Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ingloriously Inappropriate

Mallika Sherawat, who is currently doing the rounds in L.A. in anticipation of her international horror flick Hiss (co-starring Irrfan Khan), showed up at the Inglorious Basterds premiere looking like that.

If her goal was to leave us speechless, she can consider her mission accomplished. In addition to stealing from Lil' Kim's best-left-shut closet, Sherawat met director Quentin Tarantino sporting this ridiculous garb and thereby throwing away any chances of signing a film with the acclaimed director.

We, for one, are crying on the inside. Hell we're even crying on the outside looking at this Hall of Fame for Atrocious Fashion mess. This, too, after all the hard work Freida Pinto did to prove that Indians can work the international red carpet as well as the best of them.

Sherawat wrote on her Twitter page that she 'may have gone over the top this time'. You think? Aside from the trashy skin show, she should also be tried for appearing this way in front of the Jolie-Pitts. The King & Queen frown upon obscenity.

Welcome to the Hollywood D-list, Ms. Sherawat. I suppose next you'll be partying with the Lohans of the world.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Modernity Meets Minimalism

You can check out my official Love Aaj Kal review here:


Leave comments at the blog and share the link with your friends!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Future Looks Bright (Fingers Crossed)

Most summer blockbusters may have been put on hold on account of the strike, but there is still plenty to look forward to in the months to come…

If Indian cine-goers were void of their favorite pastime during the recent three-month strike, there has been little excitement since the Hindi film industry came back into full swing just one month ago. The Yashraj production house quite suitably released one of its own products first, but the big budget New York about minority life in post-9/11 America failed to impress the masses and classes alike. Over promotion and help from the media seemed to have allowed Kambakkht Ishq ‘hit’ status, but most who have seen the film are quick to coin it one of the worst releases of the century. Perhaps the only other releases worth mentioning are Short Kut and Luck – haven’t heard of them? It’s ok, neither has 95% of the public.

But never fear, for there are more highly anticipated releases just around the corner, and certainly one of them will have to hit the mark sooner or later. Here are DesiClub’s Top Five releases to look forward to:

Film: Love Aaj Kal
Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Rishi Kapoor & Rahul Khanna
Release Date: July 31, 2009
What’s the big deal anyway? Chotte nawab Saif Ali Khan turns first-time producer and teams up with the man responsible for reintroducing girlfriend Kareena Kapoor to stardom. After Jab We Met (2007), Imtiaz Ali is ready to take another stab at the romantic comedy genre with this look at love in the past, present and future. It also pairs Saif with the significantly younger Deepika Padukone, who is most likely hoping the public has forgotten the debacle that was Chandni Chowk to China. Unlike the simplicity of JWM, this one’s been shot in a number of cities across the globe but does boast of a rollicking soundtrack much like its predecessor.

Film: Kaminey
Directed by: Vishal Bhardwaj
Starring: Shahid Kapoor & Priyanka Chopra
Release Date: August 14, 2009
What’s the big deal anyway? Three years ago, in Omkara, director Vishal Bhardwaj gave us a work of art that arguably ranks as one of the best films till date. While this makes it near impossible for Kaminey to meet the subsequently gargantuan expectations, you can’t blame the aficionados for their anticipation. The promos fail to really give much away and if anything toy with one’s curiosity. Add to that Shahid Kapoor in his first double role and acting opposite rumored real-life on-again/off-again flame Priyanka Chopra, and we find ourselves wondering on an almost daily basis, “is it out yet?”

Film: Dil Bole Hadippa!
Directed by: Anurag Singh
Starring: Shahid Kapoor & Rani Mukherjee
Release Date: September 18, 2009
What’s the big deal anyway? The return of Rani Mukherjee. Enough said. Ok, ok…we will give you more than that. In addition to the undisputed queen of new millennium (she remains our queen until someone proves these new starlets can actually act), it also looks like a throwback to the sort of rustic love stories that made Yashraj Films so popular in their hayday. We are not overtly convinced with the cricket sidetrack – did no one learn from Harman Baweja’s disastrous Victory? – it should make for typical Eid weekend fodder.

