Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities

Some folks may already know that I  belong to a knitting site called Ravelry. Along with being a place that you can find patterns, ask questions, and find cool yarn, you can also join groups of like-minded people to discuss whatever the theme/subject of the group is about. I belong to a book group, an expat group, a Christian knitters group, a few television show groups, a couple of photography groups, and of course a Bollywood group. The ladies in this group are awesome. They are a great group of virtual girl friends from all over the world. We share a love of crafts, life, and Bollywood together. We may not always agree, but we always have fun. We also recommend (or don’t recommend :)) films to each other. One member mentioned this film and I was immediately intrigued. I couldn’t find it to download, so I ordered it from Nehaflix (a great place to order Bollywood films from). I was not disappointed.

The story centers around Nawab (Raghubir Yadav), a famous author who has entered a five-year dry spell. He can not think of anything to write until the day Meenaxi (Tabu) suddenly enters his life. She offers herself as his muse, but is often actually criticizing and annoying him (not really the kind of muse a struggling author needs).  Nawab’s drunk mechanic also becomes his muse as the hero Kameshwar (Kunal Kapoor), who is entranced by Meenaxi in each of the three tales/cities. Will Nawab finish the book? Will it be a success like all his others? These are the questions, and it is up to your imagination to answer.

I now have another place added to my list of places to visit in India, Jaisalmer. It looks like I will mostly be traveling in NW India. Hyderabad, Jaisalmer, and Prague are the three cities mentioned in the title. The film really does its best to give you an idea of the feel in each city. The cinematography was very well done. Each city is very distinctly different and it showed. The colors were so bright and vivid that you could almost imagine you were there. It was also a very artistic film which had a large part to do with being written and directed by MF Hussain. I began reading about him, and what an interesting and somewhat controversial figure he is. I am really enjoying looking at his art, and now want to get my hands on Gaja Gamini, the movie he did with Madhuri Dixit (his muse).

The music was also great, and no wonder, it was A.R. Rahman. Just to give you a few to watch as a sample of what can be found in the film watch “Yeh Rishta”, “Do Kadam” sung by the wonderful Sonu Nigam, “Noor Un Ala” which was very controversial for using verses from the Koran, and the “Jaisamler Theme” which is full of color.  This film was such a delight for the senses.

Spreading the Bollywood love, yaara!

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Paap

I had been wanting to re-watch Paap (Sin) for quite some time. The first time was over five years ago and I remember the beautiful place it took place in, that I really liked the actress, and that there was great chemistry between her and John Abraham. I had forgotten the whole crime that takes place and how it ends. I was definitely not let down and enjoyed it even more this time around.

Kaya (Udita Goswami) and her father live near a Buddhist monastery. He has hopes that she will one day join the monastery and live a holy life. Kaya is sent to Delhi to retrieve their reincarnated Lama and bring him back. On their way, the Lama becomes the sole witness to the murder of a police officer. Detective Shiven (John Abraham) is assigned the case and uncovers some serious implications. He is shot as he is helping Kaya and the Lama get back to the monastery, and when they reach there he needs to be nursed back to health. Eventually love blooms between Kaya and Shiven, but will she choose him or the life she has been raised to live?

The film was shot on location in the Spiti Valley (in Kashmir) and in the region of Himachal Pradesh. The HP region has been on my radar for a while because I would love to see Shimla and visit the Himalayas. Now I have another reason to go! It is just breathtaking. Both places are situated between Tibet and Pakistan. Perhaps its location is the reason behind the use of so many Pakistani playback singers, which (according to Wiki) was the beginning of a trend in Bollywood films. I thought the music was beautiful, and there were many different instrumental pieces as well. For a glimpse of the cinematography and a taste of the music, check out “Mann Ki Lagan” and my favorite, “Intezaar“.

I also absolutely love the different look of Udita Goswami. Her eyes have a little Asian influence and she is just beautiful. I also think the clothes she wears in the film are so amazing. I would love to have a whole wardrobe of them.

Now, no film is perfect, and after all that gushing about it, I should warn that a couple things really bugged me. The subtitles seemed a little off in their translation and had some enigmatic moments. Also, John Abraham was WAY over the top in a few scenes. He was way too dramatic when suffering from his bullet wound, and being ravished by him looked like it might hurt ones neck an awful lot. Oh, and the scene in the grain silo. Who drowns in grain that comes to shoulder level? Really? Come on!

