10 things I Like about Bollywood

Tried to really really think as to why I like Bollywood or 'Hindi Cinema'. Have shortlisted a few.

1. It isn't real.

-Come on, if I only wanted reality I would step out of my home and go round the city, why would I go into a theatre.

2. I get to learn dancing

-Movie after movie (except the Ram Gopal Varma ones) you get a lesson in dancing every 20 minutes at least.

3. Women are always beautiful.

-Thanks to Hindi cinema you start believing that all women are beautiful with great bodies and great fitting clothes. You start believing that all of them are out looking for love and only true love, with bank balance, job, car, house not making an iota of difference.

4. You can marry a queen.

-You could be a hoodlum where the richest young lady of town stays or you could be a dishwasher in the posh restaurant owned by the richest young lady's dad, but if you have excellent looks, well toned muscled body and can sing well, you can still marry her and live happily ever after. Of course you might still have a few fist fights or two after which her Dad has a change of heart.

5. The old cliche, you will never run out of bullets

-while shooting the henchmen but when you have to put a bullet into the main baddy, the last bullet will be lying at the feet of the heroine, who will have to kick it to you while ensuring her dress does not rise above permissible levels.

6. You will have a taste of great lifestyle (thanks to Karan Johar)

-Where you don't have to worry about taxes, business meeting, business delivery, paying phone bills, electricity bill etc etc.

7. You have RGV

-Thanks to RGV, you get to watch some different cinema once in while . Whether it is a great movie or it is crap, there's always something different about what Ram Gopal Varma makes.

8. You have Maniratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Naseeruddin Shah

-and others who make it worth while to claim that some intelligence goes into Hindi cinema

9. Film Critics

-You have excellent film critics who come on TV before the movie and give detailed angles, underlying meanings that the director never thought of and will tell you what you will like. Once the movie releases they are nowhere around except if the movie does well, then they tell you why it is doing well, as if you didn't know why ? It is a good movie so it did well. And then the critics who tell you a movie is doing well even though it is crap, maybe they wouldn't get free tickets the next time if they admit to the truth. Then you have bloggers like me, who think Hollywood cinema is usually more rational, professional and sensible, because we don't get to see the crap they churn out.

10. Amitabh Bachchan & Shahrukh Khan

-and others, the STARS who make sure movies are made and recognized so that actual actors like Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Irfan Khan, Kay Kay Menon etc (and the list goes on), get to act.

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300


The very eagerly awaited movie which hit the screens in Bangalore last Friday and I definitely wanted to watch it before most of the city did.

I am an avid fan of the Sin City movie which, like 300, is based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller. 300 is a fictionalized version of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. There have been a lot of versions of this with another movie called 300 Spartans also made some time ago.

I am absolutely in awe and fascinated by the comic book style of picturization that's been done in Sin City and now in 300.

The movie is the tale of King Leonidas (Gerard Butler, remember Lara Croft, the movie ?) and his 300 Spartans who fight against the million strong Persian army of the invader Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) without the approval and support of the Spartan Council.

The movie is visually stunning and definitely needs to be watched for that alone. The colours, the use of light and darkness, the shots are all absolutely eye candy. Story ? Well, simple enough story like I mentioned, the King Leonidas, against the directions of the Oracle and without the support of the council believes he must fight Xerxes even if it is with only 300 men by his side. Lots of attention is paid to the battle itself and that could only be the reason you have an empty feeling when you are done with the movie. The only other track in the movie is the Queen Gorgo (Lena Heady) trying to convince the council in Sparta to support the 300 Spartans by sending out the army.

The actions scenes are Gladiator-meets-Matrix-meets-Sin City with a lot of gore, in matrix style bullet time action and a comic book look. Brilliant visuals like I keep mentioning especially the bleak landscapes, the battle scenes. A lot of blue screen shooting, a lot of detailing, a lot of hard work from the cast to develop those warrior like sculpted bodies goes to show all the effort that has gone into the movie, for which it is definitely worth a watch. The soundtracks are really nice and if in an action movie you actually notice the soundtrack then you can imagine how good the tracks by Tyler Bates are. No wonder the movie has made quite some money worldwide.

Like the tag line says- Prepare for Glory!

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In the name of the father



Again, caught this on DVD. Having heard a lot about Daniel Day-Lewis, having been Terribly fascinated with his portrayal of Billy the Butcher in Gangs of New York, having missed 'My Left Foot' (for which he won an Oscar, if I remember right) I really wanted to watch this movie.

The movie is simple and based on the bombing of the Guilford Pub in England. The movie is based on the true story of the Guilford Four, 11 victims of the miscarriage of justice in Britain. Incidentally the movie is based on the book "Proved Innocent" by the main character Gerry Conlon. While the movie is not completely true to the facts with lot of dramatic and creative liberties taken, it is powerful in telling a tale of innocents suffering at the hands of justice.

