Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blue: Kylie Goes Bollywood

Kylie Minogue does an item number for the new Akshay Kumar-Sanjay Dutt starrer Blue, said to be Bollywood's most expensive film yet:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wake Up Sid: Trailer

Between the Producers' strike and swine flu, it has been a dreadful year for Bollywood. But things are picking up:

New York Times review here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mughal-E-Azam: Pyaar Kiya to Darna Kya

This 1960 film was a megahit unrivalled until Sholay came along in the 70s. Filmed in both color and black and white (this song is one of three color sequences), it starred Madhubala and Dilip Kumar. Lata Mangeshkar, the most recorded singer in history according to the folks at the Guinness book, sings (Madhubala lip syncs and dances here as the rebellious slave girl in the Moghul court.) Filmed in the hall of mirrors at Ajmer Palace.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Interview with Akshay Kumar

Kumar is one of the most interesting, and best-paid, Hindi stars. He flew under the radar for a long time, and then burst into top-tier films like a supernova. He's had a string of superhits (Chandni Chowk to China notwithstanding), not just in India but abroad. Like Hrithik Roshan (pre-knee surgery), he does his own stunts in movies, and the trickier, the better. He comes from a very humble background, worked as a cook, studied martial arts, until he accidentally got a modelling gig, which lead to acting. In this clip he talks about working in 8 X 10 Tasveer with Nagesh Kukunoor, a young, maverick, auteur type making some of the best films around. (see Dor, Iqbal, Hyderabad Blues, Teen Dewarein.)

Akshay has had quite the week, receiving the Padma Shri (a high indian honor for contribution to India), and then being charged with obscenity for this. That's his wife Twinkle undoing the button. Keep in mind this was for the Levis Unbuttoned campaign and all the models undid their top buttons. I suspect this Bollywood "obscenity" case will be laughed out of court as they always are.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Nadaan: Naach Aye Dil

This is the incomparable Helen. In addition to dancing in over 500 movies, she was also the subject of a Merchant-Ivory documentary Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls. This one is for the pink chaddi girls.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The "Amar-Akbar-Anthony* of Indian Music

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, a Hindu, a Muslim and a Christian, are behind some of the best soundtracks in Hindi cinema*. They did this, and this, and also this song from the Hindi version of High School Musical. They also did this, this, and they wrote this anthem for India.

And more.

Amar Akbar Anthony.

* Hindi cinema is what is known as Bollywood. People who work in it prefer the term Hindi cinema, but when I call in that when talking with Gora (white) people in the west, they're puzzled until I explain, 'Bollywood." Ah.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Luck By Chance: Baware

This looks much better on the big screen, but this will give you a taste of Hrithik Roshan's big song in Luck By Chance, a gentle satire on the Hindi film industry (more popularly known as Bollywood). Lots of cameos in this.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Luck By Chance

Luck by Chance, Zoya Akhtar's directorial debut, has opened in the US (at the same time as in India) and the reviews from mainstream American critics are great. The movie stars Akhtar's brother (also a director) Farhan Akhtar, Konkona Sensharma, Rishi Kapoor, Sanjay Kapoor and has a host of Hindi film stars appearing in smaller parts, including Dimple Kapadia, Juhi Chawla and Hrithik Roshan.

Zoya and Farhan Akhtar are the children of Javed Akhtar, a renowned poet and lyricist, and Honey Irani, a renowned screenwriter, and the stepchildren of Hindi film great Shabana Azmi.

Baby Halder: A Life Less Ordinary

I stumbled upon this book two years ago at the Jaipur festival. It's the autobiography of Baby Halder, a poor women who became a literary sensation.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Taare Zameen Par: Trailer 2

I underestimated Aamir Khan. I knew he was a talented actor (India's Johnny Depp verging on India's Brando, to put it in E!nglish terms). But when I heard he was directing a movie, I thought, "Another actor who thinks he can direct. Ha." But his movie, Taare Zameen Par, made a fool of me. It's fresh, innovative and intelligent.

