India Masala

IIFA Diary: Notes from Colombo on Day 1

June 3, 2010

SRILANKA/The first day of the 11th edition of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend has been as chaotic as it has been revealing. From early morning chaos over accreditation and access to venues, by evening it had turned into excitement as the stars starting pouring in for the three-day event.

Kites: Romance is in the air

May 21, 2010

It has been such a long time since Bollywood has made a true-blue romance that purely on that merit alone, “Kites” is worth a watch.

Of Sholay and Sambha

May 11, 2010
The lines “array o sambha” (hey Sambha) brings back instant memories to a whole generation of Indian moviegoers. The person they were addressed to, perched on a craggy rock toting a rifle, played a miniscule role in the film, but his character went on to be one of the most loved of our times. When “Sambha” (or Macmohan as he was known off screen) passed away on Monday, we lost one of the iconic characters in “Sholay” and also one of the few remaining character artistes in our films — the ones who would always be the villain’s cronies or the neighbourhood doctor who announces that the heroine is pregnant. I think Ramesh Sippy’s “Sholay” was the huge hit it was partly because of the “repeat value” dialogues it had — so many of them. Right from “Ye haath mujhe de de thakur” to my favourite “Tumhara naam kya hai Basanti”, there were such gems throughout the film. And even today, these lines will be repeated whether at a dinner party or in any casual conversation you might have, in any context. So many people love this film for its action and the character of Gabbar, but for me the comedy in “Sholay” will always remain top-class. The scene where Jai speaks to Basanti’s aunt about Veeru’s marriage is hilarious and Amitabh’s deadpan expression makes it even funnier. Of course, the 70s and 80s did have some really memorable lines, but even though I can think of many lovely lyrics, I cannot really recall a dialogue I have found repeat-worthy in recent times. Perhaps it is best to look back in the past for some things. Which is your favourite “Sholay” line? And your favourite Hindi film dialogue?

bollywood-posterThe lines “arre o Sambha” (hey Sambha) bring back instant memories to a whole generation of Indian moviegoers.

It’s a Wonderful Afterlife: Too little laughter, too much curry

May 7, 2010
Gurinder Chadha’s “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife” (‘Hai Marjaawaan’ in Hindi) is a comedy about a harassed Indian mother, who is so obsessed with marrying off her only daughter that she kills off anyone who dares to reject her. Those killing methods are so corny, you want to puke when you see a victim’s stomach burst open due to an overdose of curry and another one stabbed with a skewer of chicken tikka kebabs. The victims come back to haunt her, chicken tikka skewers intact. They cannot be reincarnated unless their killer dies but Mrs Sethi doesn’t want to kill herself before her daughter is “settled”. So the spirits and Mrs Sethi (played endearingly by Shabana Azmi) set out to look for a suitable groom for her daughter, leading to a somewhat comedic situation. The problem here is that the comedy is as laboured and forced as the make-up job on the spirits and laughing becomes a chore. Chadha does bring in some of the sharp, British humour that characterised “Bend it like Beckham” but those moments are few and far between. For most of the time, there is only curry flying in all directions, making you think about the colossal waste of food shooting for this film would have involved. Also, just because it is meant to be a comedy doesn’t mean you can account for a nonsensical storyline. Most of the events don’t make much sense and plot points are explained away by the flimsiest of excuses. Azmi does play her role well and Sendhil Ramamurthy as a police officer investigating the attacks is good, but watching the film isiawasuch a laboured exercise that these two don’t quite make up for it.

iawaGurinder Chadha’s “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife” (‘Hai Marjaawaan’ in Hindi) is a comedy about a harassed Indian mother, who is so obsessed with marrying off her only daughter that she kills off anyone who dares to reject her.

Housefull: Turn down the volume!

April 30, 2010

housefullThere is a song in Sajid Khan’s “Housefull” with the lyrics “volume kam kar” (turn down the volume). Wouldn’t it be nice if the director and actors had imbibed this simple message? That would have made this alleged comedy easier to tolerate.

Phoonk 2: Hardly scary

April 16, 2010

phoonk2I hate watching horror films. I am easily scared and even the most innocuous sounds or predictable of horror scenes make me flinch.

Paathshala: Punished for three hours

April 16, 2010

paathshaalaIf any real-life kids went to the school shown in Milind Ukey’s “Paathshaala”, you can be sure they would hardly get any studying done. Instead they would be busy dancing, singing, ogling at teachers, romancing and participating in reality TV shows.

Jaane Kahaan Se Aayi Hai: Alien disaster

April 9, 2010

jksahThe first few scenes of Milap Zaveri’s “Jaane Kahaan Se Aayi Hai” are actually quite funny. The dialogues are fairly okay and at one or two points you actually smile. Maybe this will actually turn out well, you tell yourself.

The Japanese Wife: Nice, but niché

April 9, 2010

japanesewifeBased on a short story, Aparna Sen’s “The Japanese Wife” is an evocative but slightly stretched tale of an unusual marriage between two seemingly everyday people.

Well Done Abba: Not that well done

March 26, 2010

wdaShyam Benegal’s last two films have had similar themes — humour coupled with a social message (actually lots of social messages). The last one “Welcome to Sajjanpur” was a delightful watch, with neither the humour nor the social message getting too overpowering.