Wednesday, 17 August 2011

I tried watching... Cash

It's been a while I've posted here - which I'm sorry for. Anyway, I'm back and with an idea of a new series of articles. I might love Bollywood (no!! really?) but I have my share of Hindi movies I have never managed to finish: that does not mean I cannot talk about them, and that does not mean I cannot criticize them in a fair way. Sometimes, I need to say why I disliked this movie so much that I was not able to finish it. Well, for now, I just hope you will like that first article (hopefully the next ones will be longer).

Directed by Anubhav Sinha 
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Ritesh Deshmukh, Suniel Shetty, Shamita Shetty, Zayed Khan, Esha Deol and Dia Mirza 
Released: 2007 
How much I suffered: 30 minutes 

As a SRK fan, I decided to watch this one out of curiosity because Anubhav Singh was also the director of Ra.One. I just wanted to have a opinion on him. Let's say that I was quite uncomfortable about Ra.One after that! 
The beginning was so lame that it was scary. It started with the awful title-song and all I know that followed was lame animation-sequences popping out everywhere without any reason at any time in the movie. 

For the sake of it, the title-song.  I should have stopped watching just after that:

Don't ask me about the plot. The title is pretty obvious.

Sunday, 29 May 2011


Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali 
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Shernaz Patel
Released: 2010
My Rating: 7/10


I have to admit it: I am a die-hard Sanjay Leela Bhansali-fan. I love all his movies, even the much criticized Saawariya, because he is a real artist and conveys emotions like no other in his works. I discovered Bollywood with his Devdas and I can assure you that you would need hundreds of lifetimes to find someone who loves this movie as much as I do. So yes, I am an ardent admirer of him and that was only natural that Guzaarish was my most-awaited film of the year 2010. I was really excited about it, all the more so as the topic it was to deal with was very sensitive and not easy to talk about. But I was confident. So did Guzaarish meet my expectations?

Well, let's talk about the story first, it is set in Goa where lives one of the most acclaimed magician, Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan), an acclaimed but a crippled magician. He became a quadriplegic when several years ago, a dangerous magic trick turned wrong. He now tries to give hope to people through his FM station, 'Radio Zindagi', his joy and laughter make it difficult to imagine that this is a man who spent the last several years of his life in a wheelchair. Ethan finds much help and comfort in Sofia D'Souza (Aishwarya Rai), her faithful nurse, and shares with her an affectionate, trustful and deep bond.

However, someday and out of a sudden, Ethan summons his dear friend and lawyer Devyani (Shernaz Patel); the man who used to give hope and joy to others despite his own hardships, has decided to fill a case to the court for euthanasia, for "mercy killing". It is a shock for the people around him, especially to Sofia who feels that this is a hard blow to their relationship. Devyani first hesitates but eventually understands her friend and decides to defend him. Among that confusion appears Omar Siddiqui (Aditya Roy Kapoor) who considers Ethan to be the greatest magician ever. His only goal is to learn magic from him; impressed by his passion and enthusiasm for magic, Ethan accepts to pass on his legacy to him while he has to defend his right "to die"...
...has now turned into sad situation.
 Let's first speak about what hits your eyeballs first: the visuals. The sets are fabulous, they are a treat, and they scream beauty and elegance throughout. I feel they help to the symbolical side of the story, it is beautiful and elegant and yet it is empty, just like how Ethan's life is. He lives in a big and beautiful house in which he cannot even move anymore. That is the grandness of the sets that can take the breath away of someone, but somehow one can also feel "emprisoned" just like Ethan. But that was not a bad thing for the story.

Wow... just wow...
Well, how does the story go? The first half went by like a dream. Everything was filmed beautifully. One falls immediately into the story. I smiled with Ethan, I laughed in the scenes between Sofia and Omar. I cried with the characters. I felt Ethan's immobility and emprisonment in this big mansion, this big place in which he cannot move. And as the movie flies, it deepens your thinking - especially through the court scenes. The big question that raises is this: do we have the right to decide over the life which belongs to somebody's else, even when this person wants to die? Bhansali does not give us an answer, he does not really say that there is a good or bad way. In the end, it is Ethan's own desire and will, and that is what matters the most.

