Just in time for Halloween: 5 things you should know about ghosts, courtesy of Jaani Dushman (1979)

Happy Halloween.  I learned some valuable information about ghosts and ghost possession last night while watching  Jaani Dushman (2009), and thought I’d share it with you to keep you safe from harm on this ghoulish holiday.

Here’s a synopsis of the film in case you haven’t already enjoyed it:

Jwala Prasad is to marry the girl of his dreams. On the day of the marriage, she is dressed all in red, as is the tradition in India. Just before the wedding she slips off to meet her real lover. When Jwala finds out, he is so enraged that he turns into a monster and kills both the to-be bride and her male friend. The saga does not end here, and this monster continues to terrorize the region, first abducting brides dressed in red just before the wedding procession stops at a Mandir (temple). When a to-be groom finally confronts and kills the monster, it leaves the body of Jwala Prasad and possesses the body of its killer. And the terror continues. Years late another male has now killed this creature, and the monster has re-possessed its body, and it is again on the rampage. The police and men of this region do confront this creature, but find out it is invincible, bullets cannot harm it, nor can physical strength of fully grown men overpower it. The suspense mounts as one by one the brides are killed and no one seems to have a clue, and everybody seems to be suspect, including the village Poojari, the Thakur, his son, and several other people. Even if they do manage to kill this creature, it will simply re-possess the body of another male, and continue on its gruesome task. (source)

The film provides visual evidence  of a ghost possession.  Here we see a lustful character played by the legendary Amrish Puri during the ghost possession process:Afterwards, he looks like this:

Ironically, a soon to be wedded couple, recently terrorized by the ghost above, sees the same ghost on a train, but they don’t recognize him since he’s snapped back to his regular form.  This book he’s reading could be a vague hint that there’s trouble ahead.

The unsuspecting groom asks the gentleman about ghosts since he’s reading a horror story.  Amrish’s character kindly provides the groom with the 5 important signs of ghosts, which I share with you here as a public service.

 

Ghost sign 1. = Perspiring. Persistent sweating.

Ghost sign 2. = Chewing of the lips while talking.

Ghost sign 3. = Shivering of hands and feet.

Ghost sign 4. = Non-blinking eyes.

Ghost sign 5. = Terrorized by fire.

That’s scary stuff and you may ask,  “Are there any solutions?”

Well, as luck would have it, there are solutions to defending oneself against ghosts:

 

Now be safe and go break some spirits if need be!

For a comprehensive and very entertaining review of Jaani Dushman (2009), click over to Beth Loves Bollywood HERE.

Pardes: America is very bad for the Indian soul!

This is my contribution to Roti Kapada aur Rum’s  international call to all Indian film bloggers to submit something for Shameful Classics celebration in July, 2011.  After I saw Pardes (1997) last year I was very enthused about it, yet nearly every NRI I spoke to, emailed, or tweeted about it said how much they disliked the film.  I adored  Pardesmaybe because as a gori I’m free of the cultural shame some NRIs have over Bollywood films, so when Shameful Classics month came up, I figured it’s time to do a post on this insane film, after all I loved the film so much I practically screen capped it all!  In fact, if you scroll quickly over this post it will look like a flip book of the movie, THAT’S how many screen caps there are.  So I suppose at minimum I should be ashamed of adding to internet pollution. One of best parts of doing this blog is being able to rave about a movie that most of you saw years back that I’m just discovering now.  As I said, I LOVED this movie, but then again I tend to love all Subash Ghai films for their kitsch value and dramatic plot twists. Glancing over Ghai’s filmography, I’ve seen and enjoyed all of these, Vishwanath (1978);  Karz (1980);  Krodhi (1981);  Meri Jung (1985);  Ram Lakhan (1989);  Khalnayak (1993);  Trimurti (1995) (producer);  Taal (1999);  Aitraaz (2004) (producer);  Kisna: The Warrior Poet (2005);  Iqbal (2005) (producer);  Black & White (2008); and with time I’ve even remembered Yuvvraaj (2008) as resonating as a fun film, especially when Katrina’s character says something like , “You’re 100% complete anti-family hai!” to Salman’s character.  Remember that?! I LOVED that!  So is it possible that Ghai’s my favorite Bollywood director?  Should I be ashamed? Let’s continue on with Pardes!

Pardes, meaning “foreign land”, is a story that revolves around Ganga (Mahima Chaudhary). She is an Indian girl living in a rural village, brought up by her conservative family. Kishorilal (Amrish Puri) is a wealthy and successful businessman who lives in Los Angeles, America but is still deeply attached to his motherland India and adores the values and culture of India. On a visit to India, he meets his old friend Suraj Dev (Alok Nath) and stays at his house. During his stay he gets to know Suraj Dev’s family and becomes very attached to Ganga, Dev’s eldest daughter, who is the epitome of Indian culture. He hopes to find an Indian girl for his westernized, American son, Rajiv (Apoorva Agnihotri) and feels that Ganga is just right. He offers a marriage proposal between Ganga and Rajiv; Dev’s family accepts. Kishorilal knows he will have a tough time trying to convince Rajiv, who has never even visited India. But Kishorilal has a plan. He sends his foster son, Arjun (Shahrukh Khan) (‘Little Master’), to play cupid and convince Rajiv to visit India and meet and approve of Ganga. Arjun arrives at Dev’s house and makes changes and arrangements to make the place suitable for Rajiv. Rajiv joins him in a few days and initially does not like the idea. Arjun spends many days trying to get Ganga and Rajiv to like each other and, in the process, becomes a close friend of Ganga. Eventually Rajiv and Ganga agree to the wedding….(source)

Pardes (1997) is one of those America is bad for the India soul films, but unlike the more recently released MNIK, Pardes simple “America’s evil culture is bad, and India and its people are good,” theme didn’t bother me at all.  Perhaps this is because America was played a lot of the time by Canada, (Vancouver) in Pardes, and the places where innocent beautiful bride Ganga ( Mahima Chaudhry) does show up in the USA are really not so chaste, such as Las Vegas, aka sin city.

