Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Bunny, Happy Easter!

I think it must be more than coincidence that Bunny´s birthday falls together with this year´s Easter. I think it´s fate actually, the universe wanting to make us Bunny fans happy. So: 

(This is how I see Allu Arjun in my imagination.)
Bunny puttinaroju inadu! Today is Bunny´s birthday! (Or at least Google translate tells me that that´s the meaning of it). Bunny was one of my first Telugu darlings. I have seen some of Sid´s movies before but somehow it didn´t sparkle between us. Then I saw MAGADHEERA and Cherry´s charisma just blew me away. When I did a little bit on wikipedia research on him I found out that Bunny is Cherry´s cousin and because his movies are the ones that are most available on youtube and because I thought that the charms run probably in the family I thought I could give it a shot with Arya 2. Okay... so the plot was really wacky and I was outraged at the treatment of Geeta but I thought that OMFG ALLU ARJUN IS THE CUTEST THING I EVER SAW.

My Bunny-Crazy-Phase did slow down now a bit (I´m more in the Mr. Manly-Man-Chest-Hair-Moustache-And-Macho department of a certain Young Rebel Star but the two things that always draw me back to Arjun are THE MOST AWESOMEST DANCING SKILLS EVER and the teeny tiny fact that out of all the Telugu heroes out there I boldly state that Allu Arjun is the best of them in terms of acting. I compared Bunny to Hrithik Roshan before because I really think that they are completetely alike when it comes to complete dedication to their projects. Like Hrithik, Bunny gives his everything. He believes. He is a perfectionist when it comes to his dancing abilities, to his style (after all, the title of a "Stylish Star" doesn´t come out of nowhere) and to the portrayal of his role.

(And this is how he really looks like.)
And although he might be subscribed to play roles of the Stalking-Loverboy more than once, he also isn´t afraid of trying out more complex characters like psychopatic (yet SO lovable) Arya of Arya 2 or Cable Raju in Vedam (which I finally, FINALLY saw! And he was just SO GOOD in it), a conflicted temple guardian in Badrinath or even the traditional Sandy of Varudu. (Which for me is actually like an extended Allu Arjun wedding video, I truly believe that this movie was made for the one and only purpose of getting Bunny´s audience used to the fact that he is married now).  It might succeed or fail but Bunny really tries.

His gorgeous looks are of course a small detail that cannot be forgotten and because Bunny too seems to be really proud of his body. (And is more than willing to show it off in various movies). He doesn´t mind to be objectified. (OR at least I hope so because all the drooling is something he just could not NOT notice)...

I didn´t see many of Bunny´s interviews because I don´t understand Telugu and it just annoys me to hear him speak but not being able to understand the words. But the same energetic persona that comes across in his movies is also palpable in his interviews. He seems to be a rather easy-going kind of guy who will always be at the centre of attention. I bet Bunny would be real fun to party with. And you will never be embarrassed to be with him at the dance floor. (Or maybe you will, because he will be just so much better than you).

That´s why you can never really go wrong with Honey Bunny. Because if he´s good than he´s really good. And if not, he will at least entertain you with his dancing.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Oh My FRIEND (Telugu, 2011)

Poor Siddhu. He can never get it right. No matter what movie he´s in, HIS HAIR IS ALWAYS WRONG. This time it´s in his face. When I started watching Oh My Friend and they showed Sid for the first time, I burst out laughing. Sadly, I was drinking a glass of orange juice. My poor notebook, all the things it´s been through by now, it should start its own blog...

Anyways, like every other good Tollywood movie, OMF starts with a flashback. Little Chandu and Little Siri go through the initial I-Don´t-Like-You-And-Will-Steal-Your-Dolls-phase like all of us but it all gets sorted out after wining a contest together and becoming Best Friends Forever And Ever.

Some ten years later and we find Siri and Chandu still being friends and Chandu sporting some very good goatee-free hairstyles. (Apparently becoming involved in the music business does bad things to your common sense concerning facial hair). Despite their progressed age of some 20-22 years, Siri-Chandu still behave like kids, spending every minute of their available free time with each other. Because their relationship is of the very affectionate and touchy-feely type of occasional physical abuse, people around them are tending to think that Siri-Chandu are more than just friends. (Considering the amount of chemistry Siddhu and Shruti share, I must say, I´m not surprised). But to everyones surprise, Siri already has a boyfriend who although currently MIA, is still very much in contact with her through the helpful tools of internet and mobile phone.

