Monday, February 02, 2004

fragments completed and old memories revived

* Gaja Gamini: M F Husain's Madhuri obsession culminated in his second film exploring the role of woman in history: as a mother, as a wife, as a lover, as an elusive muse. There's a lot of art and some interesting mix of performing arts on display. The Benares Ghat set notches a lot of points. Given her grace and beauty on screen, MD works well as a muse. The film suffers from a few problems though: the SSH syndrome (this coincides with the arrival of Shahrukh Khan in his cameo -- a phenomenon last seen in Hey Ram) is the most important one. And the bula.nd darawaazaa set suffers as a consequence. The second half also goes haywire in other departments as well: MD is called upon to act (which she can barely muster, to be honest); Shabana Azmi gets another thankless avatar; the dialogue begins to reek like rotten eggs; members and friends of MFH's family are called upon to act[sic], the end loses any charm by being abrupt and sudden; despite the evident roots in theatre, the whole affair takes on a very stagey look and feel. That said, the overall experience wasn't so bad. The songs were great (although the drum and rhythm track on merii paayal bole was a little to incongruous for me). Trivia note: Khalid Mohamed is credited with "English subtitles". Wonder what that meant, 'cause I didn't see any!

* Paisa Vasool: Despite the obvious uncredited debt to High Heels and Low Lifes, this woman-buddy flick is a rare something for the male-dominated Bollywood. Anurag Kashyap's contribution to the screenplay and dialogue benefit the funny and dark-comic moments. Sushmita Sen has a whale of a time as Baby, while Manisha's stiffness aids and hinders her performance as Maria Rosario. Sushant Singh lends able support (but we're a little tired of that clichéd Christian-Indian dialogue track now!). Makrand Deshpande takes his time relishing the role of Biryani. Tinnu Anand, Vijay Patkar (famous Marathi actor last seen in Mudda), and Kunal Vijaykar (to be seen again in Ab Tak 56) join the pack to provide laughs and gloom. The songs by Bappi and Tutul (responsible for in din hai naa ye raat inBhoot) are fair enough (the fast-running remix medley featuring , and except for a dance bar song are all part of the background texture), but the opening credits needed better design and a LARGER font. The in-jokes are fun too: The Maria Mhatre bit is clearly an ode to Satya (co-written by Kashyap), and Sush's introduction featuring a Salman spoof and a dig at her height. And her character's name has a welcome religious ambiguity (in addition to being the butt of a recurring joke). That said, this isn't a perfect film, but it was fun to watch. I had expected worse (who is Srinivas Bhashyam?).

* Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (yep, that's how the official title spells it, even in Hindi -- without the dot!): Nothing needs to be said. This is still a masterpiece of collaborative inventive cinema. The best black comedy in Hind cinema. One of the best Indian films ever. Period.

* Finding Nemo: Still entertaining. Still mindblowing. Still deserving off every accolade. Just keep swimming.

* Chashme Baddoor: Finally I got a chance to polish my memories of this romantic comedy that spoofs Bollywood's romantic song-laden comedies[sic]. Great songs. Lots of trivia (Director Sai Paranjpye's daughter Winnie's cameo, for example). Lots of memorable elements: Leela Mishra flipping through an issue of Playboy (in horror, mind you), the opening credits employing cutout animation and lots of generous looks at women in lingerie, the never-starting motorcycle, the multiple-harmony pyaar lagaawaT, Yesudas singing two songs for Vinod Nagpal (who has nothing else to do in the film). And Kimti Anand as the waiter serving up tutti fruity (thanks to JR for that nasty nominal reminder).

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