Friday, January 25, 2008

Umrao Jaan (starring Rekha)


Umrao Jaan was one of the first Bollywood movies I'd seen, so I decided to revisit it the other day to see if my opinion had changed a year (and several Bollywood films) later.

Two things came out of this experience. First, I realized I didn't remember much about it all, because I sort of felt like I was viewing it for the first time. Second, I actually enjoyed and appreciated the film much more.

During my initial viewing of Umrao Jaan, I lost interest towards the middle of the movie. Not so this time. In fact, I was quite absorbed in Umrao's woeful life, from beginning to end. I don't know, maybe I wasn't used to the length of a Bollywood movie back then, because this time I actually thought the movie flowed together pretty well...the script stuck to the story and the ending wasn't dragged out. That's something to applaud in Bollywood!

And although I must have thought Rekha was a natural as Umrao Jaan, this time I was actually mesmerized by her performance. Technically, she's not one of my favorite actresses, but I definately have a girl-crush on her! She was Umrao Jaan...Every bat of her long black eyelashes, every alluring glance, every purse of her ruby lips...she had it down to a science. Rekha made the perfect courtesan as she bewitched men with her charm, drawing them deep into her web of seduction.

Naweb Sultan illustrates this for us with this smitten stare...



Wow, look at the intensity in his left eye! How could Umrao resist?

But all jokes aside, Farooq Shaikh portrayed Sultan appropriately. He was refined and composed, yet had a weakness for Umrao he was unable to shake. His role was minor in comparison to Rekha's, but his entrance in the film was a relief because I was beginning to fear her love interest would end up being Naseeruddin Shah's annoying character. And thank God it wasn't.

Besides the performances, I also couldn't resist taking a bunch of screenshots for this blog's banner...there's just something about the look of the film. So classic yet not forced. I could watch the movie just for the visuals alone.

I'm aware that Umrao Jaan's music is considered timeless in Bollywood. Since I don't speak Hindi, I have no right to argue, but I really only enjoyed them because of Rekha's dance moves.

Poor, poor Umrao Jaan. She had such a tragic and lonely life, and my heart just bled for her. Yet her character seemed so human to me because she was longing for love more than anything else. I'm so glad I decided to watch her story again, because I literally saw it in a whole new light. Note to Bollywood: Give me more stories with a female at the center!

Text © Copyright 2008 Nida Nazir
Bitten By Bollywood

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jab We Met


Dear Kareena Kapoor,

I owe you an apology.

Frankly, I never liked you very much. I really don't know why. It could have been the way you and SRK pawed at each other in that dreadful hotel scene in Don. Or maybe it was the voice in the back of my head during Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham that kept shouting, "Paris Hilton!" every time you were onscreen. Or perhaps I thought you were arrogant after reading some comments you made about your peers on Bollywhat.com.
Whatever the case was, one thing was clear- you were not one of my favorite actresses.

Until I saw Jab We Met, a darling romantic comedy that delighted me from beginning to end. This movie made me realize I was wrong. How foolish I was to judge you off of two performances and some quotes about Salman Khan (who I happen to also think can't really act)!


You were awesome as Geet! I didn't know you had it in you, Bebo! I could learn to love you like this. You were spunky, witty, adorable, full of life... You even did a good job at fake-crying! And your au naturale look really showed off your hidden gorgeousness. For the first time I didn't think about the Paris Hilton thing!

Bravo, Kareena. Thank you (and mostly your production crew) for giving us a romantic comedy that doesn't consist of the two leads hopping into bed together and falling in love later (if ever). Pay attention, Hollywood...


And although I may be making a hasty decision here based off of one viewing, I'm going to say this next comment anyways: Forget the mild similarities to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. I liked this movie even better than DDLJ.

If it wouldn't be too awkward for you (Because let's not kid ourselves, we've all read the stories), please pass this message onto your costar: His portrayal of Aditya was just as memorable. This character was exactly what I would want in a man. The guy had just been dumped, and may have moped around for most of the beginning, but he dropped his baggage in a flash once he saw what a gem Geet was. He never said to her, "Well, I've just been through a lot, so I need some time to heal before jumping into anything serious". No. He wasn't going to let this one get away. And I appreciated that there was no cliched "resurfacing" of his ex towards the end, forcing him to choose between her and Geet. In fact, she was never mentioned again after the love story started to kick in. Aditya was falling for Geet, and never once looked back at the woman who had left him. He never made her feel like she would be second best. Whoo-hoo! Now that's a man.


