Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Reading and Thinking and Watching This Week?

Happy Wednesday!  Halfway through the week!  A short week for me, because I get to take Friday off to help my parents prepare for a massive house party (you will be hearing more about this).

I’ll start!

Reading: Almost done with my Terry Pratchett series, considering something slightly more challenging afterwards.  Or else slightly less challenging, my sister just sent me a link for a terrible “Christian” romance that involves a mail order bride and a grizzly bear.

Thinking: I placed a big order with eshakti and I actually measured myself and asked for customization this time.  And now I am nervous, because I never trust measurements, and it is super depressing to get an order and try everything on and nothing fits.

Watching: last night I got together with a friend and, as almost always happens, we ended up just watching song videos instead of a full film.  Although last time we did manage to get all the way through Talwar, so that should hold us for a while.

 

 

Now, question for you!

The Fault in Our Stars remake was just announced, the Sairat remake is coming out on Friday, and that got me thinking:

What remakes actually are good and deserve to exist?

For me,

If we consider the PC Barua 1935 Devdas as the original and all else as remake, then I would say that the 1955 Dilip Kumar version, the 1953 ANR version, and the Anurag Kashyap 2009 Dev D all deserve to exist.

Streets of Fire as Tezaab, yes, it almost feels like a Hindi film anyway, this is just helping it to meet its destiny.

Taxi Driver to Sadak, yes, it’s a complete reimagining of the story for an Indian audience with all but a few elements changed.

An Affair to Remember to Mann, YES!  It’s already a cheesy ridiculous romance, why not put it in Indian dress and make it even cheesier?

Agneepath to Agneepath?  Yes, again, the modern version simplified the story and made it so much more powerful.

Hmm, I’m having a hard time thinking of a remake between Indian languages that is deserving.  I guess Salt Mango Tree and Hindi Medium?  They have almost nothing in common besides a central problem, but Hindi Medium claims to be a remake.  And Salt Mango Tree really wasn’t very good, I am okay with it being remade with a better cast and songs and script.

 

Oh, and if you need a lift to get you through the rest of the week, here is Dog Hazel showing us how to have a proper “things to do, places to see, no time to chat” kind of attitude towards life.

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39 thoughts on “Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Reading and Thinking and Watching This Week?

  1. Thinking about a few days off coming up. Visiting family in Ohio, which will be wonderful, but also make me sad that we don’t live closer. If only there were jobs in my field in Ohio, it’s a fine place to live!

    Watching: gave up on Sacred Games–the impression I got of the young female cop is that she looks quite a bit like Aish, without the light eyes, and can actually act. Now at a bit of a loss so will keep watching Vera–on series 5 of 8 so there’s a while to go.

    Blanking on the remakes question. I like how many American and English sci fi films over the last 40 (?) years have been so influenced by Japanese manga and anime–in terms of looks, characters, and plots. Would love for sci fi filmakers to keep exploring that vein, as well as drawing from works by Afro-futurists like Olivia Butler and Nnedi Okorafor.

    Are there Indian sci-fi or speculative fiction writers I should be reading?

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    • I have a soft spot for Ohio, my best friend from college went to OSU for grad school so for about 6 years I regularly took the bus out to Columbus to visit her. It’s a really nice state and Columbus is a really nice town. Also, Jennifer Crusie.

      You mean Radhike Apte? I hadn’t thought about the Aish similarity before, but you are right! She is the new hot young thing in the art film world, kind of like what Kalki Koechlin was a few years back, I wouldn’t be surprised if they could only get a partial commitment from her for this series because she had so many other projects lined up. She’s also in Lust Stories.

      I just saw that Amazon Prime had added a bunch of BBC serieses, so I will have to check those out next time I need something pleasant and background-y. I’m thinking maybe DCI banks. Horrific crimes in black and grey tones with British accents, and a young female detective and an older male detective.

      I don’t know about sci-fi/speculative from India, but then I’m not very good with Indian authors. There is a big popular push now for “reimagining” the Mahabharat and the Ramayan, putting them in ancient tribal cultures with gritty realism as the basis of the myths. I keep thinking I should try out one of those books, and then I don’t.

      On Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 10:08 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Answering the Indian sci-fi question: have you read Manil Suri? He has a trilogy named for the Hindu gods which have nothing in common. Death of Vishnu is a comedy, Age of Shiva is a claustrophobic family novel, and City of Devi is either speculative or sci-fi–not sure where the line is? Something that could potentially happen but hasn’t yet. Highly recommend all of them and it’s remarkable that they are so different in tone and so wonderful.

