India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Aisha: Desi chick flick

- As the end credits rolled in “Aisha”, I noticed that the credits for stylists/designers and clothes sponsors never seemed to end. That should tell you something. This is a film that is a lot like the characters in it – very very pretty, but, as a character in the film says “very shallow”. This is India’s first chick flick though, and even though there are holes in the script, plot points are very badly explained and Sonam Kapoor’s acting hampers the film significantly, it does tell you the story of India’s luxe set, for whom a Chanel bag is an important accessory even when you are roughing it out on the banks of the Ganges in a tent. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sonam Kapoor plays Aisha, ditsy, but well-meaning girl who wants to play match-maker to everyone around her. She comes across the perfect “project” in Shefali, an enthusiastic, but unsophisticated girl from a small town near Delhi, whom Aisha promises to take under her wing, and find her a “good boy.” She is aided in this endeavour by her smart-talking best friend Pinky, (Ira Dubey), while family friend Arjun (Abhay Deol) firmly believes that she should stay away from what is none of her business. Aisha of course, goes about her project with the attitude of a horse with blinkers, listening to no one and ignoring the obvious signs around her, until everything falls apart. Set in the upper-class Delhi milieu, Aisha does have a lot of fun moments and captures the essence of that milieu really well. Needless to say, the clothes, the bags, the set design (who has kitchens with all white cabinets and perfectly placed jars of pasta on shelves?) are all top-notch. Of the cast, Abhay Deol does what he is expected to do – look good and act well. Ira Dubey as the caustic Pinky is great, but the real star is Amrita Puri, who plays the wide-eyed small town girl thrown into high society with great élan. The film’s main star, Sonam Kapoor, disappoints coming off as awkward at some of the most crucial moments. The story is a straight lift-off from the Alicia Silverstone starrer “Clueless”, which in turn was an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, so you can’t help thinking that if only the script were tighter and plot points weren’t so abrupt, this could have been a better effort. However, you might be willing to forgive the emptiness inside, because this film is oh-so-pretty on the outside.

aisha-1As the end credits rolled in “Aisha”, I noticed that the credits for stylists/designers and clothes sponsors never seemed to end. That should tell you something.

This is a film that is a lot like the characters in it – very very pretty, but, as a character in the film says “very shallow”.

This is India’s first chick flick though, and even though there are holes in the script, plot points are very badly explained and Sonam Kapoor’s acting hampers the film significantly, it does tell you the story of India’s luxe set, for whom a Chanel bag is an important accessory even when you are roughing it out on the banks of the Ganges in a tent. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Sonam Kapoor plays Aisha, a ditsy, but well-meaning girl who wants to play match-maker to everyone around her. She comes across the perfect “project” in Shefali, an enthusiastic, but unsophisticated girl from a small town near Delhi, whom Aisha promises to take under her wing, and find her a “good boy.”

from Global News Journal:

U.N. plays down “guidance” on Kashmir

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moons spokesman says Ban never said a word about Kashmir.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon's spokesman says "guidance" on Kashmir was not an official statement from Ban

(Updated August 6, 2010 at 5:05 p.m. EDT with new remarks from U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky.)

Once Upon A Time in Mumbai: Blast into the past

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Milan Luthria’s “Once Upon A Time in Mumbai” is a mostly-gripping, but dumbed-down mafia thriller that focuses on two men who dominated the Mumbai underworld for the most part of the seventies and eighties.

Despite denials from the makers of the film, it is easy to see that the story is based on underworld don Haji Mastan and his one-time protégé Dawood Ibrahim.

from Photographers' Blog:

Come, fall in love

I first encountered the 52-year-old Maratha Mandir movie theater while I was on one of my walks to explore Mumbai. Being new to the city, I do this often. It was just a casual walk down the lanes of the city when I saw a huge billboard promoting a film outside the cinema. The billboard proudly advertised it as the longest-playing film in Indian history.