All the emotions present work until the second half comes, and there the story simply stagnates. Usually everything is in their own and right deserved place in a SLB's movies, and that is not the case with Guzaarish. There appears very disturbing plotholes. First, how was Ethan before his accident? You will get one or two songs where he is dancing and performing magic... No more than that. Oh yes, and one scene where he performs, dances and kisses an ex-girlfriend, who was her assistant before his accident, the latter that will tell him through the phone that yes, indeed, she agreed he should die. At that scene, she is married and has a new life. Why did she leave him? Because of his accident? Nobody knows and will ever know. Then suddenly we also learn that Ethan's accident that made him crippled for life was the result of the betrayal from his former best friend, Yaseer Siddiqui. Why did he really do that? Jealousy? Once again... who knows? Then suddenly it is revealed (without any surprise when one sees the name) that Omar is the son of that very former friend. Ethan accepts it and says nothing. What was the use of revealing that? I do not know. What does it add to the story? I do not know either. One feels emptiness watching this movie, as if it was done with a shallow way. Unfortunately Bhansali did not give the topic and the movie the deepness that it deserved. Something was terribly missing. 
Believe in magic...

So unfortunately, in terms of story, Guzaarish did not meet my expectations but I found the positive in the soundtrack and the performances. I used not to think much of the soundtrack when I heard the promos, but in the movie, they were in their perfect place. My heart goes to Udi, it was my favourite moment of the movie and showed even more deepness to the character of Sofia. (character that I just loved) To me, it is the most beautiful song of 2010, and probably the most beautiful cinematic moment of last year.

But what gives strong points to Guzaarish are the actors and their performances. Hrithik was amazing, people who say that it was the best of his career are not wrong. His face is so expressive, his eyes deep and one can feel his inner sadness so strongly. He portrayed the joyful and depressed shades of Ethan perfectly. Aditya Roy Kapoor gives the movie its light, most of the light moments were his. There was a frankness in his performance that I totally loved. But the special mention has to go to Aishwarya. That was her career best. She as Sofia was the soul of the movie. She was amazing and mindblowing, there were no flaws in her portrayal. There would be no Guzaarish without Sofia in my opinion. Sofia is a magical dream, she rises like a phoenix out of her ashes, blooms like a rose and is as mysterious as the smile of Mona Lisa. She seems to be another definition for the word woman. She is strong, level-headed, frank and a devoted friend. 

The love-story between Ethan and Sofia was beautifully directed and portrayed. You do not see it, you feel it. Their love was so beautiful and spirited, it was quiet but so strong thanks their feelings.

Aren't they cute? 
That scene was... hilariously awkward
Ok, now this is sad... very sad... :(

Do you love Sanjay Leela Bhansali's works? Then, watch Guzaarish but I would advice you to lower your expectations. That was my mistake, mine were too high and perhaps I do not like it as much as it deserves. But unfortunately, it cannot gain points from me when there are plotholes and that something is definitely missing. I felt the emotions but I was sometimes disconnected from the story. However, it is worth your time if you want to see a great performance from Hrithik and an Aishwarya at her absolute best. You will see beautiful scenes, but do not expect a perfectly executed movie. No matter how much a movie is technically perfect, if it has no soul, one cannot love it.

Credit goes to Lime(tte) for the screencaps (I hope you do not mind. I can still remove them from my blog if you wish Lime). Do check her "visual review" of Guzaarish here

Saturday, 28 May 2011


Directed by Sudhir Mishra
Starring: Kareena Kapoor, Rahul Bose
Released: 2003
My Rating: 8/10

There are some movies whose beauty just shines and blinds you at the first watch. It can change one's life, it can change your view of seeing things. Chameli just did the latter for me. It heartens your heart and makes you smile.

The story seems simple though. Aman Kapoor (Rahul Bose) is a heartbroken man after the death of his wife and now drowns in alcohol, smoking and parties - parties he is not even interested in. That is his own party he leaves one rainy night, until his car breaks down in an alley. Call it the chance, or a coincidence, his cell-phone battery is also out of order. He takes refuge from the heavy rain in this alleyway. There he meets Chameli - a prostitute. He is initially repulsed by her, but as the night and time fly, and that both need to wait for the rain to stop, they slowly acquaint. He learns to understand her, to respect her and there grows a beautifully developped relationship during one rainy night. 

Chameli is the story of an encounter of two people - unhappy with their life - who suddenly stop in their way and share their grief, who suddenly learn more about life and move on. Aman's and Chameli's worlds are different, but for one rainy night, they walk together. Aman goes above his prejudice and as he learns more about Chameli, treats her with respect and eventually even protects her. Chameli finds in Aman her ideal, she finally meets, one night, this kind man who respects her and does not want anything from her. I feel one-night-encounter movies are very difficult to make, they need to be interesting and also realistic. Chameli succeeds in both and even more.

