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  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?


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?

Is it important? 


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.

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