I'm glad you and your ex turned out Jab We Met before things got ugly. The world is a better place because of it, I'm convinced. Your cute little movie was so good, I've moved it onto my favorites shelf, right next to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dil Chata Hai. It deserves to be there.

Well, Kareena, you did it. You managed to change my opinion about you and give me a new movie to love, all in one shot. Thanks again for the good work-- I'll be looking forward to your next films. In the meantime, I'll be recommending this one to anyone who will listen.

Oh! And one more thing...If you didn't want Shahid, you could have just passed him along this way. Seriously.

Text © Copyright Nida Nazir 2008 Link to Home

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Partner

The best thing about watching Partner was that I finally got to see Govinda really dance. And, boy, can he ever! His fluid movements made even the mighty Salman Khan look insecure.


The movie was, however, a reminder to myself that I may not be fully ready for comedy a la Bollywood. I enjoyed Jhoom Barabar Jhoom because it used its emptiness to be funny, but Partner wasn't really that type of film. Although I did get a few good laughs (Salman Khan's car being vandalized, Govinda being bum rushed at airport security...), most of the time I thought the movie was just chaotic. Then again, maybe I can only tolerate Govinda's voice in small doses (as in Salaam-E-Ishq), because I tend to find it annoying after awhile.

Salman Khan's no comedic genius, either, but he actually did better than I anticipated. This could be because his character, Prem, was supposed to be played with certain airs, something I think comes naturally for him. It could also be because of the way he treated Lara Dutta's Naina when he found out she had a son. They were a package deal, and Prem was more than willing to accept them both. Finally, Bollywood decides to show single mothers some love, too! And considering my opinion of Salman, it was very refreshing to see his character react this way, particularly when he popped up at the mall and told Naina a man should be "a husband in the drawing room, a boyfriend in the bedroom, and a cook in the kitchen." I'm not going to argue with you there, Sallu!

It's probably already common knowledge that Partner is Bollywood's attempt to duplicate Hitch. I decided before I started watching that I wasn't going to compare the two, but as the movie progressed I realized that was nearly impossible. Some of the scenes were direct copycats, which hurt Partner because it set the bar too high for Govinda and Salman. If there was one thing I loved about Hitch, it was the smooth comedy between Will Smith and Kevin James. Salman and Govinda were fun to watch onscreen (especially during the songs), but weren't that good.

Not only that, but Partner was about 45 minutes too long and didn't flow the way Hitch did. Since there was nothing really unique that would make Partner stand out from Hitch (other than the single mother bit), there is absolutely no reason for me to ever watch Partner again. I'll just rent the better-made Hollywood version.

Ahh, but alas, the real question of Partner is what kind of fashion statement whoever dressed Salman Khan was trying to make. One minute he looked like a wannabe gangsta, the next he was wearing a Tweety shirt. And although the black wifebeater/red scarf looked nice, it was hardly something I would have chosen for a "Love Guru".

I do have one final reason to thank Partner, though. I finally got my payoff for sitting through Don: The Chase Begins Again, which was this: I "got" the whole Chota Don spoof.

So Partner wasn't a total waste of the two dollars it cost me to rent it.

Text (c) 2008 Nida Nazir Link to Home

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jhoom Barabar Jhoom

Surprisingly, a lot funnier than I thought.


If you're going to enjoy Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, you'll have to be able to tolerate a few things and accept it for what it really is-- A glitzy comedy that is only funny because its ridiculous, and a showcase for flashy choreography with some smokin' fashion.

In order to appreciate the humor in JBJ, you'll probably have to be somebody who likes "stupid-funny" films. This is the first one I've encountered in Bollywood, but in Hollywood we give movies such as The Big Lebowski and Happy Gilmore this label (These are actually classics, and JBJ isn't really on par with them, but if I'm trying to think of other comedies that made me laugh at the same types of shallow jokes, these are the first that come to mind). Since I happen to be someone who is easily amused by meaningless comedies, I got a few good laughs out of JBJ.

