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Indian Cinema [PART 3]

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Indian Cinema [PART 3]

Old 02-16-06, 10:56 PM
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Indian Cinema [PART 3]

I can't point to any specific reason but I recently had a strong craving for Indian Cinema and given that I watched 7 Indian films in a row, I suppose now is a good time to start PART 3 of this continuing discussion.

First order of business - following are the links to the previous two discussions:
PART 1
PART 2

And to continue, I generally like to mix up my viewing and in recent times I rarely watch more than 3 films in a row from any given country but I recently watched 7 Indian films in a row (though it probably helped that the films were a mix......some Hindi-language and some Tamil). Sometimes watching just one is enough to sour me on Indian cinema for a couple of weeks but somewhat to my surprise - generally speaking - I thoroughly enjoyed my recent stretch. So to kick this PART 3 off, I'll comment on the aforementioned 7 as well as 2 other recent viewings. Hmm...what order to go in.....okay, I'll start with the better ones first.

Kaadhal (2004 - Tamil) - Wow! Where did this come from? I'd score this one as a modern classic of Indian cinema. While not as great as the 2004 Bengali-language film "Swapner Din", I did find this more affecting. Going back to when I first started these discussions, I will concede that while I have enjoyed a signficant number of Indian films most of the ones I've enjoyed have left little impression beyond basic entertainment.......it was more watch it, be very entertained, but then it is more or less forgotten once the end credits roll, at least certainly by the next morning. Not so with "Kaadhal" (which apparently translates to "Love" as I picked up during the viewing of a subsequent Tamil film). The story I suppose has been done to death in Indian cinema - rich girl meets poor boy - but trust me on this, don't go searching around for reviews or anything, just get thee to your nearest Indian rental shop and give this film a viewing; the story while familiar is executed very well this go round. Aside from the male lead, pretty much everyone else in the film seems to be a newcomer, and I was impressed by their performances. The film does get a little sidetracked post-intermission. But even that segment is pretty okay on its own and would probably make for a decent film if expanded into its own film. And that segment is justified by a nice payoff a little later on. I enjoyed the song & dance numbers in this film and generally speaking have found the musical numbers in the Tamil films to be superior to their Bollywood counterparts. "Kaadhal" was one of the films short-listed by India for the recent Oscars but it lost out to "Paheli". Anyway, I'd better cut this short since I've got other films to get to but this one is highly recommended (even to those who generally don't watch Indian cinema).

Bluffmaster! (2005 - Bollywood (Hindi)) - This one borrows almost entirely from "Matchstick Men", "Nine Queens"/"Criminal", with a topping of "The Game". However, I still really enjoyed this one even though all the twists were expected. If you enjoyed Bollywood's recent "Bunty Aur Babli" which was their spin on "Catch Me If You Can", then you should enjoy this one. As with that film, Abhishek Bachchan is again the lead. And you've got Priyanka Chopra for eye-candy. I found this one to be a whole lot of fun to watch and it made for some very nice light entertainment....and in a number of ways I actually preferred it to the films it copied.

Family (2006 - Bollywood (Hindi)) - This is the most recent entry in the crime film genre (a genre in which India fairly regulary turns in a respectable showing). I think the film is somewhat spoiler sensitive so don't read too much before seeing it. This one had its theater released slightly delayed due to Amitabh Bachchan's recent health concerns. Apparently, his voice - for significant portions of the film - was dubbed by someone else. Honestly, despite his distinctive voice, I didn't really notice that it had been dubbed by someone else. There are a couple of instances in the second half where there is a drop-off in the volume of the audio and I suppose that must have been segments with his original voice. Anyway, the opening forty minutes or so are just okay. Actually you've got two separate alternating storylines - average-at-best romantic/family comedy and gritty B-grade crime film, with the lighter comedic portion being predominant. The song and dance numbers, except for one maybe, aren't all that good but most of them do take place early on. It is after the two storylines converge that things get really good....and where the film earns a recommendation to just a notch below the great Indian crime films. I really enjoyed the music score used extensively in the second half and it gave the film a sense of operatic grandeur. The films also features a nice supporting performance by Shernaz Patel who also had a key role in "Black". The director is Rajkumar Santoshi who also directed at least a couple of films I really enjoyed ("The Legend of Bhagat Singh" and the "Seven Samurai" spin "China Gate").

Anniyan (2005 - Tamil) - I guess you guys are already familiar with this from another thread or two here in the forum. The film borrows from a large number of Hollywood films and has a runtime of over three hours. Despite all that, I found it very enjoyable and if the goal is to be entertained then this film succeeded and despite the long runtime it moved along at a brisk pace. The fight scenes, while maybe good by Indian cinema standards, still weren't all that great technically, but they were effective from an entertainment perspective. Again, I thought the song & dance numbers were a highlight.

Iqbal (2005 - Hindi) - Another of the Oscar shortlisted films from India. This one would rank in a group below the first four mentioned above. It a sports movie (cricket in this case). The film is totally formulaic and cliche, but it kept me fairly entertained. The director Nagesh Kukunoor (Hyderabad Blues, Bollywood Calling, 3 Deewarein) could have done a better jobs in a number of instances. Also, I felt the film could have been tightened up as it lagged and got repetitive in the middle. It plays more like a nice TV-movie rather than a theatrical feature. But, despite being formulaic and cliche, it is nice to see India - as other countries do - turn out a respectable entry of this type. While it might not have been as good technically, I found it more evenly enjoyable than another recent underdog sports entry - "Marathon" from South Korea. You're not missing anything if you don't watch it but a rental won't kill you either (if you like sports films).

Okay, I'm tired of typing so I'll pick this up tomorrow. But the remaining four films "Shikhar", "Aaru" (Tamil), "Kanaa Kanden" (Tamil), and "Zinda" aren't really anything you need to see. Well, maybe let's start on the "OldBoy" knock-off "Zinda" right now. I'm not going to go on some tirade or anything, India often (let's be kind and say "copies") from other films. Sometime it works ("Bluffmaster!") and sometimes it doesn't ("Zinda"). First off, the director chose to shoot pretty much the whole film with this awful blue filter (what, did Indian filmmakers get a discount on blue filters as this technique nearly sunk "Yahaan" (a film I really liked). The blue tint made the film a hard watch. The story is cleaned of its more controversial aspects and generally dumbed-down & stripped of meaning. The psychology of the characters is all wrong when compared to "OldBoy". Also the surprise aspect is not as great as the seeds to much of the film are planted in the opening few minutes. I wasn't impressed by Sanjay Dutt or Lara Dutta's performances...........I'll check in tomorrow with more spoiler-type material for the curious. That is the only reason to check this one out.....just out of curiousity to see how poorly it compares to the original.
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Old 02-17-06, 06:37 AM
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I can honestly say that I've only seen a handful of Indian movies, non of which included dancing or singing (a good thing in my book) although I understand why bollywood movies are that way so I'm not judging just stating that is not my cup of tea but last year I did see a very good film based on the Bombay blasts called Black Friday. Anyone knows if this is available anywhere on dvd? When it showed in Philly if I remember correctly it was banned in India or it had a lot of controversy. anyone know anything about this film.
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Old 02-17-06, 09:33 PM
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Surprised - pleasantly - to see you in here BuddhaWake. Regarding "Black Friday", I have seen it (see PART 2, Page 3, Post #69) but I didn't really care for it. I seem to be in the minority however as most others seem to score it higher than I did. I'm fairly certain it has not yet been released on DVD.

