Monday Morning Question: What Do You Want to Ask Me The First Week of February?

Happy Monday! I had a weird weekend, out way too long on Saturday, and then home way too much on Sunday, kind of forgot how to interact with humans.

As always, you can ask me anything from the personal (“what were you doing on Saturday?”) to the specific and factual (“are there any Indian holidays in February?”) to the general discussion-y (“which is more disorienting, spending a day driving from place to place in a car but not interacting with people beyond buying things, or staying home alone all day?”)

Now, question for you!

Next week is Valentine’s, yaaaaaay! I want to do a full week of romance films. What are your suggestions? (Can be reruns of films I already reviewed, or ones I haven’t yet.)

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50 thoughts on “Monday Morning Question: What Do You Want to Ask Me The First Week of February?

  1. Question: Been to India? I’m guessing yes. Impressions? I was politely asked to leave the Peace Corps bound contingent to Nepal (Kathmamdu) a hundred years ago when I found I was pregnant. I romanticize about India but have a feeling I might be disappointed (the heat, crowding, poverty). I certainly wouldn’t want to go the tourist resort route and never step outside Holiday Inn Mumbai, or someplace like that. What would be the point? So I’m torn between the adventure of a lifetime and Delhi belly.
    And to keep on with romance, how about a survey of romance remakes from Shashi to Sharukh and beyond? Tall order because there must be quite a few.

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    • Yep, I’ve been to India twice. The first time was to visit my sister when she was doing an internship in Pune, so I flew into Bombay and we had a weekend there, and then I spent another week or so with her in Pune. The second time my whole family went (me, my sister, my parents) and stayed with family friends in Navi Mumbai, a far out suburb of Bombay. So both of them were more the experience of middle class people living in India, than tourists. A lot of watching TV, walking to the nearby grocery store, visiting the mall, and seeing movies in multiplexes. But even the kind of suburban light version of India is way way different from anywhere else.

      India is hard. The heat, the food, the everything. The pure weight of the culture shock is enough to exhaust you immediately and you are always running at kind of half speed as you try to process it. At least, that’s how it was for me. I’m not someone who travels easily, my body and mind have a hard time adjusting to differences. Not like I am prejudiced or anything, just there is a constant mental drain of remembering “oh right, I have to do it differently here” which is hard for me. And India is really tough, everything is different. The first time I went, when we had the weekend in Bombay, our parents gave us the money to stay at the Taj the first couple of nights, and let me tell you, a luxury hotel might be the way to go. Having a place to return to where we could drink water from the tap and use a European style toilet and everyone spoke fluent English made the culture shock so much easier, a lot more comfortable traveling around the city all day if we had a little bit of the West to return to at night.

      The key is to not plan to much. Think about what you would do on a normal trip, and cut it in half. Even my friend who travels the best, and did a full 4 month study abroad in India, did that and it made the difference. Something like going to a museum and then out to lunch is enough to wear you down because of all the little challenges along the way. It also makes a big big difference if you are part of a planned group. Whether that is a tour company, or a service trip with a group of volunteers, if there is someone who figures out already the place to stay and the food to eat and all that other stuff, it’s a lot easier to just relax and enjoy. On my trips, it was a combination of the hosts helping, and us figuring it out ourselves, and little things like figuring out how to buy a train ticket are far far harder than you would think.

      As to how much the country is like the films, it depends on the film. And the place. The fancier malls I went to were identical to the malls you would see in a movie, same for the multiplexes. We got lost in Bombay a couple times and ended up wandering through back alleys that looked just like what was in the “Mere Gully Main” video. Walking around the fancier areas of Bombay is a kick because you are constantly seeing landmarks from movies. And the middle-class guest house and apartments we stayed in were a lot like what you would see in Badhai Ho, for instance. The biggest difference was in public street spaces. The movies from the 70s and into the 90s, you can tell they just filmed on the streets, there’s all kinds of people just standing around. But now they are more likely to have cleared the streets, you always see the hero and heroine just kind of standing by themselves in emptiness. Or a car driving alone down the road. In reality, the streets are so crowded and busy with all kinds of people. That was the thing that felt must unlike the movies too me. Oh, and also the way women dress. I never saw a single woman wearing anything close to the kind of clothes they were in movies, jeans and salwars were about the most revealing I saw.

