October 21, 2012

RIP Yash Chopra - Or the end of my childhood

Yes, I'll admit this is a sad way to bring back the blog, but Yash Chopra and his films were such an integral part of my life as masala converter and kid. When my mum broke the news a few hours ago, I felt gutted and then the tears were unleashed. I've never really cried over a director/celeb figure. But Yash Chopra was something different. His films were part of my growing up, and haha I will say that after 1942 A Love Story, Mashaal with my darling and supremo crush Anil Kapoor, was my second film to watch as a gullible little kid. So in a way, like many Indian kids the world over, Yash Chopra for better or worse, was a staple in our lives from the trips to the cinema as a family, or those crackly songs from Kabhie Kabhie or the newer ones like Dil Toh Pagal Hai which echoed throughout the kitchens and living rooms. As he mentioned in an interview, "The way to see a film is on the big screen. When you go to see a film in the cinema theatre, it is an event." I remember seeing Dil Toh Pagal Hai in the cinema with so many of my aunts and uncles, I mean that was an event, we took up almost a row, shuffling popcorn and drinks all around. It was just a bigger ritual when it was a Yash Chopra film, as there would be so many of us. I like to think Yash Chopra was one of the connecting forces for diasporic Indian families the world over, as superficial as it may be, he made some of the best films of Indian cinema that made us feel a tiny bit closer to that concept of "home" that was left behind. When we moved to Canada, that sense of togetherness brought on by a Yashraj film was sorely missing, yet after discovering all of his wonderful early films, we just made it an event to sit round and watch a Deewaar or my well-worn dvd copy of Mashaal! Yet I know I was his biggest fan, when he released Veer Zaara on my birthday in November, and this year's Jab Tak Hai Jaan, which I will perhaps more respect for, since it was (feels weird to use past tense so suddenly) his last film. His movies are part and parcel with that perception of Bollywood as overblown, kitschy, etc but those are just the staples that make his film unlike any other. I can safely say all those Switzerland moments always resound in my memory as the most romantic and sweepingly beautiful songs that may have messed up all my expectations of love! I definitely wanted to be that gorgeous 'woman in white', which is obviously taking it too far, but hell a teenager is a teenager living in that Bolly/Holly world! Although, it's his romantic films that bounce around in my head as signs of that all-encompassing romantic love, it's his films like Deewaar, Daag,Mashaal, Trishul, Lamhe that show us a director as versatile and brilliant than we would give him credit for. Yet Bollywood romance seems a little less magical without Yash in the picture, that's not to say it won't go on without him, but they'll still be trying to catch up to that poetic/beautiful/yearning love that has come through in nearly every film he made.

I can definitely say that some of my childhood is gone with Yash Chopra's death, as he was such a cultural force in both my childhood and teenagehood. He was truly the oft-repeated title of "King of Romance" but at heart, he was one of the most original and indelible directors in Indian cinema, I will miss him forever.

July 9, 2012

Shameful Pleasures: Time to Champion my Unloved heroes!

Just look at that dard-e-disco expression! Himmmmmesh needs someone just like me!

I thought I should start off the week, with an unabashed love-in for the many men who make me happy in the  filmi love that darenot speak its name! Of course, plugging someone like Himesh is going to make many people question my taste and sanity. But so be it, I had to air my shameful laundry at some point. Even worse was when I looked at my overflowing dvd shelf, the ones categorized by the Good at the front, the timepass to the side, and the shameful and awful gathering dust at the back. I had quite the collection of wonderful rubbish that I sneakily take out and watch and hoot at on the laptop, usually peak time is the middle of the night. Quite a lot of it, has to do with my nonsensical teenage years where any young hero with a cute face and passable acting ability caught my feverish attention, hello Ashish Chaudhary! So this is quite a revisit to my teenage brain that has never really stopped shamefully loving these men!