I guess I'll pick up where I left off yesterday:

Zinda (2005 - Bollywood (Hindi)) - I suppose if you completely forget the existence of "OldBoy" then "Zinda" is an average viewing by Bollywood standards, though I was sort of bored at points during the first half. But having seen "OldBoy" it really is difficult not to be very critical of "Zinda". I'll detail some major, major spoilers now with regards to both "Zinda" and "OldBoy" so if you don't want to know stop reading this paragraph now................Okay, Lara Dutta in "Zinda" is the equivalent to the female lead in "OldBoy" but here she is not Sanjay Dutt's daughter but simply a cab driver who helps him out. In the beginning of the film, you - but Sanjay Dutt doesn't - learn that his wife is pregnant prior to Dutt being imprisoned. The reason for the revenge here is not because Dutt caught John Abraham's character and his sister in an incestuous situation but instead Dutt's character as a youth falsely tells his group of friends that he had sex with John Abraham's older sister. Dutt's character then leaves the school but the girl's reputation is severely tarnished and when she can't deal with it anymore she commits suicide by burning herself to death (which is witnessed by her brother). His ultimate act of revenge is that after Dutt's wife is killed (as happened in "OldBoy"), Abraham raises Dutt's daughter until the age of around 14. At the climax, Abraham shows Dutt the girl being auctioned off for sex, with a large group of men bidding for her rights. He then reveals to Dutt that it is his daughter (remember Dutt wasn't aware his wife was pregnant). Anyway, this film has a happy ending. Abraham's character dies at the end but Abraham seemingly didn't have the heart to ruin the girl so in the end Sanjay Dutt meets his daughter who was not auctioned off. I was sort of expecting some twist by having Dutt's daughter kill him (because she thinks he killed her Mother) but there is no twist and it ends. Also a lot of the mystery of the film is killed early on in maybe the second scene when Dutt and his friend seemingly out of nowhere mention some girl they remember from their school days, the girl being Abraham's sister. Plus you the viewer are aware of Dutt's wife being pregnant so you are expecting the return of the daughter at some point. So that is about the major difference with everything else being watered down. For some reason, like many other recent films, this one takes place in Thailand. And thanks to the awful blue filter you don't even get a nice look at Thailand. I don't recall any dance but there were at least a couple of songs set to montage (if I recall correctly) and a love scene, but I didn't care for them at all. John Abraham was okay, and actually he comes off as kind of a good guy in the whole thing. And Sanjay Dutt isn't as sympathetic as the same character in "OldBoy" because what he did as a youth seemed far more malicious and intentional than what happened in "OldBoy".

Shikhar (2005 - Bollywood (Hindi)) - After a six-year gap, the director of the well-received Aamir Khan starrer "Sarfarosh" returns with this his sophomore effort. I didn't like the casting or performances in this at all - Ajay Devgan, Bipasha Basu, & Shahid Kapoor. I'm really down on Ajay Devgan's recent work. The song & dance numbers were subpar as well. The story was okay but curiously unengaging. With a different cast, I might have been higher on the film. So besides the poor casting/performance and subpar musical aspect, otherwise it was okay. Really middle of the road fare that doesn't need to be seen, but it wasn't a painful time killer either.

Aaru (2005 - Tamil)
Kanaa Kanden (2005 - Tamil)
Two average efforts from Tamil cinema. "Aaru" stars Surya who I've enjoyed in other films most notably "Nandha" (2001). It is the formulaic story of a crime boss's primary henchman (Surya) who rebels against the crime boss after he is betrayed. This is is your typical Indian film which mixes action/comedy/romance. Unfortunately, the romance and especially the comedy tracks don't work. Cut those out and you might have a decent B-level crime film. The comedy however is really irritating and far too prevalent. It is that really low-brow sort of cheap sex comedy seen too often in Indian cinema. To call it juvenile would be an insult to juveniles. Also a lot of the comedy seems to be rather local in humor and won't translate well to outsiders. I can't remember which, either this and/or "Kanaa Kanden" but both had some film-related humor related to both "Anniyan" (Ramp Walk Remo) and "Kaadhal" (Sandhya), those sort of gave me a chuckle and I was fortunate that I had seen both prior to these so I actually understood the jokes. "Kanaa Kanden" was also rather average. The romance angle worked better in this one but it also featured more of that irritating sex comedy as a sidebar. Of note in "Kanaa Kanden" was the villain (Prithwiraj). He seems to work primarily in Malayalam-language films but he seems to be crossing over into Tamil cinema. The aforementioned Bollywood film "Shikhar" could have used someone like him in place of Ajay Devgan.

Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women (2003 - Hindi) - I recall this receiving some positive buzz a couple of years back but it seems it took quite some time to land on home video. This film is bizarre by Indian standards. This is a "message" film in order to speak out against the practice of female infanticide (which seems to have been far too prevalent in India over the past century). It takes place in a sort of bizarro alternate reality where there is a nearly complete absence of women in a rural area of India (kind of implausible when you think about it but you just have to go with the premise which I had no real problem doing). I was expecting it to play out more like an arthouse effort and was a bit thrown when it came off closer in many ways to an exploitation film (with things more implied rather than shown). I can't say the film was entertaining and I can't even use an alternative like interesting but it held me as a viewer and it was rather disturbing.........female infanticide, extensive rape, bestiality, pornography, violence, etc......all stuff you don't really expect from Indian cinema (at least not on a realistic level and all in one place as in this film). There is only one brief bit of song & dance but it is integral to the storyline. I didn't really care for the movie to start with but it might have been because I found it rather jarring compared to most other Indian films. However, I did quickly get drawn in as things started to progress, and Tulip Joshi turned in a subdued and sympathetic performance as the female lead (I would look forward to seeing more of her work in the future). "Matrubhoomi" is by no means a pleasant viewing experience, it is mean and ugly and nasty and dark, but I would say it is a recommend viewing experience (though I think once will be more than enough). The runtime is brief at only about 92 minutes (not including end credits).
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Old 02-19-06, 05:17 PM
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Here is some good news on a film I've been eager to see.......Director Deepa Mehta's concluding film - following "Fire" (1996) and "Earth" (1998) - in her "elemental trilogy", Water (2005) is receiving a Region 1 Canadian DVD release on March 7th courtesy of Mongrel Media.

The film had its world premiere last September when it was the opening film at the Toronto International Film Festival; it is scheduled for a U.S. theatrical release in late April. Featured performers in the film include the knock-your-socks-off gorgeous model-turned-actress Lisa Ray (from the fun "Bollywood/Hollywood"), model-turned-actor John Abraham (eye-candy for the ladies), and Seema Biswas. Under fire from Hindu religious extremists, it took some determination for Deepa Mehta to finally bring this project to fruition.

From early reports, the DVD will arrive in two separate packages (actually double that if you wish to count the French-packaged versions as separate releases). There will be a 1-disc release and a 2-disc Special Edition. The 2-disc Special Edition will include as an extra the alternate version filmed in English and never before released, along with extra featurettes on the making of the film. I'm not 100% certain on the above DVD specs so I'm holding off on my pre-order for a little bit, but this will be a definite purchase for me.

