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Posts Tagged ‘tight slap to the face’

I had originally tried to order Aaina (1977) from Netflix, but got the 1993 version of Aaina instead, which I reviewed HERE.  I eventually did get the 1977 version of Aaina that stars Mumtaz and Rajesh Khanna.  I would not be tricked by Bollywood’s duplicate titles and miss out on my original plan to see the 1977 version!

Shalini (Mumtaz)  is a poor yet happy brahmin girl who spends her time laughing and smiling, despite her  family’s poverty.  Ashok (Rajesh Khanna) and Shalini like each other but are from different castes.  They tease each other and have a lot of fun, but ultimately they come to understand that society’s norms will keep them apart.

When Ashok notes that Shalini’s only sari is worn to the point of having holes, he buys her a new one.  Shalini’s mother (Nirupa Roy) lets her daughter know that she can not accept this sort of gift from a man because it would be shameful for the entire family.  I love how this lesson of  family honor is filmed with the characters on either side of the worn sari:

Things continue to worsen for the family when the dad’s evil sister, Janki (Lalita Pawar) comes with her daughter to live with the already financially stressed family.   Janki doesn’t do a thing to help out, in fact she just spends time going to frivolous Bollywood  movies and gossiping.  When Janki finds one of her starving nephews begging for food she fails to understand that her taking money to go to the movies has caused the problem since that money would otherwise go for food for the children. Then Shalini finds her mother one night mixing poison in with the food so the she can poison the family out of their misery.

The next obstacle is that one of Shalini’s brothers wants to go to medical school, so in an attempt to get a recommendation to insure his entry to the program, Shalini travels to the big city. She stays with some friends of the family in the a home with a large central split staircase, so often seen in Bollywood films, hai na?

Shalini’s connection to try and get the recommendation for her brother’s entry to medical school is a fraud, and the situation ends with her being raped, as represented by a mirror aaina being broken.  She then hears of another person who can help her get the medical school recommendation, who invites her home to meet his wife.

But the wife is not there, only her picture is on the wall, and this powerful man has the same nefarious interests in Shalini as the man who first violated her.

So this is how Shalini, a young Brahmin girl, eventually turns to prostitution to support her family. One night she’s enjoying the company of a client, and he discovers that she’s Brahmin like him.  Note the symbolism of the mirror aaina on the wall saying hey, why don’t you look at yourself first yaar, before you point any fingers.

Shalini points out the ridiculousness of his hypocrisy and returns his tight slap to her face with one to his face.  Ironically, later in the movie when Shalini returns home to pay for and attend both her sister and brother’s weddings, who turns out to be the groom for her sister?  Not to spoil things, but it’s this creep here!

I learned from Suhan, a commenter on my 1992 Aaina post, that Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (2007) pulled from the 1977 Aaina.

This one comes out smelling of mothballs, like a wedding dress stored for decades in an attic trunk. Not surprising, since the plot is vintage 1977 from Aaina, and the 1995 Marathi film Doghi. (Hindustan Times).

If you’ve seen LCMD, perhaps like me you remember once Rani Mukerji became a high class call girl, she lived in a super deluxe apartment in Mumbai.  This was the only shot of that apartment I could find, but you get a general idea of its sleek, modern look.

Like Rani Mukerji’s character in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag,  Shalini also gets a fantastic place to live thanks to her profession.  I’m not saying it’s a good trade off, but it sure is a cool place.  One of my favorite parts of the film was when Shalini got a visitor, she would push a buzzer on the table and a curtain would automatically pull open, revealing the client behind the door. Check it out:

Sometimes it was a shock just who would stop by, like in this case, her friend Ashok from back home who told everyone he died in the war.  After knowing he could never be with Shalini, Ashok faked his own death, but eventually years later fate brought him right to her door!

Is that double lucky kismat at work or what?  Not only does he get a prostitute, but she’s also the woman he loves!   What are the odds of THAT happening!?  Alas, Shalini is shocked and ashamed.  Don’t you love that torpedo/bullet bra she must be wearing under her shirt?

Despite her circumstances, Ashok understands and more importantly accepts her as she is, and wonders what could have been between the two of them and life hadn’t taken them on different paths.

