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?

July 7, 2011

Shameful Pleasures Quick Bite: The Unabashed High School Crush Edition

A Shameful Icon: Mr Magnum Pi or Tom Selleck

Well you may be wondering why the total heartthrob Tom Selleck is the first Shameful Crush, well it's a long story my yaaron! I first moved to the all encompassing North American continent in 2002, and we'd only just bought a TV and my sister and I couldn't find any other kids channel except the super Baby channel and lots of reruns that interested us. So Magnum Pi became our babysitter! I would run home school at 3 to meet and swoon over the new pyar of my life! The shame bit comes in a bit later, as besotted as I was a 13 yr old I found a People Mag of Sexiest Man Alive editions in our lobby and instead of hanging up Johnny Depp or George Clooney, I cut out Tom Selleck and many of his TV friends.
I'm sorry this man was a total stud in his heyday!

Tom was very special to me and his elevated status made him worthy of putting up in my high school locker! My friends had already witnessed the budding vintage lover burgeoning in me and thought nothing of it when I waxed lyrical about the short length of his shorts in each episode. Unfortunately one time, the ubiquitous bunch of cool kid saw my decorated shrine of locked and ribbed to death about having really old ugly men in my locker. I suddenly felt so ashamed of James Garner - Mr Rockford, Tom, Desi Arnaz -Mr Lucy and of course Amitabh circa his hotness age in the 70s! So after so much ribbing I took them down and put the latest craze at the time Aaron Carter (WT absolute F was I thinking??) and Spaghetti hair Justin Timberlake, but still it did not make me happy to greet them every time i got a text book! But if I restored the natural order of Arnaz, Bachchan, and Selleck to the locker I would just die in my outcast state!

I had a big pink heart circling his head in this one!

But good sense prevailed and my friends added their own shameful icons of gorgeous anime characters and surprisingly Mr Rogers!

I know this should have been a proper revelation of Love Love Love with Aamir and Juhi but I had to share the origins of all this shame! As it's the devil in all of us to love the scandalous and duds that no one likes, because that sets us apart and it gives a well deserved superiority complex with 'What hell didn't they see in Pyar Karke Dekho! Such a mature and bold film!" and cheers to that!

July 5, 2011

Shameful Classic: Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost - The Attack of the Killer TV!

This is Tony, the evil killer idiot box!

I simply had to start Shameful Classics off with a resounding Kabooom with one of the most special duds and classics of Abhishek Bachchan's illustrious career!

Mumbai Se Aaaya Mera Dost (2003) is that wunderkind of a movie that captured my 13 year old dil! I was already a fan of Abhishek since he began, but even I could recognize the dreck he started off with, so seeing the promos to this film got me so excited see it! It's also intertwined with my life, I moved to Vancouver in 2002 and this was my first summer being back to my desh ki dharti and the promos made it look so intense and a gamechanger role for Abhishek. It wasn't out at that time, but seeing the bombardment of promos got to my young mind! I was determined to see this against Tere Naam which released on the same day. Two very diverse roles for both Salman and Abhishek and naturally we know who won in the end and had legions of idiotic boys copying that dreadful Hugh Grant mixed with gangster floppy shag! But once I came back to horrid(come on i was a angry teenager!) Vancouver I vowed to search for the best available print to continue my support of Abhishek over all other heroes. And by chance the best Aunty dvdwallah had both films in a 2 in 1 disc. Needless to say Tere Naam was watched several years later!

So a nostalgic tale later, this just had to be on this list because it is so shameful to like this nonsense film but I adore it! Shameful is as the dictionary says disgraceful or scandalous scandalous behavior and it fits perfectly with this film as I can't help but feel ashamed to champion something that loses steam so quickly and has the stupidest plot line revolving a TV. But it works as a Shameful Classic because for me its reminder of a gullible 13 yr old being taken in by the hype machine and being 20 and still loving it! However being me, and my wicked sense of humour, modesty be damned there, I need to champion the best character of the film: TONY THE TV!

But first let's get to the egregious filler: The film suffers from such a Lagaan hangover featuring the same baritone voice of Bachchan Sr at the beginning, many of the same cast members, a rural setting. The promos heightened this element to the max with an intense Abhishek brooding all the way through and glaring. His entry is suitably smouldering:
Ohh who's kohl rimmed eyes are those?

The film features so many spectacular entrance scenes for each major character which still impresses me and the 13 yr old inside, the other villain than Tony the TV is Thakur (Yashpal Sharma) who emerges in all his unibrow and hairy glory from the river, with foreboding chanting screeching in the back. So just in case you didn't know he was EEEVIL:
This was a very entertaining entry for a 13 yr me!

There's also the ridiculously well-dressed and gorgeous village belle Kesi (Lara Dutta) whose designer black chuni flows off her face to reveal her to our lovelorn hero. I have to admit the makeup and designer did such a good job in the envy department, just look at her jewels:

Diamond necklace, sparkly earrings, and fabulous eye makeup: the modern gaon ki chori!

