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!

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!

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!

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.

Vivah

One thing I love about Bollywood films is their length. Most films run around three hours long, and so there is a lot of story and character development. I think it is the reason that the films evoke so much emotion. You really start to care about the characters. It also means there are these great built in intermissions, so it is easy to watch a film over two days. This last week I watched Vivah (Marriage: A Journey from Engagement to Marriage). Perhaps it is because I will soon be getting married (in 5 weeks!) myself, but I really liked this movie. It was at moments a little too sweet, but I liked it nonetheless.

The story is about the most perfect daughter parents could want, Poonam, who is orphaned and raised by her aunt and uncle. She and her cousin are like sisters, but auntie is jealous that she is more beautiful than her daughter. Her uncle is a gem though. When it is her time to get married they find the perfect husband, Prem, from a wealthy and wonderful family. They have a six month engagement period and the movie is about how, even though the marriage is arranged, they grow to love each other.

The movie stars Amrita Rao who I have not seen since Main Hoon Na and Shahid Kapoor. She looked different, but maybe it was because she was not playing a tomboy. I liked her more in MHN though.  Shahid looked really baby faced in this film and I much prefer his more recent ones where he has grown up. They were cute together though and I would love to see them make a movie together again now (this one was from 2006). Shahid’s father in the film was one of my favorite “dad” actors, Anupam Kher. Just love that guy!

The music was quite beautiful in the movie, especially my favorite “Mujhe Haq Hai“. I also love movies that show the different ceremonies for engagements, weddings, holy days, and festivals. It is very interesting to me. In “Tere Dware Pe Aai Baraat” you see snippets from the wedding of Prem and Poonam. This movie is not always happy though, so have a few tissues on hand. Hope you enjoy!

Spreading the Bollywood love!

Paheli

I love absolutely everything about this movie. I think that is the best way to start this post. I decided to watch Paheli (Riddle) tonight in honor of the puppets I bought today that are featured in the film (see mine below). I have been wanting to buy them forever but it was never the right time.  The puppets are the narrators of the film and are so great. Naseeruddein Shah and his real life wife are the voices for them. So sweet.

The music is so amazing! I love every single song in this film, but none more than “Dhire Jalna“. One of the most beautiful songs ever and one of my favorite songs in any language. “Kangana Re” makes me wish I had bangles, made from every color of the rainbow, that I could wear every day. “Minnat Kare” is just so cute, and love the last song with all the characters as puppets, “Phir Raat Kati“.

One of the things that gets me about this movie is the pure, raw emotions. The story is about the new bride, Lachchi (Rani Mukherji), who marries the business minded, Kishanlal (Shah Rukh Khan). On the way home with the new bride the party stops at a well (if you can call that amazing place a well), and Lachchi is seen by a spirit/ghost that lives there. He falls in love with her. When they arrive home, Kishanlal informs his new bride that he will be leaving in the morning for five years. Say what!?! She is devastated but friendly ghost steps up to take his place. How will this all end? Please watch it and see. Every time Lachchi accepts the new Kishanlal, and his breath catches, so does my own. This is the kind of emotion I am talking about. Wow!

There are also really funny parts as well. Poor Bhoja the messenger who does a “Who’s On First” type scene when he gets back from delivering a message from one Kishanlal to the other, and is labeled a drunkard. Also Uncle Kanwarlal is always getting made fun of for his pipe smoking habit. He is so funny and clueless. The camel race is pretty good, as well as Amitabh Bachchan’s guest appearance as the wise shepherd.

This movie always cheers me up and I love it to pieces! Spreading the Bollywood love 🙂 .

Dil Bole Hadippa!

After a crazy work week I really needed to unwind with a fun movie. I have been meaning to watch Dil Bole Hadippa! (Heart Says Hurrah!) for a while, but never got around to it. As I started to watch it, it reminded me of one of my favorite childhood movies, Ladybugs. A coach dresses his step-son to be as a girl so his girls soccer team will stop losing. While this movie also puts a Twelfth Night spin to the story, switches the boy for a girl, and soccer becomes cricket, it was a lot of fun.

One thing I must say is, I have learned a lot about cricket now. After watching a few films, I began checking videos and read some  articles. I think I just about understand the basics. Wish I could see a match in person though (a 1 day match, not a 3 or 5 day one). As with most sport films, the movie culminates in a very exciting match where the result is down to one ball/run. I think I learned a lot more terminology from this movie and now know how one scores 4 runs and 6 runs with out actually running.

There was a lot of fun dance sequences and the music was fabulous. It was fun seeing “hey, micro mini!“, Rakhi Sawant, in another movie after Main Hoon Na. I read an article about her many year ago that she is a trained dancer, but have read more recently about some of her scandals as well. All that aside, she is pretty fun to watch. Shahid Kapoor is another actor who came onto my radar recently. I am really digging him. He is charming and has a serious smolder effect about him. I will be watching more of his movies for sure. And of course, Rani was top-notch as always. Fantastic as both Veera and Veer. Check out these songs for a sneak preview: “Discowale Khisko“, “Ishq Hi Hai Rab“, and “Bhangra Bistar“.

That’s it for now. Spreading the Bollywood love. XO

Namastey London

I completely LOVED Namastey London!  It has been awhile since I have watched a film that made me laugh so hard, tear up, and feel the chemistry between the characters so well. NL is about Indians born abroad who either forget their heritage or try to rebel against it. This is a common topic in more recent Bollywood films as there are many Indians living aboard who can identify with this. NL is also a typical rom com where boy likes girl, girl despises boy, and boy works really hard to get the girl to fall in love with him. It works really well in this movie for a couple of reasons.

Akshay Kumar (Arjun) and Katrina Kaif (Jasmeet, Jazz) have fantastic chemistry. From their first meeting, to the balcony, to the final scenes, they just were spectacular. I have always liked Akshay Kumar, especially after watching Andaaz, but I think he shot way up my list of favorites to number 5 (behind SRK, Aamir, Amitabh, and Saif Ali). So many great moments with him. However, this is the first film I have watched with Katrina Kaif in it. I heard a lot about her but never watched a film. I am definitely looking for more now. She was perfect.

There are just incredibly funny scenes and lines. I was doubled over watching the prospective groom who thought he was on a soap opera. It makes me laugh just thinking about it. Also, Katrina’s date in the beginning with Riteish Deshmukh in a cameo was priceless. But my favorite line was when Akshay and Katrina were watching the rugby match. Katrina asks him, doesn’t he know why the British guys challenged the Indians guys to a rugby match and not cricket. Akshay answers, completely serious, “I thought he must have watched Lagaan”. I was cracking up!!!

The music was great, from the score to the individual songs. Check out the chemistry in action in these songs: “Yehi Hota Pyaar“, “Chakna Chakna“, and “Rafta Rafta“.

And not to be left out is the great supporting cast. I must be on a Rishi Kapoor movie streak, because here he was again. Then there was Upen Patel as Jasmeet’s best friend, Imran. He was great and has a seriously cute chin dimple (hehe). And Nina Wadia was great as Jasmeet’s mother. Clive Standen was great as the object of Jasmeet’s affection though you never really liked him much.

Hope you all watch and enjoy the film!

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