Shalini returns home to give her family money and pay for her siblings weddings. A cute part of the movie was the film within the film where the village  watched stars Dharmendra and Neetu Singh film a song sequence to Jaane Kya Ho Jaye with playback singers Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar.  This is scene cuts back and forth being picturized on filmi film stars and the “real” young couple in the film, Shalini’s sister and that scoundrel she’s engaged to, Shalini’s former client:

Shalini sacrifices herself to fund her family and is disgusted to return home only to  find her mother pregnant again!  There are already about 8 kids in the family. Of course her mother has no idea just what Shalini has done to earn money.

Seems word has gotten out around town about Shalini’s new job and her little sister points out how her music teacher (paid for by Shalini) was staring at her. Shalini flirts with idea of suicide to answer the question of her eternal suffering, but when she’s about to jump, she hears the sounds of her siblings calling to her.

So how do you think it all ends? If you’d like to know more, please go to see the plot summary by rAjOo.

I’d love to hear your impressions of Aaina too.

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Mehbooba was released in 2008, but director Afzal Khan began filming in 1999.  There are a lot of reasons why the filming took so long to finally be released which you can read about HERE.

mehboobaThe film stars Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan and Manisha Koirala in the lead roles. Set on a huge canvas and shot across three continents, America, Europe and Asia, with four different countries as the story’s backdrop, with New York, Budapest, Austria, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Mumbai as the key locations, the film boasts of lavish settings and locales, expensive sets. (source) Also check out the film’s official website for more on the story.

Come with me for a quick review of what I enjoyed from the film.  Fancy NRI New York City based businessman Sharvan Dhariwal (Sanjay Dutt) meets Varsha (Manisha Koirala) and they enjoy a balloon filled party.  mehbooba.balloons

The film has some huge dance numbers, like Kuch Kar Lo with playback singer Sonu Nigam

Varsha finds Mr. Shravan Dhariwal much too arrogant for her traditional Indian ways and he takes things too far at a fancy balloon filled New Year’s party.

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Varsha warns him, and then winds up for a  tight slap to the face.

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Look at the aftermath of the slap: one sad bollywood balloon,  Sanjay, I mean Mr. Shravan Dhariwal, left alone with his feelings of regret, a cigarette, and a half empty bottle of Johnny Walker, black label, since he is a business tycoon afterall. Even business tycoons have it bad sometimes.  I almost feel sorry for him, dekh:

mehbooba.balloon.bummer.JW

Don’t feel too sorry for him because he’s got an evil plan brewing.   While sitting there he decides he will win over this Varsha woman in order to take his revenge.  He now has a vendetta!  He begins to formulate his nefarious plan the next day on his yacht, complete with the requisite blond gori extra (to represent low moral values, hai na?),  a bottle of Johnny Walker, and a phone that reveals that even thought the film was released in 2008, this scene must have been shot in 1999. ( Addition to this post:  It should be noted that  along with the Johnny Walker,  Samir the oenophile was able to identify Champagne, wine, orange juice, Perrier and  Heineken in front of the gori.  Perhaps this is used to emphasis the evil decadence of America and what it can do to an innocent NRI tycoon-industrialist-hotelier-investor.)

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Evidently Mr. Shravan Dhariwal ki plan works because he gets Varsha Merha all dancey, wiggley, and happy here in the Tu Meri Mehbooba number with playback singer Udit Narayan:

Spoiler alert: Varsha Mehra does what is normally done after making the 7  nuptial rounds, if you know what I mean. Mr. Shravan Dhariwal tricked her into a night of love all because of that slap he suffered from Varsha at the party, and then on top of all that HE goes on to slap HER!  As we say here in the USA, payback is a mother%$#@&*!

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Well you can’t just slap Sanjay Mr. Shravan Dhariwal at a lavish, balloon filled party in front of hundreds of his peers without some payback! In case those stills weren’t enough, take a look at what happens!

She was tricked by that player, but I say to Varsha, don’t hate the playa, hate the game.mehbooba.played

Like lots of girls do, Varsha heads over to Budapest with her broken dil.  She’s de-flowered afterall, so devalued in her own mind, but she meets a nice fellow, Karan (Ajay Devgan) who understands and loves her tarnished image.mehbooba.tarnish

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Karan wants to take Varsha home to India to introduce her to his family so they can get married.  Karan arrives to India before her and his brother also returns to India from New York and is delighted to see him. Karan spends a lot of time with Shravan. They party with dancing girls and drink Johnny Walker.

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And they spend more time drinking Johnny Walker.

