Thursday, December 24, 2009


I have so thoroughly enjoyed participating in this year's Filmi Secret Santa Project, birthed and so graciously organised by Beth Loves Bollywood. I had a great time putting gifts together for my recipient, and I received lots of awesomely creative and fun gifts from my very generous Secret Santa, all of which I've very proudly showed off on this blog.

All good things, alas, must come to an end, and so today, I received my final fabulous Christmas from my Secret Santa, with this note:

So here we are at last on Day 12 of Christmas. Dharam has defeated all evil with the force of his beauty and all that remains is to sing the end-of-whoop-ass-all's-well-that-ends-well song and invite his friends for a party! And so it came to pass.

... and this beautiful collage...

What I wouldn't give to be at that party!

I also finally got to find out who my most benevolent and excellent Secret Santa is... and (drumroll please!) she is none other than the witty and charming Amrita of the wonderful Indiequill, one of my favourite blogs. Thank you so much Amrita, your gifts were one of the best highlights of this season. Have a very Merry Christmas and a great 2010!!!

And Happy Holidays to everyone!


More deliciousness from Secret Santa:

On the 11th day of Christmas, Daddy's Girl puts her plan into action - Beautiful Dharam will solve all!!

Beautiful Dharam's Recipe for Success Against Evil:

One part reassurance - he'll forgive you. Promise! Just be good! Won't you be good for him?

One part seduction - don't you want a kissy? A teensy weensy kissy? Well, you know what you got to do for it!

Two parts shame - shame on your evilness! Look how unhappy it makes him! Are you satisfied now? He's so disappointed in you! How can you live with yourself, evil person?

Two parts promise - he'll introduce you to his cool friends! He'll be the brother you never had!

Two parts stalking - he doesn't like to do it, you understand. It's beneath his hotness. But sometimes a guy's gotta do what he's gotta do.

Two parts treat - you play nice and you know what happens? He treats you like a princess! He'll carry the baskets and he'll pour you champagne.

One part sugar - well, blush! Only if you're really good, mind.

BUT!! If nothing will get through your thick head - then Dharam is going to get Garam!

Bow! Bow before the power of the perfection that is Dharam!

Now... what could I possibly add to that? Except, thank you so much for all this awesomeness, Santa!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


This (being cast as the amazing Ms. Andrews in our ongoing filmi saga) is so good for my ego! Ha ha!! LOVE my planning outfit.....

"On the 10th day of Christmas, Daddy's Girl is distressed to see that The Perfect Boy is clearly overwhelmed. Just look at his face of "Nahiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!"But no worries! Daddy's Girl has a plan. That's her planning outfit as you can see."


My Santa sends me the best stuff ever... here's the latest:

with these words:

"Daddy's Girl's worst apprehensions come true - EVIL HAPPENINGS are taking place! Oh no! So evil! So hot! So dire!"

So totally awesome! I love it!!!


Ok, can I just say I LOVE my Secret Santa?! Everything (s)he sends me is SO perfect!!! How on earth did (s)he know that I LOVE Julie Andrews and that one of my all-time favourite Julie Andrew movies is 'Victor/Victoria'? Again, I LOVE my Secret Santa!

Here's my latest gift... in our ongoing saga, Secret Santa has cast me as the fabulous Ms Andrews....

"On the eighth day of Christmas, everybody seems to have forgotten that there is evil afoot! What is wrong with all these filmi people? But never fear, Daddy's Girl is here to keep an eye on her Perfect Boy from afar."

Sunday, December 20, 2009


My awesome Secret Santa has very kindly introduced me to this very cool friend...

Santa's words?

"On the seventh day of Christmas, even Brownie the Wonder Dog finds out about our young romance. He loves them together so much, he cries hearts!"


Ah... my Secret Santa reveals 'The Boy's' adoring Maa...

Santa says:

"On the sixth day of Christmas, Maa finds out about the happy romance! And she approves! The Girl isn't quite good enough for her son who is after all, let's face it, Perfect, but she isn't half bad!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Wow, I must have been really good this year, because my awesome Secret Santa sent me this video with the following words:

"On the fifth day of Christmas, unaware of the dark clouds gathering on the horizon, The Happy Couple sing a song the way they do.

Boy: I'm a Hindi movie Boy. I'm freaked out by aggressive women with an adventurous dress sense. Girl: You're pretty, but don't try my patience!

Obviously, the Girl wins the day. The way she does!"

Santa also send me a fabulous Dharam/Mumtaz slideshow, which I absolutely adore!

Thank you so much, Secret Santa!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

SECRET SANTA 4: Enter The Vamp!

Don't you just love a good vamp? Well, the oh-so-creepy 'Potent Pint of Evil' from my last present has brought one along....

And my Secret Santa's words on this beauty?

"Potent Pint of Evil has brought his A-game to the proceedings by introducing the Super Star Vamp! Excuse her beauty! She does not mean to hurt your eyes. Just your wallet and your heart!"

SECRET SANTA 3: 'Something wicked this way comes...'

While I was basking in the gorgeousness of Dharmendra and Mumtaz, my secret Santa sent me this, with these words...

