Money Hai Toh Honey Hai

money%20hai%20poster%202 Money Hai Toh Honey Hai

Too long, too slow.   Disappointing.

See it or  skip it

If you’re a diehard Govinda  or Ganesh  Acharya fan, ok.   Others,    walk on by.


Being Santosh Sivan

Santosh%20purple%202 Being Santosh Sivan  

This is a story that  I did that ran in the June 20, 2008 issue of India Abroad.  

“I’m from Kerala, I live in Chennai and work in Bombay, also a bit in London, and I often come to the United States, but I am basically a backwater boy from Kerala.”  

Given how Santosh Sivan described himself recently in a phone interview from Los Angeles, it is not surprising that a man so at home in so many different places is equally comfortable slipping between the role of director and cinematographer.

In the years after graduating from the prestigious Film and Television Institute in Pune, he first made a name for himself with his work as lensman on films like Dalapathi, Roja, Iruvar, Dil Se, all helmed by Mani Rathnam, and then stepped out to direct Halo, Malli, The Terrorist and the sprawling historical epic Asoka.

On the Los Angeles leg of his trip, he met, among others, legendary stage and screen actor John Malkovich, a fan of the Indian lensman’s work dating back to The Terrorist.   Malkovich made Sivan an offer Hollywood A-listers would have found hard to refuse:   to direct the big-screen version of Nobel Prize-winning author J M Coetzee’s 1980 masterpiece Waiting for the Barbarians, a book that thematically plays into these troubled times and that the cognoscenti regard as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.

Before the Rains, Sivan’s first English-language endeavor (it also contains some Malayalam dialogue), is set in his native Kerala in the late 1930s.   It stars British actor (and Indophile) Linus Roache as a landowner who has gambled all he’s got to have a large road built prior to the start of the monsoons, so he can send out truckloads of spices.   Roache’s character, Moores, whose wife and child are back in the UK, has also gotten himself into a risky relationship with his married housemaid, Sajani, played by Nandita Das.   The third, and pivotal, person in the film’s story is Rahul Bose as T.K., Moores’ intelligent and loyal foreman, who is very fond of his British boss, but is also feeling the tug of the growing Independence movement growing around him.

The quartet of Sivan, Roche, Das and Bose gathered on the red carpet in Tribeca, and also participated in a press day in Manhattan, topped off by a reception at the Indian consulate, where the group, also accompanied by Jennifer Ehle, who plays Linus Roche’s wife in the film, answered questions from a mix of Indian and non-Indian journalists.

The film had an initial opening in New York and Los Angeles on May before gradually opening wider.   Sivan also took time out during his visits to the two US cultural capitals – and a side trip to present his film at Pittsburgh’s Silk Screen Festival – to discuss his larger body of work with India Abroad.

[Read more...]

Kooking with Kamna

1942%20poster Kooking with Kamna  

Sorry, sorry, still feeling the after effects of Kismat Konnection……

Here’s an interesting blogpost that I stumbled across about a week ago…… in it, Janet Miller, a woman out in California, tells about a recent cooking experience with Kamna Chandra, the Hindi movie screenwriter who scripted 1942: A Love Story, among others.   Mrs. C  is likely visiting her new granddaughter,  Leela Sydney Chandra, the daughter of bi-continental novelists Melanie Abrams and Vikram Chandra, and I gather from her post that Janet and Melanie are friends.  

Janet and Mrs. Chandra got to talking in the kitchen while the latter prepared aloo mutter and also narrated a script she was working on.  

 In the post, Janet also talks about experiencing her first Hindi movie: Kal Ho Na Ho.   It’s always interesting to read first-time viewers reactions…

And here is the recipe.

No Kemistry, Not Even Kute

Kismat%20Konnection%20poster%202 No Kemistry, Not Even Kute

Kismat Konnection, a Red Chilies venture  directed by Aziz Mirza, which opened this Friday, is  a big disappointment.  

I wanted to like it, I really did.   I’ve enjoyed Vidya Balan since her debut in Parineeta, and, now that Shahid Kapoor has gotten a little older, I no longer feel guilty for even contemplating ogling him  (he looked so young before, I felt as though the  federal government would burst in, seize my laptop and  put me on some sort of list for improper thoughts towards a minor), so I had every expectation that this might be a fun film.

Sadly, it’s not.   The most exciting moment comes early on as we see a late-for-a-meeting Raj Malhotra (Shahid) shirtless and soapy in the shower just as the water cuts off.   It was all pretty blah after that.   The vanishing water  is the start of another day of bad luck for Raj, something that is tormenting him since having been voted most likely to succeed in university.   He’s a struggling architect trying to get that first big job in Toronto, where the film is shot.

He meets Aditi  Priya  (Vidya) in several unpleasant encounters, before he realizes, with the help of a TV clairvoyant (Juhi Chawla as a trippy, dippy seer) that  Priya is his good luck charm and he must do all he can to keep her close.   Yes, of course, they fall in love and there are obstacles (mall development versus the demolition of a community center, Priya’s engaged to someone else), etc etc.   But being predictable or having a formulaic story here is not the problem.  

Rather, the film is airless and stale.   There’s zero spark or chemistry between Vidya and Shahid, though they look cute individually, she looks much more mature than her co-star, and he still has that toothy boyish charm, though, as we see in the shower scene, he’s also been working out a lot, but  they’re just not terribly believable as a couple.

The music, well, really just the first and last songs, are ok, but the picturizations are awful.   The costumes look like they were made from fabrics bought at a 99-cent store and unlike, say, the Mast Kalander sequence from Heyy Babyy, there’s too many badly coordinated colors all running amok as the dancers go through their ho-hum paces, and the lighting is odd in those scenes too.   Note also that Shahid (an accomplished dancer) does all the hoofing, while Vidya’s work consists mainly of posing for the camera.

Om Puri plays Mr. Gill, the head of a big firm Raj wants to work with, but this is obviously one of those roles OP takes so that he can afford to do smaller, arty roles in less mainstream films, like his part in Maqbool.

See it or skip it?

Skip it, unless you’re a really big fan of either of the two co-stars.

If you’re in NYC….

americathe%20poster If youre in NYC....  

…get ready for  a terrific documentary opening here on August 1: America the Beautiful.

More about it in a little while, but I’d strongly urge anyone interested in media, magazines, celebrity or fashion to check it out.

They’re back!

paybill train Theyre back!  

A while back I lamented the fact that the suits at NDTV decided to cut off the Indian ads when they beam the signal for NDTV 24/7 to those of us living off the Subcontinent.

Instead, they subjected us to loop after loop after loop of the same, same, same, same clips of their various reporters.   If I wanted to get my fix of Indian TV ads, I had to turn to MTV India, but it still felt like something was missing.

Well this morning, all of a sudden I noticed from the kitchen that I heard Madhavan and Vidya Balan discussing if they’d turned off the light before they left, and  just as the moment my head  snapped around to see the TV screen, it hit me:   the ads were back on NDTV and this was one in the popular Airtel series of the couple!

In addition to Airtel’s services, other products being promoted now are Garnier hair dye for men, motorbikes, low cholesterol food, and some kind of home repair material.  

If you want to see Vidya and Maddie’s adverts, click here.