Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Watching and Reading and Thinking and Listening To the Week I Travel to NYC?

Happy Wednesday! It is super super snowy here, and chilly, and I miss the random sunshine we had this weekend. Anyway, I will distract myself by writing this post.

I’ll start!

Watching: I have now binged all through Single Parents, it really is good! And I also watched the latest Schitt’s Creek and it was SAD! You know, in a happy Canadian way. Also, I finished Shaan and Shakti, now on to Saagar!

Reading: I am, tragically, almost done with Pineapple Port books. But I downloaded a bunch of Agatha Christies for my trip, because they are the classic travel book. Is there some other fun light series out there you can suggest to me? You know, the kind you can read over the course of one 4 hour plane ride?

Thinking: My parents aren’t free this weekend, so Albie Dog has to go to a petsitter. As always, my main concern is that he will have so much fun he won’t want to come home. This time he is going to stay with a family with three little girls, and a yard. But, you know, I let him sleep on the couch? It’s just as good I’m sure.

Listening: Snowing, means it’s time for Pritam!

Now, question for you!

First swing by HERE to give me ideas for films to review for Bad Girls Month.

Second, related question, what topics would you like me to cover for Bad Girls Month? What biographies, what general topics, what ethical issues?

53 thoughts on “Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Watching and Reading and Thinking and Listening To the Week I Travel to NYC?

  1. So, I’ve recently gotten into watching Turkish drama series. Someone made a male actors compilation video on Twitter, it had actors from Turkish dramas along with Shahrukh, Shashi, Fawad, so I figured he/she has good taste! Based on a sample size of 3, the series are mostly romantic dramas/comedies (30 to 60 episodes, each episode 1.5 to 2 hours) with strong, independent working class women with bigger professional ambitions meeting rich, handsome men under dramatic circumstances and their journey towards love. What struck me at first glance was how westernized everything looked. Being ignorant, I’d assumed Turkey to be quite conservative and expected something along the lines of Pakistani dramas. Well, turns out they’re pretty liberal, compared to Indian movies and certainly Indian TV! At the same time, the relationships with family, friends and neighbors are similar to the Indian milieu. So you have women wearing hotpants, short dresses, kissing their love interests (shown explicitly), some of them having (implied) sex but living at home with parents like a desi setup. The girl’s closest friends are the neighborhood pals she grew up with, there’s a nosy neighborhood aunty, etc. Her household is usually warm and loving where once the girl falls in love, shares it with family, friends or they tease it out of her. The hero lives alone in a swanky mansion where the romantic trysts occur. Romances also develop between the hero and heroine’s friends/ coworkers.
    I’m enjoying these so far, the men are gorgeous and take off their shirts quite a lot! I’m especially intrigued by the mix of desi and western sensibilities which I haven’t seen before and wonder how reflective it is of actual Turkish society.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Polish tv is full of those turkish series. It started with Muhteşem Yüzyıl (The Magnificent Century) – a costume drama about the life of Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Hurrem. People were crazy about this series, and almost everybody watched it so I guess it must be good. It was so popular that later every tv channel started buying turkish series.

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      • The youtube channel Turkish Dizi and website kinemania have quite a few with english subtitles (not the best but passable). Youtube quality is great but has some random eps and series blocked, depending on country I guess.
        I started with Erkenci Kus (Early Bird) coz I saw its clip in the twitter video. It started with an interesting premise – the heroine can’t forget a kiss she shared with a stranger in the dark (the hero, also her new boss) and tries to find him. I watched a few episodes, then stopped because I couldn’t stand her childish and immature behavior. That’s one of the issues with these dramas, to stretch them out over 70 episodes where each ep is like a mini-movie, the writers have to keep creating conflicts and it usually falls on the heroine. I wanted to check out more of the lead actor’s (Can Yaman) stuff, coz he’s dishy!
        I would recommend the next one I watched, Dolunay (Full Moon) – shorter series, same hero, better heroine, and the most adorable child actor I’ve ever seen (who’s a catalyst for a lot of the story)! The heroine goes to culinary school, dreams of opening her own restaurant, takes Japanese lessons, lives with her best friend and her brat of a sister who’s mistakes she has to pay for. She finds a job as the hero’s chef, circumstances lead him to think she’s trying to land him as a rich husband, insults her by asking to have sex, she quits her job in anger. All this happens in the 1st ep! Anyway lots of things happen forcing them to come together. The secondary characters are good and have their journeys too.
        Now I’m watching Kiralik Ask (Love for Rent). The heroine, desperate for money to save her brother from loan sharks, accepts the hero’s aunt’s offer to make him fall in love with and marry her. You can guess what happens next!

