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Less than 15 minutes into Sanam Teri Kasam (2016) I knew the directors had me hooked. No doubt a certain cat-loving “shirtless, shameless scoundrel” in the prologue scenes helped the cause, but my attention was truly sealed when I realised the spot in films that is usually reserved to flaunt the hero’s machismo or the heroine’s desirability was devoted to our bespectacled and messy-haired heroine’s own innermost desires instead. Demonstrating exactly why Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru have been considered masters of pop culture confectionary since the 90s, Haal-e-Dil firmly parks us into the head and heart of a transparently yearning Saru, while also introducing us to the inwardly longing Inder’s situation, with an engaging combination of pathos and whimsy.

Like the half-open shirt that he abandons frequently, Inder has learnt from bitter experience to shed off relationships with a shrug. Saru, on the other hand, has been conditioned to layers of expectations heavier than the bear suit she is stuck in during her fateful elevator encounter with Inder. The bond that develops between these two 21 year olds – the solitary rebel who “wanted to love no one” and the sheltered conformist who “no one wants to love” forms the emotional anchor of this tragic star-crossed romance.

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Despite its flaws, Sanam Teri Kasam lingers in memory after walking out of the cinema hall. The production design contributes greatly to the atmosphere and feel of the film. All the songs are masterfully threaded through the narrative and add nuance to the emotions playing out on screen. Mawra and Harshvardhan help us connect with their characters, and those paying attention to it will find their body language rich in poetic detail. Overall, Radhika and Vinay's storytelling aesthetics ensure that well-worn tropes are delivered in a visually engaging manner that encourages re-watch.
Br | Taming of the Shrew
A Little FollyA Little Folly by Jude Morgan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A sweet and gentle examination of a brother and sister who decide to undertake the enterprise of living upon the demise of their harsh and tyrannical father. Such an overbearing and omniscient influence as that of the late Mr. Carnell is not so easily shaken off though, and thus it is that Valentine and Louisa find themselves indulging in a little folly, now that they have the freedom to do so.

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stock | period fashion | what? laces loo
21st-Nov-2011 12:22 am - Rockstar: Imtiaz's magic touch
The souls of all the greatest artists were forged in the fires of suffering, points out Khatana bhai (Kumud Mishra) to Janardhan Jhakar (Ranbir Kapoor). The Jat lad hailing from middle class Pitampura dreams of making it big in the world of music, like his idol Jim Morrison, but is entrenched in an ordinary, unremarkable life that gives him little scope for experiencing the kind of pain that makes men achieve greatness. He's never starved, his parents aren't dead, he's not adopted, he was never beaten up as a kid, he's never even loved enough to have his heart broken - then where will the music come from asks Khatana bhai matter-of-factly. Janardhan sees his point.

The solution? Heer Kaul (Nargis Fakhri), St. Stephen's very own "dil todne ki machine" (heart breaking machine). JJ decides that the much sought after Kashmiri beauty will be the one to shatter his heart into the pieces that shall inspire soulful sangeet. He wasn't that far off the mark, as it turns out. What begins on a childish whim of his, blossoms into genuine friendship between the two. By the time friendship simmers into unconfessed affection, and loving attachment boils into burning desire JJ, now Jordan, cares little for the fame and brilliance he used to dream of and wishes only for a happiness that is sadly out of reach.

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TV | Firefly | The tortured Tams
Film: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Release: 15 July 2011
Actors: Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif, Kalki Koechlin
Director: Zoya Akhtar
Producer: Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar
Story: Reema Kagti, Zoya Akhtar
Dialogue: Farhan Akhtar
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Cinematography: Carlos Catalan

Sometimes you suspect that the characters of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara are superficial people leading empty lives of luxury but where Luck By Chance (2009), Zoya’s last movie, would have taken the time to deconstruct this candidly, this movie opts instead for a more feel-good and warm-hearted approach to storytelling. Not that there's anything wrong with that. As it happens ZNMD is a perfectly enjoyable entertainer with masti and banter aplenty, a refreshing lack of melodrama, and an endearing trio of friends. With the release of the movie speculation of ZNMD being similar to The Hangover (2009) can finally be laid to rest - the two couldn't be more dissimilar. Comparisons with Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai (2001) are inevitable but aside from the theme of friendship, the socio-economic status of the characters, who are of the affluent or upwardly mobile variety, and certain character dynamics, there is little there to make this film feel derivative of its predecessor.

In Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara we find ourselves on a roadtrip through the stunning locales of Spain (lovingly captured by cinematographer Carlos Catalan) with the flirty and facetious Imran (Farhan Akhtar), the workaholic, initially irritable Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) and the sometimes prankster, sometimes serious-minded Kabir (Abhay Deol). Kabir's impending marriage gives the three old friends the chance to re-connect on a bachelor's trip and fulfil a pact they made with each other years ago - that they would each pick an adventure sport of their choice and the other two would have to participate with them. All three also happen to be hiding something that is troubling them though, and along the way they get the chance to "let it go" and move on. Joining the boys at various points in the trip are Natasha (Kalki Koelchin), Kabir's fiancée, Laila (Katrina Kaif) who is a diving instructor and Nuria (Ariadna Cabrol), Laila's friend.

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The flaws of the film are easy to forget though, because you spend so much time being charmed by the undeniable camaraderie between the friends. Unki conversations tou fun hain hi (thanks to the multi-talented Farhan Akhtar in his dialogue writing capacity) but even their stupid pranks are amusing because the guys are having way too much fun for you not to be persuaded into grinning. You aren't wondering why these men who have been out of college for 10 years are acting like this, instead you are thinking that this is exactly what would happen if you and your friends were to get together after a really long time apart. Reliving old jokes and relishing nostalgia "is just human nature" and in this case makes for really entertaining viewing. Sequences like the drunken interlude where Arjun keeps repeating "sab likha hai" "LIKHA HAI" over and over will feel familiar because they were probably taken right out of your life. The picturisation of Señorita and Khaabon Ke Parinday in ZNMD couldn't be poles apart - one is silly and fun, while the other is brimful of contentment and comfortable silences, but what you'll find in both is the loudly beating heart of this film, personified in the interactions of the three जिगरी दोस्त.

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NZ | kiwi too
13th-Jul-2011 09:56 pm - The Wise Man's Fear
The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three partsCollapse )

I'm glad we ended up getting two copies of WMF. It is so fun calling home and seeing what part Brother has gotten up to and discussing every single happening like excited kids at a candy store. If I had a penny for every time one of us would exclaim "I freaking love this series/book" I'd be a rich gal.
stock | potions maker
8th-Jul-2011 02:32 am - BRB, LOLing so hard
Title: Milenge Milenge
Year: 2010
Writer: Shiraz Ahmed
Director: Satish Kaushik
Producer: Boney & Surinder Kapoor
Editing: Sanjay Verma
Cinematography: S Sriram
Actors: Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor
Music: Himesh Reshammiya

...I am so not going to ruin this movie for anyone by spoiling it. But just so you know, my brother and I haven't laughed so much while watching a Bollywood film for eons. By the end of Milenge Milenge if tears aren't streaming down your face and your stomach isn't hurting then you didn't pay proper attention :P

The best bit was realising we saw this movie on 07/07/11 ...cracked us up so badly (if you have seen the movie you'll know why).