The Tale of Troublesome Tony the Dictator TV

But getting to best stuff is the brilliant entrance of Tony the TV and his equally deadly friend Sally the Satellite cable! Like I said, this film is redonkulous, a complete case of super editing in the trailers betraying my angry teenagerly heart. Kanji the newly returned boy from the city brought these two to his gullible village:
All hail the modern invention of the SATELLITE!

Upon Tony's entry, he sends the villagers into a quandry about what he might be: are he and evil Sally a giant water umbrella or a boat? The film is actually quite hilarious in these moments of culture shock, I can shamefully say with a lot of hints of pride that I haven't laughed like that since the actual classic of my youth Deewana Mastana! Before you say, Besharam at my comparison ! Here's why there is so much win in this movie, Tony the evil TV introduces the villagers to many other shameful movies like a lot of CHICHI:

Chichi in his actual chuddis has been unleashed on the innocent folk!

There are two comic relief characters that Tony has it in for! Tony introduces the local barber to a very naff Feroz Khan-the-cowboy movie who has a hilarious dream about being a Rajasthani gunslinger with his Clint pose and cigarrello:
I love the irreverence of this film, gunslinger getup with the trusty donkey!

One other comic relief man is introduced to the equally awful and shameful masterpiece Jaani Dushman, not the fab old one, but the new one! Tony entrances him into performing his life in slow motion steps. He even causes a very Sergio Leone filmed face off between the two men, which veers into the batshit and hilarious. I really cannot emphasize how bad it is that I was hooting with laughter as the film increasingly became revolved around the TV! That's not the best/worst of it in a very meta moment I found that Tony the TV reached his terrorizing hilt when he spied Abhishek enjoying the subliminal messages of the Chichi films and Sandy Danza cooking shows, he decided to inflict such pain upon him with showing a kiss or otherwise known as 'The Founding Father of Sexy Snogs' with Karishma and Aamir in Raja Hindustani:

Tony the TV at the height of his ruthless reign!
Just look at the defeated and crestfallen Abhi :(

In a cavalcade of contrivances all orchestrated by the crap screenwriter or by the secret machinations of Tony and Sally, a war of epic proportions breaks out!
TV - The Devil's recruiter!

Hai Hai! Tony can also usurp power like a proper 80s villain might!

Yes a war that all stems from the TV, as the local evil pundit stirs a war of sizes between Tony and the Thakur's TV the more modest Mini! Tony will not have his reputation tarnished and his brainwashing works on all the villagers as they take up arms against Thakur and Mini! This also calls for a dramatic/howlarious and tough song of battle:
A very hilarious song shot like 'Chale Chalo' in Lagaan!

Like Cleopatra, villains need to moisturize before battle properly!

To add to the spectacle an actual TV crew from Star News are drawn to this upcoming jung by Sally the Satelite's newsworthy and deadly rays! They capture the entire climax of the film on their own cameras with the cameramen jumping around as people are getting stabbed. The journalist gal even proclaims 'We can even send this to Fox News, to America!' which is the most apt audience for such a fabricated war!
And just at the height of the action of the Tony orchestrated war when Kanji is about to kill the Thakur, the lords of the Shameful Universe let this icon step in and keep the peace:

Yes... it's Chunky Pandey

It is one of the most satisfyingly stupid and brilliant moves pulled by this utterly nuts and fabulous film that I will recommend to everyone. I mean just looking back at my journals of coming to Vancouver, i detailed the movies I wanted to see over here but couldn't. There was a fierce desire to like this film because of the promos and my unwavering support of the other Lambhu of the industry! If you've heard about that latest film about a killer rubber tire then I'd ask you to approach this movie the same way! Tony the TV is the main villain and anti-hero to which the film unexpectedly finds a centre for all the characters to act as foils around him! Acting as a Masala Hitchcock, I hope you never look at your demonic TV the same way after this film!

July 3, 2011

Shameful Classics/Pleasures Week Part 2:

Our Lord Shameful himself, Himesh!

Let's take a few moments to thank Mr.Nasal or the newly crowned His Royal Shamefulness for making a certain flawed classic called Radio. It was this film with its lovely soundtrack that randomly shuffled onto Bunty the Ipod one night on the bus, which spawned this fabulous week! We had a brilliant run last summer with all of us reveling in a collective love for the inane and rarely admitted. Ness loves the gloriousness of Bobby Deol, Beth unleashed Pyar Karke Dekho into the already recovering citizens of Chichi week, Katherine revealed an undying pyar for all things Deol which spawned another great week and many more divulging of all things you felt were too shameful to admit you utterly adored. For me it has to be some of those very crappy films Amitabh did in the 80's like Desh Premee or even Lal Baadshah which I was dragged to as a 9 year old for my family to collectively wince and cringe and like in a shameful way! I was thinking we should star on the July 5th till the 12th or if anyone has any objections to make a whole month of sighing and finally repeating that you own Teri Meherbaniyan (Brownie Moti's star vehicle) and watched it every weekend for a month! So let me know via here or Twitter or whatever technological thing of the day if you can participate and let loose all those skeletons!

