Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Twitter. A rant.

Someone just hit me over the head with this statement a few weeks ago and I have finally come to terms with it: "you can't have a blog and not be on twitter". Why not? I said at the time. If I can not be on Facebook, why not avoid twitter too? I'm just not interested in telling everyone about what I do during the day, people can satisfy their curiosity about the lives of others with plenty of other oversharing celebrities, wannabes, friends and nobodys.

Not only that, I have been a proud twitter hater since it came into existence because it seems to give a voice to many people who in fact have nothing to say (or better said, have something to say that should not be seeing the light of day). Much like Facebook in that respect, after all how many more pairs of shoes can one post on their wall and drool over before people start thinking that "oh my, it IS true, half of the women I know ONLY think about purses and shoes!". And wasn't the world a more mysterious lovely place when you didn't have to see everyone's tribulations during the day, or their intentionally cryptic statuses?

Now don't get me wrong, I know very diverse groups of people, and some of them share very interesting thoughts, and yet it's amazing how many Facebook bytes can be spent posting shoes and commenting "oh you're so lovely" on each other's pictures. Is that a sine qua non by the way? Is constantly flattering other people via Facebook the new way to socialize? It sure seems that way. Needless to say, I am a very happy Fecebook hater (typo? Come on, you know me better than that!).

So by extension I became a Twitter hater without realizing that it did indeed serve other purposes. Such as being a good marketing tool. And giving information. And being a platform for things that don't deserve a whole blog post or article, but are still worthy of a fleeting thought. Based on a small pool of people I know, it is clear that they look at Facebook as personal, however, they see Twitter as an efficient business tool and a necessary extension of their blog. Fair enough.

So a business tool it shall be for me, and I have decided to join the twitter world after much inner debate. How does all that marketing rah-rah apply to my blog, you ask? Well for one, I watch about 10 times more films than I blog about. This will give me a chance to talk about all of them as I watch, giving whoever is interested a more rounded image of my views on Indian movies. Some films just don't warrant a whole post, while others are very deserving and yet it doesn't end up materializing. Now I can talk about all these films too.

Secondly, I am way too nice on this blog. This comes from my writing philosophy which is: if you're trying to promote something you like (Indian films in this case), why waste time on the garbage? Chances are another 10 websites are doing just that as you type. So I focus on the good stuff. Well, Twitter will give my snarky side a voice too (see what I was saying earlier about Twitter giving a voice to those that shouldn't have it? It's happening already!). That's right, Shah Rukh Khan fan, you in the corner there, this is fair warning to you! Don't follow me if you're not ready for the snark. Ok, that's an exaggeration, I won't diss people just for the sake of dissing, but you might get the occasional hate rant that you would not see on the blog.

Thirdly, I can be more up to date about what other bloggers and what they're watching, while also keeping on top of the news in the industry. Having said that, I promised myself I would not stalk celebrities, or even tweet them for that matter. That mysterious world of not knowing everything someone is thinking? Yeah, I treasure that.

So there we go, Dolce and Namak are going on twitter! You read that right, only Dolce and Namak are joining the tweetyverse, so I promise you'll only be reading about films and other stuff associated with them. Music for sure, maybe books every once in a while too. But definitely no politics or world issues. No bitching about work and no personal life information either. Sorry stalkers, you still won't get to know when I come out of the shower or what underwear I'm wearing. Nice try!

And last but not least, a quick but firm plea to all my off-blog friends who are planning on following me (all 3 of them!), please keep in mind that this is not a personal account, so pretty please refrain from using my real name just like you would in your comments on the blog. Many anticipated thank yous!

All righty... let's see how this works...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stylish Blogger Awards

Yeah, don't worry, I didn't know what that meant until yesterday either. Discovered this little trophy while reading Lime(tte)'s blog, and found out to my great surprise that I was one of the folks she passed it on to. Cool! I will not deny I felt very pleased, thank you Mette! And then I did what every sensible person does in a situation like this: I googled it. I couldn't find out where it originated and how, but it seems to be really popular among blogs of all kinds: films, fashion, interior design, cooking, to name but a few. The world of blogging is always full of surprises.

