Friday, June 23, 2006

Wham! Bam! Thank You...

My previous post - a review of the disastrous Fanaa - gave me an idea for this post: well-known lovemaking scenes from Indian cinema. As I'd mentioned in the previous post, for a country that is obsessed with sex (I mean, we make such a big deal out of it - bans, fatwas, lawsuits and what-not. And then, of course, we have the small matter of our population) we are curiously squeamish about depicting lovemaking scenes in our movies - surrogates like two flowers touching each other, two horses (one black and the other white at that; I have always wondered what the colors signified) galloping, two butterflies tittering over a flower, two birds perched on a branch, a spilt pot of milk (for chrissakes, I mean) - the list is endless!

This post lists down the few actual lovemaking scenes that come to mind. Please do note that this list is not in any particular order - titillation-value, aesthetic-sense etc - I am just writing them down as and when they come to mind. You are welcome to contribute!

a. Kamal Hassan and Rani Mukherjee in 'Hey Ram':

One has to admit, Kamal Hassan is one lucky bastard. Wielding the directorial helm, Kamal does a fair imitation of a dog with a bone - he paws poor Rani, slobbers all over her face, and even bites her butt. However, when it comes to the actual scene, Kamal goes back to the old bedsheet-covered demure Indian woman cliche.

b. Mallika Sherawat in 'Murder'

Oh-man. This truly showed us 'what lies beneath' alright! Mallika's ample 'screen-presence' reduced even Emraan Hansini, the serial kisser of our times, to a mere spectator on the sidelines. i suspect even a suggestion of a bedsheet would have been pooh-poohed at by Mallika.

c. Rahul Khanna and Nandita Das in '1947: Earth'

Rather elegantly picturized, this one. The good-looking Rahul and the dusky Nandita sizzle in the background as the villain of the piece, Aamir, shows us the turmoil in his mind.

d. Kamal Hassan and Vasundhara Das in 'Hey Ram'

Hey, our man ain't done yet! After Rani is bumped off, Kamal 'discovers' Vasundhara, a demure yet intelligent Brahmin lass. Kamal is unnaturally controlled in the first few frames. However, after some bhang, Kamal unleashes himself on an unsuspecting Vasundhara; natural order is restored.

e. Anil Kapoor and Dimple in 'Janbaaz'

Feroz Khan's Janbaaz features a love-making scene shot with the hero and heroine romping around in hay, probably to camouflage the hairy Anil Kapoor. Remember, this was the shot that prompted Dimple to label Kapoor a barber's delight, probably in jealousy of him usurping her own 'crowing glory' tag.

f. Vinod Khanna and Madhuri Dixit in 'Dayavaan'

Feroz Khan directs this one as well. Or rather, mis-directs it, considering that he flicked almost every scene of the Mani Ratnam-Kamal Hassan classic 'Nayakan', and yet produced such excreable stuff. Featuring a teenaged Madhuri (and a teenaged Ramya Krishnan as well), this movie is still remembered only because of this love-making scene. Vinod Khanna exhibited a marked enthusiasm for the scene, that was noticeably lacking in several other scenes. Well, I guess one can't really blame him!

g. Manisha Koirala and some kid in 'Tum'

One of the most horribly picturized love-making scenes ever, in most probability. Manisha sprawls uninvitingly on a bed, looking more like a blue-whale trapped in a net and less like a desirable woman with every passing second. The poor kid, trying hard to simulate some semblance of passion, struts his stuff while Adnan Sami sings some nonsensical song in the background. Truly tragic, this, especially when one remembers the likes of '1942...' and 'Khamoshi'.

h. Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor in 'Parinda'

Loudmouth though he is, Vidhu Vinod Chopra is one of the more sensible directors around. 'Parinda' features an elegantly shot love-making scene, with Anil Kapoor thankfully not showing much of his hairy self. The scene interperses with shots of a manic Nana Patekar (in a brilliant performance)furiously in search of them, and the suspense is built up skilfully.

i. Mallu love-making scenes - featuring Shakeela, Maria, Reshma and others of ther ilk

Now, these are genuinely funny, and form an entirely different category by themsleves. Most of these women are 40+, and look it too. Plus, they are all massive. For instance, the last emotion one would feel upon the sight of Shakeela on a bed would be lust (except in the case of a male hippopotamus, perhaps!); she is absolutely gigantic. The others are not much better either. And as for the actual scenes, they are so ludicrous that one can't help laughing out aloud. I will not attempt to describe them here, they are absolutely beyond words!

