Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's a 'Daag' all right...

Regressive cinema with a capital R is the best way to summarize Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. Coming from the prestigious Yashraj banner and the maker of a gem like Parineeta, it is only fair for one to expect a polished and thoughtful film. Instead we get a hackneyed and misleading waste of time that goes a step further and actually tries to glamorize prostitution, as if it's just another product for perhaps our cricketers to endorse. Personally, I would gladly opt for Om Shanti Om's blatant Maybelline and Pepsi references (Read: Advertising) any day.

Moreover, the film so brutally deceives you. As any innocent and unsuspecting viewer would, you smile as the film's opening reels introduce you to the playful world of two sisters in Banaras, for once shown to be a colorful and inviting city as opposed to its dull and depressing depictions in recent films like Water and Banaras: A Mystical Love Story.

Cut to a few frames later and suddenly Mumbai gets to play the big bad wolf that devoured the elder sister (Rani Mukherjee) for breakfast. In all fairness, she did appear rather plump and thus fair game, so who is to blame here...the hungry wolf or Ms. Mukherjee's personal trainer?

In other words, to save her family from the brink of losing their home to their own scheming relatives, Rani takes off for the City of Dreams to earn the rupees so that her ailing father will give it a rest already about not having a 'breadwinner' son. Of course, when she lands in the city itself she suddenly realizes that there's not much she could do with no degree, zero English skills place to stay. (What ever happened to think before you act?)

Of course, as we know from the previews, she opts to become a high-end call girl instead. So much for the 18 McDonald's branches that now grace the streets of Mumbai...or even the opportunity to clean bathrooms...or pick up trash...oh hell, with looks like hers, she could just pull a Nisha Kothari and start sleeping with Ram Gopal Varma. At least there's a film career to come out of that.

But no, prostitute it is, and what's more is that she is groomed to do so by her "modern, independent" flatmate. After teaching the naive Rani how to apply that liner, walk those heels and flaunt that Manish Malhotra couture, could the roommate not have just pointed Rani in the direction of a modeling agency? In any case, Family Clueless back in Banaras is thrilled that their oldest is somehow raking in the moolah; little do they know that she escorts old, balding men to a suite in the Taj (although Mama dearest, so nicely played by Jaya Bachchan, has a bit of a hunch and chooses to keep mum and drown her woes in ...stitching petticoats).

Of course, Sister No. 2 (Konkona Sen Sharma) turns out to be quite the smarty-pants and lands a great marketing job in the same exact city where her sister leads her clandestine whorish life. Go figure! Somehow, Sister No. 2 also manages to drop the braid and salwar kameez virtually overnight for layers and a power suit. Yeah...right. She also speaks enough English that you wonder why you never heard it before.

To cut a long story short, all's well that ends well. What else is expected when the director decides to pull a Raj Kumar Hirani and have Abhishek Bachchan waltz in as the angelic, do-gooder a la Lage Raho Munnabhai. (In the process, get ready for the most absurd exchange of dialogue you will ever witness in the history of Hindi tell me when you will ever find a man who, upon learning that the woman he so dearly lusts after is actually a prostitute, says: "Until today, I thought I loved you. But after learning this, I love you even more" Good God, Abhishek. Did you not see (or count) the men she slept with? The day such a man exists is the day Salman Khan will get married.

Of course, Konkona is given a far more appealing love angle in the form of Kunal Kapoor, who puts on his best "I wish I was Hrithik Roshan" act and comes up trumps as an endearing and more realistic character.

That Rani, Konkona and Jaya Bachchan play their parts well goes without saying. The three are supremely talented actresses who can pull off virtually anything, but sadly they are undone by the ludicrous concept that surrounds the film.

Yes, prostitution is a huge problem in India (and many other countries at that). It is also true that many girls who enter cities with big hopes are often thrown into it by force, but to show Rani being flown out first-class to Zurich and strutting around in pretty clothing is hardly the face of real prostitution. And for her to get a rishta from a rich and handsome man who knew her for all of 24 hours and decided he would love her regardless of her situation is pure and utter rubbish. To feed that image to young girls and make it an okay "go-to" profession when in need of cash is shameful, to say the least.

The saddest part about the film is that it had all the potential in the world. A quality cast, a capable director (he has to have something if he managed Parineeta, or was that film really in fact ghost directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra?) and a promising beginning...really, the scenes between the mother and two sisters in the first 20 minutes are both lovely and heart-warming. How it turned into such a mess is anyone's guess.

A poor soundtrack doesn't make the proceedings any easier. Barring the introductory song, Hum To Aise Hain Bhaiya, all other tunes are in that all-irritating Hinglish we pray is just a phase that Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya should never have started.