 

So let’s begin the tale of Pardes in India, where everything is good, see:

Those are the words of Amrish Puri’s character, Kishorilal, the typical NRI rich industrialist living in Ameerika who travels back to Hindustan to keep in touch with his roots and meet with childhood friends, like Alok Nath’s Suraj Dev.  After some typically spectacular Indian hospitality, Kishorilal thinks, “I Love My India” and figures why not marry his fancy American-raised son to a pure woman of India, Suraj’s beti, Ganga!.  Wouldn’t you do the same given the opportunity?

He  returns to India to pitch this idea to his fancy son, Ragiv (Apurva Agnihoti), who is of course amoral having been raised in the USA. But how to soften this blow to Ragiv?  How can a lad raised in the pure and constant luxury of America understand and accept India, a developing country?

How to solve this dilemma?  Well as it turns out, Kishorlal has a quasi son, a pure hearted orphan named Arjun, played by  Shahrukh Khan

who’s grown to be both an accomplished auto mechanic, who runs a fancy garage, where he dances with his boyz in their off time

 and also manages to be an Asian Music Chart topper!

 

See how humble Arjun is when being interviewed on a big radio show, even though he’s a chart topper? He’s from India, he’s a good man.

So Arjun escorts Rajiv over to India as his cultural attaché, which comes in handy when some village guy thinks he’s got a claim on bride-to-be Ganga and they decide to play a game of kabaddi to settle the score.

 

NRI Rajiv, is like Kabaddi? So this is where Arjun’s cultural attaché-ness comes in handy, he not only shows him how a mean game of kabaddi is played,

but he shows how to play kabaddi to win the girl!

I think I forgot the part where Ganga sees Arjun when he first arrives in India and thinks he’s cute before she ever sees Rajiv, so there’s that.  Just keep that in the back of your mind for now for dramatic foreshadowing purposes only…  Back to America, and Ganga is a bit shy upon arrival to this foreign land, for it’s so different from her beautiful India, but she’s not too shy to perform      I Love My India in front of the masses at a function. Kishorilal begins to plan for the wedding and it’s clear that he’s been contaminated by his time in America, revealing his superficial materialism, which does not exist in India, right?Ganga is comforted by orphan to foster savior son, Arjun, who is there in Canada America to soften the blow of culture shock. Rajiv is always busy with work and then while looking around the home, abandoned Ganga sees trashy gori and kali girl photos plastered on the walls, as well as dirty magazines and is rightfully concerned.   What does it all mean? Rajiv’s evil cousin helps to explain the morally bankrupt ways of America to innocent Ganga.

Rajiv, Arjun, and Ganga go out to a party on a fancy yacht in the port of Los Angeles Vancouver one afternoon and there’s a scuffle, and while Rajiv is focusing on his own richi-rich status…he doesn’t even notice when some guys leer and grope on Ganga, but watchful Arjun does, and defends her honor.One night the same three all go to a disco, something new to Ganga. She’s shocked to see Rajiv is smoking, but Arjun to the rescue, explains away any concerns about this to Ganga:

No worries, right?  It’s only a bit of smoking, right?  They go one to play some game at the disco called Prince & Princess Made in Heaven Contest which in all my time spent in American discos, I’ve never seen.Their compatibility is revealed in this game and they win!  See how happy they are together?

See the cute statue they win in the leucite box? Alas, their happiness is fleeting because in the background Rajiv is getting drunk.

But remember, Ganga is engaged to Ragiv, not Arjun, the man who’s maintained his pure Indian soul despite his long-term exposure to American culture.  Rajiv having spent all his life in the USA is not so fortunate to have learned good Indian morals, and he gets drunk and Arjun helps remove him from a brawl.

So these warning signs are adding up: the smoking, the drinking, the bar fight, the fight on the yacht, the dirty magazines, and an ex-girlfriend with a gori name. Rajiv even abruptly tells Ganga one evening he’s going out with his girlfriend, which is sort of a red flag, hai na?  Ganga is feeling reluctant about her upcoming marriage to Rajiv and seeks comfort in her friendship with Arjun.  On Arjun’s birthday she brings him a cake and some balloons and hangs out with him at the garage with the boys while Rajiv is probably out somewhere with this Kelly.Ganga even brings their “Match Made in Heaven” statue to the party and Arjun’s wise friend is bit suspicious, remember, Ganga is Rajiv’s match, not Arjun’s match.

It’s Arjun’s wise friend (Pavan Malhotra), peering around some Bollywood balloons, who sees the love he has in his eyes for Ganga. Can you see it too?

Rajiv becomes a bit jealous of the friendship between Arjun and Ganga, tells his dad Kishorilal, who in an effort to keep Arjun away from Ganga,  transfers him to another office very far from where they live now, which I tought was Vancouver posing as Los Angeles, but maybe it was really being Vancouver all along since he was sending Arjun away to Los Angeles, confusing.

In the meantime, Rajiv takes Ganga on a little trip to Las Vegas, corruption capital of America! There were plenty of gori extras,

and for the first time in a Hindi film I saw kali extras too:

Up in the hotel, Rajiv wants to share a penthouse room with his Indian fiance, and “take things to the next level.” Ganga is pure, Ganga is not having that!

What’s so spectacular about this near rape hotel scene is that Rajiv insults Ganga, but it’s not until he makes disparaging remarks against India that she snaps!  After the insults to India, the fight is on and she beats him up. I believe he does get one tight slap to the face in, but once Ganga is fired up, her rage for defending her mother India is unstoppable!  She escapes after knocking him out, and as luck would have it, some of Arjun’s home boys catch wind of Ganga’s location at a truck stop near Las Vegas. Please note the brick phone, I didn’t take this screen cap for nothing!

Kishorilal and Rajiv put the rush on the wedding plans and  plan to catch up with Ganga, who has now returned to her mother India with the help of Arjun, who rescued her from her peril in Las Vegas.  Obviously Kishorilal goes nuts and demands to know how she disappeared from the Vegas hotel, and Rajiv, doesn’t say, “well, I tried to rape her and she knocked me out,” but instead lies:

 

If you’ve read this blog before, you may know that I have a small hobby with spotting Johnnie Walker bottles in Indian films, and this shot is the limit!  Look at the slutty poster on the wall and FIVE bottles of Johnnie Walker, black label,  (not to mention the implied bottles that lurk between him and that poster) to match Rajiv’s black American heart!