P.S: I think Kamal Hassan should form an entirely different category by himself too. I mean, hey, just count for yourselves: Hey Ram, Nayakan, Chachi 420, Virumandi, and still counting) but I'm a big fan of his movies, and hence I shall desist.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Fim Review: Fanaa

What does one say of a director who manages a casting coup of sorts (Aamir Khan and Kajol are, arguably, Hindi cinema's best leading actors at the moment), and yet screws it all up by making a shoddy excuse of a movie? Kunal Kohli, who after torturing us with the disastrous 'Mujhse Dosti Karoge' - yeah, sadly I watched that too - opted to play safe by doing a desi version of 'When Harry Met Sally' (i.e. 'Hum Tum') minus the fabulous orgasm-scene, botches it up yet again. Everybody knows the story by now, I guess; for those who don't, its a dumbed-down, badly directed version of 'Dil Se'. Anyway, the movie is so sick I just had to write about it, so here goes:

An chinky-looking tourist guide (Aamir Khan, with more wrinkles than Jackie Chan) tries hard to woo the visiting Kashmiri lass (Kajol). IMO, one of the few intelligent things about the screenplay was making the girl blind; its sorta hard to imagine anybody else falling head-over-heels in love with this particular sicko shayari-spouting guide. To cut things short (and avoid umpteen shayari-bantering scenes), he flirts, she responds, he backs off, she becomes horny, they make love and lo - the inevitable happens: the babe-in-the-woods is now pregnant.

Now, Kajol does try to call her parents for advice before hopping into bed for what would be her first desi love-making scene (you know, the kind where the people making love are all cosily wrapped up inside satin bedsheets so that only their shoulders are visible, and the enthusiastic actors try to comepensate & enliven the procedure by furiously necking) on screen. Her mom Kiron Kher hogs the call, not allowing poor li'l fat daddy Rishi to talk to darling horny beti. Now, I am sure he wanted to talk about safe sex to his horny daughter, but because Kiron did not give the phone to him, Kajol did never realize the vritues of safe sex, and she became pregnant. Public Message 1: So all ya Kashmiri gals visiting Delhi, make sure you listen to your respective dads!

Well, getting back to the story (hic!), Aamir now takes Kajol to a bald doctor speaking in some strange wacko accent, who provides what seems to be Public Message 2: keep visiting your doctors, as medical science is progressing by leaps and bounds, and anything may be possible tommorow. Of course, the hefty consultation fees are but a minor incovenience. I bet the director's dad was a bankrupt doctor or something - any takers for this theory? But I digress: after delivering the public message, the bald doc promises a sucessful 'retinal transplant' and wheels off poor Kajol to what is presumably the OR. When she wakes up, hey presto: she can see! But by this time Aamir is AWOL, and presumably dead (Kajol acts well in this scene). But then comes the proverbial twist in the tale: Aamir is very much alive, and is in fact a dreaded international terrorist (a much trimmer and better-looking terrorist at that), who happened to fall in lust (sorry, love) with the blind Kashmiri lass. And then there's poor Tabu, a hotshot member of some obscure (well, given that the only other hotshot member seems to be Sharad Saxena, I bet it has to be pretty obscure) anti-terrorist squad - she must have been in need of some desperate money to have even given a moment's thought at this role.

The post-interval events are, in comparison, more entertaining; cliched and hackneyed though they may be. The terrorist organization now (that is, after 7 years) has a nuclear bomb, and Aamir has infiltrated a militray base to get his hands on the last piece (the 'trigger'). But then, Tabu's hot on his heels, and after a Bond-like chase sequence Aamir is injured badly enough to take shelter in a house (who else, but Kajol's). But of course, Kajol doesn't recognize Aamir (she was blind then, duh!). Possibilties of yet another love-making scene, where Kajol would recognize Aamir by the 'feel' of him, did cross my mind; but the director resorts instead to the antakshari phenomenon for the oh-my-gawd-its-him scene (I thought shayari would have been more appropriate, considering all that speil in the first half, but never mind!). Aamir and Kajol manage to make this stupid scene work, and that's quite a herculean task, believe me. Oh, and before I forget, there's the mandatory cute-as-a-button kid as well: the result of Kajol not listening to her 'experienced' dad. Rishi, I suspect, probably did the movie for all the free Scotch whiskies he was seen gulping throughout the movie.

The logical (a misnomer if there ever was one, I know) culmination follows: Aamir recuperates and even bathes the child (this is not the damn climax, ok!). But then Tabu (yeah, she was thinking all this time) has the bright idea of sending out televised warnings about a diminutive but dangerous man, and Rishi & Kajol get the picture. So Aamir bumps off Rishi, and Kajol bumps off Aamir. From a flying helicopter, Tabu shoots down the head of the terrorists, who is in yet another helicopter enough! Whew !!!

The sad part is that despite the hackneyed plot, the screenplay does have its moments (especially in the post-interval portions). For instance, Tabu argues briefly about a referendum on Kashmir, a topic hitherto left unexplored in cinema. There is also a subtle undercurrent of animosity between Tabu and her colleague, which remains unexplained and unexplored until the end (compare this to how well the relationship between the characters of Aamir and Mukesh Rishi was conveyed in 'Sarfarosh'). In the climax (clearly 'inspired' from Ken Follet's 'Eye of the Needle'), Aamir displays a fanatic steeliness to his character that could have made for cinema in the hands of a competent director.