Can you resist a week full of nonsense faces like that?

June 1, 2011

Kapoor Khazana! Raj Kapoor Thank You!

UHFFFF! This gaze is too smoldering!

Yes I've been away for sooo long, but I'm back with a bang and how! I utterly adore this new star month for any Kapoor or the Kapoor Khandaan this month. I have already written a few pieces on the film family that fascinates me the most, first outlining the men with moustaches
and championing Randhir. But my heart completely belongs to the original RK - Raj. I discovered Raj again in my teens, but I'd seen the key films whenever i visited my Communist grandfather who loved Raj Kapoor's early movies because of their good clean Socialist messages. But this month is gonna be a proper appreciation of all the RK's and other Kapoor's at an age where I'm only a tad bit less pretentious about my praise! But as usual in the 'Star and Rum' series that I've done for Sridevipalooza, Manoj Kumar, and others I have to outline why Raj is the only Kapoor for me! Raj was the catalyst to my career path and I have to explain my utter gratitude

  • Simply put: I worship Raj Kapoor as a director. When I finally found my direction with film studies, I knew my angle was Indian cinema and making people love the greats Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy and RK just as much as I did. The teacher in my film class assigned essay topics, naturally i chose the one devoted to a director who had made an impact on world cinema, and I chose RK. I was all prepared to write my master thesis 10,000 years to early when i initially attempted to cover Guru, Mehboob, and Raj in one essay. But I had narrow it down, and Guru was a very maverick and experimental as well as melancholic director, Mehboob was brilliant, economical, and grand, but Raj made me smile and really enjoy every single film as simply a movie, whereas the others I was bombarded by gorgeous images and socialistic leanings respectively. But these days I know that a movie is the complete package a good and powerful leaning/message, gorgeous cinematography, capable actors, and lots more and RK movies just ensnared me!
  • This essay was the biggest essay of my life, because it was a true test of whether I wanted to follow in film studies, could I really muse about RK and Chaplin for almost 3000 words without becoming a fangirl and overdoing my love? Well partly yes, I got a B+ on it and a special comment from the teacher who had founded the course in Vancouver, that he had not read a paper so this side of passionate before. He even watched a few of RK's films after my essay. My A in that class and passion for continuing in film studies and journalism is totally due to RK.
  • I bought all of the 10 films he directed and the key films he produced during his peak between the 40's till Mera Naam Joker. There is a definite pattern that is apparent in his work, during the Nargis years he was truly at his creative height. Aawara, Shree 420, Boot Polish, Jagte Raho all of these splendid films are some of my favourites. But every director has some turning point, RK's has to be when Nargis left him and his films suddenly switched from art to all-out entertainment in every spectrum. Lots of critics disparage the period of Sangam, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, Mera Naam Joker, Satyam Shivam Sundaram as his lowest point. Their auteur had gone puerile and crass in his need to fund his studio and his bad habits.
  • To this I say KHAMOSHHHH! Yes I really cannot sit through Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Ram Teri Ganga Maili without cringing and getting angry, but their are moments in these disappointing films that are lovely. RK's 'Woman in White' may have her bazookas hanging out but in a day and age where we are so used to everything, RK's idealization of his heroines is a refreshing retread. For every Bobby there is a Mera Naam Joker, which I need to review again because it is such a revealing haunted piece of work that didn't get the credit or it's proper place in the film canon
  • I don't usually get so worked up about many directors but if like RK they have earned my ire and love then I can debate for days what Aawara's true outcome was? Every film RK directed and produced bears his stamp of art and entertainment and that is such a beautiful thing. Yes he may have abandoned some of his arty side for thrills and sex but we wouldn't haven't broken down the censor board if RK hadn't put Zeenat in that see through saree or hinted at such eroticism with Nargis responding to his slaps in Aawara.
So here's to the moustached blobby but gorgeous man who captured my heart at 9 and never gave it back! I would have never discovered properly and beyond this blog that I could write eloquent film essays and follow a film nerd path! Thank you Mr Kapoor!

April 13, 2011

Masala Moods by Dr Rum - Part 1

Anil is seething with my long absence as Empress of the Masala Pradesh!

I really sincerely apologize for leaving this great nation for such a long time. But with 3000 word film essays, my postcolonial art book, and just generally life I had to leave for a while. That's not to say I didn't read last month's 'Deol Dhamaka' like a proper blogger would, but I would have loved to have reviewed a few. Lekin fikr not as my grandma says, I AM BACK! Finished up school but now onto exams, but I thankfully have time to devote to myself.