Good performances by one and all only adds to the joy of watching this movie which is more like a Television show and therefore you are not distracted by the plot or impending climax.

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Thank you for Smoking



Caught this on on DVD, thanks to my online movie rental service from seventymm (in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi).
The movie is a satirical comedy on the 'business' of smoking. The movie does not make the mistake of trying to delve into the larger picture about the morality of smoking and all of that. Instead the movie takes you along with Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) the king of spin, employed by the Tobacco Industry's conglomeration to do what he does best, spin stories, be the spokesperson.

Nick Naylor is very good at what he does, with absolutely no hesitation. But then, Nick is also a father to a 12 year old son, to whom he has to be a role model. Now how will you be a role model at home, while on national television you are propagating smoking and rubbishing all claims of cigarettes being addictive and causing cancer ? That's where the satire and comedy comes in. What will you do, if, as the spokesperson for the Tobacco industry your are told (after a kidnapping) that the next cigarette you smoke will be your last

The movie has some hilarious instances such as the 'Merchants of Death' meeting (Mario Bello, David Koechner spokespersons for the Alcohol and Firearms industry respectively), the smart way in which he convinces the Marlboro Man to clam about his cancer, his sexual fling with the reporter (Katie Holmes in her pre-Tom Cruise days) his Merchants of Death pals have warned about.

The DVD is a good weekend watch, light and not preaching too much, but enjoyable.

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Eagerly Awaited- What are the odds ?

Watched the really cool trailer of what is bound to be a really cool movie- Ocean's Thirteen. Got to watch the trailer twice today since both the Dreamgirls and Apocalypto screens at my multiplex ran them.

Having really liked Ocean's Eleven and gotten a little disappointed with Ocean's Twelve, I have great hopes on Ocean's Thirteen. Couple of reason- It's an Ocean movie. It is once again directed by Steven Soderbergh. It has the same cast led by George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and others. It is bound to be another cool caper and the best for the last...IT HAS AL PACINO IN IT !!!!

Watch the really cool trailer below !


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Apocalypto - The past revisited


Let me confess. I was not too keen to watch this movie but when I got to view the trailer during the screening of Dreamgirls, I changed my mind and was fortunate enough to bump into a colleague with an extra ticket right after I walked out of the Dreamgirls.

Mel Gibson has developed a 'passion' to work on really out-of-this-world scripts and having them in the original language that the story is set in. Passion of the Christ had us picking up a few words of Aramaic and Apocalypto has us picking up a few words of the Mayan language. Apocalyto is a small tale of one Mayan tribe.

During the decline of the Mayan Empire, the movie follows the fate of one character Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) who belongs to a tribe which is ravaged and captured to be scarified. The rulers are spending the period of decline in trying to appease the gods through sacrifice. Jaguar Paw is desperate to break free and reach his family of a pregnant wife and a son whom he was able to hide when their village is attacked.
There is quite a bit of reference to unchangeable truths. Like the jibes about a mother-in-law who is forever pestering for grandchildren. Some moments of light hearted jabber in the beginning focused on aspects which are applicable even today add to the credibility of the characters although in a light hearted manner.

Jaguar Paw's destiny appears to be linked with the whole empire, as foretold in a prophecy by a little girl afflicted with the plague. The whole movie is in the Mayan dialect with English sub-titles. In this movie you don't really need to read the subtitles. The story, the expressions, the characters are enough. Brilliant eye for detail and thoroughly professional performances by a whole ensemble of largely unknown actors, with a lot of blood and gore thrown in makes sure that this movie is an unforgettable treat to the eye.

When I say gore I really mean it ! The scene where the sacrifices are being done is absolutely gruesome and so is the one in the beginning where the hunters skewer a Tapir and cut apart the spoils. I am not one who gets turned away by this anyway and was only amazed at the eye for detail and the magic of movie making.

The movie is a visual treat and really really amazes you as to what cinema is capable of if it can completely take you through time into an age which you have only heard about. It is almost as if you are there in a different world altogether. In this movie it is almost as if the very jungle is a character with its darkness and light. Where the movie begins to lose you is with the focus on only the specific characters rather than taking a view of the civilization itself. The whole movie is focused entirely on one incident and that is Jaguar Paw, his family, his capture and impending sacrifice while suddenly ending it with the depiction of change in the form of appearing visitors.

I know the movie hasn't got great reviews but I have always been partial to movies that's really use the power of movie making to push the envelope, so to speak. Apocalypto is one such movie.
I for one,will buy the DVD when it comes out. It is another lesson in movie making.

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Dreamgirls- A dreamy journey


The Oscars this year were expected to be overrun by the Dreamgirls. Since the Oscars are over and I am watching this movie after,I tried watching it with no bias in mind. Frankly, I could see why this movie was expected to be a big front runner.

