Wednesday, March 28, 2007

THE THREES TAG (with a Bollywood twist)

I got tagged by Maja. I've done this tag before, on another blog, but just couldn't resist doing it again. This time, I've tried to make all my answers Bollywood-related.

3 things that scare me

  • Amrish Puri in some of his really evil roles
  • Rishi Kapoor’s ’80s sweaters (and the fact that no-one told him not to wear them – I mean, whatever happened to the milk of human kindness?)
  • Jackie Shroff dancing around in the ocean (in his infamous Speedo) in ‘Rangeela’

3 people who make me laugh

  • Dilip Kumar
  • Amitabh Bachchan in his some of his older flicks
  • Johnny Lever (at least when he’s not being really annoying)

3 things I love

  • Watching Bollywood DVDs alone on my laptop with the lights turned down
  • Catching a Bollywood movie at the cinema with Uzo
  • Kajol’s unibrow, Ajay Devgan’s teeth, SRK’s dancing, Hrishikesh Mukherjee films, Vinod Khanna’s brown eyes, ‘Aaj Ki Raat’ from ‘Don’ (2006), Jaya Bhaduri’s older performances (I know, that’s more than one, lekhin kya karoon?)

3 things I hate

  • Poor sub-titling
  • When they use ‘wonder dogs’ in Bollywood movies – I don’t know why, but I just can’t shake the feeling that those animals are harmed
  • The slightly-pink porridge-consistency fake blood they used in the older Bollywood films

3 things I don't understand

  • Hindi (except the odd word here and there)
  • The whole revenge theme and why it’s such a big thing in Bollywood cinema
  • How Salman got worse (as an actor and dancer) instead of better

3 things on my desk
(I’m writing this in my bedroom, and I don’t have a desk so I’ll do ‘3 things on my bed’)

  • Clothes I really should hang up right away (but won’t just yet)
  • My laptop
  • My workout DVD

3 things I'm doing right now

  • Listening to the cheesy-but-good VH1 Divas Live performance of ‘You’ve Got A Friend’
  • Hoping and praying we don’t have a power cut tonight so that I can get some sleep
  • Wishing there were more hours in a day to do all the things I want to do

3 things I want to do before I die

  • Visit India at least 7 times
  • Travel to many more countries around the world
  • Be in a Bollywood movie (and definitely not as a stereotypical black baddie or African ‘tribal’ dancer) – well, a girl can dream, right?

3 things I can do

  • Multi-task compulsively
  • Take loads of screencaps while watching a Bollywood DVD
  • Collect random facts about Bollywood people

3 things you should listen to

  • The songs from ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!’, the songs from ‘Salaam-e-Ishq’, the songs from ‘Aradhana’, the songs from ‘Abhimaan’, the songs from ‘Junglee’, the songs from ‘Don’ (2006) (well, except ‘Yeh Mera Dil’), and the songs from ‘Umrao Jaan’ (the older movie).
  • ‘O Saathi Re’ from ‘Muqaddar Ka Sikandar’… and just about anything else sung by Kishore Kumar – just an exquisite, gorgeous voice.
  • Amitabh Bachchan’s ultra-expressive voice, Rani Mukherjee’s husky low voice, and Dharmendra’s sexy voice.
    (again, too many, but what’s a girl to do?)

3 things you should never listen to

  • That naughty little voice that tells you to order/buy another Bollywood DVD when you know you really can’t afford it (I’m actually getting pretty good at ignoring it now!)
  • People who ridicule and put down your interests and hobbies (e.g. Bollywood)
  • 'Yeh Mera Dil' from 'Don' (2006)

3 things I want to learn

  • A lot more about India’s history and culture
  • Hindi (so I can just turn off the subtitles hameesha AND converse with Hindi-speakers in their own language – now wouldn’t that be too cool?) and some other languages
  • To dance like Aishwarya Rai or Madhuri Dixit (yeah, right! LOL at just how realistic that is)

3 favourite foods (Indian)
(I have way more than 3, so I’ll just do the places where I’ve been known to eat Indian)

  • Food from the Indian restaurant in Hotel Victoria Palace, off Idejo Street in Victoria Island, Lagos (I really want to try their Sunday lunch buffet sometime soon – Uzo, are you game?)
  • Food from The Bridge Tandoori Restaurant down the road from Tower Bridge in London (I miss it!)
  • Food from Sherlaton Restaurant in Victoria Island (not as good as Victoria Palace, IMO, but good)

3 beverages I drink regularly

  • Water
  • Water
  • Water (love the stuff)

3 childhood (Bollywood-related) TV shows / books

  • Can’t remember how, but I stumbled upon a Filmfare magazine sometime in the ’80s. I remember thinking the women were so gorgeous and the guys were so NOT (hey, I was a kid!) The mag was full of pictures of Madhuri Dixit (I thought she was gorgeous) and Pooja Bhatt (I thought she looked like such a baddd girl – she was wearing black leather in all the pictures).
  • Mahabharat – at least I think it was (from when we had cable – it was broadcast early on Sunday mornings.
  • I can’t think of a third – so I’ll go for a Bollywood movie from my childhood: Mard, starring Amitabh Bachchan – a very weird, but somehow very entertaining kind of film.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Today’s star is Sunny D, as I like to call him. Not only does his name sound a lot like ‘Sunny Delight’, he’s very robust and intense (like the drink), and sometimes he can be rather (and oddly) delightful (mostly when he smiles and tries to dance). I don’t know why, but I think there’s an appealing little kid buried beneath all that brawn.