If you've been following me on Twitter, then you'd recognize all these upcoming snazzy Masala symptoms or mood encapsulators! There is an actor and actress that can embody any symptom or mood you might be feeling when say your dog shits on a new rug, I'd classify that as a FURIOUS FEROZ! Or when you are very happy and feel like singing then you'd be a Lilting LATA! Onwards we go with Part 1 of probably many!
1. Moody Vijaya - My personal favourite that I coined. You know when you're a MV when you are prone to having slanging matches with the gods at a temple, when life treats you unfairly. This was the first symptom of a full-blown Masala Maniac that I had experienced, especially during the essay crunch time, I would become Moody when reading all these identity probing articles for my postcolonial class. I would adopt a snarl, and have a bombastic dialogue likely written by Salim and Javed if someone annoyed me. This phase can last for a while, but every Moody Vijay(a) has a counterpoint of being a Vivacious Vijay, but sometimes this defeats the purpose when adopting an 'Angry Young Man/Woman' stance in life.

2. Sunny Shashi - Now this may be a conflicting one because we have a Sunny Deol who is quite Sunny in some films. This works far better with Shashi, because this mood works just dandy when you are friends with a Moody Vijay above. A happy and cheery demeanor is what we all strive for as Masala patients. Sunny Shashi symptoms includes smiling at everyone in a crooked and cute way, having an abundance of manic energy without drinking gallons of coffee or sweets, and generally being endearing and lightening up any folk you meet. A Sunny Shashi may not always be extremely sunny but this happy and cheerful edge to such a mood works to your advantage if you manage balance this overabundance out.

3. Gutted Guru - the predecessor to a Moody Vijay mood. A Gutted Guru mood is when you have become a hardened and bitter soul where nothing can brighten your ennui. Symptoms include seeing life is a series of sad and ironic events, no woman or man can break through your wall till you turn into a Less than Gutted Guru. Poetry and drinks are usually a must for this mood, as some of the best musings about the world come in a drunken stupor. A breakup or upset with the current state of your nation may be the cause for such depression but a likely respite from these troubles may come from a kindly woman or man who love you despite your selfishness.
4. Weepy Asha - A mood that afflicts us all. A Weepy Asha is a self-sacrificing type of trait where you cannot help but burst into tears at the slightest upset. Moving house? Tears. See a cute picture of bunnies snuggling upto baby puppies? Supreme tears. This mood usually starts after a seemingly balanced All-Rounded Asha, but due to machinations created by this mood or by parents you devolve into this mood. This mood is easily resolved when the love of your life leaves everything for you, but the inescapable tears always flow!
You are frequently found in this thoughtful stance
5. Meaningful Manoj - or in other words a Hipster Manoj. Always eager to voice concerns over the nation, diaspora, and every single issue that interests you, I would classify you as a Meaningful Manoj. Symptoms of this mood include passionate speeches, visualizing your life in crazy but social critique looking camera angles, and of course covering one's face every time you feel a bother of ennui or exasperation at another person's ignorance. On this list, I would say that a Meaningful Manoj is the best to have a gang of a Sunny Shashi, a Moody Vijaya, and an upcoming Swaggering Shotgun to voice your concerns and win election votes in the Masala Pradesh.

Thanks for tuning in for an upcoming series on the Dr.Rum Oz show of Masala Moods, and I will definitely be back with some more fabulous and encompassing moods such as the Scandalous Saira, the Stylish Sadhana, the KRAZZY Kishore, and more S's and R's to be thought of. Which of the above suits you?

March 1, 2011

Deol Dhamaka: Sunny aur Rum - An Ambivalent Affair

That is one pissed off Mofo, just look at the flames!

I'm really excited for this fabulous month of Deol Dhamaka, because it'll allow all of us fangirls and fanboys to appreciate the original Punjaban family: THE DEOLS! And being a Punjabi myself I couldn't pass this opportunity over at all, because I have a filmi connection to these Deol men.

My late grandfather came from the same pindh as Dharamendra, my babaji also wanted to become an actor and defied his folks and ran off to Bombay. He managed to stay with Dharam in his struggler days, but when my babaji couldn't wait it out he went back to the pindh! And I've got several uncles that can vouch for that crazy story! Me and Shashi and Dharam, so many filmi encounters!

But getting back to this fabulous month, I thought I'd start off Deol Dhamaka with a Deol puttar that I vehemently hated for a while but had a sudden change of heart with: Sunny Deol. My family is a strange one, my grandad loved the nonsense but Awesometastic Dara Singh films and I remember being scarred for life seeing his many headlocks and crotch locks. Naturally when Sunny decided to make an entrance, my family thought he was the new heir to the wrestling and wooden hero, which didn't help me at all. I had sit through all of his screeching, and closeups of those bloodshot and weird eyes of his and pummeling baddies till blood gushed everywhere. Needless to say, I hated Sunny with a passion during my 8-17 phase of life, there was just nothing to him as he wasn't cute like Bobby, he didn't possess the all roundedness of his papa, and he just stunk.

Sunny is intrigued, all he needs is a contemplative hand gesture and white beard

But as I continued to write him off and adore his brother and father. I had a reevaluation moment during Apne while he swore to 'ohh yeah i fooock youuuu' to the other boxer, he kinda won me over with his ridiculously passionate use of the f-word, and that my friends is a winner to this ribald dirty sailor mouth of mine. And the fact that he has such a seductive voice when he's not screeching and raving at baddies. So let's look at some of the pluses in his career that I've only recently discovered.