But moving on to what's required of a recipient (can you tell I've never in my life received an award, for anything? I'd probably be one of the most pathetic Oscar speeches in history, I mean Sandra Bullock ain't got nothing on me when it comes to babbling incoherently!), I am required to say 7 things about myself (hopefully not too personal because we all know that's never going to happen in this space) and then pass it on to another 7 bloggers that I think are super cool.

So here they go:

1) I cannot watch a film at home from beginning to end without fidgeting around the apartment, picking up my laptop to check stuff online, texting, eating an apple, paying some bills online etc. That does not say anything about how good or bad a movie is, because I do it even during the best ones, but just about my restlessness. Point in case: Guru Dutt's "Mr and Mrs 55", which by the way I am enjoying tremendously, is currently paused at minute 55:00 as I am writing this. Ha! I swear the 55 is pure coincidence!

2) For the past few years I have done 95% of all my reading on the subway. At home there's always something else to do, and the subway surprisingly turned out to be the space most free of distractions. Go figure!

3) Most of my friends in real life don't really know that I have a blog. It just never comes up in conversation. Just as well, because those that do know never read it. Absolutely no hard feelings about it, just an observation.

4) I am slightly obsessed with bangles. Yeah, ok, that's probably not news to anyone around here as I waste no opportunity to post some or talk about them, but there you have it: it's an addiction. People used to notice it in the office in the beginning and make comments about the sound, but I think by now it's background noise for everyone. I still love the sound they make though, could not live without it. I was actually obsessed with them before I even knew they existed: kept searching for all kinds of wrist adornments that would make jingly sounds and that would look striking. When I started watching Indian films and discovered that such a thing did actually exist, there was no turning back.

This is also my laptop background, if anyone cares

5) I sing all the time. I'm not a particularly good singer, though I was in a choir at some point in my life, and the teacher was very strict, so I suppose I would have been kicked out if I was no good, but I'm no Sunidhi Chauhan, no depth in my voice. Regardless, I still sing along to every single tune I know if it's playing on the radio and if there is no music playing, I start going through my repertoire. In fact my first thought when I'm bored is: let's see, what can I sing? When I have a cold and can't sing, I get depressed.

6) I never cry at movies. Nope, never. Ok, my eyes may have welled up once or twice in my entire life (like when I first saw Kramer vs Kramer), and I sometimes get the old lump in the throat (say, at the end of Rang De Basanti or Raincoat), but usually the more tear-jerking the scene is, the more I roll my eyes. Guess I'm just not a romantic in the classic sense of the word.

7) Oh thank God, last one! Oh here's one that most people reading this won't know: I wear glasses. Started out of necessity, but I didn't need to wear them all the time, just for distance, so basically when outside. Then I kind of started wearing them all the time because I was too lazy to take them off. Now I actually think something is missing from my face if I am not wearing them, unless I take the time to put on make-up, which only happens on the weekends, or if I'm on vacation and taking pictures. The rest of the time my glasses seem to be a great substitute for make-up. It helps that they are really funky in shape and colour.

And I will gladly promote them, love this brand!

Whew! Now that the hard part is done and my privacy is still intact, on to the good stuff: who do I pass this on to? Actually that's not so easy because I am not even entirely sure there are 7 bloggers who are active that read me. So let's start with the easy ones and see if the list comes to seven.

The Bollywood Fan - the first blog I ever got hooked to
Nicki at Hmong Chick Who Loves Indian Cinema - who is also a great friend
The lovely ladies at Cinema Chaat - I share so many tastes with these ladies, and they never fail to entertain me
Trishie at whatever name she uses for her blog these days - because she takes the sexiest pictures ever
Swati at The Weekend Epicurean - I hate cooking, but it's so much fun reading her regardless
Liz at My Year of Prakash Raj - because she's hilarious

And even though I have a couple more that I wish I could include, not just from my blog roll, but other bloggers that are super cool even when they're not talking about movies, the last spot goes to a blog that I really hope to see back in full swing soon:
Yes, you know who you are, Tollywood Is My Bollywood, three posts in 3 months just won't cut it for much longer!

