Friday, April 20, 2012

When Aishwariya took my breath away ...

I'll admit, I'm not the biggest Aishwariya Rai fan. Her acting actually grates on my nerves ... it's just too forced and sometimes her face looks like it's going to break from the strain of smiling. She tends to overact and never quite seems to become the character she's playing in a truly organic way.

But I will say this ... I DO think she is the most beautiful woman in the world. And that's saying a lot since I generally find something beautiful about most women. Something about the placement of her features, the heart-shaped face, and her overall grace (former Bharata Natyam dancer, holla!) all combines in such an unearthly way. She is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. This post was originally going to be a song of the day highlighting the #1 moment where Aishwariya's beauty took my breath away, but then I kept thinking of other examples until bada-bing! I had another list on my hands.

So here's my list of top 10 moments when Aishwariya's breathtaking beauty just blew me away:

10. Koi Jaane Koi Na Jaane - Aur Pyar Ho Gaya
I never even made it all the way through this movie, but she just looks unbelievable in this golden chudidar suit.  I mean it's really hard not to be upstaged by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (RIP! sniff) or Booby Deol's hair, but I cannot take my eyes off of her. I miss these 90s-esque type dances.


9. Poovukkul Olinthirikkum - Jeans
So here's the mindblowingly gorgeous Ash with the most irritating hero in all of Tamil cinema - Prasanth. I don't know what it is about him that irks me but I can't stand looking at his face (either one of his faces, in the case of this movie). My grandmother used to feel the same way - she called him the 'Ashadu No. 1' (Ashadu can be loosely translated as dork/geek/foolish one). I was trying to decide between using this song and my actual favorite song from Jeans, "Anbe Anbe Kollathey" in which Ash is also ridiculously beautiful. In the end I went with this for the thrill factor of seeing her in all the various costumes to match the 7 Wonders of the World (why is the Empire State Building on this list? I call for a re-do!). I mean, who wouldn't love to see her dressed as a Chinese Empress or Cleopatra? I have to admit though, the one scene that really caused the intake of breath was simply seeing her in a plain black gown with her hair loose in the Leaning Tower of Pisa scene. Just gorgeous.

8. Ash kicks a$$ in The Last Legion
I wasn't expecting to be impressed by Aishwariya in the Hollywood flick The Last Legion starring Colin Firth, but I was. Something about the bronzed, duskier look on her and the kick-ass nature of her character Mira all came together in a way that actually made me proud of her. Love the long, flowing locks too. I won't say that she had any real chemistry with Colin Firth, but it was certainly interesting to watch.

7. Baat Meri Suniye To Zara - Kuch Na Kaho
This is the song that made me start to fall for Abhishek Bachchan ... he's so charming and silly and funny in this song. But there is no denying that Ash is stunning in this song. I particularly thought that she was heart-flutteringly beautiful at that moment at 3:12 ... just wow! And I love watching her prance about. I think that Abhishek really does bring out something warm and genuine in her, which is one reason that I enjoy their jodi.

6. Konjum Mainakale - Kandukonden Kandukonden
It's no secret that this is one of my favorite movies, and though I think the director brought out what is Aishwariya's best performance ever in this movie, I still found her really annoying in most of the romantic sequences (like the title song, in which I found her AND Abbas to be irritatingly fake). Despite that, she truly was gorgeous in both the classically-based "Kannamoochi" and this song.

5. Kilimanjaro - Endhiran
I know. It's weird. Bizarre even. But I totally love this song. It's one of those A.R. Rahman numbers that you hear the first time and go "What is this? It's so weird!" and then a day later you're like, "I LOOOOOVE THIS!!!" ... at least that's what happened to me. I also must mention that ONLY the Tamil version is good. I heard the Hindi one once and had to go clean out my ears immediately. Anyway, back to Ash. I feel like she was basically required to glam it up in this movie, but she did it with such elan. And it certain numbers like "Irumbile Oru Idhayam" she was totally out of her element with all the hip-hop style stuff, but she really pulled it off and I was impressed with her. In this song she's dolled up with feathers and doing weird chicken dance moves, but she still looks amazing doing it.