On a side note, Abhishek Bachchan can be as politically correct as he pleases and continue to go on record by saying that his marriage to Aishwarya Rai has caused no friction whatsoever in his equation with favorite co-star Rani Mukherjee, but the painful interactions between the two is perhaps the tale of a failed relationship that wifey Rai clearly disapproves of. Never have Abhishek and Rani looked so void of chemistry.

Verdict? Steer clear of this street corner.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Conjugal Clothing?

Abhiwariya have done it again. After their choreographed salsa dance at Aishwarya's recent birthday, better known as Ash-Bash 2007, the couple we all love to hate graced the audio release of Gangotri in ...matching denim jeans and white collar shirts. The staple yet stale fashion statement notwithstanding, one can only assume they firmly believe that 'the couple that dresses together...stays together'. Cheesy much?
The good news is that the two are looking fit, and Abhi baby is on his way to outgrowing wifey's hair.

P.S. - We neither know what Gangotri is, nor do we particularly care.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Farah's Wit and Shahrukh's Charm

Illogical. Insipid. Outrageous. Extreme. Confused. Call it what you will, but there is no denying the fact that Om Shanti Om is one of the most entertaining films to release this year. Scratch that. It's one of the most entertaining films to release in a long time. Those who choose to actually analyze the film may find it reeking of flaws, but it is their mistake if they honestly think Farah Khan wanted to create a film that makes you think. Because what Farah has created is quite the opposite: it makes you laugh; it makes you smile; and it makes you believe that sheer entertainment is worth choosing over thoughtful cinema any day.

A parody of two generations of cinema, beginning with the 70s and later focusing on the new millennium, OSO tracks the life of junior artist Om Prakash Makhija (Shahrukh Khan) and his fascination with popular actress Shantipriya (newcomer Deepika Padukone). Somewhere along the way a reincarnation saga very reminiscent of Karz is introduced, and next thing you are dealing with starry brat Om Kapoor (SRK again), popularly known as OK. Without giving away too much of the story - although most of it is very much available online - there are also interesting characters in the forms of Pappu Master (Shreyas Talpade) and villainous producer Arjun Rampal.
Similar to Main Hoon Na, much of OSO is a parody of the film industry. What sets OSO apart from its predecessor, however, is that it is truly a laugh riot for the first two hours, at least, if not more, and never tries to become too serious. In edition, as a director Farah has improved leaps and bounds in terms of creativity and wit; it truly is a very clever film with so many digs at film cliches and stereotypes that film aficionados would be more than pleased with her efforts.

Watch out for scenes such as the South Indian shooting ("Mind it") scene, the 'all organ failure' film shoot and the Filmfare Awards ceremony; people who watch enough Indian films will know how hilarious and yet true the jokes are.

Also, every actor and actress under the sun makes an appearance in Farah & Shahrukh's labor of love. It really is heartwarming to see the support and unity that ties the industry together and shows that, despite the fights, drama and reported heat, they are willing to all come together and return the same good will that people like Farah and Shahrukh have shown them in the past.

Speaking of which, it's commendable that Shahrukh can take on two completely different roles (and many roles within these roles), make fun of himself (think Mohabbat-man, his tendency to arrive late on the sets and his identical Filmfare nominations), romance a heroine 21 years his junior and still come off convincing. He's lovable, he's charming, he's cute and he's funny. And he's not just being Shahrukh Khan. You can tell how much he loves this film, being produced under his banner and directed by one of his best friends, and Shahrukh clearly puts in his 200%. So if Farah tells him to build a six-pack and go Village People on the audience by dancing in a shirtless firefighter getup, he does it. And if she tells him to put on a red leather cowboy suit and fight a stuffed tiger, he does that, too. And never once does he come across like he's trying too hard.

Shreyas is also superb as Shahrukh's second-hand man, particularly in the first half. He's truly talented and oddly similar to fellow comedy colleague Ritiesh Deshmukh in both looks and style. It's a shame that Shreyas has to take a backseat in the second half, because he is at his best pre-intermission.

Arjun adds style and persona to the negative role he is given. He has come a long way over the years (and this is after he had already impressed in earlier films like Aankhein and Moksha), and he is sure to be talked about after OSO.

As for the alleged 'Find of the Year', Deepika Padukone, she more than lives up to the hype. Farah and Shahrukh have very smartly handled Ms. Padukone's debut, in that they do not give her any histrionics to display. Instead, she has a simple yet glamorous role and does very well with it. In addition, she looks absolutely stunning and excels in the dance sequences as well. Finally, there is a new find who not only looks good and dances well but has actual acting talent and potential, too! One thought that with all the know-nothing models walking around attempting to act of late, there would be no hope for finding future female acting talents, but Deepika defies that logic and makes the most of her debut. She will surely get offers galore. As mentioned, there may be nothing exceedingly difficult for her to do in terms of performance, but her dialogue delivery and expressions are spot on, particularly in the latter portions of the film.

