Bollywood Insider: Latest reports from October, 2008

Back with the newest Bollywood chugli is Bollywood Insider’s Suzi Mann. Here’s what I found going on in October, 2008.

From

The Pool (2008) It’s not Bollywood, but it stars Nana Patekar!

I’m on a non-Bollywood streak, but like yesterday’s post, this movie has a big Bollywood star, so I have to post about it.  I saw The Pool (2008) (not to be confused with That Pool) last week at an art house theater, so I’m not surprised that I was shushed. Here’s how it happened.  I’d skimmed an article about the movie and thought I’d read that there were a lot of non-actors in it. It takes place in India and it’s about a pool.  I love pools!  I love India! So I had to see it. So I sat there, and quietly whispered just a couple of things to my friend during the movie.  One being, “It looks just like Mexico!” The other thing I may have said above a whisper, because my heart wanted to shout, NANA PATEKAR!  I didn’t know HE was in THIS!  I LOVE HIM! That’s when the shush came.  I know talking is annoying in a movie theater, especially an art house theater, where the intellectual gather, just waiting for a chance to shush.  The poor guy that shushed me obviously didn’t understand just who Nana Patekar is and thus why he could evoke such enthusiasm in me.  He actually first made the shush noise, followed by, “Hey come on guys.” I thought No sir-ji, you come on! Why aren’t YOU excited to see Nana?

Here’s the trailer for the film:

synopsis:

Daydreaming about one day getting an education, Venkatesh works as a “room boy” in a hotel in Panjim, Goa, in India, and he sells plastic bags on the side with his young friend, Jhangir, to make ends meet. When he becomes enchanted by a sublime residential pool, Vankatesh gets entangled with the mysterious family that inhabits the home. His relationship with the rich father and his cynical, sophisticated daughter disrupt his fixed ideas and unexpectedly alters his destiny. (source)

Now back to the shushing guy.  I wanted to say this to him: “Do you even KNOW who Nana Patekar is!?!?!  Did you see him in Salaam Bombay?  Did you see him in Parinda (1989: Winner, Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award )!? Apaharan? Taxi Number 9211? How about that psycho he played in Shakti-The Power?” Then after saying that to the shusher, I’d want him to face Nana, looking at him like this!

Now do you still want to shush me?  I didn’t think so!  Of course Nana is excellent in this very sweet film and now if you go you won’t be surprised that he’s in the film, so you won’t make any noise and thus you won’t be shushed. And to the shusher, I apologize to you again, as I did that night.

 

Heat and Dust (1983) It’s not Bollywood, but it stars Shashi.

Heat and Dust (1983) is a Merchant Ivory Productions award winning film, with a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala based upon her novel, Heat and Dust. It was directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant. Ivory performed tanpura for score music with Zakir Hussein‘s sitar. According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications there was “a cycle of film and television productions which emerged during the first half of the 1980s, which seemed to indicate Britain’s growing preoccupation with India, Empire and a particular aspect of British cultural history”. In addition to Heat and Dust, this cycle also included The Jewel in the Crown (1984) and A Passage to India (1984). (wikipedia)

Heat and Dust (1983), could I call that Bollywood?

OK Shashi is right, it isn’t Bollywood, but it’s set in India and stars Shashi Kapoor, so that’s good enough for me. I got it from my local library and it’s as part of The Criterion Collection, which never disappoints. I had read the book by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and then realized that there was a movie, which apparently was a huge hit in Europe, and other parts of the world but wasn’t widely distributed in the US, which is why I wasn’t familiar with it. Here’s a case where I enjoyed the book and movie equally. If you get a chance to see it, be sure and listen to the commentary version to hear interesting things the producer, director and actors recall about the shooting of the film. The DVD booklet described the film as follows:

Heat and Dust was adapted for the screen by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from her Booker Prize-winning novel, and tells two stories in parallel through the use of splicing and juxtaposing of scenes. Flashbacks, and flash-forwards, which connect the Indian past (in the romantic 19203) and present (the 1970s). In the first story, Olivia (Greta Scacchi), a junior administrator’s wife, has an affair with a local Nawab (Shashi Kapoor) that shocks the British community, and at the end she goes to live alone in a mountain retreat. The second involves her great niece Anne (Julie Christie), who comes to India to research Olivia’s life and on a different level repeats her experience, becoming pregnant by her Indian lover Inder Lal (Zakir Hussain) and traveling finally to the retreat in the mountains where Olivia had ended her days and where she herself hopes to bear a child.