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mehbooba.tub.2They even hang out in the hot tub together which some might find a bit homoerotic, but they’re brothers, you know how brothers take hot bubble baths together, right?  They take baths together and caress each others faces, right?

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Despite all these good times, Karan notices that Shravan is very melancholy and spends lots of time playing the piano and drinking Johnny Walker.

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Varsha arrives and she soon finds Karan’s rich, bahut rich, but little does she know he’s got a brother who is that same man who she had the intimate encounter with in New York. In fact, she never even catches a glimpse of him until her marriage to Karan is already taking place.mehbooba.crazycrazycrazy

Karan does eventually figure it all out and goes pagal and swings from a chandelier, did you know about THAT chandelier Shweta?

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mehbooba.manishaHow does Mehbooba end? Does Varsha marry Karan? Or does she marry his brother, Mr. Shravan Dhariwal?  You know I can’t even remember since it’s been a while since I’ve seen the film, so even if I wanted to tell you I couldn’t.  I do recall that they didn’t even ask Varsha what she wanted and I’m not sure that she should choose either if they didn’t even check with her.   As usual, please let me know what you thought of this film, I’d love to hear from you.

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When Feroz Khan died earlier this year, I thought I’d better see a few more of his films in order to pay tribute to his career.  One of the most mentioned films of Khan’s career seemed to be Dharmatma (1975), so I watched it.

Feroz Khan, who has died aged 69, was an Indian actor and producer who became one of Bollywood’s biggest stars; with his swagger and tough-guy styling he was compared to American leading men like Clint Eastwood or Steve McQueen. He based one typically all-action picture, Dharmatma (1975), on Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar-winning film, The Godfather, and starred in another as a suave racing driver who wins the world championship. Later he appeared in a series of cowboy films that aped the Spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone – they became known as Curry Westerns. (source)

First off, let me get this spectacular image out of the way:

Hema Malini’s character declaring her orphan-hood.

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Don’t you think that reel for reel Bollywood may have the highest occurrence of orphans than any other film industry in the world?  Now back to the movie Dharmatma (1975), which is essentially supposed to be a Hindustani-ized version of The  Godfather.  One thing The Godfather doesn’t have is Helen.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the film I copied from IMDB:

DHARMATMAWealthy, powerful and influential Seth Dharamdas leads a financially secure life in a palatial mansion. He is known to come to the aid of all people who are beyond any hope of assistance, and this leads to him being known as “Dharmatma”. But Seth Dharamdas does have a number of skeletons in his closet, and a parallel life as a gangster. The only person Dharamdas hates and fears is none other than his very own son, Ranbir, who has sworn that he will never compromise with his father’s dark career, and threatens to expose him. Dharamdas has never conceded surrender or defeat at the hands of any mortal, and will never even consider to do so – even if this means the death of Ranbir. (by rAjOo)

Rekha plays a smaller part in this film and is in love with  the rugged, morally upstanding Ranbir (Feroz Khan).darmatma.enemies

Alas,  Ranbir has sets his sights on Reshma (Hema Malini) a girl living over the border in Afghanistan, since it’s never quite Bollywood until there’s a love triangle.  I enjoyed the lavish tent like home where Hema’s character lived. It looked like a high class yurt, but I thought yurts were in Mongolia, not Afghanistan, right?   Even in this opulently decorated  tent, she’s stifled

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Her adoptive father isn’t going for her relationship with a man of another culture, but she does what she can to change his heart and mind.

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For a taste of that nomadic life, enjoy Meri Galiyon Se, featuring playback singer Lata Mangeshkar with the music of Kalyanji Anandji, and picturized on Hema Malini in some nomadic camp in Afghanistan, or maybe it’s in movie studio, you be the judge. Both Danny Denzongpa and Khan’s character are smitten with Hema’s Reshma. Who will win her love?

Besides digging the hip 70’s vibe of this flick, I was delighted to find it had one of my favorites, Farida Jalal, who played Mona, the sister to Feroz Khan’s Ranbir.  Unfortunately, she’s married to a dacoit, Kundan (Imtiaz Khan) but it takes her sometime to figure this out.  Kundan’s  gangster side kicks are played by Ranjeet and Sudhir, who wear matching outfits throughout the film.  Their shirts are always open, and often made of sheer fabrics. They are very, very bad men, but more on them later.

