Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lagaan, the Red Carpet to Bollywood

Well, more like a yellow carpet since that's the predominant shade used in the film, probably to emphasize the presence of the desert. But yellow or red or green (since I am in IIFA mode, in case that needed clarification), Lagaan seems to be one of those films that got many people into Bollywood and this is perhaps a good opportunity to talk about why that is.

Lagaan is the story of a poor village in 19th century India, a team of misfits, an obnoxious British officer, and a cricket match. But really, it is so much more than that!

I saw Lagaan somewhere at the beginning of my Bollywood career myself, probably among the first 10 Bollywood flicks I ever watched, so while I can't credit it with my conversion, I do give it full credit for my long lasting love affairs with Aamir Khan Productions and Ashutosh Gowariker (one of which ended rather abruptly recently, but a lady never tells, of course). It's funny that it is such a big draw for us non-desis, especially since this movie almost didn't get made for fear that it would be a commercial flop. Such is life it seems: the moments when you expect to fail you pass with honours and then other times when you think you have it in the bag, success just runs past you. I could swear I enjoy listening to the story about how Lagaan got made and succeeded against all odds about as much as I enjoy actually watching it and seeing the cricket team win the match.

As I was sitting thinking about why this movie is such a big draw, it occurred to me that the reason why it holds such appeal to non-Indians is precisely its Bollywood-ness. I've been meaning to write a post about why I love Bollywood movies for a long time, and Lagaan sure seems to make great examples for many of these reasons, so why don't I do just that?

:: Cinematography ::

Beyond my love for good dancing and good music, the other main reason why I started watching Bollywood in the first place was the cinematography. No Bollywood movie ever looks dull and almost all Indian film makers have a unique talent for capturing the splendor of their country. It must be genetically ingrained and certainly an effect of being born in a country so dazzling, so colourful and so diverse, because very few other film makers from other backgrounds excel in this particular domain. Indian movies are so arresting that they will stop you dead in your tracks, in awe at the sheer beauty of it all.

Lagaan is without doubt the perfect example of that. Despite the fact that the story takes place in a very arid region, almost a desert, every frame has just the right composition to make for a stand alone painting. And as if that were not enough, the era was captured so beautifully and with such accuracy that it's not hard to get lost in the little huts or in the stony fields. Maybe some of the characters are sketched a little uni-dimensionally, but the atmosphere sure is captured in 6D from the boots of the British officers to the breeze blowing in Elizabeth's room in the fort. 

:: Us Versus Them ::

Any movie goer worth their salt can see through the set-up of the evil British commander versus the poor honest Indians, so that hardly counts in the film's favour. But it's still endearing to watch, as it is with every movie that has patriotism at the core, just how devoted the villagers of Champaner are to their parched soil. Besides, who can not relate to a story about teaching the invaders a lesson, however small it might be?

Particularly when it's this guy to the left that's getting taught a lesson

:: The Song and Dance ::

I mentioned it before and I'm sure I have whined in the past about how seldom it is we see Aamir Khan dancing as fabulously as he did in Lagaan, but it really is worth dedicating a paragraph to the songs in Lagaan. An eclectic mix of religious and mythological elements, folk choreography and passionate lyrics, the songs in Lagaan are such great storytellers that if ever the rest of the movie disappeared through some wicked act of witchcraft and only the songs would survive, we'd be able to reconstruct the story just from watching them.

:: Cultural References ::

Another reason why Bollywood has had such a strong impact on me is it connects me to my love of cultures. There is nothing more fascinating than discovering another country's traditions and quirks and Indian movies do an incredible job in weaving theirs into the narrative. No two cultures will get their strength and substance from the same elements, and for the Indian culture, O Palanhare is a very telling example of what its building blocks are. It's not just the gods, as the beginning of the song would suggest, it's prayer, mother nature, song, and (perhaps most importantly) each other, they all weigh in evenly.

:: Religion and Tolerance ::

Lagaan makes a point of bringing up all the typical issues related to religious and caste discrimination. And in doing so, it also sends a message of peace that clearly is very close to Ashutosh Gowariker's heart (since he reinforced it later on with his "Jodhaa Akbar"). In fact, many film makers are fond of it, which makes it one of the most popular subtexts in many films. Sure it's just a wee bit heavy handed at times, but hey, would it be any more subtle in a Hollywood movie? I don't think so! And once you think about it, isn't this the type of message that should be spelled out, loud and clear especially in today's crazy crazy world?