For those who might be curious, below is a trailer link (a brief premise for the film can be read just below the Quicktime trailer window):
Trailer for Deepa Mehta's "Water" (2005)

Comments from anyone who might have seen it at Toronto or other festivals would be most welcome.
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Old 02-26-06, 09:54 PM
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Thoughts on a couple more recent watches:

Water (2005 - Canada/India (Hindi)) - This work from Canadian director Deepa Mehta just won the best film prize at the Bangkok International Film Festival.

I wish I had enough recollection of her previous films - "Fire" and "Earth" - that I could offer some sort of compare/contrast analyis of all three in the trilogy but that not being the case I'll just share my thoughts on this one.

First off, it easily earns a thumbs up from me. I thought Deepa Mehta did a really nice job as director. The film looks good too and it does a nice job of establishing a sense of time and place (in this case 1930's India). The film is a slower-paced effort; it is not really cinema as pure entertainment. Also, as arthouse fare, while I wouldn't call it riveting or deeply engrossing, it did readily capture my interest as a viewer from the beginning and it consistently held me as the story played out through the end. The film didn't really hit me too hard on any emotional level but I did care about the characters and the closing scene was well done.

Child actress and relative newcomer Sarala does a nice job in her role as one of the primary characters. Also deserving of praise is Seema Biswas in another key role. Lisa Ray, while in limited instances possibly too contemporary in her body language and dialogue delivery, would undoubtedly earn praise from me and it was the correct decision (and not just because she's hot) to cast her in a pivotal role. Given the style of the film, the - for lack of a better term - "starpower" she brings to the role far outweighs the fleeting misstep......I felt that a film like this that was more subdued in tone required the "life" that she brought as a performer. Likewise, the selection of John Abraham earns a thumbs up. Actually now that I reconsider things, I'm starting to really enjoy him as a performer and it seems I'm not alone as his career seems to really be taking off. Granted most of his roles recently - Viruddh, Zinda, Dhoom, etc. - haven't been too demanding, but he seems to be working his way towards more challenging efforts; I'm curious to see how he does co-starring with Nana Patekar in the just-released "Taxi 9211".

I'll likely do a 2005 Top Indian Films list in the coming couple of weeks or so (I want to try and catch "Page 3" as well as Director Aparna Sen's "Mr. and Mrs. Iyer" follow-up "15 Park Avenue" prior to doing the list)......but I can say right now that "Water" will certainly rank somewhere on that list


Nayakan (1987 - Tamil) - Directed by the acclaimed Mani Ratnam and starring the likewise acclaimed Kamal Hassan, this film was recently (early in 2005) - and once again - brought in to the spotlight when it was selected by Time Magazine to their list of "All-Time 100 Best Films". I see the term "Godfather-esque" applied to this film in a number of instances but I'd say it is more a sort of fictional biography of a - we can say "Godfather-like" - crime boss. Actually, if I recall it might actually be based on a true character....so maybe it is actually non-fictional. With Kamal Hassan in the lead it is more an intimate tale of his life as a crime lord; it focuses more towards the personal side of things rather than the work aspects. It is not really so much a gangster film like "Satya" and "Company" but like I said plays more like a fictional (or non-fictional) biography. However, those who prefer gangster films will find more than enough to please them on that front. I very much enjoyed this film and it is something I wouldn't mind revisiting; I thought the song and dance numbers were both well done and well integrated into the story. It's a great story and Kamal Hassan turns in a solid performance. If I were to do a list of my favorite Indian films, this film would most certainly be on there (along with at least one - "Hey Ram", and possibly even two - "Anbe Sivam" others which also featured Kamal Hassan).

So that takes care of my recent viewings except for the Tamil film "Arul" which was subpar; it was from the same director as "Aaru" (discussed earlier) and a similar film but not as good (and "Aaru" was just average anyway). Some other films under consideration in the coming weeks include "Rang De Basanti" (starring Aamir Khan and apparently an early Bollywood hit for 2006), "Ghajini" (late 2005 film from Tamil Cinema and possible clone of the the film "Memento"), "Thavamai Thavamirundhu" (another Tamil entry), "Teesri Manzil" (classic Bollywood from the 60's), and "Chingaari" (a Hindi-language arthouse (I believe) effort).
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Old 03-05-06, 07:06 AM
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Rang De Basanti (2006 - Bollywood (Hindi)) - Ladies and gentlemen....a drum roll please....I am pleased to announce I have found my new number one favorite all-time film........and it is called........"Shokei No Shima" (1966).......that would be the name of the movie I started watching after - in a desperate act of self-preservation - I bailed out on "Rang De Basanti" at the intermission. Now I know it isn't fair to judge without finishing it (which I will do later today) but that first 1 hour and 20 minutes was painful to watch...and save an out-of-the-blue sudden guest appearance from Rose McGowan scantily clad for large portions of the second half.......including an epilogue text in which she professes her love for long-winded Internet-posting Red Sox fan movie buffs, there is no way this film will get anywhere near even an average score from me. Needless to say, I find the high praise being bestowed on "Rang de Basanti" to be dumbfounding. So far it is even worse than any of the other films I've shared my dislike for on this forum ("Duelist", "Grizzly Man", "Initial D", etc. while also including some of the really awful Bollywood films such as "Dus" which would be a welcome relief in comparison to "Rang de Basanti"). Anyway...before I say anymore, let me try and be fair...so let's see what happens after I finish it....more later.
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Old 03-05-06, 02:44 PM
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Back again....so I finished watching "Rang de Basanti", about a quarter of the way in the second half gets better and is at least watchable (still dumb but at least more entertaining). With more dramatic material in the post-intermission segment, the performances get better. Best thing about the film was to once again see Atul Kulkarni; he is a fine actor and sorely under-utilized in Indian cinema. All said however, the film isn't any good. The first half is a far inferior mix of "Dil Chahta Hai" and way too much of "The Legend of Bhagat Singh" (literally, they play out the story of Bhagat Singh). I especially loved the latter film but seeing it delivered yet again really felt stale. The second half sees a change in tone for the most part and once again plays to the tired theme of corruption in India delivered in typical action film style. I had a hard time swallowing the whole, I'll term it "disaffected" metropolitan youth angle. India is in the midst of an economic boom; it currently seems a land of great opportunity especially in urban areas so these college/post-college slackers held little appeal to me. What do they have to be disaffected about........not enough white women in India? "Rang de Basant" seems to have been positively received as meaningful commercial cinema. I just don't see it that way. Maybe something cultural is being lost in translation but the representation of Indian young people seemed rather disingenuous.....I could see it from other nations youth but with so much growth right now in India, a renewed commitment to peace with Pakistan, etc. the film seemed an ill-timed and miscalculated bitchfest. Moreso given the proceedings of the second half which in one way put across a rather curious and archaic way to deal with things while also relying on the typical - done a thousand times over in Indian cinema - we the people must bring about change. Trying to connect the methods of Bhagat Singh as a way to inspire modern India seemed rather silly on the whole. The world is just too different. Given the enormous population, multitude of religions, and strong social class divides, I'd say running India is quite a challenging prospect and those in charge ultimately are doing rather well. Sure, the corrupt politician/policeman/businessman makes for a fun villain in your typical masala film. However, seeing "Rang de Basanti" as significant/meaningful cinema is entirely off base as it is not different from a boatload of prior films.......actually it is, it is far less entertaining. If the main characters in this film were supposed to be in their early teens that might have made the film more believable but I can't buy it coming from characters who are more the college/recent college grad age bracket. Looking at the overwhelmingly positive comments at IMDb, I just don't get it.