The source of most of that laughter was none other than Abhishek Bachchan. I was pleasantly surprised with how easily he slipped into a comedic role. Hard to believe this was the same uptight cop from Dhoom 2. He played a goofball so effortlessly, and for some reason I found it really hilarious when:

1)He said words such as "Huffy Bhai" and "beautifuler" and "whatchasayin".

2)His phone said "Hey, Handsome" when it rang.

3)He made a pouty face in the song "Ticket to Hollywood"...which, by the way, had me cracking up just because it is a song titled "Ticket to Hollywood". I will never forget him and Lara Dutta prancing around to those insanely silly lyrics. Classic!

4)Ouch. Why'd he have to call Pakistani movies crap?

I didn't think Bobby Deol and Preity Zinta's scenes were quite as funny as Abhi's and Lara's, but they got better in the second half. Just a little bit.

Another thing you'll have to keep in mind when watching this movie is that it has a lot of music. A lot. I happen to love Bollywood music, so this was right up my alley, but if you're the type of person that doesn't get why a Hindi movie includes songs in the first place, you may have an issue with the dance contest that seems like it never ends. It's three rounds(that feels like four) of nothing but beautiful costumes and slick choreography. Then again, both women look amazing, if that sparks any interest in you. I was particularly wowed by Preity Zinta throughout the movie, whose clothes and makeup were hot, hot, hot!


Speaking of makeup, because I used to work for MAC, I really, really appreciated the scene done in front of a MAC counter. It was just awesome to see Preity Zinta standing in front of a shelf stocked with lipliners similar to the one I stood in front of for five years. Ahh, once a MAC girl, always a MAC girl...


There is one more bonus to watching Jhoom Barabar Jhoom that deserves to be mentioned. "Bol Na Halke" is extremely pleasing to the eye...The colors, clothes, and photography are just breathtaking. In my opinion, the music itself isn't even as beautiful as the presentation is. (Not that its not a pretty song, it is, but when I listen to it on my Ipod it seems to have lost some of its sparkle). I liked Abhi and Preity's friendship jodi in KANK, but here their contrasting looks make them a really striking romantic pair, too.

On a personal note, I need to know the actress's name that played Alvira's younger cousin. Does anybody know? She just looks so much like my sister! Here are the pictures to prove it:

The actress:

My sister:














The actress again:

And my sister again:


To be honest, I don't know if these pictures do the resemblance justice, but if you met my sister you would know where I'm coming from on this...Ahh, and they say we all have a twin somewhere...Either that or Papi Nazir has some explaining to do!

Basically, because of its shallow story, JBJ could technically be called an "awful" film...But that's what stupid-funny comedies are all about(if you don't get that sentence, then this movie is probably not for you)! At least it was directed well and had subtitles that made sense, which is more than I can say for the other movie I watched today. If you like dancing, fashion, and a few cheap laughs, you'll likely get a kick out of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom.

I have to confess that I did.

Text (c) Nida Nazir 2008 Link to Home

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Water

Any movie with a topic like this is bound to be disturbing. It's just a given. I knew I was going to sit through Deepa Mehta's portrayal of a widows' colony in 1938 India and want to throw things at my tv screen. I knew I was going to get so deeply invested in the characters that a knot would form in the pit of my stomach, making me want to stop watching, yet keeping me glued to the screen at the very same time.


Water was all that and then some. Heartbreaking, yes, but also very engrossing. It's the type of film I won't soon forget, both because of the eye-opening message and the compelling way the story was told. I've seen other movies depict oppression or inhumane treatment, with nothing but tragedy after tragedy occurring to the bitter end. Those movies left me feeling as if the characters would have been better off if I'd never tuned in, since the minute I started watching things went from bad to worse.

I'm not saying these films don't have a right to be this way--most of the time they are based on history or cruel realities in our world that don't need to be sugarcoated. But there is another alternative, and Deepa Mehta found it in Water. In this film, the characters did experience hardships one after another, but Mehta made the wise choice of giving us a glimmer of hope at the end, right when we need it the most. The burst of love by two of the main characters for Chuyia's well being in the final scene sealed the movie as being more than just another heart sinker.

Perhaps it was because she reminded me of my own daughter, but Sarala's performance as Chuyia was my favorite by far. From the opening scene I wanted to swoop in and carry this child away from her devastating life.