4. Silsila Yeh Chahat Ka - Devdas
Okay so, weird choreography notwithstanding (especially the "aur yahan jal rahe the hum" part), Aishwariya is simply gorgeous in this song. Sanjay Leela Bhansali may be a self-indulgent director, but he manages to create such an utterly romantic setting that I was swept away with it (this song I mean, not the entire movie). And really, he couldn't go wrong with those devastating close-ups of Aishwariya. Stunning.

3. Ishq Kamina - Shakti: The Power
This song marks the very first time I ever saw Aishwariya Rai as "hot" - not beautiful, gorgeous or stunning, but actually HOT. Sesky. But holy mother is she in this song. And what's incredible is the way she pulls off such an overtly raunchy number with so much class! She has so much grace and there's no vulgarity even when she's doing these kinds of moves. Awesome.

2. Kajra Re - Bunty Aur Babli
OF COURSE this was going to make the list. I mean who didn't see this and fall in love with her? She is SO stunning in this, and what I love about it is how simple her styling is. I mean her make-up is applied with a really light hand, the hair is just barely styled, even the costume is minimal (in more ways than one). But all that plus the dance moves and her expressions ... va-va-voom!

1. Aankhon Ki Gustakhiyan - Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
This is by far the ultimate example of Aishwariya's unparalleled beauty. I remember literally gasping when they first showed her dressed in all that finery, adorned with jewels and looking every bit like the Goddess Aishwariya. Okay, so I know that a lot of this is costuming and jewelry and make-up, but who cares?! Even I should ask forgiveness for my aankhon ki gustakhiyan. I cannot take my eyes off of her in this. Truly breathtaking. And again, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has been getting a lot of flack after Saawariya and Guzaarish, but here he builds such a scene of beauty and truly makes Aishwariya shine. I will always love him for this particular picturization, which I'm sort of obsessed with.

I did of course skip over some obvious choices such as Jodha Akbar and Umrao Jaan, but those felt kind of more of the same type of lavish styling we saw in HDDCS and Devdas (though I liked the simplicity of her make-up in Jodha Akbar).

I'm frustated with the Indian media's coverage of Aishwariya's weight gain after giving birth, because I mean HELLO she just had a baby!!! Give her a break! People have no clue what happens to your body when you have a child, and those women that are saying "I had a child and I'm in shape!" need to shut up because every woman is different, and every woman's body will react differently to this experience. And for what it's worth, I think it's fantastic and very brave of her to focus on her child first and not spend every waking moment obsessing about getting her body back. She's beautiful and motherhood can only make her more beautiful and hopefully more genuinely warm. And when she does decide to return to the screen, I'll be happy to have her back. She's not my favorite actress, but I do love looking at her!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Parveen Pyar!: My top 5 favorite Parveen Babi songs

Parveen Babi. Beautiful and tragic. The ultimate beauty queen of the 80s. I often wonder if we view some of the yesteryear actresses with rose-colored glasses ... Parveen was a model-turned-actress that would probably be getting the kind of criticism that actresses like Deepika Padukone receives if she were in today's industry. She was far more of a glam doll than a serious actress, and yet, we still remember her with admiration and awe. And also a tinge of sadness that she succumbed to mental illness before she could really reach the height of her career. But we will always have her wonderful, discolicious, glittery, sequins-laden and gorgeous image in our heads thanks to her hit songs in the 80s. Here's my tribute to the beautiful Parveen Babi on her birthday -- my Top 5 Favorite Parveen Songs:

1. Aayi Aayi Mein To Aayi - Jaani Dost

2. Yeh Din To Aata Hai - Mahaan

3. Pyar Karnewale - Shaan

4. Meri Nazar Hai Tujhpe - The Burning Train

5. Raat Baaki - Namak Halal

Hope you will all share your favorites in the comments! Happy birthday Parveen Babi, wherever you are, I hope you are dripping in sequins and gemstones and dancing away on a light-up disco floor.