Wednesday, 15 June 2011

When two do the same, it is not the same...

When two do the same, it is not the same. As least that is what an old Czech proverb claims and I am sure you will all agree. Stretching my mind to limits in search of some idea of what else to contribute to the Kapoor Khazana besides reviews (at least one more is coming too), I finally landed at one of Kareena´s most famous songs. Or rather - one of the most famous songs that has ever been picturized on this currently most popular Kapoor. It is of course "Yeh Mera Dil" from the successful re-make of Don, where she made a guest appearance, enacting the character originally played by legendary Helen. And though her appearance in the film was brief, it definitely got enough attention thanks to the song. Like probably 99% of people I could not help but compare Kareena´s modern version with the original picturization, and that´s when the proverb used above really proved its meaning.

The melody is the same, the lyrics have not changed, neither has the concept of the scene. the motives driving the girl remain the same as in the original - she is buying time by shaking her booty, hoping that every second police might arrive to capture the evil Don. So what are the differences?

Well, the new version of Yeh Mera Dil is definitely more polished in every aspect. The set is not only more interesting, but actually does justice to Don´s character, not to mention the lighting and everything is very intimate. Kareena is no doubt 100 times more sexy then Helen, and though I don´t think much about either of the ladies look-wise, she does look better too. In fact, the new version of the song somehow makes more sense - because Don actually DOES want to get naughty with the girl (I never understood why Amitabh went with Helen in the first place, as he had no interest in her whatsoever). The main difference however, leaves the new Don down. And that is - Helen could dance. Kareena is a great actress with exceptional screen presence, but dancer - no, never.  I must admit that some of her movements in the song made me smile and even laugh. The choreographer cannot be blamed, since Helen in the original version too had some weird steps, yet she managed to be graceful throughout. But it is fun to watch both versions. Because when two do the same, it does not neccesarily mean one of them is better, but they are bound to be different...

I am quite aware that this post holds no value whatsoever. Treat it as an idea born out of a lazy moment, not chiseled to perfection or with some impactful point. Yes, I do admit it: the whole writing is just an excuse to post the two vids!

Sunday, 12 June 2011


Directed by: Khalid Mohammed
Starring: Karishma Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Jaya Bachchan
Released: 2000
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

The Kapoor Khazana continues! After Rishi´s sweaters the next one of the family who deserves a mention is definitely Karishma Kapoor. After all, she is my favourite of the whole khandaan.

Fiza – what a simple name for film with such a nerve-wrecking story and also for a girl with so much to live through. Once a member of a small Muslim family consisting of her, her mother and younger brother Aman, Fiza has first been faced with the non-sensial cruelty of this world when Aman disappeared during the unrests of Bombay Riots in 1993.

Both mother and daughter left behind have a hard time coping with the painful issue, but where Fiza finds enough strength in her youthful stubborness and occupies herself with studies, her mother refuses to accept the possibility of her son´s death. Every week she goes secretly to a police station to inquire about her son, unaware Fiza knows only too well where she goes. And so Fiza suffers not only for the lost brother, but for her mother as well. Such situation lasts whole six years. 
Once a happy family...
After much crying and shouting Fiza decides she has had enough of uncertainty and living on hopes and starts searching for Aman. But everything fails her – the law, the police, politicians.... bribing, threatening, pleading..... nothing brings any fruit, and only makes Fiza more confused as well as hated. She is slowly becoming a public figure and people, who similarly lost their loved ones, are looking up to her. All in vain. Aman seems to have disappeared from the face of the Earth, and nobody can confirm or deny his death.

But fortunately it is year 1999 – the age of internet has come! And a guy, who has been trying for ages to impress Fiza, googles out (cause it sounds stupid if I write "yahoos out") a photo of a terrorist group operating in the border area. And Fiza recognizes similar features in one of the photos. Refusing any company she sets out to find the person in the picture, and yes, on one night she finally, after six years of complete uncertainty, finds her brother. Very much alive. And very much a terrorist.

