Sunday, March 8, 2009
I intentionally waited to watch Dilli 6. I like to get updates from friends and read reviews before I watch a movie. Most anecdotal observations I received from friends and family was that they hated the movie and it was no RDB (Rang De Basanti - Mehra's last release that had a huge youth cult following). I do want to remind my readers that while Mehra did come up with RDB which was fabulous he also made Aks which was a great concept but a cringe worthy movie.
Maybe because my expectations were low or maybe because hubby is in India and I was terribly bored I enjoyed the movie somewhat. There were huge loopholes, lot of cliched characters, Rahman's music beautiful otherwise did not look that great in the movie.
First the negatives - the movie had so many characters and delved on so many issues that after a while it was hard to focus on what was good about the movie. The feuding brothers, the caste system, of course the obligatory Hindu Muslim riots, the NRI who fixes most things, the young adult who wants to be an Indian Idol, the kids thrown in God knows why, the corrupt policeman and the politician trying to incite religious fervor. As if that wasn't enough Mehra also threw in an invisible monkey man that was harassing the neighborhood and became the enabler to move the story forward
And now the positives - The narration of the movie is from the NRI's point of view and that amused me immensely. Specially the scene where the MLA walks up on the stage while the Ram Leela is going on, the expressions of the characters on stage was priceless. The shots of Old Delhi looked beautiful. It was Delhi as I remember from my trips to India. You could almost feel the crowd, smell the food, touch the history and get absorbed by the city. I also liked how the movie used the backdrop of Navratri and Ram Leela to introduce the characters.
Most characters were perfectly cast. You did see some of Mr. Mehra's regulars - Atul Kulkarni, Divya Datta, Waheeda Rahman. Sonam as Bittu was very appealing. The girl has great screen presence. Abhishek was quite competent in his role. But I wish Mr. Mehra had kept Abhishek's role only as a narrator and not tried to inject him into solving the issues. Indians after all over the years have been coming up with solutions on their own while NRIs more often than not stand on the side lines.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Aishwarya Rai looked totally resplendent in a Sabyasachi saree. She tied her hair in a bun to go with her traditional look. This was Aishwarya at her best. Indian look always suits her.
Kareena chose to wear a saree as well. No surprises on the designer. Both sisters favour Manish Malhotra. The dramatic hair and makeup went very well with the event and Kareena looked happy to be with her boy candy Saif.
In a first for Bollywood industry, Chanel approached Sonam Kapoor to wear their one-shouldered gown on the red carpet. Sonam kept it simple accessorising it with a black Bottega knot clutch, jewels in her hair and some dramatic makeup.
Katrina Kaif looked comfortable and beautiful in this orange number. Plus she looked fresher and slimmer since her last outing. Her new hair cut with bangs makes her look younger.
Priyanka Chopra looked gorgeous in an Alberta Ferretti gown. For once PC changed her hairstyle and makeup and gets full marks.
Tabu wore the color of the season and looked beautiful in a Gavin Miguel gown. She kept the focus on the gown with minimal accessories.
Sushmita Sen also wore a Gauri and Nainika gown. This former Ms. Universe is so beautiful that she can carry pretty much anything but it wasn't this gown. The color was too dark and dreary.
Genelia D'Souza is a cute new face in bollywood. But this Just Cavalli gown did not do her justice. The dress is too unforgiving.
What happened to my resident fashionista Priety Zinta. This Gauri and Nainika gown makes her look hip heavy. The lace, the embroidery, the mermaid fish tail and the netting in the bottom - there is just too much going on in this gown and not all good.
Bipasha Basu looked beautiful and sexy as usual but her OTT sexiness is totally unncessary most of the time. Plus I don't like the trend of velvet blouses. This Sabyasachi saree is beautiful and her look would have been perfect with a better blouse.
Asin got her first filmfare award as a promising debut this year and chose to wear a DVF gown. Loved the color but the way she draped it and her hair and makeup left lot of room for improvement. She did pair is with a yummy silver Bottega clutch.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Since the release of Slumdog Millionaire much ink has flown on reviews, perceptions and criticism of the movie. While some perceived the movie as thought provoking and the reason to start a dialog on poverty and racism in India, others found it manipulative.
None other than Amitabh Bachchan criticized the movie on his blog as portraying India as a "third world, dirty, underbelly developing nation" (Amitabh has since done a u-turn and says he loved the movie), while the guardian film blogger Nirpal Dhariwala called Amitabh's view "an empty headed two-rupees worth". While Mr. Dhariwala's entry is scathing and funny to read, he dismisses all Indian cinema as flimsy which in itself is as exaggerated a statement as Mr. Bachchan makes. Not to be left behind, a slum dweller sues the Indian stars of the movie for insulting the poor. So it was with apprehension I went to see the movie.
Let me just come out and say I loved the movie. The story telling, the cinematography, the acting specially by the child actors was first class. The fairy tale romance was a nod to Indians who grow up on a steady diet of movies about forbidden love where the protagonists have to overcome odds and believe that they are destined to be together. Though the movie was made with a global audience in mind, a lot of depth and nuance was given to the story to appeal to Indians as well.