Well, here's hoping all these people still read my blog now and again and that receiving this award will put a smile on their face as it did on mine!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

4 Carats in Silver: On Corruption

I'm starting a new series of themed posts called 4 Carats in Silver because I want to have a dedicated place to talk about those films that in my humble opinion deserve far more eye balls than they got. Whether they failed to market properly, or they just didn't click with the audiences in India, or they didn't have well known actors, for whatever reason there seem to be a ton of little brilliant films that are worthy of a lot more appreciation, but because they're not in your face and obnoxious, they get buried in the pile. I may join a few together by themes, or I may just talk about one.

Today's episode has a theme and that's "the chain of corruption".

Two films impressed me recently with their brilliance on the topic: Traffic Signal and Well Done Abba. We get tons of films that in one way or another expose corruption, but I appreciated these two for the way they travel across the whole chain without making any apologies. Unlike most films that polarize the corrupt characters on one side and the good hearted, honest ones on the other side, these two films don't take any firm sides: sure some characters are more likable than others, and some have bigger hearts than others which makes us root for them, but there is no "good fighting against evil", there's mostly the good hearted fighting against the people who profit the most. Having umpteen examples myself of such situations from my home country, I can always appreciate a good film that deals with corruption.

Traffic Signal
is a film about the wheelings and dealings of a troupe of beggars and street vendors at... a traffic signal. Madhur Bhandarkar may not do very well with film climaxes, but he sure has a great eye for creating environments that just suck you in. This is the type of film where each character, however small, does its part in painting the mural, and despite the relatively short time spent on some of them, we never feel like there is anything missing. In fact, the environment takes over the film so completely that the actual events, while important, get overshadowed by the very world in which they take place. Some see this as Bhandarkar's biggest weakness, but I consider it a rare quality that not many directors have. A world that stays with me after the events of the film are said and done is far more satisfying that knowing what happened to each character. In a way his films remind me of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's paintings: you can never focus too much on a specific character because something else draws your attention, but at the same time the theme of the painting is present in each section.

Pieter Bruegel - The Fight between Carnival and Lent

If there is another main character in Traffic Signal other than the stop lights that would be Silsila (Kunal Khemu), the signal manager, whose name (translating as chain, series, sequence) is a metaphor for the whole industry of begging of which he is the smallest king. He's the one that collects the taxes from every "employee" at the traffic signal, but he also considers everyone at the intersection his own family. My favourite scene from the film involves Silsila telling the story of his success, how he went from being an orphan to being the signal manager. The pride he takes in telling the story of his ascension, the admiration shown by everyone else listening to the story, and the absurdity of what "being successful" means in their world make this scene heartbreaking.

Kunal Khemu is one of very few actors whose acting I simply cannot evaluate. He's so intensely beautiful that it turns my brain off. I really don't know if he's any good, but it seemed to me that he nailed this role. Of course, it could just be the tan and the guyliner around his eyes throwing me off completely, I'll never know.

But that's not too essential because so many other colourful characters make this scenery so intriguing: prostitutes (male and female), news paper sellers, beggars, flower girls, and all kinds of other little entrepreneurs trying to make a living. Each of them tells a story and Bhandarkar's fine spirit of observation ensures that each additional character brings up yet another social theme: floods, gay prostitution, love, drugs, the credibility that a suit gives you, and even that strange desire for whiter skin.

What I found refreshing about this film was that everyone is comfortable with their role in the chain, the signal manager is not seen as an oppressor but rather as a provider, and as the chain of command goes up we are shown the interdependency between all these layers all the way up to the politicians and big businessmen. The comprehensive way in which the chain is presented is, of course, the best sequence of scenes in the film.