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Wait a minute, even the good guy wears an open, chest hair bearing shirt a lot of the time:

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Eventually Mona lets her creepy gangster husband know that she doesn’t like the lowly company he’s keeping which causes some marital strife.

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Doesn’t she know this is Bollywood and a woman cannot talk to a man in such a way without suffering a tight slap to the face?  Even I saw that one coming.

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Mona’s husband may be a hopeless pig, but her brother is reliable and caring.   Everything is fine on Raksha Bandhan and she ties a rakhi on brother Ranbir.  Look how sweet!

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Yet moments later she changes her warm feelings when she realizes that …

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Can’t you almost feel that tight slap to the face, or at least hear it?  When I saw this in the opening credits I was very pleased:

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I’m a big Ranjeet fan.  It’s most likely psychologically problematic that I find his bad boy characters irresistibly attractive, but I’ll work that out on my own time.  dharmatma.sudhirNormally I love Ranjeet, but his character was so extra creepy in Dharmatma, that I found him only mildly hot, not ultra hot.  Hats off to his acting distracting me from his beauty. Was is due to being paired with a creepy sidekick played by Sudhir that was too much?  Who knows, but together in their sheer, unbuttoned, and always matching shirts, they were repulsive. I looked forward to seeing each new outfit.

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Their characters were abusive and drunk most of the time. Take a nice look at them here. I believe there can never be enough photos of Ranjeet out there for the world to see, no matter what.

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Ranjeet wears a pinky ring here, which is a tell tale sign of villain-hood:

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Now allow Feroz Khan’s memory to live on and please read his words of wisdom.

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izzat

Izzat (1968) stars  Dharmendrain a double role playing brothers who don’t know they’re brothers until late in life. One is rich, the other poor; one dark, the other fair; one a land owner’s privileged son, the other an illegitimate  hard working student who’s just been orphaned.  There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents!..doesn’t Amitabh or SRK scream that out in some film, maybe it’s Amitabh in Lawaaris?  Tell me if you know.  Fate brings the Dharmendrai together and wacky misunderstandings occur and vendettas are settled.  Here’s a plot summary courtesy of  the prolificrAjOo, but skip it if you don’t want spoilers.

After completing his college, dark-skinned Adivasi Shekhar returns home and finds that his mother, Savli, has passed away. Distraught, he is consoled by Father Abraham, who also tells him that his mother had an affair with wealthy Ramgarh-based Thakur Pratap Singh, who refused to marry her even after she became pregnant. Shekhar decides to avenge his humiliation and sets forth to expose Pratap. Upon arrival in Ramgarh, he finds that he has a fair-skinned look-alike half-brother, Dilip, as well as a sister, Neelu. Dilip meets him, hires him as an office staff person, and asks him to impersonate him in order to meet Deepa, the only daughter of wealthy Vinodbabu, and Shekhar agrees to do so. Shekhar meets Deepa and both are attracted to each other. Shekhar decides to tell her the truth about himself, and returns to Ramgarh. Once there, he finds history repeating itself as Dilip is in love with an Adivasi belle, Jhumki, but is refusing to marry her. Written by rAjOo (IMDB)

At the beginning of the film Shekhar who I will refer to as dark Dharmendra, since in the film they make a big deal about this dark skin, finds out about his mother’s tragic past, and his parentage.  That Thakur (Balraj Sahni) kaminey found his dark skinned, low caste villager good enough to sleep with, but once she was with child, he coldly accuses her of wanting his lakhs. Thakur is wrong, all she wants is his love, and ek chutki sindoor and blessings of the goddess.izzat.$

"Ek chutki sindoor!"

"Ek chutki sindoor!"

So Shekhar works himself into the fancy home of his father and finds that he’s got a fairer skinned half brother.
izzat.vendetta izzat.double Shekhar’s got some killing on his mind, but he also finds himself at a party.  What to do? Dharmendra sings at  the party, as Shekhar and they all think he’s his look alike rich brother,  Dilip.  Please take note of the bollywood balloons that decorate the party:izzat.balloonI suppose I should have been excited by Dharmendra and Tanuja’s performances  here (yawn), but for me this was  Jayalalitha‘s film.   It was the first time I’d ever seen her.  She plays a super spunky mountain girl, who likes that fancy Dharmendra character, fair-skinned Dilip, but he’s socially out of her reach, being wrong caste for her to desire, let alone acquire.  She can’t possibly marry up…or can she?  Take a good look at her, I think she can:
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The live wire  Jayalalitha of Izzat transformed herself into a  real life politician. It was the first time I’d seen her in a movie, and she was a Tamil star, so her part in a Hindi film was not the norm.  She also did some playback singing.