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    • She does great in an apartment! I am patting myself on the back so much for adopting her from foster where her lifestyle was essentially the same as at my place. Which was really just luck, I didn’t set out to do it, but I think I will still take the credit for it and pretend that was the plan all along. Her foster home was a townhouse with a shared unfenced yard, and her foster people were a young couple who worked all day and left her in a crate for 7 hours. So going from there to my apartment with me being gone 9 hours but leaving her uncrated wasn’t the big of a shift.

      She also gets very nervous about The World, so I think it’s probably good for her to be tucked into a 3rd floor apartment with no people walking by or squirrels or cats or anything else scary around. Once we are home, it is her little castle. And then she can go forth into the world ready to conquer it. Until we get to the corner with the yard with a cat in it, and then she slows down and lets me go first.

      On Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 10:09 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • That’s great! Sounds like you don’t get much foot traffic past your door, which for our rescue dog would send her crazy with territorial fear. Bunny, our pup, acts really brave when out walking, including with other dogs, but will leap three feet to the side and behind us if a bit of trash in the gutter blows in the wind. Lion-hearted she isn’t, but she’s very loveable.

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        • Yeah, I love my building, big old thick walls and separate entrances. There’s only two units per floor, and I’m on the top floor, so it’s just me and Hazel and the nice Polish couple next door. And then our three walks a day are adventures and full of incident and more than enough excitement for a day for both of us.

          On Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 10:37 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I don’t know if I can fully capture it’s beauty. Anyway, I realized I only have 3 books left in the Pratchett series,a nd now I am inspired to finish it so I can read the other one that Procrastinatrix says Shahrukh should star in.

      On Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 11:31 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Mann is soooooo bad and I loved Aamir and Manisha in Akele Hum, Akele Tum (another remake!). But Mann is just treacle and terrible except for the title song.

    I’m having a rough few weeks so I started listening to the Raja Hindustani soundtrack again and when Pardesi Pardesi came on, my son said, “It must be so nice for you to listen to that song and remember how you felt when you first heard it and how much you love Bollywood now.” He’s 11! I love my kid so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am back from my road trip through the northeast (Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine — half were just drive-throughs)! I did a bunch of reading, watching, and thinking, so here comes the list:

    Read: Peace Like River (novel, and quite wonderful), Cloud Atlas (finished!!!), How the Light Gets In and The Long way Home (Louise Penny mysteries, which I love),The Work (nonfiction by Wes Moore), Discovery of Witches (novel).

    Right now I am reading two memoirs: Eddie Izzard’s and Marge Piercy’s. (Now there’s a contrast!)

    Watched: The rest of the new Queer Eye season, Lucky: No Time for Love, Socha Na Tha, Janne Tu…Ya Janne Na?, Chicken Kokkachi, Company. Also Jab Harry Met Sejal for the fifteenth or sixteenth time.

    Thinking: I stayed with a bunch of old friends along the way, none of whom know each other. By the time I reached my destination, I was wishing they could all meet because they would really enjoy each other! I had lots of time to think during the 9 days I was on Star Island, either caning chair seats or doing watercolors. (Photos on Instagram)

    Now I am back home for a while and missing the ocean.

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    • FINALLY! Someone I can talk about Lucky: No Time for Love with!!!!! It’s so much better than you would think it would be. Without ever being an actual good movie. But Salman sings the cholera (cholera?) out of her! And they spend the night in a fabric warehouse! And Lucky Lips!

      And congratulations on finishing Cloud Atlas! I don’t think I have read fiction that challenging since….well, ever! I am a very lazy fiction reader, much more likely to read a Christian romance about a mail order bride and a grizzly bear.

      Also, I am looking at your list of films again, and how the heck did Company sneak in there? It’s all rom-com rom-com rom-com, COMPANY. Is there a story behind this? A particularly hard day of driving and you just wanted to watch people shoot guns?

      On Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 3:13 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I actually watched Company installments, as if it was a TV series. Lucky was truly bizarre and also truly entertaining. The underage Aish look-alike thing was creepy as hell. This film convinced me that I will never find Salman attractive, and if this is as close as he gets to decent acting…I just can’t.

        My secret to getting through Cloud Atlas was the audio book. It was the only way to understand the sections in dialect. I must say, I still don’t get it, and don’t plan to re-read it in order to achieve enlightenment.

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        • Tere Naam is as close as he gets to decent acting. Or Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Or probably loads of other movies I am not thinking of at the moment.

          But Lucky is a pretty good performance and a pretty charming one, and if that didn’t work for you, it’s probably hopeless.

          I think I definitely prefer curvy Katrina over underage Aish in Salman’s breakup casting competition.