1. Himmesh Reshammiya - I cannot fight it or resist that OUUUWWHHH-nasally to some, wonderfully distinctive to me- voice so I come running back every time to Himmmmesh! I do have Aap Ka Suroor on my shelf, and the soundtrack on CD, while getting surprised and dismayed looks from the uncle dvdwallah who would usually recommend the soppy crap like 'Kyon Ki' onwards. I can't help it, I tried to have a Himesh drought, which most people are commendably maintaining till the power of the nasal voice comes back! It was definitely Radio, the film that spawned this week that got me started on loving Himmesh as an actor. Sure he read his lines in monotone and sometimes overdramatic fashion in Karzzzzzzz and APS but I still liked them because he was earnest. Earnestness always wins in my books, and with Radio he acted really well, and my new gem Damadamm! He just goes on making films and music for the select group of masses who will kinda love or guiltily adore his style of acting and music. I'm definitely going to be horrendously excited inwardly when Khiladi 786 comes out with him and Akshay Kumar. My boy has cracked it to the mainstream!

Yep I went with Zayed and a cute puppy in furthering my shameful propaganda! 

2.  Zayed Khan - Okay, this is one of the ones I feel really guilty and iffy about shouting my pyar about, because my inner 13yr old adored the pants off him. I've never really broken that streak, which is why half of the shameful shelf is most of his career! I don't know what it is about Zayed that I like so much, again earnestly trying to act in a convincing manner that often doesn't work, that cute face, and his ridiculously cute early millennial movies. I did love in Main Hoon Na as the grungey cool kid Lucky, where he got a bit of exposure with SRK, but he never really bounced back from that. I will readily admit that he's not the best actor but he tries hard at it, which is why I may love him for that nostalgia factor. I think he's another example of being a star kid where it doesn't pay off to well. It also helps that he's been in films with another fave hero and star kid cousin Fardeen Khan.

3. Fardeen Khan - Now I'm going to go out on my own plank and say this guy can really act and his early movies like the serious Dev and his early films with Ram Gopal Verma's company were very good.  Again I have quite a few gems of his career on my shelf, as he did his best work when he was working for RGV films. It might good if he does revive that Qurbani project just because it would feature him and he could do something different with that epic bromance. I'm pulling at straws I know, but he's quite a dedicated actor and if he did a lot more films that weren't the comedy ones it might be better for his flailing career. 

An added bonus, he looks good with a mush!
4. Tusshar Kapoor - Again, a star kid who has the resources to keep churning out movies whether people see them or not. I unequivocally adore Tusshar (because he's cool on enough like Cher and Prince). He's just very cute to me, and my 15yr old self. Thankfully, Ekta gives him the best roles when she's being the producer, with Shor, The Dirty Picture, and Shootout at Lokhandwala. But he's done his most popular work in the Golmaal series where he mostly does his schtick and keeps out the way and lets the biggies like Ajay and Arshad do the work. Most people tolerate Tusshar, he's a part of that series but they wouldn't venture out and see how he falls flat in his solo projects. But again, I do seek out some of his solo hero work which ranges from the underappreciated gem (I think so) or nonsensical pervy Mr, India in Gayab or the fun Char Din Ki Chandni. 

Honourable mention goes to Aftab Shivdasani, another kid from the RGV good days who latched onto Vikram Bhatt films, but hey he was a cute kid in Mr India, and I just like him!

Wherever there is an under appreciated star kid doing mindless nonsense, you could probably bet that I may like it or own it. I think that the films are these guys star in are often so shoddy or so surprisingly good in a way that only you can appreciate and champion. Look out tomorrow for the apples horror film Darna Mana Hai!! 

July 2, 2012

Shameful Classics Week is BACK!!

The ideal reaction for Shameful Classics Week!