1. His Brilliant spark: Ghayal, Arjun, Betaab, Damini - these were the movies I hadn't seen for a while and they are actually gems of movies. I had seem them as a young 'un and never revisited them because of the vicious pummeling his 80's Angry Young Man did. It made me a bit squeamish, to watch him kick the shit out of Amrish Puri, who I had a new appreiciation for coz Indiana Jones! But in these movies he demonstrated that he could handle a bit of romance and action at the same time. I love in Betaab when he sings a song to Amrita Singh then the next minute he's doing a tractor stunt! Seriously looking back on these films, I will begrudgingly admit the guy CAN ACT! There I said it, he really can summon all the fury in him and that strong throat of his screeches out the best dialogues that Salim and Javed put in there! Sunny's very much an actor who has concocted a persona, aided by Salim and Javed with their brilliant dialogues and current(back then) handling of prevalent issues. The 80's were full of unemployment and I liked how Sunny's persona was voicing these concerns with corruption and job inequality albeit with a whole of dishoom dishoom and screaming. And he won all my respect for his tour-de-force performance as the drunk lawyer in Damini, a well deserved National Award win for that one, he demonstrated a hero with flaws and humility, and I loved how it was Meenakshi who made him aware of his talent and gives him his ambition back.
Every time he puts the pagh on, Punjabis rejoice!

2. The Dreaded Age: Gadar, Farz, Indian - Now this was age where I had to watch tons of his films as a kid in the cinema or on ZeeTv. And I'm afraid I was so right in hating these films and Sunny's OTT schtick he did in nearly all of these films. These films were right in their intention of capitalizing on Sunny's mass appeal and his forte in action films, but the story and Sunny constantly repeating the stock screaming, dishoom, speech, stomp with gal, etc.. it just fell flat on its face. The jingoistic messages and rabble rousing fear of Muslims in these films are just downright awful and Sunny just got stuck in a rut. I have to single out Gadar, because my mum was in the Punjab when this came out and Oh my gosh did they love this film and cheered on in the awful climax bit where he screeches that India is his home, when Amrish Puri(again!) tells him renounce India and embrace Pakistan. UGHHH I know I may be pummeled by Sunny lovers, but the film the biggest hit of his career was just a shrewd manipulation of a real and saddening event to capitalize on his broad appeal. That's not to say that there weren't any quiet moments where he was brilliant, he was so lovely when he tries to locate his wife and takes his son along. But this period of Sunny's career is why I never liked him in the beginning.
Alright dammit, he semi-cute in a way!

The Bright Spots: Border, Apne, Yamla Pagla Deewana, Heroes - Now I may be guilty of overpraising him but in Border he was a much better reuniting and glorious leader than say Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan. All those maudlin speeches in the Hollywood film didn't work in his favour, as Matt Damon can languish if he wants but a film like Border and Sunny's heartfelt and honest performance with it's maudlin and rousing speeches did work. I know these were 2 totally different wars, but Tom Hanks was too nice to be a forceful leader and Sunny's speech to his wife and to his men drive the point home. Initially I was put off with him screeching, and letting my poor gorgeousface Akashaye Khanna and Sir Handsome-at-the-Time Jackie Shroff languish at the end. Now that was an effortless performance where he used his trademark gestures to a beautiful degree. His later films with his family Apne, which is the lone movie that made my stone-hearted sister weep in its moments of father-son verbal offs. I really did like Sunny in this film, he seemed more relaxed after a break which did him much good as he was a lovely actor in this film and outshone a Hand-trauma Boooobbby Deol and a curmudgeonly Dharam. And did I mention how much I adored his swearing? Now one of his most underrated roles is in Heroes where he plays a wheelchair bound Major mourning his brother Boobby(I am gonna call him this all day thanks to Amaluu!). It was such a wonderful, understated and affecting performance which really made me want to watch more of his story than Salman's. His redonkulous scene where he's gotta have one fight scene even if he is a paraplegic is just awkward to watch! And onto the biggest hit of the year so far, Yamla Pagla Deewana where he was so funny and again stole the show from his bro and papa, I loved the scene where he was talking in English to the crowd. 'Don't give him yaauur wwwoootes" is the new catchphrase around my household, that hilarious way he enunciated wwwwotes is killer, intentional or not!

Sorry for the rambling but looking at some of his movies again has put into perspective, I do LIKE Sunny Deol, he is a very good actor when he's in the right project with a script that does him justice and allows him not to raise his voice for no reason(that voice just killed me in my childhood). Come back later this week for even more Booobby Deol pyar because Lawdy I adore that kid!

January 14, 2011

Masala Pradesh's Pretentious Post or My Faves of 2010!