Prior to her venture into politics, she had a successful career in the Tamil film industry as an actress. She acted in the English language movie “Epistle” released in 1961 produced by Shankar Giri, son of former president of India Dr. V.V. Giri. Chinnada Gombe, her first film (in Kannada) was a major hit. Her first Telugufilm Manushulu Mamathalu made her famous. In 1972, she was honoured by the Tamil Nadu government with the award Kalaimamani. She has acted opposite Dharmendra in the Hindi Movie named Izzat. Her last film was Nadhiyai Thedi Vandha Kadal in the year 1980. (source)

Now that I know she’s an over achiever, I’m a bit suspicious of her, but after her performance in Izzat, I’d vote for her, no problem.  On a side note, I would be an extremely reckless voter in India, for that very reason. “Jaylalitha is on the ballot!?  She was soooo cute in Izzat, and what a dancer!” I’d check that ballot, not even caring about her politics simply because she was so cute in that film.  Good thing I can’t vote in India. In her role as Jhulki, she’s fearless, not afraid to love:

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She’s not afraid to defend herself against a dirtball goonda/thug/dacoit. This scoundrel has lusted after her and when he tries to forcefully move in, she delivers a tight slap to the face! Go girl!

izzat.slapI wasn’t able to find a version of the item number featuring Jayalalitha dancing with about 30 other women to the music Laxmikant Pyarelal and a lavish set, but I did find it as part of a set clips of the full movie uploaded on youtube. Now THIS is what I call an item number:

The beginning part of this number, which is not in the above clip can be seen about 8 1/2 minutes into this link.  This number was so lavish that I needed to screen cap some of it for the world to see.  Look how fantastic Jayalalithaa looks here.izzat.item.7izzat.item

Eventually that nasty Thakur gets his just rewards.  It was only a matter of time before karma catches up with him.izzat.tribalsWell, tribals will be tribals, so easily incited and ready to light a torch for justice.izzat.riotThough she had a small part, I was very taken with Laxmi Chhaya’s performance as a servant.  She’s a real mess here, but very hot, so I suppose she’s a hot mess. I just love the colors here, from the walls to her sari, to her make up. Fantastic!izzat.maid.2

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And as a nice touch, there was a cute little statue of Jesus, in front of some stylin’ flagstone.  I like my Jesus with flagstone, sort of how I like my coffee with mile and sugar. Now I’ve got to see more of Jayalalitha, so looks like there will have to be some more Tamil, Telegu and Kannada films are in my future. Now head over to Memsaab’s blog, to read her impressions of Izzat.

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Did you ever get a movie with the same title, expecting another?   I once thought I was ordering Kalyug (1981), but instead got Kalyug (2005).  Such was the case for me with Aaina.  I think I intended to get the 1977 Aaina:

aaina%20old%20dvdAaina is a 1977 Indian Bollywood film starring Rajesh Khanna , Mumtaz in the lead roles and A. K. Hangal, Nirupa Roy, Lalita Pawar, Kamal Hassan and Madan Puri in support roles. The music is given by Naushad. The film is directed by famous director K. Balachander. He had filmed the same story before: the Tamil film Arangetram(1973) with Kamal Hassan. It’s about a Brahmin girl becoming a sex worker to support her mother and siblings. (source)

Aaina%20CoverThat sounds pretty great, but instead I got the 1993 version of Aaina.  For a full synopsis of the film go HERE, but I can tell you it’s basically a story of two sisters, one evil (Amrita Singh), one sweet (Juhi Chawla).  The sisters fight over a fancy businessman, or as they frequently say in Bollywood, a rich industrialist, played by Jackie Shroff. It turns out that Reema (Juhi) has long been a fan of Ravi Saxena (Jackie) who is not only a fancy business man, but has also published some things she’s read.  She runs into him in a book store.  Can you find the pictures of Madonna and Michael Jackson in this photo?


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Alas, Ravi falls for the evil self absorbed sister, Roma, instead of the sister who has long pined for him.  The evil head case sister, Roma (Amrita Singh), eventually looses Ravi’s love since she’s more focused on being a top fashion model and ignores the realationship. Ravi marries the nice sister instead, but then Roma decides she wants him back and tries to manipulate him with various crazy antics, like pretending to kill herself.  Pagli!