Traffic Signal is a film full of ironies: how something as small as a set of stop lights can change the biggest plans, how even the richest rely on the street beggars to keep their businesses going, how the people one looks up to will be the ones to bring about their downfall... and finally Silsila's trajectory - the biggest irony of them all. But again, it's not the chain of events that make this film brilliant, it's the virtuosity with which it navigates across social statuses and business hierarchies to make this chain come full circle, that's where the 4 carats lie hidden. Sadly, the last irony is that most film critics did not see past the chain of events.


Well Done Abba
is far less complex than Traffic Signal, but no less rewarding. Well Done Abba tells the story of a villager who is trying to make ends meet by working as a driver in the city, to care for his daughter and his good for nothing brother and sister-in-law. He learns about a government program that finances people under the poverty line to get wells built in his arid village, but soon he finds out not everything is as easy as it seems. With the generous "help" of a long chain of corrupt officials, by the time he receives all the money from the government it has all been promised or spent on bribes. What he and his daughter do in the second half of the film to get their well back is the most absurd and hilarious battle I've seen in recent memory.

Once again, the universe of the film is vividly populated with all kinds of characters, all with their petty motivations. The way they relate to each other and the mechanics of this well-oiled machinery of corruption are the main source of giggles and snorts in the first half of the film. It may look like your typical poor villagers versus evil government, but the catch is the good guys are not all good, except for the lovely Muskan (Minissha Lamba) and the charming Arif Ali (Sammir Dattani), and the bad guys are not all bad either. They're just looking out for themselves.

The photoshop savvy photographer

One of the many officials needed for the loan

The good for nothing twin brother and sister in law

But the show stopper is by far the wonderful Boman Irani who plays the good hearted but... slightly slow on the uptake Armaan Ali to perfection!

It's impossible to talk too much about Well Done Abba without spoiling the fun in the second half, but I found it so very rewarding on a basic social justice level. It's a simple story with well integrated songs and some great acting all around but what makes it shine for me is the level of absurdity in the second half. Indian films do a lot of other types of comedy, but absurd comedy is not very common in the films I have seen so far, so for that alone I hold it in high regard, as this is one of my favourite kinds of comedy. And yes, I am an unabashed fan of Monty Python and the like.

Plus, even if one doesn't appreciate the absurd like I do, you can at least revel in numerous shots of Minissha Lamba's beautiful face framed by a variety of brightly coloured scarves.

And if that doesn't do it for you, then there's always Sammir Dattani

Though in all honesty I hope the absurdity of the chain of corruption and how the story tackles them does become everyone's number one reason for loving this film, even if so far that has been a very slow process if we go by the film's box office reports. I can still hope though...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Anbe Sivam Review

I noticed recently that I hardly ever write about Tamil movies on this blog. For one they're so damn expensive, and when buying blind that can become quite risky. Plus, of the ones I've watched, not many gave me that "I need to write about this movie this very second or I will die" feeling. Not many at all. I haven't spent many sleepless nights thinking about them either.

Dolce: Of course, we are not talking about Arya's bewitching eyes here, are we?
Namak: What? No! Stop it! I mean it!

So I was recommended Anbe Sivam a while ago by Mukundh on this blog and decided to risk buying it despite not knowing what to expect (thanks, M!). For the first hour I can't say I was impressed, it felt like a story I had seen before, just told slightly differently. It turns out I never did see the Hollywood movie that Anbe Sivam resembles in parts, which is Trains, Planes and Automobiles but nonetheless it sort of felt familiar. I did like the cinematography (always a sucker for films with a lot of rain and water) so I kept watching for that. 

The film starts with Anbarasu (Madhavan) and Nallasivam (Kamal Hassan) who meet in a busy airport in Orissa and after a few frictions and a plane delay, they end up sharing a room at a two star hotel. Anbarasu is a bit of a know-it-all, always in a rush, always plugged in, he doesn't have time for chatty old men. But Sivam just doesn't care and he goes on yapping and being friendly despite Aras's visible efforts to get him off his back. This was supposed to be the light side of the movie, the "comedy" plot, but since physical comedy was never my thing, I was just waiting for it to be over and for Sivam's story to begin unfolding. After a few more adventures and mishaps, it does.