Lisa Ray turns out an exquisite performance as Kalyani, but John Abraham could have emoted more as Narayan. Two glaring examples of the latter (***that contain spoilers***)were 1)John's poor display of what was supposed to be grief in the scene by the river after Kalyani's death and 2)the blank expression on John's face when Chuyia is handed to him on Gandhi's train at the end. The bright note to this was that John's character was extremely likable and, of course, hopelessly dreamy. And I am happy to say that in the more recent Salaam-E-Ishq, he appears to have improved somewhat.

There were also many relevant references to Gandhi in Water. After recently watching the Benjamin Kingsley movie and reading a book on Gandhi's life, I'm struck once again on the impact this man made on India. He used the simple concept of love to tackle some of the world's most controversial issues. Because of the effects his teachings had on his followers, he reshaped the thoughts of many. Would a man like John Abraham's Narayan have taken the stance he did on the treatment of widows if not influenced by a man like Gandhi?


Because of Water's subject, I expected to have all of these reactions. I did not, however, expect it to be such a well done film, with deeply developed characters and an ending that shows the difference a little bit of love can make. This film will stick with me for a very long time. Earth and Fire are next.

Text (c) 2008 Nida Nazir Bitten By Bollywood

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

List of Bollywood Films

Bollywood Films I've Seen So Far
(in alphebetical order)

A

Aa Gale Lag Ja

Amar Akbar Anthony

Awaara

Arth

B

Bachna Ae Haseeno

Black

Bommarillu

Bunty Aur Babli

C

Chandni

Cheeni Kum

Chokher Bali

D

Devdas

Dhoom 2

Dil Chata Hai

Dil Se...

Dil To Pagal Hai

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

Don: The Chase Begins Again

Dor

Dostana

E

Earth

F

Fanaa

G

Ghajini

Gol Maal

Guide

H

Hum

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun original post, after rewatching

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

Hum Tum

Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam

J

Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na!

Jab We Met

Jhoom Barabar Jhoom

Jodhaa-Akbar

K

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna original post, after rewatching

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

Kal Ho Naa Ho

Kismat Konnection

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

L

Laaga Chunari Mein Daag

Laawaris (or Why I Watched My First Bollywood Movie)

Lagaan

M

Main Hoon Na

Maine Pyar Kiya

Mughal-E-Azam

O

Om Shanti Om

P

Partner

Pukar

Q

Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak

R

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Rang De Basanti

S

Saawariya

Salaam-E-Ishq

Salaam Namaste

Satyam Shivam Sundaram

Shree 420

Silsila

Slumdog Millionaire

T

The Namesake

U

U Me Aur Hum

Umrao Jaan (Starring Aishwayra Rai)

Umrao Jaan (Starring Rekha)

V

Veer-Zaara

Videsh:Heaven On Earth

Vivah

W

Water

Welcome

Y

Yeh Vaada Raha

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Hum

I contemplated even writing about Hum, because I didn't feel excited enough to either praise or criticize it.


The 1991 Amitabh Bachchan starrer Hum ended up in my possession by accident when the lady at the video store misunderstood what I was asking for(I had requested Hum Tum starring Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerjee), and placed it in my pile of films to rent. I didn't notice the mix up until I got home, and was too tired to go back. Anyways, I reasoned, it couldn't hurt to watch it for the sake of the blog, and I needed to start somewhere on my list of Amitabh Bachchan movies(So far I've seen a pathetic two, not counting the newer ones or this one, but I promise to get going on this asap).

I'm assuming Hum probably wasn't a very good place to start. For one, it just wasn't my kind of movie. I don't like violence, I'm not a fan of the goofy side of Anupam Kher(I like goofiness, just not when he does it), and I thought the women's roles were a bit degrading(I'm really talking about Tiger's girlfriend Jumma's first scenes in the film, in which she is portrayed like a sexual object and teased by an army of men. And they got her wet in almost every one of those introductory scenes). Amitabh Bachchan was Amitabh Bachchan, as I've seen him so far. It was kind of neat to see a younger Govinda, but by the time he came into the picture I was already leaning towards boredom.