The songs are all in good fun and a treat to watch. Deewangi Deewangi is the most thrilling due to cameos from virtually the whole industry (one cannot help but wonder where Sushmita Sen, Aishwarya Rai and Kareena Kapoor are, however). Dhoom Taana is hilarious to watch, while Aankhon Mein Teri (Ajab Si) and Main Agar Kahoon are beautiful in terms of lyrics, vocals and melody.

The only downside of the film is that it gets carried away in the last half hour. The climax is a little over the top, but a so-so final 30 minutes are more than forgiven when the first 2 hrs and 15 minutes are full of pure entertainment. And do not leave during the end credits - it is highly admirable that Farah gives each and every unit member a moment to shine. She clearly recognizes the worth of her entire team, and her own appearance at the end is sure to put a smile on your face. Gauri Khan looking positively radiant is also one to watch out for.

Verdict? Absolutely recommended. But if you're looking for logic, don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, November 9, 2007

When SRK is Away, KJ Will Play

Spotted: Karan Johar attending the Saawariya premiere in Mumbai. We wonder what boy toy Shahrukh Khan thinks of his BFF making an appearance at a film that was most definitely not Om Shanti Om...

No Wait, There's More

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, more pictures from that dreadful "fashion" (if you can call it that) spectacle known as the Saawariya premiere have surfaced...

Amrita Rao
The color works, the dress does not. It would have been a decent attempt had that transparent frill at the bottom not come in the way. And those shoes are plain awful...Ms. Rao, you have a magnificent figure. Why attract attention to your knee caps and ankles? The bling on the wrist is also a huge no-no.
Grade: C+ (points for the color and overall cut of the dress, but major deductions for that frill and mismatching shoes)

Dia Mirza
Not really known for her dress sense, Dia didn't really help her case by showing up in this ill-fitted maid's outfit. She had a nice blend of colors going, but for some reason the former pageant queen opted to hide her frame under a maternity shirt and pair it with pants that look like black skinny jeans gone wrong.
Grade: D+ (it's not a total disaster; the colors save her from reaching complete and utter failure)

Alisha Chinnai
This isn't your wedding, Chinnai. And even if it were, I pray to God that you would not dress like that.
Grade: F (she was always rather strange to begin with)

Soha Ali Khan
Being both Sharmila Tagore's daughter and Saif Ali Khan's kid sister is no easy task. Soha does a rather nice job of playing it safe with an elegant sari. The color's a bit loud, but there's nothing wrong with being bold, provided you go about it in a trendy manner.
Grade: B+ (it's the least we can give her when the spotlight was clearly on big bro and his new beau)

Now that is what we call class. In a dazzling sari that would surely put a huge grin on Karan Johar's face, one wishes all of the young starlets would take a leaf out of Madame Sri's book. The silver detailing is exquisite, and the halter is sexy. Age does nothing to this stunner, seen here with husband Boney Kapoor and daughter Jhanvi.
Grade: A

Akshaye Khanna
Suave and sophisticated, Akshaye looks rather handsome in his a grey suit and tie. But will someone please tell me where exactly the sun can be found?
Grade: A- (the shades are stylish, but come on Mr.'s an evening premiere at an indoor venue)

Kareena officially gets more points for the sexy back.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Additional Note

Thanks to my good friend Prachi, I was able to obtain a better view of Rani Mukherjee's Saawariya ensemble...she now merits a solid D- it a sari, is it a it anything, really? Shame on you, Ms. Mukherjee. And what is with the bubble gum colors?

On that same note, I finally have another well-dressed to add to the list...

Shahid Kapur plays it simple in dress pants and a grey button-down with a slim, black belt. It may not be anything extraordinary, but it could certainly provide as a reference point for some of the more unfortunately-dressed (i.e. Salman Khan).
Grade: B+ (because it's sharp, and we feel sorry that he had to witness the hotness of his ex-girlfriend Kareena Kapoor with new beau Saif Ali Khan)

Style Watch

Call it the Indian version of When Bad Clothes Happen to Good People...but the Mumbai premiere of Saawariya consisted of the worst Red Carpet round-up perhaps witnessed in modern times. Just when we thought our Indian celebs were getting trendier by the day, the B-wood glitterati decided to take fashion faux pas to another level...