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        • These are all the best plots! Why can’t Hindi film make stories like this any more?

          On Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 2:18 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I know, right? I’d watch the hell out of them and such meaty roles for women too! I’ve no hope from Hindi films, but someone could make webseries like these. I won’t dare say Indian TV, it’s all regressive crap, they’ll water down all the fun parts.
            You can watch them Margaret, then have fun casting Indian counterparts!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Prime is a bust, because none of the films I wanted to watch had subtitles. So I’m probably getting rid of that again.

    Anyway, I watched that Netflix ballet movie, it was fine. Too few female characters though, and the adult characters were not fleshed out enough. Why get people of the caliber of Julian Sands and Jim Sarbh and give them such shallow characters?

    I also watched Notebook which was an objectively good movie though not really what I usually go for, nor especially my taste.

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  3. Watching: I binged AJ & the Queen, and watched Shaan (such fun!). And right now I am watching Aisha, as a warm up to the new version of Emma. So nice to see Fatima from Dear Zindagi in another gal pal role! I really like her.

    Reading: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. So far, I am enjoying it, though it is very sad in many parts. My book club is reading it, and I won’t be here for the discussion, but still wanted to read it, because I am trying to read more fiction.

    Thinking: We move in three weeks! Or, we GET moved, since we leave for two weeks in California on the 18th and the movers come while we are away. When we get back, we just go right to our new place! And our house is now officially on the market, so we have to keep everything super neat and clean. So stressful! Last night I dreamt we were showing the house and the ceiling collapsed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yaaaaaaay, Shaan! And I’m embarrassed to admit I still haven’t seen Aisha. I really should watch it, and compare it with Clueless, the Gwyneth version, and the new one.

      Moving isn’t stressful, it’s exciting and wonderful! At least, that’s what I tell myself. Happy happy! All good! Although having your house on the market sounds terrible, I never want to do that.

      On Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 6:43 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Watched SOTY 1 and I had a thought about Varun: he’s a Matt Damon. Likeable everyman, good in the right role, good physical performances, not much range. Really, I could imagine Varun in almost any Matt Damon role – Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan, We Bought a Zoo. Maybe not Jason Bourne, not sure I would believe Varun as a bad guy. But he’s my new candidate to own the action/comedy track, the popular Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis type roles. Pair him with Tiger as his straight man in an odd couple cop or army story, they’d make a great buddy pair. Or with Hrithik in War 2. Both have heart and no aversion to male on male displays of affection.

    Other SOTY thoughts: I finally get your Sid M thing and why you said he seemed like the breakout star. And it’s kind of amazing how Karan built the perfect roles to showcase for Sid and Varun and how badly he misunderstood Alia.

    Questions for bad girl month:
    – What defines badness, transgressive behavior? Do the films need to explain it always? How (crazy, damaged, corrupted by foreign influence)? Do they all have to be reformed or punished?
    – What are the bad girl signals? Hair style, lipstick, clothes, stance, dance moves? Do they stay the same or do one generation’s bad girl signals turn into the next generation’s cool and modern?
    – Are there genres that are better for bad girls? Crime because cop and criminal roles both break out of gender stereotypes? Romance because power inversion?
    – At what stage of their careers are actresses offered/do they take bad girl roles?

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    • With Varun, have you seen Dishoom? It’s the exact light comic action film you are picturing, and you are right, he was great in it!

      So true about Alia! I found her completely forgettable except for the couple of scenes with her mother. Which I thought was because her mother was bringing out a better performance, but turns out it’s because Alia is just way better at serious moments than comedy.

      Love all your bad girl questions! I’m going to put a pin in this comment and swing back to it when I need ideas.

      On Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 9:13 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Varun is great in Badlapur, in which he is a genuinely bad person.

        Building on the bad girl ideas: is there a sweet spot where the girl is bad enough to be really bad but good enough to be a sympathetic character? I’m thinking Vidya in Dirty Picture is pretty close.

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        • What I’m thinking, just as a general definition to pick my movies, is that I want heroines who legitimately are born “bad”. That is, born not being able to fit in the very very narrow Indian social definition of “good girl”.

          So, Kriti in Bareilly Ki Barfi because she likes wearing pants and smoking and is incapable of not speaking her mind. And also Vidya in Dirty Picture because of her sexual nature. Most of time we sympathize with them because we understand that they want to be loved and accepted and can’t help who they are.

          And then there’s those other bad girls who are just the villains and choose to be bad, beyond their nature (Ramya in Padayappa, born confident and different and bold, but then chose to nurture her anger and plan vengeance). And the good girls forced by circumstances to be bad (Rani in Laage Chunari Main Daag).