Considering that Hum really isn't my cup of tea anyways, I don't think I'm qualified to write a productive review on it. But I will say that I went into it with a completely open mind, willing to watch a bit of overdramatized kicks and punches so I could have something to say about it.

And it just didn't give me much.

Text (c) 2008 Nida Nazir Bitten By Bollywood

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Dil Chata Hai

Just when I thought I couldn't love Bollywood any more than I already do, my friends at Jaman recommend a movie like Dil Chata Hai to remind me that I ain't seen nothing yet.




Dil Chata Hai is a rare story about three male friends and their personal journey into a little thing called love. It's not too sappy or melodramatic,but it has has its touching moments. There's just enough romance for the chick flick lover in you, but the real heart of the movie lies in the changing relationship between the three friends played by Aamir Khan, Akshaye Khanna, and Saif Ali Khan.

These guys have an onscreen chemistry that I haven't seen between three men in a long time(I'm thinking since Three Men and A Baby. Quite a different film, but...humor me). Their personalities are each so different and balance the story out to perfection.

Aamir Khan as Aakash dazzles me with his talent once again, but I'm sure that's no surprise to those of you who grew up watching his films. Saif Ali Khan as Sameer continues to make me laugh by his voice, facial expressions, and body language alone. But it was Akshaye Khanna(who has the cutest chin ever)as Sid, the artist with a heart of gold who falls for a divorced woman with a drinking problem, who really caught me off guard. I had no idea Bollywood had it in her to come up with a story like this, but give me more! Being a single mother(and half Pakistani herself, a culture where this is seriously frowned upon), it always bothers me that women are labeled so harshly once divorced or widowed, and I loved that Sid was man enough to stand up against the ridicules and jokes from his own best friend because he just didn't care what people would think. How many men would do that?

The feud that situation created between Aakash and Sid is also brought to a moving end when Aakash admits he was wrong and Sid forgives him wholeheartedly. I'm embarrassed to think back to some of the friendships I had, particularly when I was a teenager, that ended on a stupid argument which I had too much pride to repair. I'm glad Aakash grew up and realized that was not going to happen to him, and happy that Sid didn't let things change their friendship after that. Just another beautiful touch to an already perfect film!

I have to mention Dimple Kapadia as Tara(Sid's love interest). She's amazing. Simply amazing. I won't say anymore, but if you see the movie, I won't have to.

Wow. When I come across a movie like this, it reminds me why I write about Bollywood in the first place!

Text (c) Nida Nazir, 2008 Bitten By Bollywood

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

Somewhere along the way, this wholesome little film found its way into my heart.


Oh, it was definitely not love at first sight, much to my disappointment. I had such high expectations for Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, mostly because everything I had heard about the film was positive. People absolutely adored this movie, from those who saw it when it came out in 1995 to new Bollywood watchers. So when I bought my own copy and failed to fall head over heels, I was naturally surprised. However, after a second viewing (and many more Bollywood movies later), I started to soften towards it. Today, after understanding a bit more about Bollywood than I did initially, and after reading about the film and why it was so successful, I have a new appreciation for it. You could even say I'm quite fond of it.

The first time I saw DDLJ, I had a hard time digesting Shahrukh Khan as Raj.
I had just decided after watching Kal Ho Naa Ho, that I loved King Khan unconditionally. But when I saw him as Raj, he was quite different than the SRK-branded character who had grown on me. This SRK made some awful facial expressions and wagged his pinkie when he was describing a trip to the "loo"(I've since learned that this is a common gesture in India, thanks to Bollywhat.com, and it doesn't bother me now). His haircut reminded me of a mullet(although I know it wasn't), and, quite frankly, I thought he was an immature prick(I love a sense of humor in a guy, but Raj just acted like a little kid--he got me to laugh, but I wouldn't have taken him seriously as a potential mate and I'm surprised Simran did based on the first half of the movie alone).



Now, I see Raj in a different light. Not only do I have somewhat of an understanding of Shahrukh's personal success story(which helps me appreciate his performance more), but I see the good qualities that Raj possesses, especially in the second half of the film. Although he doesn't seem to know when to quit being so obnoxious in the first half, once he knows Simran's heart belongs to him, he's very attentive and affectionate with her(See the scene when she "swoons" during her fast, the way he hugs her when he first arrives in India, and the scene when he and Simran feed one another). I also learned that Bollywood usually had more macho-man heroes in this time, and that Raj was one of the first to help out with the women's duties and even give fashion advice.