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Singh does a great job acting like a psycho and won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for her efforts.   Eventually her many manipulations pay off and she wins back Ravi, but Reema is on to her sister’s evil plotting and finally grows a spine and confronts her.

aaina.juhiThe sisters have a dance off at a lavish party over Ravi!aaina.amrita.juhi.jackieThere’s even a tight slap to the face!aaina.tightslapThe song Aaina Hai Mera Chehra with real life sisters and playback singers, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle picturized on Amrita Singh and Juhi Chawla, pretending to sing, and pretending to be sisters.  If you don’t want to spend time watching the entire film, this item number sort of summarizes it: behen vs. behen for the pyar of a man.

And real life sisters out there, please don’t fight over a man!  Have you seen either of the Aaina films? Which one did you like more?

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Dosto, with the help of my seasoned VCR, I traveled down south to the tip of mother India to watch a Malayalam film titled Chocolate (2007).  I love the description here, which must have come from some review:roma_prithvi_nep

Chocolateis a Malayalam movie released in 2007, directed by Shafi. This is a campus story entertainer. Main actors are Prithviraj, Jayasurya, Roma, Samvrutha Sunil, and Remya Nabeeshan. Music by Alex Paul and lyrics by Vayalar Sarath Chandra Varma and Singers are M.G. Sreekumar and Rimi Tomy. With Prithviraj playing the Casanova, director Shafi’s new offering Chocolate — with its sweet smelling aroma is indeed delicious. Easy on the eyes, soft on the ears, this pure comedy entertainer, which centers on a gallivanting gadabout, being the lone male in an all women’s college, is chock-a-block with hilarity as Prithiviraj plays protagonist Shyam to the hilt. Playing perfect foil to him are Roma, Samvritha Sunil and Remya Nabeeshan as Ann, Nandana and Susanna – the trio who are against a male entering into their kingdom. Debutants Sachi and Sethu’s screenplay sparkles with laugh-a-minute scenes. (source)

You get the idea now of the whimsical plot: lone male student at an all women’s college. Wacky! Also HOT!  Now I know some people assume that south Indian films are a tad bit violent and perhaps misogynistic. I think that’s a stereotype about Mollywood, right?

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cholate.beat Damn!

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Also, of course all the men had moustaches since this was a Southie film.  Now that I think of it, I don’t recall ever seeing a man without the moustache in the film. Now to the subtitle fun.  There were quite a few times that I saw some great nonsensical subtitles.  Here are a few from one on the dance numbers:

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Other times I saw subtitles that on the surface made no sense, but for some reason, I really understood what they were trying to say, since I now understand that I lived in Kochi in a previous life.  Like these…perfectly sensible to me:

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As in many movies, in Chocolate there are a lot of misunderstanding stacked upon misunderstanding which drive the plot.

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Now take a look at this series regarding the “improper behavior”  news that even made the paper and I will translate the translations:

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The message above means that since there was only information given over the phone, it can’t be confirmed as reliable…

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Yes, this means even in India there are haters, just jealous of carefree youth and their masti.

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This means so what if a young man and women were in a room together unchaperoned for a short time, it doesn’t mean they had relations of a sexual nature.  If this was true, Prithviraj’s character is trying to say that it would follow that 2 men in a room together unchaperoned would then be guilty of homosexuality.

I really liked Roma Asrani and Prithviraj, first time seeing them both and they were adorable.  OK, Prithviraj was HOT, but I don’t feel right saying that since he’s so my junior, hai na?  The supporting costars Samvrutha Sunil and Jayasurya also did a nice job and I’d like to see more of their work.  Well let’s see all four actors in a song from the film, shall we? This isn’t a flashy song, but I did like the simple dancing, since I think I could easily join them if I were an understudy suddenly called to action. “Where’s that gori?  Roma broke her ankle! Find the gori extra, stat! We need her to fill in for the item number now!” I also thought that Briyanshu would enjoy the first 20 seconds of this scene and the song  Ishtamalle Ishtamalle:

Lyrics in Malayalam, but I don’t know what they mean.

Ultimately the film has a happy ending:  the hero carrying off his love interest, in caveman style:cholate.end

and uplifting message of equality:

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Plus, I love seeing the word enemity used in subtitles:

cholate.enemity

If you’re interested in watching the movie,  it has been uploaded at Daily Motion in several segments with English subtitles HERE.