'Moody Vijay' - my state of mind for 2010, add it to your filmi lexicon

Sorry for such a long break, but being back in Vancouver for the holidays I just couldn't manage another post other than my celebrated(!) ire filled Bakwaas List. But I thought I'd finally air my views on some of the good parts of 2010, because always going against the crowd I thought it was not such a damn awful year for Bollywood in 2010. I'm gonna approach this from a cinephile/pretentious filmi nerd stance, because being in a small town with nothing much to do, I've been reading half the books in our library by the early French and New Wave critics, and they have a point!
The Critics: Francois Truffaut, who I'll appoint a Masala Pradesh Saint Truffaut Bhagwan, talks about straddling the two categories of films, the Masala and the Arty Farty in our case, and what I've definitely noticed in 2010 that critics do not know how to balance the two. For instance, he goes on about loving a film like 'A Face in the Crowd' by Elia Kazan with it's subversive messages about the media, but also heaps praise onto something Hollywood spectacle like 'Samson and Delilah.' Now maybe it's because I'm a journo type that loves my Masala and my Arty films, and because I approach a film liking the director or star, but I don't treat a Tees Maar Khan like an Udaan, because they are miles apart. Critics in India, have this awful problem and their outrageous reactions to films like Tees Maar Khan by expecting it to be another Main Hoon Na or the height of Masala brilliance. It's their close-minded and editorializing to a sniping degree, where they insult the filmmaker or actor, it's just not objective. All reviews should air what was good about a film like highlighting a good performance or script, and if they hate it, they really have to sell it to the viewer why and not cop out by unfairly and unnecessarily bringing personal gripes and grudges into it. That's why in 2010, the gaping disparity between what the masses flocked to and what the critics favoured, was so gaping wide. If critics want to repair their relations with the audience that is rapidly dwindling and turning to word-of-mouth and the internet, then they really have to consider what the masala and arty intake the average filmgoer can handle, they really should STOP sounding so smug and think about who they're writing for.
END OF RANT! I'm sorry, I've read many reviews from the vintage Stardusts, FilmIndia's, and other film mags over this summer and the journalists and critics back then, who were also very catty, but the reviews took into account that people would immediately be in seats for something with Amitabh being a Moody Vijay but they also recommended films like Bhumika.

I know I can't blame the critics the whole time, it's also the filmmakers who throw out bakwaas like Break Ke Baad, Hollywood style romcoms that just don't connect with the audience and vanity projects like Khelein Hum Jee Jhan Se, which just exhausts and bores. Earnest intentions by all these big directors would normally win my own heart, HELL I loved Veer, which was another earnest piece of shamefulness, but they also need to find interesting stories and not go overboard with their delusions of grandeur, looking at you Mr SLB! The audience in India is a fickle bunch, one thing like an No Problem, the usual Aneez Bazmee fare which they lapped up before was a super flop, but something like a Peepli Live did well. I think the films of 2011 need to be toned down in their OTT publicity monsters because a Tees Maar Khan, which did the rounds was so hyped that although it did somewhat alright, people were disappointed as a result of that as well.

ANYWAYS! I'd like to share my eclectic mix bag of faves this year, irrespective of box office, there were many movies which were brilliant, good, and alright! But enough rambling and ranting here it is, in no particular order because that's far too hard and I would ponder like a philosophy student!

1. Ishqiya - Truly one of the best films, which finally gave a career Renaissance of sorts to Arshad Warsi and Vidya Balan both brilliant actors who were stuck in a comedy and romance/fashion rut. Vishal Bharadwaj's stories always feature such expressive and profane language that was perfect in this film, he has such an ear for the rustic dialect that is so acute and in this film he excelled as a screenwriter, which we all know from his adaptations of Shakespeare to rural Bihar in Omkara and Mumbai for Maqbool. But I think this film won all it's praise for it's performances by Arshad Warsi, who dropped all the second banana roles to play the lusty Babban. He is such an untapped actor that directors need to use far more, and he creates a full blooded man full of passion, and humour. And it's such a good neo-noir as well, of course adapting it to a Bihar setting makes perfect sense, because I'd rather have the femme fatale in a sari like Vidya. Sensuous and dangerous, Vidya makes Krishna a dame worth stealing for. And that kiss! As much as it's great that Bollywood is doing snogs and all, but this one was less of the tender and quick pecks we see, but pure animalistic hunger and it was HOT! I haven't mentioned much of the director Abhishek Chaubey, who aided in the screenplay and is definitely a director I want to see more of, but this is one of those films that is dominated by the presence of it's auteur producer/music director, and that's one of it's best points. Bhardwaj's flair for the ribald dialogues of Bihar and setting it in small town India makes this a neo-noir that is just as stylish and beautiful as his city-set films like Kaminey.