... But that hasn't stopped you from dancing anyway, has it, Sunny? Not your fault, I know, Bollywood is big on dancing. Nice line, though – the fact that you said it makes you seem like a really good sport…

But first the theme song – Bobby got only one verse last week, but as the ‘bhaiyya’, I say Sunny deserves two. I don’t play with seniority:

Dharam’s children
Want to be Bollywood stars
Just like their father
So they work real hard

Verse 1:

Next up we have Sunny
He’s the action man
He’s really big and brawny
And he cannot dance

Verse 2:

Sunny D is quite the badass
You don’t wanna mess with him
He’s got muscular substance
But there’s a big kid within

Sunny, the most successful of Dharam’s three acting children, was born Ajay Singh Deol in New Delhi on either, depending on whom you believe, 19th October 1956 (according to IMDb) or 19th October 1961 (according to BollyWHAT? and Wikipedia – although elsewhere on Wikipedia he’s listed as being born in 1956). So, he’s either 45 or 50 – I personally think he’s probably 45.
Despite being the older brother, he’s shorter than Bobby, about 5-11 (other sources say 5-9). He’s happily married to Pooja (although there’ve been rumours about dalliances with actresses in the past, including Dimple Kapadia and Raveena Tandon) and has two sons, Rajvir and Ranvir. Apparently, he’s quite the shy and quiet one… the strong and silent type (I'm very fond of that type, so I have a bit of a soft spot for him).

His first of 76 movies (as listed on IMDb) was 1983’s ‘Betaab’, which was a hit, the first of many Sunny-starrers to rake it in at the box office. Before taking on Bollywood, Sunny studied acting in Birmingham, England. It’s worth noting here that like Bobby (I remarked upon this in my Bobby post), his Bollywood career also began in his late twenties – maybe there’s no ‘reason’ for that other than they needed to be ‘ready’ before plunging into movies. His most successful movie is 2001’s blockbuster, ‘Gadar: Ek Prem Katha’. He directed ‘Dillagi’ in 1999, co-starring with Bobby for the first time – although it got good reviews, it bombed at the box office. He’s won several acting awards (for ‘Ghayal’, ‘Damini’ and ‘Gadar’).

I like Sunny Deol. I think he’s quite a good actor, and I really like the fact that he knows his niche (action movies) and hasn’t strayed too far from it, instead of pretending he can do it all. He has won many loyal fans for his reliability as an action hero. Despite the jibes of the naysayers, he has been consistently doing what he does for years, and I think he’s good at it. He’s really hardworking and does a lot of his own stunts. And I love that he made a great comeback with 'Gadar' - I always love comebacks.

I’ve found Sunny’s acting credible in the few films of his I’ve seen – but I don’t think he’s hot (at the moment, that is; that might change). I’m not sure why, especially as he looks very much like my darling Dharmendra. The resemblance is striking – he’s definitely not as handsome as Dharam, but he does look a lot like him. He even has the slight throatiness to his voice that I love about Dharmendra’s – it’s not as sexy as his dad’s, but it’s there. But I just don’t think he’s hot. I like the way he beats up the bad guys, but I don’t think it’s sexy. I guess this whole line of thought is the problem – the resemblance to his dad always makes you compare their acting, their hotness, their whatever. It’s so unfair really.

And now for the Sunny movies I’ve seen:

‘DARR’: ‘Darr’ was a film that shot two of its three stars to a higher level of fame. Playing ‘Kiran’, sweet and sparkly Juhi Chawla managed to revive the hype that had waned since her turn in ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ a few years before. Even more notable was the rise of Shahrukh Khan, who handed in an excellent performance as an obsessed stalker who would do anything to get his ‘K-k-kiran’. While Juhi and SRK basked in the limelight of their success in ‘Darr’, the third star of the film, Sunny Deol, was left behind, looking and feeling like a lemon.

Sunny was mad when he realised that SRK was getting all the post-release attention – according to him, Yash Chopra completely manipulated and misrepresented his role in ‘Darr’. He felt deceived and even, in what must have been an exceptionally surly moment, put down SRK’s role as being easy-peasy (quite childish on Sunny’s part, I think). ‘Darr’ created a rift between Sunny and Yash Raj Films that continues today. And SRK, of course, went on to superstardom.