Now, I wonder why the movie was titled Chocolate, and also wonder what the term “chocolate boy” means in India?  I’ve both heard and read “chocolate boy” and don’t know what it means.  Chocolate boy matlab? Is it like a metrosexual? Could that have something to then do with the film’s title?

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Tahmineh_MilaniHey Bollywood Fans!  I’ve been in Iran, well more precisely watching some Iranian cinema. With all the recent turmoil in Iran, I thought the least I could do is watch some of their movies. I was inspired to do this after seeing NBC’s special Behind the veil: Inside Iran which included an interview with director Tahmineh Milani.

Over and over again in Iran, we meet women who are challenging the status quo. Like filmmaker Tahmineh Milani.

Tahmineh Milani: I believe this way. This is the– best way to change people.

Milani is one of the most popular and respected directors in Iran. She’s won numerous international awards for her films, most of which are about the unseen lives of middle-class women in Iran.

Tahmineh Milani: They accept their situation. And they don’t talk, they don’t protest. But they suffer.

Her movies have to be cleared by censors. At least three have been banned. She says that earlier in her career, she challenged the country’s top censor.

Tahmineh Milani: I went there and he start to– accuse me. And he said, “We will bring you and we will– beat you– here.”

Ann Curry: Whip you.

Tahmineh Milani: Yes, whip you. Yes, yes, yeah, whip you.

She was not beaten, but pregnant with twins at the time, she says the stress took its toll. She gave birth prematurely. Her daughter lived.

Tahmineh Milani: And after two, three days my son died.

Ann Curry: Why didn’t you stop your work?

Tahmineh Milani: Because I believe my way. Because, I believe– I can be useful in my society, because this is my society. This is my country. We really love Iran. I choose to live here and I want to keep this place.

In 2001, she made a film called “the hidden half” about a woman unjustly sentenced to death. Ironically, after the film was released, Milani was arrested and jailed and faced the death penalty herself.

Ann Curry: They accused you of being anti-God.

Tahmineh Milani: Yeah, and three–

Ann Curry: Other charges.

Tahmineh Milani: –more dangerous than these.

She says she was given a stern warning:

Tahmineh Milani: “We are going to kill you to be good lesson to another people.”

Ann Curry: They said that to you? They said, “We’re gonna kill you”?

(source and more of the interview HERE. There is also video of the 6 part special HERE.)

So far I’ve seen Milani’s Do Zan (Two Women), 1999; Nimeh-ye Penhān (aka The Hidden Half), 2001; and Vākonesh-e Panjom (aka The Fifth Reaction), 2003 and I’ll share a bit about each here.  It was interesting that all three films starred Niki Karimiand in each film her character was named Fereshteh, though they were each separate unrelated characters. I found that Fereshteh is a Persian name for Angel.

dozanSimilar to many Indian films, every the Iranian films all started off with a dedication to God.  Since God watches movies, I’m sure he/she appreciates the shout outs. I like that merging of art and religion, but I don’t like at American music awards shows how artists thank Jesus, or the Lord, or Jesus my Lord and Savior, I suppose because I’m some sort of hypocrite, but I digress. I should start every post, “In the name of God.”

 

342px-Two-WomanDo Zan (Two Women), from 1999 was, you guesses it, the story of 2 woman who met in college in Tehran and how both of their lives took different courses over the years.

Two Women charts the lives of two promising architecture students over the course of the first turbulent years of the Islamic Republic, creating a portrait of traditions that conspire to trap women and stop them from realizing their full potential. The film won the best screenplay award at Iran’s Fajr Film Festival in 1999 as well as Best Actress for Niki Karimi‘s part in the Taormina Film Festival. (source)

Roya (Marila Zare’i) and Fereshteh (Niki Karimi) are total BFFs, but the revolution and some domineering men really get in the was of things.

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Well looks like the more things change the more they stay the same, hai na?  So if the political situation weren’t enough, Fereshteh is being stalked by a psycho.