Kajol as Simran was a no-brainer; She was amazing. When I see her in DDLJ today, I'm reminded once again why she's my absolute favorite Bollywood actress. She's so warm and expressive, most of the time wearing her heart on her sleeve...I should really make a point to watch all of her films someday, not just the most popular ones.


As far as chemistry between the two leads, I wasn't blown out of my chair when I first saw DDLJ. I did think they made a cute couple, and it was obvious they were comfortable with one another, but I didn't see any real fireworks(This was before I saw Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and I've since changed my mind, completely). Now when I watch DDLJ, however, I love the innocence of their romance. Its such a pure-hearted film, and anything less than Raj and Simran's puppy love would have ruined that.


DDLJ has its corny moments, but somehow after watching another huge hit from the early nineties, Hum Aapke Hain Koun, those moments don't seem quite so corny anymore.


And, speaking of HAHK, after I saw that movie, I can see why DDLJ was such a hit. It expressed the same importance on family values and the innocence of love that HAHK did, but in a better made film. Its those values that caused me to give DDLJ a second look, and I'm glad I did. I'm also glad I understand DDLJ and its phenomenon as a result, because it certainly is a biggie in Indian cinema.

text (c) 2008 Nida Nazir Bitten By Bollywood

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Because my curiosity got the best of me...Hum Aapke Hain Koun

How much do you really love Bollywood? Sit through 3 and a half hours of Hum Aapke Hain Koun, and you may have an idea. Its a pretty good indicator of how much cheese you can handle, IF you can make it all the way through.

I don't mean to make fun of the movie. I knew what I was getting into...I had read about it in books and other websites and knew it was a struggle for most who were new to Bollywood to sit through, much less enjoy. I had had a similar experience with Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, only to return to it later in my Bollywood watching journey and fall in love with it. So I was curious about this one...Was I still too brainwashed by Western culture to see past what I would call cheesy and appreciate this as the treasured classic it is? Or am I in love with Bollywood enough to embrace it when its at its wackiest, as it is here? And who's to judge what "wackiness" is? Would someone who grew up in India watch my childhood favorite, The Sound of Music, and go, "This is nuts?" No, if I was going to watch Hum Aaapke Hain Koun, I had to go into it with a completely open mind, erasing any traces of ethnocentrism and realizing I am, after all, a Bollywood Amateur.


The verdict? Well, not that I am an any position to criticize(the film did go on to become one of the most successful Bollywood films of all time), there were some things that kept me from loving it and some things that kept me from hating it.

I could overlook the technology snafus(some of the shots were cut before the scenes actually ended), I could tolerate the lack of plot and character development(the dog, Tuffy had more merit as a character than some of the other random actors that would occasionally pop up...I would look at my brother and go, "Ok, who is this guy, again?" and he would shrug and say with a smile, " I have no idea!"), I could even learn to live with the bad 80's video vibe, but what I really
don't understand is why the movie had to be that long? Give me the 14 songs, give me the love story, but don't give me all the filler stuff in between. The real gems of the movie drown in some of the dragging scenes that could have been edited out...

Which brings me to the parts of the movie that kept me watching,the parts that gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling inside, the reasons I couldn't hate HAHK that will cause me to pop it in my DVD player a year from now and see if I can't identify with it a bit more.


Surprise, surprise, one of those reasons is Salman Khan. I really was hoping to see something new in him in this film, to understand why he was so heavily cheered for when he appeared amongst 31 other stars in Om Shanti Om. And I did...for once, he wasn't the egotistical macho man I perceived him to be in the other films I saw him in. He was actually a bit nerdy(he drove a jeep that had writing on it that said "I love my family", "I am witty" and "I am smart")! My brother compared him to Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but I found his dorkiness endearing, especially when he would say, "Sh*t, I love her!"

Part of my decision to watch HAHK had to do with Madhuri Dixit. I knew she was one of the most successful actresses in the nineties, and I keep hearing her name mentioned in discussion boards as a fan favorite, so I figured I had better get it in gear and start watching some of her work(I saw her only in Devdas, and loved her there, but knew it was not what made her famous). She did not disappoint. Madhuri has this charming quality about her when she smiles and dances that would melt any heart. And her character Nisha had a chocolate fetish!