Film: Wanted
Directed by: Prabhu Deva
Starring: Salman Khan & Ayesha Takia Azmi
Release Date: September 18, 2009
What’s the big deal anyway? That Salman Khan’s recent cinematic endeavors have been forgettable is putting it lightly. We are about 99.9% sure that most of you did not even bother with God Tussi Great Ho or Yuvvraaj, and we kind of want to see if Salman can still rock the action hero mould that he once championed. He will also make a curious pairing with newlywed Ayesha Takia Azmi (yes, she has taken her husband’s name), even if this South Indian remake does look very Ghajini. But with dance icon Prabhu Deva at the helm, surely something good will come of it. We may even witness Salman do a decent dance for the first time in a decade.

Film: Wake Up Sid
Directed by: Ayan Mukherji
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor & Konkona Sen Sharma
Release Date: October 2, 2009
What’s the big deal anyway? Art house favorite Konkona Sen Sharma paired with the untapped talent of Ranbir Kapoor? We are so there. The latter has been hard done by eagerly awaited films that didn’t quite live up to the hype, but we see a spark somewhat akin to Hrithik Roshan in his early days. The director may be new, but Karan Johar takes the reigns as producer and looks to be taking a leaf out of pal Farhan Akhtar’s book by expanding upon his offbeat portfolio.

Ok, that list may have extended to October, but we took the leeway of extending beyond the summer given the length of the strike. That, plus the vast majority of films set to hit the marquee in the coming months look abysmal, at best. And on that positive note, look out for our recommendations and don’t make us say “we told you so”!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

From Dard-e-Dil to Dard-e-Disco

Preface: On op/ed on the demise of Indian music. Please note that I am not attributing Karan Johar as the first to use the dreaded concoction of a language below but rather one of the key contributors to the trend of said concoction as a "must have" in each modern-day album...

From Dard-e-Dil to Dard-e-Disco: The Evolution of Hindi Film Music

The ‘When’ and ‘How’ of the transformation of those romantic ditties we once cherished into present-day Hinglish anomalies, minus the ‘Why’…

By Sabrina Siddiqui

Do you ever recall the dreamy duets of yore with your favorite hero and heroine running around trees and through the fields of Switzerland in gay abandon, and subsequently heave a sigh of exasperation at the current state of Hindi film music? Perhaps you wonder when popular wordings along the lines of “tu mile dil khile” turned into “with you, my dil just khils”? Ok, maybe that abomination of a lyric is yet to surface, but it is only a matter of time, my friends!

The truth of the matter is, or so we are led to believe, love songs are out, and disco beats are in. Now we have no problems with dance numbers, and they are by no means new to Hindi cinema. Shammi Kapoor did a “yahoo yahoo” almost 50 years ago in the film that more or less defined his career (Junglee, 1961). Everyone from Amitabh Bachchan to Rishi Kapoor knew how to shake a leg under multi-colored disco balls, and let us not even get started on Mithun “Disco Dancer” Chakraborty.

But who said that the audience no longer wants the soothing, classical Indian percussions that accompany lyrically pleasing love ballads? I, for one, can recall the early incorporation of that must-have Hinglish number, but I cannot for the life of me remember when it became the mandate for every other track on an album.

First off, as is with most modern-day contrivances, you can point your fingers at usual suspect Karan Johar. What started with a simple You Are My Soniya in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) continued in his 2003 reworking of Pretty Woman and mother of all disco songs to follow, It’s the Time to Disco, in Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003). And yes, he merely produced the latter, which was actually directed by Nikhil Advani. And double yes, Shankar Ehsaan Loy were behind the music. But the more important yes, Johar was likely behind the major shot calling, including that of the final music product.