Anyway, here's a trailer, but remember - kuch to baakiii haiiiiiiiiii (haan, picture ki common sense, jo writer usmein dalna bhool gaya)

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BW | JWM | sikhdi hoon main Bhatinda ki
7th-Jul-2011 04:20 am - ♫ Chalo chalo chalo chalo dilli...
Title: Chalo Dilli
Year: 2011
Director: Shashant Shah
Producer: Krishika Lulla, Kavita Bhupathi Chadda, Ram Mirchandani
Written By: Arshad Syed
Cast: Vinay Pathak, Lara Dutta
Director of Photography: Nikos Andritsakis
Production Design: Teddy Maurya
Art Director: Ravikant Bhakre
Music: Gourov Dasgupta, Anand Raj Anand, Sachin Gupta, Rohit Kulkarni, Roshan Balu
Lyrics: Manthan Anand, Raj Anand, Krishika Lulla, Shabbir Ahmed, Nisha Mascarenhas
Singers: Raja Hasan, Sukhwinder Singh, June Banerjee, Neeraj Shridhar, Kamal Heer, Natalie Di Luccio
Costume: Manoshi Nath, Rushi Sharma

"Kaunsi badi baat ho gayi?" exclaims Karol Bagh mein "Ladies Dress Material Aur Saris" bechne wale Manu bhaisahab, baat baar par. It's the kind of funda that we could all benefit from embracing in situations that seem troublesome but matter little in the big scheme of things. In Chalo Dilli Mihika Banerjee is about to learn how to shrug and say "big deal" or "kya farak padta hai" to situations that would earlier have elicited explosive expletives. Actually, that's unfair, madamji is probably too high class for gaali galoch (woh tou Manu bhaisahab ka kaam hai) but the next time something doesn't go Mihika's way people will likely be spared her icy sarcasm and irritable remarks. While Mihika's trek from Mumbai to Dilli results in an internal journey where she travels "a much bigger distance than on a roadmap", we come out of the journey being thoroughly entertained. Chalo Dilli will either remind you of all the trips full of mishaps and oddball characters you've survived in India or make you wish you could set out on just such an adventure!

ghadi do ghadi di jindardi jaane kal ki honaCollapse )

I've already talked at length about what is so charming about Chalo Dilli but the soul of the movie is undoubtedly Arshad Syed's dialogues. I can't sing enough praises about how wonderfully he has managed to capture the bol-chaal of the nation: from taxi driver Shivratan bhaiya's duhaaiyan ("saari duniya ne theka le rakha hai gareeb ki dhulaai ka!") to truck driver Dharampalji's modest demeanour ("rehne dijiye maydamji, kyun sharminda kar rahi hain"), from dhabbewale maamaji's practical acceptance of what he has to live with ("abhi tou maine parson dekha - yeh lamba saanp idhar se nikal ke gaya ji"), to Bengali uncleji launching into his pet topics about "the level of corruption in this country" ("Bharatvarsh ka na kuch nahin ho sakta"), from the corrupt police officer busy earning a dishonest living ("500 rupe se kya hoga hain? Poora office maintain karna hota hai hum logon ko!") to the local thug's colourful and inventive Haryanavi swearing ("o teri, bataao saala silaai machine ki najaayas aulad, uski sui itni theeki ho gayi ke mahre hi chubha raha hai?") ...it's all the kind of  conversations anyone in India would be oh so familiar with. As for Manu Gupta and Mihika Banerjee's dialogues, if I were to start squeeing about how fun and witty their interactions are, how hilariously endearing Guptaji's chatter is, how you can't help but smirk when Mihika delivers one of her sarcastic rebuttals or smile when she teases bhaisahab ...we'd be here a while.

This refreshingly romance-free tale with a journey full of familiar characters, ridiculous situations, and rustic places easily won over at least  my family's heart. Ab aap kis baat ka intezaar kar rahe ho? Chalo Dilli!

Other Reviews:

[+] From TOI:
The good thing is that the writer and director Shashant Shah know precisely what not to do with the rather rare genre. Though the makers replace Steve Martin's character from the original with a female protagonist, there is no additional effort to link Mihika and Manu romantically, which would have been a common tendency in the love-struck Bollywood. So there is no unnecessary burden on the writer to chalk out chemistry between the two, which would ultimately culminate into them falling in love.