"On the third day of Christmas comes a Potent Pint of Evil. His eyes! His eyes! Do not look into his eyes!

What evil will he bring into the lives of the Boy and Girl? Oh, you REALLY want to stick around for the fourth day of Christmas!"

Yep, I most definitely want to stick around....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


My fabulous Secret Santa sent me this gorgeous picture of Mumtaz as a follow up to yesterday's deliciously Christmassy Dharam... along with this message:

"... On the second day of Christmas, you find out that although he's Just Perfect, he was posing for The Girl. Who's clearly had a good look and has certain, um, ideas about what she's seeing!"

Monday, December 14, 2009


My secret Santa sent me this today... love it!!!

The decades of Dharam series will continue shortly....

Monday, December 07, 2009


I am making up for lost time, I suppose... this is my second 'Faces' post (the first was about Dharam and Sharmila), and I just adore this woman's face. As Dustedoff put it, I love everything about Mumtaz. Adorable and sexy at the same time. Great smile, cute nose, beautiful eyes. A fabulous dancer. So lushly gorgeous. And there is something so... alive and expressive about her face. I also love the spirit, feistiness and fun she brought to a lot of her characters. Such a beautiful woman....

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Tomorrow, my very favourite Bollywood superstar will turn 74. And not long after that, a new decade will commence (whatever will we call it by the way? Coming up with 'noughties' for this decade was hard enough!). Dharmendra started his movie career in 1960, so he has now been in the acting business for 5 whole decades! Impressive, huh? Anyway, I haven’t talked about him on this blog for a while, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity….

Although his career graph has dipped in places over the years, and he (in my opinion) hasn’t received the accolades he deserves for some of the fantastic work he’s done, it’s unquestionable that Dharam has had a terrific career. Over the next few days, I thought it would be fun to take a quick look at his work over the past 5 decades.

Much as I love Dharmendra, there’s A LOT about him that I don’t know, and A LOT of his movies that I’m yet to see, so please don’t except a thrilling and informative series! I’ll just talk generally about each decade, selecting one film per decade as a reference point, and hopefully picking up some new info as I go along. Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby present ‘The Decades of Dharam’. Here’s to the next one!

The 60s – A Star Is Born

Dharmendra made over 40 films in the swinging sixties, and by the end of that decade, he was already established as one of the industry’s leading actors. Dharam kicked off his career with a role in ‘Dil Bhi Tera, Hum Bhi Tere’ (1960). Dustedoff has a great review of the film here. Young and gawky as he looked, by the time of this movie, Dharam had already been married for several years, to Prakash Kaur, who remains a mysterious figure, which is probably just the way she likes it! Anyway, back to Dharam - he was even a daddy by the time he made his first film - his older son, Sunny, was already toddling around.

Dil Bhi Tera, Hum Bhi Tere’ was an unremarkable but promising start, and before long, Dharmendra was working with reputable directors like Bimal Roy (‘Bandini’, in 1963) and Hrishikesh Mukherjee, with whom he worked on several movies in the 60s. Many of the films Dharam made in the early 60s were forgettable, with a few exceptions. ‘Bandini’ and ‘Soorat Aur Seerat’ were probably the most noteworthy. The rest weren’t terrible films, either, though. They gave Dharmendra a nice bit of exposure and experience... and he built on that foundation to become the confident and polished performer that emerged by the end of the 60s.

By the early to mid 60s, Dharam was also already co-starring with more established actors such as Mala Sinha (‘Anpadh’, ‘Pooja Ke Phool’, ‘Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi’, ‘Jab Yaad Kisi Ki Aati Hai’), Balraj Sahni (‘Bandini’, ‘Anpadh’, 'Haqeeqat'), Nutan Behl (‘Bandini’, ‘Soorat Aur Seerat’, ‘Dulhan Ek Raat Ki’) and Ashok Kumar (‘Bandini’). It doesn't seem like he exploded onto the scene or anything, but the young man from Sahnewal was off to a pretty good start. His fame grew steadily through the 60s, and by the late 60s, he was very bankable (despite the meteoric rise to fame of megastar Rajesh Khanna, in 1969).

The 60s are also notable for at least one relationship that made a huge impact on the young Dharmendra both personally and professionally… in 1964, ‘Maain Bhi Ladki Hun’, his first film opposite Meena Kumari, was released. It is said that it was around this time that a newly divorced Meena and a very married Dharmendra began a romantic relationship that would last several years. By the time she met Dharam and worked with him on ‘Maain Bhi Ladki Hun’, Meena was already a huge star… in fact, some would argue that most of her best work was already behind her, and following her split from her husband, Kamaal Amrohi, she had begun to battle alcoholism and depression.

Dharmendra and Meena made several other movies together in the 60s: ‘Purnima’ (1965), ‘Kaajal’ (1965), O. P. Ralhan’s classic ‘Phool Aur Patthar’ (1966), ‘Majhli Didi’ (1967), ‘Chandan Ka Palna’ (1967) and ‘Baharon Ki Manzil' (1967). ‘Phool Aur Patthar’ and ‘Kaajal’ were probably the most successful of these Dharam/Meena films, but most viewers are of the opinion that Dharam and Meena did not make a great onscreen jodi. Not having seen any of these movies (I have ‘Phool Aur Patthar’ and ‘Kaajal’ but haven’t gotten round to watching them), I don't have a take on this yet.