A cinema goer buys a ticket for Bollywood movie "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" (The Big Hearted Will Take the Bride), starring actor Shah Rukh Khan, inside Maratha Mandir theatre in Mumbai July 11, 2010.   REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

The film "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" (The Big Hearted Will Take the Bride), starring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, is a simple romantic film shot in Europe and India, where a boy meets a girl and falls in love with her - girl is about to get married in India - boy takes the journey from Europe to India to win her over.

Khatta Meetha: This is no gourmet feast

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Khatta Meetha” raises a few laughs and also manages pointed homilies on the state of the nation.

Khatta MeethaIt is about municipal officers and builders but is no “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” — either in subtlety, sarcasm or slapstick.

Lamhaa: The Kashmir issue deserves better

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lamhaaThere have been several films made on Kashmir and the problem of insurgency but few have managed to catch the pulse of the issue.

If you think “Lamhaa” is one of those few, then you are mistaken. As with most issue-based films, Rahul Dholakia’s “Lamhaa” tends to simplify and dumb down reality, reducing it to jingoistic dialogues and clichés, when in fact it should be exactly the other way round.

Tere Bin Laden: Average but harmless fare

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laden1Abhishek Sharma’s “Tere Bin Laden” is a sporadically funny but badly made film that tries a little too hard to draw out laughs from the audience and fails for precisely that reason.

The plot revolves around a young Pakistani reporter Ali whose biggest dream is to go to America and make it big but after an incident on a plane involving a knife, he is deported back to his homeland.

‘Udaan’ flies high

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udaanTeen movies in Bollywood have largely been restricted to candy-floss college romance (“Ishq Vishq”) or sporting tales but “Udaan” is a teen coming-of-age tale that defies all these genres and in doing so, touches you in a way that no other film has managed to for quite some time.

The film, an official selection at this year’s Cannes festival, is at heart a simple linear film about Rohan, a 17-year-old who returns home from boarding school to a tyrannical father and a home he hasn’t seen for eight years.

Red Alert: Bollywood’s take on the Maoists

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With “Red Alert“, Bollywood rushes in where many experts fear to tread.

Here is a problem — Maoist violence — on which something is to be said on both sides.

Milenge Milenge: Outdated and unwatchable

- Watching “Milenge Milenge” is like finishing an entire bottle of tomato ketchup. Ketchup that was manufactured a decade or two earlier. So eating it/watching this movie will ensure that a) you won’t enjoy it and b) it will be harmful to your health because the product is long past its expiry date. This is one of those films that didn’t get released at a time when it should have — that is when Kareena Kapoor’s peroxide hair was in vogue, landlines were more in use than mobiles and sequined dresses were considered fashionable. Unfortunately, like all of the above, this film is way past its “best before” date and hence almost entirely unwatchable. Kareena Kapoor plays Priya Malhotra, an incredibly gullible girl who decides she wants to spend the rest of her life with a boy based on the three days she spends with him. Shahid Kapur plays Immy, an incredibly arrogant young man, who thinks he can get a girl to fall in love with him by lying to her and pretending to be holier-than-thou. Somehow, the two fall in love but when it becomes clear that Immy is a drinking, cigarette-smoking liar (all qualities Priya hates), she dumps him. When he pleads with Priya to get her back, she decides to let destiny decide their fate. This somehow involves a 50-rupee note and a 30-rupee book on numerology. Don’t ask me to explain further. Immy doesn’t agree initially, pointing out their meeting is destined because they meet at a mall which is called ‘Destiny’. It gets better but don’t let me spoil the fun. In short, this film has hardly anything going for it and it is obvious why the makers didn’t release it for almost three years after it was made. If you want to see the Shahid-Kareena chemistry on screen, it exists for all of two minutes and nothing else in the film is notable. Avoid.

milengeWatching “Milenge Milenge” is like finishing an entire bottle of tomato ketchup. Ketchup that was manufactured a decade or two earlier. So eating it/watching this movie will ensure that a) you won’t enjoy it and b) it will be harmful to your health because the product is long past its expiry date.

This is one of those films that didn’t get released at a time when it should have — that is when Kareena Kapoor’s peroxide hair was in vogue, landlines were more in use than mobiles and sequined dresses were considered fashionable.

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