There’s nothing majorly wrong with Sunny’s performance in ‘Darr’. As Juhi’s Navy commando husband, he is strong, dependable, loyal, understanding and protective, doing his best to save her from her demented stalker. He had good chemistry with Juhi too. The only problem is that SRK had the opportunity to do so much more with his role – he just grabs your attention everytime he’s on the screen. He makes you believe in his craziness, and makes you understand Juhi’s terror. He also makes you, strangely enough, relate to his pain and angst. Sunny didn’t stand a chance… his character just didn’t have as much ‘meat’ to him.

While Sunny’s performance was ok in my eyes and he does all the action and romantic bits very well, there were two things I personally didn’t like about Sunny’s ‘Darr’ character – but I can’t blame him for them – it was the scriptwriter and director’s call (which makes me think they may indeed have done a number on poor Sunny). One was the scene in which his character is avidly watching a stripper on TV while on a private getaway with his new bride, who then has to come and ‘distract’ him by doing a striptease of her own. I thought that was a bit (no, very) cheap. The other was the very end of the movie when Sunny’s character mocks SRK’s ‘K-k-kiran’ stutter, and they all laugh uproariously. I found that in very poor taste, especially after what had happened to the guy, who was, after all, very sick and disturbed – no wonder SRK got more sympathy from the audience.

Even if Chopra did deceive Sunny about his role in the film (I think it seems possible), it was churlish of him to throw a public tantrum (that big kid coming through, huh?). Methinks ’twould have been more dignified to congratulate SRK and just move on. But I guess he had to be true to himself and express his feelings.

‘INSANIYAT’: Really, the less said about this star-studded, big-budget film the better. I hated it. Only watched it for five minutes and gave up – so I have no idea whether or not Sunny was good in it.

‘INDIAN’: Sunny plays an honest, tough, often brutal policeman who goes after terrorists, corrupt politicians and other bad guys. His job is made tougher by corrupt members of the police and sarkar, who secretly work for the terrorists. Shilpa plays Sunny’s wife and mother of his two cute little kids, who finds her marital relationship threatened by Sunny’s actions against someone she loves. Sunny faces difficult trials because of his determination to fight the bad guys, a duty he claims not just as a policeman, but as an Indian (hence the name of the film).

‘Indian’ is not a terrible film, but I certainly wouldn’t call it good either – I would say it’s watchable. There are huge holes in the plot, and some highly improbable situations, and sometimes it drags on a bit, but I guess it’s your basic ‘ok’ action movie (lots and lots of fight scenes, people getting beaten up, guns and bombs). There is some romance between Sunny and Shilpa, but it’s not that memorable, mainly, in my opinion, because there’s not a lot of chemistry there. I liked Sunny’s hard-as-nails, uncompromising performance, even if he did go waaaay over the top now and again. His dancing was awful as ever, but otherwise he was alright. I liked that you could tell he was putting his best into it. I think he did well.

‘JAAL: THE TRAP’: I found ‘Jaal’ surprisingly watchable. It’s another good-guys-against-bad-terrorists action film, but I thought it was quite well done. It has some of the same extra-patriotic overtones as ‘Indian’, with Sunny playing a patriotic musician called Ajay (he does a song called ‘Sher Dil Indian’, accompanied with bad dancing) who has also trained as a commando. He gets drawn into a trap by terrorists, and the story is about how it all happens and how he gets out. There are a few unexpected twists and turns along the way, and I liked that.

Sunny is quite good in this film – he has a good range – I of course found the whole ‘musician’ thing totally unbelievable (especially when he started to dance), but he does very well with the action bits, the romantic bits and even the odd comedic bit. He and Tabu (in quite a good performance by her, I thought) had very nice chemistry, right up to the end. Reema Sen basically plays an irritating brat - but she does it well, although there's zero chemistry between her and Sunny. As for Anupam Kher – I wasn’t quite convinced by his role, but it was ok. Amrish Puri is really good playing Sunny Deol’s dad in this film, and I loved all their scenes together – especially the one where they’re on a bike together. Farida Jalal had a teeny role as Ajay’s mother.

Another thing ‘Jaal’ has going for it is really nice music – I enjoyed all the songs and thought they were nicely picturised, in a way that tied in well with the story – there’s quite a bemusing bit where in the middle of a romantic song, Tabu and Sunny are interrupted by rampaging sheep, helicopters and terrorists. They do the same thing in another romantic song, this time with Reema. I have to say I liked the oddness of it.

‘Jaal’ has its faults – there are some holes in the plot and some undue violence and unnecessary killing (but then, it’s an action film, and you find that a lot, in Bollywood and everywhere else), and the train scene at the climax drags a bit. There are also some silly and overdone stunts, like when they try to make what’s obviously a bungee jump appear to be a freefall – twice. And the rom-com bits are just plain silly and nonsensical. But generally I liked this movie and I enjoyed Sunny’s performance.