:: Great Acting ::

Of course, no movie would ever make it into my heart if the cast didn't put it there. The chemistry between all the actors, the lengths that the whole team went to in order to speak, act and feel like their respective characters, it all comes through in every frame of the film. It's not just the main actors either, it's the whole cast, and it's been such a pleasure following some of the supporting actors in other films because they certainly proved their worth even after Lagaan.

Raghuvir Yadav in Peepli Live

:: Good Drama ::

I'm not a fan of over the top drama, but Lagaan seems to pack just the right amount, and when it goes over the top it's perfectly justified: these villagers are fighting against oppression for crying out loud, getting desperate is understandable. As opposed to, you know, getting all bent out of shape because your son married some girl you didn't approve of, which, you guessed it, does not count as "justified". Any movie that gives me drama in just the right amount will be a winner in my book, and certainly many films in the last decade have done that. Looking back now it truly seems like it all started with Lagaan.

They said in 2001 when the movie came out that Lagaan took everything Bollywood and turned it on its head. Perhaps... but in doing that, it simply revolved around its Bollywood heart, keeping it in the right place the whole time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kareena Kapoor

Everyone who knows even a little bit about my filmi tastes knows I love Kareena Kapoor, so no Kapoor Khazana would be complete for me without a post about her. I'm sure part of my love is due to the fact that there is a critical mass out there of people who hate her (I think it has to do with her public persona, but you know... I don't really care about that stuff), but mostly it's because she's a bloody good actress. I remember Shahid Kapoor once saying about her (and I paraphrase) that she could walk into the set, talking on her cell-phone and with a snack in her other hand, put everything down and within seconds give a perfect shot. Aamir Khan has been known to say more than once that he has trouble focusing when she's around because she's so beautiful. While her cousin Ranbir Kapoor never wastes an opportunity to talk about what a natural actress she is. Heck, even Ranveer Singh, the new kid on the block, has been caught gushing openly on camera about how much of a fanboy he is for her.

So with all these stellar endorsements, one cannot ignore that... there's just something about Kareena! And I debated making this the title of the post, until I realized that the title does not need to be anything more than her name. With my well documented tendency to give really long titles to my posts, I'm sure this says a lot. Kareena Kapoor. Bas.

I haven't seen all of Kareena's films and I'm afraid I never will what with her well-known tendency to go from one-of-a-kind masterpieces to disturbingly bad movies (yes, Kambakkt Ishq, you're the front runner of that pack!), but I wanted to do a quick overview of the many faces of Kareena as I have seen them so far.

Kareena the warrior princess
(hey that rhymes with the Xena the Warrior Princess, except Kareena is good looking too! Ha!)

I've gushed about Asoka in the past, so I won't go over it again, but Asoka is a side of Kareena we don't see very often, so it's definitely worth starting with. There is a scene towards the end of the film where she defies the King Asoka that gives me the chills every time. Such raw hate and such power in just one line, it's moments like this that set an actor or an actress above the rest of the overweeping, overacting majority.

Kareena the College Diva

We've seen a lot of that in Kareena's early years, and certainly she has no trouble in these types of roles mostly because they're not very demanding. Films like Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, Mujhse Dosti Karoge, Hulchul, show us a haughty, stylish (well, for those years anyway) Kareena who lacks nothing in the self-confidence department.

The crown jewel of those roles is of course her famous Poo in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, and because I plan a more detailed post to explain why she is the best thing about that movie, I will not get into it too much now. Suffice to say that it takes a diva to play a diva and not many other Indian actresses have what it takes for a role that Kareena cruises through with so much class. Love her or hate her for it, but she rocks those roles like no one else would. Granted, for me that's usually not enough to save a bad movie (which most of the above are), but it sure is fun to watch.

Kareena the Sweet Young Lover

No more the college girl, no more the diva, films like Yuva, Milenge Milenge and 36 China Town still do so well in showcasing that innocence and youthful exuberance that defined Kareena's earlier days, even if they're not all good films. There was a freshness and a lovable quality about her in those days which, mind you, also happened to go marvelously with her old plumper self. It's something I miss in her more recent performances but it probably has a lot to do with her maturing as a person, not just as an actress. Not even Kareena can stay young forever, so I enjoy these roles so much from her precisely because I know we'll never see her in another one again. Of course, this faded only to make room to a more refined actress, so who be I to complain too much about that?