2. Tees Maar Khan - I'm with Kara/Filmigirl on this one, this was a good film in all the ways I wanted it to be, paisa vasool entertainment full of masala madness and meta-snarkiness that wins a reference spotter like me over! Now I know people saw this and were supremely disappointed with it, but there's an indicative moment where Farah's hubby Shirish Kunder sweeps up all the Oscars at the end credits. Shirish, has an irreverant humour that we witnessed in Jaan-e-Maan, with it's plot elements all thrown in and framing the songs like Broadway songs, and it worked for me at least. This was a Farah film framed through Shirish techniques, and I loved it. I just saw the Peter Sellers original 'After the Fox' and while the two are extremely similar, both were hot messes affected by every actor doing their own thing and just generally HAVING FUN, and that joyful abadonement of details and contrivances makes them so enjoyable. Tees Maar Khan has all the great packaging, great songs and fluid and music video style cinematography, but it won me over for the two A's: Akshay Kumar, who probably put his everything into this movie, and it's fun to watch him cut loose in a film that caters to his strengths of being a very physical actor and trying anything, in a way that none of his Priyadarshan films do. And Akshaye Khanna, what a gleeful role as the Oscar hungry Atish Kapoor, he really went to town with that role and was a complete scene-stealer. And lastly Katrina Kaif, who I kinda like and she was hilarious being a vain wannabe and she looked like she was enjoying herself and stole the show in her small role.

3. Raavan/Raavanan - Two movies, same story, both different experiences that were both interesting experiments. Critics again jumped on the 'Let's shoot this down' bandwagon for Raavan, to be honest Raavan was an experiment in mood, and story that only partially worked. But I had to add this to the list alongside it's better counterpart, because I have a feeling both will be appreciated much later down the road, and lol I might have to turn producer and give these two their own Criterion Filmi Collection, because they are both great pieces of cinema as Mani Ratnam took a chance on two wildly different actors to interpret B/Veera, the supposed villain of the piece and turned the Ramayana tale on its head, by blurring the lines of good and evil between B/Veera and Dev, two men jostling for power, and I'm gonna admit I really liked Abhishek's interpretation. It's the damn earnestness of it all, they tried so hard to make something weird and wonderful and I think it will be one of the hotly debated classics of Indian cinema. But what is consistent in both, the acting by Aishwariya Rai is absolutely phenomenal and she shares great chemistry with both Abhishek and Vikram, but I appreciated Abhishek's performance because it is OTT, manic, and definitely something I'm sure he's secretly proud of. But Vikram does the more subtle, manic, super-cali-fragi-fuckinamazin-docious portrayal because he made Beera, more sensuous and sexual being than Abhi which is why pitting the two portrayals next to each other is such an interesting comparison, because it just adds to the many layers Raavan had. Sorry I just need this to be on a Criterion Collection dvd right this minute for me to geek out over!

4. Rakt Charitra 1+2 - Everyone loves a good comeback, and I'm one of those suckers and seeing as it was my underrated fave Viveik Oberoi then I shall be heralding his comeback as the best for an actor who made a resounding Dishoom entrance with Company and to return with a forceful performance with his mentor RGV. And I'd say both director and star benefitted from the hype, even if the Hindi version didn't do so great, but the other ones did. Viveik is a strong actor that was blacklisted unfairly for his press conference debacle about Salman, and I kinda admire him for that, but this was the best way for him to reclaim his territory as the new Angry Vigilante on the block. Viveik imbues pathos into Pratap so we feel his pain and understand as he sloly turns into a monster and are shocked by his sudden urge to lop off heads, and knife people! And I think Ram Gopal Varma is back in form again, he has a contentious visual language of the loud chanting, odd camera angles (i always love his trademark from above a glass table shot, which is soo Masala because Feroz Khan did so many of those shots in Dharmatma!) and he's uncomprimising on the way he shoots his films and his subject matter which makes him stand alone from the rest of the directors out there today. Part 2 was obviously dominated by Suriya making a bombastic debut in Hindi films, but Viveik still managed to create a sort of Michael Corleone gone far worse. The assasination scene was just amazing. Both were full of non-stop even bloodier Pekinpah carnage, which was necessary for the murky politics of revenge and power.

5. Udaan - I really don't know why people bash this movie so much, but I do realize that movies like these are catering to a niche urban audience and not everyone's gonna jump on this Indie-Amazingness film! I just like movies about 'rites of passages' and 'coming of age' ones like these, but this one had a universal story of family pressure. It becomes so much more than that, with the lived in and stunning performances by Rajat Barmecha, Ronit Roy, and Ram Kapoor. We see Rohan wanting to be free from his stifling and abusive home life of routine and boredom, he wants to be a writer and poet. While critics and others found that it emphasized a more literal freedom from his harrowing home life, I thought that that was only way he could flourish as a writer and as a person was to finally take his brother and run. The row scenes are so raw and hard to watch at times, yet another one of those typical 'root for him to escape' moments that would be cliche, but I honestly cared for the two boys and it enahnced the emotional experience. It reminded me of Truffaut's 'The 400 Blows' which was repetitive in that showed the young Antoine Doinel navigate through his school and bad home life, going to school coming home, running away and all over again, and this film in its symbolic shots of the factory instruments pounding and crushing his dreams, writing in the fields, and contemplating. And it's these moments we don't see much in films where we can see a character really soul searching and contemplating his freedom and life, usually if a hero is trapped then by the end he'll have a job and a happy life and all that. I know I'm rambling but I like thoughtful characterization of heroes that are aimless and trapped, although it is suffers from problematic characterization of Rohan's dad, who is just awful and abusive, and drinks all day long, he isn't offered any other side which is off-putting at first but Ronit Roy does such a wonderful job of the character that we just feel he's been trapped in his own set ways and can't bend at all.

