Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Beginning Of Mini-Reviews: So Much More In So Much Less Words!

Because I don´t have much time and because the latest movies I´ve seen are kind of review-worthy but not enough for proper, stand-alone reviews I present to you: 

"Beginning Of Mini-Reviews: So Much More In So Much Less Words!" (Part One)

Let´s start with:

Ishaqzaade (Hindi, 2012): "And there they lie... rotting in their foolishness."

Ugh, so, so much disappointment! What the posters promised: That this would be my favourite film of the year, with a strong and bold heroine (she´s helping actively in her father´s political career, she dances with the item girl, she´s got a gun and what´s most important: SHE KNOWS HOW TO HANDLE IT), a hero to die for (he´s a good-for-nothing macho who makes you want to kill him in the first place but then he comes and steals your heart! AND: He´s got HAIR! Like, IN THE FACE!) and a story which was too good to be true: Romeo and Juliet in the harsh and violent world that is UP? OMG, gimme more!

What I got: I loved the first half but then, it just went so, so wrong. I was like: WHAT? Wait a minute? He did... WTF!? And then I was: Okay, so he´s a motherf***ing son of a b***h but I was willing to accept it (although utterly disgusted) because hey, I´m sure that Parineeti aka Zoya gets over it quick and proceeds to the good stuff which is giving the bastard what he deserves aka A GOOD KICK IN THE N**S. But alas, NO! What I really got was the most frustrating excuse for a plot ever. Not only does Zoya forgive the git, she also marries him again(!) and then they die in the most pointless, stupid way possible! Statement about how society kills love? How going against your parents leads to a miserable end? Nah, none of it. And hey, why don´t we just kill ourselves in the most painful way possible? Straight shot to the head? Please, that´s for wusses. Let´s shoot thrice into our abdomen region and die slowly from blood loss. Because that´s so much more fun.

You see, I had a really strong reaction to Ishaqzaade. I really, really hated the movie. The whole message was just so disturbing. And it´s such a shame because there is so much going for it: From Parineeti´s strong performance, the wonderful music and setting, the beautiful choreography to the great, fast paced editing. I was never bored with Ishaqzaade but it was just not enough to make me forget the sexist, regressive story. And I´m not someone to get overly pissed at sexism or misogyny in movies. Where others throw tantrums I´m just enjoying my movie. But this one was just superbly stupid and just plainly - wrong.

Teri Meri Kahaani (Hindi, 2012): Period Drama Romance *OH YESSS!* (and a little more)

After watching the crazy bulls**t that was Ishaqzaade I was in dire need of some fluffy, harmless fun, so I chose to watch TMK. And my, did I get what I wanted! TMK is a nice little movie that holds what it promises on the posters: Romance, fun and a slight feeling of nostalgia. Maybe it was because of my very low expectations but I was enjoying myself throughout the two hours or so of the movie´s duration. Yes, I did get bored with it a little from time to time, especially through the 2012 part of the movie but there was always some nice shot, some catchy song to get back my attention. I didn´t have a problem with the editing like some other people I´ve talked to, I thought it was a good idea to present the love stories in small, interchanging slices rather than telling every story through.

Anyway, I did have a problem with the difficulties the three couples faced and which led to their seperation: I actually thought they were way overreacting. Why couldn´t Govind just tell Ruksar what really happened? And why was Radha so upset that she and Krish met on the night of his break up? I mean, he didn´t plan it or anything. I understand her being upset about the posting pictures on Facebook thing that would have annoyed me, too.

Whatever, what I really, really LOVED, was the whole 1910 part of the movie. Everything was perfect in that. It had the best setting, the characters were more drawn out and REAL DRAMA, GUYS! Forbidden love, that´s just what my filmi dreams are made of. The part where Aradhana comes to Javed´s wedding and they talk through that barred window-thingy? Oh, the angst! Awesome. I don´t know why Kunal Kohli just didn´t take this story and made a whole movie out of it. What a wasted opportunity. Nevertheless, the movie did entertain me. It´s a nice, little timepass with satisfying performances of both Shahid and Priyanka, gorgeous cinematography (especially in the 60ies part which was my favourite concerning the style) and engaging little stories. Great for a one time watch alone and even better for a girls movie night because of 1910´s long-hair-beard-Shahid-yumminess.

*OMG. Can´t. Handle. The. Hotness.* Is there a drooling smiley?
Cocktail (Hindi, 2012): "Oh Deepika, look!"