The relationship between Dharmendra and Meena Kumari was apparently the subject of much controversy in those days, it seems, and there’s still much said about it today. Some allege that Dharam used Meena and her massive fame to further his fledgling career, taking advantage of her despondency and alcoholism, then callously moving on when it was over. Others are of the opinion that Meena used Dharam to boost her ego and revive her career for a while. Still others feel that both actors used each other. Some say there was genuine love and affection between the pair, and that it was not the mercenary relationship it’s often painted as. Who knows? Whatever they may have meant to each other in their years together, though, it would seem that their liaison brought neither of them lasting joy.

Dharmendra did enjoy some less... momentous professional pairings with actresses in the 60s though. I’ve already mentioned his work with the gorgeous Nutan andwith Mala Sinha. He starred opposite the talented Vyjayanthimala (‘Pyar Hi Pyar’). He made some films with Asha Parekh (‘Shikar’, ‘Aya Sawan Jhoom Ke’). He also worked with Saira Banu on films like ‘Ayee Milan Ki Bela’, ‘Aadmi Aur Insaan’ and ‘Shaadi’; and in the mid-60s, one my very favourite pairings, the stylish and gorgeous Dharmendra/Sharmila jodi, was born. In the 60s, Dharam and Sharmila Tagore worked together on ‘Devar’, ‘Anupama’, ‘Satyakam’, ‘Yakeen’ and ‘Mere Humdum Mere Dost’.

Which brings me to my film choice for this decade – ‘Satyakam’, in which Dharam stars with Sharmila Tagore and Ashok Kumar. It’s a serious, slightly melancholic, sometimes heavy-handed film, helmed by the late Hrishikesh Mukherjee, my all-time favourite Hindi film director. Light years away from the lighter masala fare that Dharam would make in the 1970s, it is dark, somber and complex (if you’re interested, read my lengthy thoughts on it here). And, despite the fact that I generally don’t like sad films, I love it.

Anupama’, also directed by Mukherjee and co-starring ‘Dharmila’ (sorry, I just had to go there!), is much simpler, and far less oppressive in tone, with better music (‘Ya Dil Ki Suno Duniyawalon’ is simply divine). The cinematography in ‘Anupama’ is also just gorgeous, but I’ve chosen ‘Satyakam’ over it because I think it captures and represents the mature, gutsy and confident actor that Dharam had become by the end of the 60s. He took on a character that many would consider unlikeable in his inflexibility, and he depicted him truthfully and gracefully, without playing to the gallery. His performance was beautifully restrained, thoughtful, thought-provoking, multi-layered. And he looked gorgeous as always. Who could possibly ask for more?

In the 60s, Dharmendra played lots of different roles - from students and lawyers, to teachers and doctors, to secret agents and policemen, with even a couple of villains thrown in... but one thing is sure, he always looked delicious doing whatever the script required. His sex symbol reputation definitely took hold during this decade. He was viewed as a handsome, romantic leading man with a difference –he could look and act tough, but he definitely had a softer, more sensitive side. And the fans swooned!

Dharam started off the 60s making more serious, ‘social commentary’ type films, and although by the end of the 60s he was still making serious films like ‘Satyakam’, he also started doing the ‘fun stuff’ that he would do a lot more of in the 70s – he made spy flicks ‘Yakeen’ and ‘Ankhen’ in the late 60s. He also took on thrillers like ‘Baazi’, (opposite Waheeda Rehman).

Up next… the 70s, possibly Dharam’s best decade… and definitely my favourite!!!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


It’s been a while… I haven’t felt inspired to post anything new in a long time. My love for Bollywood hasn’t waned though… I still read all my favourite Bollyblogs with keen interest, and I still keep tabs on what’s showing at our local cinemas, even if the last one I saw was ‘Wanted’, back in… September, I think (I really liked it). The truth is there’s just been too much going on in my life to allow me the simple pleasures of watching and writing about Hindi films. I really haven’t had the time or the inclination to sit down and watch an entire Bollywood film in ages.

That will probably change soon, though, after I get through this whirlwind of activity that always accompanies huge life changes. It’s funny… looking back; Bollywood has a tradition of being there for me at really low times… I remember that I really embraced Bollywood movies and music during my father’s long and painful struggle with cancer. I began with ‘Hum Aapke… Hain Koun!’ and ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, then quickly progressed to ‘Bunty Aur Babli’ and ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, with scores of films in between.

Then I watched some of my most memorable Bollywood films during the difficult months after my father eventually passed on – looking back, it’s funny how those days seem constantly punctuated by Hindi films:

Attending my sister’s graduation ceremony without my darling ‘Dadda’, watching ‘Do Aur Do Paanch’.

Visiting relatives in with my mother, watching ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’.

