Wednesday, September 21, 2011

List Mania: Favourite Actresses - Hindi

There are a lot of Hindi Film actresses I really, really like and respect for their acting skills but there are only a few who make me scream with joy when they appear on screen and who turn me into a silly fangirl who starts to squeek at the mere sight of them. They are also the only ones who make me travel almost through the whole country to see their newest flick.

1. Rani Mukerji
"I can do ANYTHING!"

Rani will be always my Number-1-for-sure because she kicks ass and does not need a Hero on her side to be superfreakin` awesome. She is not only beautiful but IMO the best Hindi Film actress That Ever Was. She is my female crush. I´m starting to smile at seeing her, she astonishes me with her beauty and she can pull off convincingly every role that is given her, be it a bubbly, pink-loving trickster, an innocent girl who gets off course and becomes a prostitute or (of course) a blind, deaf and mute girl who learns how to live. She makes me love even the less than mediocre films she is in (I am looking at you, Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic!) 
I really wish she would get more roles these days so we could see her more often on screen.  I think she is getting more beautiful every day and I hate Bollywood for their age hypocricy. Rani is really FAR from being too old and she has a lot more to show yet. YAY for Rani!

2. Juhi Chawla
"I am funny, I am cute, what else do you need?"

Number 2 is undoubtedly Juhi because she is just someone to adore and also unbearably cute and with SRK on her side I would do anything for her. Besides all that she is a very good actress and I am so glad that she didn´t commit to the whole "Once-married-never-seen-on-screen-again"-thing because marriage, children or being a little older really does not have any affect on beauty or talent.

3. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
"I am so ridiculously beautiful that you can´t help but love me for it."

Because I am a superficial person and Aish is just so stunningly beautiful that I can´t help but love her. Even when she gets older she just gets more pretty. I am scared to think what will happen when she is 80 or so, I am afraid we won´t be able to look at her anymore.
Besides, I love her for the way she has handled her career through the 15 years or so that she is active as an actress now and that she never committed to the whole "Boollywood-Gossip"-thing, even through this ugly thing with Salman Khan she has kept her dignity and poise.  Also, I admire her for her dancing because it just illuminates the screen.

4. Anushka Sharma
"I am natural and down to earth and STILL awesome."

I remember when seeing Anushka for the first time in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi I was not very impressed. Actually I was rather disappointed. I was still pretty new to Indian Films by then and have only seen some with Rani, Aish or Miss Piggy Chops (whom I couldn´t dislike more today but that´s not the point) in some of the Hero-oriented movies and I thought that beauty is the only thing required for a Bollywood actress, so I thought that Anushka couldn´t match with them. How WRONG I was! 
Not only is Anushka really beautiful she is also a very good actress. Being only four films old, she is already better than some of her contemporary colleagues.

5. Kareena Kapoor
"I AM the best!"
I love Bebo for her attitude. Yes, I know, some consider it arrogant which of course it is, in some way but it´s not completely ungrounded. Kareena IS a pretty good actress improving every year and she hasn´t gained her present status for nothing. Not only is she versatile she proves her place even against the most macho heroes. I loved her in Tashan, the way she handled the two boys was awesome and hilarious at the same time. I am so happy she is over this whole size zero desaster, because in my opinion Kareena looks best with a little more flesh on her ribs.
I find it a little sad though, that she accepts small and not very deep roles just to be able to play in the next Blockbuster or next to a Khan. Now that she has made a film with every one of them however, I hope that she picks more gritty parts again because I´d love to see Bebo to unfold her whole talent again which is not small at all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Beginnings Of Bunny - Gangotri (Telugu, 2003)


Gangotri is Bunny´s first film as a Hero. It is so obviosly his first movie that if I would have seen the movie in the theater back in 2003 I would never have believed, that this:

would turn into this:

The fierceness! The muscles! The hair! Oh my..
Really, it´s like two different persons!
Also, Gangotri is not a really good film. Sadly to say, mainly because of Bunny´s performance. While Prakash Raj does his usual "loving-father-gone-crazy-once-the-daughter-falls-in-love-with-another-man"-thing, and the heroine (Aditi Agarwal) is, well, a Heroine, what with all the whining, obeying the men around her and not being able to do anything on her own (literally! Bunny once even washes her feet), Bunny is NOT A HERO AT ALL. 
Maybe it was too early for him to start acting in movies yet, he was, after all, only around 20 years old at the time of the release, but although we see glimpses of his later, glorious self, these are really rare moments and soon forgotten after seeing his overall performance.