Together and very, very cute.
Chandu too couldn´t care less about the charms of his pretty friend and early in the movie he meets Reetu, a shockingly NOT obnoxious Hansika Motwani. He falls in love immediately and after some help by his BFF, he finds Reetu working as the most clueless salesgirl in the entire history at a local book store. Not minding her apparent ignorance concerning the world´s most important invention, he pursues her like every other good and proper Tollywood hero through plain stalking, until she finally falls in love with him and they begin a relationship where he teaches her about the important task of decision making.

Spending his entire time now with Reetu, Siri understandably feels neglected and decides to go to Chennai for some dance internship. Chandu rushes to stop her and they finally come to terms about the priorities in their lifes. That means, although having different partners, their friendship should always come first. Hm. I wonder how that´s supposed to work out. Of course, such peace and harmony that early in a movie cannot last long and still at the same spot, Siri´s boyfriend, who is none other than a really good-looking Navdeep, shows up and ruines... everything?

The entire conflict of the movie is whether Hansika finally decides to eat Siddhu who has a great resemblance to candy. E.g. sweet and addictive.
OMF really showed me how much I am influenced by having watched hundreds of romantic comedies in my life. Especially the ones that are about a couple who starts out as friends. You just KNOW that they will come together at the end. And when I put OMF in my DVD player, blissfully unaware about the film´s plot and ending, I expected a pretty predictable movie where not the plot matters but the performances and the chemistry between the main characters. But, and HERE COMES THE SPOILER: although the chemistry is very much there, you should NOT expect the two leads to come together. Through the whole time I was watching, I was waiting for Siri and Chandu to develop feelings for eachother. With only ten minutes left, I was literally talking with the movie telling it that it should better hurry up now or I will have to deal with a VERY rushed ending. (Which I really don´t like).

I must admit, at first I felt a little cheated, after all I invested a lot in my (now I know) imagined relationship between Siri and Chandu, rooting for them and treating Hansika and Navdeep as a plot device of keeping them apart and not as the actual love interests. But then I thought about it and realised that nowhere in the film is it alluded to a possible romance between them. It´s just me with my imagination ful of rom-coms à la Hollywood where the two leads ALWAYS come together at the end. (Katherine Heigl or Jennifer Aniston anyone?)

Nevertheless I had a very good time. All of the four protagonists deliver pretty well, with Sid and Shruti shining through. I must admit I fell in love with Shruti Hassan, who is not only very pretty in a rather unconventional way but who did an awesome job portraying the independent and willful Siri. The only thing that bothered me was that when Siri is about to go to Chennai for that dance thing, something she has been waiting for for three years, she immediately gives it up when Navdeep arrives. I understand that in terms of narration it wouldn´t make a lot of sense to let Siri go away for such a long time but it seemed out of character to me.

She was just SO COOL.
Siddharth does his usual thing, his chemistry with Shruti made me wonder if there is really something about the rumors. His character is designed as an aspiring musician but I never got the "musical artist" vibe from Chandu especially since his musical ambitions seemed to come and go. For example to serve as a convenient excuse to let Sid have a Rock On! inspired stage song complete with band and cheering audience and the most stupid lyrics EVER. I was a little disappointed that the conflict with his disapproving father got solved so easily, I was expecting that the constant belittling of his success would have Chandu explode one day and lead into a heated argument but it didn´t seem to have any lasting effect on him whatsoever. That was a wasted storyline.

Hansika and Navdeep are okay with what little they are given. This was my third adventure with Navdeep as secondary hero and I must say he gets better and better. I was horribly anxious when Hansika got introduced by a shot of her cleavage, that she would be as unbearable as in the one where Bunny is just Superhot and Supersexy but she was actually okay and didn´t annoy me as half as I feared. Seemingly gaining a little weight and dying your hair does have an effect on acting abilities.

I can´t remember but two of the songs which is a clear sign that I didn´t like them much considering I saw the movie only a week ago. But the two which are good are VERY VERY good. I liked that the movie based them in Hyderabad rather than setting them in an imagined dream world because it gave the movie a very grounded and realistic touch. It gave me the feeling of watching the "real" Hyderabad, showing not only the well known land marks but simple streets and shops and people.

