Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Songs For The Heart - The "I Cannot Sleep Version Do" Edition

*sigh* At least I don´t have to do anything tomorrow except learning (haha), but... Well, what better way to spend a sleepless night than to watch (and sing along to while annoying the neighbors) Bollywood songs? That´s actually a rather pointless post because it´s really just timepass what I´m doing right now until I get sleepy enough to go to bed but if you´re like me and distract yourself by listening to music here´s what I´ve been listening to. It´s a totally random selection since I´ve been just clicking from one song to the other based on the youtube suggestions that come at the end of the video. But, HAVE FUN!

1. "Mahi Ve" - Kal Ho Na Ho:

2. "Tere Mast Mast Do Nain" - Dabangg:

3. "Khuda Jaane" - Bachna Ae Haseeno

4. "Madhubala" - Mere Brother Ki Dulhan

5. "Main Agar Kahoon" - Om Shanti Om

6. "Mitwa" - Kabhi Avida Na Kehna

7. "Ladki Kyun" - Hum Tum

8. "Chammak Chalo" - Ra.One

9. "Sheila Ki Jawani" - Tees Maar Khan

10. "Marjaani Marjaani" - Billu


11. "Aisa Des Hai Mera" - Veer-Zaara

I know, it´s rather Shah Rukh-heavy but what can you do? I just love the man.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? No, It´s SUPER-DON! - Don 2 (Hindi, 2011)

Apparently drug business is a tiresome business. One comes to nothing, not even to cut your hair. It seems that Anita was the one that kept Don presentable but after disappearing mysteriously into nowhere, things got a bit rocky. Nevertheless, Don is back, with curls, braids and all and ready to beat you by throwing one cheesy one-liner after another. Mannerisms and grimacing lead the way: Don is not someone to do chatty conversations.

After seeing the first Don movie I was pleasantly surprised to see that Bollywood does in fact has to offer a little more than candy-flossed romances. And that Shah Rukh can do more than just wobbling his head and cry. I was satisfyingly shocked at the end, loved the songs and the story and was ready to recommend Don to every friend of mine who said that Bollywood is only "mustard fields and chiffon sarees". (That´s how I convinced one of them to go with me to the Berlinale to see Don 2. (Yay for that!))

But Don 2 doesn´t hold what the fantastically badass trailer promises. It simply falls flat, not even the supposedly shocking and nerve-racking 300-ft-high jump from a skyscraper manages to pull you out of your seat. There is no way I could be excited or scared for the main character because he just doesn´t lose. Never. There is always a plan B, a rope to pull him back or a character not consistent with.. well, his character.

I must admit, I had rather high expectations for Don 2 which is probably the worst  position to view a film from. But I really, really liked the first Don-movie. It was very easy to dive into, the story had real suspense wheras in Don 2 you are only an amused, intrigued observer but not really a part of the action. You have the feeling that something is missing.

I am so cool, no one can beat me. Even the cold Berlin weather is defenceless against my layer-to-layer clothing combo. (It really helped watching all those Mahesh movies.)
It starts with the problem that there is no real counterpart, no antagonist to (anti)-Hero Don. Vardhan is brought back from jail in a really ridiculous break-out but is later reduced to a sidekick, being merely there for repeating and confirming Don´s plan. Even the meeting of the bad guys who are planning to kill Don at the beginning is not at all intriguing or suspenseful because it gets told to us by Don! He already knows everything! How am I supposed to fear for such a guy? A little more weakness would have been appreciated. (It is also not handled very well. I totally forgot about them during the movie because they are NEVER mentioned again until the end.) I´ve read somewhere that the hero is only as powerful as his enemy, but the enemies (or villains) in this movie are ridiculous. They are no threat to him. No one escapes SuperDon, anyway.

The second problem was the story. While the first Don managed to have a fairly coherent plot, avoiding plotholes (as far as I remember, there were none) and staying pretty believable and realistic throughout, Don 2 was... rather confusing:

Plothole nr. 1: Malik retiring and then staying for the rest of the film?
Plothole nr. 2: Roma is a police officer now? Was she always one or did she applied quickly to Police Academy (or however you become a police officer in Malaysia) and then got offered the (I assume) rather big case of Don right at the start ?
Plothole nr. 3: I admit, it was totally cool to have Hrithik Roshan appear in the movie. I swear, as soon as he appeared on screen, you could hear a collective *swoon* going through the entire (mainly female) audience. BUT: How on earth can Don disguise himself as Hrithik? Let´s put all the hours of applying and removing the mask from his face aside but what about the height? And his voice? WHAT ABOUT THE THUMB!? I really hope that was only an in-joke and not something Farhan expected us to take seriously.