Now safely back in India, Ganga’s reputation is ruined, because the NRI Americans have said she ran off with Arjun because they were in love, neglecting to tell the truth about Rajiv’s immoral and criminal behavior.  To be fair, Kishorilal has been lied to by his son Rajiv, so how is he to know that his orphan to foster son is really an innocent savior as pure as the Ganga, and Ganga herself? I love my India! Ganga’s mother is mortified at the disgrace that’s happened since her daughter returned unmarried, which really messes up the family izzat. Ganga’s dad, Suraj Dev believes the stories from America that Ganga has run off with Arjun.

Poor Ganga wants to protect her father from the truth about what happened in the US, considering that Kishorilal is his BFF and in leaving out a few key details (attempted rape) she and Arjun become the focus of Suraj Dev’s rage, for after all, a returned bride-to-be is a dirty thing in India.Wow Dad, so harsh! But you know who WON’T let his chaste Ganga be defiled with cruel lies or be hit by her own father!? Arjun! And here things get HOT! SRK goes full-blown crazy, cutting himself with a gigantic saber by pulling it by the blade from Suraj Dev’s furious hands!

I love it when SRK does crazy, it’s one of his strengths as an actor, that over the top  deliscious D R A M A, and Pardes delivers with his self mutilating with a large sword, to clearly make his point to Ganga’s dad. No one will hit or talk trash about Ganga!To escape further harm to Ganga’s already mistakenly tarnished reputation, Arjun runs off to what is supposed to be the bus station, but what is Fatehpur Sikri.  Remember, he was originally an orphan, so he believes that a return to orphanhood is perhaps his fate.  I loved how these scenes shot in historic Fatehpur Sikri were made to look like a bustling bus stand where SRK keeps toting around his backpack in various attempts to storm off in dignity. I had the good fortune to travel to Fatepur Sikri near Agra, India almost 2 years ago, and it looked more like THIS.  I’ve added a few of my own travel photos of this historic site here so you can see I was right near where Arjun was! Dekh! My Fatehpur Sikri:

Arjun’s Fatehpur Sikri:

Arjun’s Fatehpur Sikri may have some sufi action:

 But MY Fatehpur Sikri in the same location has some kingfisher action:

While Arjun runs off, Ganga has been locked away in the house, only to be released by her grandmother who urges her to go after Arjun!

Ganga catches up with Arjun before he gets on the bus at Fatehpur Sikri, but to preserve what he thinks is family honor, he feigns disinterest.  Ganga declares her love for Arjun, he holds back.

Grandma catches up to the scene and encourages Ganga and disburses wisdom.

That’s right girl!

Arjun and Ganga seem to work things out,

 

but guess who has arrived on the scene? Rajiv and some of his goonda friends wielding field hockey sticks, and Kishorilal!

Sorry Ganga, they have returned for you.  Let’s take a break for another view of My  Fatehpur Sikri, right about where all the action is taking place in Pardes:

And Action!

Rajiv finally gets his comeuppance!

Then Ganga finally reveals the wounds she suffered at Rajiv’s hands to Kishorilal and her own family.  Reputation cleared, izaat intact, for Ganga, for her family, for all of India!At last the wise orphan addresses his foster father and tell him what America has done to Kishorilal’s soul:What Kishorilal forgot in America is what he learned in his Bharat MataDoes Arjun get the girl? Is Kishorlal about to slap him or give him a pat of approval? If you don’t know see the film to find out.

It’s unfortunate that Kishorilal and Rajiv weren’t able to read and follow this sign that I found posted in the local mandir, The Hindu Temple of Minnesota. This would have helped them avoid all of the problems they had in America all together,

but then it’s a good thing they didn’t, so great film like Pardes could be made! Please share your thoughts of the film with me.

“Zindagi Ek Juaa” Madhuri as drug fiend!

In honor of Maduri Dixit’s birthday, first I’d like to wish her one:Ardent Madhuri Dixit fan, Gaja Gamini, from Bollywood-ish Blog, declared it Magic of Madhuri Week.  My little contributions are some shocking images of Maduri from Zindagi Ek Juaa  (1992) (Life is a Gamble)

The first image of the film is of  ye olde Central Jail, so right off you know there’s trouble. Maybe one day I’ll make it Film City or whatever movie studio houses Central Jail.

Now a bit about the film:

After saving the life of his employer, Jagjit Singh alias JJ (Anupam Kher), Harikishan (Anil Kapoor) is promoted with a wage increase that he had only dreamt of.  Anxious to please his employer Harikishan agrees to have his name changed to Harry, and does anything that he is instructed to do.  Soon Harry realises that he has been aiding his employer in illegal activities.  When he tries to break away, he is told that his mom (Asha Sharma) is and will be held captive to guarantee his cooperation.  Harry must now come up with a scheme that will guarantee his safety as well as the freedom of his mom, and at the same time save himself from being arrested by the police. (source)

But there’s so much more, and that’s the part about Madhuri’s character Juhi, called Baby by family and friends. Anil Kapoor’s  Harikishan ends up falling for the boss’s daughter when she comes back from Europe and dazzles him with her carefree performance at her birthday party.

 

Very soon after her first meeting with Harikishan, Baby/Juhi becomes the aggressor and makes her lustful feelings very clear:Harikishan is puzzled by her romantic overtures, so the Bollywood cure of the tight slap to the face is used to bring him to understanding:Enjoy Maduhuri’s dance of seduction in  Dil To Dil Hai  featuring the music by Bappi Lahiri and playback singer Ahsa Bhosle:

One thing leads to another, Juhi ends up pregnant, they get married against her father’s wishes, but Harikishan has to handle some of the illegal drug business in Hong Kong, see  you can tell he’s in Hong Kong by the room itself, all oriental in its styling, with the bonus of the awesome cordless phone:Hari’s best friend (Shakti Kapoor) tries his best to watch over Juhi while Hari’s away, but please take special note of the Whitney Houston poster on the wall, as it serves as an ominous warning to what could happen to Juhi. In case you haven’t heard, Houston has fallen on the path of drug abuse, which is the same fate that awaits Madhuri’s Juhi. Eventually she finds out about Hari’s business dealings in illegal drugs, and sends him packing right after she gives birth to their son.  Of course after telling him off she has a huge headache and at that moment, she’ s offered some medicine by an evil friend, Mr. Lal:And just like THAT she’s hooked!

