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Archive for the ‘BOLLYWOOD’ Category

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.

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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?

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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.

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I was at my local library the other day when this DVD cover’s image mesmerized me: the art, the font used in the English version of the title, the Arabic font, the entire package, VAY!  Of course I had to check out  A Struggle on the Nile (1959) and watch the movie after the cover image enticed me oh so much. I can’t seem to get enough of this spectacular poster, so here’s yet another great version of the movie poster I found at Movie Poster Collecting: Omar Sharif’s Egyptian Films:

The movie is in Arabic, so it’s not technically not Bollywood, but it has the familiar love triangle theme of many Indian film industry movies.  The love triangle involves characters played by Omar Sharif, Hind Rostom, Roshidi Abaza.

Now HERE is why I was compelled to do a post on this film, because of this scene where Omar Sharif‘s  Muhasab character is frolicking in the Nile with Hind Rostom‘s character, Nargis, while Roshidi Abaza‘s Mujahed and other boat workers look on in lust and envy…

And here is what they say:

And once more en Francais, because it’s such a great subtitle:

I felt so proud of my own personal white plumpness after reading these subtitles, I wanted to eat some cake! As it turns out, I am not the only Bollywood fan who enjoyed Hind Rostom, because when I was looking around the internet for more information on the movie, I found that fellow blogger Richard from Dances on the Footpath wrote a post on Rostom which you can enjoy HERE.

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I’m back! I took a trip in earlier in the month to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco.  While I was there, I kept my eyes peeled for any signs of the Indian film industry.  So allow me to provide you with data from my trip.  In Spain, I looked around for  crews filming  Zoya Akhtar‘s Zindagi Milegi Na Dubara, but no luck seeing its stars stars Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin or Farhan Akhtar, but maybe they saw me.  I was in the Andulician zone where they were said to be filming, but no luck!  The closest I got to Bollywood in Spain was a fabulous commercial I saw in Madrid starring Arjun Rampal being inexplicably jilted by Nicole Kidman. You will also notice little Rubina Ali from Slumdog Millionaire in the commercial. Take a look:

Well I do have to admit that those Schweppes’ citrus drinks are delicious, so maybe I understand a little. For a better look at the commercial, click HERE.

Next off to Portugal, where on this street in Lisbon:

I met Tibetans in a shop selling a great selection of Bollywood films.  I asked the shopkeeper who he liked most, but there were too many to mention, but he did say he found Saif Ali Khan arrogant.

Look closely at the solid collection, I  was impressed to see Dance Dance (1987), look behind the screen in the second photo here:

No this is a stretch, but I’ll include it anyway, also in Lisbon I found this colorful restaurant in Bairro Alto district.

What caught my eye was the couple dancing with the sticks, which reminded me of Dandiya Raas, hai na? See them dancing with the sticks, just below the guitar?

As you can see I had to ammend my search for Bollywood, to a search for Indian-ish stuff.  Moving on to southern Portugal, I reached the city of Olhão in the Algarve.  There was another shop selling Bollywood DVDs and Indian clothing,  and my lodging was across from this restaurant, which I was told to avoid, by several different reliable sources.

One of my sources saw the restaurant’s  drunk and stumbling cook, and she said “If he can barely stand and speak, how could he cook!?”  So no Sindu pizza (see menu board in photo) for me!

But the Algarve wasn’t that disappointing as far as Bollywood goes, since I saw this dashing lifeguard on the beach of  Culatra Island, and if my life were a Bollywood movie, one day he’ll realize my feelings for him and he’ll find me!  I’m playing hard to get for the time being, since I only snapped his photo(s) from afar, much like a stalker, and never spoke to him.  He doesn’t even know I’m alive, but one day, we will be together!  Just like in the movies!

Maybe you’d like a closer look at him, and I’m sorry that other guy was in the way! He really ruined everything, because it looks like the lifeguard was trying to look for me, but this guy in the blue wouldn’t stop talking! Idjit!