Visiting other relatives, getting bored out my mind, watching ‘Aradhana’.

Moving to a new/old city (I was born and raised in Lagos, but lived in other places for a decade before returning here), watching ‘The Burning Train’ (and falling deeply in love with Dharmendra – then starting this blog soon afterwards).

Starting a new job, watching ‘Chupke Chupke’ (and falling even harder).

Settling into the routine of my new Lagos life, watching SRK steam up the screen in ‘Don’ (and making a wonderful new friend in the process – the one I would eventually travel to India with).

So many movies are tied up with so many moments – moments of healing, painful reminders, joyful ones too. Laughter, tears, introspection, bonding. And now… reeling from the recent, sudden loss of my beloved mother, my very dearest friend in the world, I find myself craving a long sit-down with a really good Bollywood DVD (or two).

A long time ago, I wrote a post about the things I love about Bollywood. Those reasons have changed as I’ve learned more about the industry and explored more of its products, but one thing remains constant – Bollywood still reminds me of how much I love my family; of the powerful, soul-deep, bittersweet joy/pain that comes with bonding with these people you are given to, through no choice of your own, when you enter the world. I was incredibly blessed in the parent stakes – I got the most amazing parents – the easiest people in the world to love; and even if that makes losing them that much more painful, I’m so incredibly glad and grateful to have had them in my life for the time I did.

I can’t think about Bollywood without thinking of my mother… of how she sat down with me and watched the rather painful ‘Pardes’ (and how she called me ‘I love my India’ for weeks after, after the oh-so-cheesy song from the film). I know there were a million other things she would rather have spent those hours doing, but she wanted to share my new passion (trust me, I made sure the next film we watched together was a good one). I remember how she took my new passion for Hindi films in her stride, although she did indulge in a brief period of worry over my DVD budget! I remember her singing her made-up faux Hindi song (basically the word ‘piya’ repeated over and over) and dancing for me, Bollywood style.

I remember how she actively encouraged me to visit India, even though lots of other people thought I was crazy for wanting to go. I remember how excited she was the first time I called her from Delhi (‘yay, you made it there finally!’). On one of our last visits together, I remember that she was using my laptop when she came across a picture of Kajol all decked out in her bridal finery (from the final scenes of KKHH), and asked me if I wanted to be dressed up like that if and when I ever got married. I remember how she cocked her head, smiled and said ‘I think it would suit you. You would look beautiful’.

It’s been over a month since I lost her, and I haven’t truly begun to miss her yet – I’m still at the stage where I just can’t believe she’s gone. I’ve had to go straight from receiving the devastating news, to planning the funeral, to taking care of all the loose ends that a sudden death leaves behind. The death of one’s parents is truly the end of an era – everything changes profoundly, from smaller things like Christmas holiday plans to bigger things like having to lock up a house that once was a home. It’s been an illuminating time – death always brings out the best and the worst in people. But I’ve never been prouder of my parents than now… watching their children pull together, hold hands and wade together through this storm. They lived well, they loved hard, and they left behind a beautiful legacy.

I’m not a huge ‘sharer’ and very rarely post anything personal on this blog, so I’m not sure why I’ve just done so. Maybe I’ve been inspired by reading posts like these, that celebrate family, both biological and otherwise. Maybe I just feel the urgent need to reiterate those well-worn clichés that ring so true to me, especially now – hold your loved ones close as you can, make the most of every moment you share with them, and never let them forget how much they mean to you. Life is short.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Polka Stripes, Zebra Dots

Been looking through some of my old posts today, and happened across what remains one of the funniest Bollywood-related things I've ever seen: this post.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

SANJAY LEELA BHANSALI: Sumptuous, Lush, Beautiful

It's been a while since I've done a Director's Round-Up... so here's one... with loads of screencaps... mainly of Aishwarya Rai... but please don't blame me for that if you're not an Ash fan - blame Sanjay Leela Bhansali!

I quite like Sanjay Leela Bhansali… he is a colourful figure – from his catfights with Farah Khan to his affection for kohl, to his occasional petulance and more-than-occasional pomposity; he has PERSONALITY. He can usually be found doing or saying something interesting – even outrageous - and that’s always fun. I like the fact that he puts himself out there and isn’t afraid to be mocked (which he usually is). I also really like his passion for film (and for actors) and his almost childlike response to both praise and criticism. But this post isn’t about Bhansali’s on-set tantrums, his complex relationships with other Bollywood personalities, his thwarted attempts to cast (and arguments with) Bebo, or his legendary love for his Maa… it’s about his work as a director.

Before taking on the directing mantle, Bhansali worked with prominent director Vidhu Vinod Chopra as assistant director (and screenwriter) on ‘1942: A Love Story’ (starring Anil Kapoor and Manisha Koirala), the classic gangster flick ‘Parinda’ (starring Nana Patekhar, Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor), and ‘Kareeb’ (with Bobby Deol and Neha). As an assistant director, SLB’s specialties were song picturisations, sound and dubbing – all very significant strengths that continue to be seen in the films he directs.