Ghajini (2005 - Tamil) - I haven't watched the film "Memento" in a long while so I can't say how much the two have in common but "Ghajini" is most assuredly "Memento"-inspired while having the story changed significantly (as opposed to being a shot-by-shot ripoff). The likeable Surya is the lead and does a nice job. The film while a reasonably entertaining watch was still a disappointment, and it sort of runs out of steam in the second half. The whole "memory loss" aspect is really not much more than a plot gimmick and that aspect of the storyline comes up woefully short. The first half is predominantly a mistaken identity romantic comedy and I found it surprisingly enjoyable and even amusing. The second half seems some more action but what should be the driving force - the story of Surya's character - is diluted by too much time spent on another supporting character. There are at least a couple of scenes with the supporting character that play out as if lifted whole from Hollywood teen slasher flicks. You can almost visualize the scriptwriter going through his DVD collection of Hollywood girl-in-peril flicks. I couldn't quite recommend "Ghajini" but while a disappointment it still fares a hair better than average on the whole; I don't regret giving it a viewing.
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Old 03-05-06, 08:04 PM
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Asin from Ghajini
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Old 03-19-06, 10:14 AM
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Thavamai Thavamirundhu (2005 - Tamil) (alternate spelling of "Thavamai Thavamiruntu" as per IMDb) - Ladies and gentlemen....a drum roll please....I am pleased to announce I quite possibly have found my new number one all-time favorite Indian film........and it is called......surprise......"Thavamai Thavamirundhu"......and I am being serious....and I am including every Indian film I've ever seen (granted not nearly as many as some of you readers but most certainly a respectable number nonetheless).

I watched this one last night and right from the opening credits I got a feeling that I would be in for something special and I was right. Now I don't know if it was copied from something else but if it was then that is a film that I would have to see as it would be an all-time masterpiece of world cinema. I loved every single minute of "Thavamai Thavamirundhu" and at a runtime of 3 hours & 24 minutes there was a lot to love (I believe the DVD case lists a runtime of 3:15 but it is indeed 3:24). Yes, the film might have been a little sentimental but I like that sort of stuff, and I found the film both entertaining and emotionally moving (you might even say I was a little misty-eyed in places).

The writer, director, star is a gentleman by the name of Cheran; he also did the same for a well-received Tamil film from 2004 called "Autograph" (I haven't yet seen the Tamil version but I did watch the Telugu remake).

"Thavamai Thavamirundhu" is a family drama spanning many years in a particular family, no action or comedy really...just their story.....no grand adventures or great historical events as a backdrop....just a plain and simple story of a family. The film starts with a man going to the hospital to see his elderly father and the rest of the film unfolds in a series of flashbacks (interspersed with brief cuts to the present and the man waiting in the hospital) covering the younger man's life from birth to the present. It's a celebration of fatherhood and a story of fathers and sons, and family. I know the storyline isn't anything unique but this was done so incredibly well.

There are a handful of songs and they were terrific and meaningful (lyrics were translated). Most of the songs play out in narrative montage and such so there really isn't any singing & dancing in the Swiss Alps or that sort of stuff. The performances by the entire cast in this drama (and some melodrama) were terrific. As a viewer, I truly felt like "a fly on the wall" in the lives of this family......they became "real" people.

I really can't stress enough how much I loved this movie. It isn't great just for an Indian film......it is a great film overall. Now granted I just watched it last night so I should put some more distance (aka I like "A History of Violence" a whole lot less now than when I posted about it in the Movie Talk Forum 5 days ago) between myself and the film but as of right now, I'd rank "Thavamai Thavamirundhu" with the best of all year 2005 films I've watched ("yes" that includes the rest of Asia, Europe, and the U.S.). I see the film was released in November of 2005 so it likely wasn't considered by India for this past Oscar submission, but even though we've got 9+ more months to go in 2006, "Thavamai Thavamirundhu" will be the best Indian film of 2006 (technically 2005 but I mean for awards consideration) and should be submitted for next year's Oscar consideration with tremendous pride.


Fight Club (2006 - Bollywood (Hindi)) - This film would be the flip-side of the coin to "Thavamai Thavamirundhu"..........in other words "Fight Club" is garbage. Some bad films have a certain "so bad it's good" appeal........this ain't it. If ever they were an argument against film preservation, "Fight Club" is it. It has been remarked around the 'net that it is a remake of the Hollywood "Fight Club"; it is not. "Yes", the actual "fight club" aspect was undoubtedly lifted from Hollywood but that is all they have in common (and the fights here weren't any good). I was critical of "Rang De Basanti", suffice to say "Fight Club" was far worse (I'm going to need a larger scale to rank these films). As opposed to "Zinda" and "Ek Ajnabee", don't even check this one out for curiousity's sake. Avoid at all costs.

I still have to check out "Page 3" and "15 Park Avenue" but in the meantime I will (in a day or two) post my Top Indian Films of 2005 list. Needless to say you can guess from reading this post what is going to be number one......and the rest of the list is without surprises and can be estimated with great certainty from my previous posts.

Last edited by flixtime; 03-19-06 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 03-21-06, 11:01 AM
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Although I frequently monitor several threads on this site, I found this one via a Google search.

I had an interesting introduction to Indian films, and in all actuality, I'm just getting started.

Several months ago I purchased a DVD of MP3s at a local bazaar here in Kazakhstan containing Arabic and Indian music, kind of as a sampler for me to explore new music. Out of the 75 or so Indian songs, I found that I only really liked a handful. Of these, most had one thing in common -- they had the name "Rahman" listed as the artist.

An internet search ot two later, I had learned that the majority of the tunes I'd liked had come from one movie, Lagaan. After more reading up on this film, and seeing the overwhelmingly positive reviews it had on Amazon.com, I decided to take a small risk and purchase it on-line. (Remember, I'm in Kazakhstan, so good luck finding any rental stores, let alone a film like this!)

I greatly enjoyed the film, its story and its music. Now, with the help of this thread, I've ordered a couple more (Dil Se and Mission Kashmir). I've yet to see them.

Thanks for the thread, flixtime, and to all those others who have participated.

In terms of "Water" (discussed in recent posts), it's now out on DVD in Canada, and shortly opening theatrically in the US.
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Old 03-23-06, 10:12 PM
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Kazakhstan, eh.........small world.....thanks for posting and I hope you enjoy the films you ordered.

I've been delaying it long enough so here goes my list of "Best Indian Films of 2005":

First Tier
1) Thavamai Thavamirundhu (Tamil)
2) Kaadhal (Tamil)
3) Swapner Din (Bengali)
- late 2004 release that played the film festival circuit in 2005 and hasn't been released on home video; I didn't include it in my 2004 list so I'm including it here. An outstanding piece of cinema.
4) Yahaan (Hindi)
5) Water (Hindi)

Second Tier
6) Anniyan (Tamil)
7) Bunty Aur Babli (Hindi)
8) Bluffmaster (Hindi)
9) Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana (Telugu)
10) Sarkar (Hindi)

Third Tier
11) Hari Om (English/French/Hindi)
- comments on "Swapner Din" apply to this 2004 release as well.
12) Black (Hindi) - in hindsight, I hated Rani Mukherjee's performance ("yes" I know she won an award for it) and she really killed the second half and any replay value for me, otherwise it would have ranked a little higher.
13) My Brother...Nikhil (Hindi)
14) Iqbal (Hindi)


Honorable mentions: These are a couple of 2003 releases which I'm omitting from the above solely because they might be too old to consider for a 2005 list. However, I think (but am not sure) that they might have seen their first home video release only in 2005. They are both certainly worth a look and likely would have ranked in the "Second Tier" list above.
Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003)
Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women (2003)


As mentioned earlier, I'm fairly certain all the films above have been covered in some form in my earlier posts.