In the beginning the movie asks the question whether a boy and a girl can be friends forever. I, in my western approach, would say of course, I have a lot of male friends whom I never shared romantic feelings with. But I don´t have any idea of how the society in India handles those things. If I would believe the movie than yes, boy and girl cannot be friends if they are above a certain age. Everyone around Siri and Chandu seems to have a problem with their relationship, be it parents, lovers or strangers. Everyone thinks that they have to be in love. This made me wonder if this was a realistic portrayal of these things. I just cannot believe that girls and guys cannot be friends in India especially in a westernized and educated environment like modern-day Hyderabad. It would be nice to have a little clarity on that.

Out of Siddharth´s latest movies I would say that this is one of his better efforts, with a Shruti Hassan to adore, good supporting cast and a story that if not new, is at least fresh in its approach. There is plenty to look at and the songs are...okay so I would say that´s definitely a rewatch.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I Should So Have Been Born In Switzerland - Mujhse Dosti Karoge (Hindi, 2002)

In the recent times I am experiencing a feeling of nostalgia towards things like this:

Which is really weird since, when this kind of movies were made, a) I wasn´t old enough to be interested and b) I didn´t even know that such a thing as Bollywood the Hindi Film Industry exists. My interest in Indian movies started only a couple of years ago which makes my nostalgic feelings towards movies like KKHH, Yes Boss and even HAHK rather strange. Also, the main part of the Indian films I have seen, consists of movies made post the year 2000. But after watching movies like Ra.One, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, The Dirty Picture and Rockstar I have the feeling that something is amiss. In no way am I saying that these movies were not good (well, Ra.One maybe was). Rockstar is still in my head, having twisted around my heart never to let go again and becoming one of my favourites this year (or last year actually, but it´s somehow still 2011 in my head) but that´s not the Bollywood I was used too. I am really curious as where this development is going to (just hoping that they will never let go of the songs because then you have lost me), observing it with a laughing and a crying eye, sometimes a little angry even but nevertheless excited and happy to the heavens when they do things right. (Like Rockstar, I cannot stress that enough.) But sometimes I miss a little the melodrama, singing songs in Switzerland kind of "Bollywood" I learned to know and love.

Therefore I watched something that is the epitome of comfort food in Hindi Cinema: Mujhse Dosti Karoge which has been made only to make me a little yellow ball of sugar and honey while crying my heart out at the end. So much drama! So much tears! The movie is packed with songs! There is even emotional angst and tormented lovers kept apart by selfless sacrifice. E.g. AWESOME.

Even Bebo is pleased.
MDK starts 10 years ago with a flashback at (where else?) a train station where we meet the three protagonists: Raj, Tina and Pooja. Raj is despite his young age very much in love with Tina whereas she couldn´t care less while stupid Raj doesn´t realise that there is someone who would give her everything for just one touch of his double-thumbed right hand: Pooja. Kudos to the director for establishing most of the story after only a few minutes. (And points to the casting department for finally managing to make the child actors at least a little resembling the adult actors.)

Alas, Raj is about to depart for England with his parents because apparently Raj´s father just discovered the internet and wants to become a billionaire by selling... porn stuff.  Oh the times where internet was THE NEXT BIG THING and not something some politicians try to shut down because of privacy issues... Where have you gone by?

10 years later and we meet Raj again who has now become Hrithik Roshan and grown an extra thumb. (I just find it hilarious that NOBODY EVER mentions it in Hrithik´s movies.) Hrithik of course is introduced to us by a song because really: How appropriate is it to introduce Hrithik Roshan through a song? Dancing? Because we all know Hrithik Roshan is like the "Bunny" of Bollywood (or is the other way round? Bunny is like Hrithik? Or both: Brithik? Or Hunny maybe? Namely: Mr. Dancing-Superstar-McAwesome. And dreamy. Who could forget the dreaminess?

Oh and those eyes... McDreamy in person. Seriously, I would love to see Hrithik as Derek in an Indian version of Grey´s Anatomy.
Raj wants to meet Tina again and is totally excited, singing songs about it in London and knocking phone booths down and generally being in the ususal Oh-I-Don´t-Know-You-At-All-Actually-But-I-Just-Know-That-You´re-The-One-mode of filmi heroes at the beginning of a movie. You see, Raj believes that he and Tina were emailing eachother the whole ten years whereas in truth he was emailing POOJA who in turn has been writing him under the false identity of TINA! OH NO!