The story is also not one of the best and actually one big WTF!? but after seeing so many Telugu movies now, I have really grown used to it: Prakash Raj plays Neelakanta Naidu, a big factionist.  After a gap of many years, his wife gives birth to a baby daughter, Gangotri.

Baby Gangotri
Every one is happy but, alas, we are in a Telugu movie after all: Apparently Gangotri is born under a very unfortunate constellation of stars or planets or whatever, I didn´t quite get it, maybe all together, but because of this she will die an untimely death through water.
Of course, every one is heartbroken but never despair, there is help offered by a nearby astrologist/priest. To prevent Gangotri´s death she has to be brought every year to the holy place of Gangotri which lies in North India, which gives us space later in the film for some very unfunny jokes about Northern Indians.  After 15 years, Gangotri would be free of any dangers. (Except dying by sickness, a car accident or a machete, of course).

The Holy place of Gangotri
Prakash Raj has also a confidant/servant called Narasimha, who between slaughtering Neelakantha´s enemies to pieces, is also father to Simhadri, a boy with an unusual beautiful voice. Simhadri and Gangotri become friends and Simhadri has to help Gangotri in a lot of different situations which at some point leads to a very funny song:

I couldn´t find the song on its own, so you have to ffw to 3:15 and 
no, you are not having hallucinations: it`s really Bunny as a girl.

After some drama, including Simhadri´s Ma sacrificing her life for Neelankatha, Gangotri comes of age, which means she gets her first period, so no more roaming around with Simhadri because,
you know, she could get pregnant by holding hands or something. Nevertheless, Gangotri and Simhadri realize that they fell in love. This can not be, of course, so much more drama arises. Meantime, Narasimha comes to the spot and interferes. This causes a rift between Neelakantam and Narasimha and after a misunderstanding Neelakantha bombs the house of Narasimha in typical impulsive and rash Telugu-Dad behaviour. When Simhadri comes to know that Neelakantha is responsible for the bombing, he comes to Neelakantha's house and challenges that he would marry Gangotri in 365 days. Hearing this, Neelakantha throws Simhadri out of the the village leading Simhadri to go to Gangotri, the place, for exile and Gangotri, the girl, starving herself. What will happen next you ask, understandably, and I know this all sounds really entertaining and like a lot of fun, but believe me it´s not.

The performances are really not much to speak about, Prakash Raj is the only one who can be said to be really acting, the others are not much to be spoken about. Allu Arjun is cute, but does nothing special that´s worthy to be mentioned, even his most famous (and best) trait, namely his dancing, is really bad compared to today. But that´s understandable, it´s his first movie, but still, compared to some other debuts I´m really wondering who thought at that point of time that Bunny could be a hero?

Besides, Bunny and his love interest, Aditi Agarwal, have zero chemistry, which is not good, considering this movie is more romance than any other Telugu movie I have seen. Not only can Aditi not act, she is also much too old looking, not only for her part (she is supposed to be not older than 15 after all), but also much older than Allu arjun. (Although she isn´t, I just checked her Wikipedia-entry and she is more or less exactly one year younger to him).

Supposedly 15 years old as Gangotri
This doesn´t necessarily have to be her fault but the costume designer´s or make-up artist´s or even Bunny´s who is himself looking much younger than he really was and I know that most of the Heroines are playing younger roles than they really are, but nevertheless, Aditi just couldn´t pull it off.

There are some supporting actors, Brahmanandam of course and Sunil who has a love interest you never would have thought of, some actress playing Neelakantha´s evil sister who is responsibe for a lot of the trouble and drama in the film, Simhadri´s parents. They are all okay, not bad but nothing outstanding.

The songs... well, the songs. What sometimes is the best part of an Indian movie, is here merely okay with some really bad exceptions. Interestingly the sngs in the second half are much better than the ones in the first, but, really, as sad as it is, nothing special and as they say, at least here in Germany, in one ear and out the other.

The film also has a strong spiritual/religious angle, after all, every one is referring to Gangotri as Ganga, which is the Indian synonym for the holy Indian river Ganges, which leads to some extensive metaphorical love lyrics about Ganga, the girl/Ganga, the river. Also, interestingly, there is a patriotic song in the beginning which I have never seen in a Telugu film before (or maybe just didn´t notice...?).
Anyway, the whole movie reminded me much more of a Hindi than a Telugu one, with the concentrating on religion, the (somewhat) subdued violence, the extensive romance scenes and even the songs reminded me much more of a Hindi movie.