Kailash Kher: Dilruba

Kailash Kher. Evocative song, video sucks. Best enjoyed with your eyes closed.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Some of India's Real Slumdwellers

Slumdog Millionaire gets the DGA award. For a movie about the tenacity of hope, it's poetic justice. So what if Boyle and Beaufoy are British. Art knows no borders, right? Anyway, Boyle's family is Irish I think, so he gets a pass on the whole empire thing.

SM seems to be accomplishing what all great art should, inducing us to look at ourselves and those around us in a fresh way. Hope is palpable in rising India. Vikas Swarup, who wrote Q and A, the book the movie is based on, discerned and expressed that with humanity, and it was vividly brought to life by Boyle and his cast and crew.

Swarup got it exactly right: The Indian slums teem with geniuses.

Inspired by Millionaire, Rediff, an Indian news service, profiled some slum kids:

The Car Washer Who Wants to Play for India.

The guy makes 1000 rupees a month (about 25 US dollars) and puts half of it towards cricket training.

Does it sound ludicrous?

Ten Paise per shoe.

It is now the kind of India where these dreams can come true in multitudes. Millionaire captures that India perfectly. My ex-boyfriend, a handsome Rajput man who funds and runs schools for poor kids, can speak volumes on this subject.

The girls below, Kajol and Pooja (L-R), live with their mother in a lean-to outside Newmarket in Kolkata. They go to a free school, and after school they change from their crisp uniforms into beggar clothes. Their father is dead. Kajol, the older sister speaks Bengali and Hindi, and understands English but is too shy to speak it. Pooja speaks English superbly, in addition to Bengali and Hindi. She's very animated, clever, and cute, could easily be an actress, but plans to grow up to be the prime minister of India so she can help the poor. (This earnestness and sincerity runs like a river through India.) I hired them to show me around Newmarket and got a tour that blew all the guidebooks away.

Kajol and Pooja

And finally, this is Father Paul, the coolest priest in India. He, Brother Charles, a dozen teachers and a half dozen German volunteers, run the Gandhi Ashram school in Kalimpong.

Father Paul

The school uses violins to help kids embrace education, It was started by a Canadian, Thomas Edward "Ed" McGuire, who passed away in 2005. He was a very funny guy, a philosopher, and a student of other religions. He never preached his own. Watch this and weep when Kushmita plays. She is now at a prestigious German conservatory on scholarship.

If you want to give to the Gandhi Ashram school, there is a donation link here.

A very good NGO that works with poor kids in Mumbai is Atma Mumbai

In Jaipur, The Alternative Development Centre.

(Click on photos for larger versions.)

Deewar: Amitabh Bachchan

Something for you fight fans... Amitabh Bachchan mops the floor with a bunch of goonda(s) in this 1975 blockbuster. Thanks to Bollywood Food Club, link on the left under Choice Bits.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Delhi 6: Masakalli Promo

Starring Abhishek Bachchan (son of actors Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri) and Sonam Kapoor (daughter of Anil Kapoor of Slumdog Millionaire and Bollywood). Music by AR Rahman, also of Slumdog.

Do you think they sewed that dove to her head?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Young Jamal at the Taj Loves Majid Majidi

This young actor who played young Jamal at the Taj in Slumdog Millionaire is one of the reasons I can't help but believe in reincarnation. The video is by his favorite director, Iranian Majid Majidi, who made this for the Beijing Olympics.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hare Rama Hare Krishna: Dum Maro Dum

Dev Anand tries to save his sister Zeenat Aman after she falls in with drug-addicted hippies. Also starring a cast of gora hippies raked off the beaches of Goa and/or shaken from the hostels of Kathmandu. Thanks to Little White Lies for this and Typewriter Tip etc. Singer: Asha Bhosle. A longer version here.

(Dum Maro Dum, roughly translated, means 'Take another toke.')

Bombay Talkie: Typewriter tip, tip, tip

Here's one for the writers (the ones who remember typewriters in any event). Here, Shashi Kapoor and Helen, the "Queen of the Nautch Girls." From Bombay Talkie, a Merchant-Ivory film.