Secondly, though the journey traverses through countryside, the film doesn't get into the sermon mode on sarso-ke-khet or desh-ki-mitti . And thirdly, despite the class-divide between the two protagonists, the narrative never falls into the trap of belittling the higher-class or taming the rich girl, another ideal inclination.
I included this review because the last two points hadn't occurred to me but I definitely agree with them!
BW | JWM | sikhdi hoon main Bhatinda ki
Title: Just Married
Year: 2007
Director: Meghna Gulzar
Cinematography: Sachin Kumar
Actors: Fardeen Khan, Esha Deol, Mukul Dev, Sadia Siddiqui, Satish Shah, Kirron Kher, Eijaz Khan
Music: Pritam Chakraborty
Lyrics: Gulzar
Costume: Pooja Sarin, Theia Bomanbehram, Shaahid Aamir

What is most memorable about Just Married is how awkward it is. The movie depicts the embarrassment and bewilderment that many newly married couples in India face with painful honesty. It explores how Abhay and Ritika, two strangers in an arranged marriage, try to work on building a relationship on their honeymoon in Ooty. During their honeymoon they meet other couples, in various stages of their relationship, each with their own stories and challenges to overcome. Over the course of the movie these couples become friends and help each other understand their relationships better. Unfortunately for Just Married, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., which also released in 2007, had a similar concept and was a much better movie. Where Just Married sometimes veers towards being unsubtle and preachy, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. was more deftly executed. Just Married is still worth a dekho though for its sensitive portrayal of Abhay and Ritika's acute sense of anxiety, their uncertain expectations of each other, their attempts at trying to connect with each other, their misunderstandings and their frayed feelings.

baat hamari pakki haiCollapse )
BW | JWM | sikhdi hoon main Bhatinda ki
This is not fair Radio Tarana! I've been listening to you a lot this weekend and you choose 11pm onwards to play wonderfully melodious, seldom heard gorgeous oldies? I have to go to sleep dammit ;____;

On the other hand, thank you so much for introducing me to this gem!

कब तलक रहिएगा यूँ दूर की चाहत बन के
कब तलक रहिएगा यूँ दूर की चाहत बन के
दिल में आ जाइए इकरार-ए-मोहब्बत बन के
अपनी तकदीर बना लूँ तो चले जाइएगा

मुझको इकरार-ए-मोहब्बत से हया आती है
मुझको इकरार-ए-मोहब्बत से हया आती है
बात कहते हुए गर्दन मेरी झुक जाती है
देखिये सर को झुका लूँ तो चले जाइएगा

Wah, wah! Kya baat hai.

Jeez, and now they are playing Aaja Sanam Madhur Chandani Mein Hum! At this rate I am never getting to sleep...
stock | india
Oh how I wish they had filmed the whole song! So perfect a choice this was and then they only used a para or two. Aisa kaise chalega?. Feeling mighty DENIED.

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books | Nancy Drew
3rd-Apr-2011 12:28 pm - Diya Ghuma Ke!
"One billion hearts. One wish."

Source: espncricinfo
stock | india
Title: ...Aur Pyar Ho Gaya
Year: 1997
Director: Rahul Rawail
Story: Honey Irani
Cinematography: Manmohan Singh
Actors: Bobby Deol, Aishwarya Rai, Shammi Kapoor, Shammi, Anupam Kher, Beena
Music: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Choreographer: Saroj Khan

Meri Saanson Mein Basa Hai and Koi Jaane Koi Na Jaane probably saved ...Aur Pyar Ho Gaya from utter obscurity, the combination of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's sweet music and Javed Akhtar's earnest lyrics proving to be a fond memory of the 90s for many. The only other thing most people will likely remember about the movie is that it was Aishwarya Rai's Bollywood début. Despite Bobby Deol's 2nd movie, murder mystery Gupt, achieving resounding success only a month before, ...Aur Pyar Ho Gaya failed to garner much enthusiasm from its audience. Perhaps surprising given that it was directed by Rahul Rawail, of Betaab (1983) fame and written by Honey Irani who penned Darr (1993). The movie's slow pace, its contrived and repetitive situations, its ridiculous climax and its Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge (1995) hangover were probably the reason for its lack of success. Personally though, I'm with rubidium11  on this one. ...Aur Pyar Ho Gaya is actually pretty enjoyable for both Bobby and Aishwarya fans and I would happily watch it all over again many times.

