Indian Drag Queens, Gulabi Aaina, and “In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke” from Umrao Jaan (1981)

I have been fooled by official looking film festival palm leaf logos before. Haven’t you?  Those palms make something look legitimate and award worthy. So when a friend sent me Gulabi Aaina (2003) and I saw those leaves on the DVD I thought it would be great.  It’s a movie about drag queens who perform some Bollywood hits.  How could I not love it?  Unfortunatley, the palm leaves and the drag queens performing Bollywood tunes gave me high expectations that simply could not be met.  The film opens with “In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke” from Umrao Jaan (1981).  For those who’ve seen that, you already know that there’s no way to improve upon perfection.  Enjoy Mohammed Zahur Khayyam‘s gorgeous tune from the original movie, picturized on Rekha and performed by playback singer Asha Bhosle.

Thanks to amangill for the video.

LYRICS

If you haven’t already seen the classic Umrao Jaan, check out what these wonderful blogs have to say:

Philip’sfil-ums HERE.

Bitten by Bollywood’s Nida, HERE.

Filmi Geek HERE.

Doc Bollywood HERE.

About Gulabi Aaina:

The Pink Mirror pits two Indian drag queens against a westernized gay teenager in a battle to woo a handsome hunk. It’s a clash of the east and west. Who will win? The drag queens, who are expert in the art of seduction with their wit, innuendo and cunning or the young teenager who is saucy, slutty and sly? Underneath the campy humorous exterior, the film is an exploration of the Indian gay landscape and understanding of the deep, humanly tender bondings that exist between drag queens in India who form unique, non-patriarchal families. Using the Bollywood soap idiom of song, dance and drama and for the first time in the Indian drag queens’ very own language, Hindi, the film also explores other veiled issues related to the Indian gay community: the lurking threat of HIV/AIDS. (IMDB)

 Controversy around Gulabi Aaina:

In 2003, the Indian Censor Board banned the film ‘Gulabi Aaina (The Pink Mirror)’, a film on Indian transsexuals produced and directed by Sridhar Rangayan. The censor board cited that the film was ‘vulgar and offensive’. The filmmaker appealed twice again unsuccessfully. The film still remains banned in India, but has screened at numerous festivals all over the world and won awards. The critics have appluaded it for its ‘sensitive and touching portrayal of marginalized community’ (Wikipedia)

I think maybe it was banned because it was offensive that anyone would try and recapture Rekha’s Umrao Jaan performing “In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke.”  :)

If I’m going to watch a drag queen, it will be Queen Harish of Rajasthan, the “Dancing, Whirling Desert Drag Queen,” featured a few months back over at Rough In Here. If I’m going to watch “In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke,” it must be picturized on Rekha! I’ll also accept Queen Harish‘s intrepretation of Umrao Jaan.  

Bollywood Insider: Latest reports from May, 2008

Once again it’s time to get the latest Bollywood chugli from Suzi Mann, Bollywood Food Club’s favorite entertainment correspondant.

 

From May 23, 2008:

Abraham wedding! – Khan bites back – Bachchans in Cannes – Dhoom Dhadaka

From May 16, 2008:

Bolly big in Cannes, Liz and Arun baby rumours, Canine Khan, Dhoom Dhadaka

From May 10, 2008:

Dream team Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan in Tashan, Bachchan trio in Sarkar Raj and Big B conquers the Internet

For even more impressive entertainment, step over to MemsaabStory.

Memsaab proudly represents filmi goris on Bollywood Ka Boss, India’s first-ever Bollywood quiz show, hosted by Boman Irani. Shabash!

 

Bollywood Bewaafa! Bollywood, I’ve been unfaithful…

Bollywood Bewaafa!

Bollywood, I’ve been unfaithful. Please allow me to explain. Maybe it’s because it’s spring, and sometimes that’s the season when hearts wander, but I’ve been back to my old self, sampling the world and enjoying it. Yet still I keep getting reminded of you and all the great times we’ve had. I’ve cheated on you with China, (my ex), Egypt, Ethopia, and Kerala. I’ve cheated with films, documentaries, food and even books. Here’s how it happened:

I saw a Chinese movie a few weeks back called Luxury Car (2006). It was bleak, depressing and very good, but it brought me back to Bollywood. How you ask? Well it was directed by Wang Chao, who studied under director Chen Kaige, who made some movies starring the lovely Gong Li. Gong Li was the first actress I saw that moved me to want to see all her films. It was only after running out of movies with Gong Li, did I think maybe I’d like to see another movie with “that guy from Devdas,” who I later found out was Shahrukh Khan.

