Posts Tagged ‘India

21
Jun
09

Ghajini (2008)

ghajiniI’m not really sure what to say about Ghajini, except that it is definitely not what I was expecting, if I even expected anything. I enjoyed its 184 minutes of a love story wrapped in a revenge-thriller genre masala mash-up that only Bollywood would even try to attempt. The film reads like a rip-off of Memento, with a little bit of the concealed-identity rom-com thrown in for backstory.

Despite all the faulty logic of the film and the nit-picky details one has to suspend disbelief for, I freely gave myself over to this (as one should do when a movie is clearly not based in reality, despite wanting to pretend reality) and liked it a lot. It doesn’t hurt that A.R. Rahman has some good, though recycled, music in this too (I liked “Kaise Mujhe” a lot). Many people find fault with the mindless gaps in logic here, which is valid, but I choose to forgive/ignore them. Even if it is a revision of the original Tamil film (that could have improved upon them), by the original writer-director and with its original, outstanding leading actress.

Aamir Khan is crazy good in this. Being the pseudo-Method actor that he apparently is, Khan trained for a year (plus) to get into ‘shape’ for the plethora of ass-kicking he delivers in this; literally sculpting a muscular, brooding look complete with a shaven head that is miles away from the business world leading-man-in-love that he plays in the flashback scenes (a much more sizable, and perhaps superior, part of the film than I expected). Yes, its a highly stylized, over-the-top performance. But such is the nature of (the majority of) Bollywood. I look forward to watching more of him. I think I might go on a bit of a Bollywood kick soon.

khan2

khan1

Behold, the many faces of Khan.khan6

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25
May
09

Kaun? (1999)

kaun_nehaflixI bought a bunch of Bollywood movies from Eros a couple of holidays back, during one of their unbelievably awesome sales, and I picked up this early Ram Gopal Varma horror/thriller for 99 cents (plus shipping). This movie is definitely worth a dollar, even before seeing it.

Kaun? (1999) is one of RGV’s first attempts at subverting the Bollywood mold. It is a 99 minute film set in one location with absolutely no song or dance routines. While kind of slow in a couple of stretches (you have to sit through almost 10 minutes or Hollywood horror cliche moments before the plot starts), even within these stretches, or perhaps in spite of, you can see a fillmmaker deeply literate in a film grammar outside the norm of his own culture (which if not impressive, is a rarer thing than one would imagine).

Bollywood films are well known for blantantly ripping off plotlines from popular Western films and recycling them into a Bollywood mush (see here and here; more on this when I watch some more of my blind buys). And while this film is not immune from this plagirism/inspiration entirely, it does not seem like a rip-off. It is merely derivative in spirit (I mean that as a compliment, though).

I am predisposed to liking stagey whodunits. Simultaneously asking you to think about what’s happening throughout and beating you over the head with it at the same time, I hesitate to reductively say that am I  merely ‘enjoying it for what it is’. That implies that the effort put forth in this film is somehow comparatively sub-standard to its Hollywood predecessors. I would argue, especially with the recent spate of ridiculous recycling going on in Hollywood horror these days, that Kaun? is a better-than-average attempt at the horror/thriller, avoiding the post-Scream influence altogether (maybe more on that after I watch Raaz; a ‘remake’ of What Lies Beneath; my personal marker for ignoring the said Scream zeitgeist).
All in all, not a bad way to spend a holiday evening!

kaun




featured Short film (9 min)

Blue Shining (Richard Vezina, 2015)

great scene from a great film

Sullivan's Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)

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