ranveer in Ram-Leela does nothing for me.

      Speaking of Chak De, the title song is a great cleaning song. I need the big inspiring ones. Yes, dust that shelf, vacuum that floor!

      On Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 12:00 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I need to remind myself that Guru has Madhavan in it, otherwise I’m not gonna be motivated enough to watch it. In my experience Madhavan + Mani Ratnam = Awesome Movies.

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        • Madhavan + Mani Ratnam + Vidya Balan!

          Although Madhavan isn’t the hero, or even the second hero, he’s like hero number 4 or something. But steals the movie once he appears onscreen.

          On Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 10:40 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I think that should be enough! I loved Ayutha Ezhuthu and Madhavan was like one of three heroes in that. But it did help that the other heroes were Suriya and Siddharth 🙂

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          • Abhi Baby isn’t bad in Guru, and he and Aish do get one of the all time great love songs maybe ever. But for the other hero, you are stuck with Mithun Chakraborty.

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