Friday, September 9, 2011

Quick Takes: What I've seen lately ...

It's been busy, busy, busy around here lately. End of the summer meant no more school/camp for the kiddo (which means no break for mommy), we moved to the suburbs and are still climbing over boxes and unpacking, etc. Then I spent a week at home in Detroit helping my husband's niece settle in at University of Windsor (Canada). It's been a lot of running around and falling into bed exhausted at the end of the night.

But anyway, that doesn't mean that I haven't been watching movies. I have been. A good amount, actually. Not many count as true 'Bollystalgia' material, since they aren't old or favorite films, but I thought I'd just share what I've seen lately and my quick thoughts on them:

Patiala House (2011)
A pretty solid film, though a touch melodramatic at times. I am not a fan of Akshay Kumar, but I'm beginning to like these films in which he plays a loser - he does it well. Anushka Sharma is cute and charming in her role, though I am not fond of the blue-gray/hazel contacts. Of course, the highlight of the film for me was Rishi Kapoor. I love him so much that it's very, very hard for me to see him as the antagonist, but he is such a beautiful, skilled actor and I am so glad his career is still going strong. Overall, a good film - worth seeing.

Kaavalan (2011)
This film is, as most people know, the Tamil version of the Malayalam film Bodyguard (recently remade in Hindi with Salman Khan - I can't wait to see it!). For the most part it seemed like your typical Vijay stuff - fight scenes, romance, etc. Nothing astounding. The ending had quite a twist though and I was surprised by it. So I'll say the film was memorable compared to most other Vijay films. Asin was the usual - cute but not extraordinary. I'm looking forward to the Hindi one to see what Salman brings to it.

 We Are Family (2010)
I know this is unbelievable, but I don't think this movie was as bad as everyone made it out to be. I really liked the original Hollywood movie (Stepmom) and thought it had good material for a Hindi remake - but honestly the casting was just all wrong. I wish KJo had cast Kajol in the Julia Roberts role and chosen a mature woman for the Susan Sarandon role - someone like Madhuri Dixit for example. Anyway, I watched this film expecting to hate Kareena Kapoor, like I always do. I ended up finding her the most tolerable of the three lead actors. I didn't expect much from Arjun Rampal so I wasn't shocked when he didn't perform well, but Kajol was just awful. Unfortunately they stripped away all the complexity of Susan Sarandon's character and made Kajol's character really annoying. And yes, the "Jailhouse Rock" song was indeed a travesty. But the movie as a whole was ... ok. Very, very flawed, but still interesting. I think the standout from the film was Aanchal Munjal as the eldest of the three kids - Aleya. She even looked like Jena Malone!

Seedan (2011)
I saw this film a while ago actually, but I thought I'd throw it in here. I found it interesting and somewhat different from your typical Tamil hero flicks. Ananya plays the lead and I thought she was really cute - though she did remind me quite a bit of Devyani (not one of my favorite actresses). I'm not a fan of Dhanush, but his character was quite special in this - no spoilers but I figured it out as soon as he appeared. The film deals with loss of faith in God after 'love-failure' and how it is restored. Not particularly profound or anything, but I just thought the film was simple and sweet and different, so I enjoyed it. Apparently it was a remake of the Malayalam film Nandanam (starring Prithviraj).

Siruthai (2011)
Don't you just love that picture of Karthi? It makes the film look a lot more rocking than it was. But don't get me wrong, it was fairly good. Masala-goodness with the likeable Karthi in a double-role (which requires the filmi suspension of belief about two totally unrelated people looking exactly alike) and Kareena Kapoor Tamannah taking care of the glamour quotient. The first half was very light-hearted and fun while the second half was heavy handed with fighting and emotional drama. Most memorable was the song 'Chellam Inda Chellam' picturized on the beach.

HouseFull (2010)
The first time I tried to watch the movie, I failed miserably ... somewhere around the point where Akshay Kumar and Riteish Deshmukh get electrocuted and the vacuum cleaner sucks up Lara Dutta's pet bird. But the second time around I actually surprised myself by enjoying portions of it. It definitely got a few snickers out of me, though I wouldn't go so far as to call it a good movie. It's not even decent. It's silly, slapsticky and nonsensical - which is all great when you're in the right mood for it. But still, the Tamil film Kadhala Kadhala - from which HouseFull borrows many, many scenes and situations - was FAR superior. I mean, Akki and Riteish can never be even close to as hilarious as the combination of Kamal Haasan and Prabhu Deva. Kadhala Kadhala is still one of my favorite Tamil movies to date and is truly hilarious. But HouseFull was brainless fun - and again, loser!Akki works for me.

Vaanam (2011)
I caught this film on Sun TV soon after we moved into our new place (and got Dish Network - woo hoo!) and was almost instantly sucked in. This was one of those films where multiple storylines are all running at the same time until they all converge in the climax. Running around are Simbu, Bharath, Anushka Shetty, Prakash Raaj and several other characters. There's so much going on that you end up a bit overwhelmed but it all comes together neatly at the end. A really, really interesting film and I highly recommend it. Standouts were Anushka Shetty in a somewhat coarser role than I would expect from her, and of course Prakash Raaj (he's so awesome!).

