Hum Tum

It does not get much cuter than Hum Tum (Me – You). Karan and Rhea meet by chance on an airplane when they are both moving from India to New York. After their initial less-than-perfect (although memorable) meeting, they part ways both hoping forever. The film spans nine years of chance meetings, growing friendships, and good byes. Interspersed through the film are funny animated sequences of Hum and Tum, a young boy and girl, who are the main characters of a cartoon strip Karan pens.

I just loved these animated bits. When I looked online, I was happy to see that they actually made the comic into a strip. It seems to have run in the newspaper for awhile and was penned by Vijay Raibole and his wife. He posted them all on his blog, and though some are in Hindi, you will understand how funny they are from the ones in English. Now I just wish there was a whole book of them :).

The music is also top-notch in the film as is the chemistry between Saif Ali Khan (Karan) and Rani Mukherji (Rhea). From the wonderful love song “Hum Tum” to the fun and feisty “Gore Gore Say Chore“, I could listen to these songs over and over again. You can see from these songs that the relationship between these two characters has its ups and downs, and plenty of butting heads, but they will melt your heart in the end (as well as each others).

I really though both, Saif Ali and Rani, did an excellent job with their acting. Saif Ali begins cocky and obnoxious, then adds some charm, and finally becomes sincere though unsure of his newly acknowledged self. Rani starts out very sure of herself and continues that way until a huge life change. Then she becomes much more calm and collected until Karan brings her back to herself, granted a more mature version. Also worth acknowledging are Rishi Kapoor as Karan’s father and Kiron Kher as Rhea’s mother. My friend says that Kiron Kher “is the perfect mother” in Bollywood. I told him it is because his first film was Main Hoon Na ;).

Happy Watching!

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Aladin

I have loved the story of Aladdin ever since Disney whisked us away to a whole new world filled with excitement, enchantment, and a genie in a lamp. I have been anxiously awaiting the Bollywood version since I saw the trailer months ago. I finally got to watch it on my birthday and was a little let down. I wanted it to be fantastic, I mean Amitabh Bachchan as a genie named Genius, it does not get better than that I thought. The Big B did not disappoint and Genius was the highlight of the film! My fiance also loved Riteish Deshmukh as Aladin and I thought he was pretty good as well.

Where I thought the film fell flat was in the story. It did not have a very smooth flow. I think the choppiness came from not really developing some key elements like having some more fun with the wishes (two wishes are gone in 5 minutes). They could have done some funny things with that. I did not really like the girl who played Jasmine (Jaqueline Fernandez) and with all the lovely actresses around I am sure they could have found a better one. Also they had an excellent group of villains with Sanjay Dutt playing Ringmaster, an evil ex-genie, and a very very very creepy clown (I have an intense clown-phobia). But Ringmaster could have been way more evil though, and I felt more scared of the clown than him. Darn you Pennywise! You ruined clowns for me! 😉

On the plus side, the music was extremely fun and the dancing was great. I really loved “Tak Dhina Dhin” and have been humming/singing it to myself  ever since.  And honestly…how can you not love the “Genie Rap“?!? It is just too cool, man. “O Re Saawariya” had me cracking up and “Bachke O Bachke” was great fun. So I guess the music would be 5 star but the movie just 3.5, with lots of lost potential.

Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic

Today I was in the mood for something light, cute, and funny. I definitely picked the right film to watch. Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (A Little Love, A Little Magic) was such a surprise. I knew nothing about it when I began but immediately noticed similarities between it and one of my all time favorite films, The Sound of Music. Especially when the angels are singing “Bulbula” about the kind-hearted angel, Geeta (Rani Mukherji), whose head is always in the clouds (literally). It was just like the nuns singing about “Maria“. It made my heart smile.

The story is about Ranbeer (Saif Ali Khan), who kills the parents of four children in a car accident. He is sentenced by the court to raise them on his own. Neither he nor the children are happy about this and Geeta is sent down to Earth from Heaven to help make them a family. There are also shades of Mary Poppins and Nanny McPhee to be found as Geeta becomes the nanny with special powers. There are many funny and touching moments in this film.

