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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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.

Humraaz

Tragedy has befallen my external hard drive and I can not continue my Anushka Sharma series (at this time) as I had wanted. My fabulous IT guy at work is working very hard to recover my files though, and it is looking like a very successful endeavor ;). In the meantime, I decided to watch an old favorite, Humraaz (Our Secret). Humraaz was the first Bollywood thriller I watched back in the day, and I did not expect the violence. Up until that point, I had only seen romances and dramas of the happy and calm variety. It has been about nine year since my last viewing, and I had totally forgotten about all the impalings (no less than five) and breaking of bones (*cringe*).

The story revolves around a love triangle between Karan (Akshaye Khanna), Priya (Amisha Patel), and Raj (Bobby Deol). Karan is the head of a dance troupe and Priya is his partner and devoted girlfriend. Raj is a tycoon who employs their troupe on his cruise ship. He immediately falls in love with Priya and pursues her, unaware of her relationship with Raj. It is a romance, sure,  but also a top notch thriller. There are tons of twists and turn, and just when you think you have it figured out, wrong again! In a three hour film, so much can happen but I am not going to give anything away. I will however mention the top notch comedic performance of Johnny Lever. He was so hilarious that I was laughing out loud.

One of the things I always remembered about the movie were the musical numbers. So fantastic! The fire and ice look of “Bardaasht“, Priya’s beautiful blue sari in “Life Ban Jayegi“, and I just love the song “Dil Ne Kar Liya“. There are some other really good songs as well, but you should just watch it, love it, and share it.

Spreading the Bollywood love, yaara!

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

RNBDJ is one of my most favorite movies ever! The title translates to A Match Made By God. I watched this movie for the first time with my fiance and we both just loved it. Not only does it star our favorite, Shah Rukh Khan, but it is just an amazingly wonderful story. It also was the debut of Anushka Sharma, and the next two blogs will also feature her so get ready. I really liked her a lot and if you watch this movie you will see why.

Surinder “Suri” (SRK) is a quiet and sweet man who falls in love with Taani (Anushka Sharma) on her wedding day. Due to tragic circumstances she does not get married, and on her father’s death bed promises to marry his favorite student Suri. Once home in Amritsar, Suri gives Taani space and time to heal. She asks to join a dance class and he says yes. Suri then goes to his hilarious best friend, Bobby(Vinay Pathak), for help. Bobby helps him become Raj Kapoor (the name of and old famous actor/hero). So Suri, dressed up as his cool guy alter ego Raj, goes watch her dance. He ends up getting roped into joining the class and then gets assigned to be her dance partner. You will have to watch to know the rest of the story. I do not want to give too much away. I just have to say that the end of this movie is one of the best endings ever.

The movie also has one of the best soundtracks.  One of the lines that “Raj” uses all the time is “Hum hain rahi pyaar ke , phir milenge chalte chalte” which is an amalgam of film titles and means “We are traveling the love lane, down the road we will meet again.” Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke is one of my favorite Aamir Khan movie titles but that will be a different post :). From this line comes the wonderful song “Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte“. Only a true Bollywood fan can recognize the leading ladies in the song and the famous couples they portray ;-). I also adore “Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai” and have listened to it so many times on my iPod that I can sing it perfectly (even though I do not know what most of the words say). And who could leave out “Dance Pe Chance“!?! So much fun!!!

Just watch it, yaara! Spreading the Bollywood love.

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.