Yep, its that time of the summer again to revel and partake in all things filmi and masala that you really shouldn't love so much but you just do! I'm gonna move up the days a bit, so starting from Monday July 9th till the 16th onwards is a good time to get cracking. I know that I'm gonna admit to loving Darna Mana Hai, and especially the 'everyone-gets-turned-into-apples' storyline which is just cracktastic. Along with championing Zayed Khan as a shameful hero for his various comeback films like TEZZZZZZZ, which may have sucked to some, but with him, Anil, and Ajay mouthing silly lines and doing some pretty snazzy stunts too. There may just be a quick appearance for liking something as godamn trashy as Hate Story, (emphasis on the supreme iffiness!) which I'm truly ashamed of liking but it falls into that Sidney Sheldon/Jackie Collins mixed with revenge masala that just somehow worked! So do let me know if you're up for revealing some love for shameful heroes or shameful classics that need to be put in that filmic canon. I'll be setting up a Delicious tracking list for all things for that week, so do let me know in the comments section below! You must have some skeletons in your closet that are yearning to come out!

June 21, 2012

Masala Month Meme - Day 2

Day 2 - An Underrated Gem

Sujata (1959)

 This lovely little film was one of Bimal Roy's later films that maybe lost between the his two classics Madhumati and Bandini. I watched this when I sneakily sat in on the Bollywood film class that my friend was taking a few years ago. Naturally the schedule had the usual gems of Raj Kapoor, Sholay, but I was really surprised to see this addition. It's so subtle and delicate in its handling of inter-caste love, as it was a remake of the 1936 classic Achut Kanya. Nutan plays the adopted Sujata, who is always reminded of her untouchable status by her mother, even though her kindly dad Tarun Bose and sis Shashikala try to treat as one of their own. Then the dashing Brahmin young guy Sunil Dutt falls for her, and you can guess all the conflict and drama that might ensue. I love that Roy approached this controversial topic by looking out how important it still is in that 60s context, and his avocation of love without signifiers like that. Sujata is quite the gardener in the film, and the songs are so gorgeous in using these motifs and symbols with such eloquence and aiding the narrative too. My favourite has to be 'Kali Ghata Chaye" when Sujata awakens to her sexuality and reveals her longings for Sunil Dutt. Nutan is so subtle and expressive here, when she finds out about her status, she takes you on that self-discovery just with her small gestures and expressions. This film may seem preachy to some, but I'll give Roy the benefit of doubt because he's crafted such a thoughtful and beautiful film.Of course there's a bit of melodrama in the finale about a blood transfusion but I'm sure you can forgive it, after all social films do come with a bit of that Hammer-on the head masala device This gem was in competition for the 1960 Cannes Palme D'or, which is great because it is easily accessible to a Western audience, even though there were nitpickers in the class who went on and on about the melodrama! Give it a try!

June 18, 2012

Masala Month-ish Challenge or Let Me Get out of this Lethargy!

This is the 'Don't give me that shit' look that you've all mastered for me!

Yes, I have been the most useless blogger in quite some time, however taking the cue from the fabulous and dedicated Veraciously , I'm gonna attempt to be good to this blog and my never-ending movie pyar by doing another one of those 30 day Masala Film Challenge. It'll get me back into the spirit, instead of ranting like a loonie about Salman's ridiculous biceps flex-dance or scream-admiring a dress worn on a 60s heroine to anyone and everyone. That is what the Masala Pradesh was founded for, me unleashing all my babblings and ravings of a die-hard and eternal swoon-attack ruler! I'm gonna go with the generic challenge that's caught the internet craze for the past months or so, but also I'll be inventive, so look out for favourite moustache of all time, or shameful crush of all time = HIMESSSH! So watch this space tomorrow, kids!

Day 1. The Best Movie You Saw Last Year

The Dirty Picture

It really was one of my favourites, I've gone on about in my previous break from hibernation. It just transcends its timepass appeal with a central performance that is just brilliant, and quite frankly if you didn't get a lady boner from Vidya, then I need to admonish you severely! Forget the size zeros, and all that Vidya look hot as hell in that film. She gained the weight later in the film and was made to do those unflattering shots, but she looked so wonderful and it's heartening to see a regular woman on screen. That film really came together for me with its seeti-worthy dialogues that played for the impact and made a jab at the industry too. Milan Thuria was recently on Anupama Chopra's show talking about the 'risk' he took in making this all about one woman, that is such a revealing tidbit. It shouldn't be this hard to have a movie with a woman front and centre, sleeping around and being brazen about it. But it's definitely a step in the right direction. Of course, Thuria may have covered his back by framing it through the male gaze of Abraham, but I felt that made it a really interesting narrative in which to view Silk. Out all the films of last year, it's the one I keep rewatching and one I don't really get tired of...just yet. Maybe its the strength of Vidya's performance or the sheer gratification in seeing a strong female onscreen in so long.