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        • Yum, Dishoom looks like straight up eye candy. Dishoom looks like one I would watch with my kids. Badlapur looks like one I would watch with my husband.

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          • Dishoom is indeed straight up eye candy!

            On Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 7:33 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Home from New Zealand, all too soon, and back to real life, which right now is being spent hoping the corona virus doesn’t wreak too much havoc on the school year.

    I watched Zero on the plane, and it wasn’t for me. She should have gone with Maddy.(Someday when you have like a year free you’ll have to come up with the great DCIB master list of people in Hindi films that the hero/heroine should have ended up with). A person with a disability literally takes the job of a chimpanzee.

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  6. I watched Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas yesterday and I loved it because it’s 100% Angie movie. I had this feeling since I saw the trailer months ago, that I will like it, and I was right. It has everything I search in a movie: feelings, beautiful visualls, nice music, pretty clothes and drama.
    Karan Deol can’t act to save his life, and has one facial expression but still he is not annoying like e.g Aayush Sharma. Watching Karan is more like watching your son or nephew doing school play. You know he is not the best but cheer anyway. Maybe also because the female lead Sahher Bambba is great. She is beautiful, and very good. With other actress the heroine could be annoying, but she managed to make her funny and good at heart. I hope she will get some other role soon because she deserves it.

    I also saw telugu melodrama Iddari Lokam Okate. It could be good, because there is so much drama and many cute ideas. Unfortunately there wasn’t any chemistry between the leads. And it’s not that the chemistry wasn’t good, there is zero chemistry and it’s unacceptable in this kind of movie.

    Listening: Can’t stop listening to Pal Pal dil Ke Paas title track:

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    • I’m shocked, I was sure the PPDKP song would be a remix of the original song from the Dharmendra/Raakhee movie. But no! It’s a whole original thing! Good on them. By the way, the original movie (Blackmail) might also be an Angie film if you are in a 70s mood. The hero is a sweet scientist Dharmendra who is too shy to talk to the girl he loves, so he writes her letters.

      On Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 8:48 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. Watching

    The Photograph. Imagine if Love Aaj Kaal 2020 were an art film set in the American AfAm society, with the past couple in the Louisiana bayou & the current couple in Manhattan, set to an incredible soothing soundtrack and background score of jazz, smooth-jazz, and soft r&b, instead of sufi music. While it didn’t feel like a Bollywood film at all, the essential storyline & themes are so similar that you could easily see it working as an Indian film. But unlike many commercial Indian films, the “incredible coincidence plot twist climax reveal” is telegraphed in the first ten minutes of the film. This allows you to focus on the emotional journeys of the characters, the whys and the hows, instead of the plot, instead of the whats and whens.

    Parasite – I’ve never seen a fiction movie that is so starkly about nothing else except class differences and inter-class warfare. Usually these themes are presented with some window dressing, like set in space among alien beings, or in an animated film involving animals or toys, or a dystopian future movie, or a British period costume drama, or a comedy noire, e.t.c. Like a conventional Indian movie, it has a slow build first half and a crazy plot twists second half. Definitely a movie that makes you think.

    Love aaj kaal 2020 – like you, i like this film. But i think SAK starting the emotional pitch at an 11 and staying there can be offputting and perceived as overacting, especially because we’re used to expecting a character arc to start at the start of the film. Once we realize that we are meeting her after years of childhood emotional dysfunction, then her acting choices make sense from the start.

    Thappad – watching the early reviews. Seems that by making the movie about a single slap, it makes the movie less about physical domestic abuse and more about patriarchal entitlement & privilege, and how we are all brainwashed from birth to uphold these systems.

    Taj Mahal 1989 – i found it interesting how much i cannot relate to or empathize with the significance of college student government to political parties, nor the significance role that political parties and players play in college student government, maybe because it is so unlike the American college student government experience (though that could be changing in today’s political climate). At its core though, this is a series about love and relationships at various ages and stages of life. Of note, the emotional core of this show are the middle aged decades long relationships, not the youthful new ones.

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    • Yes yes The Photograph! When I see Indian movies at White People theaters, they never seem to know what trailers to play before. But when I saw Street Dancer 3D, they gave us the PERFECT trailers, one was The Photograph, and the other was In The Heights. Spot on choices for the Street Dancer 3D crowd. Heck, I’ve got time to kill on my weird random NYC trip this weekend, I could see The Photograph in theaters just for fun!