Since he started directing movies in 1996, Bhansali has certainly made a name for himself. More than that, he’s created a brand – there are certain things you can always expect to find in a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. Here are what I think are 4 of his most striking trademarks:

Visual Appeal: nothing if not an aesthete (and one of the highest order), SLB loves to create beauty onscreen. He does lots of close-ups of his (usually stunning) stars, puts lots of painstaking detail into the composition of his scenes, and just always goes for the pretty… even in a mostly sober film like ‘Black’.

He also has a distinct fondness for colour… while ‘Devdas’ overdosed on lush reds and golds, ‘Saawariya’ is bathed in hues of blue… a fact memorably lampooned by Shahrukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan in their hilarious ‘Neela Neela’ sketch at the 2008 Filmfare Awards.

Romance & Tragedy: Bhansali loves a good, old-fashioned love story. Whether it’s a husband’s unrequited love (‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’), a student’s love for her guru (‘Black’), an unstable girl’s overwhelming yearning for her storybook hero (‘Saawariya’), or a prostitute’s love for a drunken loser (‘Devdas’), there’s always a love story at the heart of SLB’s films.

And there’s also always elements of sadness and pain – in HDDCS Vanraj’s adoration of Nandini is pitted against Nandini’s love for Sameer; in ‘Black’ two lonely souls can only help each other to a certain extent; in ‘Saawariya’ Raj ends up broken-hearted despite his best attempts to sabotage Sakina's romance with Imaan; in ‘Devdas’ Chandramukhi’s pure and selfless love is poor proof against Devdas’s determination to self-destruct. There is rarely a happy ending for the protagonists in SLB’s tales of love, and even where there is one (as in HDDCS), it comes slowly and at a price (and it’s worth noting here that there are many who would disagree with me about HDDCS ending happily.)

Grandeur and Luxury: Bhansali loves to do things on a soaring, sweeping, grand scale. He loves to create fantasy in his films – an epic place far away from our mundane everyday lives… a place where strange, eventful things happen everyday. It’s never boring in his world.

His sets are so opulent as well… he likes gorgeous, glamorous things. Lots of lush, expensive silks, flowers, crystals and precious stones…. Sometimes, as with HDDCS, I love it. Sometimes, as with ‘Devdas’, I think he just goes way overboard! There was just way too much bling in that film… it just hurt my eyes sometimes!!

Music: SLB is very adventurous when it comes to the music in his films. He clearly adores music – his first film, ‘Khamoshi – The Musical’ was, as its name implies, a musical, and all his films have a strong musical element and lots of song picturisations (something I think he’s very good at). I also think he has a fantastic ear – something he doesn’t get much credit for. He is happy to take a chance on fresh, lesser-known musical talent – like Monty Sharma, Anjan Biswas and Ismail Darbar.

The music in his films is always so distinctive, creative and well-suited to the film. I think he is a genius at weaving songs into the fabric of his films… you can’t hear ‘Nimbooda’ without picturing Ash in HDDCS, ‘Chhabeela’ without thinking about Rani’s sass, ‘Dola Re Dola’ without picturing Madhuri and Ash in mid-twirl, or ‘Jab Se Tere Naina’ without picturing Ranbir in that infamous towel.

Bhansali is currently taking his love for music a step further by composing the songs for his 2010 project ‘Guzaarish’, a film which he calls ‘a tribute to Lata Mangeshkar’. Aishwarya and Hrithik, who made an effective jodi in ‘Dhoom II’ and ‘Jodhaa Akbar’, are set to co-star…. I think this is a pretty bold move; there aren't a lot of directors that also do good music (in mainstream Hindi cinema, I can only think of Vishal Bhardwaj at the moment (do you know of any others?) and of course Clint Eastwood in Hollywood).

Like most directors, SLB tends to work with the same crop of actors: Salman Khan shows up in 3 of his 5 films; and Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherjee and Zohra Sehgal show up in 2 each. He isn’t averse to new talent, though - he famously took a chance on two fresh faces when he cast Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor in ‘Saawariya’. I think he gave each of them a really great showcase – the film may have flopped, but they each made very effective industry debuts. Others will disagree, but I think SLB is definitely an actor’s director. He may be a painstaking control freak, but I don’t think that he inhibits his actors – in fact, one might argue that he sometimes over-indulges them and fails to rein them in when necessary (case in point: SRK’s performance in ‘Devdas’).

I think he actually maximizes his actors’ talents – he capitalizes on Aishwarya’s beauty and formidable dancing skills while also giving her roles that maximize her modest acting talents. He capitalizes on Salman’s youthful exuberance while also allowing him to be shallow (apologies to Sallu fans – I like the guy, but I really don’t think he has loads of depth – and while we’re on the subject, I think SLB cast Salman appropriately in ‘Saawariya’ – let’s face it, his youthful charm has worn thin. This role (tiny as it was) had a little maturity to it, something Sallu Chacha desperately needs at this point). On the flipside, Bhansali gives Rani Mukherjee demanding roles (although he should have used her more in ‘Saawariya’ – she was the best thing about that film!), allowing her to put that powerhouse talent to good effect.