Sivam, who now looks like this:
used to be a passionate fighter for union rights, a self-titled supporter of communism. 
Heh... Only in an Indian film would you have Communism, Christianity and Lord Shiva in the same person.

Dolce: Oh no, are we going to get all prickly now because here they go again using communism in Indian films as if it's some great system that will change the world?
Namak: Ha! I guess normally we would, but I found they used it rather well here. I appreciated that Sivam fully acknowledges in an episode later in the film that it did not work. But he still stands by the philosophical part of it, which obviously I have nothing against. Even Plato was a communist in that sense, when did I ever complain about that?
Dolce: So all the hammers and sickles and all the red didn't bother you this time?
Namak: It's an exaggeration to say that they bother me at any time, it bothers me when they are used with blatant ignorance, but in this particular case, while retaining my personal opinion on its virtues and flaws, I did not find anything to criticize in Sivam's belief system.
Dolce: Oh good, because I wasn't in the mood to argue about that.

Namak: But while on the topic, you know what did bother me?
Dolce: Damn, I left my guard down too soon... What?
Namak: What bugged me was that the only female character other than the heroine was a communist only to get Sivam to notice her! So much for girl power, you know, so much for women thinking with their own head. I found that bit particularly odd especially in the context of equality and fraternity. Really? The rest of the film talks about rights for everyone and about supporting home-grown talent, but meanwhile the only female character that's given some depth turns out to only be interested in politics and equality because of love? I found that somewhat degrading.
Dolce: Well, there's no clear dialogue that shows she was not interested in politics, maybe it was both. Maybe it was the subtitles...
Namak: The subtitles? Yeah, that's a good point. Fine... we'll give her the benefit of the doubt on this one. But I am not happy with how it was presented.
Dolce: All right, duly noted.

She's not as badass as she seems

Well then... To clear the air a bit, let's talk about something else. South Indian film makers seem to have a thing for Salvador Dali. I noticed a lot of Dali prints in Prasthanam, and in this one I could swear the logo (of the Production House maybe?) at the beginning of the film was Galatea of the Spheres.

At a closer look: it is!! But it gets even more interesting. The episode with Sivam painting a mural for Bala's father immediately reminded me of an episode in Diego Rivera's life, and sure enough after some research I found that it was indeed inspired by it. Not only that, but even the mural in the film is a cross between Diego Rivera's Man at the Crossroads and the same Galatea of the Spheres. With Marx in it too! Fascinating! 

Anyway, that's not necessarily relevant for the film, that was more of a trivia moment, and also an opportunity for me to rejoice at being able to fill in the blanks of symbolism without external help. Which of course doesn't happen often with Indian films, so I have to brag about it on the rare occasions when pop/art culture I am familiar with gets referenced. 

As the story goes on about Sivam's past life, we find many themes dear to South indian films: corrupt businessmen, greed, globalization vs protectivism, rich girl loves poor boy, love triangles, machetes, social justice, falling in love songs, and while some are more interesting than others (I for one did not care for the non-existing chemistry between Sivam and Bala, the heroine), they make for an engaging watch. Which is just as well because really, the most important part of the film is the last half hour.

Now maybe because I am coming off reading Jose Saramago's last novel: Cain... An author that has a knack for placing divinity on a human level and who toys with representations of God that are far from reverent. An author who was also, incidentally, an ardent fan of communism. Or maybe because the film itself is ambiguous that way, what with Sivam's uncanny ability to reappear every time we think him left behind for good, and what with his name being one of the names of Shiva. Or maybe because I was wondering while reading the Ramayan how did everyone know without ever being told that Rama was Vishnu himself in human form, which prompted the question: in a modern context, would they still know this?