Peranmai (2009)
This film was quite a surprise! Another one I caught on SunTV, I found it very different. Jeyam Ravi, who I've always seen as a 'chocolate hero' TOTALLY buffed himself up for this film. It's unbelievable! And he displays it quite prominently (read: NEKKID) in the beginning of the film. But it also stars a cast of young women who are in training as NCC Cadets - a striking difference from the glamour girls we usually see in Tamil films. Not only are these girls in training for physical combat, but they are also mean, spiteful, spoiled young girls who mistreat Jeyam Ravi's character for being of a tribal cast. Even the one girl we see as having a soft spot for Jeyam Ravi ends up betraying him pretty badly. Luckily for all of us, nothing brings people on opposite sides together like a little national threat - i.e. foreigners trying to sabotage India's fab new satellite launch. Jeyam Ravi is incredible in this - he's acted beautifully and physically transformed himself beyond any of our current, working action heroes. Color me impressed!

Mankatha (2011)
This is the first Indian film I've seen at the theatre in a while and I was super excited to see it! It was quite a whirlwind of a film too. I must say that by the end my head & eyes were actually aching from the furious pace of the editing and effects - it was a bit too much for me. But the stunts and action sequences were great. I also want to mention how pleasing it was to see two solidly middle-aged heroes (Ajith Kumar and Arjun) playing roles that were MEANT to be middle-aged. Ajith's new salt-and-pepper look was actually kind of hot! And 'Action King' Arjun looks slimmer and more fit than before. The film was a bit convoluted but reminded me a bit of Ocean's Eleven, The Fast Five and Sin City at different times. Some of the side characters were particularly compelling (Vaibhav Reddy as Sumanth, for example). Trisha was totally unnecessary in the film but I enjoyed the song sequence where the background kept morphing (I called it the HGTV/Ikea commercial song). I was disturbed by the pairing though - even though he's supposed to be much older than her, they just looked creepy together. Overall though the film was totally entertaining and great action fun, but man, if your eyes can't handle craziness then watch out!

Race (2008)
We ended up watching Race right after we came home from Mankatha because a family friend said that it was along similar lines. We stayed up until 3 a.m. watching it - which I'm still not sure was worth it or not. It was painful waking up the next morning. Anyway, there were definitely things about Race I really enjoyed - the tension between the brothers (Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna), Akshaye as a baddie, EVERYONE as a baddie, Anil Kapoor as the fruit-loving cop, the slickness of it, guessing the twists, etc. But I think I started to lose it at the 3rd or 4th twist. I think it had a ton of potential and was definitely entertaining, but ultimately my favorite bits were ditzy Sameera Reddy and Johny Lever's cameo. Verdict? Fun but not amazing or re-watchable.

Anyway so that's it. I have a couple posts a-brewing and now that the kid is starting school maybe I'll actually find some time to organize my thoughts and write them!


  1. I totally agree on the hotness of Ajith (and Arjun) in Mankatha. But boy, was that a loud movie.

    I wish Sun TV was an option in my cable market, I'd have so much fun watching unsubbed Tamil movies. I'll just have to settle for tracking down Seedan, Siruthai, Vaanam and Peranmai on dvd.

  2. Kajol was awful in WAF, indeed, but I also didn't like the role of the eldest sister - thought she was quite ungrateful. On the whole, I didn't really like the film. I also tried watching Housefull on my flight to Mexico, but after 10 minutes I shut it down.
    Patiala House is also lying around near my DVD-player, so I'll get around and watch it very soon.

  3. Namasteji!
    I like this write up, a bit of this and a bit of that, isn't that always how it goes with the movies? I like the mix and I'm curious to catch Vanaam now, your description of: "one of those films where multiple storylines are all running at the same time until they all converge in the climax," reminds me of what I'm 1/2 through watching, Anwar, not the Prithiviraj one, but this one: Gotta get back to it!
    All the best,

  4. I need to bug you for an Ajith film list someday. I really like him in the two Hindi films and tons of songs I've seen, though I cannot really explain why. I heard his remake of Main Hoon Na was dreadful - did you see it?

  5. Liz - you're in the US right? I might be able to send you some tamil movies - most are unsubbed though. But I'm happy to share.

    Mette - I was almost afraid to write something anti-Kajol since everyone else is so worshippy about her. I like her ok but have never found her to be the revelation that everyone else acts like she is. And most of the time, like in this film, I find her acting style sort of screechy and annoying. With a better cast, that movie might have been better.

    Sitaji - Vaanam was a good one! I hadn't heard of the Anwar film you are watching, but I am one of the few that believes that Manisha Koirala is truly a talented actress. Interested to see your thoughts on that one!

    Beth - I am definitely working on an Ajith Kumar post, as well as an Arjun one (I'm a bit more inspired by the Arjun one right now). Just need to find time to sit down and write it all out! I hadn't heard of the Main Hoon Na remake and just looked it up! I missed quite a few of his films after he shifted from romantic hero to action hero (post-marriage). I liked the young, romantic Manohar from Kandukonden! But DO NOT watch the movie Varalaaru - The Godfather. The logic made me want to scratch out someone's eyeballs.