So Juhi has sent her husband packing and quickly becomes addicted to her nose candy.  A police inspector  played by Suresh Oberoi goes to Juhi to find out more about what she knows about Harikishan and  notices Juhi’s addiction, meanwhile, I ignored most of that scene and just noticed this great subtitle ripe for a screen capture:

Harikishan realizes his estranged biwi has pushed him out of her life, and decides to soothe his anguish with music, but he’s shocked even more when a drugged up Juhi makes an appearance.  Staggering and stoned Juhi plays the trumpet stopping only to smoke. What an entrance!  Watch Kabhi Kuchh Khoya with playback singer Kumar Sanu,who incidently I saw in concert with Akla Yagnick  a few yers back when I was too new of a Hindi cinema fan to fully appreciate.

Watch here and at about 1:40 the drug fiend Madhuri enters.  Pay special attention for her crazy drugged trumpet playing while smoking at 2:09. When Anil’s Harikishan sees that it’s a COMPLETE buzz kill and he realizes, “I married a drug whore! My dealing of drugs brought this all about! The mother of my son uses coke!”

I’d like to bring up Whitney Houston again, who just this week was banned from Prince concerts due to her drug using antics and trying to get on stage with Prince in her altered state. Houston  has since gone into rehab.  This makes me wonder if that’s how Harikishan felt when Juhi trid to play trumptet while he was jamming with his friend in  Kabhi Kuchh Khoya. Poor Juhi did not make it into rehab. She realized her problem, made arrangements to have her son cared for: Then she goes down the self-destructive path of drug abuse.But then there’s a knock at the door!Harikishan pleads with Juhi to stop her drug use.

He leaves, only to return another time…

to find an overdosing Juhi.

What happened to Juhi?  Watch the movie if you dare to see, or ask me in the comments and I’ll tell you.  Let this be a warning to you, don’t do drugs!  Thank you for reading this post, but now, with all due respect, all I have to say is…

 Report to  Bollywood-ish blog  for Magic of Madhuri Week‘s  FULL LIST BLOG POSTS.

Vikram-ji! Many happy returns of the day!

It’s Vikram’s birthday today, and Bollystalgia! put out a call for us to celebrate worldwide by posting about Chiyaan.When India is sweltering in heat and Chiyaan is working away at various locations across the globe or in some film studio in Chennai, many a cold climate dwelling filmi fan got through the brutal winter by imagining that south Indian heroes like Vikram did our chores; from the strenuous to the more simple things, like changing our clocks for daylight savings time.  Liz from My Year of Prakash Raj organized those images at Ayoo! South Indian Heroes Do Your Chores.  Vikram did many chores as evidenced by Liz’s site, one of which was wishing me happy birthday (and doing my snow shoveling), so it’s the least I could do to reciprocate, and wish him many happy returns of the day.
 
I first fell for Vikram when Apunbindaas, the Hmong Chick who loves Indian cinema, was kind enough to send me  Anniyan (2005)  all the way to Minnesota from Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Anniyan is the story of “Rules” Ramanujam Iyengar alias “Ambi” (Chiyaan Vikram), a lawyer who suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder. Ambi is an innocent and honest lawyer. If he comes across anyone not obeying the law, he files cases against them but all his efforts go in vain. (source)

Doesn’t reading Multiple Personality Disorder let you know already that this movie is a winner? 

It’s one of those multiple personalities that makes the film.  Once I saw Vikram’s Remo character (the crazy side of the multiple personality) that was it, I was in filmi love like never before!  Enjoy Vikram in his crazy Remo character here in the tune, Kadhal Yanai  with Nandhini (Sadha) playing the love interest and Yana Gupta as gori extra, (playback singers Nakul, Nelwyn & G. V. Prakash Kumar) and be sure to watch it all the way through so you can see Remo’s  love detector.

 Yes!

Arul (2004) also captured my attention when his passionate character went bilkul ballistic when he heard anyone engage in swearing or poor language, which he refered to as dirty talks.

Really makes you think doesn’t it?  Arul makes you want to be a better person, hai na? I liked Arul (2004) so much that I’ll write that up soon, but in the meantime head to Filmi Girl’s entertaining review of the movie HERE.

I also loved seeing Vikram in Mani Ratnam‘s Raavanan (2010) as a marvelous villain (misunderstood and surely with a heart of gold), but have yet to see him playing the good guy in Raavan, the Hindi version of the same film.  I saw  Raavanan on the big screen last year without subtitles, and now am fortunate to now be able to see it again in Minneapolis next week,  but this time WITH subtitles in English since it’s part of the 2011 Minneapolis-St.Paul International Film Festival.

Vikram speaks here about the process of filming Raavan (2010, Hindi)  and Ravaanan (2010, Tamil)  concurrently, playing separate roles, in different languages:

For more honors to Vikram on his birthday, head over to FilmiGirl in the USA, and click across the globe to New Zealand and read what Ness over at Shahrukh is Love  has to say about Bheemaa (2008).  Now head back to Bollystalgia, representing Boston, MA and Detroit, MI and every place in between to see her Happy Birthday Rampwalk Remo  post.  Huppy Burday to Chiyaan!  Now is simply the intermission until I see another Vikram film!   Until then, I feel like I’m behind bars!

What Vikram movies have you seen?  Tell me your favorites and your recommendations.  Check out Chiyaan Vikram’s website HERE.

That Girl in Yellow Boots (2010) and how I met Anurag Kashyap in Minneapolis!

Back on November 3, 2010, I had the pleasure of watching Anurag Kashyap’s new film written with, and starring Kalki Koechlin at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Asian Film Festival.

That Girl in Yellow Boots is an upcoming Indian Thriller film by critically acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap. Starring Kalki Koechlin and Naseeruddin Shah, the film will premiere at the Venice Film Festival. It will also be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Ruth (Kalki Koechlin) comes to Mumbai to find her long-lost father, but when she takes a job as a massage therapist to make ends meet she becomes involved in the seedier side of the city. Although the money is welcome, and she does enjoy the adventure that comes with her new job, she soon faces an important moral decision. (source)

That Girl in Yellow Boots was the opening film in the festival, and as an added bonus, the director attended the film and answered questions before and after the screening. I had no idea this festival was going on and thanks to a tweet from Nicki, the Hmong Chick Who Loves Indian Cinema, I was able to learn about the event just 2  hours before it happened!  I’ve seen Kashyap’s  Black Friday (2004) and Dev. D (2009) and was already a big fan of his work, so I was delighted for the opportunity to see his new film. What was even more exciting was that Kashyap appeared at the event!