Kareena the Vamp 

I've only seen Fida in this category, but would certainly love to see more movies like this from her. Kareena in a negative role where she gets to be sarcastic, perfidious and evil while also looking drop-dead gorgeous? Yes, please!

Kareena the Prostitute

Another solitary role in her repertoire, though probably not for long (rumour has it she's a high class prostitute in Aamir's next flick), Chameli is one of Kareena's best roles, if not her absolute best. It's hard to even think that this is the same person we had seen as the delicate deaf-mute girl in Chup Chup Ke, as she lights up cigarette after cigarette and throws curses around while parading her alluring body in hopes of anyone buying it for the night. Chameli is more reminiscent of a theatre play than a Bollywood production, with everything good and everything bad that comes out of that, but Kareena's act shines with all the sparkle that is rightfully absent from the rest of the film.

Kareena the Tomboy

Sometimes the movies are great (3 Idiots, Tashan) and sometimes they make me wonder why I am still into Bollywood (Golmaal 3), but Kareena the tomboy is one of my all time favourite characters regardless of the film. I like a girl with personality, and when she gets to be badass too, well, she's definitely got my attention! Whether she's slapping the grin off of Aamir Khan's face, or delivering one of the finest drunken scenes in 3 Idiots; or keeping the two boys on a short leash in Tashan; or just being part of the gang in Golmaal 3 (an otherwise NOT recommended watch); she's such a joy to see on screen. It's funny that I think she does the diva to perfection while other times I'll say she was born to play tomboy roles, but I suppose that's the sign of true talent.

Kareena the Tragic Lover

Drama is certainly one of Kareena's strongest subjects, and we usually get treated to longer or shorter displays of this talent in every one of her movies. But Omkara and Refugee are the two that I think really do justice to Kareena's skill in the tragedy genre. Right from her first film, Refugee, she shows no hesitation in emotional scenes where even seasoned actors tend to overact. Her Omkara director, Vishal Bhardwaj, also really knew how to exploit that in the role of Dolly, the tragic Desdemona in the Indian adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello.

A close runner up would be Kurbaan, where she gave a gut-wrenching performance, but sadly so many things about the movie fell flat for me that I simply can't brush past them only because of Kareena.

Kareena the Item Girl 

This has not been one of Kareena's most successful avatars, mostly because she's not a very strong, or very graceful dancer. She usually gets by in songs because of her stellar facial expressions. But there are a couple of songs that she rocks (no pun intended) and here they are.

Have I forgotten anything? Oh no, you there in the back row shouting and waving, don't worry, I haven't forgotten...

Jab We Met!

Just saving the best for last!

The chatty Punjabi girl with dreams of marriage in her eyes and words of comfort on her lips... very few people can resist her! Pair this up with the defeated, joyless Geet of the second half of the movie and you've got yourself the most comprehensive performance in all of Kareena's career. I'm not sure if I would label it as her best acting (what with Chameli and Omkara also in the run for that trophy), but it definitely is the best showcase for her many talents as she gets to portray just about every emotion in the book in a role that (many agree) was simply made for her. And look, even her dancing was great in it!

The problem with Kareena is that she sometimes makes it very very difficult to be a fan, whether it's by shooting her mouth off about the wrong thing, or by choosing films that are beneath her capabilities and status, while giving the boot to projects that some of her fans (myself included) would love to see her in.

But... despite all that... she still remains: the one and only BEBO!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Celebrating Magical Realism: Road Movie and Nandhanam

Magic realism--a kind of modern fiction in which fabulous and fantastical events are included in a narrative that otherwise maintains the 'reliable' tone of objective realistic report. Designating a tendency of the modern novel to reach beyond the confines of realism and draw upon the energies of fable, folk tale, and myth while maintaining a strong contemporary social relevance. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)

Magical realism, now that I think about it, is hard to find in Indian movies. A bit odd considering they come from a culture brimming with superstitions and religious beliefs. But no matter.

I am always happy to see a film that uses magical realism precisely because they are so few and far between. Moreover, out of these few films that delve into it, there are even fewer I actually like (sorry, Paheli and Videsh, you failed miserably to impress me). Which is unfortunate because for example most of my favourite authors (Salman Rushdie, Jose Saramago and to a certain extent Gabriel Garcia Marquez) can sell me just about anything written in this style.