April 8, 2012

Masala Pradesh's Umpteenth Comeback #200 - The Dirty Picture

I adore this woman

Yes it's that time again, where I shall do my usual protestations of my busyness, but it's all true! I am still alive, even if I'm was not active at the Masala Pradesh headquarters here for several months now! I never knew third year would be so intensive with an essay due almost every two weeks or so for the past year! But like a resolute Amisha Patel, I am maintaining that hey I'M STILL FAMOUS, and I had some hits from several years ago!

I did a podcast with the wonderful gang of Asim, Filmigirl, and Curry Bear where I named The Dirty Picture my #1 film of 2011. I hadn't watch 'Stanley Ka Dabba' at the time which is such a brilliant gem of a film and I will maintain that The Dirty Picture was a fabulous film for its sheer entertainment value. I don't know what it is about that film that makes me break out into a smile and think of the gorgeous Vidya Balan in the 'Ooh La La' song. I took a Gender and Women Studies course this term about women in the media, and how they are sexualized and devalued in their powerful jobs. I won't apply such a theoretical gaze to this film as it is firmly seen through a male and his gaze at times.

How fabulous and sleazy was Naseer here?!

Filmigirl and Veraciously did great writeups on the movie, and I'll try not to repeat what they've said. But I do recognize that The Dirty Picture is a timepass film with some great performances. A timepass film can rise to the level of greatness with one propelling performance, and that is Vidya Balan's. I fell in love with this film because it had a lack of overt judgement for Silk's choices. Even though she may go for the casting couch, Silk has agency that is purely sexual. That is an agency in its own way, that a woman can conquer an industry based on which hero she sleeps with to get her an item song or even some dialogue. Even though Abraham (Emraan Hashmi) detests everything Silk stands for and her brazen attitude. It was just so refreshing to see a sexual heroine who was not supremely demonized for her sexual choices. I felt like here suicide was not the usual trope where the bad vamp had to be killed off. We could see that Silk was going on the usual artist downfall where the offers had dried up, she'd gotten a bit moti, and her ego had grown.

Maybe this is me being a sucker for the usual biopic, but even though Milan Luthria followed the usual rise and fall storyline. Presenting her life through Abraham's eyes was certainly a fascinating choice that either worked or didn't depending on the viewer. It presented Silk as that mythical figure made from trivia facts and gossip, much like a Marilyn Monroe where we view the star and icon, rather than Norma Jeane. I will gripe that the earlier parts of Reshma's life were a bit rushed, but I do understand that Milan may have wanted to focus on Silk, the brazen and sexy icon. I found the Abraham angle interesting as he completely hated her and the sudden turnaround felt partly natural as he discovered Silk's deeper side.

Vidya Balan was absolutely stupendous in this role, and even if we saw only a bit of Reshma, and more Silk, she gave the character such layers and depth. Her sexuality was at the forefront of the film, and the film does not paint her in the victim role. Silk has agency throughout even through her bad choices near the end, and that is what made her such a fascinating central character. It was so heartening to see a woman with sexual agency in an Indian film and though the film frames it through a male's view we do gain an insight into Silk's unabashedly defiant nature.

The film makes fabulous swipes at the hero-dominated industry, as Suryakant (Naserruddin Shah) is now playing a son to his previous heroine who is now stale and passe enough to play his mother. To have a woman asserting her only power in this industry by selling sex through her item numbers and scandalous films is a great rejoinder to the men she uses along the way. The dialogues were so filmi and powerful in the Nyla moments and Silk's big speech at the awards. They were the right mix of topical issues and seeti-inducing! Suryakant is perhaps one of the most fabulous roles Naseeruddin has played for a long time! The way he drawls out his sleazy lines and filmi dialogues is downright worth the DVD. The less said about Tusshar in his silly and camp side role the better!