I don't know why, but seeing this film with all these other ideas running in my head, I couldn't help but wonder: who was this Sivam? And if the message of the film is that God is everyone who feels love and compassion, why does he still strike me as surreal in his patience and his grace towards Anbarasu? And why is the sister nurse so close to an angel?

Namak: Taking that a little bit further, the real question for me is: what if you met God on a train? And what if God didn't have anything interesting to say? What if you had to listen to hours of yapping and snoring before even getting the message he's trying to give you? 
Dolce: Yes, what if?
Namak: Well, how many people would have the patience for it? How many people would even make it to the part with the message instead of successfully shaking the pesky traveling companion by starting their iPods? Most people these days are exactly like Anbarasu.
Dolce: No way, he's a prick. I would not mind making conversation with a pleasant old man.
Namak: You may not, but I for example am not interested in a conversation that gives me nothing in return.
Dolce: But... what can a conversation ever give you in return?
Namak: It doesn't matter: knowledge, information, entertainment, closeness, an emotion. Anything. Even anger if it's a debate. But a character who has nothing interesting to say, I would not waste time with them.
Dolce: In that case, maybe you would not meet God, don't you think?

I know I could stick to the film's original message,  because there are so many sides to the events in the film (so many of which I have not even touched), but I blame it on Saramago, and I can't help but think of a more mystical way of interpreting Sivam's character. 

But... even without my ramblings, and despite its slow pace, I really enjoyed Anbe Sivam, and it was one of the few Tamil films that made me rush to the laptop and start writing! Nice feeling!

It seems a little wrong to give this a cheese rating, after all it's a film whose title translates as Love is God, but I will anyway. Anbe Sivam was a surprising delicacy for me. It's like fried Camembert: creamy, cheesy and warm on the inside, crunchy on the outside and the last bite is always the very best one!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Two Things Making Me Smile These Days...

...don't have too much to do with Bollywood. Well, they do, but not directly.

One of them is the new Ali Zafar album Jhoom. I promised myself I would keep an eye on the boy, and yet somehow the album fell off my radar. But I am so happy I was reminded of it, and to make up for my tardiness, I have been listening to it non-stop since I got it.

And I swear it's not just this video that makes me happy (ok, it is a pretty darn sexy video, so it definitely helped)! But beyond the video I was swept off my feet by the silent strength of the slow songs and the understated joy of the more bouncy ones.

If I had to associate one word with each song, it would go like this:
Jhoom - peace
Tu Janay Na - teenage love
Jab Se Dekha Tujhko - cherry blossoms. By the way this is one of my favourites, and I suspect it's not because it's the greatest song of the album (because it's not) but because I can actually understand the lyrics (for the most part). I have a special relationship with the songs that don't require hours of looking up translations, so, good or bad, there are a few I love just for giving me this satisfaction. What can I say, it's tough listening to music when you don't know the language. It makes for a completely different type of listening.
Jee Dhoondta Hai - haunting. I swear I woke up with this song ringing in my head more than once. It's so beautiful!
Koi Umeed - longing
Jaan-e-Mann - photography. Don't laugh, it's probably the title, or the piano, but I can see this track rocking in a Bollywood movie with a picturization in sepia or something old and a tad blurry...
Nahin Ray Nahin - flight
Yar Dhadhi Ishq - home. It sounds a little Turkish, a little folk, very Eastern. I want to dance to it!
Dastaan-e-Ishq - summer sunrise. My other favourite.

And this one not because I get it, because truly, I don't understand a word outside the title and a few verses about halfway through. Really guys, Hindi is difficult enough, when you throw Punjabi at me too... it's just not fair! But this song is so amazing that I don't even need to know what it's about (well, not that I wouldn't want to, don't get me wrong, so any help is appreciated).
Allah Hu - silence. I know, it's odd for a song to evoke silence, but somehow this one does.

I deleted the RnB remix of Jhoom as soon as I listened to it, it just doesn't belong on this album in my opinion, but I very much appreciate the dhol version of Dastaan-e-Ishq. There is no such thing as spoiling a song by adding a bit of drums.

