Friday, December 10, 2010


Rajkumar Santoshi’s ‘Lajja’ (2001) is one of those movies that I find frustrating.... Let me start by stating my opinion of the film - which is that overall, it’s not a good film. The script is often clumsy, clunky or corny (and sometimes all three), and the directing and editing are pretty shoddy sometimes. There are elements to the story that are either superfluous or actually detract from the power of the film (e.g. the presence of Ajay Devgan’s character, Bhulwa).
But what frustrates me about ‘Lajja’ is the flashes of radiance in it, the elements that do work, the things that could have made for a really good movie if they hadn’t been overshadowed by the sucky stuff. I really like Rekha’s earthy performance, for example... but I think my favorite thing about ‘Lajja’ is the relationships between the female characters...

... especially the relationship between Vaidehi (Manisha Koirala) and Jhanki (Madhuri Dixit):

Looking over my collection of Vaidehi/Jhanki screencaps got me thinking about girlfriends (the platonic kind) in Hindi films. ‘Bromance’ is a central feature of a lot of Bollywood movies, and has been for decades. Alas, the same certainly cannot be said for relationships between women. I love my girlfriends – I’ve always had great relationships with funny, smart, strong, compassionate women... and I love reading about female relationships. I also love watching vibrant, interesting female relationships on the big and small screens, but that doesn’t happen nearly enough when it comes to Hindi films. Relationships between women are generally skimmed over and sidelined.

Yup, onscreen relationships between women are almost always peripheral in Bollywood – there were really no female equivalents of the two-hero movies that Amitabh Bachchan starred in alongside Shashi Kapoor/Dharmendra/Vinod Khanna/Rishi Kapoor/ Pran in the 70s and 80s. Neither are there female counterparts to contemporary, mainstream movies about male friendship, like ‘Rock On!’, ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and ‘3 Idiots’. There are plenty of films in which there’s real affection and friendship portrayed between sisters, cousins, or women related by marriage, although again, this is usually peripheral – forming the backdrop to the central story (which is often dominated by a man or two).

But, in stark contradistinction with the many films about friendships between men who aren’t biologically related, there just aren’t many films with similar stories involving women. Probably because the consensus is that such movies won’t do brisk box-office business, and perhaps there’s a little of the whole ‘women can’t stand to share the spotlight with each other’ stereotype in the mix as well. But I figure profitability is probably the key issue.

I have been thinking hard, trying to remember Bollywood movies I’ve seen that have platonic female relationships at their core (with the exclusion of relationships between biological sisters), and I’m not coming up with a whole lot. Apart from ‘Lajja’, there’s the lovely ‘Dor’, of course, with Ayesha Takia and Gul Panag playing two women thrown together by a combination of tragedy and serendipity....

... and there's the gorgeous 'Fire', with Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das burning up the screen in a compelling (and controversial) story about love, sex and self-fulfilment...

And of course this year, there was ‘We Are Family’, which I haven’t seen (and don’t really want to)....

... but there aren’t many more, which is why I’m really looking forward to Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherjee in ‘No One Killed Jessica’ (I know it’s not really about the women’s relationship, but at least it’s a theme), and to Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra’s rumoured two-heroine film.... I really hope these movies do well and open the door to other films with women and their relationships at their centre. I would love to see more –for example, I would love to see something with Madhuri Dixit opposite Aishwarya Rai again – but this time, not converging in concern over a childish drunk à la Devdas, but in a smart film about women balancing (and/or failing to balance) career, romance and family. Or I would love to see Vidya Balan and Mahie Gill star in a good old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness buddy romp with a sparklingly witty script. Or maybe Jaya Bachchan and Shabana Azmi in a movie about two older women rediscovering themselves through their friendship.... And one of my most enduring dream movies is a remake of ‘All About Eve’, starring Shabana Azmi, Konkona Sen Sharma and Aamir Khan. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

... Anyway, I’d love to hear about the Hindi movies you’ve seen that featured interesting female friendships... am I exaggerating their scarcity? Which ones would you recommend? And who would you like to see in your dream Bollywood movie about female friendship?

Monday, November 15, 2010


Well, it certainly has been a while!!

It's been over 6 months since my last post... certainly not by design though - my laptop gave up the ghost shortly after my last post, and I've only just been able to acquire a new one. I have kept up with all the developments in Bollyblogland, though - from Khanna-o-Rama to Sridevipalooza (and lots more besides). As usual, there's been lots and lots of fun stuff going on.

I remember when 'Apne' was about to come out in 2007 - I was super-excited at the prospect of seeing Dharmendra onscreen with his sons... when the movie eventually came out, I naturally traipsed off to the cinema to see it - and I really enjoyed it. Not because it's a great movie (it's certainly not), but because it was OTT, and fun, and emotional, and very silly in parts, and just total paisa vasool for me at that point in time. I haven't bothered to see it again since that day, and I don't think it would stand up to a second viewing, but I really enjoyed it at the time. In my post on the movie, I remarked that I would love to see Dharam, Bobby and Sunny do another movie... but I didn't think it was likely.

I was obviously totally wrong! Here's the trailer for 'Yamla Pagla Deewana', scheduled to debut in 2011:

Now I don't understand about 90% of what was said in that trailer (ze subtitles, zey are my friends!!), and it looks like the film will probably have a lot of cultural references that I won't really 'get', but it does look like a lot of fun - colourful, entertaining and just fun. The trailer is actually generating some nice positive buzz for the movie. Can't wait till it comes out... hope it makes it to one of my local cinemas, and I hope it's received well.

Another fun recent development, of course, has been the return, after a loooonnng hiatus, of 'Koffee with Karan', Karan Johar's irreverent and quite frankly, nosey, chat show. It's already stirred up the pot quite nicely with Deepika Padukone allegedly making bitchy comments about Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, and Ranbir himself pretty much 'fessing up to the world that he's a little bit of a player - an adorable one to be sure, but a 'playa-playa' nonetheless. I love how Karan Johar is not afraid to go after the salacious details on this show, and how he manages to get the celebs to say stuff they probably would not say on a 'regular' day. It's also great that he manages to get just about everyone who's anyone in Bollywood to do the show.

I really enjoyed the first 2 seasons of KWK - in fact, I raved about it on this blog early in 2007, and it made it to my list of favourite Bollywood-related things of 2007, although for me the formula got a bit stale and irritating by the latter part of the second season. The show started to lose its freshness and became a bit of a vanity thing, especially for people with new movies coming out. I was quite glad when Karan called it quits, really.

But I guess a good long break was just what the show needed to give it back its 'kick', and I think one can safely predict that the third season will give us quite a few memorable moments. Just some of the people I'd personally love to see on KWK this season: newlyweds Konkona Sen Sharma and Ranvir Shorey, Vivek Oberoi (not with his wife, though - maybe with Sushmita Sen or Ajay Devgn), Amrita Rao, Shahana Goswami, Sridevi, Akki & Dimple, Emraan Hashmi, Vidya Balan... and of course K-Jo's 'usual suspects' - like SRK, Kajol, Bebo.... The ultimate coup for Karan, of course, would be to get the 3 Khans - Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman in the studio on the same day and for the same show... but I think we all know that's not going to happen. It's fun to imagine though - things would probably get pretty heated!

Anyway, just wanted to check in... will be back soon with some Dharam-centric posts and maybe some other non-Dharam-related observations... one thing's for sure, it definitely won't be another 6 months before my next post!

Monday, March 08, 2010


I am working on a few new posts, including the next instalment of the Decades of Dharam series... but in the meantime I would like to share this Dharmendra interview from 2007, in which Dharam talks to Tina Ambani about poetry, patriotism, parenthood, prayer... and pyaar....


Do you prefer Dharam, the lover, over the action hero?
Love is also action, Tina! I am driven by love. Love should never be demanding; it must be unconditional. Love is an exquisite pain and in that pain lies intoxication. And if your lover shares that pain, the intoxication reaches another level altogether. I have been privileged enough to share such a love for over 25 years and it is amazing.

And all the female actors still rave about your good looks. How do you stay so handsome?
Whatever is in your heart and soul shows in your face. For the past few years, I have been practising pranayama [yogic breathing exercises] every day. It has transformed my life. I find it intoxicating — it has the same effect on me that alcohol used to. I used to drink a lot but I stopped about five years ago.

How do you get along with your own children?
Wonderfully. My girls, Esha and Ahana, are more open with me, though. I guess daughters have that kind of bond with their fathers. Sunny and Bobby are a little shy. Sunny is also a bit of an introvert.

The full interview is quite a treat for a Dharam fan. I always enjoy reading Dharmendra's more recent interviews (the good ones, at least) because there's something very consistent about them - both in the things he says and the way he says them, and always underneath it all... a poignant, human touch of vulnerability.

Friday, March 05, 2010


This post was inspired by Sanket, who writes a beautiful blog here... he got me thinking about distinctive facial features when he commented on these famous eyebrows:

which of course belong to this gorgeous woman:

Sanket is not a fan of Kajol's bushy brows, as he feels they distract from the beauty of her eyes. My views are completely opposite - I LOVE Kajol's unibrow! I realise that mine is a minority opinion, but I think the bushy brows add to her striking, unconventional beauty and lend her face more character and distinction... as always, diff'rent strokes...

... but speaking of distinction, as I said, this all got me thinking... about facial features that are truly distinctive... so much so that when you see them, you immediately realise whose face you're looking at. Below are 5 features that I consider truly distinctive, taken from pictures of Bollywood stars. I won't supply their names... I'll leave that to you. No prizes for guessing right though, as these features are so unique, and the faces they belong to so well-known, that the answers are easy-peasy!

First up is another set of eyebrows... but unlike Kajol's, these brows are distinctive because of their shape, not because they very rarely come into contact with grooming instruments!

Next... these gorgeous, huge eyes...

And next, lips curved in a smile that could light up an entire building...

And another pair of striking eyes....

Finally, a mouth as unique as its owner....

I'd love to know about some of the features you consider most distinctive in the faces of your favourite Bollywood stars!

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Thanks for checking out my list of my favourite 70s actresses, and for letting me know who your faves are! So now it’s time to talk about the guys… the men whose 70s movies I love.

• Rajesh Khanna

Rajesh Khanna’s film career was like a shooting star – brief but bright! In the years when he ruled the Indian box office (and hearts everywhere), it was pure mania.

I love 70s Rajesh – handsome, romantic, funny, and unique. He had a vibe that was just different from the other leading men of the time. I even love his trademark head-shake and the trademark RK ‘look’. Funky, fun and often more than a little camp, he captured ‘70s groove’ really well. He was a better actor than he’s given credit for these days. He was also usually good fun to watch, which is very important in my book.

Unfortunately, Rajesh’s lack of versatility as an actor (basically, he sucked at dishoom-dishoom), along with the rise of the ‘angry young man’ I’ll be talking about next, brought his reign as the King of Bollywood to a quick end in the 70s. And the less said about his more recent work, the better. I try very hard not to think about it!

• Amitabh Bachchan

No one can argue that the big B is a Bollywood icon. My darling mother, who was not a Bollywood fan, came across me watching ‘Do Aur Do Paanch’ a few years ago, and said to me, ‘how come that guy is in every Indian movie you watch?’ Mr. Bachchan is special to me because when I became re-acquainted with Bollywood about 5 years ago, he was one of the few Hindi film actors I remembered from my childhood. His camp action-adventure, ‘Mard’, was one of the first Hindi movies I saw as a child. And it’s interesting to think that even now, in his late 60s, he’s still going at it and dishing out great performances like his excellent turn as Auro in last year’s ‘Paa’ (he just won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for his performance).

Regardless of what one may think of him, his filmography alone is proof that his status as a legend of Hindi cinema is well-deserved. I personally love the guy – I love his passion for films, and how he flings his long limbs into every role with almost reckless abandon. I love his versatility and the intensity with which he tackles each role, even the silly ones. I love that distinctively deep voice, those lanky limbs and those dark and unconventionally handsome looks. I think he can be a little pompous, a little self-absorbed, and more than a little self-righteous, but I can live with those flaws. I may call his wife the most talented Bachchan, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the big B is very talented as well – and more importantly, he’s extremely committed to and focused upon his craft.

Anyway, Amit ji did a lot of really great films in the 70s, the decade in which his stellar career really took off. Often dark, brooding and intense, he deftly created his trademark ‘Angry Young Man’ persona. From Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Anand’ (1971), the film that really got him noticed, to ‘Kaala Pathar’ (1979), he did it all in the 70s: from OTT masala (‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ – his comedy in this is classic!), to marital drama (‘Abhimaan’, opposite his then-newlywed wife, Jaya Bhaduri), to moving melodrama (‘Mili’). He played a brooding poet (‘Kabhi Kabhie’), a tortured policeman (loved him in ‘Zanjeer’), hardened criminals (‘Sholay’, ‘Muqaddar ka Sikandar’, ‘Faraar’, ‘Deewaar', ‘Don’), a shy professor (‘Chupke Chupke’)… the list goes on and on…. He worked with the top directors, the hottest leading ladies, and some lesser-known names… and he left a lasting mark on the Bollywood of the 70s.

• Dharmendra

Now everyone knows that I adore Dharmendra… he’s the reason I started this blog! I could wax lyrical about all the reasons I love him, but I’ve done that many times before… so I’ll just point you to my post on his 70s career, if you haven’t read it yet… the 70s were my favourite decade when it comes to Dharmendra films, although as Bollyviewer commented, the quintessential Dharmendra decade is more like 1965 to 1975. Here's a funny screencap from 'Chupke Chupke':

• Rishi Kapoor

Rishi was such a sweetheart in the 70s. With those earnestly cute eyes and that impish smile, he was absolutely adorable - I always just want to hug him when I watch his 70s flicks. He had great screen presence and there was always something so sincere and likeable, so charming and personable, about him in those days. Sweetness aside though, in some of his roles, notably ‘Mera Naam Joker’, ‘Bobby’ and ‘Kabhi Kabhie’, he also captured youthful love, teenage lust and a generous helping of 70s rebellion in a way that no-one else did.

From his unforgettable debut as an awkward schoolboy becoming a man in his father Raj’s ‘Mera Naam Joker’; to his equally unforgettable role as the title character opposite a luminous Dimple Kapadia in ‘Bobby’; to his youthful and fun roles opposite future wife Neetu Singh (loved them together in ‘Khel Khel Mein’, 'Kabhi Kabhie’, ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’, ‘Doosra Aadmi’ and others)… there are so many gems among Rishi’s 70s flicks, and I love them.

• Vinod Khanna

I like to call him sexy Vinod. Because that’s what he is! To be honest, when I watch his 70s films, the young Vinod Khanna doesn’t actually have to say or do anything to make me happy. Just looking at him – from those dark, intense, heavy-lidded, beautifully-framed, brown eyes, to the dimple in his chin, to his beautiful physique – that’s enough for me. When he doesn’t smile, he’s scorching hot. When he smiles, everything in his face lights up. He’s a gorgeous man, and as you can probably tell, I could talk about how hot he is for ages, but I’ll spare you… partly because I’ve probably embarrassed myself enough already, and partly because he’s a lot more than a pretty face.

He was a really good actor too in his heyday – from the learned and anguished friend of ‘Muqaddar ka Sikandar’; to the serious policeman of ‘Amar Akbar Anthony'; to the intensely, evil-but-hot bandit of ‘Mera Gaon Mera Desh’; to the stylish young stud of ‘Mere Tulsi Aangan Ki’, he just… gave all his roles that special touch… you know what, I give up - the truth is, I obviously can’t talk about this guy ‘seriously’. He just makes me melt. Sadly, I don't have many screencaps of sexy Vinod, and the pictures I've come across on the net don't do him justice; but happily, Veracious has lots of lovely ones here.

The indomitable Pran almost made this list – he was such an icon of the 70s! I love the villainous roles he played with such relish, always leaving his indelible mark on just about every film he did, even the really bad ones. I just LOVE Pran (cue gratuitous screencap)!

So, the women are done and the men are done... that’s it on my fave actors from the 70s. There are other actors from the 70s that I love: Sanjeev Kumar (brilliant actor!) and Parveen Babi (such a babe!), for example. Even Rishi’s uncle, Shashi Kapoor, who some of you are probably thinking I just forgot to mention! But hey, one must stop somewhere….

So… those are my favourite Bollywood actors from the 70s…. Who would you choose?