6. Band Baaja Baaraat - I will herald my love for this film all day long, although I saw it after all those shitty romcoms that came before it, this movie again has a love story that's simply revolutionary for not piling on the montages of singing in on a beach style love, and creating fully rounded reality steeped characters that we can root for! Is it really hard to tell that romances set in India like this and Ishqiya, are consistently trumping the NRI montage-quick lets fall in love in style romances like Anjaana Anjaani? But what I have to rave about is Ranveer Singh! What an absolutely wonderful debut for him, it definitely shows how a godfather/mother/Masala Filmi animal connection (Moti the dog can only help so much, kids!) doesn't bring you success and give you that magic spark that the audience immediately connects with. Ranveer has screen presence that most first time newcomers don't have, he's an instinctive actor as his intro scenes are so charming and I know I have a new crush of the month. But I think what's most appealing about him in this film, is ability to project a very Everyman quality to him, he's not exceptionally beautiful like a Hrithik (I certainly think he is) but he makes Bittoo his own, an aimless college boy that loves his food and loafing around. We don't have enough of the Everyman-type heroes that an Amol Palekar or a Jack Lemmon specialized in, and I think if he continues to be so spontaneous and fresh in his next few films then he's here to stay. And of course Anushka Sharma is fabulous too, her reaction to the morning after rejection is just heart-breaking. Of course the audience connected with this movie because it was well-written by Habib Faisal and Maneesh Sharma, they manage to steep a Yashraj production which has a penchant for the 'let's strut' montages, 'let's fall in love in our beachwear' songs, into a filmi reality that just works!

7. Dabangg - Let's all bow to the revisionist Masala Pradesh approved Saint Salman! We are not worthy! If 2010 publicity was good in one area, it was the hype for this deserving movie. Masala has been coming back to the fore for a while now, especially with 2009's Wanted and even before that the homage hot mess masala Tashan. But Salman and Abhinav Kashyap capitalized on this hunger for a film where the sheer angriness of the hero can make his shirt automatically tear off, where the villain can snarl/have an super OILY well sculpted body/and act goofy, where Arbaaz has a meta-dishoom fight with his actual reel/real bhai, and just the absolute faithfulness to a masala concept. This wasn't a perfect film, it had loopholes, but we overlooked all of that because Salman dominated the show and meshed all of his cool guy schtick, lack of pretentious acting and his stoic personality into one character that hypnotized us. Let's not forget the Great Female Hope in Sonakshi Sinha, an actress that made a great impact in her few small scenes and of course her thankless task of bringing a healthy sized heroine back to the screen that was sexy and alluring! The film is a testament to the director and star, who captured the masala zeitgeist and instead of turning it into a vanity project, they made a paisa vasool film which even some of the critics begrudgingly admitted entertained, which is what it all comes down to. A masala movie is meant for gratifying the audience's need for a good time and being a clever smart at that too!
Plus it had the debut of our Masala Pradesh Filmi Animals Sheroo-the Wonder Bird and Allah Rakha's younger and more agile cousin, Sheroo Part Do!

Honourable mentions

Raajneeti - Loved it in the cinema for all those speeches, and gargantuan Mahabharata backstabbing, but criminally underused Ajay Devgn in the key role as Karna, lovely Katrina show glimpses of a really earnest and untapped potential.

Peepli Live - I honestly was turned off by Aamir's hype of this being a satire, it really wasn't, it was far too garbled a message for that. More of a black comedy which veered into farce. But definitely the right choice for the Oscar entry.

Once Upon A Time in Mumbaaaaiiii - Numerology works in some cases! Spot on homage to the crime films of the 70's, fabulous dialogues and a psychotic Emraan Hashmi stealing the show, although again criminally underusing the gals only as the Apprehensive girlfriend or the Love of a gangster's life and only that.

Do Dooni Chaar - A lovely slice of life film which had Neetu Singh and Rishi back together in such an apt film for a co production with Disney to be, unlike Warner Bros helping out Shameful Classic 'Chandni Chowk to China' A bit annoying with narration but a film with absolute heart. I died of a dil-squish through many moments of it!

Aisha - Shameful admission of this one, because when I'm not shouting of the glorys of TCM and masala films, I do like a good old chick flick. Of course I muttered throughout 'that Aisha is such a meddling bitch' even through Emma, which is not one of my fave Austen novels. Dammit it had such a freaking gorgeous wardrobe for everyone, Sonam even showed sparks of dimmed potential, and Abhay, despite his petty comments after it did moderately well in places, was a studly Colin Firth type and had suprisingly good chemistry with Sonam.

Well thaaaat's all folks! Thanks for bearing with my egregiously long rambles about my ire and my favourites! What are your hopes for 2011? I for one am hoping for more set at home romcoms that are smart like BBB and more indie films getting better distribution!