So today I want to celebrate two magical films that I love unconditionally: Road Movie (Hindi) and Nandhanam (Malayalam).

I saw Road, Movie at the Toronto Film Festival in 2009 and I never though I would be able to recreate the high that possessed all of us when we came out of the theatre. So I admit to being a little afraid to rewatch it after getting the DVD. But it turns out it's just as powerful the second time around as I remember.

Road, Movie takes us on a journey across the Rajahstani desert in an old movies truck, along with Vishnu (Abhay Deol), a mechanic (Satish Kaushik), a kid (Mohammed Faisal) and a gypsy woman (Tannishtha Chatterjee). "In the desert", as another beloved Abhay Deol movie points out, "nothing is what it seems." Elements of magical realism come up more than once in surprising ways that elevate this film from a simple road movie (pun intended) to a glorious magic carpet ride.

And before I stray away from the theme, let me introduce the other lovely piece of art that is responsible for my taking a break from Kapoor Khazana to write this post: Nandhanam.

Nandhanam is the story of the beautiful servant girl and Krishna devotee Balamani (Navya Nair) who falls in love with the very handsome and very straightforward young master of the house: (Prithviraj). Status, family honour as well as the ever powerful sense of duty towards one's parents keep them apart. But the God Krishna is there looking out for them. Of course for the purposes of this post I will pretend that the annoying comedy track does not exist in this film. In fact, I strongly suggest you do the same with the help of our ever-faithful friend: the fast-forward button.

These two stories have nothing in common other than the above mentioned elements of magical realism. But because that is so hard to find, I am celebrating them both in the same post.

Road, Movie 

Gypsyes with their transitory nature and documented restlessness are often used to make the transition between what is real and what is magical in all kinds of stories. This happens a lot in Eastern European art, one great example being Emir Kusturica's films. So it's somewhat fitting that one of the characters in Road Movie is a mysterious gypsy woman without a name and without a home.

From the moment Vishnu's truck is started and until its dismissal at the end of the film, the real world is just a backdrop. None of the characters even behave as they would in the real world: they don't ask each other questions about their background, they don't chat needlessly, they just accept each other for what they are right there and then. To enhance that sense of fable, none of the people that Vishnu meets have a name, nor are they asked for one. It's this air of surrealism, or better said of fake realism, that makes Road Movie so very special.

The scenery with its endless roads of yellow dust and pebbles also contributes to the outlandish feel. Not surprisingly it brings to mind Giorgio de Chirico's deserted, desolate landscapes, a background not uncommon with other surrealist painters such as Yves Tanguy and Salvador Dali.

Of course, as is usually the case with magical realism, the fantastical elements are well balanced by pertinent social commentary and characters well anchored in the real world: police officers, goondas, villagers. The water women that appear at key moments throughout the film somehow seem to belong to both worlds, making the transition smoother.

And because biting irony is always a sure sign of realism, we find plenty of it all along the movie, culminating with the biggest irony of them all: instead of selling the hair oil as instructed, Vishnu exchanges it for water, a commodity only precious on the rare occasions when it is lacking. But then that is the key to the whole movie, isn't it: it's the things we take for granted, like water, life, laughter, and even a good hair oil massage that end up teaching us the big lessons.

Very much connected to the magical realism theme, everyone always asks about the fair scene, as they do not find it real enough for the film. This question was asked a couple of times of Dev Benegal at the Film Festival and he shrewdly evaded the answer. I've also seen the resolution of the Waterlord conflict being judged by the same criteria. But what I always want to reply to these critics is: where do you draw the line to define realism in a movie like this? If the Fair is not real, is the Waterlord episode more real? If that is also preposterous, is the police station more real? Is the journey itself? Are the people in the story? Is that ancient truck any more real? You see how this can go on endlessly. And after all, the real question is: does it really matter?

The beauty of magical realism is that it doesn't question itself: things happen the way they are told, when they are told, and that's final. Why then question the movie when it does not doubt itself? You know it can't happen, that it's logically impossible, and yet here it is happening in front of your eyes, and guess what: it's on purpose, it's not a continuity mistake nor is it a dream sequence. In the simple words of Salman Rushdie: "It happened that way because that's how it happened." (Midnight's Children)


Rushdie's words can easily be transferred to the more straight-forward Nandhanam, where (and this is hardly a spoiler because it's evident right from the beginning) the God Krishna's involvement in Balamani's life alters the elements in the story, thus recreating reality. Balamani herself seems to question it but she ends up accepting it as a fact, which is of course exactly how the story should go. A devotee of Krishna, Balamani has a very personal relationship with her most revered God, where she sees him more as her confidante than anything else. Much of the time spent in her room consists of conversations with Krishna as if he were a diary. But more than a diary, she treats him like a real person, a friend that you can get mad at, call upon in the middle of the night for help, look to for comfort and admit your deepest fears to.

