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Geek. Dilettante. Over-analyzer of Hindi movies. World music addict & DJ. Anthropologist of enthusiasms. Other stuff.
Interests: At the moment: India and Hindi films, languages and linguistics, world music, world history, health and fitness
Recent Activity
Dir. Anurag Kashyap With Anurag Kashyap's magnum opus recently becoming available on various streaming services in the US, I sat down to watch it with Beth as my teddy bear in case the violence got to be too much. As... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Filmi Geek
Oh and one more thing: Mr Misra's proposition occurs, I believe, after Julie's return from her exile - that is, after she has given birth. The idea here is that Julie retains her sense of body autonomy even after this experience, and doesn't buy into any of the "damaged goods" or "if she puts out for one guy, she's fair game for anyone" notions that are part of the dominant culture. Julie is one self-actuated young woman.
Toggle Commented 4 days ago on Julie (1975) at Filmi Geek
The more I think about this movie, the richer it gets. I really, really like this about Julie - she retains her bodily autonomy, and understands fully that consent is hers to give and that is the end of it. She is not afraid to stand up to the men who ogle and leer and grope at her. She gives Rajendranath the grocer what for, and doesn't Mr Misra look stunned after the verbal smackdown she gives him? Shashi is more of a regular horny guy (again, I am fascinated by the girlie magazines left open on his bed - there are clear shots of topless women visible in the frame). His persuasion of Julie is a hard sell (snort) but one doesn't have the sense he'd get forceful if she didn't give in. And he actually knows her, and likes her, as a person. The result is a strong impression that Julie has sex with him because she WANTS to, not because she feels she owes it to him, and not even just to please him. I feel a little sorry for Richie, because Julie does seem to take advantage of him a little bit. Not that the motorcycle rides entitle him to anything, of course, and she is quite clear about that, so there's no leading-on going on. It's more that Richie isn't a bad guy. Sometimes, the person you like doesn't like you back and there's nothing you can do about it; this is a pain nearly all of us have suffered, and so it makes Richie fairly easy to sympathize with.
Toggle Commented 4 days ago on Julie (1975) at Filmi Geek
Dir. K.S. Sethumadhavan Stories about minority communities can be engaging, especially when told with delicacy. Older movies like Pestonjee, about the grim, lonely side of life in a Parsi community, or the much lighter Baton Baton Mein's peek into a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Yipes - Zinta, I just poked around your blog and see that you are in Kathmandu. I do hope all is well with you and your family. If you get the opportunity to watch some movies to take your mind off some dreadfully difficult reality, OK Kanmani is a really nice place to start. So lovely. Piku is really wonderful as well. Best wishes. <3
Thank you! I only just learned that there is a real Chand Nawab. I'm both stunned and delighted. For some reason I had trouble with this review, and after several cuts and rewrites, some of the stuff I thought I would mention didn't make it in there. I saw the film at a pretty full cinema as well, and I enjoyed the audiences reactions. In particular, Salman Khan of course got himself a cheer, when the corner of his face peeks out of the crowd in the beginning of "Selfie le le re". But Nawazuddin Siddiqui's entrance got almost as big a cheer as Bhai's. :)
Toggle Commented Jul 21, 2015 on Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) at Filmi Geek
You know, Arvind ji, I have long thought I ought to give Shaan another look. I think I just appreciate masala a lot more now than I did then. Maybe I'd still find it entertaining but not on the level of, say, Parvarish or Naseeb. Your comment about Shatrugan Sinha intrigues me too. I definitely didn't appreciate him then, but I do now - he's so much more than a standard-issue villain. He so often plays characters with shades of grey to them. I really like that about him.