The movie is the story of three girls who enter amateur talent contests hoping to get their big break in music industry.The three girls with 'Dreams' being Deena (Beyonce Knowles),Effie White (Jennifer Hudson in her introductory role which earned her a well deserved Oscar) and Lorrell (Nonika). They come across Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx), a used car dealer with interests in the music industry who gives them a break as backup singers to the James Thunder Early (Eddie Murphy, in one of his best performances ever) and thus set off to achieve their dreams...or do they ?

The performances are wonderful. The movie felt a bit too long but I guess it can be forgiven for a musical it is and the music and lyrics are refreshing and really get you singing along. Jamie Foxx as the used car dealer who goes on to become music mogul is wonderfully controlled, thanks to efficient direction. Eddie Murphy puts in a delicious performance as the music star who ends up in decline. Beyonce looks just so pretty and really fits the part. Jennifer Hudson shows the kind of intensity and maturity that is found wanting in many an established actress. What stopped the movie from being really great is probably the fact that the movie is trying to be a cross between a musical and in some way trying to be autobiographical (possibly of the characters- Curtis and Effie). Unlike 'Chicago' (an unfair comparison I know!) which just told a tale this movie dwindles a little too much on parallel streams of emotions that we are led to believe have consequence on the overall tale but find the emotional stream of Effie-Curtis shallow and are not really affected by it.

The movie is definitely worth a watch though since it is slickly made with great performances, good music, good direction and tight screenplay.

A must watch for any musical fan.

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Awesome- Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction (Animated text)

Keep your audio up. This is the audio (with some creative animation added) from one of the most memorable sequences in the absolutely delicious movie- Pulp Fiction

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Nishabd (Speechless?)


Did the movie leave me speechless ? Well... considering that I have a favourable view towards any of Ram Gopal Varma's films, I wouldn't be the right person to answer that question. But yes, speechless I was.

Speechless because I was wondering how Ramu would helm a relationship based drama, Speechless because of the territory explored (and I mean the relationships), Speechless because I expected a hard hitting ending and was let down, Speechless because Ramu could have done better !

The movie, as the promos say (some love stories are never to be understood) is the story of a relationship between a 60 year old man (Amitabh obviously) and 18 year young Jia (Jiah Khan introduced). In the circle of impact are Revthay as the dutiful wife, Shradha Arya as the daughter (whose friend is Jia), Nasir as the friend and brother-in-law. Ramu being the smart director does a purposeful exposure of Jia's long legs with a multitude of below the waist shots in the first half which is the period of seduction and completely avoids it in the second half when the relationship has been established.

What's interesting, is that during the entire movie other than Amitabh, Revathy, Jia, Shradha, Nasir, a cameo by Aftab (is he back in the RGV camp now ?) and a shopkeeper there are no other speaking characters ! Amazing huh ? Another fact- Throughout the first half of the movie, Jiah Khan has her legs splayed all over the place and never once does she sit lady like with legs crossed. That piece of characterisation is a bit overboard I thought. Come on, are 18 year olds just oozing sexulaity (commonly misplaced for sensuality) all over ?


The movie is slow paced which might turn a few people off and it might seem silly to some. My presumption- Ramu wanted to explore the unexplored and almost succeeds. He possibly wanted the audience to gradually be seduced by the young and nubile Jia just as the character Vijay (Amitabh)is.

Is the movie different ? yes, it is. Amitabh does a great job. I especially loved the scene whee he breaks into laughter in the middle of the night perplexing his wife.The others do well too. Jiah Khan will sure be talked about till her next performance. And will I watch this movie again ? Hmmmm.... maybe after a couple of months, just to study Ramu's style. To be fair, yes some relationships are never meant to be understood and the relationship that the audience will have with this movie will never be understood !

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Confidential Sequels ?


There is talk of a couple of sequels to the cult hit LA Confidential (I loved the movie! Kim Basinger won her Best Actress in a supporting role for this. Rusell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kevin Spacey really shined in this one).

The original team and the original director are planning the sequesl with the director Curtis Hanson planning a sequel beginning where the original movie ended. The other sequel starring George Clooney is being helmed by Joe Carnhan and is going to be based on James Ellroy's book titled White Jazz. Read more at IMDB.com

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Nishabd- UP Congress Party wants a ban ?



The Uttar Pradesh faction of the Congress Party (a so called secular political party in India) is allegedly calling for a ban on Nishabd. CNN IBN carries the story. You can read more about it on IBN live.

Absolutely shocking ! The reason given - Indian Culture . crap ! What do politicians know about Indian Culture. Those who are bothered only about vote banks and who have numerous scandals and skeletons in their closets are by no means fair judges of art, cinema or culture.
I thoroughly detest political interference in Cinema. As a viewer it is my right to watch a movie and my privilege to like it or dislike it. This is my freedom. This is my right as a citizen of a democratic country where I vote and pay taxes and abide by the laws while living in a civil society. For sure I will never vote for the Congress ever.