I have never been more stunned. Deepika is an actress! Who would have thought that tall, wooden girl from Om Shanti Om could act? Well I didn´t, that´s for sure. But after a couple of years Deepika delivers in Cocktail a brave and bold performance, very unusual for a Hindi film heroine. (Not that it´s that unusual nowadays but normally it´s in the style of Vidya Balan´s TDP than in the way Deepika aka Veronica is presented: Yes, she parties, yes, she drinks, yes, she has casual sex but she is also a completely normal girl. The fact that she´s deeply unhappy or that she doesn´t get the guy in the end are not because of these things, the reasons for it lie elsewhere, which is a welcome change.)

Cocktail is your typical rom-com on the surface with the much seen before love triangle-trope but under all the parties, weekends in Capetown and shopping, Cocktail is a character study. Veronica is a partygirl, with beauty, money and many friends but deep inside she is incredibly lonely, sad and vulnerable. She clings to people, desperately afraid that they may leave her someday, even to the extent of changing her personality. This is a difficult and challenging role to perform and it could go easily wrong. But "Dippy", Ladies and Gentlemen, plays her so naturally and off the cuff, like she never did anything else before. It is amazing and engaging to see. All the while watching I wanted to give Veronica a hug and tell her that everything will be okay. (Although she would have probably just brushed me off with a joke).

But what about the two other people in this movie? Well, Saif is his usual self, goofy and incredibly charming at the same time but his role should have gone to a way younger actor. I´m just sayin´. Imagine Ranbir or Ranveer Singh in this and you get a sense how much better this could actually have been.

Anyway, since the movie belongs to the ladies, let´s quickly proceed to the third in the group: Diana Penty, (does anyone else think that her hame has a dirty sound to it or is that just me?) who played Meera, the innocent village girl. For a debutante, she was really okay, growing stronger as the film progressed and making me care about her in the end. But I never believed that she was what she was supposed to be. With her tallness and model looks she just didn´t look like I imagine the typical village belle. But maybe I´ve just seen too many Bollywood movies, so it could just be me.

I wouldn´t say that Cocktail is a movie I will watch again, but it was definitely worth watching that one time. The performances are good, with excellent cameos by Dimple Kapadia and Boman Irani (who was really awkward in this but I guess it was the role?) and a Deepika who outshines everyone, beautiful scenery and a nice, realistic setting. What more could you want?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bend Your Knees, Everyone! It´s Queen Bebo´s Birthday!

"Fat is not sexy!" 
Oh Bebo, how I love thee. You are a never ending source of entertainment and amusement with your air-headed comments, self absorbed attitude and bubbly way of life. Please, NEVER change.

My relationship with Kareena is a rather special one. As always, it started on the superficial note of looks. I remember when I first saw Kareena in K3G  - which happened to be also my first Bollywood movie -  I thought of her as rather ugly. I didn´t think much of her, being more focused on the total adorableness that is Shah Rukh and Kajol as a married couple and forgot her shortly after the movie ended. 

Poo´s introduction sequence in K3G starting at 1:00 min. Look at the attitude! Bebo rocks and she knows it.

Then I saw her again in Asoka and again I was more focused on how yummy Shah looked and how I wished him to stay with Devi, the buddhist wife (I found her much prettier, LOOKING EXACTLY LIKE AN INDIAN JESSICA ALBA) and not caring much on the whole Shah-Going-Batshit-Because-Of-Kaurwaki´s-Presumed-Death-angle. 

Twins, seperated at birth? Maybe clones? Maybe there is some factory situated in some deserted wasteland that produces actresses who look exactly alike to place them in movie industries all over the world in a wicked plan to take over the earth?

Being way too distracted by discovering the plans of a secret conspiracy, I couldn´t appreciate the valuable efforts made by Kareena in the movie. And she´s awesome, people! Displaying how versatile she is, she goes from shallow Poo to the fierce and independent warrior-princess within seconds. She even has a sword!

I always wanted a sword when I was little.
Discovering Bollywood in only two years takes a long time and it took me a long time to watch something with Kareena again. As it happened, it was Jab We Met and like with almost everyone, it completely won me over to Team Bebo. (And you know there is no coming back from Team B... if you want to keep your head). It also happened on the superficial way again, through looks.* I felt like I was watching a new Kareena, someone who reinvented herself, having not only better hair but also considerable acting chops. Her Geet was maybe irritating sometimes with her loud and brash behaviour but it was also a sweet and genuine performance. Kareena really outdid herself in that movie. I could have watched Geet for hours even after the movie ended.

And look! Isn´t. She. GORGEOUS?
From then on I watched every movie with Kareena I could get my hands on. I discovered that she is a really good actress, who can play almost every role. She is astonishingly pretty, having a really interesting face and amazing eyes, always displaying a fierce and fresh energy that radiates from the screen.