Priyanka Chopra
The skinny jeans fit well, and even the gold heels are of reasonable compliment. But good lord, what is with that top? This, my friends, is East Meets West at its ugly best. Even on its own, the overly-done peacock detailing is utterly tacky, and the velvet blue trim at the bottom looks out of place. One wonders what Ms. Chopra was thinking when she draped this shapeless piece over her otherwise fit body. Let me add: You do not carry a cream snakeskin purse with gold sandals and a heavily-detailed top. So much for that Koffee with Karan award for Best Dressed...
Grade: D- (we'll give her at least a point-and-a-half for the nicely-fitting jeans and heels...and because she's that hot)

Lara Dutta
Ms. Chopra could seek comfort in the fact that her apparent arch-rival Lara Dutta put on an even more hideous display by choosing to dress in a medieval bedspread. Apart from the flowing churidar that's about as outdated as Ranbir Kapoor's hairstyle, the mixing of fabrics is downright atrocious. The gold accent shouts Xena the Warrior Woman (cause she was oh-so fashionable), and the yellow peasant sleeves do little to help her case. And that print...why God why? Leave it on your pillowcase, Ms. Dutta. Hands down, the worst dressed of the night.
Grade: F- (for inflicting this massacre on the unsuspecting public)

Salman Khan
The less said about Lara's on-screen 'Partner', the better. Ever since Sallu proclaimed he was in love with Govinda's stylist, we knew there was no digging him out of the grave he quite frankly dug for himself. But embroidering your crotch area is about as low as you can get (no pun intended). One wonders if he was taken in by the beaming lights that glimmer from the Saawariya sets, but one also wishes he did not apply that same attention to...that region. Paired with that a glittering Rolling Stones tee under a rather dapper black leather jacket, and Sallu is about as clueless as Kim Sharma when she speaks.
Grade: D (points for the jacket, only...)

Rani Mukherjee
Not known for her off-screen dress sense, Rani usually plays it pretty safe in traditional wear. Though not disastrous, here she is caught doing what she does best: boring us to tears. Not to mention, she has most definitely worn this before, and I will make it my goal to find out when and where. Moreover, it is not at all complimentary to her not-so-frail frame.
Grade: C (it ain't the worst, but it leaves a lot to be desired)

Hema Malini
If only Hemaji had stuck to the elegant saris that uphold her iconic status. This Chinese-inspired jacket looks like it belongs on a waitress. Although Vidya Balan is not all that visible, she seems to be rocking the black...only in a rather blasé manner.
Grade: C (she's older, it's only fair we give her some extra leeway for not being acquainted with trends from the modern fashion world)

Amisha Patel
She can't act, she can't dance and evidently she can't dress either. It's not easy to get a sari wrong, but somehow Ms. Patel manages to do just that in this absurd concoction of metallic, chiffon embroidery and...bright pink florals. How the gold clutch relates is any one's guess. And no, matching your lipstick to the flamingo pink does not help.
Grade: F (for being loud, tacky and just for being Amisha Patel)

Sonali Kulkarni
A body suit...seriously....seriously? Not that body suits should ever be worn, but at least have the figure for it. After all, if you've got it, flaunt it...but if you don't, kindly hide it. And hide your underwear, while you're at it.
Grade: F- (at the risk of sounding repetitive, seriously?)

Kangana Raunat
The red is hot, the skin show is not. The odd-looking Kangana flaunts her non-existent torso in a red chiffon sari. Nothing is wrong with the sari, but perhaps an actual blouse rather than a bra would give her that extra bit of class. Also, something must be done with that puffy hair and vampire makeup. Also, an alternate-colored purse and pair of shoes would do her some good. There's sexy red, and then there's a bloodbath.
Grade: B- (kudos for trying and looking better than the rest of the lot)

Those Who Prevailed

Hrithik & Suzanne Roshan
Well, it was more of Hrithik who prevailed rather than his wife. It seems the 't-shirt under blazer with jeans and white trainers' is Duggu's new favorite look. It was the same look that won him the Best Dressed on Koffee with Karan and recent Style Icon award but also similar to what he sported when picking up the Most Stylish Male award at the 2007 MTV Lycra Style Awards. Fair enough, Duggu...rock on while you're still young and hot. His batter half, on the other hand, was a little blah in a highly-sequined baby pink top that reminds one of how doting mothers dress their helpless tots for weddings. The shoes are too casual, but hats off to Mrs. Roshan for looking that fit after recently pushing out the cute couple's first child.
Grade: B (mostly due to Hrithik, but he loses points for the male skinny jeans with apparent slit at the bottom)

Sushmita Sen
The stunning Sushmita could very well have been attending friend Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om premiere in an obvious reprisal of her acclaimed Main Hoon Na sexy sari routine. The color does wonders for her curiously tanner complexion, and the jewelry is simple yet effective. Now if only someone would name that conspicuous fellow accompanying her in the lazy white salwar kameez.
Grade: B+ (how's about a sequel to Main Hoon Na?)