I also think the ability to write a screenplay that allows characters to grow, develop and express themselves through more than just their dialogues, is one of SLB’s strengths. I do sometimes think his focus on the characters’ nuances and foibles takes something away from the development of the story – sometimes (most strikingly in ‘Saawariya’) you’re just not sure where it’s all going. But I do think he writes a good screenplay.

Unlike Karan Johar, whose scriptwriting genius I find lies in his use of language and his ability to put together a thoroughly effective dialogue, I think Bhansali really knows how to ‘sketch’ a good scene – with SLB the body language and movements of the characters within their immediate environment is more important, more striking, than what actually comes out of their mouths. This I suppose is because he possibly thinks more in terms of visuals than words – something which can be a distinct strength (as in HDDCS – remember the chandelier scene, or the tram scene?) or a weakness (as in ‘Saawariya’ – great visuals, not a lot of substance). He seems happy to let someone else handle the dialogues while he focuses his energy on setting up his scenes and creating the ‘moment’.

Whew… who knew I had so much to say about Sanjay Leela Bhansali? He’s not even one of my favourite directors… anyway, to round off this roundup… I’ve seen 4 of Bhansali’s 5 films (I’m hoping to watch ‘Khamoshi’ soon – it’s generally very well-liked), and here are my brief thoughts on each of them….

BLACK: Rani Mukherjee hands in an amazing, sensitive performance as a blind, deaf and mute girl, Michelle McNally, who is helped by her teacher, Debraj Sahai (played by Amitabh Bachchan) to engage with the world around her. Later in life, Michelle gets a chance to return the favour. Ayesha Kapoor, the child actor who plays the young Michelle, is also pretty remarkable – speaking of which, Aamir Khan’s comments on the film kicked up quite a storm (see The Bollywood Fan's comments on the controversy here)…. I enjoyed this film for the stellar performances, the quietness, intensity and humanity of the drama, and the lovely dream-like quality it has.

HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM: HDDCS offers gorgeous visuals, beautiful music, and great performances by all the major players (especially Ajay Devgan, but Ash and Salman are very good too). Fake Italy (aka Hungary) really annoyed me – perhaps to an irrational extent, but I still really enjoyed it, and I love how it ended (although there are many who don’t). I think I’ve grown to appreciate it more with the passage of time, which doesn’t happen with a lot of films. I really love Filmi Girl’s 2-part write-up on the film – check it out.

DEVDAS: A very flawed film, but I think this is worth watching for the song picturisations, Madhuri Dixit’s poised, classy performance, Madhuri and Ash’s fantastic dancing, some excellent music, some very prettily staged scenes and Kirron Kher. I do so love SRK, but the less said about his highly annoying and unsympathetic portrayal of Devdas, the better. Oh dear.

SAAWARIYA: All the reviews of this film were so DIRE that I was pleasantly surprised by it. I didn’t love it, but it’s thankfully quite short, and worth watching for Rani’s sexy earthiness (especially in ‘Chhabeela’), Sonam’s gorgeousness, and of course, Ranbir in that towel… hot stuff. When I revisit this film, I watch ‘Chhabeela’ and ‘Jab Se Tere Naina’, flick through a couple of Sonam and Ranbir’s scenes, and really find that it’s not quite that bad!

Monday, June 29, 2009


Ever wondered what would happen if 10 Bollywood A-listers got into the same lift and embarked on a very slow journey from the ground floor to the top floor of the Bollyworld Building? Well, this rather unlikely event happened in one of my recent fantasies… and this is what ensued...

I am leaving out the names of the protagonists… you get to guess who said what…

No. 1 (on her cellphone): Aarrrgghhh!!! I am so stressed out… my schedules have been so hectic! I’m so tense!!! I really need a break. I was thinking about a fabulous shopping spree, or maybe a spa break, but No. 3 says he’d rather go skiing! Skiing? Can you imagine? I’m like, skiing frantically up and down some booorrrrinnng resort is the last thing I need right now!

No. 2 (shaking her head with disgust): Keep it down yaar! We don’t care about your shopping trips or spa breaks or whatever! Spoilt brat! And if you’re going to yak on and on like this when we start shooting soon, I might have to consider pulling out of this film… although I would really hate to do that to my darling No. 4…

No. 3 (adjusting his bandana): And also, No. 1, would you mind not complaining about me to your friends? And right in front of me too?

No. 4 (holding out his arms in a very ‘spontaneous’ pacifying gesture): Come on guys, we are all members of the same film fraternity. We love each other! And No. 2, you know you won’t pull out of my film, darling – you and No. 1 will be dynamite together on the big screen, darling, and you know it!

No. 5 (practising her poses in front of the mirror): I don’t know why you think anyone would be interested in seeing this film, No. 4! I mean, these are actresses of the older generation. They are like aunties to me. People want to see younger, trendier people on the big screen – you know that, right? People like… me. Even my dad always hides his age and pretends to be younger than he really is for this same reason. But please, although I know you must now be regretting casting these two dinosaurs, do not even thinking of casting me in your film. I only do films I strongly believe in and work with genius directors… not commercial suck-ups like you.