Yahoo saves the day
Fiza is a basically a family drama, but interestingly enough it portrays it more as three individual stories. There are different points of view on the same situations, all influenced by the character´s background and experience. While traditional, peace-loving mother cannot understand the tragic changes in her life, and ends up committing suicide with a feeling that she has failed in her most sacred task of raising her children, stubborn, adamant and hard-to-please Fiza uses anger to hide her pain. Because you feel that deep inside she is very fragile. And she knows that if the world saw her weakness, it would crush her completely. And then there is of course Aman, the most innocent soul, who after witnessing horrors, adopts a simple belief that freedom and justice need to be fight for with all possible weapons. They are all bound by deep love, but they all completely lack understanding and many a heartbreak comes out of their helplessness to communicate.
A rare sight - Jaya Bachchan NOT crying in an emotional scene.
Karishma owns the film. She is perfect as Fiza. Her gentle appearance moves you even more when she reveals the hidden outrage. Her eyes are giving out all the emotions, everything is very honest and straight about Fiza. I think one scene I could have done without was her dancing in a club. True, she wanted to show others that she could act as all other girls if she wanted (but she doesn´t care to do so, because... she´s not!), but the weird choreography made her look awkward and didn´t really take the advantage of her excellent dancing skills. Also Fiza is one of the rare films where she was not made to wear skimpy clothes and ultra-short skirts, instead a simple white Indian attire and later more modern, but still not revealing clothes perfectly captured her character. Not to mention she look heavenly in white.
There is something about white colour, that makes you feel the inner strength.
The film has also another rare exception – and that is that I actually liked Jaya Bachchan. I find this woman terribly annoying, just her presence on the screen often makes me cringe, but here she was somehow different. I cannot really put my finger on it. She just was. Maybe because for the first time her crying wasn´t constant and didn´t look artificial. Maybe because her dialogue delivery wasn´t so clichéd. Maybe because she really succeeded in creating a bond with Karishma and Hrithik on screen. And speaking about Hrithik, for me this was the best performance he has given that I´ve seen. Yes, I rate it higher than Guzaarish and even Jodhaa-Akbar. His physical resemblance to Karishma was only a plus and they created a wonderful sibling combination. 
If I didn´t know better, I would easily believe they ARE brother and sister.
It is true though, that I did not understand the relationship between Fiza nad her mother. The way it was portraited in different scenes left me rather confused. We see them chatting away merrily, and the next moment Fiza is screaming that her Ami should forget Aman forever. Another time Ami is crying and Fiza is telling her not to give up hope. These constant changes in what Fiza wanted her mother to do were not handeled too well.

The numerous supporting cast does a good job, though nobody really stays in mind, except perhaps Johnny Lever (another rarity – he is funny and not OTT). Sushmita Sen did an item song for the film, but I must admit I was not taken in by her dancing or the song itself, and fast-forwarded through most of it. 

Film works in both parts and doesn´t loose the pace or thrill, the ending comes of as downright nail-biting and very moving. You just don´t want Karishma to pull that trigger. And on the other hand you want Hrithik to be finally given the peace only death can offer. I read that Fiza did not do well at the box office. Yet another proof that the success of the film does not automatically comes with quality.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Bol Radha Bol

Directed by: David Dhawan
Starring: Rishi Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Kader Khan, Shakti Kapoor, Alo Nath, Mohnish Behl
Released: 1992
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

The Kapoor Khazana month is on the track and it gives me a perfect excuse to put up several reviews I have been too lazy to write so far. Let this be the first one then!