That Girl in Yellow Boots also was shown in September of 2010 as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, which you can read about here in a review by Marissa Bronfman

Look how fancy THAT event was! And get a load of Kalki’s gorgeous saree.   Kashyap’s outfits at the different events indicates The Minneapolis/St. Paul Film festival was quite a bit less formal that the Toronto festival.

Q & A before and after screening of That Girl in Yellow Boots

During the pre and post question and answer sessions, Kashyap graciously answered questions about his new film as well as previous works.  He spoke about the censor board in India and the difficulties to passing films through that process.  He also spoke about some missing (lost or destroyed, I can’t recall) footage from Black Friday (2004), and how it was merely pieced together with much of  its full/original content gone.  Having enjoyed Black Friday very much, I can’t imagine how more footage would have improved on an already great film.  A lot of the comments were basically, “Your films are so dark” and at one point Kashyap responded in good humor, something like, “With 800  happy films made in India in a year, it’s OK if 200 can not be happy.”  I bet there’s some recording of these before and after film comments by Kashyap and if I come across it, I’ll link it in.  I can only rely on my memory of the event, and I was so thrilled to be there that a lot of what I heard  has receded in to a vague happy memory.  I should have jotted down some notes or written this down right after it happened, but alas I did not.   There is a very nice interview with Kashyap done by MTN, and while the interviewer does not seem to understand quite how big of a deal Kashyap is, and doesn’t ever manage to say his name correctly, she makes up for this with her earnest curiosity, so I forgive her. :)  If you watch the interview, which I recommended, note how polite Kashyap is with his interviewer too, meeting her at her level of understanding and moving her along quickly to learn a lot in a short time.

The full interview with Kashyap on MTN can be found HERE.  There’s also  a very nice review of the film, by local writer, Will Wright, HERE.

Upon completing the question and answer session after the film, several audience members stopped Shree Kashyap for photos, autographs, and conversation while he was exiting the theater.  I caught him and said something like, “Do you want to know my FAVORITE scene from  Dev. D ?” I didn’t give him a chance to say no, and told him it was the scene when Mahi Gill’s Paro is dancing, knowing the Dev (Abhay Deol)  is finally on his way back home to the Punjab from London, but not back yet, and suddenly she glances up and sees him photographing her.

And then she meets him privately in the house, and he puts his arm up against the wall, to make sure she stays:

The scene described can be found here starting at 2:20:

That is one of my favorite movie sequences EVER for it completely captures the passionate anticipation the characters have for each other.  Though I told Kashyap how  much I loved that scene,  I’m not sure if he heard what I exactly said, since I said it so quickly and he was trying to attend to his other fans, but I loved having the opportunity to tell him that in person.

The After Party

If that wasn’t good enough, here’s the even better part: I actually got to sit and chat with Mr. Kashyap after the film! There was a gathering after the film viewing at a nearby bar,  Honey.  Now I know Honey sponsored the event, and they serve Asian fusion food, and this was an Asian film festival, BUT just across the street, within a stone’s throw of the Ganga Mississippi River,  is Nye’s Polonaise Room, voted best bar in America, which would have been my choice.

Nye’s has a lot more filmi charm and the character that a director of Kashyap’s reputation deserves, but I digress. Along with some of the audience, I made my way over to Honey and watched Anurag Kashyap speak with viewers.  I had a wonderful time talking about films with some NRIs and after about an hour we worked up our courage to approach that table where the director was sitting and eventually we sat down and talked to him.  As time passed I was able to sit right next to him and tell him another favorite scene I had from Dev. D. It’s the one where Kalki Koechlin’s character is asked to decide on a name to use in the brothel by Chunni (Dibyendu Bhattacharya)

and while watching Madhuri Dixit’s Chandramuki in Devdas (2002) on TV, she replies:

I also love the steaming momos sequence in Dev. D. but forgot to tell him that.

I asked Kashyap if he liked how Emosanal Attaychar was worked into  the background soundtrack of Peepli Live (2010). He asked what I thought of the new film. I told him it was fabulous.  Though the subject was dark, the humor and suspense worked in throughout relieved the intensity at just the right times.  I especially loved the scene where the goonda breaks into Ruth’s home and stubbornly struggles to work the various remote controls for her entertainment system.  I overheard one of the Tamilian NRI‘s at the table talk to Kashyap about Rajinikanth.  These Madrasis can’t help but talk about their superstar, I understand.  While Kashyap did not mention that he’d be working with Rajinikanth, he did say he was working on a film with Prithviraj and Rani Mukeji, if I heard correctly.  I’m not sure if he meant on the same film, if he was currently working on this project, or if they were separate projects not yet started.  My internet research does confirm the Prithviraj project.   Another thing discussed were the film’s yellow boots. Kashyap said in the store it was a choice between yellow or red Doc  Martens, and the yellow boots won.  I told him I thought the work boots were to represent that Ruth was there in Mumbai to do the heavy labor of finding out the mystery of her past;  she was there to take care of some dirty business, thus the work boots.  He said, no, but that this is the beauty of film, one can think what they’d like, make a variety of their own interpretations regardless of the director’s intentions.  I also told him that his films are in our Minneapolis library system, and he seemed to like that.  I did exercise great restraint by NOT saying some of these things I was thinking:  “Where’s Kalki?  I wanted to see Kalki too! How much does Nasruddin Shah charge  to be in a film? What about Abhay Deol?! He’s SO cute, what’s he like?!” I did though try to touch Mr. Kashyap’s feet for fun, something I like to do to Indians because I love when they say, “no, no, no,”   just like in the movies and it’s how I indulge my fantasies of being a gori extra in film.