No. 2 (lifting her eyebrow): If that dinosaur thing was a dig at me, No. 5, don’t be so naïve. There are very few actresses that have the longevity that I have – that can go away for a few years and then come back and have a superhit film. The world appears to be at your feet now, but very soon you’ll be forced to eat humble pie. Just look at….

No. 6 (flexing his pecs): Me. Just look at me. I can’t believe I have to work so hard for recognition these days. Once upon a time, I was the toast of the industry. Now I have to engage in fights with other guys in the industry, make up fake relationship troubles, randomly hop on auto-rickshaws after weddings, even do the whole TV-show-host thing in a bid to get more airtime….

No. 7 (fluttering her lashes): Speaking of which, No. 6, can I be on your show, please? Please?? I love you so much… I’m your biggest fan… in fact, your super-sized posters are all over my bedroom…. And you know I am now a bona fide star in this industry, everyone is comparing my performance in my Hindi film debut to No. 2’s performance in….

No. 2 (rolling her eyes): Chup! Shut up! You are only a pale imitation of me at the moment. You certainly have potential, but if you spend all your time following No. 6 around (much as I love him and have always enjoyed working with him), you’ll end up with a boring, unchallenging career… kinda like….

No. 8 (trying hard not to look at No. 6): Hey, don’t say it. Please! Don’t ‘take her name’! Please watch what you say about my friend – we really bonded during our recent film together. I mean, with all due respect to you, she’s so much more than just a pretty face.

No. 6 (taking off his shirt in a fury): Kya? Why are you defending my girlfriend? Are you saying I’m not man enough to stand up for her? Are you spoiling for a fight, you idiot? Don't you remember what happened to the last guy that took me on? His career has gone down the tubes! Come on, let’s take this outside!

No. 4 (managing just in time to restrain himself from touching No. 6’s bare chest): Come on No. 6, come on guys. We are all part of the same Hindi film fraternity. Even when we fight, we love each oth—

No. 6: Shut up No. 4, what gives you the right to talk? I’m pissed off at you as well. Ever since my fantastic performance in your debut film, you haven’t cast me in anything else. Don’t you know I am a much better hero than that loser, traitor and fraud you keep using over and over?? And this idiot No. 8? Trying to pass him off as the latest hot and shirtless young stud in your last production was the ultimate insult to me….

No. 4 (quivering with equal measures of fear and excitement): So sorry No. 6… y-y-you know how much I respect your talents and….

No. 9 (snapping his fingers ever so coolly): Yeah, No. 6, come on, take a chill pill. You’re really scaring No. 4 and No. 8. You know, we really do all love you. Even I have never had anything but love for you, despite the fact that you emotionally, mentally and even possibly physically abused my wife back when you were dating… I’ve got nothing but love for you, dude!

No 10 (closing his eyes in ecstasy and running his fingers through his wig): Speaking of love… this is amazing. I mean, I love you all. 100 per cent. I feel so excited and inspired in the presence of all you huge stars. Thank you for blessing me. I feel so inspired – 100 per cent. In fact, I have just composed a song in honour of all of you great stars… please listen as I begin to sing it in humblest of tones…. Taaahhhhhhhnnnnnrrreeeeehhhhhnnnnnn ihhhhhhnnnnnnnnn elllleeeehhhhhnnnnnvaaayyyyyyyytoooorrrrrhhhhhhhhhnnnnnnn.

No. 1 (pounding on the lift’s doors): Waaaahhhhhhhh! Darwaza kholo!!!!

I know... no need to say it... I’m ridiculous. But I actually really enjoyed doing this... see you again soon(ish)....

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

FLASHBACKS AND GRATITUDE... and Random Screencaps

Yay, my 100th post!

It's about time... back in 2006 when I started this blog, it was so great to have a space in which to indulge my fledgling love for Dharmendra and growing love for Bollywood... I 'attacked' this blog with such gusto, pouring forth my thoughts in words that now seem slightly childish (but sweet! LOL), unenlightened and over-eager to me... and I loved it. I loved writing about these movies and people I was growing to love so much, and most of all, I loved hearing from Dharmendra-fans and Bollywood-fans from all over the world. I really treasure the lovely emails and comments I've received from people who are passionate about Hindi cinema and their (and my) favourite hero. What a joy!

Back then, my blog posts were fairly regular, and that continued for most of 2007 as well. In 2008 though, I posted much less frequently, and that trend has continued into this year. While I'm not sure I'll ever get back to the heady, exciting days of '06 and '07, when I just couldn't wait to put my thoughts down after watching a Bollywood film, I'm not quite ready to hang my Bollyblogging boots up, either.

I still love this little spot, and I still love writing about Bollywood and Dharmendra. And even when I'm not actively blogging, I'm constantly keeping up to date on my favourite Bollyblogs, and it's great to see that many of the Bollybloggers who inspired me to start writing about Bollywood are still blogging with as much gusto and enthusiasm as ever. It's also pretty great to see so many awesome new bloggers join the ranks. The best thing about Bollyblogging for me is definitely the sense of sharing and community.