kaisa yeh pyar hai allah allah...Collapse )

Other Bobby Deol movie write-ups: Yamla Pagla Deewana (2011), Barsaat (1995), Gupt (1997)
BW | JWM | sikhdi hoon main Bhatinda ki
I swear Wellington is just brim full of lovely people! I've been at the receiving end of so many nice, sweet, courteous acts from strangers. I just love this city.

There was that time with the elevator that I wrote about here. In fact that James Cook elevator is a hub of cooperation and courtesy. Just the other day I was standing outside it waiting for everyone to file out and it took a lot longer than normal so the doors were about to close, but the last guy out, a young Kiwi guy, stood with his back against the doors to prevent them from doing so and waited till I got in before leaving. And another day I was too late in getting to the lift before the doors closed but the Kiwi teenage girl in there opened the doors from the inside so I could get on too.

There's also the time I had to take a cab midway to work because my blister was hurting too badly. So I got into a Corporate Taxi (well it was the only one anywhere near me) and when I told the old Chinese guy the address he said it was only 5 or so minutes away so he'll just drop me for free. Yeah, just like that. He had no idea that my foot was hurting badly.

Then there was the time when I had been indecisive about whether to take advantage of the 4 for $20 manga offer at the Borders discount store. I refrained from making the purchase the week I saw it but when a week later the Hana-Kimi volumes were still there I thought why not. I looked around but to my horror there were no 4 for $20 signs around any longer. So I went up to the counter to ask why they weren't there and the new Maori lady replied that they were regularly changing the discounts and she guessed the ones I was talking about were no longer valid. I was kind of dejected. She asked how much were they costing now - $10 each I replied. And I had wanted to get 8 of them :| So she then told me to just bring them over and she'll give them to me at that old discount rate anyway! So in the end it only cost me $40.

And today, I went to the Higher Taste restaurant to see if they did takeaways (eh weekend, didn't feel like cooking), turns out they did. These guys have a buffet style system so basically you put however much in whichever size box you want and the price is based on the size of the box. I got one medium and one mini one, and went to the counter and the Indian guy there said he'd only charge me for the medium one. Aiveyin! And this isn't the first time this has happened at an Indian restaurant. Last month I had gone to Tulsi and asked if they did takeaways and when it turned out they did I ordered tadka dal. When I got home I realised the guy had quietly put in 1 naan for free. Another time when my parents and I went to Daawat during navratraas it turned out nothing on their vegetarian menu had onion-free food. So we asked the waiting staff if anything could be done and the guy said that in the kitchen they were cooking onion-free dal that was not on the menu to take home for later (since they celebrated navratre too) so if we wanted they could serve us that and we happily agreed. A cynic would probably call these shrewd marketing moves but really they seem to be sweet, kind gestures from where I'm standing. 

Also today I was at New World Metro with my recyclable bag and a bit too many groceries. The Asian guy at the counter who was swiping the stuff saw how inept I was at making sure everything could fit in the bag so he just started helping me and when there was still some stuff left he said, "they can fit in there, but only if you can carry it?" ...so sweet. I told him not to worry and that I will be able to. Then when I got back to my apartment block I was slowly walking towards the lifts (these are not the ones from before) and turns out the Indian guy already in it had heard me making my way to them so he had kept the door open till I got there...I know I always do that when I can hear someone walking over (hey saves them time and saves the building's power/energy!)  but it is nice to have such gestures reciprocated.

