Sep 3, 2011

Sunidhi Chauhan and...Enrique Iglesias?

1.  How did I not know this existed?

2.  How beautiful is Sunidhi's voice?

3.  I'm not entirely in love with it.

4.  Hmmm.


Aug 19, 2011

Official Trailer for Freida Pinto's "Trishna" Released

Like much of the Bollywood fanbase I'm a bit put off by Freida Pinto's condescending attitude towards Indian cinema.  BUT...I'm not swearing her off entirely.  She hasn't done anything to impress me yet, acting-wise, but I'm hoping that will change when Trishna premieres at TIFF this fall.  Pinto stars as the daughter of a rickshaw driver in an adaptation of Tess of the D'Ubervilles directed by Michael Winterbottom and scored by Amit Trivedi.  The trailer released this morning and it looks promising to say the least.

Thoughts on the film?  Anyone planning on seeing it when it comes out?


Aug 17, 2011

Love Breakups Zindagi--Official Trailer

Found the official trailer for Love Breakups Zindagi on Youtube this morning.  For a Zayed Khan movie this one doesn't look too bad--he doesn't look so frenetic and Dia Mirza, while not the greatest actress ever, looks cute.  But to me the real star of the film is going to be Cyrus Sahukar, who I loved loved loved in Aisha and in his small role in Delhi 6.  He always cracks me up and I'm hoping he'll continue the trend in LBZ.

I'll definitely check this one out if it plays in my neighborhood--it looks like a cute little afternoon film.  :)



Aug 16, 2011

My Top 10 Amit Trivedi Songs

Amit Trivedi has accumulated an impressive number of hits in his (relatively) short career.  First receiving notice for his work on the underrated Aamir, he went on to garner critical acclaim for Dev D, one of the most innovative and diverse film soundtracks to come out of Bollywood.  He followed up with what I think is equally impressive work in Wake Up Sid, Aisha, Udaan, and No One Killed Jessica among others.  He's proven himself capable of writing fast-paced rock numbers, qawwali-style pieces, and sweet love songs with equal panache.

Output-wise he's (luckily for me in this post!) still in his early years--I'd pull my hair out selecting my favorites if he had a body of work as large as, say, an A.R. Rahman or R.D. Burman.  So before his repertoire grows to an unmanageable size, here are my top ten Amit Trivedi songs.

It was a very close call between first and second place, but in the end sweet and romantic won out over pure 80s danceability.  Did I leave out your favorite song?  What would your top 10 look like?


10.  Gal Mitthi Mitthi Bol, Aisha






9.    Mahi Mennu, Dev. D





8.    Lehrein, Aisha





7.    Ha Raham (Mehfuz), Aamir





6.    Pardesi, Dev D





5.    Iktara, Wake Up Sid





4.    Aali Re, No One Killed Jessica





3.    Behke Behke, Aisha





2.    Bombay Bombay, Striker





1.    Dhol Yaara Dhol, Dev D 


Aug 13, 2011

Malaika Arora Khan's Music Video Days

I've loved this song for a decade and had this video stored away on my computer for years and I can't believe I never noticed this!

Before Munni and Chaiyya Chaiyya (in 1993, so waaaaay before in fact) Malaika Arora Khan starred in a weird little music video for the Malkit Singh/Bally Sagoo collaboration "Gur Naal Ishq Mitha," where she plays the apple of Jas Arora's eye at a wedding.  He sees some sexy shoes, finds their owner, and then plots to make sure she becomes his.  How...sweet.

Anyways, check out the Chaiyya Chaiyya girl before she became a star--and enjoy some fab Punjabi tunes at the same time!


Aug 12, 2011

Friday Man Candy: Prateik Babbar

Tall, dark and (broodingly) handsome.  That's Prateik Babbar to a T.  Happily I can say he's more than just a beautiful face (and body--wow); his work in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, while brief, was noteworthy, he was the heart and soul of Dhobi Ghat, and his upcoming My Friend Pinto looks adorably hilarious.

What better way to go into the weekend than to have a (unashamedly objectifying) look at one of Bollywood's most attractive new talents?



























Aug 9, 2011

"Mausam" Poster: Seriously Gorgeous

Love love love this.  I've been ambivalent about the film (I haven't really been digging what Shahid's been doing since Jab We Met) but I do love Sonam and so far all the trailers and song promos have looked really promising.

And then of course there's this, which is...wow.  I kind of want this poster for my house.


My Biggest Bollywood Pet Peeve

In an earlier life, before I was a Bollywood fan and Occasional Blogger of Things of Dubious Importance, I was a cellist.  Not, you know, a concert cellist or anything, but a pretty decent cellist nonetheless.  I knew how to do all the important things, like how to play open string notes on the strings below them because I was too lazy to tune my instrument properly, and how to make a really whiny noise by turning my bow upside down (or playing on the wrong side of the bridge). 

Most importantly, I knew how to hold my damn instrument in a way that made people think I wasn't touching a cello for the first time.

Your move, Kat:


I don't expect film stars to be the reincarnation of Pablo Casals or anything, but it takes maybe thirty seconds to look up a picture of Yo-Yo Ma and check out what he's doing with his right hand.  And his left one, for that matter.  Look at her!  She's not even playing a real note!  She's got her fingers in a squished up version of first position on the A and the D string, but her bow is on the C string!  Cheeee!

This has got to be my biggest pet peeve in the history of the world right here: actors who play musicians who can't be bothered to try and look authentic.  We all know Katrina Kaif isn't playing the cello but would it kill her to try and look the part? 

Lest anyone think I'm picking on Katrina, let's check out some other offenders.  Like Rishi "I'm just gonna put some fingers on some strings and hope it looks good" Kapoor.



Or this.  WHAT IS THIS I CAN'T EVEN OMG.  Are you going to play that or eat it?  Because based on what you're doing here I'm leaning towards the eating.



Here's Akshay, demonstrating that it may take two Bollywood stars to film a romantic scene but only one to fuck up the violin.



Sigh.  The less said about this the better.  If only I could find a job teaching the violin where there was no requirement that I actually be able to play the violin.




Long story short: Katrina, if you ever decide to film Yuvraaj 2 (and I think we can all safely say we hope that never happens), here's some study material for you.


Memorize this.  For my sanity.

Aug 7, 2011

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara




I put on the Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara soundtrack today to chase away some rainy day blues.