A heartbroken man
A woman strengthened by her tragic life

One strong point about Chameli is that the director did not want to create in us sympathy for Chameli just because she is a prostitute who was forced to end up there. You end up liking her for what she is, she is dignified, strong and generous. As any other good human-being, she helps those she loves. Just like Aman, the viewer slowly knows her more and more and becomes attached to her. 
 Kareena Kapoor is wonderful as the fierce Chameli. I prefer her in this kind of movies, this is where her acting skills are really put to use and I feel this is in those movies she looks the most beautiful. She just looks beautifully natural. Rahul Bose, however, gives a rather subdued performance, and leaves the light mostly to Kareena, but it does not make his performance any less good. He still leaves a strong impact as the heartbroken man whose life will change with this one-rainy-night encounter and thanks to Chameli's life philosophy. He will learn to live, as Chameli will learn that there is good in some other men. What I felt was the film's flaw were how the flashbacks to Aman's life were handled. They most of the time broke the space of the film which is pity but that is a minor flaw compared to all the qualities of this movie.

The soundtrack is really lovely, one special mention goes to "Bhaage Re Mann" which at the first hearing has become one of my absolute favourite rainy song. There is hope and joy written all over it, and the picturisation is, I feel, so delightfully simple and moreover, Kareena's happiness is overwhelming.

Chameli is about the birth of a beautiful relationship between two people, in a place where it does not ususally happen. One could reproach to this movie to be too idealistic in the end, and to drag at times, but its characters and their depth, this mature portrayal of a relationship based on trust and the impressive performances make it worth it. It teaches you, as a popular French proverb says, that 'after the rain comes the beautiful weather'.

The sun always appear in the end... even after a rainy night.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Madhuri and her men

I think that it is the case with many people when it comes to their favourite Hindi actor/actress to rank the jodis they made in order of preference. And that is exactly what I am going to do in this post. I saw most of the films Madhuri, being my favourite actress, played in. And I have, of course, my own preferences. Of course, she had many co-stars during her iconic career, but I just had to give my TOP 5.
5. Jackie Shroff 

What was great with this pairing is that Jackie looked exactly like a man should be, very manly, and although he is not especially handsome, one can easily find him really sexy. They could be sexy and sweet together.

4. Sanjay Dutt

 All those who keep saying they had an affair: out! This rumour has been proven wrong MANY times. Anyway - those two still made a great on-screen jodi and could be as well, and as you can see on this picture (from a movie that in the end was not made), hot.

Better than my poor words, here is a sweet song from my favourite Sanjay Dutt/Madhuri movie: Saajan. One of my absolute favourites.

3. Anil Kapoor

Please, don't kill me for this spot when it comes to Anil. I know they were the most iconic jodis up until DDLJ which started the SRKajol mania. But hey, he is still at the number 3 spot. I don't think I need to say much about them. Everybody can guess why their on-screen chemistry was reputed. And it has never been overrated. They created the magic of Tezaab together, they gave innocence to the gangster-movie Parinda, she was his Radha in Ram Lakhan... and through the fourteen movies they did together, their comfort level grew and grew.

My favourite song of theirs must be the magical and dream-like "Kismat se tum" (by the master A.R. Rahman) in Pukar - the last movie they were paired opposite in and the movie they had the greatest chemistry in, IMO.

2. Aamir Khan

Oooooooh, my Dil is sinking, I lost it somewhere and...Na jaane kahan dil kho gaya. Do you know? No? Errm, whatever.

Pity they only made two films together, because damn, they were a great jodi. Just sweet, powerful... And I just love young Aamir. I like him more than the current one, always showing his great business-sense and not giving a bloody kick-ass performance. (You can do it, Aamir!) I need to watch Dil again. Mein jaati hoon....I think I found the song which can tell me where I have lost my dil...

1. Shahrukh Khan

The King, the baadshah... Who else could rock the first place? He is not called the greatest lover for nothing. I have always preferred the jodi he makes with Kajol, but I think Madhuri always looked the best with him, they have an amazing comfort level, and the chemistry... always leaves my heart melting. Ok, they did not have space to have much chemistry in Anjaam (though they were both amazing ), unfortunately played in this bad and nauseous B-grade movie Koyla, but they were the only saving grace of a shallow movie like Dil To Pagal Hai, really looked like a married couple in Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam, and I could feel Chandramukhi's love for Devdas, and the latter's attraction to the golden-hearted courtesan as if I was living it... Ok, and because this is them, not one but two videos tribute to their amazing chemistry.

Aaaah their performance in the last Filmfare awards was sheer magic...

Who do you prefer Madhuri with?

Another small and humble post for the Magic of Madhuri week hosted by Gaja Gamini on her Bollywood-ish blog

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Why do I love Madhuri Dixit?