I watched a small part of "Page 3" and turned it off because it wasn't very good.....poorly acted, amateur filmmaking, and boring....that makes three pretty awful Hindi films in a row for me. I'll finish it later.....needless to say I wouldn't expect a turnaround of any kind that would result in its finding a home on my list above. Still have to get to "15 Park Avenue" for 2005.

As for 2006, so far only "Family" (mentioned in an earlier post) is a likely candidate for a best films list of 2006. A couple of upcoming Tamil films I'm very eager to see are "Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu" (a new cop film starring Kamal Hassan and I believe shot partly in New York City, supposedly a reasonably known Hollywood actor has at least some small part in it (didn't really bother to look too closely at the trailer to try and make out who it was)...I think there is some legal red tape holding this film at least temporarily from release). Also, "Pattiyal", a gangster film co-starring the actor Bharath (who was the male lead in "Kaadhal"). As I've said before, India does a solid job with the crime film genre, so hopefully one of the above delivers.
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Old 04-30-06, 09:32 AM
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For those who might be interested, the website for Krrish (2006) is now live. As the sequel to the hit film Koi...Mil Gaya (2003), it is one of the more anticipated Bollywood films of the year. Hrithik Roshan is again the lead, and plays the son of his character from "Koi...Mil Gaya". Hrithik Roshan did a lot of training in Hong Kong for this one which is sort of a superhero film; the character was born with special powers as a result of what happened to his father in "Koi...Mil Gaya". The website has the same old teaser trailer and music video clip that have been around for a couple of months now, hopefully they will add a full trailer soon. A look at the trailer will show a lot of flying around like a Chinese wuxia film and Hrithik decked out in long black leather coat with a mask around his eyes. Priyanka Chopra provides the eye candy for us guys. The film is slated to release in June.

Website link follows:
Official website for Krrish
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Old 04-30-06, 07:34 PM
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that website doesn't work - this is the website that works:
http://krrishthemovie.com/
...but here's a teaser trailer for KRRISH....it sort of looks like the Tamil martial arts film ANNIYAN, in which he has the same costume/mask design as the ANNIYAN character. Bollywood not only steals and rehashes Hollywood movies, but they also steal and rehash the Tamil movies as well, since most Hindi Indians don't see Tamil Indian movies...

Here's the teaser trailer:
http://duzons.com/kei/2006/02/krrishteaser-trailer.html

ANNIYAN images:



KRRSH images:


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Old 05-07-06, 10:24 PM
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Raam (2005 - Tamil) - Just watched this one and found it to be a startling surprise. I'd need to give it some thought about where I'd rank it but I'd definitely revise my Top Indian Films of 2005 to rank this one (somewhere from 4 to 10). I think it would be best enjoyed without knowing too much about how it unfolds but generally speaking it is a murder mystery (a genre I rarely see done well in Indian cinema). The performance from the lead actor was solid. In the beginning the movie is even sort of creepy (not really in a horror film sort of way but still creepy in a good way). Even though you might figure things out early on, I don't think it deters from the enjoyment and watching how it unfolds. I liked the music and it served, for the most part, to enhance the storyline. Even the hip-hop number (which is predominantly mindnumbingly awful in Bollywood cinema) is quite enjoyable here. "Raam" is a suspense film so the comedy is very limited and what there is is delivered in a manner that doesn't sacrifice the built up suspense. The first 2/3rds (about 90+ minutes) was really very good; it drops a notch in the last third but that portion was still certainly satisfying. "Raam" is strongly recommended.

Taxi No. 9211 (2006 - Bollywood (Hindi)) - And then we have the opposite end of the spectrum. I'm starting to lose track of how many lousy recent Hindi films I've seen in a row. Actors John Abraham and Nana Patekar are two of my favorite leads in current Hindi cinema (I like Jimmy Shergill too) but they cashed their checks and sleptwalked through this film. The film was inspired from the Hollywood film "Changing Lanes" with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson, but really is a very different film. Even at a runtime of less than two hours I was bored out of my skull. I really haven't got a single nice thing to say about the film, well maybe that last 15 minutes wasn't as totally worthless as the rest of the film....and if you manage to stay awake you get a last second and inconsequential guest appearance from Priyanka Chopra. This guest appearance thing seems to be in vogue in recent Hindi films plus you also get the music video number (which was a bore) during the end credits (another in-fashion trend of late). This film is to be avoided...save the electricity and meditate upon your blank TV screen, it would be more rewarding.

Athadu (2005 - Telugu) - the first five minutes were great and I thought I'd be getting an outstanding gangster flick. The story is about a hitman and while you get some good (by Indian cinema standards) action scenes from action director Peter "I'm obsessed with The Matrix" Hynes (who also handled the action (better) in "Anniyan" among others), it really isn't an action film. Most of the action scenes were ripped from other films like "U.S. Marshals" with Wesley Snipes, and the end is ripped from the end of John Woo's "The Killer" with maybe a sprinkle of the Stallone/Banderas flick "Assassins" (haven't seen it in forever so can't be certain). But the problem is all the above is much more minimal than it sounds and the film is very lightweight with way too much lame comedy infecting all aspects of what is simply a masala flick. I didn't care for the performance of the lead actor - Mahesh Babu. The romantic portion which forms a large bulk of the film is lightweight and dull, and the two leads have no chemistry. Even some of the action is diluted by throwing in comedic situations, and the police investigation also has comic elements (while the actual investigation was also rather braindead), plus you've got the standard but limited comedy sidebar. If they had played the action and police investigation straight and if the leads had some chemistry this would have been closer to a winner. But unfortunately, despite the opening and closing, the film plays more like sitcom material. The musical numbers also felt forced into the film. I must praise the cinematography though....the film looked really great and the director did a nice job in composing the shots. Overall, while not without positive aspects, it was still mediocre and would grade out at below average. That said, despite not being a good film, it was a reasonably okay viewing experience.....and watchable for some of the things it did right. Plus it was certainly more enjoyable than the recent Hindi stuff I've subjected myself to. As you might have guessed, I'm back in that phase where I can't believe just how awful and incompetent current Hindi cinema is....since I've been burned so often recently, I'm having a tough time convincing myself to rent new releases like "Being Cyrus", etc., especially when I have an extensive DVD to-watch pile of undoubtedly better films outside of Hindi cinema. That reminds me, I don't think I ever mentioned "James" here.

