Jab We Met

Do you know what today is? It’s a very important day.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

It’s Shahid Kapoor’s 29th birthday! And reportedly his birthday party got raided by the police because it went on beyond 1:30 AM. Gosh, Shahid, really living on the edge there.

I promised I would review Jab We Met (English: When We Met) this week, and this seems like a good day to do it. It’s one of Shahid’s most successful movies so far, if not his most successful (don’t ask me, I’m clueless). And it’s an excellent film for Bollywood newbies. We’ve shown this to several friends, and after finishing it, one announced she was going to buy it as soon as she got home (we love you, Amber)!

The reason it’s a good one for those new to Bollywood is simple: It has all the things a classic Bollywood movie should have (big stars, silly story, large families, lots of Indian scenery, depression which can be fixed by a pretty girl, mountains, confusion, revered family patriarchs, Sikhs, Punjab, etc, etc, etc) but it doesn’t go over the top with any of them. It’s a nice, gentle step between tame American films, and huge Hindi affairs. This would be my number one choice for introducing someone to Bollywood (if they can handle the subtitles).

At the time the movie was filmed, Shahid was dating his co-star, Kareena Kapoor. They really make a great onscreen couple, even if they couldn’t make it last offscreen. Geet (Kareena) jabbers, and Aditya (Shahid) gives her funny looks (“Come, you can give me this look while walking, too”), but it works. They carry the film on their own– the only other role that gets much screen time is Geet’s first boyfriend, Anshuman, played by Tarun Arora. I do hear that Saumya Tandon, who play’s Geet’s cousin Roop, is a soap opera actress, and Dara Singh, who plays Geet’s perceptive grandfather, is a well-known wrestler and actor (but don’t worry, there’s no wrestling in this movie. You see, we build to that).

The thing I love about Bollywood is that it’s hard to write spoilers. Coming into a movie, you almost always know how it’s going to end: the guy gets the girl, they make up with her family, they live happily ever after. But like everyone says, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey! This movie features a lot of traveling– first, from Mumbai to Punjab, and then from Punjab to Manali. The sights are gorgeous; if you don’t have an overwhelming desire to visit India, you will by the time you finish this film.

You can find a summary of the plot on Wikipedia or IMDB. But, in a nutshell, Geet (Kareena), an incredibly bubbly and crazy girl misses a train, blames it on depressed and unsuccessful businessman Aditya (Shahid), and through her strange logic, they end up traveling together to her home. They stay there for a bit, then Geet takes Aditya with him when she runs away to meet her boyfriend, with whom she intends to elope. He leaves her with her boyfriend, goes back to his company and, using what Geet taught him about life, makes the company successful, naming a product after her. Her family, hearing about this product and thinking Geet eloped with him, demands he bring her back to them. He goes to Manali, and finds Geet, who has been ditched by Anshuman. You can figure it out from there!

All of the songs were composed by Pritam (except Aaoge Jab Tum) and are excellent: Aao Milo Chalo (sung by Shaan and Ustad Sultan Khan) is a montage of traveling scenes, and although it confirms that Shahid can’t lip-synch, it’s a catchy tune and a treat for the eyes.

Nagada Nagada (sung by Sonu Nigam & Javed Ali) is the big dance scene– the joy really bubbles over on this one! The teasing between Shahid and Kareena’s characters in this song will give you a glimpse of their onscreen chemistry, and Shahid’s dancing is excellent, even though the poor guy has to lip-synch to two different singers.

Yeh Ishq Hai (Sung by Shreya Ghoshal, who won a National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer with it) is a bouncy song with some interesting costumes! If you’ll look closely, you’ll see that they visit an international photo studio, which explains some of these costumes.  it was a good chance for Kareena to show off her dance skills. I think she’s completely adorable in this song (and the whole movie), dancing around in the Himalayas. And I kind of wish I could do that, too.

Tum Se Hi (sung by Mohit Chauhan) is a slow and sort of sad song that’s actually quite beautiful– if I’ll listen to it over and over, it has to be. I like my Hindi songs fast and loud, but this is a pleasant exception.

Aaoge Jab Tum (composed by Sandesh Shandilya with playback singing by Ustad Rashid Khan) is quite lovely, too.. it doesn’t stick in my head the way Tum Se Hi does (probably due to my not being able to understand Hindi) but it’s gorgeous.

Mauja Hi Mauja (playback by Mika Singh) is probably the best song. It comes at the end, and Sarah and I agreed it’s a bit of a shocker as a dance scene (that’s just a link to the song). Jab We Met is really a family friendly movie, up until this point. The the clothing gets a little, um, unladylike. It’s a great song, though! We downloaded it from Amazon, and listen to it constantly. Our recommendation is to skip the song in the film (there’s one small scene afterward you don’t want to miss) and buy it so you can listen to it whenever you feel like it.

I can’t stress how much fun this movie is. And if you’ve ever traveled by train (as I got to this summer) you’ll enjoy it even more. If you’re timid about Bollywood, this is the place to start.
And the best part… It’s on Youtube, with English subs!

Oh, this is the other best part: Shahid’s smile.

Advertisements

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.