      On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 7:49 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Yeah, a nice hotel is really necessary. You can handle a lot more during the day if you are able to sleep in a bed that feels “normal” and have a “normal” shower and all the rest of it. It doesn’t have to be the Taj, I think any hotel that caters to westerners would be fine. And thanks to the exchange rate, it’s about the same cost per night as staying in a hotel in America.

          My friend did air b and b and had a wonderful experience with that too, she stayed with really fancy people in fancy houses so it was all western style, plus she had people to cook and fuss over her at night (it was an auntie whose kids had grown up and moved to America, they put her on air b n b so she would have something to keep her busy and someone to cook for. They DEFINITELY did not need the money). I wouldn’t be able to handle it myself though, I need my alone time at the end of the day, especially while traveling. If you are traveling totally alone, especially as a woman, I might even suggest doing some kind of tour, just for safety reasons. And the “I am exhausted from just trying to figure out how to give an address to a cab driver” reasons. My dream, if I had the money and time, would be doing a trip to Bombay and finding my own hotel and stuff, but then patchworking together day tours so I didn’t have to think about things. A day long bus tour of museums, another of celebrity homes, like that. I don’t want a tour group to dictate my entire schedule, but I’d love to have one that just figured out my days for me, and maybe gave me one day off to just do what I wanted.

          On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 10:00 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yep, that’s the best. For one thing, I have nightmares of doing the same tour every day for two weeks and realizing I hate all my fellow tour people. A different tour company every day, you don’t have to worry about being stuck with lame-Os the whole time!

            It’s also pretty easy to do a day where the hotel finds you a driver and you set up your own itinerary. I’ve known people who do that, and you can just tell the driver “take me to a good book store, a mall, a movie theater, and a nice restaurant” and he figures it out. You can do that to fill in the gaps in what a tour may not cover and still not worry about figuring out maps and learning Hindi and things. And its about the same cost as a day with a tour company.

            And then of course you fall in love with your driver and he sings Pardesi Pardesi too you and you never go home again.

            On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 11:09 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That is easily possible in Mumbai…You can contact people you already know or your bank and they put you in contact with a private guide. With the guide you can make a program. The cousin of an employee in my Western Union bank would have guided me even outside of Mumbai with his climatised car.
            I didn’t do it, because I absolutely wanted to discover Mumbai only by walking and taking the public transport (bus, train, no taxi, only sometimes a rikshaw). I asked a lot (at a stop, a station, in the street) and always got gentle help. I never (yes, never) felt fear (I was on my own, strolling the town always with a rather small knapsack)…I even did not pay the elevated tourist prices for food, chai or other beverage on the street because I told them no and either I got help from someone or they lowered the price (the shoplike stalls or little restaurants have the prices posted).
            I also learned to trust the water from the chrome-steel tanks sold on the street…very fresh. And in my hotel room I cooked the normal water in a small water-cooker and bought juice and made my own drinks, mostly ate and drank on the way (Indian breakfast at the hotel).
            Absolutely yes for a hotel with western comfort, one really needs a place to digest the vibrant energy of Mumbai and get some rest. Best also with a fridge to store some food and beveredge.
            I lived 10 weeks in Mumbai, really lived there, even tried to look for an appartement. I concentrated on Bandra and got recognized by people on the street, at stalls and in shops even a year later. I walked all sorts of streets and also through chawls and slums and got kind help if I got lost. …I was a lot with kids but I very seldom gave them money, instead I bought them food they wanted or ice-cream or sweets which we went to buy together (they regularly scolded vendors who didn’t know me yet and I only had to pay the regular price, which is ridicilously low (so I gave a bit more nevertheless). I think it isn’t a good idea to give money to the kids because either they have to deliver it or they take it to buy booze or something to sniff or to smoke. So, I told them that ‘paise nahin leken khanna’ and then we went to a stall or a street vendour (well, that was maybe more money than to give them some coins because asked by one or two kids for money, I would quickly feed six and more 😀 ) Then the kids joined me just for being with me, playing, drawing, writing, singing, dancing, talking, laughing, enjoying my and each other’s company 🙂 eating from my food and drinking my juice. (I wrote about this stay in my book about ShahRukh and his fans).