      Thank goodness someone else saw Love Aaj Kal!!!! Do you think you could say Imtiaz always starts his characters in the middle? I remember having a similar issue with Highway, Alia’s character seemed really weird in her first few scenes, and then halfway through we learn about her childhood abuse and the lack of emotional affect and childishness in her early moments makes sense. Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met are the only ones I can think of where he shoved in awkward obvious exposition right at the start to establish the backstory. It felt kind of fake (who explains to someone minutes after they meet that she was orphaned, feels an obligation to her aunt and uncle, also her cousin’s marriage ended in divorce, also she had a college boyfriend?), but at least the audience was up to speed and could understand the acting choices right away. With SAK’s performance making sense once we learn about her emotional dysfunction, I think Karthik’s character’s never explicitly stated Aspergers was a similar choice but with a different meaning so it worked. We don’t need an explanation for Aspergers, it’s just part of the person and immediately recognizable. A young woman who is incapable of functioning because her mother is terrible isn’t quite so immediate and obvious and not requiring an explanation.

      Thappad: There was a great line in the trailer where someone asks Taapsee if this is all about a single slap, and she says no, it was just that the slap woke her up to everything else. Sounds like that’s the thesis statement of the movie? All of this is good, but where is my Vikrant Massey! Or other token eye candy sensitive actor man! Looks like they just have a bunch of women and Kumud Mishra and Manav Kaul.

      Taj Mahal: I’m not gonna be watching it, so my only feedback is that my Dad in 1970 was all about political groups and stuff his whole college life in a very similar way. So it is a thing for some college students even in America, but not a lot of them.

      On Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 8:49 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I saw Parasite, I thought it was well done but weirdly enough I didn’t think it went far enough. Even with the shocking ending, the film preserved the class lines in a way that I found interesting because I wasn’t quite sure if the filmmaker intended that or if it’s a cultural thing that didn’t allow him to transgress even further. Like it’s one thing to commit physical violence, it’s another to experience emotional intimacy that is twisted and wrong and there was never a moment of emotional intimacy between anyone except for the son of the poor family having it with his father at the very end.

        I saw the film with Rekhs in Chennai which was kind of a trip. The theater was pretty full on a weeknight, much more full than a US movie would be at the same day and time.

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        • Ha! I just watched an Indian movie with Emily in America! So we are both having adventures with internet friends.

          On Sat, Feb 29, 2020 at 6:57 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. I am thinking of watching Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas but not sure I will have the patience for it.

    I am also, thinking of making the trek to watch Thappad. Are you planning on whatching it?? I don’t care that it is serious, I am currently in love with Anubhav Sinha. I think of him in the same catagory as Meghna Gulzhar. I am also similarly intriqued as Reflections on Life that in Thappad by making the movie about a single slap, it shines light on the overall patriarchy and brainwashing that happens from a young age. Plus, I cannot resist a cast of Taapsee, Ratna Pathak, Tanvi Azmi, Dia Mirza, and Kumud Mishra.

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    • This is my silly New York trip weekend, so not sure about Thappad. I could theoretically see it tomorrow afternoon, but I think I need to be doing last minute packing and stuff. And then I’ll see if I have down time on Saturday and/or Sunday.

      But Anubhav is really good at drawing the connection between the dramatic social evils and the day to day, so I have faith in his vision for Thappad. And that cast! Did not realize Dia was there too, I love her. For reasons I can’t explain.

      On Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 9:06 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I am so excited about your NY trip. Looking forward to hearing all about it. Will there be another movie marathon in NY? If so, what’s the NY movie theme? Also any plans for fun places to eat?

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        • The NY trip is shaping up to be totally different from the DC one. Saturday I’ll be having out in the desi area of Jersey City, hopefully with some Jersey folks joining me, if not just on my own exploring. And then Sunday Molly and Carol have promised to come up with things to do, but I’m not sure what they are yet. Food in an Indian restaurant will definitely be part of the mix somewhere in there.

          On Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 10:05 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I’ll be with you part of Saturday for sure, and just confirmed Thappad will be playing at the mall, in case you’re not too tired.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ooo! That is tempting. I can’t promise I won’t fall asleep in the middle, but you could just fill me in.

            On Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 6:24 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • If you will watch Pal Pal dil Ke Paas do like I did – don’t focus on Karan’s face. He has the same expression all the time and can be annoying so I was focusing on Sahher ,on mountains etc. It’s a simple, a little old style love story, and that’s why I like it, but if you are not into this kind of movies, just skip.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Also, nobody told me Pati Patni etc. has a remix of Dulhe Raja’s Akhiyon se goli mare??? It’s tragically bad, just watching one after the other really makes you appreciate the dancing in the original even more.

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    • Did not even realize it was a remix! That’s funny, the whole movie is a remix and I like what the did with it, but it sounds like the song remix they whiffed.

      On Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 10:15 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • It totally is, of the song but they also threw some of the easiest signature moves Govinda has in there (good attempt to win me over, but you won’t succeed, movie). Seriously, watch them back to back and marvel.

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