Yes, Jhoom makes me happy in a very serene way. Especially since I never saw this coming listening to Ali's previous hits. A lovely surprise!


And because everything has to be balanced for me, the other thing that makes me smile these days, and this one in a very exuberant way, is Allu Arjun's wedding. Which coincidentally is taking place as we speak (give or take a few hours). But seeing all the pre-wedding functions practically live on youtube and in pictures, and knowing that the main event is broadcast live on TV gives me such a kick. It's like being there!

Lots of sparkle,  some incredible jewellery, some fabulous traditional outfits for both the bride and the groom for every one of the events in the past few days, my favourite so far for Arjun being the midnight blue one from the Sangeet. Unfortunately, none of the 672 photographers present had the common sense to take a picture of it, so it can only be seen in video form. Not that I mind very much...

And after all the glamour and glitz, and after all the talk about it being an arranged marriage, imagine my surprise when I find this picture of the soon to be happy couple lying around on the Internet.
*Whistle* Way to go Bunny!
Ah, so cute! Wishing them both all the best!

Yes, the strangest things make me smile these days. And to show my appreciation for both people making me smile today, I end this by doing that gesture where you bless someone by catching their face in your hands and then hanging it by your own ears. Er... yes, this is probably the most ridiculous way to describe it, but I'm sure most people can figure out what I'm talking about... I hope... well, I'm doing it anyway! In my culture I'd be symbolically spitting them to protect them from the evil eye, so trust me, this is better!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Who Rocked It Best

I see these articles all the time on my yahoo page comparing identical outfits worn by two different stars, and I'm always impressed by how creative some of them get and how they manage to change the outfit completely by accessorizing it in all kinds of funky ways. But I'm not into fashion enough to have my own version for Bollywood outfits (and I'm sure it exists anyway), and in fact I seem to have such bad taste that usually I disagree vigorously with the votes of the stylists who write these things.

But no matter. What I'm trying to get at is that just like outfits, films can have a similar or even identical theme or plot, but accessories such as picturizations, main actors, script and delivery make them so different. So this is my version of "Who Rocked It Best ", evidently, for Bollywood films, based on films I watched recently.

*** The parody that includes a film within a film

Tees Maar Khan, Farah Khan's latest outing is of course the first one that comes to mind. But as excited as I was for its release (despite Akshay Kumar being the hero, which hardly ever ends up well for me), I came out of the theatre almost depressed. What a great movie this could have been, if only it were funny. But it wasn't. And I usually love Farah Khan's sense of humour, God knows I laugh every time I watch her other two movies, and that's often by the way.

This other little movie called Dhoodte Reh Jaoge on the other hand, approaches the same theme: a garbage movie is being produced by the main characters with the twisted end goal of getting rich, and we get to witness the whole process of the movie being scripted and shot, plus we even see scenes and songs from the film. Just like in Tees Maar Khan. Heck, they even have a silly theme song that keeps getting played over and over and over until all you can hear is "dhoond-te reeeeh jaooge" in your head, long after the movie is over.

But DRJ pulls off the funny much better. Probably because they don't just rely on name dropping to create comedy, but rather on subtle (or not so subtle) send-ups to other films that get spoofed with gusto, but also without malice. Probably because there is an actual plot beside the making of the film (even if the plot is borrowed from the famous musical The Producers). Probably because the actors in it can actually act. Or who knows, maybe because I just didn't get the references in TMK. Bottom line is, DRJ rocks it!

Dolce, as the resident Farah Khan fangirl made a weak attempt to defend TMK, which went like this:
Dolce: There were parts of TMK when we laughed, no? Like the train robbery?
Namak: That's true, Akshaye Khanna did a good job with his role, he was the only thing funny about this film.
Dolce: And then there's Sheila Ki Jawani, that's gotta count for something! It's a rocking song!
Namak: Myees, agreed, Sheila is worth a look or two... But I'll see your Sheila and raise you a Kunal Khemu. Actually wait, I just remembered Sonu Sood also looks particularly fabulous in DRJ and he does an impression of Amitabh Bachchan, so... all in!
Dolce: Okie dokie... guess I can't beat that with my pair of aces.