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          • Oh, this reminds me of the other thing! Both times I was in India, the whole trip (including flight time) was slightly less than two weeks. Which is really not enough time to get acclimated, like physically acclimated. I finally got over my jet lag and heat sickness and so on after about 7 days, and then I had to go home two days later. I could still do things during those 7 days, but I felt mildly sick the whole time. I have no idea what a trip to India would be like if I was able to get past that first 7 day window and be in full physical health.

            On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 12:12 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I think “climatized” is actually a better description. What I noticed when I was in air conditioned cars was not the coolness, but the protection from air pollution. I loved riding in rickshaws, but I would start feeling headachey and strange after about half an hour, and I think it was just inhaling the exhaust fumes.

            On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 12:16 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Hasee Toh Phasee, please! And I don’t think you’ve done reviews of Chori Chori (with Ajay/Rani) or Chameli Ki Shadi (with Anil/Amrita). Just watched the latter and loved it. Now I realize why people think that Sara is just like her mom! And I actually liked Anil in a romantic role!

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    • Yes yes! This is what I wanted! I haven’t even watched any of those movies, but feels like Valentine’s Week will give me an excuse to throw out the regular schedule and do All Romance.

      What else is there that I can rerun or review for the first time? I also thought of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. And I’m already rerunning Jab We Met. What else is there in the kind of New Canon for rom-coms?

      On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 8:37 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • A rerun of YJHD works…it’s definitely a newer canon rom-com. I also think Befikre is underrated and deserves to have a second glance. Maybe Barielly Ki Barfi.

        For non- Hindi films, maybe Pelli Choopulu with Vijay D. or Charlie with DQ (an unusual romance). Or OK Kanmani as a modern romance classic.

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        • Oh oh! 96! I can finally watch it, everyone says it is the best Tamil romance of last year. And I can rerun OK Kanmani and Fidaa.

          This will be a fun week for you 🙂 And for anyone else who is looking for rom-com recommendations.

          On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 9:35 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Oh oh oh please do review all three of these movies!!! Also, maybe some Shashi/Amitabh movies. Personally, I think their bromance rivals any romance: Do Aur Do Panch, Shaan, Suhaag, Trishul, and Namak Halal.

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        • Suhaag and Trishul I have seen and love. I think Shashi’s character in Trishul is the best of his “I am the generous mentally healthy hero opposite Amitabh’s tormented suffering hero” roles. And Suhaag is the most gloriously cheesy option.

          On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 9:48 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Also wanted to mention that in one of her interviews, Sara was asked what film of her mom’s would she want to remake and she said Chameli Ki Shadi…so that’s why I watched it. It’s a quick watch (only 2 hours) and it has one of the most laugh-out-loud songs I’ve ever seen. And “Gabbar Singh” is the uncle-matchmaker guy which is pretty cool. I could totally see Sara in this role opposite Arjun Kapoor with Pankaj Tripathi as in the Amjad Khan role. It was a charming little romance that was clearly low budget even for that period and could totally be updated.

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        • I love charming little romances! They are so much more fun that the big ones. Definitely going on my list.