Next I was off to Morocco.  I was excited to read some of the following in Lonely Planet’s Morocco book

Bollywood in the Sahara ‘Namaste, mohabbat!’ (Greetings, my love!) If you’re South Asian, you may be met with a warbling chorus of Hindi hellos even in remote Moroccan oases.  If this strikes you as a scene straight from a movie, you’re exactly right: for 50 years, Morocco has been completely besotted with Bollywood.  When Morocco gained its independence in the 1950s, the anti-colonial themes and social realism of Indian cinema struck a deep chord.  Morocco’s small but influential resident Indian community began distributing Indian films that soon earned a loyal local following.  Top Moroccan acting talents were recruited to dub and subtitle Indian movies into Darija and French, and generations of  ‘Bollyphiles’ learned to sing along with the movie themes in Hindi.  Not surprisingly Bollywood stars were among the first honourees at the Marrakesh Film Festival, and at open-air screenings in the Djemaa el-Fna, there’s no mistaking the Indian-import crown favorites.  In 2005, more than a third of the movies shown on  Morocco’s 105 screens were Bollywood films, and 264 Hindi  films were screened in Morocco in the first six months of 2006. Among the biggest Moroccan marque draws are Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, and Shah Rukh Khan – a 2008 Casablanca screening of Chalte Chalte (2003) starring Shah Rukh Khan with an in-person appearance by co-star Rani Murkherjee drew 50,000 devoted fans.  After half a century of ardent admiration, Bollywood is finally returning the love: in 2008, two Bollywood productions filmed scenes in Morocco.  While you’re visiting, maybe you can be an extra in the mountain-top dance sequence… (pg. 61, Feb. 2009 edition source )

No such luck for me, I didn’t get any extra work, I saw no films screened in the Djemaa el-Fna, instead it looked like this during my visit:

And from the other direction it looked like this, the Koutoubia Mosque is in the background, and that crescent moon was out, since the place is Muslim and it was Ramadan.

I can imagine what an excellent venue the Djemaa el-Fna would make for an open air screening of a Bollywood film, can’t you?  In Fes, Morocco, I saw some halwa,  and what looks like  a gori extra in the medina, as as pointed out by BollywoodFanGirl (ChristyRae on twitter).

I also saw another gori extra in a shop in Fez. What’s her story?  She’s a mess!

While in Chefchaouen, Morocco, I did see this colorful Indian gear, but that’s as close to Bollywood as I got:

On my last evening in Madrid, I was flipping through television stations in my hotel room and saw this handsome guy on  Intereconomia who I thought resembled Rahul Khanna.  Take a look…

Now look at the real Rahul Khanna:

See the resemblence?

In the duty free shop of terminal 1 in Madrid’s  Barajas Airport, I found Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, shhhh, don’t tell anyone.

I’m so lucky to be able to travel, yet I’m always very happy to get home and relax to travel the world through films.

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How do I explain my blogging drought?

Well on a recent trip to the local mandir,  The Hindu Temple of Minnesota,

I was faced with a sign that my non-Hindu reality-American side could scarcely live up to, let alone my fantasy Hindu traditional side could aspire to. Check these rules out that are posted within the Mandir and ask yourself which do you follow:

So I’ve been quite busy focusing on living up to expectations  as described in detail above, integrating my gori human shell with my inner Hindu atma. I was so confused because I already was following most of them, such as high educational pursuit, but then realized that it may not actually count because I’m not a doctor, or an engineer, and then I felt bad, but then I was pragmatic and realized hey I can still rely on myself with the education I have, yet then I suddenly felt violent, lacking all self-restraint, which I was able to temper just in time (due to my sense of time) and respect my own individual rights, and finally I felt a sense of duty and loyalty to the blog, and came back here again. I think I’m all set, so now I can blog again! Let me gather inspiration and strength first.


Nicki, aka Apunbindaas, the Hmong Chick who loves Indian Cinema, made a pilgrimage on Minnesota for a shaadi, but was kind enough to allow new blogger, Tollywood is my Bollywood,  and Kamala Chan of Daydreaming Lotus,  and me to show her around our fair city.  It’s always fun to meet fellow cyber friends in the flesh, and despite her attire, (see photo below) the monks did allow Nicki into the mandir, for her spirit is pure. I altered their images slightly to preserve anonymity, but pictured below are Jjake, Sita-ji, Apunbindaas, and Kamala Chan in the Hindu Mandir of MN.