Overall, spare your money, unless you are a die-hard-fan of Bunny (like me) and have the unexplicable desire to see all of his movies, even the bad ones, because this movie really has nothing you wouldn´t wanna miss. For the leave and to lift your spirits after this somewhat negative review, here is something to cheer you up:

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Because I cannot allow my life to become too happy I create a problem out of nowhere: Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi (2008, Hindi)

Have you ever lived in a world where everything is perfect except for some minor hurdles? No? Well then, I suppose you never have seen a Sooraj Barjatya movie. In his world the elder are always honoured, the children obeying, traditions and rules always followed. Everybody loves everyone and the sun is always shining. India and especially the concept of the Indian Joint Family is regarded as the embodiment of the ideal of human relationships and should be the one thing which can be always relied upon. Of course, there are a lot of other Indian movies where these ideals are mentioned, but they are never as celebrated as in the Holy Land Of Family Love. With songs. A lot of songs.

Meet Chandni (Eesha Koppikar), a woman so selfless that she gives up her true love for her siblings, because her very rich and very famous and totally understanding and supporting hubby wouldn´t be able to afford for them. Some people really like to make problems for themselves out of nowhere.

Hum di dum, I happily give up my love because there´s no way I could take my siblings just with me to my new home.

While Chandni is happily singing songs to children instead of just marrying her super hot fiancée Prem and take her brother and sister with her, Prem is busy becoming a famous singer and pining for Chandni, the woman with a heart of stone. Seriously, who can stay so cold while being in the same room with Sonu Sood!?

Seriously, woman, what is wrong with you?

After some minor difficulties, like an evil sister-in-law, a demanding mother-in-law to be and a lot of songs (or rather music, because these are not some awesome masala Ishtyle fully costumed and choreographed dance numbers - although I am pretty sure, that Sonu could pull them off ) we come to the glorious ending.

And I am asking myself: couldn´t we have had that, like, two hours earlier?

Nevertheless, Ek Vivaah... Aisa Bhi manages to do some things right. Although not really memorable the songs are enjoyable, especially the ones which feature Sonu and Eesha together. They don´t have many opportunities to express their love by words or by physical contact, but they cope with that by little glances at eachother or some little smiles that tell that these two have a thing. Obviously, Eesha´s and Sonu´s acting are by far the only postive things in the film.

Their re-enconter after some twelve years is really cute. The excitement and joy yet strange confidence in eachother is really palpable.
But still, after the film comes to its end, there is some bitter taste left in my mouth. I always have a problem believing in love stories who are laid off because of some stupid reasons and here it is really bad. The whole thing seems like pretty much a waste of time to me, especially since, like I said, Chandni doesn´t have to delay her marriage with Prem because he would be perfectly able to provide for her AND the children. Yes, of course, his mother tells her that she doesn´t want Chandni to share her love for Prem with anyone else but Prem seems so understanding and totally in love with Chandni, that if she would have just talked with him, the whole problem... just wouldn´t be a problem. I mean, for God´s sake, this isn´t Veer-Zaara, where Veer was sitting in jail for 22 years, it´s just a matter of moving one household into another.

You say it, sister.
So, after a lot of pining, the only person who seems to have a little common sense in the movie, is Chandnis sister-in-law. But, since she´s evil, because she wants to live with her husband in a seperate home, that doesn´t really count.

Beware! She wants to have a job and live in her own house and have her husband just for herself! OMG! How dare she!?
Compared with the other movies from the Barjatya Clan that I´ve seen, Vivaah and Hum Apke Hain Kaun, this is by far the worst. Which doesn´t mean that it´s awfully bad. It´s okay to plunge into this strange world of family functions, religious celebrations and pretty song montages from time to time but when you come back to The Real Life you always have the weird feeling of wondering why you did it in the first place. While sometimes, like in the case of Vivaah, it´s kind of ...reassuring (like, you know the feeling, that when you feel bad or sad, you know that you have still your parents or your home or whatever, that gives you comfort?), Ek Vivaah... Aisa Bhi is just ... not.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Walk Of Shame Goes On And On And On...

Do you know the feeling of being embarrassed for some one else? That´s exactly the way I´m feeling right now. Spare us, SRK, please! For all the love I bear for you but COME ON! do you really want us to believe THIS? The person who photoshopped this poster should be banned to a deserted island so he or she can be kept from ever coming near a computer again.
I can only hope that this is some ingenious way of marketing to lay our expectations really low so that when we actually get to see the film we will be totally overwhelmed.