Then I was listening to NPR and heard a mini documentary on Umm Kulthum. Now hipped to Umm Kulthum, I promptly went to the library to get “Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt.” It’s an excellent documentary on a fascinating life. While watching Umm-ji’s life story, I thought of Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle.

‘All Arabs agree,’ reads The Rough Guide to World Music. ‘Umm Kulthum is indisputably the Arab world’s greatest singer.’ The name Umm Kulthum may not strike a chord to Western ears, but she was a larger-than-life presence in the Arab world. The Egyptian singer’s career was long, its heyday extending from the 1930s to the 1960s, and her music became a powerful symbol of Arab nationalism. When she died in 1975 at the age of 70, 4 million people poured into the streets of Cairo to mourn her passing. Today, her music is everywhere. Even at truck stops, CD kiosks are brimming with Umm Kulthum’s many recordings. In the 1950s and ’60s, her fame grew, thanks to her legendary live radio broadcasts. On Thursday nights, the streets of Cairo would empty as people gathered around radio sets to hear the great singer. You can still hear a lot of Umm Kulthum on Egyptian radio today. In honor of her famous broadcasts, her music is played at 10 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. (NPR)

Can you watch and hear this and not want more? I couldn’t.

Come, enough, we’ve already missed so much. O love of my soul. What I saw, what I saw before my eyes saw you was a wasted life. How can it be counted? You are my life whose morning began with your light. You are my life.

Is even Umm telling me in this song to get back to Bollywood?

Thanks to armacino89 for the video.

Click here for a subtitled rendition of the same tune, and here for another.

First I cheated with films, documentaries, China, Egpyt. Then I cheated with food, Ethiopian food!

When eating out, instead of dining at one of my favorite Indian restaurants, Best of India, I strayed over to Fasika and dined on Ethiopian food, which I hadn’t had for years. My mind was seduced by the wall mural of Victoria Falls and other images throughout the restaurant of Lalibela, Axum, and Addis Ababa. My interest was peaked, but how could I even think of traveling to Ethiopia before I see my mother India? That food was really great!


I also cheated with books. When I’m not watching movies, I enjoy reading and I’d heard the “The God of Small Things” was an excellent book. It’s set in a village in Kerala, India, so I was slowly getting back to Bollywood, more or less. I know the author, Arundhati Roy, wrote “In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones” which was one of Shahrukh Khan’s first gigs. Bollywood calling me again. Then within the book, Roy makes reference to a tragic love triangle (sound familiar, Bollywood?) in a Malayalam film Chemmeen(1965). It’s not Bollywood, but it’s the Malayalam film industry, so I’m getting closer to coming back Bollywood.

Bollywood was so majestic, waiting gracefully as I looked around enjoying all the world has to offer, all the while being reminded of him. Really, I never left, you were always in my heart, I mean in my dil.


Forgive me Bollywood, for I have sinned!

I confess to almighty God, (Bollywood) and to you, my brothers and sisters,that I have sinned through my own fault,in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Video of the Day: “Hoton Pe Aisi Baat” from Jewel Thief (1967)

It’s been a Jewel Thief  week. 3 videos featuring 3 of the women stars have been featured earlier this week. 

I asked which of the women was the best match the jewel thief, Dev Anand: super spunky Anju (Tanuja), sensitive Shalu (Vyjayanthimala) or the vivascious Helen?  All through Jewel Thief  I kept wondering how Vyjayanthimala could be in a movie without dancing?

 

Then finally at the movie’s climax she delivered in this fantastic number “Hoton Pe Aisi Baat” with Lata Mangeshkar  as the playback singer. Once again the music is by S.D. Burman.  It’s because of this number that I officially choose Vyjayanthimala as my match for the jewel thief:

Thanks to crandallmcgee for the video

And for a little extra fun, since I love to see Johnnie Walker used in Bollywood movies, not to be confused with Johnny Walker, who I also like to see in Bollywood movies, I’ll include a few screen images from the movie featuring Johnnie Walker.

Food and whisky for days!