Balan looked utterly gorgeous here too, and even though critics went on and on about her adding on the pounds, she just rocked that NORMAL figure with ease. In a sea of size zeroes, and visible ribcages in the bikini shots, it was just such a respite to see a normal woman onscreen. I did argue with a friend in that class who I made watch this film. My friend saw Silk as a complete indoctrinated female that could not escape the femine trap and had to use sex as the only means to get ahead. This is definitely true, but since the film frames it through Abraham's eyes we will only see Silk in the mythmaking vein. Sexual agency is often disdained in feminist theory as women are falling back on the standardized female trap in order to gain power and express their views. But in film like this, sexual agency is what defines Silk as a character, who polarizes everyone in the industry she performs in. She's too brazen for normal roles, and her sexuality are the factor that rake in the money, it's a brilliant dichotomy that film sets up but doesn't resolve.

The Dirty Picture will always be in the rewatch pile. It offers a woman who is unafraid to sleep around to get ahead in the industry, and she is hated on for doing just that. If anything, it is Vidya Balan's brilliant performance that lends itself to varying interpretations of Silk's strength as a strong female character. Thankfully, it's exam time so I have a bit of time to start writing again and assert that I am not just the Ameesha Patel of the Bolly blogosphere!

November 10, 2011

Masala Pradesh Returns: Attack of the Moustaches!

Mouche+Shatru bombast = SWAGGER

First of all, let me say a resounding SOOOORRRRRYYYY! For being so behind on blogging and even twittering less and less these days! Life as we all know, smashes all of my favourite vices like blogging, tweeting like a teenager, watching movies all away come Uni time! And it really does make me sad, but fret not I shall always complain and grumble about the small town i live in and the lack of Indian films being shown here. If i didn't then mera naam Rumnique nahi!
Alas along with November being my birthday month, the male species have decided to make it so much more worthwile by adding some fuzz to their lips, and generally looking like dapper young men. Along with Ness and Dolce and Namak's mouche post, I had to jump on the bandwagon being the sheep that I am. Now that i enter the non-stationary age of 21, I thought my post had to tie in with my usual birthday post to talk about the formative moustache men of my life!
1. Anil Kapoor - Now you would think I've had enough gushing over my favourite man, but I haven't every year I thank the king of moustaches in my life: Anil! Take a bow sir, and slap for ruining my life as well, expecting all my gentleman callers to have such pompadour hair and glorious mouche like that on them! Over the years, like the ridiculous fan girl I am, I noticed that Anil had many different styles of mush like this:
A more manlier thicker one!
But I like the spontaneity he gives with his earlier films, from the pencil thin ones from Woh Saat Din to the iconic mush of Parinda and all of his later films. Like a fine wine, Anil's mush though now a very tame rectangular beard in his Hollywood films, just gets better and better to look at when i pop a dvd in from the 80's or Noughties, there are things to swoon over! So here's to the moustachioed man of my dil!

2. Jackie Shroff - my sister's old fave moustachioed man! Now here is where a mouche worked wonders for a man, that mouche made him look so mysterious and sexy! Again it all stems back to that wicked and evil first movie 1942:A Love Story where both Anil AND Jackie appeared in to begin the hysteria! Now before he got a bit blobby and appearing in a long line of mediocre movies, Jackie was my second fave moustache man and I used to go through almost all of his film on Zee Tv in London! And that mouche just worked with his image of the dark and brooding hero who loved to dishoom someone, growl out his lines, and occasionally frolic about in his infamous Speedo in Rangeela!