All the silly parts aside, I love this movie. Now that I own it again I will definitely be watching it more frequently.

Spreading the Bollywood love, yaara!

Khalnayak

I have been wanting to watch this movie for a long time and finally ordered it from Nehaflix. It stars Madhuri Dixit who is one of the best dancers in all of Bollywood (in my opinion) and Sanjay Dutt, who I really enjoy watching. It also has one of my all time favorite songs in it, “Choli Ke Peeche“, which was sort of made into a song found on the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, “Ringa Ringa“, and later became the Turkish song “Rengarenk“. The evolution of a song.

Khalnayak (The Villan) is the story of Ballu Balram(Dutt) who is the main henchman of the evil gangster/”guru” Roshida. He is sent in to do Roshida’s dirty work like killing police or politicians. Ballu is caught by Inspector Ram (Jackie Shroff, who I have realized I do not care for at all), but later escapes while Ram is visiting his girlfriend, Ganga (Dixit). Ganga sees what this does to Ram and decides to go undercover as a prostitute/dancing girl in order to get close to Ballu. It works and Ballu takes her with him on his trip across country to meet up with his boss again (there was some talk about going Singapore too, but it just seemed out-of-place).

There were some things I loved about this film and other things I thought were quite funny and cheesy. I thought the story was great. It had a lot of twists and turns and pretty much all your questions are answered in the end. It was a well-developed story with equally developed characters. You really hate the bad guy, grow to feel sympathy for Ballu, and love Ganga’s courage. Ballu’s mother was another character I really enjoyed (played by Raakhee Gulzar) as well as Ganga’s friend who sang the “Choli Ke Peeche” song with her. I absolutely loved Madhuri’s outfits in the film. I will take one of each, please :). Last but not least, the cinematography and locations were so beautiful. Just adding fuel to the fire under my feet , burning to go to India.

Now for the funny. “Nayak Nahi Khalnayak Hai Tu“. Period. With a creepy beginning like that I began to question the film, but as soon as the pelvic thrusting began I could not help but laugh. Then there was Ballu’s “bad boy” hair and his equally comical “good boy” hair. Maybe it was the style back then, but it is quite funny now. I loved Anupam Kher’s small part as the silly warden. There were lots of other little things here and there (the guys trying to cheer Madhuri up with their version of the Choli song was awesome), but the funniest scene was the fight in the tree. Sanjay and Jackie are fighting up in the branches of a tree, but the fighting keeps cutting to monkeys watching them or doing something similar to them. It was genius. Now that was a great film making move ;)! For those who need to see it now, click here and skip to minute 3:40.

Overall, I felt that Khalnayak was worth the wait and I would gladly watch it again and recommend it to others.

Spreading the Bollywood love, yaara.

Dhobi Ghat

So this is the first Bollywood I have watched after becoming a married woman. It was great getting to show my friends and family around Istanbul and celebrate with them. The wedding was over too soon, but now I am married to the love of my life. Such a wonderful time, but life is returning to normal now and back to work and all the other stress life has to offer.

Watching Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) today was like being let in to the lives of a few new friends in Bombay for a short while. It is a dream of mine to someday visit this great city and I think it may happen sooner rather than later, but that is not important right now. This film was amazing. Not a typical Bollywood (no singing and dancing and colorful saris) but an excellent example of Hindi cinema.

The film stars Aamir Khan as Arun, a painter who finds the video letters of Yasmin, the previous tenant in his new apartment and she becomes his muse. It is also the breakout performance of Monica Dogra as Shai the photographer who kinda falls in love with Arun while befriending her “dhobi” or laundry man, Munna (Prateik).I loved Munna the best, and will definitely keep an eye out for more films from Prateik in the future.

But the film’s biggest star is Mumbai. Kiran Rao (the director and wife of Aamir Khan) really knew what she was doing when she cast Mumbai in this film. I loved getting to see Munna working in Dhobi Ghat washing the laundry, driving down Marine Drive with Yasmin, and all the amazing views from the different apartments. Mumbai plays its part perfectly, as the magnet that seems to draw people from every walk of life together, if only for a moment.

My recommendation is to watch it and then sit and think about it for a while. I have a feeling this movie will stay with me for a long time to come.