He did the usual, when I tried to touch his feet and Anuragji said, “No, you must not do this.”  Kashyap left the table to go out to smoke and left his iPad, and I thought if I were the stealing type, a goonda, a dacoit, that would be a great iPad to steal, maybe get a few movie ideas out of it to sell.  While I did not steal his iPad, I confess, I stole on sip of whiskey from his unattended glass, only just a small part of the peg.  I felt fancy and daring doing this, and I’m almost positive that it was Johnnie Walker, and I would presume it was black label, hai na?  Wouldn’t you have done the same given the opportunity?

I was delighted to have the opportunity to see Kashyap’s new film and get a chance to share a few  moments chatting with him.  Read more about The Girl in Yellow Boots HERE, and in Katherine Matthew’s insightful Bollyspice review HERE, and be sure to see it when it’s released next year.

The wise man of Pardes (1997) Kaun hai? It’s Pavan Malhotra!

I watched Pardes (2007) this week and have not been able to find out who this man is pictured below. Kaun hai?

He plays the very wise friend to Shahrukh Khan’s character, Arjun.  At first I thought that maybe the sage was played by Arshad Warsi, but he’s not in the credits. Do you notice how wise he is?  While the others in this scene are dancing and playing with balloons, as is so typical of Hindustanis worldwide, he is still, taking in the bigger picture, and contemplating the inner workings of Arjun’s heart and soul. So please help me out and look beyond the Bollywood balloons and tell me what is the name of this wise, bearded man, playing with his mullet.  And maybe as your own personal challenge during this week’s Diwali and Halloween celebrations, you can take the time between balloons, cakes, costumes, candy,  parties, and lights,  to stand still, play with your hair and try to figure out what Shahrukh Khan and his various characters are really thinking, I know I will.

Updated 11/6/10

Thanks Shweta and Tapan for bringing to light in their comments on this post that the actor in question is Pavan Malhotra. I now realize that I’ve seen him in several movies before, including Earth (1998),  Black Friday (2004),  Don – The Chase Begins Again (2006), Jab We Met (2007), Delhi 6 (2009) and most recently in  Badmaash Company (2010), where once again he plays a sage (Uncle Jazz)  doling out timeless good advice to those in need.

But what about when one makes very big mistakes?

Awaargi (1990)

Awaargi (1990) is a little tale about a prostitute with a heart of gold who is rescued from the brothel while she’s still chaste, by a goonda who also possesses  a heart of gold under his rough exterior.   This picture rolled at the film’s start and aren’t we all grateful to Hema for something?  Allow a moment to reflect…

The lead Meena (Meenakshi Shishandri) never actually becomes a full-fledged prostitute, but I like to write prostitute with a heart of gold, so let’s just leave it like that, instead of the more clumsy nearly became a prostitute with a heart of gold.  That sounds too awkward, doesn’t it?  Here’s a nice little collection of screen captures of Meenakshi/Meena as a nautch girl before the lovable scoundrel Azaad,  played by a well-mulletted Anil Kapoor, saves her from that fate.

I just loved Meenakshi and can’t believe I hadn’t seen her in more films.  I now would love to see her entire filmography and was able to find a mutual love for her at Nicki’s Hmong Chick Who Loves Indian Cinema’s blog and also at Bollywooddeewana.  Meena’s innocent past included singing at the mandir and studying music under the guidance of her music teacher father.  After a near miss at a prostitution career, Meena is catapulted toward super stardom and is half of the singing and dancing duo.  How does that happen you may wonder?  Well as it so happens, pop star Dhiren  (Govinda!) sees Meena performing in a hotel lounge singing gig that Azaad secured for her and is immediately enthralled by her.  Govinda is very luscious in this film.  How would YOU like to be the focus of Govinda’s gaze here?

Doesn’t that make your heart skip a beat? He invites her to become his song and dance partner and to go on tour with him.  She’s so nervous!  But look how he helps encourage her to go!I didn’t realize that Bollywood invented flamenco dancing until I saw this film and the song Ae Mere Saathiya featuring playback singers Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Aziz, with music by Anu Malik, and lyrics by Anand Bakshi.  This is proof:

This wonderful flamenco inspired number includes an impressive backdrop of chandeliers that Apni East India would covet.  It’s so hard to capture the fluid and graceful Govinda in the dance, but despite the blurred focus, these are still something to behold. Govinda and chandelier:

Meena stays with Azaad, and he begins to fall in love with her and dream of a life away from the one he’s lived as a goonda.

Ever since Azaad  has lost his drive for the goonda lifestyle,  his don, played by Anupam Kher, notices this change and tries to encourage Azaad to not lose his focus on crime.

And if this isn’t enough trouble for Azaad, now Meena realizes that she’s falling in love with Dhiren, and the Bollywood love triangle begins!Meena is aware that Azaad is the one who saved her from the fate of being a nautch girl/prostitute, so she is indebted to him and thus rejects Dhiren’s love to fulfill her perceived obligation to Azaad.   Eventually she lets Azaad know her feelings are conflicted.


Azaad finds out about the feelings Meena and Dhiren have for each other and to stop their love from blooming rushes ahead with a marriage proposal.  Dhiren falls into a sea of despair, thinking he’s lost his chance with  Meena.  Normally I see Govinda as a jolly good time guy, dancing and prancing about, but  behold the deliciously rare emo-Govinda!

At a party to announce his engagement to Meena, Azaad becomes drunk and decides to deal with his jealousy over Dhiren and Meena’s love by telling everyone that he bought Meena from a brothel.  Now that  somehow did not help smooth things over.

Dhiren is at the party, and witnesses Azaad humiliate Meena and can’t understand how she could agreed to marry Azaad.

So *spoiler alert* Dhiren goes to comfort Meena after her public humiliation and ends up (as we say in the USA) going all the way with her during the time that Azaad is sleeping off his drunkness.  When Azaad wakes up, his friends tell him about what an idiot he was at the party and he goes to look for Meena to apologize.  Remember, Azaad is a goonda, savvy to the ways of the world, so when he sees a clue like this…

Now you are most likely not a goonda, and perhaps a bit more naive than Azaad, so I’ll help you out with a clue.  Look beyond that bottle of Johnnie Walker on the table, and take a closer look at what Azaad sees…

That’s right! Lipstick on the glass, a glass that is emptied of its Johnnie Walker red liable whiskey! Which can only mean *spoiler alert* that Meena and Dhiren went all the way! Meena tells a Azaad something like, yeah I slept with Dhiren, and!  Then of course the fight begins over her love and a love triangle Bollywood brawl begins.

