Stupid Saturday – Shortkut: The Con is On

Okay, I hate to complain about Bollywood stuff, because I pretty much love it all, so when Hannah started Stupid Saturday I was skeptical. Since then I’ve thought of lots of things that fit nicely with Stupid Saturday, so you’ll probably hear from me pretty often on this day. Nonetheless, none of this should be taken to mean that I hate the stuff, only that it crosses the line from a little weird to what on earth? a bit too often.

So Shortkut stars Akshaye Khanna and Arshad Warsi, which ought (it really ought) to be a winning combination. It worked pretty well in Hulchul. But here? Nahin. The movie also was produced by Anil Kapoor, so it goes to show how people you trust can let you down.

Just look at that! What a nice movie poster! Akshaye, Amrita Rao, and Arshad all look very nice. Let’s just stop here.

Okay it’s not that bad. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hulchul

Following Salaam-e-Ishq, I was watching Hindi movies in all my spare time. I usually picked out an actor I liked or wanted to know more about and read through the list of their movies on Wikipedia until I found one I wanted to watch. This explains the disturbing number of
Akshaye Khanna movies I’ve watched. But more on that another time.
Hulchul is up on YouTube apparently (?) legally. Hulchul translates roughly (I think, don’t quote me on this) to “uproar,” which is an appropriate title, this one’s pretty insane. It’s a Priyadarshan film, which, as I understand it, explains a lot. Frankly, I don’t care much if a film is a remake or not, and am not much surprised if someone got ripped off in the process. Although I’m sure I’d have to disapprove. Nonetheless, entertainment is entertainment.

The film features two rival families, one headed by Angarchand (Amrish Puri, who you may recognize from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, although I have yet to meet anyone who has actually watched it; I just noticed, he’s also in Ghandi, although I haven’t seen it yet) with sons played by Jackie Shroff, Paresh Rawal, Arbaaz Khan, and Akshaye Khanna. They probably couldn’t have gotten four men who looked less like brothers if they tried. But I digress. The other family is headed by Laxmi Devi (Laxmi) and her sons, and from Wikipedia and IMDB I couldn’t figure out which character was which, so suffice it say that the youngest and most attractive of them is Suniel Shetty. Oh, and Kareena Kapoor is her grandaughter.

Anyway, the two families hate each other, Angarchand has forbidden his sons to get married, and Jai (Akshaye) and Anjali (Kareena) decide to make each other fall in love in order to ruin the other’s life and (surprise, surprise!) fall in love. Predictable, yes, but Romeo and Juliet story-lines never go out of style.

There’s lots of very funny moments, many of them aided by the marvelous Arshad Warsi, who is the best side-kick actor ever. I love this guy. This is also certainly a better opportunity to see him and Akshaye together than Shortkut: The Con is On. I’ll get to that one eventually, but no hurry there.

Anyway, there’s lots of slapstick, lots of misunderstanding and melodrama and insanity.

The movie will never be on a list of the greatest movies of all time, or anything of the sort but if you like your dishoom-dishoom (sound-effect in old Bollywood movies when someone gets punched) masala (and if you enjoy saying “dishoom-dishoom” and “masala” as much as I do), then this movie is for you. Speaking of punching, there’s a lot of it. Suniel does a lot of it, though, so that’s okay with us. (Suniel is the best actor for the protective uncle/older brother roles ever; I don’t know why, it’s just the way it is)

The songs and dances aren’t great, but they do involve people dancing in front of mountains, and I think you get Bolly-points for that. I enjoyed Ishq Mein Pyar Mein, which was upbeat and catchy. Both Ishq Mein and Rafta Rafta have five costume changes. Yes we counted. Actually, Rafta Rafta is fun, too, in a gimmicky way. Go ahead and watched if you’re inclined to laugh at Akshaye and Kareena pretending to like each other, except when the other’s back is turned. Hum Dil Ke is pretty, but involves only one costume change so no Bolly-points for that. Dekho Zara Dekho is another upbeat one, and the music video is, I assume, slightly influenced by Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Or something. The concept is an old one. (Someone should keep up with references and possible references to Jacko in Bollywood; I think the list would be a long one) With singers such as Shaan (on Ishq Mein and Hum Dil Ke), Udit Narayan (Rafta Rafta, Dekho Zara Dekho) and Alka Yagnik (Ishq Mein) it would be hard for it to be bad, but it’s not their best work either.