A week ago I wouldn’t have given that CD a second thought.

In all the excited buildup to Zoya Akhtar’s sophomore film I felt like the person who got left behind at the rest stop and didn’t really mind.  I was psyched for the trip but the further we got the less enthused I was feeling.

“Zoya!  Farhan!  Hrithik!  Abhay!  I’ll pack my stuff!”

“Spain!  Hmm…this is starting to look like a tourist brochure…maybe I’ll just come for a few days.”

“Katrina’s coming?  Ugh.  Fine.  Look, I’ll tag along but I’m not going to be nice to her.”

“What the hell is this music we’re listening to?  No.  No, I’m good.  You guys go ahead, I’ll hitch a ride home.”

And then I saw the film.  And I fell in love.  

Was the film flawed?  Yes.  

Did I completely forget every criticism I had of the film five minutes after I left the theater?

Yep.





I hesitate to even continue typing at this point—this is my third attempt to capture a piece of what I felt after viewing ZNMD and I’m finding it impossible.  I just erased four thousand words of…of what, exactly?  Fawning praise of some camera work and criticisms that don’t need to be explained.  We all know the gentle negatives of the film: the intro was too long and fluffy, the characters live in a world of wealth outside the reach of most of those who will see the film, it veered dangerously close at times to being a commercial for the Costa Brava.


So why am I listening to Der Lagi Lekin with tears in my eyes right now?

It’s because regardless of how artificial ZNMD’s world is, I know that the film is right.  Those characters are right.  They did something we all need to do—they figured out how to let go and live in the moment.  

Is that cheesy?

Maybe.
 
Is it important? 

Absolutely.


The film centers around Arjun (Hrithik Roshan), Kabir (Abhay Deol), and Imran (Farhan Akhtar), but the main character, without a doubt, is Spain.  Director Zoya Akhtar said she initially had Mexico in mind for the location but I think she made the correct choice with Spain.  Having had my own Spanish adventures I can say that the transformative effect of that Barcelona air isn’t just movie magic—it’s real.  So real that I sometimes remember the smell of a rainy day spent wandering around Parc Güell and it puts me in a good mood for days. 



ZNMD was full of little surprises.  The first was Katrina Kaif.  It’s no secret that I’ll often flat out refuse to see a film if she’s in it, so little do I regard her, erm, “talents,” but she was so natural here that I actually found myself liking her.  I’m inclined to think she’s either a director’s actress or that she just isn’t at all suited to the type of acting required in your typical Akshay Kumar film (who I love, bless his heart, but that brand of cheesy film making requires a certain kind of actress and Kat doesn’t have what it takes for them).



The second (major spoiler alert here) is the treatment of Imran’s reunion with his father.  It would have been easy (and lazy) to throw together a happy scene where the son embraces his long-lost father and all is well in the world, but Zoya isn’t lazy.  Imran (played perfectly by Farhan, who for me had the standout performance of the film) struggles with the idea of meeting his father and when he finally does it isn’t a loving scene.  There are no clichés here, just honesty: Salman (Naseeruddin Shah) didn’t want to give up his life to raise a child, so he left, and tells Imran he feels no remorse.  It’s this second rejection that provides Imran with the emotional release he needed.  Just as Arjun’s  life changed when he overcame his fear of the water, so too did Imran’s as he moved past his fear of meeting the man who abandoned him.


And what was Kabir afraid of?  Two things, as it turned out.  For most of the film we’re led to believe he was afraid of getting married, but things aren’t always as they appear.  He isn’t so much afraid of marriage as he’s afraid of not getting married, and the disappointment of his family that would follow.  He’s afraid of breaking Natasha’s (Kalki Koechlin) heart.  While Arjun’s transformation is more outwardly noticeable (going from uptight, obsessed career man to a dreamy man in love), Kabir is more complex.  As he argues with Natasha (first at a distance, then in person as she joins the boys out of jealousy and suspicion) the easy going personality of Kabira (as his friends lovingly call him) is chipped away, revealing a man just as much in need of catharsis as his companions, perhaps even more.

I hesitate to compare Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to Luck By Chance; where LBC was so plot driven and focused on the complex relationships between characters, ZNMD is more introspective.  They're vastly different in their scope, though I will say that as much as I admire Hrithik as an actor, I found him more effective in LBC, where his time on screen was a fraction of what it is in ZNMD.  He's so imposing that he almost overshadowed Abhay and Farhan, and while I was interested in Arjun's story line, it was Imran who I wanted more of.  Farhan was stellar in his portrayal of a man who jokes his way through life as a cover for pain that he doesn't want to talk about.  Abhay was the rock of the film, playing parent to Arjun and Imran and finally coming to terms with the decision he had to make.  Hrithik and Katrina had wonderful chemistry, as did Farhan with Ariadna Cabrol, the Spanish actress who plays  his love interest.  I couldn't have been the only one who wanted their post-love scene Spanish/Hindi conversation to go on forever.

I want to say there aren't enough words to describe how moved I was by Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara but that's not true.  I just threw out the three thousand odd that I had left from previous review attempts in favor of these, which are all that are necessary:

It's beautiful.  Go see it.


Jul 7, 2011

Like Father, Like Son

Kapoor Khazana ended in June but hey, someone's gotta be fashionably late to the party, so why not me?

In keeping with my last post (Chalka Chalka Re vs. Yaaro Yaarodi) here's another video war to vote on.

Two Kapoors.

Two movies.

One song.

Whose Bachna Ae Haseeno was better, Rishi's or Ranbir's?


Bachna Ae Haseeno (Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, 1977):



Bachna Ae Haseeno (Bachna Ae Haseeno, 2008):

Jul 3, 2011

Chalka Chalka Re vs. Yaaro Yaarodi

I'm much more of a Hindi film fan than I am of any of the southern industries, so generally when it comes to Bollywood films that have counterparts in other languages I only ever bother to watch the Hindi.  I added Saathiya to my collection last winter and just picked up Alaipayuthey this week.  I haven't watched Alaipayuthey yet (there's never time!) but I did take a few minutes to check out Yaaro Yaarodi, the Tamil original of one of my all time favorite songs, Chalka Chalka Re.

I don't think Yaaro Yaarodi holds up to Chalka Chalka Re--I've gotten used to the pace of the Hindi version and the original seems too fast and a bit jumbled.  My favorite line of any song in the world, "Baabula chhoda tera anganaara," got sort of lost in Yaaro Yaarodi.  Hrmph.