But the defining thing about Kareena? Above all, she wants to prove herself. People say she can only play shallow Poo-roles? Well, see how I can play a foul-mouthed prostitute. People say she is too fat for bikini roles? Well, see how I can become the first Bollywood actress with a size zero body. People say she does not play in the A-League because she has yet to shoot with all of the Three Khans? Well, see how I can play along all three of them, WITHIN ONE YEAR. Kareena knows that Kareena is the best and she wants everyone else to better believe that, too.

Coming from one of the oldest, most powerful and influential families within the industry, THE Kapoors, Kareena was not encouraged to take the job as a Hindi film actress. Let´s just say, the Kapoor women are not famous for their acting chops. Until now, Kareena and her sister Karishma are the only ones to become actresses. I don´t know that much about Kareena´s family background, having read once that her parents are divorced and that her father was strongly dissatisfied with her decision to become an actress. From the little I know, it seems troubled. For years, Kareena didn´t want to talk about her father, displaying a really close relationship with her mother and sister instead.

A young Bebo with her mother and sister, Babita and Karishma.
In recent years Kareena became more restraint and more concerned about the things she talks about but at the beginning of her career Bebo was known for her unabashed, direct and ouspoken way of saying exactly what she thinks. About herself... and also about other people. Princess B was not someone to hold back with words. Here are some of her famous quotes:

"I am a hell raiser. I do my own thing. And I believe what I do is the right thing."

"My co-stars call me selfish. They say you are only interested in yourself and what you are only interested is yourself and what you are doing in front of the camera. I reply, I can`t help it; it`s what got me where I am."

"My film-makers have accepted me. They know I'm in a league of my own. Madhuri Dixit gave her first hit after nine years. Sridevi never had a historical hit. And yet they were the top actresses because they were immensely talented. The same goes for me too."  

There are a couple of people who are not on speaking terms with Kareena but who is she to care about what other people think:

"Sanjay Bhansali is a confused director. He is a person who does not stand by his word. He doesn't have any morals and principles in life."
"I'm not at all a Salman fan. I don't like him, he's a very bad actor."  (Oh Bebo, I completely understand.)

And above all, Amisha Patel, whose role in Kaho Na...Pyaar Hai was originally intended to be Kareena's debut. The following is excerpted from an interview with Kareena in the March 2002 issue of Filmfare magazine:

Q: Why have you been making nasty statements about Amisha Patel then?
A: Listen, I have no problems with Amisha Patel. In fact, I even called her up after Gadar. I thought she was good and I told her so. Even at one of the award function I went up to her and said hello. If that's not graciousness then what is? What more can I do to make peace? On the contrary, her mother has been bitching about me to all and sundry. She's been going around saying that who does Kareena Kapoor think she is. She has given only flops. She'll never make it. Fine. So what happened to Amisha Patel's Zindagi Ka Safar? If Amisha's so confident of her talent then why is she screaming about her hits? Okay so I have given only flops. But why am I still being paid more than her? It's only talent that matters here. Raj Kapoor sold off his last shirt while making Mera Naam Joker. But he's considered the greatest showman even today. I have the talent. I'm confident. And I know I'll be remembered always. I don't want Amisha Patel's history hits. I don't want to be mediocre in hit films. I'd rather be brilliant in flop movies..."

And the best one:  

"Yeah, I'm getting my price. Producers are even willing to pay me more than what I ask. But unfortunately, I can't do every film. So I have to turn down offers. (Laughs) Chalo, at least this way others get work." 
Don´t you just love her? Of course it´s completely arrogant, self-centered and totally bratty but it´s also entertainment gold. I would never want to be Kareena´s friend but I as a bystander I love her comments. Besides, to see someone who so unabashedly, unapologetically believes in himself is automatically something I would envy and admire. You gotta have guts to not care at all about what others think about you. It also reminds me of someone else at the beginning of his career who also had a lot to say about his innocent view of the world.

A couple of years and some PR-people later, Kareena has learned to hold herself back in the public but attitude is something you can´t hide. Queen Bebo has cemented her stand in the industry as the Number One actress, rising to the top in only ten years leaving everyone else to stare up in awe and admiration.

"Main Apni Favourite Hoon" You totally are, Bebo, and we love you like that.
*And before you disregard me forever as this superficial wannabe movie critic who judges people only by their looks: Sorry it´s just how I roll. An attractive actor gets me more inclined to look further into his/her work than a not-so-good-looking one. If I discover an amazing talent along the way, than their exterior is just an extra bonus, if not, then I forget about them as quickly.