The critics say Sunny Deol has no range as an actor, but I’d like to offer up a few specimens from ‘Jaal’ to counter that claim…

The don’t-you-mess-with-me-cos-I’m-such-a-baddddassss expression:
The if-I-wasn’t-such-a-baddddassss-I’d-be-peeing-in-my-pants-right-now expression:
The WTH? expression:
The you’ve-rocked-my-world-and-touched-me-to-the-depths-of-my-soul expression:
The I’m-such-a-cool-dude-with-my-collar-up-like-this expression:
And finally… the I-must-do-what-I-must-do-and-not-be-shaken expression:

And here are some of the many resources on Sunny Deol available on the web… - An interview after the release of ‘The Hero’. He has some sweet words to say about this dad – totally love that. - His BollyWHAT entry. - Quite a sweet interview. - The patriotic thing comes through here. - A good profile with some startlingly old-fashioned views on fatherhood from Sunny, and links to other resources. - Basking in the success of ‘Gadar’. - Very entertaining article on his films and personal life – a bit gossip-rag-ish, though. - A neat little bit of introspection. - His IMDb miscellaneous links - His IMDb entry - His Wikipedia entry


I must warn that there are some spoilers in this.

00.39 I hereby bestow upon thee the In Praise of All Things Dharmendra-Related award for the most unappealing opening frame ever.

04.11 Awww… you don’t want the pretty garland? Maa, you seem very sad. What gives? Oh, I see... it reminds you of your bridal garland, huh? Flashback time…

07.07 Mr. Groom, you look both terrified and eager… I’d be spooked if I was your dulhan…

09.02 Giving your groom a leg-massage on the wedding night? Oh dear… so who gives you a massage?

10.26 And so the slaving away begins… poor dear, you have to help the in-laws pay off their mortgage…. Not exactly an auspicious welcome.

12.23 Well at least your husband seems nice enough for a coy game or two…

16.23 Hubby seems nice enough, and he’s got a sweet smile… but I get the strong feeling something terrible will happen to him soon.

17.31 Oh goody, a song! It’s about time we had one.

21.14 A little bitty bachcha… awww….

23.00 Oh no… turns out mother-in-law was swindled by the evil money-lender. Injustice!

38.04 I love the gutsiness of this kid. So great.

42.06 Awww… why can’t this sort of sadness and despair be confined to the movies? This movie is a real downer. Nice fake clouds though.

42.27 Radha is a good woman, if I were in this situation, not only would I let my hubby beat the horrible moneylender up, I’d probably join in. But violence solves nothing, and Radha, wise woman that she is, knows this.

43.09 Gotta love this kid. Who played him? I think he’s remarkable.

44.07 Awww… and you were such a good man up till now! Why hit your good wife who has done all she can to support and care for you and the kids? Why? This film is very upsetting.

45.07 Kids are amazingly resilient. The older ones who are more aware of their dire straits are sad, the youngest smiling away. God bless children.

46.09 How beautiful. These people are determined to make me cry.

47.05 It was obvious that something terrible would happen to Shamu – but it’s terribly depressing nonetheless.

48.23 So not PC… but sweet and charming anyway.

50.46 The only phrase I can use to describe this is a kicked around cliché – ‘man’s inhumanity to man’.

56.44 This is just so sad. It’s a good song though.

1.00.07 What? Dadi’s dead too??!! No doubt Shamu’s death was a contributing factor.

1.01.10 Wow, a death, a new life… the circle of life. Eeyah, four kids and only you, Radha?

1.02.03 I love this kid. Bas.

1.03.47 Talk about an iconic image. Wow – great picture. Nargis was bahut khoobsurat.

1.07.42 This looks very DeMillean… nice shot.

1.08.36 Na wa o... in fact e be like say na pidgin wey I go take nack dis one. Oyibo no go do am, dis one don pass me. Wich kain wahala bi dis now? Sufferhead don join bodi.

1.09.06 Wow… powerful imagery – woman and mother, carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders – like some Greek god. The divinity of womanhood.

1.10.16 Oh great, now she has to go and lose her strongest reminder of her dear Shamu as well. There is really no end to Radha’s suffering, is there?

1.14.59 How many women have been forced to make these terrible choices?

1.15.49 Powerful. This is a great performance by Nargis. I will have to look for more of her films now.

1.18.04 Those 3 dots on the chin. I remember Ash had them in ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ too. Is it a religious symbol, or cultural or both? I’ve also noticed that a lot of words I’m used to hearing with the ‘z’ sound (ziruddh, zameen) are being pronounced with the ‘j’ sound (jiruddh, jameen) in ‘Mother India’. Is this a different regional dialect of Hindi?

1.19.06 I really hate it when they don’t subtitle the songs, especially when the songs are so significant. And didn’t they subtitle the last song where she was yearning for Shamu? I really need to know what she’s saying here.

1.21.06 Testimony to the woman’s ability to inspire and lead…

1.21.21 They’re big boys now… as an old friend would say, hmmm, how time flies!

1.23.28 Eeyah… wouldn’t it have been great if this could have happened? But life had other plans – plans of hardship and heartbreak…

1.24.28 Again, I so do love this kid! If it weren’t for the ‘be careful what you wish for’ thing, I’d wish for a kid as lively and full of oats as this one!