So which video is your favorite?  It's actually a close call for me...I prefer Maddy over Vivek but Chalka Chalka Re wins for me because Rani is just so cute!

Yaaro Yaarodi


Chalka Chalka Re

Jul 2, 2011

Bhairavi Goswami, and Lying About Aishwarya For Publicity

How does a second-rate Bollywood actress get her name in the news just long enough to land herself a spot on a reality show/talk show/get a book deal/anything else that'll get her some cash?

You poke at the Bachchans in public.

It would be completely unsurprising if that's what Bhairavi Goswami is doing at the moment.  All that crap the other day about Aishwarya getting IVF treatments so she can continue the line of Bachchan men?  Probably made up off the top of her head.  She gave pretty much the shadiest interview ever to the Times of India this weekend and it's pretty clear she's trying to act like she never said anything.  So either she was lying and it got more attention than she wanted or someone tapped her on the shoulder and reminded her where she stands on the totem pole of film industry power.  Namely at the bottom.

She's got a good point about the desire for male children and good for her for pointing out (yet again) the disparate levels of female vs. male children born in states like UP.  But come on already with the Aishwarya stuff.  Either you know something or you don't.  Don't be f'ing coy, it's so tiresome.  Be a doll and spill the goss' or shut the hell up.

Just saying.

"Oh My God, My Son Is a Lesbian!"

In honor of gay marriage being passed in New York State, a bit of "Goodness Gracious Me" for everyone.


"You go to your room, and don't come back until you're not of the gay!"

Jun 30, 2011

Bhairavi Goswami Has Something to Say About Aishwarya Rai

Bheja Fry actress Bhairavi Goswami took to Twitter today with some strange (and if true, tragic) gossip.


"Nauseating 2 read superstars givg interviews abt wanting a girl baby whn she has gone 2 Bangkok to an IVF clinic which specializes in boy babies. Height of hypocrisy. They knw damn well its a boy, aftr all she has to produce a male heir at any cost - Typical UP mentality, no wonder that state has such high female foeticide."

She was clever enough at least not to specifically say who she was talking about but we all know she's referring to Aishwarya (Amitabh is from UP).


I'm of two minds on this.  Bhairavi hasn't offered any proof of her claim, and I'm sort of inclined to think it's a wild claim made up for media attention.  And yet...I don't find the idea of it either shocking or surprising.  After a weekend spent watching The Tudors (where Jonathan Rhys-Meyers spends 24 episodes in a row demanding a son and divorcing and beheading the women who aren't able to give him one) the idea of a woman (particularly one who lives in a still-patriarchal society) going to the ends of the earth (or in this case Thailand) to make sure the child she's carrying is a boy isn't out of the realm of possibility.


Fucking depressing, yes.  Medieval, yes.  Impossible?  No.


Whether it's true or not, there's one thing I know for sure:  Bhairavi Goswami is officially off the Bachchan Christmas card list.






Jun 28, 2011

Sweetly Simple

A non-Bollywood, non-India post, if you'll indulge me...

Nokia held a competition recently which challenged participants to make a film using only Nokia cell phones.  The winning film, by JW Griffiths, is called Splitscreen: A Love Story, and it's nothing short of remarkable.

The story line is simple and the editing is superb.  There's nothing incredibly original here, the wonder is in the way it's done.  It's a cute little project that shows that a film needn't be three hours long to pack a punch.


Please Oh Please Oh Please Let This Be True

Steven Baker over at Digital Spy is basically my favorite person in the world right now, because he brought me some fab news and I love him for it.*  Uday Chopra is finally going to stop torturing us with his attempts at acting!  (After Dhoom 3 that is, which...ugh...I can't even...ugh.)


*If I ever see Uday in another film after Dhoom 3 (aka Doomed 3) I'm going to withdraw my love and have you expelled from my kingdom.  For I'm Henry VIII I am I am, and I'm fickle like that.

Jun 27, 2011

Shake That Biscuit Baby


I unashamedly love Aamir Khan's "item number" from Delhi Belly.  It's hilarious.  The jumpsuit.  The chest hair.  The scarf.  THE DANCING.  If you ask me there's a criminal lack of dancing going on in Aamir Khan's world these days, and "I Hate You (Like I Love You)" is the perfect remedy.

LOVE.  IT.








Some New Looks

I didn't follow any of the casting shenanigan stories when it came to Heroine, and I'm still not that psyched about the film--Aishwarya's a mediocre actress on all but her very best days and after having seen Page 3 and the hot mess that was Fashion I'm not really digging the idea of sitting through yet another Madhur Bhandarkar "deep dark industry expose" film (unless there's a drinking game involved).  I'll do it though, because I love Arjun Rampal and Arunoday Singh, and because I'm more than mildly curious how they're going to deal with Aishwarya's pregnancy.

From the looks of this just-released shot of Aishwarya in costume it looks like they're dealing with it by wrapping her in a silver sack.







Another film I haven't been following all that much (a Bollywood blogger who doesn't really follow films...novel concept) is Singularity.  There was a time when I considered myself a Josh Hartnett connoisseur, but 1999 is in the past now and the only reason I know about this film at all is because of my love love love for Abhay Deol.  I have to say it just sounds...wrong...to put Abhay in a period film (well, a period part of a film at any rate).  I'm sure he can pull it off but he's a modern actor with a modern look and I'm not sure how I feel about this look on him...



Yeah, that's Abhay Deol, with a beard and long hair.  I...don't know what to say.

The rest of Singularity's B'Town cast is ok.  Bipasha Basu stars as Josh's love interest (or the love interest of the dude who looks like Josh Hartnett who Josh Hartnett dreams about while he's a vegetable in a hospital) and I'm guessing the casting session went something like this: 

Producer 1:  Find me a hot Indian actress.
Producer 2:  Well there's this actress named Konkona...I hear she's pretty badass.
Producer 1:  Can she act?  She can?  Ok, she's probably too expensive for us then.  How about this Bipasha person, who can't act but has a nice rack?
Producer 2:  Done and done.

Atul Kulkarni's in the cast as well which is...awesome?  I think that's the right word.  I've always had this little crush on him...I even halfheartedly started sketching a little script where he and Vijay Raaz play small-town buddy cops who have a "you distract this guy while I go flirt with his wife" routine.