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dozan.love dozan.acid

dozan.getawayIt’s not quite love, since he follows her with a knife and threatens her and her friends.  Long story short, she goes back to her home town to avoid the maniac, but he hunt her down. One day while he follows stalks Fereshteh, she drives into a group of kids and kills one of them.  This causes her family disgrace, even though it wasn’t her fault at all. To the “rescue” in court comes man number two, and poor  Fereshteh’s dad marries her off to this guy, who I think is just as bad as the stalker.

dozan.disgrace dozan.promise

Her mom can’t help her, since her dad and men in general run the show. Now here’s a snap from their little nikkah (wedding) ceremony.  I suppose you may know that the women and girl in the background are doing that happy little screaming thing, but I interpreted it as yawning: they wanted to see a proper Indian wedding ala Bollywood.  See how dull:

dozan.wed

So the husband is a real tyrant and controls Fereshteh as much as possible:

dozan.freedom dozan.socialize

Sort of makes the stalker seem romantic by comparison.  Eventually she wants out of the abusive marriage and goes to her family for support without luck.

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Well I’d say hey, why not help your daughter, after all you’re the one who married her off to that creep.

♥ ♥ ♥

hiddenhalfNext I saw  Nimeh-ye Penhān(aka The Hidden Half) from 2001 and if you’re expecting a happier story than Do Zan, give up now.

An official is sent from his home in Tehran to hear the final appeal of a woman sentenced to death, a political prisoner. The official’s wife of nearly 20 years, Fereshteh Samimi, writes him a letter to read when he reaches the hotel – the story of her student days during the revolution of 1978. We see the story in flashbacks as he reads: she leaves her province on scholarship, joins a Communist youth group, avoids arrest, and comes under the sway of a suave older man, Roozbeh Javid, a literary-magazine editor. As she tells her husband about the hidden half of her life, Fereshteh asks that he listen to the woman facing execution, a woman and therefore one of Iran’s hidden half. (source)

hiddenhalf.1978 hiddenhalf.1979

Fereshteh meets an older man, Javid (Mohammad Nikbin),  and there’s a mutual attraction, but despite being an intellectual, he patronizes her.

hiddenhalf.prettylady hiddenhalf.fereshtah.javid

She asks the party leader the official view on romantic love:

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She gets tired of wearing the seemingly required communist outfits and again questions the party official.

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One of Mr. Javid’s associates helps set Fereshteh straight about the struggle:

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I believe the  movie’s title, the Hidden Half,  not only referred to Fereshteh’s earlier life that her husband didn’t know about but also the (hidden) wife of the older man who pursues her. Later in life Javid and Fereshteh meet again.  He speaks to her about love and to me she looks a bit like Aishwarya Rai here, right?

hiddenhalf.javid hiddenhalf.likeAish

♥ ♥ ♥

5thReactionFinally, the last Milani movie I saw was Vākonesh-e Panjom (aka The Fifth Reaction) from 2003.

Fereshteh loses her home and her two sons after her husband’s accidental death when Hadj Safdar, her stubborn and powerful father-in-law, forces her to return to her parents. She is faced with the loss of her visitation rights when Hadj plans to send his grandchildren to live in a remote town. With the help of her circle of women friends she tries to take them beyond his reach, but in a patriarchal society it is hard to find a safe haven. (source)

5thReaction.teach

Fereshteh is out with the gals in Tehran talking about their teaching jobs.  Her friends are encouraging Fereshteh to stop mourning her husband.

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Her friend also is talking about how great her own relationship with her husband is, but opps! He walks into the same restaurant with his young secretary.

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And then comes the attempted tight slap to the face. How dare she question her husband! Luckily the owner of the place is a true gentleman and sends the crazed, tyrannical husband on his way.

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Fereshteh’s father in law, Hadj Safdar, played by Jamshid Hashempur, tells her that she must either marry her brother in law now that she’s a widow, or he will take her two sons from her.  He believes  she’d no doubt be a temptation to his other son and  would work in conjunction with the devil.

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Fareshteh cannot fathom marrying her brother in law, or leaving her children, so she escapes town with her sons. 

5thReaction.separate 5thReaction.teacher

It becomes a game of cat and mouse between Fareshtah and her father in law.  He tries to track her and her sons down all around Tehran and into the countryside.  Notice like many a Bollywood villains how Hadj wears more that one ring, which I see as a bad sign! Furthermore, whenever you see a pinkie ring, run!  It’s never good.

♥ ♥ ♥

The other Iranian films I’ve  seen are  10  by director Abbas Kiarostami, and Baran by Majid Majidi, which I’ll cover in a post in the next day or two…then it’s back to Bollywood yaar!  Have you seen any of these films or other Iranian films?  Let me know.

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