          On Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 3:29 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I love the Inspector Gamache series! Also–Marge Piercy has a memoir? Wow! How is it? Do you like her novels? Which ones? Woman on the Edge of Time is one of the few speculative fiction novels which fully imagines how different human societies could be.

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      • So far the memoir is beautiful. I was unaware of her novels until recently, have just started Gone to Soldiers. Her poem “To Be of Use” is my absolute favorite!

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          • For those who are unfamiliar, here it is, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation website:

            To be of use
            BY MARGE PIERCY
            The people I love the best
            jump into work head first
            without dallying in the shallows
            and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
            They seem to become natives of that element,
            the black sleek heads of seals
            bouncing like half-submerged balls.

            I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
            who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
            who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
            who do what has to be done, again and again.

            I want to be with people who submerge
            in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
            and work in a row and pass the bags along,
            who are not parlor generals and field deserters
            but move in a common rhythm
            when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

            The work of the world is common as mud.
            Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
            But the thing worth doing well done
            has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
            Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
            Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
            but you know they were made to be used.
            The pitcher cries for water to carry
            and a person for work that is real.

            The last two lines inspired just about everything I did as a teacher.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Thinking: 1. I got new shoes for summer! 2. Dear God, it’s the end of the semester, how am I going to get it all done?

    Reading: book on servants in Virginia Woolf’s life and service in general in early 20th C England, which kind of colored my response to Lust Stories

    Watching: I posted briefly about Lust Stories on that post, then I thought I would have a think and post something deeper. And then I didn’t have time, so I’m still not really articulate about it. Bhumi’s was definitely my favorite, and she was wonderful in an almost silent performance. (And how great to put it right after Radhika’s talky one!). She’s so natural squatting on the floor and getting on with things. Bhumi’s story leaves you with questions: Is her relationship (“arrangement” is probably a better word) going to continue, with her getting only the leftovers instead of a home and family? Like a ripped dress or a tupperware of sweets? Was it, as much as it could have been, consensual at first? Or did she just come to be OK because she had no choice? Radhika was also great, but maybe my other favorite was Manisha. She is really good at, I don’t know how to put this but, ordinary women doing ordinary things. Of course she’s been in a bunch of huge sweeping love stories, but I like her in stuff like this. Another performance of hers I really liked, and I think I am alone in this, is Ek Choti Si Love Story. For the majority of that movie she is a regular person who is being spied on by a young boy. I believe she gained weight for the role, and she has this huge frizzy hair, and she’s just going about her day as a record store employee with a big unfashionable purse. You feel like you are spying on her too. I thought it was just great until the last 15 minutes which are a bit WTF. Anyway, she’s doing that here, too. Great performances from all three actors. I guess Karan’s was supposed to be the comic relief after that, but they stole the big joke from The Ugly Truth. Was Kiara Advani having an orgasm while Lata sings Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham supposed to remind us of Karan’s range as a director or something? I didn’t hate it, but didn’t like it as well as the others. I guess you could sort of look at these from the perspective of who has the power in the relationship, and how that plays out with the actual power in real life. Radhika has more power in real life, but less in the relationship. Bhumi has no power anywhere. Manisha has less power in her marriage (she doesn’t work or has a less prestigious job than her husband, can’t remember), but seems to have more power in both relationships (they both at one point cry in her arms, and she never loses her composure). And Kiara, I don’t know. She’s not getting what she wants from her marriage. But then her husband is fogged with lust and doesn’t have much power either. Maybe they both have less power than the family, or maybe Kiara’s orgasm takes back the power.

    OK, that was a novel, sorry. For your question: if we’re looking at remakes between languages, then original Hindi Devdas was based on a Bengali Debdas, and Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam is based on Shaheb Bibi Golam. I haven’t seen any of the originals, but I think the remakes deserve to exist. The only other one I can think of is Manorama Six Feet Under. Not as classic as Chinatown, but a fantastic film that I’m glad someone made.

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    • Yaaaay, Lust Stories thoughts!

      I really like your “power” idea of it. In my mind, Bhumi maybe even took the initiative in the arrangement, made the first move, and then lived with the reality that this was the expectation from then on. She doesn’t seem embarrassed or unhappy with the situation, so I could believe this might have even been what she wanted. Still in a general situation of oppression, unable to see that even her desires were limited by society, but maybe thinking a guy who can give her satisfaction and what make any additional demands on her or affect the rest of her life is just what she wants. But it could just as easily be the other way around, he initiated it and she went along with it and is now living with the reality of the situation.

      Definitely agree about Manisha taking the power in personal relationships in the Dibaker one. And we can see how she maneuvers for it, when Sanjay calls and Manisha begins to feel powerless, like the two men are talking over her, she invites Sanjay over, knowing it will throw off both men and put her in charge again. She does that over and over again, whenever the men start to feel secure, she blows it all up again. The question being, can we understand why she does this and forgive it? Seeing how the men tend to dismiss her? Or is she just doing it to be cruel?