Um.  Ahem.  Yes.

Jun 14, 2011

I'm Back! And an Assortment of Random Things I'm Looking Forward To

It's been a long time since I've posted here hasn't it?  I have a bit of an excuse--I was in Jamaica, playing bridesmaid in the wedding of one of my best friends (and meeting so many fantastic people!), then in San Juan, Puerto Rico, exploring Old Town and getting a wee bit tipsy (true story) with some more friends, and then finally on a Caribbean cruise with my dad and sister.

I'm so spoiled.

 Congratulations Danielle and Omar!  <3

Anyways, now I'm back, and I'm slowly catching up on all the awesome (and not so awesome) goings-on in Filmiland.

What's not so awesome?  Ready.  I'm soooooo over hearing about Ready.  I'm just...not interested.  Asin's great and Salman's occasionally entertaining but when you watch three or four trailers in a row for a film and are still hard pressed to remember what it's about...well, that's a bad sign.  Looks like another mass-produced formulaic bore.  Yawn.

What's awesome?  I'm glad you asked.

This is awesome:





Let's talk about this. Because I wasn't super excited when I heard about the project, and I wasn't super excited when someone sent me the trailer. But then I watched it. And I watched it again.  And I decided I was kind of intrigued.

Politics of Love is about an Obama campaign worker (played by Mallika Sherawat) who falls in love with a McCain campaign worker.  Craaaaaaazy, I know.  And not just any old McCain campaign worker.  A black McCain campaign worker (I know I know, but it's a movie so it doesn't have to be realistic.)

Anyways...drama drama, etc etc.  It's your standard girl meets boy, boy happens to work for the spawn of Satan film where everything works out in the end with the help of sassy family and friends and a "can't we all get along" speech (or not...I haven't seen it but I'm assuming there'll be one of those in there somewhere).

So why wasn't I super excited about it?  Because even a few years later I still have freaking Obama fatigue.  I'm one of those super liberals who isn't really an Obama fan...you know the drill.  Anyways.  I wasn't sure how much "zomg isn't Obama amazing?!" I could take in one two minute trailer, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The fact that I was able to set my political fatigue aside and get (albeit oh so briefly) involved with the rest of the trailer is a good sign.  I'm not a big Mallika Sherawat fan either but I'm willing to give this a try.

Plus, come on, Loretta Devine?  I fucking love her.

Continuing with things that are awesome, let's talk about Chammak Challo.  You know the one.  Akon doing his thing on a track that got leaked and made Shahrukh Khan cry?

Three things.  First, this track is HOT.  Like...I've listened to it a hundred times in two days hot.  Second, a note to SRK: if it makes you feel at all better, I had absolutely no intention of seeing RA.One at all until I heard Chammak Challo.  Now I'm willing to go just to check out the picturization.  So see?  Life's not all bad.  :)  Third, Akon could become a Bollywood playback singer in a heartbeat.  His Hindi sounds better when he sings than mine does, and I've been studying Hindi for damn near five years now.  If he and Vishal ever did an album together...just sayin'...




Akon. So hot right now. Akon.

Ahem.  Moving on...


Another trailer, this time for Breakaway, the new Russell Peters/Rob Lowe film about a desi ice hockey team.  Think The Mighty Ducks meets Bend It Like Beckham.  It has all the things I look for in a film: Rob Lowe, Russell Peters, Anupam Kher, and Sikhs on ice.







And finally, the official trailer for Aarakshan is out, and it looks like a humdinger.  I'm excited to see Saif finally do something that looks interesting.  Add in the riveting Prateik Babbar and you've got a film I'm dying to see.



Not a bad group of things to be excited about!

There is one thing I'm starting to get a little nervous about, and that's  Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.  I have exceptionally high hopes and expectations for Zoya's second film, based on both how absolutely amazing Luck By Chance was and on the ZNMD cast.  Other than Katrina Kaif, the film has a cast you simply can't go wrong with.  Hrithik, Farhan, Abhay, and Kalki are all favorites of mine and are phenomenally talented.  And of course I'm drawn to anything set in Spain.  Which brings me to my concern:



Spain. I love it. The best times of my life have been in Spain. Every once in a while I swear I can still smell it.

And I'm afraid that it's about to be turned into a film cliche. La Tomatina? Running with the bulls? I worry that my beloved Spain is being used as an exotic backdrop rather than as a legitimate character in the film.

That, along with the fact that I'm horribly underwhelmed by the soundtrack, is bringing down my expectations just a little bit. Who knows, it could end up being a phenomenal film. But I'm getting a bit worried...


Oh oh oh!  Forgot to add the trailer for My Friend Pinto, which looks HILARIOUS and stars Prateik Babbar (swoon) and Kalki Koechlin (total girl crush).  I can't wait for this one!

May 11, 2011

Oh Hey There...

Contrary to what the activity level on this blog might suggest I am in fact still alive.  I've been pretty busy the past few weeks getting ready for some trips and I'll be out of the country for three weeks starting tomorrow, so unfortunately there won't be a whole lot of updating here for a bit.  I'll get back to it soon though, no worries.  :)

Apr 10, 2011

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Poster (UPDATED)

I don't think this really needs any explanation. Just try not to drool on your keyboards, k?



I showed this post to my sister, expecting her to be overwhelmed by the Hrithikness (as people tend to do), but instead she says "Oh. That looks exactly like the poster for Lords of Dogtown."

Yeah...she's right.  And after a quick Google search it looks like they're being called out on it.  Good.


Sigh.  I guess of all the things Bollywood likes to rip off, a poster is the least obnoxious.  Still disappointing.

Apr 2, 2011

India Wins the Cricket World Cup!





BLEED BLUE.


Some more pics and a great vid of the end of the match:

This one from Neil Nitin Mukesh's Twitter feed of the celebrations outside his house:


Abhishek and Big B celebrating India's win:


And for those of you who, like me, had to rely on dodgy internet streams to see the match, and who might have thrown things at the wall when those streams failed in the final minutes, here's the end of the match and a bit of the post-match celebrations:


Mar 31, 2011

Deol Dhamaka--Dharmendra in "Aaj Mausam Bada Beimaan Hai"

This is a repost from a couple of months ago--I've been super lazy about doing any posts for Deol Dhamaka but I'm catching up!  Check back tomorrow for a post featuring the delicious Abhay Deol, but for now enjoy this sweetly playful scene of Dharmendra's in the film 'Loafer.'