1.25.04 I’m so loving the music in this film

1.32.04 Wait a minute, wait a minute… so all the ‘ah ah, ooh ooh’ Birju was doing was a ploy to ‘toast’ this girl – to tell her she’s nicer than all the village belles? And here I was thinking he was coming to learn so that he could read Sukhi Lala’s account books… oh, okay he was getting to that part…

1.33.06 Sacrificing so much and yet still getting robbed…

1.38.01 I miss Nargis… she totally dominates this movie… it’s mean, but I really don’t want to see her son’s girlfriend dancing around. But the song is pretty hot.

1.41.31 Awww, this is very pretty. Sunset and shadows…

1.42.43 This is my first Sunil Dutt film – bahut scary aadmi hai. I see where Sanjay gets ‘it’.

1.44.47 Oh dear… super-tragic as it was, I think I’m liking pre-interval ‘Mother India’ better than post-interval ‘Mother India’. It’s getting a tad draggy now. Quit clowning and get to the point, Birju.

1.45.34 Oh that’s so sweet, she really loved her Shamu… can’t blame her, he was kinda sweet, except for that time he hit her…

1.47.31 Apparently Birju is still a kid – he never grew up. Oh my.

1.48.06 I just might be scarred for life after watching this… there’s so much here to make you lose hope in humanity.

1.51.06 Not only did Birju never grow up; he also seems to be off his rocker.

1.57.06 Birju and Radha are so cute together. I’d be sorta jealous if I were Ramu.

2.00.04 I love Nargis. This is such a good performance. This scene is so cute.

2.02.02 Okay okay, what kind of nonsense is this? I’m not watching ‘Mother India’ for bowls of swinging pudding and such messy frivolities; I came here to get ‘edjumacated’… LOL

2.05.04 Birju, why the heck would you go and tell your chief tormentor that your suit has been rejected?

2.11.50 Ramu is living his father’s life. Which means, tragedy is about to strike this family again.

2.13.59 Hell no, Birju. You did NOT just slap your bhabhi. Hell to the no. You should be hung out to dry for that.

2.14.20 I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that Birju slapped her or the fact that Ramu is shrugging it off. Nasty.

2.16.20 Awww, she’s still missing Shamu…

2.18.10 A Holi song – wasn’t expecting one in this film. Nice.

2.20.20 Aww... this kid, I’ve missed you! These flashback/what-might’ve-been scenes are tough to watch – so moving.

2.23.25 Birju is crazy for real. What has possessed him to ruin Holi? I know – it’s love for his mother.

2.24.58 The warning to not argue with men makes me smile – a grim smile. How often have I heard that ‘women shouldn’t argue with men’ spiel – especially in the village?

2.26.20 Okay now this is getting insane – this is really more than enough tragedy!

2.35.06 Okay now this all just too crazy for words…. WTH?!

2.40.28 Talk about a demanding role – this one just takes the cake! Is there anything Nargis hasn’t done in this role?

2.46.09 Oh Birju, what hast thou done to thyself?

2.49.17 Powerful metaphor here on the uses of knowledge, I think.

2.53.03 Ok now that’s just insane – Radha, how COULD you? (I mean, I know why you did it, but still, it's BIRJU??!!) And that horse is just plain nasty.

2.54.04 And here comes the fresh but tainted wave of modernity… washing out the old and bringing in the new? Was the old bad? Will the new be better? Questions with no answers…

This was hard to watch but somehow I know I’ll do it again, to see if I can learn more and dig deeper into the layers of the film, as I’m sure a lot of it has gone straight over my head… I liked the first half of the film better than the second, but the whole film is really good.


Ok... this, my first liveblog, might also be my last. Who knew liveblogging was such hard work? And with my suckiness at summarising stuff, it's probably not the best option for me. It was fun to try it, though.

Friday, March 23, 2007

My first liveblog…

…will be posted sometime this weekend. I absolutely love and adore liveblogs, especially when they have that great balance of fun, wit, humour, individuality and insight – like the liveblogs that show up here and here, and the one that was recently posted here.

I’ve never done a liveblog, mostly because I know I can’t match up to the quality produced by the bloggers mentioned above, so why try? But I’ve decided to do one about a very unlikely movie for a liveblog… Mehboob's 'Mother India'. ‘Mother India’, starring Nargis in what has become a legendary performance, is not really the kind of film you do a liveblog about – it’s basically a sad story. But I thought it would be interesting to document my experience with it. I thought this was my first experience with it until I watched and realized I’ve seen this movie before, when I was very, very young – and the fact that a few of the images have stayed with me is a testimony to the power of the film.

‘Mother India’ is a very, very popular Indian film here in Nigeria – it’s still showing in cinemas in northern Nigeria. It is the story of a woman, Radha, and her extraordinary (yet, sadly, for many women around the world, not that extraordinary), difficult (to say the least) life. It’s also the story of Shambhu (Radha’s husband), Ramu and Birju (Radha’s children), and Sukhi Lalla, the evil moneylender who oppresses Radha and her family for many years.