James (2005 - Bollywood (Hindi)) - this is out of Ram Gopal Varma's production company. I watched it a long while ago so I don't recall many details. Surprisingly, it was quite enjoyable for at least the first half and probably more. It's basically a B-grade, direct-to-video-like, action film (maybe like something out of the 80's with Van Damme or Seagal). Of course the action is in no way close to the level in those films and the lead actor isn't a martial artist either. If I remember correctly the lead in this film is going to be the lead in Ram Gopal Varma's soon-to-be-released crime film "Shiva". That has me a little worried as the dude can't act...and he comes off a little dull in general. He might look the action star but he doesn't really move like one either; he runs kind of strange with his arms down by his side. The lead actress in the film is also a relative newcomer (and also slated for "Shiva" if I recall). I don't know if she can't act because I was too distracted by how hot she was. She is a most definite knockout (her opening musical number in the film is ample evidence...lots of pelvic thrusting, in a really short skirt too!). If I remember right, the film might have actually secured a lower spot (as a guilty pleasure) on my Best Indian Films of 2005 if it didn't completely crumble in the last third or so....the lead characters when being chased do some really, really dumb things and the film lost all credibility (also for what it is worth the scriptwriter and/or director likely have "The Last of the Mohicans" in their DVD collection). The action scenes suffered from some plastic props (obvious bending plastic substituting for a glass table, and likewise bending plastic swords substituting for samurai swords). Actually, the whole film was a rather short affair at maybe 2:10 so if don't mind a really poor last third or so, it might be worth a look if the genre appeals to you. Like I said, for what is was, it most certainly kept me well-entertained until a little past the intermission. And remember, the girl was really hot!

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Old 06-22-06, 04:36 PM
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Well Krrish is now upon us. Here is a very positive review from IndiaFm:

Krrish review at IndiaFM

I've eased off current Hindi films recently so it's time to give it another go. I tried to catch Fanaa but I can't yet get access to an English-subbed release. Anyone see it yet? I see Alag aka "Hindi version of Powder (1995)" has also released. I might also give a rental in the coming week or so to the horror/comedy? anthology "Darna Zaroori Hai".

Now that I think about it, I might be able to free a block of time tomorrow so maybe I'll do a brunch of Mongolian Barbeque and then take in the 11am showing of Krrish. If so, I'll report back.

Actually I'd be more happy if I could get my hands on English-subbed releases of the Tamil gangster flicks "Pattiyal" and the similar "Pudhu Pettai". Those are two that I'm really dying to see.
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Old 06-23-06, 02:15 PM
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Just got back from Krrish (2006 - Bollywood (Hindi))...the good news...unlike many recent Bollywood flicks, this one was at least watchable. The bad news is that is the best I can do as far as praise; it is a disappointing effort on many levels. I've got some stuff to do so I'll return later tonight or tomorrow morning with a more in-depth look. But I just wanted to say that if you are considering a trip to the theater to watch it tonight then don't bother (and the few action scenes are dull and range from poor to maybe average....basically just a lot of sub-par wirework). Just give it a rental in a couple of weeks or so. Again, I'll edit this post sometime soon.

Okay, here we go. I enjoyed "Koi...Mil Gaya"; it wasn't a great film or anything but it was very enjoyable and not without some charms. If I remember correctly I rated it around 6.5/10. "Krrish" is not in the same league. At first it seems to be a "bigger" movie as most sequels tend to be. You know, giving you more of what you liked about the first one. When you get right down to it, this is actually a lesser film, reasonably enjoyable (but just barely) but totally uninspired and it failed to make any connection with me as a viewer. The pre-intermission portion is largely dull. The first 10-15 minutes are okay but then the films moves on to a lengthy and mostly unengaging romantic comedy introduction for Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra (along with some, more annoying than not, support characters). After that you get a shorter segment back in Singapore featuring Priyanka Chopra and her female friend/colleague..and their boss (another terrible character). The film really needed a jump start after the romantic comedy segment but instead it slips further with this portion. After that you get a short section with Hrithik Roshan and his Mom with some flashbacks (both to the old film as well as newly filmed ones) and him learning about what happened to his father. Then a brief introduction to the villain and his island lair. That's it for the pre-intermission (a couple of run-of-the-mill musical numbers were in the first half). The best part of the first-half was some nice scenery which features Hrithik's home that is located in a grand, green valley with immense snow-capped mountains as the backdrop. Post-intermission starts off poorly, again going back to Priyanka Chopra's character and her friend (too much time for this poorly acted, unlikeable character). And later on, you finally have the introduction of the superhero element. Most of the second half takes place in Singapore and in early portions feels more like a tourist ad for Singapore than a feature film. Let's switch gears maybe and go for a point by point breakdown.

Hrithik Roshan: a performance that you would expect, basically all he is doing is a re-hash of the character from the first film. While it was fresh then, it was less interesting now.

Priyanka Chopra: a major downturn from Preity Zinta's character in the first film. The chemistry between her and Hrithik Roshan is non-existent. Her character is not someone I was drawn to as a viewer. Plus, as a fan of hers, I have to say she lacked the spark she has exhibited in earlier films.

Naseeruddin Shah: as the villain! Superhero films require great villains. The likeable Naseeruddin Shah is sorely miscast as the villain and brings nothing to the role. Horrible, horrible casting choice.

Ching Siu-Tung and the action scenes: acclaimed action director. There was much devoted to the participation of Ching and Hrithik's extensive training. None of it appears on-screen. The few - and late to arrive - actions scenes are mediocre at best but often sub-par. The scenes are as cliche and basic as they come. Before the climax, there are maybe 3 short action scenes. One with Hrithik taking on some baddies that is mostly slo-mo and tons of wirework. Another with more slo-mo running, wirework, and jumping to rescue people. And another poor fight entry. Basically it is all wirework with Hrithik running and jumping, some true martial arts skill only appears at the end when he has to throw a couple of punches and kicks, but basically Hrithik's scenes could easily have been done without training. I've seen far better action scenes in other recent Indian films. A great disappointment given how much was made about it. The climactic action scene is awful and laughable, and plays near to parody...and that wasn't the film's intent. As far as action goes you really don't get your money's worth in this film. There is also very mediocre CGI and tons of slo-mo. Frankly, the action in "Anniyan", "Athadu", etc. was much, much better than you see here. I really am stunned out how weak the action was.

Superhero aspects: Not well done and rather inconsequential even though it is supposed to be a superhero film. The characters superskills are hardly explored or expanded upon, or used in the action, unless you consider wirework jumps onto cars or from buildings to be interesting in a superhero flick. If you saw the trailer then that is pretty much the best you will see. Naturally none of the superhero elements are unique and you've seen it all in other Hollywood films. Again, very disappointed at how insignificant and disposable the superhero aspect was. The screenplay/story/dialogue in general is pretty hollow especially when you consider how much time they had for refinement.

Song & dance: a nicely visualized Moulin Rouge-like number in the second half and another good song in the second half, otherwise utterly forgettable. Also not enough variance in the dance style.

Summary: like I said it is watchable but just barely. Considering how much time, effort, and money was put into this film and how high profile it is, it must definitely be branded a disappointment...polished and glossy but still a failure. It falls short of "Koi..Mil Gaya" in virtually every manner and betters "Koi...Mil Gaya" in absolutely nothing.

If I remember anything else I'll post it.

Last edited by flixtime; 06-24-06 at 09:03 PM.
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Old 06-24-06, 09:56 PM
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A day later and I like "Krrish" even less....it's a superhero film...the introduction of a superhero.......where was the magic! I've actually watched "Koi...Mil Gaya" twice...that won't happen with "Krrish". Though I said "Krrish" was watchable that was primarily because I expected that the best was just around the corner....well, by the time I rounded all the corners in "Krrish" I found that there was nothing there....so no replay value. Enough of that, how about something else....