Mohammad Rafi's "Aaj Mausam Bada Beimaan Hai" came to my attention through the Monsoon Wedding soundtrack, and I listened to it for years before I bothered to seek out the original video.  I'm so glad I finally did though, becuase, well, LOOK at it!  Dharmendra!  Plaid pants!  Big hair!  It's 70s eye candy for sure.  My only quibble is that the film version leaves out my favorite verse:

Kya hua hai, hua kuch nahi hai
Baat kya hai pataa kuch nahi hai
Mujhse koi kataa ho gaye to
Isme mere kataa kuch nahi hai
Kuubasuurat hai tuu rut javaan hai...

I dare you not to have this beautiful tune in your head all day.

 

Mar 30, 2011

Karan Johar Getting Married...

This ought to fool the whopping four people in the world who still believe Karan's a heterosexual.  The rest of us are just eager to know how much this poor girl's getting paid...


From Masala Magazine:


"Thirty-one year old Vandana Melwani is an Economics and English literature graduate and after completing a brief stint as a management consultant, she went on to get her MBA. Currently, she heads her family’s real estate business in New York.


The love-story apparently took flight during the filming of ‘My Name Is Khan’ when Karan was in New York with mum Hiroo who suggested he meet up their old friend’s daughter Vandana. He was dreading it and decided to have a quick dinner.


But everything changed when he saw her walk in and 45 minutes later, Karan was smitten. She was gorgeous, witty and more importantly, not intimidated by his star status."

A few sites have tracked down KJo's bride-to-be...this is allegedly the lucky (or not so much) woman:

Mar 26, 2011

Song of the Day--Maula Mere Maula (Anwar)

I've been listening to this beautiful song for a few months and when I first heard it I couldn't believe I'd managed not only to never have heard the song before but also to never have heard of the film!*

Anwar stars Siddharth Koirala (yes, Manisha's brother) and  Nauheed Cyrusi, with a supporting cast that includes one of my favorites, Vijay Raaz.  I won't give away the story but during the film Siddharth's character, Anwar, has occasion to reflect on his love for Mehru (Cyrusi).  This sufi-inspired song recalls their meeting and how they fell in love.  It's a simple, haunting song wonderfully portrayed by the two leads, who are a natural (and extraordinarily attractive) couple and have outstanding chemistry.

Maula Mere Maula could exist only as images of Siddharth's eyes and his gentle and earnest love for Mehru would still come shining through.  The song (featuring the voice of Roop Kumar Rathod) and its picturization express a real romanticism that I find somewhat lacking in better-known numbers, and it touched me in a way that makes the tragedy of the film all the more heartbreaking.



*If I ever fulfill one of my dreams and move to Spain to teach English I'm going to use that line as an example of a ridiculous sentence structure that my students should just never ever attempt to put together for the sake of their own sanity.

Mar 21, 2011

Crazy About Penn Masala--A Post Script (and Update!)

I feel sort of silly about yesterday's Penn Masala post.  My handy site tracker is showing a ton of  UPenn hits and I imagine one or two of them are from someone in the group or someone who knows them, and here I am looking like a silly batty fangirl!  So I thought I'd add a little post script to yesterday's post to dispel that somewhat.  :)

Yes, the men of Penn Masala are easy on the eyes.  Very easy.  But that's not why I love them.  I love them because they can do amazing things with the human voice, things that I, a semi-singer of classical music (NYSMA Solofest score of 100 on a level 6 solo, woot!) can only dream of doing.  I have crazy respect for what they do.

Let me tell you what gets me about them:  listen to their version of Mere Sapnon Ki Rani.  You hear that little clip in the rhythm when they sing "aur kab tak mujhe tadpaayegi tu"?  That kills me.  I love that.  I love how their voices come together on that line.  And again in Streets/Roobaroo, when the two songs collide in the middle and it's just so effortless and perfect...it's like they were designed to go together.  That's brilliant to me.

I'd love to be able to ask them a few questions about the mechanics of it all.  Do you spread out the solos to singers from different years so graduation doesn't claim all of the soloists at the same time?  Are there singers who only sing in Hindi and others who only sing in English?  Is it a case of not all of you speaking Hindi?  Does Bharat truly have the smoothest voice in the world?  Is the reason you don't cover a lot of bhangra because it's hard to beat box a dhol?  Curious minds want to know!

So that's my bit.  I hate coming across as a crazed fan when it comes to things I really care about--I seriously think Penn Masala is one of the best musical acts I've ever heard, and it's because of what they do, not how they look.

But let's be honest...they look damn good.  ;)

Update:  I've been told by Penn Masala alum Vishal Oberoi that it is indeed difficult to beatbox a dhol.  So there's that burning question answered. :)

Mar 20, 2011

Crazy About Penn Masala

(A post script to this post appears here.)

I went a little obsessive about Penn Masala last night on Facebook and then I woke up this morning and realized I had a blog.  Not only that, but a blog devoted to all things India, so really what better place for this?

I got to know Penn Masala the way I imagine a lot of us did--I caught some of their songs on the American Desi soundtrack and was hooked.

The Basics:

Penn Masala was formed in 1996 at the University of Pennsylvania, and at the time they were believed to be the first ever Hindi a cappella group.  As their popularity has grown universities all over the country have emulated their model; even my alma mater, the University of Maryland, has a Hindi a cappella group called Anokha.  Penn Masala performs all over the country (they did a show at Vanderbilt last month that I'm kicking myself for missing) and has even gone international with a big tour of India.

NPR did a great piece on them a few years ago--check it out for some more background as well as a taste of their work.

So what have they got going for them?  What makes them stand out from the dozens of other college a cappella groups?

Well for starters...these are some fine looking men.  Yeah, I said it.  They're hotties.  All of them. Who wouldn't want to be sung to by these guys?

photo from the Penn Masala website

And check out Ashima Yadava's excellent photo set from their tour in India:


Ok.  I've had my swoon.  Let's get to the substance.  These boys can SING.

Normally the guys pick a Hindi tune and a western song and blend them perfectly, but from time to time they compose their own original songs, like this one:  Distant Places is gorgeous.  The lead singers are Ankit Dhir (English), Bharat Moudgil (Hindi) and Manoj Racherla (background).



Amazing right?  They have fantastic variety.  Check out their mix of Justin Timberlake's "Lovestoned" and "Ya Ali" from Gangster.  