Political parties take events and try to make issues of out of them only for political mileage due to a severe lack of maturity and myopia towards more critical issues like education, infrastructure , Law & Order and development. The silence and resilience of us Indians is being misunderstood for mute acceptance. The day the threshold of the common man's patience (due to the need for existence and survival and carrying out responsibilities) is breached the common man shall rise in protest and rip the curtains off the shoddy state of affairs of our prehistoric politicians.

Yo politicos, do not interfere with the freedom of expression and the freedom of choice ! Leave Cinema alone!

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Eklavya


The movie trailers of this Hindi movie were very impressive.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra returns to direction after a 5-7 year hiatus. Vidhu Vinod Chopra had a vision. A Vision of desolate desert dunes, a palace past its days of glory, with its walls hiding many a secret.

The loyal guard, a senile and insecure king, the foreign educated prince, the local damsel, scheming relatives. All this should have come together as a quasi-period thriller. With a cast of Amitabh, Saif Ali Khan, Boman irani, Sanjay Dutt, Vidhya Balan,Parikshit Sahani, Jackie Shroff, Jimmy Shergill, Riya Sen and Sharmila Tagore in a small appearance, the movie is bound to be challenging and meant to be a masterpiece.

I watched the movie with a lot of expectations. The movie begins with the death of the queen (not quite natural),an insecure and impotent king (Boman Irani), his scheming brother (Jackie Shroff) a loyal but ageing royal guard Ekalvya (Amitabh), the returning prince (Saif Ali Khan), a secret revealed, a conspiracy hatched and a bit of romance triggered. All this is supposed to lead to a powerful climax where Ekalvya (Amitabh) has to make a choice. Does he cut of his thumb(figuratively speaking) or does he resist the call of duty to follow his heart? The movie is therefore supposed to build up to this single dilemma.

Sadly, the movie is utterly disappointing. Having grown up reading the Mahabharata and having a name like I do, I do have a soft corner for mythological tales and just love any classy depiction of them.

This movie thoroughly let me down. Great performances by Amitabh, Sanjay Dutt and nice music by Shanthanu Moitra fail to raise this movie above just a masterpiece vision. The cinematography is brilliant. What pulls this movie down from going above the vision of Chopra is the weak storyline and dish wash screenplay. The screenplay is absolutely lifeless and makes 'traditional' thriller look a like a lazy cameraman following actors running helter-skelter.

What could have been Chopra's masterpiece fails due to excessive attention paid to look and feel rather than the substance.

Watch this movie if you must for the cinematography, the music of Shanthanu Moitra, powerhouse performances by Amitabh and Sanjay Dutt (short but sweet).

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REGION ERROR

Those of you in India will pretty much be facing this message when you try to play most International DVDs or DVDs purchased on Amazon.com.


The region code encoded in a DVD is to ensure that the DVD is played only in players enabled for the region in which the DVD is meant to be distributed. This is supposed to control the distribution of DVD and therefore piracy.

What region is your DVD ?

All you need to look at the back of the DVD case for a sign with the region indicated.


0-"playable in all regions"
1 -Bermuda, Canada, United States and U.S. territories
2- The Middle East, Western Europe, Central Europe, Egypt, French overseas territories, Greenland, Japan, Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland
3- Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan
4- Australasia, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Oceania, South America
5- The rest of Africa, Former Soviet Union, the Indian subcontinent, Mongolia, North Korea
6- Mainland China
Or look for the words - For Sale in India only (or whichever country it mentions)
But then - DON'T WORRY !
If you have legally bought a DVD you have every right to watch it on your player.
All your DVD players come with preset region code. Ex: If you but a player in India it will be enabled to region 5. The workaround is that all players have codes that let you access the region code menu and all you have to do is change the region to '0' enabling you to play any DVD from any region (almost!).

How do you get this menu for your player ?

Well...
1.Search the great world wide web, yup, the Internet. Somebody would have put in the instructions and code to press on your remote to access the menu

2. Call up your Player Brand's customer care and ask them for instructions and access codes. (They may ask you why and you can express your frustration on how a legally bought DVD in India (or your country) is not playing in India (or your country)) They have to give you this.

Follow the instructions to the T and Voila ! your DVD player will play almost any DVD from anywhere. (Why the 'Almost' ? I believe there are some enhancements in DVDs which do not allow them to be played even in region free players. Haven't come across any so far, but will let you know if I do.)

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Ghost Rider- Ride away from it


I wonder why they made this movie. The direction is bad. the story is weak. Nicholas Cage looks old and haggard and it had nothing to do with chracterization. Believe me !

Eva Mendes looks good but does'nt have much to do ...other than look good. My suggestion is to give this movie a ghostly miss. Ride away even if you get a free ticket.

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