In other words, wonderful Wellington knows well how to woo a girl!
NZ | kiwi too
9th-Mar-2011 08:18 pm - Yaar o yaara mere yaarum!
Someone should have warned me about the side effects of #DeolDhamaka. One of the more ludicrous ones is that I have now started thinking in Bobby!GIFs. Yes, as soon as I have something to post I think to myself -I know exactly what Bobby!GIF could complement this-...

Anyway on to the raison d'etre of this post. Today Bobby is helping me announce something off the hilltops...

I got the job! Yep, that one I was going to interview for. Hurrah for a permanent job, my almost-completed Masters degree turning out to be useful, A. Permanent. Job, getting to stay with the team I had come to like,  A PERMANENT JOB, getting to stay in the city I like, the potential money I'll be getting, A PER- yeah ok I'll shut up now :P I'm scared, I'm excited, I'm pleased, I'm nervous, in my head I'm like this:

stock | butterflies
Aa-ya-ya-ya-ya-aa! Gupt...gupt... Gupt aa re... Gupt...gupt... Woh kya hai? (sing it with me folks) Gupt...gupt... Oh right, I should probably move on to the write up now.

Title: Gupt
Year: 1997
Director: Rajiv Rai
Screenplay: Rajiv Rai, Shabbir Boxwala
Cinematographer: Ashok Mehta
Actors: Bobby Deol, Kajol, Manisha Koirala
Music: Viju Shah

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For Bobby fans Gupt is worth a dekho simply because of how good he looks in it, especially some scenes *fans self* For the non-Bobby fans Gupt may be worth checking out simply to see one of the very few whodunnits in Bollywood that was actually successful. It has a killer twist ending which is probably what helped propel it to hit status, along with the popularity of its music. I know I've focussed in this write-up mainly on the jodis and songs but that's just me. I was the same for Soldier as well (as you shall discover) and that had heaps of twists too. In some ways I kinda wish I hadn't remembered Gupt's ending from the 90s because it would have been fun going WTF now but that's ok I got that with Soldier because I really didn't recall anything from that movie except the songs.

Having a dozen well known villain and character actors to complete the milieu of suspects and obstacles for the hero to overcome was quite a great strategy for Gupt and worked well in its favour, I thought. You rarely get to see ALL these guys in the same movie, let alone the same hospital room, y'know? So it is kinda cool Bobby got to work with all of them :D Also some of those guys were hilarious, especially Raza Murad as a poetic lawyer with a humorous sher (couplet) ready for every occasion. The inspector (Om Puri) trying to catch Sahil was funny in his own way, especially memorable is this one line in the film where he tells Sheetal he wants to see her bathroom so he can find out "tumhaari khoobsoorati ka raaz kya hai?" (what is the secret of your beauty?). For those who didn't grow up in India it probably was a random sleazy line but in fact it was a clever reference to the Lux advertisement slogan and I suspect Manisha might have at one point endorsed the product.

With Gupt Bobby took on the mantle of action hero that his father and brother were famous for. Sure in Barsaat he did some maad dhaad as well but this was the first of his, many (and I mean MANY), revenge films and perhaps the seeds for that can be traced back here. Had this film flopped, who knows what kind of 'image' he would have built? He already had Kareeb, Soldier and Dillagi lined up during Gupt though, all very diverse roles, so perhaps his career would have been much the same. Especially since Soldier was his next big hit and that was in a sort of similar genre where suspense was married with a revenge plot.

Bonus Fun Facts:

[+] Raveena was going to play Manisha's character but the dates clashed so in the end she opted out. She has however dubbed all of Manisha's lines in the film. Not sure why?
[+] The reason Bobby didn't have a film release till 1997, a whole year after his début in 1995, was because he was busy wooing his wife to be, Tanya Ahuja, and making plans to get married hehe (I find that adorable!)
[+] Gupt's release was also delayed because Bobby had ended up fracturing his leg which meant the shooting was stalled.
stock | astronomy
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