How does it end?  I’ll let you guess!  The entire movie has been uploaded to YouTube with English subtitles HERE so if you need to know who ends up with who, give it a watch.  Have you already seen this film?  If so, tell me what you remember.  Now before I leave, I have to share with you that Awaargi had so many instances of Johnnie Walker bottles, that felt obliged to make a visual record of it.  Some bottles are red label, others are black label, but they all show up in scenes here that warn of trouble brewing. Let this be a lesson to you: When you see a Johnnie Walker bottle in a Bollywood film, trouble is not far behind.

Now just LOOK and how lucky this shot is!  It includes BOTH the Johnny Walker bottle and a threat of the tight slap in the same shot!  These of course are two of the things I track in all Bollywood films, so for this reason, I say Awaargi is a classic, because I really don’t take a Bollywood film seriously until I see a tight slap, or at least the threat of one, and a bottle of Johnnie Walker.

Lagaan: Elizabeth, More Than Just A Gori Extra

Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley), She’s more than just a gori extra.

With the encouragement of theBollywoodFan, I decided to contribute to his Lagaan Week to celebrate the 9th anniversary of the release of the epic film.  In order to develop something that would resemble a worthwhile blog post, I knew I had to re-watch Lagaan, since it had been a couple of years since I’d last seen it.  It was my third time seeing Lagaan, and I enjoyed it even more than I did the first 2 viewings, which I believe speaks to the quality of the film.  In case you don’t already know, Lagaan is about Indian villagers challenged by some British imperialists to a game of cricket, and if the villagers win they would not have to pay the Brits the unfair land taxes, known as Lagaan.   Captain Andrew Russell (Paul Blackthorne) is a one-dimensional scoundrel, and this cruel man offers a wager he believe the Indians will never win.  His naive, yet kind-hearted sister, Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley),  arrives to India and begins to take in the scenes with a curious and open mind.  I love seeing  white people pop up in Indian films, since I can pretend they are me!  I can also think  hey, I can one day break into the Indian Film Industry, see, there’s a white person too! So with this delusional thinking, naturally I was fascinated to see Elizabeth.

Despite not knowing Hindi, she quickly sizes things up and all too soon she witnesses her brother’s  maniacal ways.

I do enjoy seeing the word “Whitey” it the subtitles, so I show it to you a lot in this post, here’s a start:

Lagaan (2001) is the movie that taught me about cricket, a little game I’d previously called gilli danda back in my village in India.

Wait, sorry, no village, no India, I keep loosing track that I’m from America and am not Indian, please pardon me.  When I was in contact with theBollywoodFan about Lagaan week, I said I’d like to take the angle of writing about Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley), the gori extra since I’m always making note of my white sisters surfacing in Bollywood films;  theBollywoodFan, wise beyond his years, calmly replied, “She’s more than a gori extra,” and I realized he was right!  She is more than your typical gori extra, she not only plays a bigger role, but she also serves to bridge the cultural gap between the different groups, and helps us think, Hey, wait just one minute, not all these Britishers are so bad after all.  When the villagers are watching the game of cricket, Bhuvan ends up catching a ball out in the field which leads to a confrontation with some of the British players, that ultimately develops into the bet being made over the cricket game and the land tax.

Elizabeth realized this bet is unfair since the villagers are sure to lose a game they don’t know when pitted against people who have a full understanding and longtime experience with the game, not to mention endless leisure hours to play since the Indians are toiling away to make them rich.  She sets out to try to right her brother’s wrong by helping the villagers understand the finer points of the game.

So the teaching and leaning begins…

Recruitment: Initially Elizabeth teaches a small group the game, but there’s still the obstacle of establishing a full team who will be up for the extreme challenge.  Finally a diverse group of people are gathered from the village and surrounding areas since they have a common interest in eliminating the unfair tax by their common enemy, the British.

I learned all I need to know about cricket here:

Jealousy: Gauri (Gracy Singh) is a young village woman who has her eye on Bhuvan so it follows that she starts to get concerned about all the time he spends with the white memsahib.

Cultural exchange: Elizabeth helps to teach some of the finer points of cricket to the villagers, and in turn Bhuvan teaches her something about the Hindu legend of Radha & Krishna.


Elizabeth is enamoured by the festival and is even further taken in by Dandiya Raas number  Kaise Na Jale with music by A.R.  Rahman, playback singers Asha Bhonsle,  Udit Narayan, Vaishali.

Confession: As it turns out, Gauri wasn’t far off on her women’s intuition because Elizabeth, who has managed to learn Hindi in a few days, confesses her pyaar love for Bhuvan.  Luckily she’s able to save face since the part where she really lays it on the line is in English, so Bhuvan doesn’t understand, yet I think he may suspect it.

Fantasy: The tune O Rey Chori,  (playback singers Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Vasundhara Das) includes Elizabeth’s fantasy of what it would be like if Bhuvan was in her British world, or if she was in his Hindustani duniya.


Elizabeth is caught: A double crossing villager with an ulterior motive  informs Captain Russell that his sister is helping the villagers to learn cricket.  With shame, I admit I did find Captain Russell quite handsome, despite his evil deeds. Do you?

If I can answer for Elizabeth here, I’d tell her brother that it would be the delicious food and the Indian Film Industry that would allow her to turn against her brother, but I suspect she may say something about the cool Dandiya Raas dances and doing the right thing in the face of injustice.
The BIG Game: The stakes are high, and Aamir Khan’s Bhuvan conveys this beautifully here.  I believe Khan is very talented and expressing emotion through his eye, and this is a perfect example. Dekh!  I bet you’re even crying looking at the photos.  I am.



Elizabeth watches the game, worried about the outcome, rooting all the while for the villagers.  I suppose in Indian English one would say she was chewing her brains and taking much tension isn’t it?  In case you haven’t seen Lagaan and don’t know the outcome of the game *SPOILER ALTER*

There are winners and losers. Elizabeth sees the joyful embrace between Bhuvan and Gauri at the end of the match, and instantly understands that her fantasy will never be a reality.

Bittersweet ending: She can’t have Bhuvan, but she can play Radha to his Krishna.