      I think in Kiara’s story, the family has the power, and after that Vicky. He seems in love and in lust and devoted to her, but that is just on the surface, in reality she doesn’t even have the right to express her own desires. A statement on the usual argument of “The woman is in control because the man would do anything for her”, the problem being that the woman is only allowed to ask for certain things.

      On Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 12:39 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yeah, makes sense. Interesting that Karan’s is the only one that doesn’t start with the couple together, before revealing that they have another unexpected relationship besides the sexual one. It’s like the man and woman arena central in their own story.

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        • Karan’s is also the only one that focuses on unsatisfying sex, a story where lust doesn’t work. Which is interesting, the other stories show lust as the only thing that does work in their relationship, and Karan flips that, shows a generally good relationship (nice people, married, nothing scandalous or difficult) where lust fails.

          On Fri, Jul 20, 2018 at 4:36 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Raazi has been released on the Internet today , so it is my next goal
    I am currently reading a book that bought by the Netflix network to turn it into a series, but it is difficult for me to talk about it now,
    I finished a wonderful novel “Sorour” it’s about the famous poet, author, actor and Theater directors in Egypt Naguib Sorour “

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    • I’ll have to see if my Raazi review views increase! I have these random spikes often and then find out later it was because the film was just released online or broadcast on TV or something.

      On Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 5:30 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I’m not sure if it is a specific reference or just a general combination of several famous Helen outfits.

      This:

      This:

      This:

      On Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 9:27 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Excellent point! First, FARHAN! Write Don 3!!!

      And second, Don is a fascinating remake. Because the central concept is so simple, the “good” man who replaces the “bad” man and then is mistaken for him even by the other “good” people, the love interest that is also under cover as “bad” and the partner who used to be “bad” but now just wants to be “good”. And then on top of that central idea, you can make so many variations depending on the era of film you are in, the changes in the world, and even your own personal style. The original had a simple idea of right and wrong, good guy and bad guy, with a message of overall doing good for society, as was appropriate for the 1970s. And then the remake took that and globalized it and put in shades of grey and all sorts of new things. I’d love to see another version made today by someone like Vikrant Motwane.

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  6. Reading: A trilogy of satirical novels by Kevin: Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems.

    Thinking: I need to clear out a flower bed that has grown over but the ticks are really bad this year.

    Watching: Pad Man, Raazi, and 102 Not Out. Enjoyed all three with their different types of films, different types of stories, and different types of actors and actresses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Crazy Rich Asians has been in the news lately, I think maybe Netflix is doing a series of it? Or something? Which is exciting because we get to have an Asian cast show! If the books are good too, that’s a bonus for me 🙂

      Don’t risk ticks! Lime Disease! Or is that something else? Anyway, some kind of disease, not worth it.

      Really interesting collection of films! Which also makes me think about what an interesting varied year it has been for films. And all of them high quality. And successful. Of those 3, only Padman really didn’t do well in theaters.

      On Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 2:18 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. Watching: Watched Love per Square foot and Sanju. Vicky Kaushal is the bomb, what a natural actor!! I honestly felt Ranbir and he were feeding off of each other in the movie. About Sanju – very disappointed that they chose to skip huge portions of his life and make him seem like a victim of circumstances. They didn’t even acknowledge Trishala!! Also came off having huge respect for Arjun Kapoor cos hello same situation!

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    • That’s always the case with drug addicts, right? There is some big story of the tragedy that turned them to drugs, and then you think about it and realize there are 5 other people with the exact same story who were fine. Heck, Arjun’s story is even more tragic with the divorce and all that. And if you are talking about a distant father with a lot to live up to, there’s also Abhishek, struggled through his early failures and the shadow of his father, didn’t turn into a suicidal drug addict. Which isn’t to say I blame Sanjay or am angry at him, more just that this is why I think it MUST have been a genetic predisposition, not just circumstances.

      oh, and I’ve only seen 3 movies with Vicky Kaushal and now you are making me think, and you are so right! He is a really generous screen partner. Alia looked mature and complex and interesting with him in Raazi, Kiara Advani was delightful and strong in Lust Stories, and everyone who acted with him seemed better in Sanju, Paresh Rawal to Anushka. In contrast, I don’t think Ranbir is a very generous partner. Or not consistantly generous? Love him with Dips in YJHD and Konkona in Wake Up Sid, but hate him with Dips in Tamasha and Katrina in Jagga Jasoos.

      On Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 5:48 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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