The story weaves through the life of Jamaal, a young teenager who is at the verge of winning a million dollars on the game show "Who wants to be a millionaire?". Suspected of cheating he is questioned by the cops which leads him to reveal events in his life that make it possible for him to know the answers. The movie poignantly transitions from Jamaal knowing the answer Surdas, who was a blind devotional poet to beggar mafia mutilating kids to increase their earning potential or Jamaal answering "bow and arrow" as Lord Rama's weapon, to Muslim Hindu riots in India where Jamaal and his brother become orphans.
If you think the movie is all about heartbreaks, there are a lot of beautiful light moments interlaced through out the story that brought a smile to my face. Jamaal trying to get the autograph of the biggest bollywood star, the kids stealing shoes or Jamaal trying to be a tourist guide. And the overall arch of the story is of love and hope triumphing over all obstacles.
Dev Patel and Freida Pinto the lead pair of the movie who play the roles of teenage Jamaal and his love interest, got a lot of exposure at the Golden Globes, the BAFTA, the VH1 Critics Awards, the London film festival and others. But it was young Jamaal who stole my heart.
The movie showcases some of bollywoods talent as supporting cast, Anil Kapoor as game show host, Irfan Khan as the detective and Saurabh Shukla as the assitant to the detective were in their element. Mahesh Manjrekar as the mafia don was scary.
Choosing A.R. Rahman to provide the music for the movie was no stroke of genius. This prolific forty year old music composer, record producer and musician, who time magazine labelled the Mozart of Madras has been nominated for the Academy awards and won multiple national awards and a Golden Globe. Rahman came out with some great albums last year and Slumdog is on the top.
The graph of the movie, like the story is also a rags to riches story. This low budget movie blew past major studio movies to win four Golden Globes including best drama. Slumdog has also been nominated for ten Academy Awards including three nominations for Mr. Rahman.
Take a bow Mr. Boyle. The world is applauding.
Update: Slumdog Millionaire won the award for Outstanding Performance by the cast at the SAG awards last night. Frieda looked beautiful in a blue Marchesa gown while the men looked dapper in black suits.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Michelle Obama wore a Isabela Toledo lemongrass color dress for the Inauguration ceremony. Though the dress was brocade and looked nice up close but on TV and from a distance the color looked too washed out, and the material reminded me of sofa cover fabric. It didn't help that coat was the same fabric as the dress and the ribbons to tie the coat looked messy. Michelle picked up lime green gloves from J Crew and Jimmy Choo pumps to complete her look. Michelle also was mostly standing by Jill Biden who wore a vibrant Red Coat with some fierce black stiletto boots which made her look like the frumpy one when compared to Jill's stylish look.
In the evening Michelle chose a white, georgette gown from Jason Wu. The style of the gown was great although Cal and I feel she should have picked a more vibrant color. Purple and red looks great on her. The full skirt complemented her but the stitching on the flowers looked incomplete. The dress did show off Michelle's arms beautifully. One of my friends said it looked like she had toilet paper wrapped around her. Ouch!
Both the designers Isabela as well as Jason did not know that their work will get picked by the First Lady. They submitted their designs along with other designers.
Update: Jill Biden chose a Reem Acra red strapless gown for the inauguration ball.
Cal and I loved this Narciso Rodriguez tan and black number Michelle wore for the pre inaugural concert at the Lincoln memorial.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Over the holidays I watched for a second time, Ashutosh Gowarikar's epic drama based on the love story between Jallaluddin Mohammed Akbar, a Mughal emperor and Jodha Bai, a Hindu princess. Ashutosh, for the uninitiated is an acclaimed director from Bollywood who directed Lagaan, a movie that was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards.
Ashutosh had a brilliant casting coup by bringing together Hrithik Roshan as Akbar and Aishwarya Rai as Jodha. Although the cast was the USP of the movie their collective beauty blinded me the first time I watched the movie from noticing the well researched story about the unusual alliance between a Hindu princess with the emperor of Hindustan.
Jallaluddin was a kid of thirteen when his father Humayun dies making him the emperor. It was also a time of great turmoil in India. The Moguls wanted to acquire and rule over as much land as possible while the disenfranchised Hindus were making all sorts of alliances. Jalal is thrust into battle since that young age. A certain brutality surrounds him, where he is expected to behead kings that he defeats in battle, where cousins and friends are after his life to take over the empire, where trusted muslim leaders are expecting him to not make friends with the hindus and where hindus trust him even less as they believe that he is not from their land. An alliance wedding with Jodha Bai, a Rajput princess gives him a different perspective. In the process of winning Jodha's heart, Akbar wins the hearts and minds of his subjects.
Ashutosh tries to pack a lot of history and detail in the three hour movie run. The mother who hands over a vial of poison to her daughter Jodha when she is getting married to the Mughal emperor, a defiant Jodha asking the emperor that she be allowed to bring her Hindu God in the palace, Akbar's relationship with his faith and God or Akbar never learning to read or write.
A lot of focus has been placed on Hrithik's character of Akbar and he is spot on. Although the first few scenes of him, you felt like you were watching a GQ spread, Hrithik's command on his diction and his acting capabilities eventually make you believe that he the emperor of Hindustan. Aishwarya on the other hand was not the best choice for Jodha. Though beautiful, her acting capabilities are limited and she seems to float through the role like she is a present day Rajput.
This review will not be complete if I did not mention the costume designer for the movie. Neeta Lulla did a fabulous job in designing both Jodha and Akbar's look.
Overall a watchable movie which could have been better if the director hadn't compromised by casting the most famous names in bollywood.