Friday, January 23, 2009

CID: Aye Dil Hain

Mumbai, circa 1956. Johnny Walker sings: Bombay Meri Jaan. Click on it twice to bring up the Youtube page.

"The Empire has been finally, overwhelmingly trounced."

Ten Oscar Nominations for Slumdog, including three for the magician A.R. Rahman, and good reviews in the Indian press for the movie, opening in India today.

"The Empire has been finally, overwhelmingly trounced."

Cultural imperialism is dead, long live cultural free trade.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega: Socho Kya Karogi

That's Saif Ali Khan and Sonali Bendre. Saif's a sort of prince in real life as his father is the Nawab of Pataudi (as well as a renowned cricketer back in the day). This makes him the Chhote Nawab. His mother is Bollywood actress Sharmila Tagore who sits on Indian's film review board.

Race: Khwab Dekhe

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jab We Met: Nagada Nagada

Hit romantic comedy from 2008, starring Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor, a real-life couple when they made this film.

Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham: Bole Chudiyan

This Karan Johar film stars a highly beloved film duo, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, along with Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor, and supernovas Amitabh Bachchan and his wife Jaya Bhaduri.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rock On: Pichle Saat Dinon Mein

Director Farhan Akhtar makes his acting debut in this sleeper hit from 2008. Also stars Arjun Rampal.

Some real-life Indian rock, via the Keralite band Avial:

A Bit O' Shashi Kapoor

... and is that...Sharmila being so coy?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Shree 420: Ichak Dana Beechak Dana

I'm heavily into Dilip Kumar, Nargis and the Kapoor brothers these days. This clip from Shree 420 features Nargis singing, and Raj Kapoor admiring.

The President is Coming - Trailer

Luck By Chance Trailer

Yeah, can't wait to see this. Hrithik, Konkona, Farhan, Juhi, Dimple etc. etc. Lots of star power in this story about breaking into Bollywood (in a nutshell).

Namastey London: Title Song

This movie puts a whole new spin on the old trope of arranged marriage versus love match. It's a charming love story, and about tradition versus modernity, and India meeting the world on its own terms. I love it on so many levels. Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar positively sparkle in this film.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Babul: Milte Hi AAankhein Dil Hua Deewana Kisi Ka

This classic stars film greats Dilip Kumar and Nargis, as well as Munawar Sultana, seen here with Dilip.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Chandni Chowk To China Trailer

January looks to be a very good month for new releases. This one stars Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Mithun Chakraborty, and Ranvir Shorey. It's the story of an Indian cook who becomes an action hero in China and it looks to be the latest in a string of big hits for Akshay "Akki" Kumar, who, incidentally, is married to a girl named Twinkle (the daughter of Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia). He has another big film coming up, Khambakht Ishq, about an Indian stunt man in Hollywood, and it features an appearance by Sylvester Stallone.

(Contrary to what the promo states, Chandni Chowk to China releases January 16th, 2009.)

Delhi 6 / Dilli 6 Theatrical Trailer

Coming soon, and starring Abhishek Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor.

Slumdog Millionaire Film Clip - The Boys On A Train

Slumdog Millionaire: JAI HO

Saawariya: Title song

Love this.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sholay: Yeh Dosti -

Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini (the future Mrs. Dharmendra Deol) and Jaya Bhaduri (the future Mrs. Bachchan) star in this 70s megahit about two devilish, low-grade criminals recruited to bring down a truly evil villain.

Billu Barber - Theatrical Trailer

Irrfan Khan and Shah Rukh Khan together. Choreography by Farah Khan. I can't wait.

Devdas: Dola Re Dola

Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Netflix listing here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Vande Mataram - Maa Tujhe Salaam (A.R.Rahman)

A.R. Rahman's re-envisioning of the Indian National Anthem. Rahman is not only India's leading composer, he is a rock star, and sells as many records worldwide as peoplelike Madonna and the Rolling Stones.