Fanaa (2006 - Bollywood (Hindi)) - Finally had a chance to watch this and after a long while and the disappointments of high-profile films such as "Rang de Basanti" and "Krrish", we finally have a winner! While nothing really new as far as story goes, I very much enjoyed "Fanaa" and it held my interest and entertained me throughout its 2 hour 45 minute runtime. Unless we see an unexpected upswing in the quality of product coming out of Bollywood, "Fanaa" will be a strong contender for best Bollywood film of 2006. It's been a while since I've seen "Yahaan" (my top Hindi film of 2005) but I'd say "Fanaa" is on par with that film....and very broadly speaking a somewhat similar film. Aamir Khan, who I have been down on as of late, turns in a nice performance. It was great, truly great, to see Kajol again......after a four-year absence. I hope she sticks around as the current state of Bollywood performers is pretty dire. I have one caveat about Kajol's performance though...her character is blind and, well, let's be nice and just say it wasn't the most convincing potrayal of a blind character. As a viewer, I would say be prepared to make that concession going in....but otherwise I really enjoyed her performance and character (her character was likeable and not nearly as annoying as Rani Mukherjee's Charlie Chaplin routine from "Black"). I'd hope that anyone going in to this film goes in spoiler free as did I. The first hour or so is all character-based romance (and much better than what we saw in "Krrish"). The secondary distractions often found such as overdone comedy, etc. are minimized and not as grating as usual, actually not grating at all ("Fanaa" is not a masala film). I thought there was great chemisty between Aamir Khan and Kajol, and I cared about the characters. As with many Asian films, the tone of the film changes later on. But it still remains very much a character-based effort (especially by Bollywood standards). After the first hour or so, you get a small middle section of maybe 1/2 hour, and then you settle in for the final portion which again focuses on characters and their relationship. It is a rather subdued film with somewhat longer scenes in only a few broad settings as opposed to jumping around locales with short scenes one after the other in a more plot-driven film. The climax actually reminded me very much of a classic Russian film I very recently watched. There were maybe five very enjoyable songs, one of which had a solid dance number...dance was minimal in the other songs. The film was well-paced and the placement of the songs in the film was well-done. The film is primarily a romance. Another element (often found in Indian cinema) enters the mix in the second half but it remains more in the background, and the focus is truly on the characters in what is at its core a romantic drama. "Fanaa" is a very solid Bollywood effort and as of late those have been few and far between.....I give it an enthusiastic recommendation and look forward to giving it a home in my collection. I've been pretty down on Hindi cinema but I feel much better now......bring on "Shiva".
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Old 06-26-06, 01:08 PM
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flix, two things (i beleive this to be my second appereance ever in this thread although I do read it to see what is out there). I'm thinking of going to see Water as it has been playing for a couple of weeks down the street from my apt. I see is ranked high for you. Should I go see it? will I be sorry if I don't? also, I saw the review of this film at twitch and I thought maybe you would know if it has a dvd release or maybe you would know more about it. its titled Ab Tak Chhappan.
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Old 06-26-06, 02:57 PM
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Sheesh, I've been talking about Indian cinema for how long now at this forum, and it's a post at Twitch that gets people interested.....maybe it's time I retire. BuddhaWake, it might be only your second post but I think if you post just once more, that might just make you - after me - the most active participant in this discussion.....it has been awfully quiet in here...not too far away from being my own personal blog (apologies to toddly6666, Kumar J, and a handful of the other fellows who have both followed & contributed in this thread for a very long while.....I do miss that darius guy, jmcnally, and some of the others who used to participate regularly (way back when)). Heck maybe I should just go the blog route with this stuff and stop burning Geoff's bandwith.

Oh yeah, "Ab Tak Chhappan", yeah that has been out on English-subbed DVD for maybe a couple of years now. I've mentioned it before somewhere in this thread; it's most certainly worth a look....I have it in my collection. You know what...BuddhaWake, if you are not in a huge rush to see it, and considering how very often we bump into each other here, I'll take care of getting the DVD to you...my treat. I'll send you an e-mail sometime later tonight or tomorrow.

As far as "Water", yeah it's most definitely a solid film, my review of it is posted somewhere among my recents posts in this thread (and this site did a review too). I don't go to the theater too often anymore and usually when I go it is for more action-oriented fare. But you seem to be a more frequent movie-goer than I, so sure give it a look (no scheduling conflict though with "Superman Returns" coming?). Just note, "Water" is a quieter film that plays just as well at home as it would in the theater. It is available in R1 via a Canadian release if you'd prefer that route. Just check though...is the theater playing the Hindi version or the English version (the DVD-release has both)? I haven't watched the English-language version yet, but maybe just wait for home video if it isn't the Hindi-language version.
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Old 06-26-06, 05:55 PM
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Flix, thanks. I appreciate it. It does seem that we have similar taste in a lot of things. I've been meaning to send you an email since, if I recall correctly you are a fan of yakuza films and I wanted some recommendations. As for Water, I'm not sure where you are located but in Philly there are three (really 4) theaters that play independent and foreign films. They are literally 3 blocks from my place. One of the reasons I decided to move where I am now since I would be closer to thos theaters. What a looser! For this reason I don't make it to mainstream movies too often as the theater that is close by sucks (ie expensive and ghetto) so I mainly go to mainstream stuff if its something I really want to see. Last two were Davinci code at 10am on a weekday and V for vandeta. I stick to the indi/foreign even if some think is snobbish. Anyway. I will more than likely go on Wednesday to see since is only $6. My only rule is as long as there is no singing and dancing I'm good to go.

Sorry to detract from the thread.
P.S. thanks for putting your sig as I've been intrigued by some of those films and will be picking some eventually. Right now I'm focusing on that dvdgo sale although the shipping charges are killing me.
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Old 06-27-06, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by BuddhaWake
....My only rule is as long as there is no singing and dancing I'm good to go.

Sorry to detract from the thread.
P.S. thanks for putting your sig as I've been intrigued by some of those films and will be picking some eventually. Right now I'm focusing on that dvdgo sale although the shipping charges are killing me.
As far as the singing and dancing, you should be fine, whatever there is, if any, wouldn't truly be of that perhaps distracting Bollywood style which you don't seem to care for. The film is more arthouse fare....and the 3 out of 4 stars most critics seem to give it seems quite accurate.

Don't worry about detracting from the thread...I'm not really trying for any DVDTalk world record for most consecutive posts in one thread from the same DVDTalker or anything like that. Who knows, maybe seeing someone else's name besides mine might get someone new to click in here and see what the heck we are talking about.

Glad you find the list in my sig of interest.....though looking at it myself it has occured to me that maybe I watch too many movies, well at least this month, I had to start cutting films from early in the month because I exceeded the 450 character sig length. I suppose it would be silly though to spend so much time reading and posting here but not actually watch anything, so in that way I feel better. Actually this month has been pretty heavy on stuff suggested from here. I use the foreign titles to make it easier for someone, if curious, to find it on IMDb. Sometimes the more commonly used English title just doesn't turn up the result you are looking for. Ex: the Korean film "Orora Gongju", better know to most of us as "Princess Aurora", doesn't really turn up under a quick English-language title search. Sometimes no matter what title you use, the film isn't even listed at IMDb (some Tamil film I watched recently, old Japanese stuff, etc.).