Toggle Commented Jul 21, 2015 on Shaan (1980) at Filmi Geek
Not as long as Sec.377 is in force, that's for sure. I really don't blame anyone in a gay or lesbian relationship in India for being discreet about it. The social cost of coming out is still very, very high. No one should feel compelled to be a martyr to the cause of visibility. It's a very personal decision. When I was a reckless teenager, more than 25 years ago, I got verbally harassed for kissing my girlfriend in Central Park (NYC). We were rather lucky we got no worse than that, and outside of a few cities, at that time we probably could have counted on something worse. It would be hard to find any place in India that is as accepting of lesbians as NYC was even back then.
Toggle Commented Jul 21, 2015 on Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) at Filmi Geek
Dir. Kabir Khan Salman Khan is certainly a subject of much controversy, what with blackbuck hunting, deadly driving, and rumored physical abuse of former lovers. But he is also a sort of Teflon superstar; the controversies don't stick, at least... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Dir. S.S. Rajamouli When I first started watching Hindi movies, ten years ago, it took me a while to adjust to its storytelling idioms. Its styles, archetypes, and antecedents were all unfamiliar to me. With respect to the masala films... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2015 at Filmi Geek
जुगनू Dir. Pramod Chakravorty Jugnu is a super-satisfying masala film built around a title character who is part Batman, part Robin Hood. Batman, because Ashok Roy (Dharmendra) is a wealthy, respected member of his community who moonlights as a disguise-wearing... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Genius! Sev you flatter me. (Don't stop though.) Yeah, when Farhan Akktar began acting, I really really really wanted to like him, out of respect for Javed sahib I suppose. And yet each time I watch him in a movie, he annoys me more. He just seems so self-satisfied. As for Ranbir Kapoor - I do think he's massively talented and to his credit I heard him say some humble things about having three flops in a row with Bombay Velvet. But still, a Kapoor scion doesn't need people talking him up. Ranveer Singh is that rare (but increasingly less rare, happily) outsider, and it's good to see his talent not only recognized, but widely thought to be carrying this film.
Toggle Commented Jun 16, 2015 on Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) at Filmi Geek
Hello Singh. :) This movie has come up in comments before - perhaps it was you who mentioned it! I would love to watch it, as it sounds very interesting. But at the moment I do not have access to it with subtitles. Watching movies without subtitles is very challenging and frustrating work for me; it makes me feel annoyed and upset at how little of spoken Hindi I understand even after years of study. I worry too that I would not be able to write meaningfully about a film of any depth that I watched without subtitles. So I am afraid Achanak will have to wait, for now ...
Toggle Commented Jun 16, 2015 on OK Kanmani (2015) at Filmi Geek
दिल धड़कने दो Dir. Zoya Akhtar Films about rich folks are nothing new in Hindi films. For decades, from Tere Ghar ke Samne to Waqt to Hum Saath Saath Hain, the movies have offered stories about universal emotions - such... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Abhishek, my friend, I never thought I would see the day when you and I would come this close to agreeing on a movie. On biryani, sure - but on a movie? Never.
Toggle Commented Jun 6, 2015 on Revolver Rani (2014) at Filmi Geek
Dir. Sai Kabir The film world is all abuzz with praise for Kangana Ranaut's work in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, and when I wrote about that movie I added to the chorus, even though I'm not in love with the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Thank you so much for this comment, Hari. The issues you raise are exactly the same issues I grappled with when I first watched this movie, and similar issues have come up in the conversations between me and other commenters on the post since then. I still cannot decide (though I haven't rewatched the film in some time) whether it is meant to be a glorification of or a subversion of the value system you outline. What about Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam? That film, on the same story, was a huge blockbuster. Of course now that I think about it, that was 15 years ago, and with the pace of social change in (urban) India, that's an eternity. So perhaps you are right that a movie on this theme today wouldn't fly, at least with multiplex audiences, without some serious updating. How do you think it fits into the analysis?
