India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

‘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.

Forced to work in his father’s steel factory, study engineering and abandon his dreams of becoming a writer, Rohan also has to deal with a cold, demanding father who calls him a “bloody failure” and refuses to acknowledge his dreams. He also has to deal with a six year-old half-brother he has never met, but the scenes where the two boys form a gradual bond are some of the best in the film.

How Rohan deals with his dreary life and comes of age is the crux of “Udaan”, but there is so much more this film has to offer. Very few films manage to give you so much in such a simple movie. Every scene is carefully crafted and there are some scenes that won’t fail to touch you. Director Vikramaditya Motwane combines the angst and vitality of youth in an exhilarating manner.

Milenge Milenge: Outdated and unwatchable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.

World Cup mania hits Bollywood brigade

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Football fever is taking over the world and Bollywood’s glamorous brigade hasn’t been left untouched.

Football World CupFilm stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Imran Khan and Lara Dutta are either headed to or are already in South Africa to catch a glimpse of football heaven.

Dhoni gets hitched; celebrities tweet best wishes

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As one of India’s most eligible bachelors tied the knot late on Sunday night, you could almost hear the sound of a million hearts breaking.

Mahendra Singh DhoniBut along with that, you could also hear the sound of a million fingers typing furiously on their phones, so that they could tweet their best wishes to Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his bride.

IHLS: I hate boring love stories

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- At one point in Punit Malhotra’s “I hate Luv Storys” one of the characters tells another “just follow all the clichés and go for it”. That could well have been Malhotra’s motto while making this run-of-the-mill love story that drags on for what seems like forever. Malhotra seems to take every single cliché you can think of and insert that into his film – while pretending that this is a different love story. Boy who is commitment phobic – check; girl who has an overdose of pink in her bedroom and believes in love at first sight – check; Hate turns to love – check; Boring boyfriend – check. IHLS is definitely not big on the originality factor, and you know how it is going to end. You just wish the journey to the end was pleasanter. Imran Khan plays Jay, a young man who doesn’t believe in love stories, and cringes at the slightest hint of mush, but ends up assisting a maverick director who only makes love stories. Forced to work with art director Simran on a film, he pooh-poohs her ideas of romantic and ideal love, and her “perfect” relationship with her boyfriend, appropriately named Raj (Sameer Dattani). You don’t really need me to tell you how it goes from here. Jay and Simran spend time together, fall in love, one of them realizes it, but the other doesn’t, and so most of the film is spent trying to get through situations that wouldn’t have been necessary if only the duo had had a heart-to-heart chat with each other. Along the way, there are a lot of really inane dialogues (“Women are like buses, if one leaves another one comes along, but ultimately there is only one bus which can take you home”), some awkward acting and a lot of rich, pretty people and palatial homes. In fact some of the best lines in the film are not spoken, but printed on the t-shirts that Jay’s friend wears. Malhotra spoofs movies like DDLJ and “Dil to Pagal Hai” and “Dil Chahta Hai”, but fails to rise to the standard that made these films the cult films that they are. The direction is amateur, and the pace of the film could have been shortened considerably without hurting the plot. There are some moments that make you laugh in the first half, but the second half is just downhill. By the time the climax rolls in you don’t care what happens to the two protagonists. Imran Khan tries to make the best of his role and succeeds to a large extent, but Sonam Kapoor is stuck with such a one-dimensional role that she can hardly do much. Simran, it seems has nothing else in her life except for the idea of love, and a great taste in clothes. ILHS is ultimately a very ordinary and boring love story. Go if you have the patience for it.

Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor smiles during a promotional event for her film "I Hate Luv Storys" in Ahmedabad June 29, 2010. REUTERS/Amit DaveAt one point in Punit Malhotra’s “I Hate Luv Storys” one of the characters tells another to just follow all the clichés and go for it. That could well have been Malhotra’s motto while making this run-of-the-mill love story that drags on for what seems like forever.

Malhotra seems to take every single cliché you can think of and insert that into his film – while pretending that this is a different love story. Boy who is commitment phobic – check; girl who has an overdose of pink in her bedroom and believes in love at first sight – check; Hate turns to love – check; Boring boyfriend – check. IHLS is definitely not big on the originality factor and you know how it is going to end. You just wish the journey to the end was pleasanter.

Raavan: Very little Mani, and absolutely no magic

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raavanThe overwhelming feeling as one leaves the theatre after having watched “Raavan” is one of disappointment. Make that huge disappointment. Could it be that one of this generation’s finest filmmakers, is credited as director in this disjointed, mediocre effort?

Nothing in the two-hour film is reminiscent of Mani Ratnam’s class. Instead it is littered with shoddy direction, bad acting and long-winding but nonsensical dialogues. The only saving grace is Santosh Sivan’s magical cinematography, but the truth is even that cannot hide the flaws in this film.

A Minute With: Aishwarya Rai

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Actress Aishwarya Rai poses as she arrives for the screening of the film "Wall Street - Money Never Sleeps" during the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 14, 2010. REUTERS/Yves Herman For someone who came into the Indian film industry as a former beauty queen, Aishwarya Rai has done her fair share of unglamorous roles in Bollywood.

From playing an abused wife in “Provoked” or the middle-aged wife of an industrialist in “Guru”, Rai has always let her acting do the talking.

IIFA Diary: Little sparkle on awards night

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Every year at IIFA, people crib about how badly organised the event is but somehow the glitz and glamour of the awards always makes you forget all these unpleasant issues.

Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor celebrates after winning the Best Actress award during the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards ceremony in Colombo June 5, 2010. REUTERS/Dinuka LiyanawatteThis time however, the awards function was stretched so thin and had such few interesting moments that at the end of it all, you felt even more irritated.

Raajneeti: An epic nicely retold

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BOLLYWOOD/First things first, “Raajneeti” is not about the first family in Indian politics even though some characters might resemble familiar cardboard cutouts.

So don’t go expecting some dope on a reality which is much stranger than fiction.

IIFA Diary: Notes from Colombo Day 2

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When I left Mumbai for Colombo, I was going to cover a film awards function but two days into IIFA and I can hardly see any “film” in the event. Instead there is politics, business and even cricket, but films are missing from the scene entirely. Is that the way it is supposed to be?

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa attends a business forum during the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards in Colombo June 4, 2010. REUTERS/Rupak De ChowdhuriFilms were definitely not part of the agenda at the FICCI India Sri Lanka Business Forum on Friday morning, with the focus mainly on promoting bilateral business ties.

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