While I loved it, it will not make it to my favorites list. Rani and Saif Ali usually have great chemistry (Hum Tum for example), but it fell a little flat in this film. I would have enjoyed watching the movie a little bit longer just to see them develop their chemistry a bit more. However, the kids were fantastic and there was a great chemistry between the whole cast together. The butler, Pappu, cracked me up and Rishi Kapoor was great as Bhagwan (God).

My favorite part of the movie was when Geeta takes the kids to the museum, and takes them on a journey through Indian history and shows them how much their country has done and is capable of in the song “Beete Kal Se“. I would definitely recommend this movie to people as it has a great message and a very sweet story.

Nazar

By now you may be wondering, does she like every Bollywood she watches? I do tend to gush about SRK, Aamir, Saif Ali, Kajol, Madhuri, Preity, and Big B in conversations, but Bollywood has plenty of flops as well. I happened to waste 3 hours on one recently, Nazar. Back when I used to order loads of DVDs off ebay I got this one as a package deal. The other day I really wanted to watch something I had not seen and chose Nazar because nazar in Turkish is a talisman that ward off the evil eye (see photo below). While watching the film I learned that nazar in hindi is not exactly the same, but instead means Sight.

Nazar stars Ashmit Patel (who oddly looks like John Abraham to me and is the brother of Amisha Patel) as Inspector Rohan and Pakistani actress Meera as the singer/dancer Divya who gets the visions of murders taking place. The basic story was actually quite decent though not very original. Some one is going around murdering bar girls and Divya gets visions of it happening and tries to stop them with the help of the good-looking inspector. The potential was there, but it was not taken advantage of. There are a few things that really made this movie a flop in my books (as well as many other people’s I am sure).

Firstly, the acting was so very horrible by anyone’s standards. Meera spent the whole movie in hysterics (crying, screaming, and gasping for air) and it was like nails on a chalk board. I just wanted to reach through the screen and slap her till she calmed down. Also, there was no real chemistry between the two leads as can be seen in the video for the only song I liked in the movie, “Nazar Nazar“. Meera is way more into herself than Ashmit, and there is just something missing (not to mention how totally corny the scenes are in the video).

Secondly, the dialogue was laughable. One thing I love about Bollywood is that one look or gesture by a really good actor/actress can convey such a huge amount of meaning. In this film they felt had to spell, or I guess speak, everything out as if no one watching it would be able to understand without their help. My favorite part is when half way through the movie and countless visions later, the Inspector diagnoses Divya with ESP. Doh! Is that what she has? And then he goes on to say that “It is very common and happens all the time in our country.” Really? I learned something new about India today ;). I was laughing so hard at this point.

Lastly, there were strange side stories that could have been left out. The main one was that the Inspector Rohan was previously married but his wife was killed by a man named Tarak. He dropped her off a building and Rohan was too late. Tarak was caught and put in jail but supposedly escaped. Maybe they thought someone watching the movie might think he was the serial killer, but it never crossed my mind. You don’t hear about him again until the end of the movie when Rohan calls the jail and asks how Tarak escaped. They said he was killed, not on the run. No way! And that was that. I just have no idea what the point of that was. It did not lend to the story at all.

If you still plan to watch this film (after what I just wrote) then do not read ahead as I will tell the ending. The killer is actually the Inspector’s partner whose husband used to go out and sleep with bar girls. He got AIDS and gave it to her. He died of the disease and now she was going around killing bar girls to take her revenge. You kind of had a good idea about it halfway through, but there was one other character who could have also been the killer and he turned out to be psycho too.

Happy Bollywood watching to you all!

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

It has to be close to 8 years since I last watched Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (KKHH, Something Happens). That is quite odd considering it is another film starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. I loved it the first time, but somehow it got lost in all the other films I own and I dusted it off today. I remember I was so excited when I ordered this one. I was bidding on ebay and barely got in my last bid before it closed. I had already grown to love the songs “Ladki Badi Anjaani Hai”, “Koi Mil Gaya”, and “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”, which were on one of my mixed CDs.  It was the first Rani Mukherji film I watched as well. The basic story is about a man who loses his wife after childbirth and has to raise his daughter without a mother. Before she dies though, she writes 8 letters for her daughter’s first 8 birthdays. In the last one she gives her daughter the task of finding her fathers’ best friend so he can be happy again and she will have a mother. So many wonderful moments and tears during this movie. There are a couple things that stand out in this film and make it one of my favorites.