Lesson learned: If you believe what you see in the movies it would seem that orange cargo pants are quite popular in India. I saw them first when Shahrukh was sporting them in Kal Ho Naa Ho, but both Akshaye and Kareena wear a pair at different times in this movie.

Oh, and get used to Paresh Rawal. He pops up in movies almost as frequently as Johnny Lever.

Munnabhai MBBS

Okay, I lied. This was my first “real” Bollywood experience. I just didn’t know it. My mom checked it out from the library on a whim; I watched it on a whim, and enjoyed it immensely.

Starring Sanjay Dutt (and his dad, Sunil Dutt), Arshad Warsi, Gracy Singh, Boman Irani, and Jimmy Shergill.

I still consider it one of the best Hindi films I’ve watched. The story is simple enough: a Mumbai gunda (Sanjay) wants to become a doctor so his father (Sunil) will not be ashamed of him. Of course he’s willing to use unconventional methods to achieve his goal. In the process he throws the whole medical college into confusion because Munna does more with his “jadoo ki jhappi” (magic hugs) than than the rest of the highly impersonal and institutionalized can put together. A bit predictable, but not to the point of preachy. The tone is set pretty quickly in the opening scene and from then on the film is quirky, lighthearted and above all funny.

Sanjay plays a lovable goon or “bhai” (literally means brother, but you’ll run across it in this context in about half the Hindi movies you watch, so just get used to it), and I really don’t think enough can be said about how endearing he is here. Obviously the implication that Munna and gang pretty much only kidnap people who deserve it is a little unlikely, but who’s going to complain when it’s Sanjay with his big sad eyes and sweet smile? He also wears brightly colored shirts.

Okay, this one's from Lage Raho, Munnabhai but you get the idea

Arshad is the kind of comedian I like in Hindi films. Over the top, yes, but not Johnny Lever. He and Sanjay are delight together on screen. His line delivery is even funny, which something special because I can’t understand a word he’s saying.

Boman is quite good as the main “villian”. His slightly deranged laughter is pretty disturbing. Jimmy Shergill and Gracy Singh are not particularly memorable (although this is not always bad).

If I had more time I would go more in depth on this film, because I honestly think it deserves it, but I’m not so devoted to the blog as to lose too much sleep over it, so maybe another time.

It’s not surprising that Munnabhai was remade in Telegu, that it was followed with a (kind of) sequel Lage Raho, Munnabhai, or that there is a third installment on the way, Munnabhai Chale Amerika, or that Rajkumar Hirani made another enormous hit, 3 Idiots. I guess I’m not surprised by anything. I found an interview of Rajkumar Hirani talking about his three movies, and working with various actors. There’s a rumor going around that he’s going to cast Aamir as Munna in the next Munnabhai film, but since Sunil Shetty says Munnabhi is like an extension of Sanjay Dutt, that would be a wrong move. (as well as terribly unlikely; I’m sure it’s just a rumor.) On the other hand, I don’t know which would be worse, Aamirji as Munnabhai, or Shahrukh. The answer is, of course, Salman.

Music was by Anu Malik (who apparently had a hand in the music in Bride and Prejudice, which is greatly to his credit). This is not one of the really big musicals with fantastic dance numbers and all. The first song (M Bole To) is a long time in arriving. It’s fun enough, as is Apun Jaise, the only other song I remember is Chann Chann, which is pleasant but seemed kind of slow to me at the time, since I was watching a movie in a different language and wasn’t at that time particularly interested in it.