Here's Ankit, with his crazy 'fro which I love (and from the sounds of it so do the women in that audience!). Bharat's singing the Hindi again--someone get that boy a job on a film soundtrack, he's fantastic.


Another professionally done video, this time it's a mashup of Coldplay's Viva la Vida and Jashn-e-Bahara from Jodhaa Akbar.


And pretty much my favorite thing ever, Manoj busting out his best Kevin Lyttle impression at Philly Fest:



Not content with Youtube videos?  No problem!  Penn Masala has recorded 7 albums (their latest, Panoramic, JUST came out) along with a compilation album.  They're all fantastic--you can head over to their site to get your own copies.  Do it!  They're well worth the money, and all the proceeds from album sales go straight to the group to help fund their tours, etc.

As a bit of a teaser, here's the song that put these guys on the map--their mega popular take on Aap Jaisa Koi!




PS: Ankit Dhir, if you see this, I love you.  Call me.  xoxo

Mar 15, 2011

Sneak Peak of Deepika in Dum Maro Dum

So Deepika's much talked about 'Dum Maro Dum' item number is out.  The verdict?  She looks great, and comfortable doing the number, which is fun and a touch raunchy.  The song?  Eh.  Not really doing it for me.  Your thoughts?

ETA: After listening to it about twenty times the song is starting to grow on me.

Mar 5, 2011

5 Things I Hated About "I Hate Luv Storys" (And 5 Things I Luved)

I've had this post sitting in draft mode on Blogger for about two months now.  That should tell you how eager I was to ever think about "I Hate Luv Storys" again.  However, I hate leaving things unfinished, so let's dive in.

I hate how this movie is spelled.

Now that we've sufficiently butchered the English language, let's check out the cast of characters:




First up is Imran Khan, who plays J.  Yeah, J.  Like the letter.  Adding an -ay to it would make it wicked uncool, man.  Of his many talents, his most obvious throughout the entire film is being able to move his forehead.  Your move, Saif Ali Khan.

Jay--I'm sorry, J--works for Veer, romantic film director extraordinaire.  Veer's got a bit of a Nathan Lane thing going on.  I dig it.

No no, "Nathan Lane thing" is totally a compliment.  Really.

J has a best buddy named Kunal.  Kunal is one of the most loathsome characters in any film I've ever seen.  Totally useless.  Also completely undeserving of the name Kunal.

THIS is a Kunal.

 This is not.

Wannabe Kunal likes throwing eggs at women who rebuff his advances.  He also has an interesting and unique theory about women:

The hotter they are the crazier they are!

 When I said unique...

Next is Sonam Kapoor as Simran.  And don't try making a joke about her filmi name or she'll cut you.  Actually no, she won't cut you, that'd be way too interesting and edgy.  She'll just sort of glare at you and roll her eyes a bit.

"Did you notice how I glared at you and then rolled my eyes?  It's my characterization."
(That's right, I just busted out a Luck By Chance reference.  Get used to it, it's what I do best.)

Simran has a fiance named Raj.  Naturally.

"I'm also only 14.  I think the word you're looking for is Wunderkind."

So now we've got the major characters, let's set up the story...

We start out with a voiceover.  J's dulcet tones inform us of the thing he hates more than anything in the world--sappy love stories.  Examples?







What do all of these films have in common?  They're all films I'd rather be watching than I Hate Luv Storys.

J works for Veer, who makes--you guessed it--sappy love stories.  Veer sends J off to the theater to check out an actress's performance, which J isn't too happy about.  All that changes when he ends up sitting next to the lovely Simran.  He annoys the hell out of her and she storms out of the theater.

Here's what happens in IHLS:



And then poof, she's outta there.

Let me show you how this scene would have gone if someone competent had written the script:




Just saying.

So where were we?  Oh right...J hates love stories.  Perfectly filmi Simran loves them.  She wants nothing more than to work for her favorite director, Veer.







So we've got two attractive young people who meet cute and have a drastically different outlook on life.  Standard rom-com fare.

By the way, the introductory credits are rolling throughout this entire back story and plot set up.  

Yeah, we're talking a good ten, eleven minutes of this.  There's a reason why credits normally go at the end--I don't need to know ahead of time who the second assistant hair dresser is.  I don't really need to know afterwards either, but them's the breaks.


Things start to get interesting when J gets to work the next day and discovers that perfectly filmi Simran is his new boss.




Perfectly filmi Simran (I'll stop calling her that soon, I promise) is the art director for Veer's new film.  Sum the film up in one word for us Veer:

Nope, try again Veer.


Here's a hint: I highlighted it for you.

In a situation like this what's a boy to do?  J decides to try to make friends.  He visits perfectly filmi Simran to gift her flowers and introduces himself to Raj.

Sigh.  Lookie here Timetable.  Your character has been done before, and even he managed to sneak in some champagne during the week.


See?





 A succinct character summary if I've ever seen one.

J crashes and burns a bit.  When Simran (see, I stopped) texts him to inform him of an early morning meeting, he decides to be a mature adult and goes to bed at a sensible hour so that he won't be late for work.

Haha, suckers.  BEACH PAR-TAY!






Well that was wholesome.

Moving on.  J and Silicone McFunbags get drunk, run into Simran and Raj, J pokes a bit of fun at them, Simmi (can I call you Simmi?) gets annoyed, J and Bimbo (she's got a real name, I know, I just can't remember it right now, plus she annoys me) go to his place and have sexy fun times and then he kicks her out in the morning.  All in time to be late to work.






J makes some excuses, Veer lets him off the hook, and we get a little montage of J and Simmi working together.  J doesn't take his job very seriously and Simran really lets him have it.  Annoyed and a bit depressed, J takes Kunal up on the offer to go out for coffee.  And by coffee Kunal means beer, and a lot of it.  While at the bar J runs into Simran (actually vice versa, and Simran spills her drink on him), and in his tipsiness offers her some advice about Raj (who he noticed had been calling Simran a lot at work).  Simran can tell he's basically a nice boy and apologizes for her behavior at work that day. 

Long story short, this scene is about why Sonam Kapoor should never wear her hair up.

The big glasses don't make the big ears look any better, unfortunately.