          On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 10:03 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Thanks for the comprehensive reply. Very thought provoking. Like you, I’m not a good traveler but I’ve had a rough few years what with my husband’s stroke, selling my lovely big house on 3 acres in the country and moving to a teeny one with half a back yard near the city, that my kids want to send me on a vacation this summer. They know how much I love Indian films so they suggested India. Based on what you wrote, I might have a Best Ever Marigold Hotel experience…or not. Thinking about it.

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    • Yeah, browse around, there are loads of options. I would just recommend steering away from “I’ll just get there and explore” as a travel plan. That is always my travel plan when I travel within the US, I love finding things last minute and going on adventures and all that. But I learned on my first trip that India travel really works best if you have a plan in place so you don’t have to think about things once you get there.

      On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 10:10 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Although, as I warned Alisa, that always runs the risk that you will fall in love with the driver and never leave. As seen in Guide, Jab Harry Met Sejal, Raja Hindustani, etc. etc.

        On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 11:34 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Can you maybe do a review of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa? Not full on fun romance knowing the ending, but its still innocent and relatable and the songs are great. Also just a reason to watch young Shahrukh! I just want to read you thoughts on it.

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    • I love Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa! If I don’t review it for Valentine’s week, I might for another week. Just because it is such an interesting film.

      On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 11:53 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I know! And all the main characters are so relatable and so different because the love story is so different. And whenever you decide to review it is up to you. 🙂 thank you for taking it up for consideration

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  5. Putting in a vote for YJHD, and Qarib Qarib Singlle. I’d love a Valentine’s day fanvid playlist too! Maybe actors/actresses and corresponding flavors in a chocolate assortment! Shah Rukh=chocolate covered espresso bean, of course!

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    • I forgot about Qarib Qarib Singlle! Another one of those low budget, low ambitions, super pleasant rom-coms.

      On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 12:01 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. Gorgeous suggestions 🙂 Hopefully I still will have time to enjoy all those Margret-gifts 🙂

    Just a question (although it doesn’t fit in the Rom-Com theme): Did you ever made a review of VeerZaara or ZemanaDeewana or Duplicate…I didn’t find one with the ‘search’ . (it’s nothing urgent…could even be for his birthday month – or week – this year 😉 )

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        • Thanks for the links! For Ranveer, I feel like he is a case study on smart star persona building. He took what he already was (liked to where outrageous clothes, super energetic, very outgoing) and built on that to built a following and get noticed in the Industry. That’s how you do it, start from an honest place and just heighten it slightly. If you try to make it up from scratch, you will never be able to keep it up. And if you stay completely real, you will never get noticed.

          For Kangana, she has such a strange relationship with Pinkvilla!!!! I don’t know of any other star that uses them as their go to place for these kinds of interviews. I would expect to see it on rediff, Bollywoodhungama, Times of India, NDTV, something like that. Going to Pinkvilla is just strange and she does it over and over again. That alone makes me doubt her, since Pinkvilla is more the gossip place than the serious reporting place.

          I won’t be able to watch the full interview until tonight, but one thing I noticed was the comments. Even on Pinkvilla, she is getting detractors now. And reasonable detractors, ones who say “I love her as an actress, she has done great things, but how can she badmouth the industry and then expect them to stand by her?”

          Which was also my reaction to her way back with her KWK appearance. She was terribly terribly insulting to Karan Johar, in a public forum with the cameras running, and then made a big fuss when he said something about her in a semi-public forum with no cameras. Why would she be surprised when he hit back?

          On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 1:06 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. My first thought when I read your question was 96, but didn’t want to mention it because I know I’m boring but please, please watch it. Other romances you can review or re-run
    Phillauri
    Ennu Ninte Moideen
    Sanam Teri Kasam
    I realized only sad movies come to my mind so I will add Prem Aggan to the list 🙂

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    • You do only like sad movies! I considered and rejected Ennu Ninte Moideen, because it is TOO SAD.