Kajol, appearing on screen after a brief hiatus, is effective. Her character is essentially a repeal of her meek, obedient, docile sister-act in 'Dushman' and 'Kuch Khatti, Kuch Meethi' (yeah, I know, I am entirely jobless!). Oh, she's Kashmiri, so she dutifully throws in an 'abbu' and 'ammi' every few sentences - must be due to all the hard work that Kunal Kohli put in researching the Kashmir ethos, you know. Still, Kajol looks as radiant as ever, and her sheer presence is infectious. She plays a large role in salvaging this crappy movie.

Aamir Khan, whose new-year resolution seems to be to become this generation's Manoj Kumar (there's Sunny Deol in the fray too, but that's another story), plays the terorist, who is also supposed to be a master-of-disguises. Well, his first disguise was certainly very effective; in the pre-interval portions Aamir looks OLD and sorta plump as well. However, in the second half of the movie he looks as young and active as ever. On the emoting front, he is competent; however the absence of a strong screenplay jars.

Tabu is convincing. Rishi looks the part. Kiron Kher is fast becoming the female Alok Nath, which would be a shame given her considerable talent. Sathish Shah and Shiney Ahuja appear have miniscule screen time, and are roped in for the sole purpose of illustrating how ruthless Aamir is.

Verdict: Give this one a miss!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Why do they call it 'Rush Hour' when nothing moves?

That's a Robin Williams quote, if I am right. Quite true, though - 'rush hour' is quite the misnomer, if there ever was one. Here, I narrate a couple of my experiences over the last month:

Chennai: Mon to Fri
Now, I work on the 'IT Corridor' in Chennai; yeah, the same general area where the proposed six-lane highway is going to come up by the end of the year (optimistic, aren't they!). Irrespective of lanes and highways, I hope they think of repairing the roads sometime before the end of this decade. Riding a bike on OMR (Old Mahabalipuram Road) would be easier if you have ever played a bike-racing game; the potholes, traffic and terrible driving sense would make this a truly memorable experience.

Now, there is this particular junction called SRP Tools on this road; a month ago, the traffic jams here looked like the release of a Rajnikanth movie. Honking, screaming cars with their bonnets angled in every possible direction; hapless two-wheelers trapped between the maze of cars with no way out, with their drivers' eyes darting left and right through the helmets, looking for the slightest opening; far-sighted (literally!!) two-wheelers giving this whole chakravyuha a wide berth, encroaching upon the oncoming vehicles in a desperate bid to reach the other side; abuses hurled galore - we had it all. Of course, needless to add, there is no traffic signal here! Most importantly, not one driver had the simple courtesy of giving way; everybody was bent on inching forward centimeter by centimeter, at the same time. A deadlock that would have had even Dijkstra tearing out his hair in frustration, I am afraid.

From the beginning of this month, I was pleasantly suprised to find able policement patrolling this junction to make sure that such hopeless traffic-jams do not occur. Things are much better than they were before, although the roads are still horrible and people still have horrible driving-sense. The cops have their job truly cut out, and they are doing some fine work in this highly congested area. A big thanks to them, and to the administration for acting in time.

Mumbai: A Weekend last month
I was in Mumbai for my aunt's 25th wedding anniversary celebrations, and the stifling heat as well as the overpowering dust put me off immediately. Trust me, Chennai and Bangalore seem nowhere as hot and dusty as Mumbai was (that particular weekend, at least!). Needless to say, I don't plan to return anytime soon.

But during the way back to the Mumbai airport, I had a whiff of what everybody talks about: the indomitable Mumbai 'spirit'. The roads were hopelessly jammed, with all kinds of vehicles blocking each other. And not a policeman in sight, to boot; I was resigned to the fact that I'd miss my flight (even accounting for the hopeless ineptitude of the Mumbai airport, but that is another story altogether!). But then, I'd not bargained for the resilience of some citizens (a Marwari, another guy who looked like a chauffeur, and a couple of others) who came out of their vehicles and forced the jammed vehicles to back off - one by one, inch by inch. Cajoling a lady on a scooty, berating a truck-driver who tried to inch forward while everybody else was backing off, exchanging good-natured banter with the auto and taxi-wallahs - they did all this and more with an easy familarity.

The junction (with no traffic signal, of course) was finally cleared, and the volunteers (for want of a better word) stayed at the junction to ensure that all the vehicles cleared that junction smoothly. This is something I have seen in no other Indian city before, and I have been to many cities in South India. Indeed, if somebody tried the likes of this in Kerala, he'd have probably got hit for trying to act too smart (and there'd have been a Communist bandh as well as a Congress bandth too). I was really, really impressed (and needless to add, thankful for saving me my 5000 bucks!).

As Govinda would put it, it happens only in India :).