Here’s another one of Nicki and I ouside the Mandir. 

Apundindaas posted more about the trip on her blog post Minneapolis Desi Style . Earlier in the year some Hindi movie enthusiasts traveled from The Dakotas to Minneapolis in order to see My Name Is Khan on the big screen, and also make a temple visit. Pictured below are Octoberzine, her escort, her compatriot, CL, and me, Sita-ji.

On that visit we also spied the Retaining Hindu/American Values declaration sign, and yet another sign on the door to the bathroom which captivated Octoberzine.

Please enjoy some more photos I took at The Hindu Temple of Minnesota, and if you ever visit the Twin Cities, look me up and I’ll take you on a field trip to the mandir.

Artists working behind the scenes at the mandir:

Nandi, waiting outside the mandir for  Lord Shiva:

Finally, I think another reason for my blogging drought is taking time to  mourn the loss of Briyanshu’s (A white, American gay guy looking at Indian men) blog, which he announced in a post last month HERE.

When I fall in movie-love with an actor, I could count on Briyanshu to have posted plenty of photos of the actor to satisfy my curiosity, and now what to do!?  I enjoy Briyanshu’s witty comments even more than his insanely delightful and meticulous screen capping of the actors, or in some cases, cricket players.  Briyanshu is a true connoisseur of lovely images. Thank goodness for his digital reference library of lustful imagery. Long may that live!  I offer a puja to the memory of Briyanshu’s blog…maybe I need another trip to the mandir, or maybe I’ll just search the word mandir, or temple, or pooja at Briyanshu’s blog to see what I find… or what about cricket?  Now I need a cool drink.

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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.

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In honor of Beth Loves Bollywood’s international Khanna Family initiative to celebrate all film industry Khannas, Khanna-o-Rama, I would like to contribute a little write-up on Dayavan (1988).

 

It starts out with poor little orphan, Shakti Vellu, aka Dayavan (kid version of Vinod Khanna) ending up witnessing his dad being unjustly murdered by some corrupt police.  He has to flee his southern home and hide in Bombay for safety only to run into some punks on the seaside who try to beat and rob him.  During this fight, Dayavan runs into a little ruffian, Shanker (kid version of Feroz Khan), who is impressed by Dayavan’s fighting skills,  flair, generosity, piety, all that good stuff , which to me are the personality traits I want to believe the Khanna’s  (Rahul, Akshaye, and Vinod) posses in real life, don’t you?  OK, real life, whatever, back to the movie.  Dayavan sets Shankar straight about his true inner badass nature, for within the composed orphan, lies a heart capable of murderous rage with he witnesses injustice!

I am too lazy to get into retelling you the plot of the film, so here’s a synopsis to suffice and then I’ll skip to the parts I liked best.

After having witnessed his dad being killed by the local South Indian police, and being orphaned and homeless, Shakti Velhu develops a hate, and distrust of the police in India. He is befriended by another homeless boy named Shanker, who asks him to accompany him a slum in Bombay, where they live with a kind-hearted Muslim named Karim Baba, and his daughter, Shama. This is where Shakti and Shankar spend their childhood. When they mature, they take to petty crime. Here too, Shakti witnesses police brutality and atrocities, especially at the hands of sadistic, alcoholic, and womanizing Police Inspector Ratan Singh. When Karim Baba is arrested, jailed, and found hanging by his neck in police custody, Shakti hunts down Ratan Singh, and kills him in broad daylight in front of the several hundred people. An investigation is launched, but no one comes forward as a witness. Thus Shakti gets his reputation as a Don with a good heart viz. Dayavan. Shakti marries local prostitute, Neelu, and has two children, Suraj and Sarita. He becomes even more powerful and influential all over Bombay, and his working partners are powerful criminal dons who have ruled over Bombay for eons. Shakti eventually replaces these dons, and becomes Bombay’s only Don. This creates enemies for him and his family, but he believes since he has not really done any harm to anyone, he and his family will be safe. It is this belief that will take a heavy toll on his life and that of his family, when the truth dawns that he, himself, is responsible for being kind to a man, who will ultimately bring forward ruin to the Velhu family. (source)

