Saawariya

I have wanted to write about Saawariya (My Love) for a very long time. I like to watch the trailers for new films on the iTunes Movie Trailers site. I was so excited (six years ago) when I saw the first Bollywood movie advertised on it. There were a couple things that drew me to the movie 1) it was directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and 2) the colors and atmosphere of it (I will explain more later). The film also happens to be based on Dostoevsky’s short story “White Nights” but I found that out later.

I happen to be a big fan of Sanjay Leela Bhansali (SLB for short) as a director. I had previously seen three of his films and count Devdas as one of my all time favorites. His films are usually quite dramatic and heavy, but with so much beauty you could almost drown in them.

Saawariya takes place always during the night in a fictional city, in the red light district, that is inhabited by Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists (that I saw evidence of). It felt like Moulin Rouge, Venice, Paris, and Arabian Nights all rolled into one. I loved the sets and how the whole movie was done in deep jewel tones but with a wash of sapphire blue and emerald green over the top. Every shot was stunning in some way and it is a movie that has stuck in my mind over the years. I first watched it five years ago and then again today so I could write about it while it was fresh in my mind.

Saawariya is the story of musician/dreamer/lover Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) who meets Sakina (Sonam Kapoor) on a bridge one night and falls in love. Raj is such a lovely, if not naive, character and I especially loved his relationships with Lilianpop (his landlady) and Gulabji (the prostitute with a heart of gold played by Rani Mukerji). But this is a romantic drama and a heavy one at that. Sakina waits on that bridge for the man she loves, who is to return on Eid and take her away with him. Ufff yaaa, I hate movies like this and especially when said man is played by Salman Khan! You never really get to see what Sakina sees in him, and it is frustrating when she has such a perfect guy right in front of her. While I might visually love the film, the story is annoying. One of the best and most honest parts is when Sakina’s housekeeper tells her she is worried that she has gone mad waiting for this man to return (she kind of has), and then Sakina starts laughing maniacally saying the houskeeper is not a good liar. Made me want to slap her silly.

Anyway,  one of the bigger surprises in the film was the music. It was exotic and beautiful, emotional and haunting. Check out “Chhabeela“, “Saawariya“, “Pari“, and my favorite, the beautiful “Masha Allah“. Those are only half the songs too. All are excellent.

Well until next time, namaste!

Band Baaja Baaraat

I had previously written a lovely blog post but thanks to all the changes in the last year and a half the wordpress has made, it was all erased *grrrrrrrr*. So here goes try number two :).

It has been quite some time since my last post, but Bollywood has still been a part of my life. This last year included a lot of life changes for me so writing and keeping my blog up to date was not high on my list. I am back now and hope to be posting on a more regular basis.

After rewatching a bunch of old favorites, I decided to finally watch Band Baaja Baaraat (Band Horns and Revelry). I was initially excited about this movie because it starred Anushka Sharma of RNBDJ fame. It also featured a newcomer, Ranveer Singh, who looked promising. The movie was a typical romantic comedy of Bollywood proportions. Two college classmates, Shruti (Anushka) and Bittoo (Ranveer), become friends and start a wedding planning business together. The want to take it from the small time neighborhood weddings to the big time rich and famous ones. The only thing that could get in the way is love so they make a rule not to let romance come anywhere near them on their way to success. One guess what happens next ;).

In my opinion it felt a little flat. Shruti and Bittoo were quite bland and two dimensional and they were outshined by the fantastic and fun weddings they created. Of course I was rooting for a happy ending but was more interested in the side characters (the flower guy, cook, band, etc), the colors of the weddings, and of course the music. Just check out Ainvayi Ainvayi, Dum Dum, and the lovely Aadha Ishq if you need examples. While it is not going to be a new favorite film, it was a pleasant way to spend the evening.

What are your favorite films from the last year? Any recommendations for me? I would love to hear them. Namaste!

Dil Chahta Hai

Wedding plans and work stress have seriously gotten in the way of my Bollywood watching schedule. I was going through serious withdrawal so I decided to re-watch Dil Chahta Hai (The Heart Desires). I can not believe how long it has been since I last watched it, maybe eight years or so. What a fabulous film!

It is a story about “deep friendship” (or is the photo 3D 😉 ) between three men finishing college and going out on their own (well kind of since they still live at home mostly, but you get what I mean right). They are very different from each other, but it is loves’ ups and downs that keep them together, drive them apart, and bring reconciliation in the end. Akash (Aamir Khan) loves the chase but rarely has relationships that last longer than two weeks, until he meets Shalini (Preity Zinta) and she teaches him about love. Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) is a hopeless romantic who thinks he’s in love with everyone, until he meets Pooja (Sonali Kulkarni) and has to convince her she should be with him and not the dope she is with already. And lastly, my favorite, Sid (Akshaye Khanna) the artist. Sid is a genuinely sweet-hearted guy, wise beyond his years. He slowly falls in love with his new neighbor Tara (Dimple Kapadia), fifteen years his senior and a divorced alcoholic, romance is the furthest thing from her mind. How they all fit together and work themselves out is something you will have to watch and see for yourselves.

The music in this film is pretty great as well. I love the song “Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe” and it is made even better because of the leather pants worn by all three guys, LOL! “Kaisi Hai Yeh Ruth” is a beautiful song and Akshaye looks so cute in it. I love his side smile, and I like him so much better as a sweet character than the nasty bad guy he played in Humraaz. And of course the song main song “Dil Chahta Hai” is a favorite of mine. I would love to take a road trip to Goa (and with the three of them it would be even better ;). Ah, to dream…

Well, spreading the Bollywood love. Hopefully it won’t be so long before I write again. Namaste!

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!

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“.