It's hardly surprising then that his involvement in the story would reach beyond the frames of his icon.

Nandhanam is a classic fairy tale complete with a prince who falls in love at first sight and powerful forces of evil (in the shape of family honour and uncompromising relatives). We cannot judge the characters for being so kind it renders them weak because they are not here to teach us about rebellion, they are here to teach us about faith.

We also cannot judge the evil forces and their excuses and predicaments for the same reason: their existence validates the story.

At the same time, most of the characters, good or bad, bring about credible social commentary and the mentalities of the middle class family are captured eloquently. It's not that we've never seen a love story where the family opposes the union, but we rarely see a story that paints such an expressive picture of all the factors that influence this group decision. We also rarely see stories where folklore or gods have any kind of impact on the fate of the couple and this makes Nandanam very special.

Nandhanam, let's face it, is not a terribly complex movie, but it's a story with its heart in the right place and that little smidgen of magical realism truly makes it memorable. Because behind the very astute portrait of societal norms, the magical element brings about a very important question: can faith truly move mountains? Can wishing for something with a pure heart truly alter the course of your destiny? It's nice to be reminded to think of that every once in a while and that's exactly what Nandanam with its simple love story and simple people does.

Which brings me to the realization that perhaps that's why I love magical realism so much: it makes me wonder about all those layers beyond the visible and tangible world we live in, but at the same time it does so without demanding anything of me. I am not required to be religious, in fact I'm not even required to buy the story. I just have to... go with it. I'm certainly glad I "went with" both Nandanam and Road Movie.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ajab Ranbir's Silly Happy Movie

Now that Kapoor Khazana is in full blast, a quick reminder that this is a wonderful month-long international event, hosted by Totally Filmi's Katherine, so in case you didn't land on my blog through this event, do check out all the other happenings and posts collected by Katherine here. It's already been a blast and we haven't even completed a week!

While on the topic of shameless promotion, I take this opportunity to also pimp out my page of Ranbir Kapoor avatars, because you know, why not?

And now back to business as usual. I'm a little behind of actual reviews, so one was long overdue. Since I have so far talked at length about 2 Ranbir movies on this blog, and briefly touched on another 2, there was no other option but to finally review the wacky Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani ("The extraordinary tale of oddball Prem", as I like to translate it, very inaccurately I'm sure). A simple or not so simple love story between Prem (Ranbir Kapoor), the good for nothing self-elected president of The Happy Club and Jenny (Katrina Kaif), the new girl in town. Essentially it's just another one of those growing up from slacker to hero stories that Ranbir Kapoor excels at, but as usual with him, the theme stays fresh and fun. Katrina Kaif doesn't typically impress me, but this is the role where I found her glorious and perfectly cast. Her best acting yet, even though that may sound inadequate for such a silly film.

Namak: Ewww!!! Converse shoes and a skirt???
Dolce: Oh don't worry, in terms of sartorial choices, there is much worse in this one!

Yes, Ranbir, that IS a satin suit and no amount of staring at it will make it better...

Well then, we're off to a good start! Though I must also congratulate the costume department in this one for the persistence with which they kept repeating the colour yellow (my favourite) in Katrina's outfits. Loved every single one of those yellow dresses and let me tell you there were many!

Namak: Actually, you criticize it for no reason, the clothes were young and fun for the most part.
Dolce: Too yuppy for my tastes, but that's something I have to learn to live with. At least they were colourful!

But one thing that the above poster does nail is the cartoon feel of this movie. One will never make it past the first 20 minutes unless they have understood and embraced that. The comedy in APKGK is very much reminiscent of Tom and Jerry cartoons, and even though it pauses for the serious moments that take the plot forward, ample warning about it is still needed.

I'm usually not the type to go for goofy comedy, but this is one of those films where you have no choice but to laugh out loud. It's not just that the comedy is funny, it's also so self-aware that you feel like a condescending schmuck if you don't go along with it. At least I did.