Fast forward from their childhood to adulthood still in the slums, think Slumdog Millionaire, except in this case the two guys stick together and have a life long bromance.  Check out one of their bromantic escapades here:

There’s the supreme policeman villain there to push Dayavan’s buttons, talk about a corrupt dude!  Inspector Ratan Singh (Amrish Puri!)  harasses the slum dwellers, especially a spicy widow played by Aruna Irani.

As a spinster, I’ve managed quite well for very long without a husband, Amrish-ji, I mean Inspector Ratan Singh.  When the evil cop is not harassing widow Aruna, he  lies about with the courtesans of the slums drinking hooch.

Enter Khanna hero, Vinod, who witnesses the harassment of the widow and breaks into a justice fueled fury, and executes a beat down on the inspector.

Haughtiness intact!  Yet another trait I image the Khanna’s have in real life: intact haughtiness under adverse circumstances.  Then after the severe police brutality takes its toll on Dayavan’s body, enter Shankar, to comfort him. Take in the splendor of the bromance:

How do you cheer up your buddy after an assault from a crooked cop?  A night out at the local brothel of course!

The tune I liked most from the film was Kahe Saiyan Teri Meri Baat with playback singers Ahsa Bhosle and Kavita Krishnamurthy (music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, lyrics Aziz Qaisi). I couldn’t find the video separate from the film, so to see it go to 2:30 in the clip below to see the greatness.

Shankar teases Dayavan about his lack of experience with women and arranges for him to have an overnight stay in a room at the brothel, if you know what I mean.  Dayavan uses the room to sleep off his night of drinking and is awakened, as is so commonly the case, by the innocent prostitute, who is quietly, yet intensely studying for her exams.  He gives her money to continue her studies, and leaves her untouched.  Now doesn’t this remind you of the class and flair of what you’d imagine the Khanna’s to be like in real life?   Anyway, I suppose I mentioned just then that Madhuri Dixit was in the film  and I found it a waste of her talent  since she really didn’t dance too much and her role was too brief.  Kya waste hai! Here’s a taste of her dancing in a Holi number.

I don’t like seeing other people kissing, since it’s so private, so Hindi movies are perfect for me.  Dayavan has a famous kissing scene between Madhuri and Vinood,  in fact if you google videos for the film, the kissing scene is most prominent and you can see it here if you’re inclined.  If you watch it please make note of how unconvincing Madhuri’s hands are in the scene, which reveals to me she was not comfortable filming it. I mean wouldn’t most women have more gusto in their grasp if sharing a moment with Vinod Khanna?

Let’s end with a few more memorable screen captures & subtitles from Dayavan:

Double point for me here, since the screen cap includes a subtitle with dacoity (which is even better than dacoitery in my book) and a lone bottle of Johnnie Walker black label, which is obviously better than red label, isn’t it?  Look at Vinod Khanna’s intensity here when someone comes to him to get justice: Did I mention that Feroz Khan is in the movie?  Seems like I’ve ignored him, but here he is, handling business!

And handing out a little vigilante justice, which I know chandelier connoisseur Shweta will enjoy:

During the course of the film, Dayavan’s daughter  (Amala)avoids him due to his illegal work, and ironically she marries a police officer  played by Aditya Pancholi,  who is cheated, since she declared herself an orphan.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with declaring ourselves orphans now and again. Dayavan is a remake of the Tamil film called Nayagan (1987).  Have you seen the movie in its original Tamilian form? I want to see it now in its pure form!  Since I’ve  focused on Vinood Khanna here,  I must throw a bit of attention on his sons, Rahul and Akshaye, to balance out my Khanna-o-Rama contribution.  I will ask you the ask the  timeless question that Briyanshu posed: Rahul or Akshaye? HERE’S THE ANSWER.  Now I command you to click on this feast of Khanna-o-Rama blog posts to fulfill all of your Khanna Family desires.