So I'd like to say a special 'Dhanyavaad' to everyone who's stopped by here... thank you SO MUCH for sharing this experience with me, for your comments (always so delightful - enlightening, funny, challenging, inspiring, fun, informative), your emails, and just for taking the time...

... here's to my next 100 (and let's hope it doesn't take almost 3 years to crank 'em out!)

And now to an idea I borrowed from Veracious, whose cool and fabulous blog ...So They Dance, is one of my faves... this young Finnish blogger is smart, witty, insightful and always fun to read... she once did a really cool post with random Bollywood-related pictures from her computer... so I thought it might be fun to share some of my thousands of screencaps and say a little bit about them... so here they are, selected by the highly scientific method of eenie-meenie-manie-mo....

Neetu Singh in 'Chorni' (recommended by Memsaab Story)... I love Neetu... she is so gorgeous - I love her eyes, and she is always so watchable. She is really great at comedy, and this is why 'Chorni' is such a great watch. It's a shame her career was so short-lived, but I'm glad she left behind gems like this one. She still looks rather fabulous these days, when, as opposed to talking about her acting talent, everyone's talking about her thinly-veiled comments on Deepika Padukone's unsuitability for her darling Ranbir....

The beautiful Bipasha Basu in 'Aetbaar'... now this was such a horrendously bad film... everyone in it sucked (yes, even the Big B) - don't even get me started on John Abraham's awfulness in this film (bloodshot eyes, sweatiness and forced trembling do not an obsessed villain make). Bipasha was totally and hopelessly miscast (and I see she is yet to learn her lesson - why oh why did she ever think that doing 'Aa Dekhen Zara' opposite Neil Nitin Mukesh (talk about a match made in... the other place) was a good career choice??) I do love Bipasha, she's gorgeous and so charismatic, but I really wish she picked better roles - roles that suit her dusky, exotic looks and her bold, in-your-face persona (as in 'Corporate' and 'Omkara' - and to a significant extent, even 'Bachna Ae Haseeno')... but then again, perhaps the pickings are slim....

The stunning Shabana Azmi in 'Arth'... what a great performance! She owned her role in this film and grabbed my attention from start to finish with a gutsy, visceral turn... there's only one Ms Azmi.... Filmi Geek, the ultimate Shabana fan, recommended this movie, and I love it....

Shashi Kapoor, in his bhaiyya Raj's film 'Awaara'... how cute was he? I wonder if he ever thought back then that he would become a movie star in his own right? I love 'Awaara'... Raj and Nargis were tremendous... I need to watch it again soon.

Abhishek Bachchan, looking too cool for school in 'Bluffmaster'... I love this film - Abhishek and Riteish are fabulous. Boman is pretty good too... and Piggy Chops, well... she doesn't ruin the movie or anything. Abhishek is so great at comedy... love him in fun films like this one and 'Bunty Aur Babli'....

Umm, who is this? in 'Chori Chori Chupke Chupke'... I honestly don't know who she is, but she looks gorgeous, doesn't she? Hence the screencap. Anyway, if I remember correctly, she played the dulhan, Rani's friend, at the wedding where Rani and Sallu Chacha meet for the first time at the start of the movie... and sparks fly! I remember the fabulous song 'No 1 Punjabi' from this wedding as well... I had to find it and listen to it again after watching the film. 'Chori Chori Chupke Chupke' is a weird film - I thought the storyline was ridiculous and disturbing, and I'm not sure I could watch it again, but I also think Rani, Preity and Salman all did a pretty good job in it... if I recall correctly, Preity even scored a couple of awards....

Madhuri Dixit proving she still had 'it' in spades in 'Dil To Pagal Hai'... I adore Madhuri - she is an absolutely divine dancer, such a professional, smart, articulate, and stunning to boot! I LOVE her. Anyway, here she is with one of her landmark roles of the 90s... while I think she did a very good job with her rather straitlaced (and actually quite boring) character in this film, for me the real star of DTPH was an energetic, fiery and determined Karisma Kapoor... Lolo heated up the screen for me... even Madhuri couldn't keep up (although that dance-off was FIERCE - both Madz and Lolo won, in my opinion)... and SRK was the weakest of the trio (I love him, but he was).

Another of my all-time favourites, Jaya Bhaduri, in the oh-so-charming 'Guddi'... 'Guddi' is one of those films that it's impossible for a Dharam fan not to love, but it really is Jaya's film from start to finish. I love this woman's acting so much, and I could watch her all day... I loved her in this scene - the lively young girl subdued, awkward, on the cusp of something strange and new....

And finally...
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam'... back when Ash and Sallu were still on speaking terms... if you haven't read Filmi Girl's fantastic two-part write-up on HDDCS (first part here), you're missing out on something wonderful... it reminded me of all the good things about this movie, and one of them is Sanjay Leela Bhansali's really lush, luxurious, gorgeous aesthetic... I want a bedroom just like this one!

This was fun... I might do it again sometime - I have an almost embarrassing number of screencaps and these aren't particularly the ones I love best... which one of the above was your favourite?