I mean for crying out loud: they escape on a ski jet and climb onto a train stopped on the bridge on a rope ladder!! That alone should tell you it's an insult to expect any seriousness from this movie! But at the same time I appreciate that unlike many comedies lately this one doesn't rely on causing someone pain or on insulting people in order to be funny. It's all in good heart: people sitting on cakes, exaggerated reactions, over the top acting, Ranbir dancing goofily at the wedding, Katrina making faces, Salman Khan in a very self-referential guest appearance, the kind of stuff that good old-fashioned comedy is made of.

Namak: Trying too hard sometimes maybe?
Dolce: No way! Just right!
Namak: Definitely too much comedy for my taste at times, but I must admit the non-goofy moments do make up for that.

Another reason why Ajab Prem works so well as a cartoon is the set: a very artificial town, reminiscent of Saawariya, where only a fairy tale can take place. This blends nicely with the outlandish feel of the whole story, removing all claims for realism.

Dolce: But you know what I think is this movie's biggest strength?
Namak: D-uh! Ranbir, right?
Dolce: Hah! Very funny, but no. THE SONGS! It's not very often you watch a movie these days where every single song is not only perfectly placed but also impeccably shot! I can't even pick a favourite they're all just so good!
Namak: And of course that has nothing to do with Ranbir?
Dolce: Erm... well, of course they work even better because he's such a great performer, but... Well yeah, I guess that's a big part of it.
Namak: Mm-hm. I knew it.

No really, someone please try and find one thing that is faulty in this one:

Wonderful, just wonderful!

And while on the topic of the songs, I really wish one day I could analyse what makes Tu Jaane Na so exquisitely beautiful, but I'm afraid dozens of rewatches later I still am not able to think straight while watching it. I get the old lump in the throat when it starts and coherent thought is replaced by a storm of emotions until it ends.

I also always forget just how much I love Aa Jao Meri Tamanna until I see it again in the movie. And it's not only the beautiful lyrics and the soulful melody, I blame a lot of it also on Ranbir's natural gift for lip-synching. So many other actors look either uncomfortable or just goofy when doing all those broad gestures and pretending to sing at the top of their broken heart, but not Ranbir. He was born for this, there's no doubt about it!

Oh but enough of the songs, I could be here all day talking about them and I never even mentioned Ranbir's dancing yet!

It's a difficult task this movie took on: to tell a story with the emotional pathos of the olden days, but also to keep it entertaining and funny with goofy moments and situational comedy. I think they nailed it most of the time.

Namak: Except for the stammer stuff. That was unnecessary, no?
Dolce: What? I thought that was cute! 
Namak: It seemed so tacked on, they just couldn't find a better excuse for their first fight so they added it to the script.
Dolce: Not at all. It was a cute little detail that makes both characters even more endearing.
Namak: Hmpf! Suit yourself. I think the movie would have worked just fine without that.
Dolce: That may be so but how would you have had this wonderful umbrella moment without it?

Jenny realizes that she had no reason to be mad at Prem so in a pinch for how to say sorry, she quickly advances to cover him with her umbrella. This is the kind of Bollywood we live for, isn't it?

By the way, for more adorable and romantic umbrella moments in all kinds of Kapoor movies, Totally Filmi has a post dedicated to them here.

What is there left to say about Ajab Prem? Plenty! I haven't talked about the gangsters / men in black...

...haven't mentioned the twist that brings Upen Patel into the tale (not that that's a good thing, just for the record)...

(Sorry, no screencap for this one, I refuse.)

...haven't praised Prem's perfectly cast parents: Darshan Jariwala and Smita Jaykar...

...have also not even touched on Prem's gang of ever so helpful and good-hearted friends...

...and nor did I say a word about the fight in the end that has me rolling on the floor laughing every single time!

But then I always get criticized for writing too much and besides: there must be some surprises in the movie for you too, no?

Wait, is that...? No, it can't be! But it... !?!?!

Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani is like blue cheese. It's strong, stinky and surprising so you have to really know what to expect to not be disappointed. But behind the slightly odd first aftertaste, the hard ripe deliciousness of it will leave your palate with some very sweet memories. And once you get into it, you're hooked for life!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Papa Kehte Hain...

No, you're not about to read a post about Aamir Khan's Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, though that is indeed the song that I'm referencing.