Radha is a metaphor for womanhood, motherhood, divinity, faithfulness, perseverance, unconditional love and righteousness. She is also a metaphor for the motherland, India; and for the oppressed and downtrodden, in India and everywhere. She is a metaphor for being a survivor, for overcoming odds, for strength. She is inspirational, she is heartbreaking, she is beautiful, she is also very human. And her story is told very well, with some truly iconic images and sequences, good music, and of course fantastic acting. Some of the themes explored in the telling of Radha's life-story are womanhood, motherhood, religion, education, westernization, modernization, economic development, truth, goodness, self-expression, self-actualisation, independence, freedom from oppression and social justice. And I'm sure there are more that I missed.

Some have described ‘Mother India’ as a feminist film. I don’t see that at all – I don’t feel there is much that’s ground-breaking or radical about the character and representation of Radha, or about the gender-defined roles she fulfils. What’s ground-breaking for me is the degree of attention which is paid to her internal and external struggle, her survival and her story, and this is only possible because of Nargis’ extraordinary performance.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


It occurs to me that I haven’t done anything really, really, hardcore-ly Dharmendra-related in a while… although I did mention Abhay in my last-but-one post. So I’ve decided it’s time to start executing an idea that was hatched in my mind a little while ago. It’s a series about the children of Dharmendra – not all of them, just the ones that act… Sunny, Bobby and Esha. This is fun for me, and helps me learn more about them – it’s also good prep for the much-anticipate movie ‘Apne’, which will be released later this year and will star Sunny, Bobby and Dharam all together in one movie (for the first time). None of the ‘Junior Deols’ can match Daddy’s success, but they haven’t done too badly either.

Each part of my series will consist of basic facts about each actor, as well as my impressions of them. Dharam is obviously proud of the fact that his sons are actors. As for Esha, who’s very close to him… he’s expressed the opinion that Bollywood is not a place for young women…. but she’s acting anyway, so good on her.

So let the series begin… today’s star is Bobby. Ain't he cute??

Ooh, forgot to mention that each part of this three-part series shall be accompanied by an original (and very bad, I must warn you) song, ‘Dharam’s Children’ to be sung to the popular tune of G. F. Handel’s classic, ‘Canticorum Iubilo’ (or ‘Zion’s Daughter’, if you’re into Boney M). Daft, I know, but I like it… here is the first part of the song…


Dharam’s children
By Hema or by Prakash
Almost all of them are actors
Bollywood actors

First in line is Bobby
Kicking off this song
He’s not such a bad actor
He likes his hair long

(Repeat Chorus)

Bobby Deol was born Vijay Singh Deol on 27 January 1967 (he recently turned forty), to Dharam Singh Deol (Dharmendra) and his then-wife, Prakash Kaur. Bobby’s first movie was ‘Dharam Veer’, a star-studded epic starring his father, Zeenat Aman, and many other stars. He played the young Dharam, and was only 10 years old when the film was released. He is listed in the credits as ‘Bobby Junior Dharmendra’, which I think is pretty darned hilarious.

Anyway, since ‘Dharam Veer’, Bobby has gone on to become a fairly successful Bollywood actor, though not exactly one of the stars of the industry. Incidentally, after ‘Dharam Veer’, he didn’t act again until the mid-90s, when he was already almost 30 years old – quite a late start by Bollywood standards (I’m still trying to find out why). Anyway, with his late start in mind, I think he’s done well for himself.

Bobby is over six feet tall (this surprised me for some reason – maybe because all the extremely ugly and loud shirts he likes wearing make him look shorter - it was soo hard to find pictures for this feature because most of his pictures are of him in ugly shirts!), and unlike Sunny, doesn’t look very much like Dad. He’s still quite good-looking though, though not in a conventional way – I think he has very nice eyes, but I'm not sure about that hair he seems to favour - and he sometimes looks a little oily - but anyway, he's not bad-looking. He is married to Tanya Ahuja (daughter of wealthy finance guru Dev Ahuja) and has two little boys, 4-year-old Aryaman and 2-year-old Dharam (named after his Dad – awwww). He’s very close to his family, especially his big brother Sunny.

He is listed on IMDb as having appeared in about thirty movies, the latest being ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’ (apparently he and Preity Zinta had a fight during filming – over a curling iron LOL! Actually, it was apparently a prank by Preity that Bobby didn’t think was funny – she hid his curling iron – LOL!). Interestingly, he’s made two movies of the same name – ‘Barsaat’ (1995) and ‘Barsaat’ (2005). Some of his more popular movies are ‘Soldier’ (with Preity Zinta), ‘Ajnabee’ (with Akshay Kumar) and ‘Gupt’ (with Kajol). He’s done both action roles and and ‘softer’ romantic/dramatic parts. Bobby is known for not being a good dancer, a trait shared with his father and brother, although I personally think he’s the best dancer of the three (that’s certainly not saying much!) I think his dancing’s not that bad, actually (but many think otherwise).