Half the movie takes place at a summer camp. I only went to summer camps a couple of times as a kid, but those memories hold a special place in my heart. The games we would play, the friends you would make, and the songs we would sing are so fun to reminisce about. We never did choreographed dances though ;). The kids were so sweet too, especially little Anjali and the Sikh boy who counts the stars (he did that in another film but I can’t remember right now).

I think it was in this film I began to notice Johnny Lever…is in EVERYTHING! He is a comedian who has been in hundreds of films so far (Wikipedia says more than 350). He was brilliant as the British loving Camp Manager. His timing is always spot on and he often lightens even the darkest films (even if only briefly). The first couple of films I saw him in, he kind of annoyed me, but after KKHH I really started to have more of an appreciation for him. Now I love seeing him pop up in films.

Also, on a side note, in 2011, KKHH will be remade in honor of its 12th anniversary as a ….cartoon! It is titled Koochie Koochie Hota Hai, and I am actually quite excited to see it after watching the trailer. All the same actors do the voices (minus Salman Khan) and all the characters are dogs! Anywho, Bolly-in-the-‘Bul signing out. Namaste!

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

I just love this film! The first time I watched K3G was with my grandma. She had never seen a Bollywood film before and I had just received the copy I ordered. We sat down to watch it and were both completely hooked. There are three main things I love about this movie.

1.)    The music and dancing are great. Shah Rukh Khan is always a great dancer but Amitabh Bachchan surprised me with his “Say Shava Shava” routine (he always seems so stiff to me, when he dances).  I also really enjoy “Suraj Hua Madham”, “Yeh Ladki Hai Allah”, and love “Bole Chudiyan‘. I have listened to them so many times, I like to sing along with the movie now.

2.)    The pairings in this movie are so perfect. The real life husband and wife, Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, are great as the mother and father in the film. I love how he pulls the stool over for her when she fixes his tie. My favorite duo of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol cannot be beat. Any movie where the two of them are together is a number one smash hit in my books. And then Hrithik and Kareena are pretty cute. It kills me that her character’s name is Pooja and they nickname her Poo! Gets me every time :). It has taken me awhile to warm up to Kareena Kapoor but, after Jab We Met, I kind of like her now. I have always loved Hrithik Roshan though.

3.)    Kajol. She is just so fantastic! She is my favorite actress in Bollywood. She is funny and cute and at the same time so beautiful. So much character in such a small package.

K3G is a funny, touching, and ultimately uplifting story of what makes a family and the bonds that hold it together.

Main Hoon Na

I just finished watching Main Hoon Na for the millionth time (well maybe just the 40th, but I have seen it a lot), and it is still my favorite  film. It was the first Bollywood I got to see on the big screen and I went three times to see it. I usually use MHN to introduce folks to Bollywood as it has it all: romance, action, drama, comedy, politics, Shah Rukh Khan, and great music. This most recent watching was to introduce my cousin to Bollywood and needless to say, she loved it.

Shah Rukh Khan is so perfect as Ram, and is by turns dorky, action hero, sexy, and always his sweet self. Zayed Khan plays Lucky, and though not as accomplished as SRK, he is angry, sweet, and too cool by turns. Amrita Rao is Sanjana, the tom-boy turned school hottie with a no nonsense attitude but a little girl at heart. And finally Sushmita Sen, former Miss Universe, has great chemistry with SRK as his teacher. Suniel Shetty is awesome as the villain, Raghavan. There is also a lovable cast of secondary characters that you will cherish as well.