I would like to make it clear that I do not hate Rishi Kapoor. I really don´t, even though you can (and will) see me making fun of him most of the time. I find him hilarious to watch and there is something about him that I just cannot take seriously, even if he´s playing emotional scenes and serious roles. Sorry, Rishi-ji. But in this you opted for a role of a romantic lover AND a rocking super-talented musician.
Juhi. Something easy on the eyes first.
Rishi, hidden in the film under the name of Kishen Malhotra, is a grown-up man with the mind of a teenager (why Rishi, why?). All he does all day long is fantasizing about his Radha, aka some girl who´ll return his love. There seem to be no special requirements for the girl, as he throws himself on every single one. And if none is in sight, he recites his pick up lines to his dog. After making an enemy in one of his collegues (the dog discovered he steals from Kishen´s company.) he sets up happily to open a factory in the country, that has been closed down for years, an obviously all the workers had to wait till he comes and tell them to repair everything (sometimes the villagers are so dumb, nah?). Not surprisingly Rishi finds his Radha among them – the beautiful Juhi Chawla, who obviously thinks his wardrobe full of those famous knitted sweaters is cute. Some singing and several English lessons bear their fruit and we have a romance blooming. But as soon as the factory is set up and Radha agrees to marry Kishen, he has to return home to inform his mother about everything. He only arrives there to find out his mother died. And not only that. He finds out somebody else is pretending to be him!
There are TWO of them? Somebody save me...
How is it possible? The impostor looks exactly the same! Kishen is thus thrown out of the house, only to be left wondering, who is the other one and what in the world is happening! While trying to figure that out, Radha is dying of longing for her lover, and in the end she decides to travel to the city herself. After coming to Kishen´s house, she finds his double drinking and being merry with girls. Thankfully a bit later she bumps into the real Kishen. Together they are searching for the truth, find out the real identity of the impostor. And then they work out the plan of how to outsmart him.

Bol Radha Bol is a decent flick, during which I had several really good laughs, some of them definitely not for the right reasons. As you might have already noticed, I found Rishi being ridiculous in his role (yet again). There is no doubt he is a very good actor with a likeable factor, but well, his looks and choice of roles betrayed him. He was in the „cursed“ state for an actor during this time – too old to be romancing young girls and too young to play their father. His pairing with Juhi hence doesn´t look convincing, though they do not look as bad together as Rishi/Madhuri or the example worst of them all Rishi/Divya Bharti. Rishi doesn´t look good neither as an immature good guy Kishen, nor as a drunken imposter playing saxophone. He does master the double role brilliantly for sure, but did not make me believe him a single word.
"Oh no! When I think that impostor is wearing my coolest sweaters right now!"
Juhi on the other hand was as perfect as one could wish. As a simple village belle with feisty nature she was just lovely to look at, and even after getting a sexy make-over in the second part there was still beautiful innocence to her. Her comic timing was spot on as always. Her real partner in terms of comedy was none other then Shakti Kapoor in one of his completely insane over-the-top roles, doing things, faces and sounds nobody else could ever pull off, unless making everyone think he has just escaped the mental asylum. Another one given supposedly comic scenes was Kader Khan, sadly he fails to impress and his part in the film doesn´t make sense at all. I have to note that this is possibly the first film that has ever presented me with evil Alokh Nath!
As perverse as it may sound, these two are the best thing about the film.
One scene which I found nearly unwatchable was when Rishi´s real dog (cause even it has a double!) finally finds its Master and Rishi beats it up, thinking the dog betrayed him earlier. After realizing his mistake, Rishi encourages the dog to fight its double. Seeing the two dogs biting each other did not give me any pleasure or satisfaction, and Juhi cheering during all that made it even more wrong (remind me of Darr, when she was screaming „Kill him, kill him“ from the top of her lungs, while Sunny Deol beated the heck out of Shahrukh Khan. That too was wrong, even if for another reason :) ).

Music doesn´t make the film stand out either, in fact the song in the club, after Rishi discovers his double´s identity, is pretty much awful – which covers everything from melody, lyrics, costumes and choreography. The title song is lovely, giving us a pleasant glimpse of lovely Juhi in traditional Indian attire, but is not ground-breaking either.

In the end I know there are other films out there, which do make Juhi even lovelier and funnier, which make Alokh Nath a good human being, which make club scenes rocking, which make Rishi Kapoor less ridiculous. 
"What does RIDICULOUS mean?"