I enjoyed seeing Shashi starring in a movie with his real life wife, Jennifer Kendal. Kendal died in 1984, and this movie was made in 1983, so this was one of her last films.

Kendal had a very Bollywood-esque character who got to say some racist dialogue. She warns the young Olivia to be careful, since she knew a British woman who had been molested by and Indian, “since he’d been ironing her underwear, after all. And they eat all that spicy food,” said Mrs. Saunders. She goes on to say:

Now that’s very Bollywood, isn’t it? To have a racist Britisher saying outlandish and offensive things. Another Bollywood moment was when I saw this actress, and knew I’d seen her before but couldn’t place it. She was marvelous and really captured my attention, even though her part was small. Do you recognize this woman? Not Julie Christie, but the woman with the bindi?

It’s a young Ratna Pathak, (wife of Naseeruddin Shah) who I last saw in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, playing Jai’s (Imran Khan) mother. And the final Bollywood ingredient to Heat and Dust was the inclusion of hijra.

Well Shashi,

I’ll tell you what a hijra is,

“In the culture of the Indian subcontinent, a hijra (Hindi: हिजड़ा, Urdu: حجڑا) is usually considered a member of “the third sex” — neither man nor woman. Most are physically male or intersex, but some are female. Hijras usually refer to themselves linguistically as female, and usually dress as women. Although they are usually referred to in English as “eunuchs”, relatively few have any genital modifications.” (wikipedia)

Watch the trailer and look at what Siskel & Ebert had to say here.

Read Ashmita‘s review of the book here.

Aamir Khan, ex con.?

Khan, ex con?

Aamir was locked up? What was he doing time for?  When did he get out?  When I see a guy this cut, this ripped this bulked up by weight lifting, (not to mention tatted up) I immediately think that he’s just been released from the joint, the slammer, the pen, the whoscow, the big house. So if he’s out of prison he’s an ex con, Khan, ex con. I makes me wonder about Hindi idioms for prison and well muscled. Oh readers….

I’m happy to report that Khan’s new bulky look is for a movie role, and not a result of him being in prison lifting weights. The new film, Ghajini, is set to be released on Christmas day. To keep up with latest on Aamir-ji and Ghajini, go to his website, or go where I’d go, to TheBollywoodFan.

Would you rather be a Namak Haraam or a spoon(chamcha)? My first poll!

Dosto, I recently watched Namak Haaram (1973). Fabulous! Here are the basics:

Namak Haraam (Devanagari: नमक हराम, Nastaliq: نمک ہرام, is a 1973 Indian Hindi film directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The music is by R.D. Burman and the lyrics by Anand Bakshi. The film stars Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan. The film also stars Rekha, Asrani, Raza Murad, A.K. Hangal, Simi Garewal and Om Shivpuri . The film focused on two friends ( Rajesh and Amitabh) and how Rajesh tries to infiltrate the trade union of his friends. (wikipedia)

For a more coherent and substantial review of the film, check out rediff.com and Memsaab Story. I will of course deal with the superficial. I like to eat the frosting more than the cake, so first feast your eyes on this screen capture of our beloved Amitabh from the film which should be titled state of the art:

All starts out well with rich Vikram (Amit-ji) and super BFF, Somu (Rajesh Khanna) hanging around, wearing matching outfits, living the good life. They visit hot nautch girls and drink whiskey. Looking at Jayshree T. here it’s understandable why these guys would like to just hang out and be entertained.