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I love a good orphan film, and there’s not much more I can say about Ram Jaane than hasn’t already been said so well by Fortune City and Post Punk Cinema Club, but I can show you some of the parts that I really enjoyed.  Just look at the cool movie poster from the film with bloody fisted, red headband wearing SRK and I think there’s ample evidence that this is a good film.

Ram Jaane (1995) translation: “Ram Knows” or “God Knows”) is a 1995 Indian Bollywood movie directed by Rajiv Mehra about an unnamed kid (portrayed by Shahrukh Khan) who grows up to become a gangster. He uses the name Ram Jaane after meeting with a priest who in response to the kid asking about his name said “Ram Jaane” (God knows). The movie ranks the 8th highest grossing Hindi movie of 1995 and is also the fourth time Shahrukh Khan is playing a negative role after BaazigarDarr and Anjaam. (source)

So here we start with a feisty young street lad, Ram, who meets his childhood companions who he continues to befriend into adulthood.  Prior to being named Ram, short for Ram Jaane, he was known as Footpath.

Eventually he becomes officially known as Ram Jaane.

He’s a small time hustler with lots of style, the bad boy you can’t help but love.

Sometimes his goonda living and dacoitery catches up with him and he lands in the clinker, and he suffers and bleeds from the mouth, which is something that I firmly belive King Khan does better than any actor!  Dekh:

One day I’ll do a post on a collection of SRK screen captures from various films where he bleeds from the mouth. Devdas would have some good mouth bleeding  material, na?  The story has the love triangle plot between the 3 life long friends.  After a bit of jail time, Ram reunites with his childhood pals Murli (Vivek Mushram) who helps the street kids, and Bela (Juhi Chawla).

Ram falls for Bela, but realizes that his pal Murli also loves Bela, or is it Bela who loves Murli, details.  Either way, Ram Jaane becomes a tad jealous and insecure as a result of this situation.  He begins to question his self worth.

Ram eventually is overtaken by what the viewer may think is blind rage and he roughs up Bela, and eventually gives her a tight slap to the face, which he immediately regrets.

BUT, but, but did he hit her out of a jealous rage? Did he hit her because of his inability to soothe his own psyche independently of his love object?  Nahin!  As it turns out he hit her out of love, because he knew his friend loved her and by hitting Bela she would turn to Murli for love.  Problem solved!  Hey, I’m not saying it’s a good idea, but it worked.  Now clear your mind from the disturbing image of SRK’s character being violent with his love interest, and enjoy the title track from the film Ram Jaane with playback singers,  Alka Yagnik,  Sonu NigamUdit Narayan, and music by Anu Malik.

A while back I did a post on B.Rohrer’s SRK Fantasies in which the artist pays tribute to SRK in a series of creative pieces.  Recently I was lucky to run across another such creative fan on youtube and Breaking Free of the Box has taken things to a whole new level with this video tribute to Ram Jaane.  How can my humble collection of screen captures from the films measure up to the devotional nature of Breaking Free of the Box‘s work? It can’t, so now, I’ve saved the best for last so sit down and get ready to be entertained.  In the words of Breaking Free of the Box:

Here’s a miniature tribute to Shahrukh and Juhi . . . Let’s hope that someday they make another romantic film as intense as their earlier ones. . . Enjoy!! (source)

Did you notice the Central Jail on the mini set?

To wrap things up neatly as Bollywood so often does,  let’s take a moment to empathize with our film’s orphan:

Let’s now go on to be uplifted by the orphan, who has been enlightened through his suffering, only to go on to inspire us all!  Jai Bollywood wisdom:

P. S.  Due to heavy international pressure from the blogging community, and to avoid further mutiny from blog commenters, I must make mention of SRK’s style of wearing a suit jacket without any shirt underneath (think of the ring around the collar!) in the film and link in the song Pump Up the Bhangra.  Thanks readers for keeping me on my toes! Now pump up some bhangra!

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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:

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