Back in India Pooja is slightly distraught about the possible showdown at the train station when Raj finds out about her lying to him but he tells her not to worry because his heart will recognise her. Of course, dude, whatever you say. When they meet again, Raj, as a guy, doesn´t recognise Pooja at all and goes straight to Tina because she is SO PRETTY, she HAS to be the one having written him those emails the whole time. (And whoever thought that Bebo is prettier than Rani should go straight back to the corner because they didn´t even try to make her uglier!) Pooja is heartbroken but goes along with it because she´s an angel and doesn´t want to ruin Tina´s flirty times with Raj.

"And Tina´s looks make it PERFECT!" *Ugh. Steps inside the movie to slap Raj in the face*

After some heart-wrenching scenes involving Raj wooing Tina, being insensitive to Pooja and a hilarious song where Bebo wears ponytails and a jeans overall, Raj returns to London, after getting engaged to Tina. Still blissfully unaware about the whole Tina-Is-Pooja-Is-Tina-Is-Pooja-thing, he meets... Pooja, who´s in London for applying to some colleges. They spend some cutesy times together, Raj makes this face:

And after going to the church Raj finds out that... you can never trust the internet because it lies. In other words, he finds out the truth. Now, WHAT TO DO? Raj and Pooja have some minor relationship crisis for a few seconds but then Raj sings a song and they make love in Switzerland so now of course there is NO OTHER OPTION then just go straight back to India and spill the beans to their respective families. Everything could be love, peace and harmony but back in India "Rooja" finds out that something terrible happened! You want to know what? Are you rooting for "Rooja" and want to see if there´s a Happy End? Well, then go, watch the movie ASAP because it´s really worth it.

But beware because you will see this face more often now.
Back in 2002 when the movie was released it flopped horribly due to overhyping the promotions but that really shouldn´t hold you back of watching it. All of the three protagonists deliver a great job and have plenty of scenes where they are actually together. Hrithik is perfect at playing tormented characters, he really should do that more often. Although Raj is being sometimes a jerk, Hrithik makes you understand Raj´s actions because he shows the vulnerability and the insecurity his charcter is going through. Rani is perfect, I´m sorry I´m not a good judge to her acting, because honestly I´ve yet have to find a flaw in it and Bebo is just Bebo, that is ADORABLE AND AWESOME.

How can you not love her?
The songs tend to rather grow on you than liking it on first hearing but they fit perfectly into the movie with its "Aaaah.. aaahh-Choires" (you know exactly what I mean) and the singing voices of Udit Narayan and The Good Old Lata Mangeshkar. (The only exception of course being THE Medley which makes my cry so much EVERY F**ING TIME.

And once Hrithik starts singing "Kaho Naa... Pyaar hai" I can´t hold back a very gleeful grin.
Like I said in my KKHH review this is a movie that doesn´t win you over with the cinematography or the costumes or the Oh-So-Totally-Original-story but with its heart. It is sugarcoated, ful on melodrama but genuine and sweet. It´s about love and what you go through when you´re in love. Exaggerated, of course, and clichéd but nevertheless entertaining. And that´s what I want from a movie: it should be emotionally satisfying, make me cry and laugh, make me to be engrossed in the characters and to escape my everyday life for a few hours. I couldn´care less about realistic. And I think that the kind of movies like MDK and Yes Boss managed that in the best way possible which not so many of this so called "new age" Bollywood movies do. At least not or me. And that is the reason why I tend to get nostalgic from time to time, I think. (Which doesn´t mean that there aren´t exceptions. Yesterday, thanks to Filmi Girl, I watched Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge (Title coincidence? I don´t think so) which was "modern" Bollywood in every way but still had the same genuine Squishy Dil and emotionally satisfying impact that MDK has.

So the movie which I actually didn´t like much when watching it for the first time (WAY early in my Bollywood History) has now become a favourite. And what´s not to like? There are nice songs, nice acting, Bebo and Hrithik being dorks (that would NEVER happen today!) and Rani. And it´s so heartwarmingly, unapologetically sweet that after watching it you will feel the unexplicable urge to hug the whole world.