3. Raj Kapoor - again this might be a repetitive list of all the men I love who just happen to have moustaches but I shall argue that a moustache maketh the man! In the case of this RK, he was a very beautiful man and that mush gave him that edge that made me go swoony like I do with an Errol Flynn or Robert Taylor. He just had that look that would not be out of place in an old Hollywood film. In the case of Raj it certainly did as he just looked odd without it as in Aag where he looked almost pubescent! And I think when I saw Awara or Shree 420, that Raju the tramp look was helped by his look and the mush which was so distinct and pencil thin without being the usual stuck on line across your lip-look which heroes these days try and pull off! And I may need to add a whole new chapter to my long RK essay about his mush for another time!

The king of rakish mouches!
4. Shatrugan Sinha - Now a list without Shatru would be injustice in the Masala Pradesh! He just exudes rakishness and bad behavior, and I think the mush adds to that! When I saw the fabulous Blackmail and my first Shatru film, he just blew me away with his laconic and stylish attitude! He played the bad guy so well, and you could tell he meant business with those hilariously scandalous pictures he had with Rakhee! Now his moustache is all thin but he still has something dangerous about him even as an oldie!

5. Vikram - Ughh I'm already dying of mouche pyar attack! I don't what it is about Vikram, actually it's the mush of course, that gives me a fainting attack?! I saw him all those years ago in the original Sethu/Tere Naam and I had the usual preconceptions about South Indian films that the actors were all plain but moustachioed (it had some potential there!) and it was all OTT, but now looking back that is totally what I love about these films! And Vikram was just amazing in that movie and again the mush helps! He has that Jackie Shroff mysterious and dangerous look to him that just sets off any lady's swoon-o-meter!

6. Ajay Devgn - It is quite amusing to search for Ajay on search engines with the original surname Devgan bringing up his clean-shaven past, and the Devgn with his accepted and much better moustachioed look! Maybe its also the hair, the Devgan lad had the floppy Hugh grant silly look in his previous films, and with the mouche and tidied up hair he looks dapper and swoony again! In Singham with that mouche that was almost approaching his predecessor Surya's length, he managed to pull it off with style. And I have to say, that I can't stand him without a mouche, or if he has to be a grassless lawn then there must be some stubble or something there!

The Hall of Moustache Shame and InBetweeners

Sorry Surya, veering into the porn star mush!

7. Surya - I have really tried to like Surya with a mouche but he just can't get it right! Just look at the above one, what the hell is going on with the bass note looking curl there?! He nails the stubble look and the full beard look with aplomb but he is such an Inbetweener! He cannot find a mouche to appease the Masala Pradesh standards! But Surya is a seriously cute actor and his smile is unbelievably adorable so the judgement is that Surya with a stubble to almost clean shaven is a go, but try and hone in that mush one of these days!

8. Shahid Kapoor - Yeh kya bakwaas hai? was the immediate reaction to this nonsense fluff on his upper lip! I really do get what he was going for, trying to look older and a bit more distinguished, but this look is banished from the Moustache Land! Hell even a stubble makes him a look a lot better like in Kaminey, but bleeurgh!

The International Hall of Fame

9. Omar Sharif - It was my friend's mistake for taking me to see Lawrence of Arabia for the first time on the big screen. However gorgeous and cinematic Omar's little speck entry was, I coined it as 'The Entry of the most gorgeous moustache ever put to screen!" I managed to gasp egregiously loud and embarrassed my friend forever! But he is just exceedingly beautiful and to add to my shameful list I did gasp in another swoon attack when I saw him much later in 'Monsieur Ibrahim' he just aged so nicely but has maintained that mush that captured my heart when i was 17!

Yes, I needed a beefcake picture like that

10. Mouche deigned from heave+ tiny chuddi shorts = DUH.... (drools like Homer)

So there you have my top 10, and I am so glad to be back to blogging after so long, and I hope to be reviewing a lot more now that assignments and essays are almost done and due soon! ALSO honourable mentions to Abhishek who is hereby barred from going clean shaven, and Orlando Bloom who almost made me go and see Three Musketeers for his Anil Kapoor channeling! What are some of your faves?