Now, I do not want to give anything away so I will just say a few words about the movie. MHN is a mixture of all the above great elements and has nods to lots of Hollywood and Bollywood films (Matrix, Mission Impossible, Van Wilder, Never Been Kissed, Footloose, Grease, and Sholay just to name a few). I also love the unique way they did the credits to the song “Yeh Fizaein“. Some of my other favorite songs in this film are “Gori Gori” and “Chale Jaise Hawaein“, though I truly love them all. So if y’all wonder what my top recommendation is, wonder no more.

Rangeela

Early on in my Bollywood watching days I came across Rangeela. It was in my list of Aamir Khan movies to watch and I had the title song, “Rangeela Re”, on a mixed Bollywood music CD I had purchased. The ’80’s and early ’90’s fashion in this movie is cringe worthy, but I loved it at the same time. Urmila Matondkar is beautiful in this film and Aamir Khan was hilarious (loved the net tank he sports through most the film). Aamir supposedly hung out with street gangs in Mumbai to get his acting and accent perfect. Though I have never been to Mumbai, I felt very convinced by his performance :).

The basic story is about Munna, a sweet street smart orphan, who realizes he is in love with his best friend, Mili, and proceeds to try and impress/tell her while she is being swept away by the big famous actor Kamal (played by Jackie Shroff) and the movie biz. It is a great story with a cast where every character is very likable. Not to be missed!

The songs are not my favorites to listen to on their own, but while watching the film they are great. Check out my favorites: “Rangeela Re“, as the opening scenes and “Mangta Hai Kya“, when Munna realizes he’s in love with Mili. For not-to-miss dancing watch “Kya Kare Kya Na Kare” and “Tanha Tanha Yahan Pe Jeena“.

Asoka

The first time I tried to watch Asoka there were no subtitles. I ordered it right away and could not wait until it arrived. Asoka was my introduction to Shah Rukh Khan, and for that I will be forever thankful. No other actor in the world can compare to how great I think he is. Just my opinion, but there are probably others out there like me.

Asoka is about the emperor of the same name who brought Buddhism to India. It takes place back in around 320 BC so it is a historical tale, but highly fictionalized I found out from reading about the real story later. Asoka (SRK) falls in love with the feisty and proud princess Kaurwaki (Kareena Kapoor) while both are hiding from folks trying to do them in. There is also an adorable little prince as well, who is too big for his britches some times. The story ends in a grand battle where the real truths in life are revealed and Asoka becomes a changed man.

I loved the music, especially the haunting “Roshini Se“.  “Raat Ka Nasha” and “San Sanana” stand out as excellent songs as well. The story was very interesting and had great twists and turns. It was a roller coaster of emotions and my love for Bollywood just kept growing.

Lagaan

Lagaan was my first real Bollywood film and it surprised me in so many ways. Firstly, it was looooong. I had never watched a movie that long (almost four hours!), but what surprised me even more was I did not want it to end. Secondly, it had a lot about cricket in it. A sport that was never on my radar and I knew nothing about. And thirdly, it was a musical?!? I had not educated myself at all about Bollywood and had no clue what to expect.

Lagaan is, on the surface, about the oppression of an Indian village, during colonial times, by the taxes imposed by the local British cantonment. Rain has been scarce and crops scarcer. How does does one provide for their family and pay outrageous taxes (which is what Lagaan means, taxes)? Well, making a crazy bet with the British General might be their only hope. Under the surface, and what you take from the movie as you watch it, is hope and an unbreakable spirit. Every character holds that hope in their heart and puts it into learning and playing the game of their lives. There is also a lot of comedy, romance, signing, and dancing. The music is amazing and I could not get enough of it. I kept re-watching just the songs and trying to dance along. My favorites are “O Rey Chhori“, “Radha Kaise Na Jale“, and “Ghanan Ghanan” but they are all great songs.

My final surprise was Aamir Khan. He was such an amazing actor and quite handsome. He became my first Bollywood crush, but certainly not the last ;). I made a list of all the movies he had made (which is no small list), and started to look for them online. I found many for purchase on eBay and they even came 3 or 4 at a time. I also had discovered a CD with songs from Lagaan and other films. If I liked the song I looked for the film. Movies led to actors/actresses/music and then onto other movies. And that is how an obsession starts, my friends.

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