Urmila Matondkar & Tusshar Kapoor
We have no idea why on earth they appeared together, or perhaps it was just the cameramen making it seem that way, but at least they made the effort to look somewhat trendy. There may be a little too much going on with Urmila's sari, but it manages to be daring without overstepping that fine line between trying something different and trying too much. The teal is also lovely, paired with a simple black blouse given the sari itself has enough design to sustain itself. Tusshar, much as I hate to admit, looks rather contemporary in a pair of dark jeans with a black button-down and black blazer. The black belt is a nice accent...well done, Tusshar. It looks like you're not completely useless after all.
Grade: A- (there's obvious grade inflation what with the overall debacle of the rest)

Age is no match for Rekhaji as she stuns in a crystal-embroidered banarasi sari. She looks every bit as opulent as the film on display. The likes of Karan Johar would be very proud. Who is the mystery man (or should I say boy)?

The Winners

Saif Ali Khan & Kareena Kapoor
Hate 'em or love 'em, they are perhaps the hottest couple on the market. Saif is sexiness personified in a solid black blazer with jeans, and then there is that stubble...Kareena, meanwhile, has never looked better. After the stunning Manish Malhotra dress she sported at the 2007 Filmfare Awards and now this chic and sexy sari, she's fast becoming one of the better dressed celebs out there. The black and red is a classic mix, and she shows off just the right amount of her newly-toned physique. The turquoise accent is a stroke of genius, and one can only imagine it is Mr. Malhotra at the helm yet again.
Grade: A (how more ideal can a situation be where every guy wants to be Saif, and every girl wants to be Kareena)

Friday, November 2, 2007


An anonymous reader has pointed out a glitch in my reporting - I listed Phir Hera Pheri under Priyadarshan's failured comedy attempts in my Bhool Bhulaiyaa review. It appears Neeraj Vora was the writer/director who made us suffer through that disaster.

Thank you random anonymous reader...please come out and reveal who you are.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Things Best Left Forgotten

The Priyadarshan/Akshay Kumar/Paresh Rawal has been alive and kicking since Hera Pheri proved an unlikely success seven years ago. Somewhere along the way, a Rajpal Yadav was thrown into the mix, and along came a progression of films ranging from hilarious to reasonably funny to downright awful. The team's latest offering, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, sadly falls into the latter category, making one wonder...should this team just give it a rest?

There's no point in getting into the story, because there isn't really a coherent one as such. Priyadarshan, much to our dismay, seems to have taken a leaf out of Ram Gopal Varma's book and opted to make his own comedy/horror flick, a la Darling. Perhaps someone should have informed Priyadarshan of Darling's unfortunate fate (and the pain it inflicted on the few of us who actually watched it)...

Actually, let me take that back. Before delivering the slightest warning on how RGV is no longer a source for inspiration, someone should have informed Priyadarshan that you should never, not even in your wildest dreams, cast Amisha Patel in your film. Her wrath remains unbearable, and her acting capabilities remain non-existent. One wonders how she even managed to get the role given this is not a Vikram Bhatt production...yes, that was most definitely an intentional innuendo...

As if casting Amisha was not enough, Priyadarshan then decides that he will not introduce Akshay until nearly the intermission. So every one's favorite comic boy is very much absent from the first hour of the film, if not more...subjecting us to more tears than laughs. And lo and behold, as soon as Akshay emerges from whatever hiatus that was, the film picks up and shows slight promise.

And that is when the director mixes in the RGV influence and decides to shoot for some lousy combination of The Exorcist and ...Dumb and Dumber? Yes, I was confused, too.

No folks, this is not a remake of any known's just a horrid mixture of one too many genres. Hell, there's even a love triangle in there.

Oh, and wasting Akshay's talent was not enough ...Priyadarshan opted to sign on two of the most promising new kids on the block, Shiney Ahuja and Vidya Balan, was tarnish the reliable reputations they so carefully built with their first few films. (And, of course, there's Paresh Rawal who can only watch the proceedings and probably wonder what he's even doing in the film in the first place).

There's a nice tune or two...Labon Ko is the only one you vaguely remember after the debacle you were made to witness.

Priyadarshan, where did we go wrong with you? First Phir Hera Pheri, then Dhol and now this? Why don't you go back to making another Virasat? It looks like you've milked your comedies for all that they're worth.

Verdict? Best...Left...Forgotten