Toggle Commented May 29, 2015 on Swami (1977) at Filmi Geek
Dir. Anand L. Rai Let me start with what's great about Tanu Weds Manu Returns: The comedy, the dialogues, Kangana Ranaut - and Kangana Ranaut. Lesbian horn-dog Carla: So, butch Kangana is cute and all, but femme Kangana really turns... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2015 at Filmi Geek
Ashok thank you so much for that excellent comment. It's been a while since I read the article on Kismet that I linked to in this review, but I think its discussion of how that song got past the censors is oblique, hinting that something back-room went on but not really stating what. Your theory makes a lot of sense and the conflict-of-interest angle is quite fascinating!
Toggle Commented May 20, 2015 on Kismet (1943) at Filmi Geek
Great comment, Gauri - and I would add Parineeti Chopra as well, who perhaps hasn't done roles quite as offbeat as some of the others (yet) but who I believe definitely has the chops to do so. I agree with you that there is a rich selection of young women with interesting stuff to bring to the roles they play - and I hope filmmakers keep writing material for them. Who are the young guys that you think are interesting? I tend to be more neutral about male stars generally, so few stand out for me. I can't make up my mind about Sushant Singh Rajput - not that I think he's a bad actor but something about his looks annoys me (very shallow, I know, but if you are going to spend an intimate 2-3 hours with an actor it helps to like his face). I think Rajkummar Rao has a lot of talent, especially for everyman-type characters (rather than larger-than-life heroes) but lately he seems to be drifting in the direction of negative or at least ambiguous roles. Both Siddharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan have proved that there is more to them than Student of the Year showcased but neither has become a plus for me. Ranbir Kapoor has loads of talent, and some of his roles use that talent. Similarly for Ranveer Singh. And what happened to Imran Khan? I liked him.
Toggle Commented May 20, 2015 on Tanu Weds Manu (2011) at Filmi Geek
Thank you so much for this comment Faryal. Jabberwock is a favorite of mine, too. :) And his analytic style inspires me, to really think about what I watch, rather than just reacting to it. So I'm very glad you find some of that thought coming through in my reviews. Your comment reminds me of an email discussion I had with a friend, an Indian friend maybe ten years younger than myself (I'm actually blindly guessing; I've no idea how old she is) who was blown away by the realness and relatability of this film. I like the way you have put that into words here, "a mature character study in what appears on the surface to be fluffy masala." I like it when movies operate on multiple levels, so that people in different stages of life or different frames of mind can enjoy them in personal ways.
Toggle Commented May 18, 2015 on Yeh jawaani hai deewani (2013) at Filmi Geek
Hehehe I thought of you the whole time.
Toggle Commented May 18, 2015 on Piku (2015) at Filmi Geek
Yipes! That's a high expectation. I hope you like it. I have been repeatedly blown out of the water by Kangana Ranaut's breadth - when you think about the pencil-thin range of characters that most young women actors are given to play (bubbly hot girl! shy and nerdy hot girl! serious career-minded hot girl! feisty country hot girl!) Kangana has embodied a fairly staggering range of roles and transformed almost unrecognizably each time. Between this one, and Queen, and Revolver Rani (post coming in a day or two) she has me sold.
Toggle Commented May 18, 2015 on Tanu Weds Manu (2011) at Filmi Geek
Interesting! I found Manu's reserve and hesitance very believable; my only problem with him was that his first reaction to Tanu was framed as love. It's hard to get past the creepiness and "this has nothing to do with who she is as a person"-ness of that framing. Perhaps his initial acceptance of the match (while she was unconscious) could have been framed as resignation to his parents' wishes - an attempt to bypass having to go through endless rounds of matchmaking. Then the film could have proceeded along the same path, with him only falling for her after the train conversation and the campfire conversation. Framed that way, I might have rated this a flawless movie.
Toggle Commented May 18, 2015 on Tanu Weds Manu (2011) at Filmi Geek
Dir. Anand L. Rai In one of my favorite scenes in Tanu Weds Manu, Tanu (Kangana Ranaut) and her best friend Payal (Swara Bhaskar) collapse on a bed in squealing laughter. This comes after the two young women have been... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2015 at Filmi Geek