Prem and Nisha worked for me as a couple because she was the feisty one and he was the lovestruck lass that appeared everywhere she was, like a little boy with a crush. Quite different from the Salman I've known so far. Their courtship had this fresh and innocent quality about it that I adored, and the fact that the family was oblivious to it for most of the movie was too cute for words!


Was I a fan of the 14 songs? Let's just say I find the sitar to be one of the most romantic instruments in the world...but that may just be my fancy for old school Indian music kicking in...(strange because I don't understand Hindi whatsoever).

Oh, and while I'm on the subject of not understanding Hindi...I'm pretty irritated because I still do not know for the life of me what Prem said to Nisha as the bride and groom left after the wedding. Either the person who made the subtitles got stuck on a couple things or was sleeping on the job, because a handful of dialogues were missed, most crucially apparent in this scene(it had to be something important because she never looked at him the same way again).

Ahh, yes, the joys of watching Hum Aapke Hain Koun. I actually feel like I've accomplished something. My brother is probably prepared to see any Bollywood movie after watching this. We can't stop humming, "Dhiktana ,Dhiktana, Dhiktana" and cracking Prem jokes, and my mom thinks we've gone crazy. Clearly she has no idea what a classic HAHK is.

Text (c) Nida Nazir 2008 Bitten By Bollywood

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Veer-Zaara

Something happened to me while watching Veer Zaara. I fell in love- with Bollywood. And I sort of started to like Shahrukh Khan as more than a friend.

It was actually my fifth Bollywood movie(Laawaris, Umrao Jaan starring Aishwayra Rai, Umrao Jaan starring Rekha, Devdas, then Veer Zaara, in that order). Considering my list, I assumed most Bollywood movies dragged a bit too long, were mostly serious and had a strong cultural influence(Yeah, I know I was wrong, but consider what I had seen so far).
Veer Zaara, while at times not too far from that mold, had something different that I found appealing.



It may have been the music. "Tere Liye" haunted me for days...Like I've said before, I grew up loving Disney movies, and there was something about Shahrukh Khan singing on top of a bus that reminded me of the tender innocence that made those films so lovable. "Main Yahaan Hoon", on the other hand, was certainly no Disney movie, but it did make me see good ol' Shahrukh in a different light...

Uzma had pointed out to me before watching Devdas that Shahrukh Khan was kind of a big deal in Bollywood. No, she had said he was a huge deal. And gosh, I just didn't see it. I definitely did not find him attractive. Yet while watching Veer-Zaara, and maybe even a bit during Devdas, I started to feel a touch of his charisma reeling me in. Maybe it was because in VZ he was held up against Zaara's fiance, who to me was just plain creepy. I started to root for Veer because he was just such a good guy when compared to that jerk. And he looked kind of hot in his pilot uniform.

It was the "surprise" towards the end(and if you haven't seen the movie you should stop reading because most of the film's enjoyment lies in this moment)that sent me head-on into Bollywood bliss. I suspected (actually, I hoped) something like this was going to happen, but that didn't stop chills from running down my back when I actually saw Zaara's face appear at Veer's old house. I must have had the same shocked look that Rani Mukerjee had in spite of myself. And I must have watched the part in the courtroom where Veer and Zaara are reunited(to the tune of "Tere Liye", no less) three times before I was satisfied with moving forward. It was just so romantic to me, one who had been disappointed by Hollywood time and again for ruining romantic movies with vulgarity and idiotic plots(with the exception of The Notebook and A Walk to Remember).



Several months later, after putting the film on the highest pedestal possible and watching many more Bollywood films that I loved, I have to say I re-watched Veer Zaara and was less impressed by it. This may have been because some of the shock value/suspense was gone. Also, I realized that some of the things that made Veer-Zaara so unique to me were actually Bollywood cliches used time and again in other films. Not that I don't still love them, but they weren't the creative touches I had once seen them to be.

Of course,I still recommend the movie. Its an extremely touching tale about unselfish love, and so romantic that the first time I watched it I was brought to tears more than once. But its just not at the very top of my list anymore like it used to be.

Text(c) 2008 Nida Nazir Bitten By Bollywood

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