I know DVDGO is a bit pricey as far as shipping but I'll take them any day over alapage.com. I picked up those Mizoguchi DVDs that were discussed here recently and they have been in transit now for 16 days! At least DVDGO gets your stuff to you very quickly...which reminds me that I'd better finalize my list ASAP. FYI: No hurry or anything but just wanted to let you know that I sent you the e-mail earlier this afternoon.
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Old 06-28-06, 02:10 PM
  #22  
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Flix, thanks. I'm supposed to go tonight to see Water so lets see if it pans out. btw, YGMB.
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Old 07-30-06, 04:32 PM
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Omkara (2006 - Bollywood (Hindi)) - Following on the heels of "Fanaa", here we have yet another winner as far as high-profile Hindi films go. "Omkara" opened this past Friday and I had the chance to catch it today (in a virtually empty theater as there was only one other person besides those in my party).

"Omkara" follows in the path of Director Vishal Bharadwaj's well-received "Maqbool" (2003). "Maqbool" was a Hindi adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth set amongst the Mumbai underworld. My vague recollection of "Maqbool" was that it had a very strong first half but sort of felt like it fell apart thereafter, as if everyone got tired of working so hard to make a great film and they ran out of steam in the second half. In general though, it was well-received by many, and certainly showed much promise.

As for the newly-released "Omkara", it is a take on Shakespeare's Othello but this time set in modern-day rural North India. Actually even though it is set in present day, the remote location of the film results in a strong Spaghetti Western vibe to the proceedings. During the early parts of the film, I most definitely was flashing back to Gian Maria Volonte and his sidekicks in Sergio Leone's two "Dollars" films. It is a very curious mix - with cellphones and other contemporary devices playing along side a pretty much Old West setting - but it is very successful. Given the remote location of the setting, official government control is somewhat lax and thus rule of the area falls more to a sort of village chief or outlaw bandit leader authority.

The main players in this Indian turn on Othello are part of the sort of officially sanctioned outlaw leadership. The cast is comprised of Ajay Devgan in the Othello role, Saif Ali Khan in the plum role of Iago, Vivek Oberoi as Cassio, Kareena Kapoor as Desdemona, and Konkona Sen Sharma as Emilia (naturally all the characters have different Indian names in this adaptation). All the players turn in fine performances, though I thought Kareena Kapoor missed a line here and there. However, Saif Ali Khan really shines in the pivotal role of Iago. Bipashu Basu - once again back in shape and looking very hot - has a small role and does a great job in two spicy dance numbers....she really looks good.

The film was about 2 and 1/2 hours long. I didn't have a wristwatch but I'd say for maybe the first hour, the film was outstanding and near perfect. I was really enjoying it, and it ranked among the very best Hindi films I've seen over the past few years. The only minor complaint I had with the first hour or so had to do with the opening credits. The film opens with the credits and then you have maybe 5+ minutes of film and then the title "Omkara" flashes on screen. That was fine, but then again you get another section of the film and up on the screen flashes the name of the Director. This was pretty distracting and as much as I enjoyed the film, flashing his name at the late point he chose really seemed to be calling way too much attention to himself.

After that first hour, there is a slower romantic song that sort of hurt the pacing and, if not cut entirely, it should have been trimmed by about 2/3rds. The film then goes on a little bit longer until the intermission. The post-intermission segment was satisfying but not as magnificent as the first hour or so, but despite a fair number of minor flaws, it was still satisfying and the ultimate experience was more than rewarding enough to outshine my criticisms. Most of my complaints had to do with the unfolding of Iago's scheme which despite being orchestrated still seemed a little to dependent on many characters/events unfolding perfectly to accommodate his needs (I haven't a strong enough recollection of other film adaptations of "Othello" to recall if this is simply a minor shortcoming of this film or if it is inherent in the source material and other film adapations). Also while I can't say the film really hit me on any emotional level, it most certainly had a strong hold on me as far as simple general interest in the story. One thing I also would have liked is if the ending of the film had a little more breathing room. By that I mean, as far as completing the story it was successful but still I sort of felt abruptly dropped out of the film. I wouldn't have minded maybe a couple of minutes of some sort of epilogue or at least maybe gradually backing out of the scene as opposed to this sort of quick fade to black and then the end credits. Another nitpick, would be with the English subs which missed a line or so, and I also question some of the choices they made where they use terms like "general" and "captain" in place of which they should have used maybe the Hindi word and maybe given it an in-bracket translation. I'm not sure but in place of "general", I think they should have gone with less-militaristic terms but still denoting the role of this sort of village chief/outlaw leader, kind of how they use the term "thakur" in other rural Indian films. But still "Omkara" was a very enjoyable experience and I'm definitely glad I decided to catch it on the big-screen as opposed to waiting for home video.

Which leads me into.....I'd also like to single out Tassaduq Hussain for his terrific cinematography, and I hope he enjoys a successful career. All said and done, "Omkara" despite a number of nitpicks is still a very praiseworthy effort. All parties involved should be quite pleased with themselves. While "Fanaa" might have had fewer flaws, I can't help but proclaim that "Omkara" now slides into my number one position for Hindi films released in 2006, and it will take quite an effort for it to be displaced. The next strong challenge should come from Ram Gopal Varma's "Shiva" which opens in the latter half of August (but I have some serious doubts about the acting abilities of the lead actor Mohit Ahlawat, but maybe I'll be too busy drooling over his co-star Nisha Kothari to notice). After having watched "Omkara" I really look forward to Director Bharadwaj's next effort. And for you readers, or at least those fortunate enough to have it screening locally, maybe consider making a trip out to your theater and catching "Omkara" on the big screen.
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Old 08-01-06, 09:24 AM
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Does anyone know if there's a DVD available for Vimukthi Jayasundara's The Forsaken Land? I believe New Yorker has the rights in the US, but nothing has been mentioned in the way of a DVD.
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Old 08-06-06, 04:48 PM
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Just a few notes:

I've mentioned earlier my eagerness to see the new Tamil gangster film "Pattiyal", well it is finally available with English subs but my enthusiasm has been tempered in that I'm hearing it is taken from the Thai film "Bangkok Dangerous"....but I'll still check it out eventually.

Also for fans of "Collateral" (Michael Mann, Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx), Bollywood - as was the case with the recent clones of "OldBoy" and "Man on Fire" (among many others) - has once again offered their take. The title is "The Killer" (2006). Irfan Khan is in the Tom Cruise role and Emraan Hashmi (who I'm not a fan of, and gets jobs (imho) due to the fact that he is related to Director/Producer Mahesh Bhatt) is in the Jamie Foxx role, Nisha Kothari is the eye-candy. I'll likely check it out simply out of curiousity.....maybe an Indianized version might be better in some aspects....or maybe not.

I mentioned in my last post that there was only one other person in attendance at my showing of "Omkara", well perhaps my experience was the exception as "Omkara" did pretty good box office here in the U.S. during its opening weekend of July 28th - 30th. According to boxofficemojo it played on 47 screens and grossed $427,400 (with a screen average of $9,093).....that was good to land it at #19 on the weekend chart. I wonder how it did this past weekend.

I see that the sequel to "Munnabhai MBBS" is hitting in a month or so, so hopefully that will be a worthy follow-up to the very enjoyable original. The pairing of Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi in those films is also present in the now playing "Anthony Kaun Hai?". From the trailer it looks like a check-your-brains-at-the-door but still promising comedy/thriller.....definitely more interesting than the other Hindi comedies I've seen advertised as of late.
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