It´s official now: I´m totally crazy


The first time I have seen the promo I thought it was horrible. But now, after multiple watching I begin to really like it! What is wrong with me? This song gives - objectively speaking - "cringeworthy" a new meaning.
And still, I can´t help but feeling squishy and romantic the more I watch the song?
I think I can now officially say that my love for all things Shah Rukh is really indefinite. This guy can do anything, even have such awful hair, cover a not really good but really corny song and mixing even more corny hindi lyrics with it and I still like it! I am signing myself into the next mental clinic right away.

P.S. Isn`t Bebo looking gorgeous?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

List Mania: Favourite Actors - Hindi

There are a lot of Hindi Film actors I really, really like and respect for their acting skills but there are only a few who make me scream with joy when they appear on screen and who turn me into a silly fangirl who starts to squeek at the mere sight of them. They are also the only ones who make me travel almost through the whole country to see their newest flick.

1. Shah Rukh Khan
"Let me entertain you!"

What´s there to say about SRK that hasn´t been said already? He was my introduction to Indian cinema and I will be forever grateful for that. He made me love songs and dancing and melodrama in movies and for that he will always be my Number One. I don´t know what it is that makes me love him so much, that made me travel 200 km to Berlin with the very unreliable Deutsche Bahn for only a glimpse of him. I really don´t know. All I know is that he´s making me laugh and cry with him and I can watch his movies over and over and over again.
Well, besides all that, Shah Rukh is a good actor, but he is also a really good performer. He will never bore you because he wants you to enjoy your time and the money you spent. he gives everything, no matter if his body is broken or if he is sick or if he just has a bad day, he is there to entertain you and he will make sure that you don´t regret it.

Favourite Performance: Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

2. Hrithik Roshan
"Everything I do I do it perfect."

Strangely my Crazy-Love-For-Hrithik as I like to call it has not started right away. It was actually pretty late and totally unexpected after seeing a lot of his movies, when I watched Kites. The film might be whatever you think but you cannot deny it that Hrithik was perfect. He was the perfect filmi Hero, doing action, comedy, drama, and, of course, everything for his love. I was sold.
I know, he has done this a lot of times before, but it was not before Kites, that I started to really, really like him not only as a dancer or a performer, but also as an actor.
Because behind all the good looks, the dancing etc. Hrithik is a pretty good actor. He can do what I think is the most important ability as an actor: He makes you believe. You cry with him, you love with him, you fight with him and you also die with him. I think this is because of his honest and genuine approach towards his job. As a friend of mine calls him, "Mr. Nostril" believes in it and so do you.

Favourite Performance: Guzaarish

3. Abhishek Bachchan
"I may not be the best but I´m cool with it."

Poor Abhishek. He can never make it right. He will always be Abhishek BACCHAN! as Pretty pointed it out so adequate a few years ago on KWK. A few years down the road Abhi-Baby still stands in his fathers shadow but he doesn´t let it get him down. No, instead of trying to prove it to himself and to every one else that he can make it better than his larger-than-life father, he says: "It´ cool."
He´s comfortable with his status, he plays with it. He doesn´t have to prove anything. He chooses his roles because he likes to do them not because he would like to state a point. Some may call it lazy, I call it genius. He knows his limited acting abilities couldn´t make him bigger than his father and so instead of fighting the gigantic Persona that is The Big B, he made his inner peace with it long ago. This easy-going attitude is what makes him the darling of the industry, nobody hates him, nobody has a problem with him because you can feel that he doesn´t take himself so seriously. 
Being born into the industry Abishek somehow developed a much more relaxed sight at it than his collegues and so they give him room to shine. I believe we have still not seen the best of Junior and I think that one day he will astonish us all.

Favourite Performance: Yuva

4. Arjun Rampal
"Succeed or die trying."
It´surprising how long it took to find a picture of Arjun where he just looks nice and is smiling instead of looking sleazy and like a second class gigolo. Seriously.
Arjun has always been something like my Problem Child. Always trying, always getting himself up after another failure, just to see him fail again. But then something magical happened and Arjun became An Actor. I don´t know where or when it happened but somewhere down the road, after seeing his performaces stamped as wooden, after being called only a pretty face with no acting skill whatsoever behind it, Arjun proved them all wrong.
And this makes him my special darling because I always have loved him, believed in him and cheered for him, defending his efforts right from the beginning and what better satisfaction is there than being proved right?

Favourite Performance: Raajneeti