And there are many more. But I could forgive that if everything else was a fun ride ful of entertainment (hey, I LOVED The Dirty Picture). There is a reason I love masala movies. But Don 2 is no masala movie. Don 2 wants to be Ocean´s Eleven. WHO came up with that!? Ocean´s 11 was a comedy, whereas Don 2 is, fairly much, an action movie. Ocean´s 11 had an ensemble cast while Don 2 is Shah Rukh´s show all the way. It couldn´t work. A heist movie has to be fast-paced, it needs witty and intelligent writing. Almost one hour or so of Don 2 is just exposition. They are talking and talking and talking. And then they show what they were talking about. And the big, shocking twist at the end? No shock here.

The third (and biggest) problem is the characterisation, especially of Don himself. In the first part you see him killing people, trading drugs and stuff. He is dangerous, cruel and unpredictable. He is a villain. He enjoys being bad. And as weird as that may sound now, I missed that. I enjoyed watching Don being DON but in Don 2 Don´s not badass anymore. He is just a cartoon of his former self, a caricature, sometimes even awfully cringeworthy and generally boring.
And as much (really, AS MUCH) as I love Shah Rukh, he actually annoyed me here. I noticed things, that I never noticed before. Especially the way he speaks. The grimacing. It makes Don unbelievable and unintentionally funny. And if you can´t even gush about Shah Rukh (who is looking very good) there is not really much else because the movie falls and rises with his performance.

The other actors are just decor, there to fill the frame. Priyanka does what is required of her, is allowed even to do a little action which was pretty cool. Boman Irani is asking himself what he is doing in the movie and I think it says enough that I don´t remember anyone else. The one person standing out is Lara Dutta who was just the PERFECT Don-girl. She´s so glamorous! And so elegant! And she has a way more better dress sense than Anita. I wish there would have been more SRK-Lara than SRK-Priyanka because these two had a sizzling chemistry! I would love to see them together again.

Hum di dum, sitting around, being pretty.
(But how cute to have Roma have a sidekick? She is a COP now, after all. I also loved that Roma´s face always had this sad, disappointed look on her face whenever she was dealing with Don. Kind of like she was hurt but knew that he won´t change and hurt her again. That was nice.)

One thing I have to mention, except of the REALLY awesome action scenes, is BERLIN! How COOL! I am from Germany, after all and an architecture student, so to see the all too familiar buildings and spots was an extra treat. The East Side Gallery, the Olympic Stadion, the Berlin Cathedral, the Alexanderplatz, THE SUBWAY! And of course, the german actors, with Florian Lukas (who is a pretty big name here, actually) leading the way. It was funny to hear some of them speak with a bavarian accent but whatever, german speaking extras in an indian movie! Now, that was something new.

The music of Don 2 is forgettable because there is none. There is only one proper song in the movie and NO ONE is dancing. Don had Khaike Paan and Aaj Ki Raat and Mourya Re, here you have only Lara shaking her hips a little and SRK doing some hilarious posing-around. (And we don´t want to mention Dushman Mera because that is just too embarrassing to speak about). Nevertheless is Zara Dil Ko Tham Lo almost good enough to let me forget all the other bad stuff of this movie. Oh I just LOVE this song! It´s so sexy and slick and glamorous! And Don´s so SMUG! How can you not love him? This song shows how the whole movie should have been. I will buy the DVD only for that.

 And Shah Rukh´s really the only one allowed to wear sunglasses in a club.

So... How to end this rather negative review? Is everything in Don 2 bad? Well, yes and no. It is definitely pretty and high in production values and the action scenes and the special effects are amazing. It is your usual James-Bond-Hollywood-fare, slick and stylish but rather shallow. Which I don´t mind, I am a great fan of the James-Bond-franchise, heck, I even named my blog after my favourite Bond-movie. But, and this is the point, when I´m watching an indian movie I expect something of this "Indianness" to transpire on the screen. Don was nowhere a "typical" Bollywood movie, but it was "Indian" or at least something I expect a hindi movie to be. And it was special because it took all this and created something new. Don 2 is only a Hollywood action movie with Indian stars that speak hindi. In short, it is replaceable. I really hope, Don 3 will be better.