      On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 2:18 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • You’re right. It’s all romance but definitely not something to cheer you up. But I added Prem Aggan, and it’s not sad at all. It’s silly and ridiculous and fun.
        I would love to read your review of Hasee-toh-phasee (not sad), and maybe Kuch Kuch hota Hai (have you reviewed it? ). There is this kannada movie I really like Mr & Mrs Ramachari (not sad, masala and fun; I’m sure you would like it)

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  8. I made an account on Letterboxd and slowly try to add all the movies I’ve seen, but it’s hard because I hadn’t listed the movies I watched before 2016. And I wonder do you have a list of all the movies you watched?

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    • I don’t even have a list of all the movies I own!!!

      The best I can do for estimate is total it out per week. 3 years in college, I averaged 3 a week. Then I slowed down for about 3 years after, went down to 2 a month. Then back up to 2 a week for another 5 years. And since I’ve been blogging, I’m back to 2 or 3 a week. There’s a lot of repeats in there, and I skipped some weeks and stuff, but figure around a thousand movies in total over the past 14 years. A thousand sounds like a lot, but it’s really just a little over one a week on average, for 14 years.

      That seems about right, the last time I estimated what I owned alone, I came up with around 350. And I feel like I’ve ended up buying about a third of the movies I see.

      I remember every movie I’ve seen, both the title and all the little details of it, if someone mentions it. But I couldn’t go the other way, sit down and try to draw up a list of all of them cold.

      Of course, that doesn’t even come close to the movies I should have watched. I talk to you with all your southern film experiments, or Miss Braganza with her Bengali movies, and realize there is just SO MUCH I still haven’t seen.

      And of course that is just Indian films, there’s also the whole (much smaller) category of American films.

      On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 3:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • We started watching indian movies almost at the same time, but I have seen much fewer films. I wish I had a good memory like yours. I hardly remember movies I had seen before 2010. Of course it’s easy with the most important like Karan Arjun, K3G etc, but there are many I have problem with e.g Vaada Raha (Kangana, Bobby) I’m not sure if I saw it. I remember something, but maybe I’ve seen only the trailer? The same with Murder – I think I watched it, because I loved Zeher, but I don’t remember a thing.

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        • Well, around the time you got married and had a kid, I was going back to school for film and speeding my watching up again. So I think that accounts for the gap 🙂

          I haven’t seen Zeher, or Murder, or Vaade Rahe (although I have seen MOST of Murder and Zeher, just not straight through). I’ve seen the old Vaade Rahe though, with Rishi and Poonam Dhillon. One of those movies that if someone said “quick, list off every Rishi Kapoor movie you have seen!” I would never be able to remember, but if you say the title, I go “Oh yeah, that one” and the whole plot bursts into my head.

          On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 4:35 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. I know it isn’t Monday but I’ve got a question for you. It came from something I saw on Quora, where someone asked about Shah Rukh wearing see through shirts onscreen. I remembered that you’ve talked about it, and what it means but I can’t remember or find where on the blog that was, or whether it was specific to Shah Rukh or the movies in general. Can you refresh my (pathetic) memory?

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    • Oh dear, I’m not sure if I can remember either!

      I think the big reason for the see through shirts is just that the see through look was popular in the late 90s/early 2000s. I did have a thing in my book or somewhere about polka dots, related to the 70s/Bobby sexiness.

      For Shahrukh in particular, I think he might have gone through a period of not being as comfortable with his torso as he could be and opted for the see through shirts as a way to be sexy but not terribly revealing. He seems to have left them behind since he got serious about the gym body. What do you think?

      On Wed, Feb 6, 2019 at 10:32 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  10. The polka dots come back to me now that you mention it. If I remember right, they signify sex. It wasn’t the see through shirts that did. It was just a thing I guess. And it clearly isn’t popular any more. Now I guess more heroes just take off their shirts!!!

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    • I think for me, Shirtless > Shirt > See Through Shirt. See through is really the worst of all the options. Thank goodness we have left it behind.

      On Fri, Feb 8, 2019 at 11:48 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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