Madhuri Dixit's 44th birthday is soon to be on May 15th. And on this occasion, my friend Gaja Gamini on her Bollywood-ish blog organised the "Magic of Madhuri week" as a tribute to her in the blogosphere. Check her blog to know more about it.

Madhuri is one of the first reasons why I am such a big Bollywood fan, and I think it is only fair if I make my first post in this special week a place to drool and go gaga over Madhuri. I think that quote greatly sums up how my craze about Madhuri started.

"There are actresses and there are actresses. And then there is a Madhuri Dixit."
Vikram Phadnis

That is exactly how it happened for me. I knew no movies from Bollywood, and virtually nothing about it. When I decided to watch Devdas, it was only out of a deep curiosity, and not only did I discover my favourite movie ever, this movie also gave me my favourite actress. It slowly grew on me throughout this movie to see how special she was. The most expressive eyes I have seen. A smile to die for. And a voice which conveys every emotions of her character, Chandramukhi. Only by the time she appeared in this movie in this marvellous white saree, I was already mesmerised. And when the scene where Chandramukhi slaps Kali-Babu, I felt all the strength of her portrayal. And yes, I immediately thought: "this woman is... special"

In a single movie, she showed me everything an actress should be. Everything a woman should be.

She can play anyone, she can be anyone. From childishly jealous Mohini (Tezaab) to free-spirited Diya (Aaja Nachle), from sweet Nisha (HAHK) to strong and rebel Janki (Lajja), all those performances were those of a natural actress. And of a complete actress. She has all the qualities of the greatest actresses of the past yet she is so different. Her beauty takes your breath away, her dancing leaves you speechless on the spot, and her acting makes you feel all the emotions her characters go through. 

One sees how passionate and hard-working she is. She does not dance, she lives the dance, it seems as if the music emanates from her own body and face expressions. She does not play a character, she lives the character. The only one who can be better than her is her very self. Everytime she amazes more. Not only as an actress, but also as a person. She is a wonderful human-being, very natural, very humble, very down-to-earth. She teaches you to always try to be a better human-being. She is sheer elegance, sheer beauty, sheer magic... There is a timeless dream-like quality about her. She is out of this world, and in the same time, so real.

Do not call her a Princess. Do not call her a Queen. She is a Goddess. She is the epitome of acting and of talent, she is the incarnation of dance and beauty. She is the most graceful dancer, the most complete actress, the perfect woman, the ultimate woman. And NO cinema industry will see anyone like her ever again. Someone like her only happens once. This is the magic of Madhuri.

Bollywood in Cannes Festival 2011

It has been several years (especially since the success of Devdas) that Bollywood universe is really present in the famous and reputed Cannes Festival. This year, no less than five Bollywood stars are going to be there: Aishwarya Rai (of course, as every year), Rani Mukherjee, Karan Johar, Saif Ali Khan and Sonam Kapoor.

Cannes Festival is more interesting to me right now, as the big Bollywood fan that I am. I am really happy Hindi cinema is more and more acknowledged  (and all the more so that it is in my country that this is happening. Yes, I am glad to be French at the moment.)

The most interesting thing in Cannes this year will be the documentary about Bollywood which is going to be projected. Well, I would love to go and watch it, but I can only hope fans might get access to this film if it is released. Anyway, I absolutely wanted to post this documentary's trailer, which is really well-done.

That is a hundred year of Hindi cinema brilliantly put in an amazing preview of three minutes long. It is awesome. And I am sure this is a great documentary. It has been done by passionate people about Bollywood anyway, so I am confident, and I hope it will provoke even more interest from the West about the greatest cinema-industry in the world. You know, if I only wanted to show what I love about Bollywood, this video would be enough.

Bollywood is indeed the greatest love-story ever told, not only mine, but also the one of billions of people. That's what I love about it, it is about making people happy, about gathering people together (not only a whole Nation), and some people might keep their prejudice about Bollywood but I say, no other cinema has been able to make me feel alive and free, to move me, to show feelings, to warm my heart, to make me dance like mad, to make me in love with music, to show me what love is as Bollywood has. 

Bollywood is unique. Bollywood is Passion. Bollywood is Love.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Weekly Bollywood Song - Yahoo, Chahe Koi Mujhe

Yahoo, Chahe Koi Mujhe from Junglee

Junglee is an amazing classic, a gem of the 60s, and such a light-hearted and romantic musical. It is mostly famous thanks to the "Yahoo song". And no wonder, this song is joy, wildness and the aura of Love itself, and all that in the same time. In the end, you will find yourself "Yaaaaaahooo"-ing too. Gosh, I loveeee old Bollywood!!