 Their meeting in the bar marks a change in their relationship.  When J shows up late again to work the next day Simran covers for him, and they begin to talk like real people, rather than as co-workers who can't stand each other. In short, they become friends.  At the same time, Simran begins to see the beginnings of imperfection in her relationship with Raj. 



You take that back this instant.





At this point the film within a film gets going, and the two lead actors show up to begin rehearsals. Meanwhile, Simran, realizing her feelings for J are more than just friendship, breaks up with Raj.





Not the least of which being that I look 12.


Simran and J have a night out on the town, enjoy some drunken shenanigans, joke around at work some more, and Simran realizes that she is truly in love with J.  We're at least lead to believe that J might reciprocate those feelings.






The modern-day wet sari scene.

On we go to the Filmfare-nominated number Bahara.  Personally not a big fan but hey, anything to advance the plot make room for more film tributes (a set that looks like Saawariya and a dance number reminiscent of Say Shava Shava).





And so we creep ever closer to intermission...but not quite.  Simran decides to declare her love to J and asks him to meet her.  She gets prettied up and buys beautiful flowers and walks into the hotel bar to meet him...and sees him kissing the hand of another girl.









I'm going to drop the scornful attitude here for a minute, because I actually found this scene fairly touching.  I certainly can identify with Simran--I'm not a sappy romantic but I know that feeling of excitement at what you think is a relationship, and her sweet hopefulness is almost heartbreaking once we see J's reaction.  She's a better woman than I am because I would have broken those flowers off on his face.  "Am I nothing of yours?" is something I've wondered to myself a few times.  I kind of wanted to hug Simran here--it's ok love, boys are dumb.

At long last.  Oh wait, there's more?


So to what I'm sure is no one's surprise, the second half drags annoyingly.  Let's make this (relatively) snappy.

Back at the office, J discovers that Simran has requested to have two female assistants, rather than J, for the rest of the shoot.  He confronts her and she hides the shame of her rejection in false bravado.  We move on to hers and his versions of Bin Tere, with a bit of padding in between (Simran decides to give Raj another chance, J and Kunal go out and Kunal displays his idiocy, etc).  J drunkdials Simran only to end up (unbeknownst to him) speaking to her mother, and later that night Simran and her mother have a heart to heart about love.









Simran's solution to her problems?  She runs off to New Zealand to join the film crew for the remainder of the shooting schedule, leaving J behind in India.  Of course first we have to put up with Kunal's List of Filmi Cliches and a scene with J rushing frantically to the airport to catch Simran before she leaves.  Honestly the film would have been better off if this entire ten minute bit had been left on the cutting room floor.  We don't need yet another tortured "this is it, I have to get away from you, let's just be friends" scene.  We've had one or two of those already.


Following Kunal's list of filmi cliches, J gets on a plane and joins the team in New Zealand.  While there he is reminded constantly of his feelings for Simran, and gets a nudge in the right direction from a surprising source.
"Girls are like buses," Rajeev tells him.  "You miss one and there's always another right behind it.  But no matter how many buses you come across, there's only one that takes you home."




Of course the theme of this film is "Stretch Everything Out to an Excruciating Point" so instead of just going over to talk to Simran, J has a few shots, pulls the "my wife's pregnant" line again (see awkward first half drunken shenanigans) and makes a massive ass of himself.  Primary mission unaccomplished.  Secondary mission (adding another ten minutes to this already bloated film) achieved and then some.

The next morning J resolves to tell Simran exactly how he feels, but before he has a chance to speak to her he sees that she's carrying the mark of the beast one of Raj's trademark white flowers.



Thwarted again.  Raj has shown up to spend time with his 'jaan' and J can only stand by and watch.  It's obvious that Simran isn't happy with Raj, and who possibly could be with someone who coddles you the way he does Simran?  He doesn't even let her hold her own coffee mug ffs.  That's not love, that's nurturing dependence.



And then, of course, another forgettable song.  (I love Vishal and Shekhar, really I do, but apart from Jab Mila Tu this soundtrack was a bit of a dud.)


J is in love.  Veer tells him to get off his ass and tell Simran how he feels, so, again, rather than just being straightforward, J asks her to meet him in a park that evening, and arranges a romantic setting that he thinks Simran will appreciate.








Aaaaand shot down.  Not for the first time am I reminded of Dil Chahta Hai while watching I Hate Luv Storys.  DCH featured Preity Zinta choosing a relationship with a man who infantalized her out of a sense of duty.  Same here with Simran.

Back in Mumbai J, having already taken advice from Veer and Rajeev, uses his last lifeline and calls his mother.  The scene would have been touching if Imran's crying didn't look just like Imran's laughing.  He knows those are two separate emotions yes?  Anyways his mother tells him to fight for his love and not to give up.

Moms always know best.





Of course before J can act on this advice he has to run the gauntlet of idiocy that is Kunal, who has since found a girlfriend of his own, and DO. NOT. get me started on how the only acceptable romantic interests in films for overweight characters are other overweight characters.  "Oh look, two fatties.  Naturally they can only date each other."  No.  Incorrect.

Jay calls the Love Guru (a radio advice show) for yet more advice:





Let's see, who does J know who could help him out with this jealousy scheme...oh right, Silicone McFunbags from about eleven hours ago (I'm guesstimating, it might only have been two but who's counting?).



This picture is here solely as an aide for debating whether or not those are real.  I was thinking they weren't but now I think they might be.  Which means I might have to start calling her character by her proper name: Giselle.

What follows is quite possibly the stupidest plot line in the history of man.  J pretends to date Giselle and "accidentally" runs into Simran and Raj all over the place.



Raj has that skeevy look on his face because he just looked at Giselle's boobs.




They literally say "blah blah" as their conversation.  I had to stop after a couple of scenes but trust me, this shit went on for ages.  "Blah blah" is Kunal's way of narrating conversation that isn't important, but we all know what's really going on here: the entire writing team just said "fuck it."

GOOD QUESTION.

Their plan falls spectacularly to pieces (gee, who could have predicted that?) when they run into Raj at the mall.  Raj is there with Simran's parents and tells J and Kunal that he is proposing the next day to Simran (and that she's already accepted, which, uh, is weird, but ok).  J decides it's time to give up their silly scheming and let fate take its course.





Good news folks, the finish line is in sight.

Simran, unable to hide her unhappiness anymore, finally grows a pair and tells Raj the truth.  I have to admit that I feel bad for him--he's so in love with her and tries so hard to make her happy, and even takes her back after she falls in love with someone else, and she waits until after she's accepted his marriage proposal to finally be honest with him.  No wonder the poor guy looks like a hurt puppy.