But people in town talk, (haters!) and they are starting to call Somu Vikram’s spoon. Say What? I had never heard this phrase before, and I love when something like this comes up in a movie. I start to wonder is it: a.) a term I’ve just never heard of in English?; b.) Is this a British English term?; c.) Is this a Hindi figure of speech translated directly into English? Whatever it is I LOVE it. I ain’t nobody’s spoon! I take that being someone’s spoon means to be their flunkie, stooge, yes man, or dare I say, as used in the streets, their bitch? Anyway, the point seems to be that a spoon blindly follows someone who has more perceived power than the spoon does. Hindi speakers, please, I welcome your corrections to my interpretation of the term spoon if I’ve got it wrong. Somu’s sister tells him about what people are saying and he sets her straight!

Oh snap! Oh no he didn’t say that! So fast forward, Vicky has to go manage his father’s factory and his spoon, I mean Somu, tags along. They cook up a plan that Somu will infiltrate the factory, first posing as a worker and then eventually working his way up to, you’d never guess, a union organizer. Tricky! Somu eventually understands the struggle of the factory workers.

I adore seeing Johnnie Walker in these Bollywood films, and here it is, the extra fancy black label used to symbolize the good life, and its potential for arrogance. Somu tries to tell Vicky that it’s useful to try and call the low caste workers by their names:

Somu becomes so touched by the day to day struggles of the common worker that becomes a traitor, or as was written in the movie’s subtitles, namak haraam, to his friend Vicky, switching his loyalty from his friend to the workers. Namak haraam literally seems to translate to food/salt that’s not OK to eat, not sanctioned, not clean, not pure, not halaal, but figuratively the term means traitor. Once again, over some whiskey, Somu tries to make rich Vicky understand:

I know, I know, I already used this photo in yesterday’s post, but it’s so great I had to use it twice.  Can you blame me?

These socialists are such buzz kills! Eventually Vicky learns the wisdom of Somu’s ways. When Vicky finds out of Somu’s trouble, which you’ll have to watch the movie to find out about, he shows a delicious taste of angry Amitabh:

Namak Haraam is art imitating life as evidenced here. Doesn’t this sound a bit too familiar now:

Well since elections are coming soon here in the U S of A, here’s a timely song from the film titled Woh Jhoota Hai Vote Na Usko Dena, picturized on Asrani and a hot young Rekha, with music by R. D. Bruman. You can check it out HERE.

And speaking of voting…I’m so excited to present my first poll on the blog! So here I ask you the impossible question: Would you rather be a Namak Haraam or a spoon?

extra credit:

When looking up Namak Haraam online, I came across Arun Krishan’s clever podcast on his site, Cutting Chai, Learn Hindi from Bollywood Movies, since in it he credits a tune from the film in the music credits. You will certainly enjoy this, as well as all his other great podcasts:

Episode 47. Alcohol. Is alcoholism such a bad thing?

Amitabh Bachchan to leave hospital in few days!

A belated Happy Birthday to Amitabh Bachchan!

After heading over to his blog, I noticed it was rather quiet, but a quick internet search revealed that he’s been ill. I know it’s very upsetting to hear, but even though he’s ill, Amitabh wants you to calm down, see:

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Leading Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan will be discharged in a few days from a Mumbai hospital where he was admitted after complaints of abdominal pain, a hospital official said on Sunday. Bachchan, who turned 66 on Saturday, was rushed to the hospital where he had undergone surgery in 2005 for an intestinal condition, and was placed under observation. “He’s had a restful night and the tests do not show any abnormality,” said Dr. Narendra Trivedi, the vice president of the hospital. “He has responded well to our line of treatment and will be discharged in a few days,” he said. Dozens of fans and reporters kept an overnight vigil outside the hospital for Bachchan, who had been shooting for Hindi film “Teen Patti” till Friday. His actor son Abhishek, daughter-in-law Aishwarya and daughter Shweta were with him in the hospital. (Reuters)

Wishing Amitabh Bachchan all the best!

The reports say he’s responding well to treatment. In fact this is what he’ll be looking like soon, walking out of that hospital!

10/16/08 update: Read about Aamir Khan’s desire to visit Big B. HERE.