  

Video of the Day: “Baithe Hain Kya Usike Paas” from Jewel Thief (1967)

If the last 2 numbers featured from Jewel Thief (1967) I posted here don’t make you want to see the movie, this one will. Two days back there was the heartfelt Rula Ke gaya Sapna Mera,” then there was the upbeat Raat Akeli Hai.” I posed the question about who you think Dev Anand, the jewel thief, should choose: super spunky Anju (Tanuja) or sensitive Shalu (Vyjayanthimala)? Well now there’s another lady in the film to consider:

Helen, queen of the nautch girls!

Once again here’s playback singer extrodinaire, Asha Bhosle, and music by S.D. Burman with the madcapped, over the top,“Baithe Hain Kya Usike Paas.”

Warning: this video is hot!

Thanks to crandallmcgee for the video.

 

Video of the Day: “Raat Akeli Hai” from Jewel Thief (1967)

Yesterday’s video was also from Jewel Thief (1967). Today I was inspired by Shweta who commented about yesterday’s sad scene featuring a tearful Vyjayanthimala:

Vayjanti bores me to tears (by her tears) in this one-Dev actually had the option of going out with Tanuja in the movie, who is far more cheerful and peppy- and he chose the former! it boggles the mind.”

Take a look at Tanuja‘s attempt to seduce Dev Anand here in “Raat Akeli Hai” with playback singer extrodinaire, Asha Bhosle, music by S.D. Burman. Yes, Anju (Tanuja) is certainly more spunky and enthusiastic than the sensitive and weepy Shalu (Vyjayanthimala), but more importantly, Anju has a super cool house! Who do you think is a better choice for the jewel thief, Anju or Shalu?

Video thanks to subhashanurag

Since I love the talent shows of India, here’s SVOI Chote Ustad’s 2008 winner Aishwarya Mujmudar’s version of “Raat Akeli Hai,” the sound quality is poor, but she does a fantastic job. Plus, you get to see Alka-ji give the young girl a necklace and many tears of gratitude flow.  I love Alka!

Video thanks to looking4u84

Video of the Day: “Rula Ke Gaya Sapna Mera” from Jewel Thief (1967)

It’s possible for me to love the costumes, characters, sets, and music of a film, without actually loving the film. That’s what happened to me with Jewel Thief (1967). What a such a stylish movie! It’s nonstop eye candy. Philip’sFil-ums has a compact, but power packed synopsis of the film here.

Jewel Thief is a 1967 Indian Hindi film. The film is a crime thriller, and stars Dev Anand, Vyjayantimala, Ashok Kumar, Tanuja, Anju Mahendru, Sachin and Helen. Vinay, an ordinary young man who finds himself constantly mistaken for a look-alike jewel thief named Amar. Vinay works with the police to impersonate Amar and crack his crime ring–but it seems that Amar has decided to impersonate Vinay, as well, and soon their true identities are thoroughly muddled. (wikipedia)

Here Shalu is perplexed about who she thinks is her fiance ignoring her. Is he Vinay or Amar? Watch the scene HERE.

This confusion drives poor Shalu to this:

Ah, Shalu, we’ve all been there! It’s always darkest before the dawn. To the rescue comes Dev’s character to deliver the wisdom of Bollywood:

I don’t mean to bring you down with such a sad song, but hey it’s Sunday, the time to reflect on life, get a bit melancholy about going back to work tomorrow, so this is really a perfect song for that mood: “Rula Ke Gaya Sapna Mera” by playback singer Lata Mangeshkar, picturised on Vyjayanthimala with Dev Anand lurking in the background. The music is by S.D. Burman.

video thanks to 19Awara51

Lyrics

Remember dosto, like Vinay/Amar says,

“night is passing by, and soon it will be morning.”

Amitabh’s Blogging

Yes, it’s true.  Like Amir Khan, (and me) Amitabh Bachchan now has a blog.

St James Court Hotel Crowne Plaza, London May 2, 2008 7:05pm (GMT) Asthma’s gone, interviews over – time now to spend some moments with you !!

That means YOU! ME! US! Everyone!  Bilkul exciting!

My blog will allow me to express myself, share and reflect my emotions, thoughts, opinions and listen to what people have to say to me. Now I can share consequential replies to the inconsequential gossips that keep doing the rounds. My adda (blog) will be the only destination where I’ll openly state my views and also discuss the same with all. (ReadersZone)

Read all about it!