Because instead of making me think of Aamir Khan, this one makes me think of the most wonderful father-son pairing that ever graced the Bollywood silver screen: Rishi and Ranbir Kapoor. Ok, fine, so there's another father-son duo whom I am also ridiculously fond of (by the same last name too!), but we'll forget about that for the coming month. (Don't worry Shahid, I'm still working on how to skip work and see Mausam first day first show!)

I try not to follow them too much in interviews and such because no good things can come out of that, but these two always make me happy on the big screen.Yes, even young Rishi is adorable to me, though my experience with his loverboy antics is quite limited. I never know if that's a good thing or a bad one.

For some reason I always have a lovely time imagining young Rishi running around after a 7 year old Ranbir who is prancing and singing "Papa kehte hain bada naam karega" (Daddy says: he'll make a big name for himself) completely unaware of what destiny (and surely some family connections) had in store for him.

So now that I put that image in your head... Mwahahahaa!!! No really, whenever I think about Rishi playing daddy, I associate him not with what I read about him in the news, but with his aura in recent movies. Because my head is a giant melting pot of reality, fillums and everything in between, for me the Papa that the song above is talking about needs a face and that face belongs to Rishi Kapoor. Is it a completely false image? Oh yes, I am certain of it! But I give it to you anyway because... well, because who would not want a daddy with Rishi Kapoor's face and a mosaic of his characters from recent movies? You tell me after you read this!

Today I feel like playing, so putting Papa Rishi together will be my Cranium playdough challenge. Unfortunately this may mean that not everything will stay in place for long (especially when confronted with reality), but at least it makes for good fun. And what better way to start Kapoor Khazana, a month of celebrating the Kapoor clan, that with a little bit of sci-fi sculpting? Or clay playing... same thing.

So here we go, reaching for the dough... 3... 2... 1... aaaand Action!

The big blob of the body is red, because it's a colour that to me symbolizes the bonhomie that I always associate with Rishi's roles. He radiates it like Santa Claus radiates jolliness and I can't even pick one role where this comes through more or less because it seems to be everywhere, even in serious roles like Ali Beg in Delhi-6. Whenever I see Rishi appear, I start smiling contentedly because like a cup of hot chocolate he makes everything better.

The red body is completed by white limbs which symbolize wisdom, a trait I saw a lot of in his character in Love Aaj Kal. A father figure who's always there for you with good life advice and a sympathetic ear! He may laugh at you when you behave foolishly, but it'll never be with malice. Nothing short of ideal, I should say!

A wool sweater or a grey kurta a la Fanaa must absolutely convey a sense of warmth coming from playdough Papa Rishi who manages to be lovable even when drunk, or in the case of Fanaa, especially when drunk! Certainly a man who knows what's right and worries for his children but without being overbearing.

Finally, from Luck by Chance I took away some mischief, some sarcasm and also some street smarts and added it to the Rishi dough. And this will be... green, like a leprechaun. We'll add this shape as the nose because it's cute. Seriously no other reason. Ok, maybe because his nose should have grown double in Luck by Chance from all the monkey business he was wheeling and dealing. But luckily for him, it was all in good heart and I can't imagine any other actor who would have kept my undiminished sympathy all the way to the end of the film in this role.

Damn: time's up! I may not win this round of Cranium after all... Unfortunately, after all that, my play dough Rishi looks more like a blobby turtle...

Err.. So forget that! There's always the next round. But despite my failure in conveying my affection for Papa Rishi roles (which in my humble opinion is what he was born for), what I'm really trying to say here, in what is clearly too many words, is that it takes a particularly wonderful actor to always make me smile, and Rishi has definitely got it. So perhaps it's a good thing that I came to know him from his later roles instead of going the oldies way. Not sure if he would have been as endearing to me had I started off with say a love story with Madhuri. For me he'll always be Papa Rishi, running after a 7 year old boy and being the most pleasant friend a son could possibly want.

So are you still wondering what that has to do with the song? Other than that being someone's humming challenge at Cranium?

La la la la la... 
Dil ki duniya mein apna naam karega... 
(He'll make his name in the world of hearts)

Keep guessing, I won't tell you!

But I'll give you a hint: it's my cue for the next post in Kapoor Khazana dedicated to my favouritest Kapoor (from this clan at least): Ranbir!

Now excuse me while I go swoon over this picture for the next week or so!