Despite the fact that he has won a Filmfare Award (in 1996 for ‘Best Newcomer’ in the first ‘Barsaat’) and was nominated for another in 2003 for ‘Best Actor’ (for 2002’s ‘Humraaz’), Bobby is generally thought of as a fairly good actor who can make a fairly ok kind of movie – and who has had his fair share of flops. I happen to think he’s quite good as an actor, but he just hasn’t made great choices of material (or hasn’t been offered really great material). I know, I sound like his PR person… but I mean that. I also like the fact that he seems to just keeps trying…

Anyway, let me just talk about the two (measly number, I know) Bobby Deol movies I’ve seen. Both were made by Suneel Darshan.

‘Dosti – Friends Forever’ (2005): This film stars Bobby and Akshay Kumar. There are also rather lackluster performances by Kareena Kapoor and Lara Dutta; as well as a very cute, nicely-executed little role for Juhi Chawla.

Bobby and Akshay play childhood friends who grow up together into adulthood. Bobby is a spoilt, neglected rich kid on the outs with his parents (he took a poor kid – Akshay – under his wing as a kid and has lived with him since). So anyway, Akshay falls for another childhood friend, played by Kareena, and wants to marry her, but due to some family drama, things go awry. Meanwhile, Bobby is led a merry dance by the lively Lara, who later dumps him (with good reason). Things get even more angst-ridden later in the film, but perhaps I shouldn’t reveal why. Eventually, anyway, Bobby and Lara reconcile, and Bobby finally gets his act together, makes up with his family, and becomes a better man – all thanks to Akshay.

To be honest, the story of the film is a bit blah. It’s an uneven, lumpy mishmash of several Bollywood staples – rich kid/poor kid, love/betrayal, dying young, two lifelong friends blah blah. It doesn’t really work. There are other problems with it – like the fact that the kids apparently are 10 years old in 2005 but are also 30 years old in 2005.

What really works for me, though, is the way Akshay and Bobby interact as friends. I really like their performances and their chemistry together – the way they bounce off each other, support each other, and give each other space to ‘be’. One thing I picked up strongly on in this film is that Bobby is that rarest of the species – a generous actor. He really lets Akshay do his thing (but doesn’t use it as an excuse not to do his own part well). I love the scene where he’s railing at God – he doesn’t go over the top as almost any other actor would – he keeps it restrained and actually makes the moment a bit profound.

I really liked that I could follow the arc of Bobby’s character in this film, and see him grow and develop, and I liked the way he and Askhay did comedic bits and sad bits with equal aplomb. I enjoyed Bobby’s performance in this film – it was quite muted but I would not (as others have) call it half-hearted – I think it was really mature and interesting. And even his dancing wasn’t that bad.

‘Barsaat’ (2005): Finding out that Bobby actually won awards for his performance in a film of the same name over a decade ago makes me sad – because this second ‘Barsaat’ is just not good. The story, basically a remake of ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, is paper-thin. Bobby (funny enough, the role was meant for Akshay initially) plays an NRI who has ‘outgrown India’ and basically wants to live a rich and fabulous life with a rich and glamorous heiress called Anna, played Bipasha Basu. Unfortunately, the silly cad is already married to his childhood friend, played by Priyanka Chopra, who he’s left behind in India. He claims he is no longer interested in the marriage – so he tries to get a divorce during an emergency trip home.

If this story had been treated differently, it could’ve been ok. But it turns into a boring sequence of scenes with Bobby very rudely and horribly demanding a divorce from Priyanka over and over again, treating her like trash. Priyanka eventually gets to show Bobby that she actually has some substance to her, but even that is half-hearted and unconvincing. And Bips is just terrible in this role – it’s totally wrong for her and she comes off very fake and insincere.

What made this film a bit watchable for me are a couple of sweet scenes with Bobby and Priyanka – I like the one right at the end; and the fact that Priyanka looks and sounds great (she does some singing on the soundtrack) even if she is unconvincing as well (not half as bad as Bipasha though).

These two films, though neither is really a good movie, have made me want to see a bit more of Bobby – I think he has acting talent and there is a sensitivity to him that I like – very modern-noughties-man.

So that’s it for Bobby… up next in the ‘Dharam’s Children’ series is either Esha or Sunny…

Here are just a few of the gazillion resources on Bobby Deol available on the internet (I’ve read them, and they make me think he must be quite a nice guy in real life) - his Wikipedia entry - his IMDb entry (a good interview from way back in 2001, just before ‘Ajnabee') (‘I have not been lucky’ – good interview) (a more recent, upbeat interview) (he’s defending himself all the way here – in a very classy way, I think)
(he talks about family, film and other interests) (if you want to see him talk…)
(I think he’s quite down-to-earth)
(an oldie, quite sweet I think)

Monday, March 19, 2007


...Or just an excuse for yet another stonkingly bad title, anyway. This is my fiftieth post and I'm pretty stoked about it. When I started blogging, I had no idea I'd still be blogging 50 posts later. This blog has been great fun for me, and it's given me a nice little personal space in which to express my feelings about Bollywood and movies in general. Carla once described her site as a labour of love, and I feel the same about this blog. It's very time-consuming, but it's great fun, and it gives me a useful reference point for how these movies have made (and still make) me feel.