Finally, you may be wondering how all those gori cheerleaders made their way to India, and I’m here to tell you that  Bhuvan and Lagaan are the reason.  When Elizabeth returned to England, she started the  first cricket cheerleading squad, and there after tradition has held that all IPL cheerleaders are to be white only.

And speaking of Lagaan and the IPL, Did you see A. R. Rahman perform at the 2010 closing ceremonies?   

After exploring the part of Elizabeth in Laagan, I am tempted to do a series on the pantheon of gori extra patron saints of Bollywood.

My personal favorite is the character Christina ( Barbara Lindley) from  Purab Aur Paschim (1970).

Opps! sorry, she’s been objectified as only a gori cold be, let me get a better picture of her….Ah, here, that’s better!

And then there’s Katherine (Antonia Bernath) in  Kisna: The Warrior Poet (2005)-yeah, I admit I saw it! So WHAT!?!

Sue McKinley (Alice Patten) of Rang De Basanti (2006); and most recently Sarah (Sarah Thompson) of Raagneeti (2010).

And like all good Bollywood films, allow me to leave you with some inspiration, courtesy of Bhuvan…and the moral of the story is:

This post was so long, time to roll the credits…

For more on Third Annual Lagaan Week: Ninth Anniversary Special, click over to theBollywoodFan-ji’s blog.

Fiza (2000)

Fiza (2000) is concisely described at IMDB here: In 1993 Fiza’s brother disappears during the riots in Mumbai. In 1999 Fiza is tired of waiting and goes looking for him. But there’s a little more to it than this, since when he’s gone he becomes a TERRORIST!  And this makes me think, can I write the word terrorist without being put on some kind of a watch list?  I’ll let you know.  I suppose the movie’s poster hints at what happened to the lost brother.

Fiza (Hindi: फ़िज़, Urdu: ﻓﻀﺎ) is a 2000 Indian film written and directed by Khalid Mohammed.  The film stars Karisma Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan and Jaya Bachchan. Although the film failed at the box office, it was well acclaimed by critics. Originally Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan were supposed to have cameo appearances, but their scenes were removed due to considerations about the length of the running time. The film is about Fiza (Karisma Kapoor), whose brother, Amaan (Hrithik Roshan), disappears during the 1993 Mumbai riots. Fiza and her mother Nishatbi (Jaya Bachchan) desperately hold on to the hope that one day he will return. However, six years after his disappearance, Fiza, fed up with living with uncertainty, resolves to go in search of her brother. Driven by her mother Nishatbi’s fervent hope and her own determination, Fiza decides to use whatever means she can—the law, media, even politicians—to find her brother, which brings her into contact with various characters and situations.  When she does find him, to her horror she sees that he has joined a terrorist group!!!!! (source)

One of the first gorgeous songs in the film is Piya Haji Ali by A.R. Rahman (who will be embarking on a world tour this year) which plays as we see the stunning views of  Haji Ali Dargah Mosque in Mumbai. All the music from the film is composed by Anu Malik.

The Filmfare for Best Actress went to Karisma Kapoor, and Best Supporting Actress went to Jaya Bachchan for their performances in Fiza. I always enjoy the intensity Karisma Kapoor brings to her characters, and for my tastes, the more hysterical the better!  Kapoor has plenty of opportunities to be her most animated and outraged best in portraying Fiza.

Fiza is fietsy and surly as it is, but she’s put on edge even more than usual since the ’93 bombings, and the fact that her brother has mysteriously vanished.  Her mother (Jaya) processes her grief over her missing son differently than Fiza and she’s trapped somewhere between denial and faith, but Fiza’s frustrations are manifested in her acting out more than is acceptable for a nice Muslim girl.  Her mom gently warns her about this…

Fiza sometimes goes out to the club and on one occasion she seems to attempt to pick a fight through a dance. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the film, but I’m sorry to report that I think this was a girl fight over a guy.  I hate to see the ladies stoop so low, but hota hai.

Here she is in the club about to show her dance/fight moves. It’s like she’s a hybrid Capoeira master, Bollywood style. It’s one of those item numbers that makes you think What on earth am I watching and why? In other words the type I love most! Not a lot of people know this, but I choreographed this number:

Fiza has a fiery personality as it is, but too often she is pushed to the limit and her very sharp tongue and tantrums are justified.  There are some scoundrels who follow her making lewd comments and generally sexually harass her;  as they say in India they are eve teasing. Isn’t that a crazy term, twisting the fault back to the woman?

Idiots!  They go to a further level at  taunt her with threats of throwing some acid at her.   Look how casually these n’er do wells toss up the acid bottle here:Well, boys will be boys afterall, (kidding) and nobody messes with the Fiza, and she just snatches the  bottle of acid, taking control of the situation!

If Fiza can speak her mind in the face of extreme harassment, have cool nightclub dance challenges, can’t she go to infiltrate some top-secret terrorist group to try to find her missing brother? YES SHE CAN! So she sheds her salwar kameez and puts on her polar fleece jacket, some acid wash jeans, and her backpack and heads Kashmir or where ever they train terrorists, to handle things! Does she have time to buy a puppet?  NO!

After slipping on her high waisted, acid wash jeans, Fiza happens upon Shusmita Sen grooving out to Mehboob Mere, with playback singers Sunidhi Chauhan and Karsan Sargathia.  I was listening to  Curry Smuggler’s podcast last week, and they made reference to the film, which reminded me that in my ever-growing backlog of movie screen caps, I had several images from Fiza.  This was reminder enough to help get to posting about it. It’s the eclectic mash-up of  Mehboob Mere with Slave 4 U by Britney Spears (which was based on Nasty Girl by Vanity 6 ) that reminded me to do this post.  You can find that HERE: episode 2 track 4.

Fast forward to find that Fiza locates her radicalized brother outside of a gift shop.

Fiza brings her brother back to Mumbai, but he’s different, sort of stressed out and tense since he’s an undercover terrorist! Mom tries to help him out by taking him to a relaxation/friendship group in the park called the Ha Hi Hi club, lead by Johnny Lever. I think a better naam for the club would have been The LOL club.

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the more peculiar screen caps I found from Fiza and I’d love to hear about your impressions and memories of the film.  I will always take a screen cap when I see the word melodious, so I’ll leave you with this one from Fiza: