Friday, September 29, 2006

Official Jambool blog

The first post to the official Jambool blog is out. More to come.

The reference there is to a movie called Abre los Ojos. It was subsequently made into "Vanilla Sky" starring Tom Cruise.

The post also made references to sleep, and while on that I should mention the recently out "Science of Sleep." Parts of the movie stuck chords. Though the movie seems to lose its path towards the end, the first 4/5th of the movie is quite brilliant.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Waisa bhi hota hai, part II

It seems the Arshad Warsi has arrived. The first draft of Munnabhai was, it seems, just a means to get to Lage raho Munabhai. I've been a fan of Arshad Warsi for a while. It's unfortunate that it took out audiences a Munnabhai to warm up to him. Where other actors are known for their comic timing (Govinda in his heyday, and Bachchan in his prime are a few), no one can light a candle to Arshad.

But wait, what I really wanted to say was that you should go see this movie called Waisa bhi hota hai, part II. No, it's not a sequel. This movie starts with a prologue -- that lasts about 5 minutes -- and the rest of the movie is "part II." It is an extremely rare Indian movie. Why? If you've watched Japanese cinema, you'd have marveled at its ability to find engineer ridiculous coincidences and make it seem natural. And the ability for characters to constantly surprise you. Why, I often wondered, is this quirkiness that is so omnipresent in life, and so evident to the Japanese, Korean and Thai filmmakers (and of course on Mr Tarantino), is it lost on the Indians? But then, as the Maruti ad goes, the times -- they sure are a changing.

Check out this gem of a movie. It also features an absolutely delightful song -- "Allah ke bande" by Kailash Kher. And wait for the movie credits to roll in the end. In one take, the film makers thank Beat Kitano, Tarantino and several others of my favorite directors for inspiration! That's another rarity in India cinema. For one, it is a fairly orignal movie, not a rip-off (afaik). Second, it actually lists people who inspired them.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Movies of the week: Andaz Apna Apna and Main Hoon Na

I'm sure most people who read this blog would have seen Andaz Apna Apna. Probably more than once. So if I say I recommend this movie -- well, fat lot of use that is. But wait, it gets a little better.

You see, Andaz Apna Apna has apparently become a "cult" hit. I was trying to figure out what makes a movie a cult hit, and what I came up with was something that has limited appeal to the masses but over time builds credibility and popularity with a select following. AAA wasn't that big a hit when it first came out, but ever since then it has gained tremendously in popularity. So I guess it does qualify to be a cult hit.

I obviously do recommend this movie. It has its flaws, some slow parts that dragged a little bit -- they could have easily done away with a couple of songs -- but the movie is a laugh riot all through. But I recommend the movie for another reason. This movie is one of the rare Bollywood movies (the other one is the second movie in this post) that never takes itself too seriously. And it piles in quite a few homages and references to other movies.

For example, did you know that this movie's characters were loosely based on the characters from Archie comics? Aamir Khan is Reggie, Salman Khan is Archie, Raveena is Veronica and Karisma is Betty. Then, there are references to Aamir Khan's and Salman's movies. The twin brothers played by Paresh Rawal are Ram and Shyam -- a popular reference to the movie of yesteryears about twin brothers switching roles. Mehmood runs a studio called "Wah Wah Productions" -- something he was doing in a 60s movie Pyar Kiye Ja as well. Jagdeep plays "Soorma Bhopali" -- right out of Sholay. Shakti Kapoor is Gogo, the nephew of Mogambo -- Mogambo from Mr. India. There's a scene where the movie Sholay comes up in the dialogue, and Salman says yeah, he's seen it many times. Aamir retorts, yeah Salman's dad wrote it. Which, in fact, is true. Salim Khan (along with Javed Akhtar) did write Sholay.

The climax of the movie is one of the best half hour of Bollywood cinema. It is almost cartoonish in parts, and has a weird pelvis thrust "fight" sequence between Shakti Kapoor and Salman Khan. I haven't been able to figure out if it has any more subtle reference or meaning except maybe just a mojo war. In any case, if you ever need a dose of laughter, go get this movie.

I rarely ever recommend a Shahrukh Khan movie, but I thought the movie Main Hoon Na was a rare bird. I enjoyed this movie again primarily because it didn't take itself too seriously. In fact, it revelled in its pranks and subtle references and more. The movie has Naseeruddin Shah in a small role with a 20 year old past that haunts him -- and it is something right out of his 20 year old movie, Masoom. The movie takes off on Matrix, except that bullets are replaced by spit from Satish Shah's mouth as Shahrukh's character tries to dodge them. There's another sequence where Shahrukh drives a cycle rickshaw, chasing an SUV. The chase starts at a movie theater showing Sholay, and the cycle rickshaw, very cheekily, has "Basanti" (or was it Dhanno on the rickshaw, I can't remember) pasted on its back. The movie otherwise too unabshedly broke rules -- the sets would transform suddenly as a song kicks off -- and that makes it fun if you are ready to play along.