*** The thriller-drama that offers a very critical look at people's superstitions and what happens if one gives in to them

Predictably, the first example: Delhi 6. A wonderful story about India and its fears and hopes seen through the eyes of an Indian who grew up elsewhere. A kaleidoscope of characters and images that will stay with you for months after seeing the film. And a set of performances that are worthy of heartfelt praise. Sadly Delhi 6 stumbles upon a threshold called "lack of subtlety" and trips into the open arms of the "House of Clunky". If only the last half hour had had the finesse and the elegance of the first hour and a half...

And how surprising, to find that elegance in a children's film like Makdee. Also a poignant expose of the damage that giving in to superstition causes, but handled, in a far less preachy way. And a more consistent style throughout. Of course, it is a Vishal Bhardwaj film after all. As predicted, Makdee rocks it.

*** The romantic idea of sacrificing your love for the happiness of your loved one

Yes, yes, no points for guessing my first example: Jab We Met. Brooding boy falls in love with bubbly outgoing girl, but she loves someone else, so he takes her back to him with unpredictable results. My love for this film probably has everyone nauseated by now, so I won't insist.

And here there are many other films with a similar theme, of which Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Anjaana Anjaani and Mujhse Dosti Karoge are just the first ones that come to mind. And I may have just spoiled all three of them for you, but a) heck, you should have seen them by now, not because they're good but because they're talked about and b) I already said the results are unpredictable, so there, not spoiled at all.

But the film that made me think about Jab We Met recently was Tanu Weds Manu, which is running in the theatres as we speak. Manu is the shy boy played by a perfectly cast Madhavan, while Tanu is the rebellious girl played with much enthusiasm by Kangana Ranaut. Some lovely songs, beautiful cinematography, great support characters. But sadly, the two main characters slip into caricature mode too often and their bond is not plausible as much as one is willing to give in to filmi conventions such as love at first sight. I appreciated Aditya's capacity to walk away (twice!) that much more after seeing Manu turned into a doormat in the same situation.

Well, at least it has good songs!

Do I even have to say it? Jab We Met still rocks it.

*** The Intertwining stories with multiple couples at different stages in their relationships

Salaam-e-Ishq and Life in a Metro.

This was a tough choice to make, and here's how the conversation went:
Dolce: Aah, SEI has Priyanka in a delightful role. Plus it has the best songs!
Namak: Errr... Yeah, whereas Metro has... Pritam. Yikes. But that said, the songs aren't bad.
Dolce: Not at all, the songs are ok, but the picturizations all belong on VH1, in a show called: "90s Metal - What in the Name of Thor Were They Thinking??". Whoever thought it a good idea to have Pritam and presumably his high school band actually appear in every picturization? 
Namak: Heh, I'm afraid that's true. But still... SEI is so filmi!
Dolce: We like filmi! Filmi means wonderful and colourful and glamorous and...
Namak: ...And ridiculous!
Dolce: Ok, but so what?
Namak: At least Metro had some better developed stories, some more gripping situations, instead of Anil Kapoor chasing after some 16 year old. 
Dolce: Yes, that was a bad song, I agree.
Namak: No, forget the songs, just imagine neither film had any songs, which one makes more sense?
Dolce: Ok, fine, Metro is the slightly better film, but come on, you can't have Bollywood without songs!!! And without filmi situations that would never happen in real life!
Namak: No, I suppose you can't.

So I guess it's a tie: if filminess makes you grin from one ear to the other, then Salaam-e-Ishq rocks it. If a more down to earth type of film with real people that could live next door is more your thing, then Metro it is. Just as long as you can deal with songs that all look like this:

And this concludes today's episode of Who Rocked It Best... not because I'm out of comparisons, but because the length of this post is already starting to rival my emails, and I am kind enough to only inflict those on a select few.