So we embraced the frivolousness that is typically associated with most Dharma Productions’ films, but little did we know that it marked somewhat of a turning point in Hindi music. Because what has followed is five years of ever declining quality of music, said to be catered to a larger (read: global) audience without taking into account the fact that no one ever asked for a ban on the simple and solid tunes about pyaar, ishq and mohabbat.

If my memory serves me correct, the Salman Khan/Sushmita Sen/Katrina Kaif starrer Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya (2005) took the trend to new heights, where all but two songs on the entire album were spared the insertion of Hinglish, deliberately silly lyrics. I will repeat here that this is not an attack on the notion that poorly written dance numbers are fun. Yours truly has those absurdly catchy item numbers from Billu Barber (2009) on repeat on her iPod.

Instead, it is somewhat of a cry for at least some soulful, meaningful music. Because A.R. Rahman is just about the music industry’s own version of a bailout, and even he wants to prove to the world that Pappu Can’t Dance. At least in his case, the tune is subject appropriate and not the summation of his entire album.

In summary, somewhere music directors are missing the cue that many of the most popular songs today remain the Hindi/Urdu-penned, rustic-feeling compositions that most of us have grown up on. Let us not forget that Haule Haule and Guzarish/Kaise Mujhe were the unanimous standout tracks from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Ghajini (2009) respectively. Or the fact that among the top three best-selling albums of the last decade lies one of the greatest gems to have come in recent times, Veer-Zaara (2004), an accumulation of the Late Madan Mohan’s unused tunes dating back to decades prior to his death.

We the people are fine if the music is meant to get us Rocking and Reeling, but an old-school musical intervention is also of the utmost need.

Original Link: http://www.desiclub.com/desimusic/desimusic_features/music_article.cfm?id=279

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Up and Coming

I recently interviewed upcoming R&B artist Sandeep Acharya (not to be confused with the winner of Indian Idol Season 2). His style is similar to U.K. sensation Jay Sean and Canadian superstar Raghav, and he's an ex-member of Penn Masala. He recently got a lot of traction for performing at half time at the L.A. Staples Center during an NBA game in January.

Check out the interview here: http://www.desiclub.com/desimusic/desimusic_features/music_article.cfm?id=273

The video to his debut single "Just Breathe": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9FNpax_ypo


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cannes Continued

We are officially shocked. And by we, I just mean me, because this isn't a co-authored blog (but it just sounds so much cooler to say 'we'). Just when we were giving Ash kudos for finally premiering well at the Cannes Film Festival 2009, she's gone ahead and outdone herself by looking even better on Day 2!

At the premiere of Spring Fever, Mrs. Rai-Bachchan was spotted in a wonderfully contemporary but classy gown from Elie Saab Spring 2009. The soft color is perfect for spring time, and the hair is simple as it should be with a gown that already draws attention via the draping at the bodice and add-on sleeve. The way the gown flows is the stuff enchanted fairy tales are made of.

Furthermore, hubby Abhi is back in full form with a normal black suit and striped tie. We'll bet (there's another 'we' :-)) no one will be confusing him for the hired help this time around!

Covering Cannes

Cannes Film Festival regular Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan finally got her Red Carpet right at the opening day of the 2009 edition. After numerous misses in the past, coupled with just a few hits, the former Miss World looked stunning in a strapless white Cavalli with a regal ruffled train. Not crazy about the up-do, as it is too much given the weight of the dress, but totally digging the bejeweled Swarovski clutch. Looks like India's original international film star is not about to be outshone by the combination of Freida Pinto and her acclaimed stylist George Kotsiopoulos.

Now why Abhishek Bachchan opted for the waiter look is rather puzzling, much as the white blazer is in line with the Bachchan family's 'match much' fetish. Shahrukh Khan tried and failed with the same look at the 2009 Filmfare Awards, but clearly celebs seldom learn from each other's mistakes.