Hearing from the readers of this blog is really the icing on the cake. It's great to connect with other Bollywood fans around the world and to share our common (and not-so-common) experiences with these movies. It's great to learn about the different things others have taken away from the movies I've seen, from the hilarious, to the inspirational, to the educative, to the fun. I really love getting comments and exchanging views (hint, hint). I also get a kick out of looking at my site stats and seeing that people have come here looking for pictures and stuff and have found them.

Anyway, I'd like to use this post to plug, which is a pretty interesting movie site, and which has given me some fab widgets to liven up my old picture-less posts with! So thanks, I love your widgets!

Sunday, March 18, 2007


‘Omkara’ is a very lovely film. I especially love the fact that it is very Shakespearean in tone, yet very Indian at the same time. As an adaptation of ‘Othello’, it succeeds admirably. As a Bollywood production, I think it’s in a class of its own. It’s very ‘grown’, there’s just something ‘mature’ about the film that really appeals to me. There are some lovely scenic shots in the movie that just stay in your memory, and some breath-taking sequences. The music is great (I love the ‘Beeri’ song), and the stellar, dynamic cast does a great job.

Ajay Devgan as ‘Omkara’ is dark, brooding, and just beautiful to watch, like he was in ‘Company’ – I always like him in roles like this. Saif Ali Khan – I totally see why his performance as ‘Langda’ has garnered such praise. It’s a marvellous performance and so unlike his typically ‘pretty boy’ roles. Nice one – I hope he continues to stretch himself like this – I like the guts he exhibited in taking on this role. Vive(i)k Oberoi still has 'that puppydog cuteness' as Amy aptly calls it, in his performance as ‘Kesu’, but he proves again that he’s also a promising actor.

I’m no Bebo fan, but I have to admit she does well in this role – I especially liked her in her final scene – she conveyed the heartbreak and pain of her character well. As with ‘Asoka’, I can’t really fault Kareena in this film. Konkona Sen Sharma pulls off a relatively small but actually pretty challenging role with class. And Bipasha Basu (who, God bless her, can’t act but makes up for it in sheer va-va-voom) is fantastic in her dance numbers as the seductive ‘Billo’.

One thing I liked about ‘Omkara’ is that there are no glowing, positive characters – everyone has that slight shadowing to them – they’re all flawed (some more than others) and really not very admirable (even ‘Dolly’, Kareena’s character, is fully aware of what Omi does and still wants him), which makes it easier to sort of stoop to their level and try to understand their motivations. It’s fascinating to watch how their enemies are not outside them (although they think they are) but within them. Their enemies are their fears and doubts, their mistrust, their blind trust. It’s enlightening and instructive to see how we often can inexorably lead ourselves to our own deaths and fail to grasp at the lifesavers that get tossed out to us now again, mainly because of our lack of esteem, confidence and trust in ourselves. In that sense, as I said before, it’s a very Shakespearean Bollywood film.

I usually don’t like sad endings, but I guess they’re easier to live with when they’re expected. I wish they’d toned down the whole darkness/light imagery thing between Omi and Dolly, though – after a while I was like ‘Ok, we got it. There’s a contrast. Othello is dark, Desdemona is fair. We get it!’ But that’s really a very small complaint. I loved this film.

I have to complain about this, though – this is really not fair, not when I am sincerely doing my level best not to have a full-fledged crush on Mr. Devgan. This is just not right…

And, why, pray tell me, WHY have they gotta do this to me??

And this… this is just so wrong on so many levels… so so so unfair.

I saw ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.’ based on Carla’s review. I had seen the trailer a while ago and thought it would be very daft, but I agree with Filmi Geek’s assessment of it – taken for what it tries to be (a fun, light-hearted movie with a few life lessons here and there), it’s really quite good. It is realistic in some parts, and fun and OTT in others - but I think it all balances out pretty well. I really liked it. The music was nice, most of the acting was good, and it worked for me. But where did they get that wooden, stilted guy (Vikram Chatwal) from? His acting needs a great deal of work - his delivery was pretty painful to watch - I found myself dreading his scenes, a shame since his co-star (Sandhya Mridul) was really good. But Angela would be proud of her boyfriend in this movie, he has just a little screen time but he looks so so good and does so well with what’s he’s given. Nice…

Anyway, the notable thing about seeing this movie for me is that I think I am now in love with my dear Dharam’s nephew (and lookalike), Abhay Deol. Sure, he’s not as fine as his uncle (but then, few men are), but he looks pretty damned good to me – and he can dance (which, in the Deol family, means a lot). Ed.: He actually claims he can't dance, though. So yeah, I think I’m in love. Dharam still has my heart, but I’ve given a little teeny piece of it to Abhay (no big deal, lots of actors have little bits of my heart – the good thing is that there’s more than enough to go round). And now I shall promptly stop being silly… Enjoy your week, everyone.