Simran, having run Raj's heart over with a few bulldozers, leaves him at the restaurant and dashes off to the premiere of Pyar, Pyar, Pyar.  Oh didn't I say?  Yeah.  That's the name of Veer's film.



Simran runs around the premiere but with no luck, because J got it into his head to fly home to be with his mother and is at the airport.  He tries to get in line for security but is met with a "No Entry" sign.  He puts his bag through the scanner and sees a "Do Not Proceed" sticker on the ground.  Standing in front of the timetable, all the flights mysteriously flip to "delayed."  Kunal attempts to call him several times but J purposely doesn't answer.  Instead he speaks to his mother, who has arranged for him to meet with a psychiatrist and calls him a ninny for being such a crybaby.  In so many words.



She finally talks some sense into the boy (for the second time) and he grabs his stuff, hails a taxi, and shows up at the film premiere to "do some drama."

Well gee, who could resist THAT?

Of course, she's not there.  He steps back outside and finds her, and FINALLY our star crossed lovers can be together.


If you've seen I Hate Luv Storys then you know why this line pisses me off:  she says "I love you too" with the same amount of emotion and conviction as I have when I say it to my mother when I'm signing off the phone.  "K mom, talk to you later.  Love ya."  She could not sound any less enthused about what she's saying if she tried.  I like Sonam Kapoor but I hope her delivery of that line haunts her til the end of her days.  It completely ruined any sort of romantic mood that had built up til that point.



Oh it was something alright.  It was something.


WHEW!

For those of you who managed to survive this far, congratulations, and thank you.  Now we can get on to the actual premise of the post, namely...

5 Things I Hated About 'I Hate Luv Storys' (And 5 Things I Luved)

Hate #1:  Kunal.

'Oh sure,' you say.  'Pick on the fat kid.'  His character was obnoxious.  When he wasn't being utterly useless he was dispensing horrible advice or being used to set up a rash of random plot points, a la his "Cliche" list.

He's like a chubby little minstrel, singing his way through the film and putting horrible ideas in peoples' heads.

 Did you ever stop and think it's because you're an idiot?

Luv #1: The Movie Within A Movie

I love movies within movies SO HARD.  It's a plot device that never gets old for me.  It worked in Luck By Chance and it worked here, though in I Hate Luv Storys it was more of a way to work the "love stories" angle into the film.  You sort of had to have the two leads work at a film studio.  A movie about two accountants who disagree about a movie genre doesn't really work does it?  It also lends itself well to the characters asking leading questions about the 'little film' which also apply to the film itself, chiefly...

Hate #2: The Plot


Another excellent question my handsome friend.  The premise behind the film was good and if they'd stuck to that premise we would have been in business.  This was supposed to be a fresh take on an old story.  Instead it was an tired, predictable version of what may or may not have been a fresh story--it's hard to notice originality when your eye is trained steadily on countdown on the DVD player.

The idea of a boy who doesn't take relationships seriously and almost ruins his chance with the woman of his dreams because of his cocky denial of love has been done before.  Aamir Khan (Imran's uncle for those of you unfamiliar) played this character perfectly in Dil Chahta Hai.  And the same film gave us two versions of Simran and Raj: Shalini and Rohit and Pooja and Subodh.  If I Hate Luv Storys had had a younger man/older woman angle I'd have skipped it altogether for the far superior Dil Chahta Hai.

I Hate Luv Storys needed at least half an hour trimmed from it.  First to go would have been the "let's make Simran jealous' storyline.  And let's be honest...every second of the script that took place in New Zealand could have gone out the window and no one would have noticed.  That might have freed up some room in the budget for better writers.

Speaking of writing...

Luv #2: Hidden Gems

Someone on the writing team has a sense of humor and daring.  How else do you explain these moments?


Atta boy.  :)







Hate #3: The Music
Sorry but it fell flat.  One good song (Jab Mila Tu) out of six isn't good enough.  This is probably one of my least favorite Vishal-Shekhar albums to date.   The title track would be excellent if it didn't sound like an advertisement for something (namely "I Hate Luv Storys").

Luv #3: Veer

Samir Soni played the impassioned film director perfectly.  He was ludicrous and over the top and ridiculous without you ever thinking that those were negative traits.  








Hate #4: New Zealand

I don't actually hate the country of New Zealand (don't worry Ness!) but I do hate how it was used in the film.  I understand there's a certain amount of coordination between the New Zealand tourism board and the film producers, but there had to be a way to feature a trip to NZ without making it look like a commercial for NZ.  At no point was there indicated a specific need to have a foreign location (for the film within a film), and that combined with the commercial-like introduction of the country made the fact that it was a gimmick very obvious.





There's a way to make something like this look halfway natural (think "Vande Mataram" in K3G with its gorgeous aerial shots of London), but this ain't it.

Luv #4: Rajeev

Aamir Ali Malik's portrayal of the cocky film star in IHLS's film within a film was my favorite part of the 2 hour plus film.  He was hysterical, and had some of the best lines in the film (and not just comedic bits either--he delivers advice about women in the form of a bus metaphor (see waaaaay above) that is genuine and sweet.








Hate #5: Giselle

Otherwise known as Silicone McFunbags.  She was awful.  In the immortal words of Center Stage: "Who let that disaster in here?"  She's very pretty, which is good because she doesn't have anything else going for her.  She's not Indian, so why the producers decided to have her speak Hindi in the film is beyond me.  It was bad.  Her accent made Katrina Kaif sound like a linguistic goddess.  The actress is half Brazilian and half Saudi, but her accent in English is American (and a really really obnoxious American accent at that) and her Hindi...oy.  "Marry nomm Gisella haaaaaaaaaaai."  Remember in Luck By Chance (oh there I go again!) when Farhan is making fun of Isha Sharvani's bad Hindi?  Yeah.  Again, linguistic goddess compared to this girl.

To sum up, Giselle could die in a fire and I would not have cared one iota.  She ruined massive parts of the movie and her character was completely unnecessary.


Luv #5: Imran Khan

Imran freaking Khan.  The kid is seriously adorable.  This wasn't a great film for him but he did well with what he had and my dislike of I Hate Luv Storys was not in any way his fault.

I mean, how could you not love this face?  ;)


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