My youngest son Ben is home for the summer from college. He agreed to watch an action movie with me, and of the films I described, he picked Shahrukh Khan’s Don. This was his first Shahrukh Khan film, although he has certainly walked through the room as I’ve watched, and rewatched SRK’s many films. Ben has only seen a handful of Indian films – the Babhubali films, Student of the Year and Dabangg 1 and 3.
Mullum Malarum Review
Streaming service Simply South has a #ThrowbackThursday series, and they re-released the classic Rajinikanth 1978 film Mullum Malaram (The Thorn & the Flower) in a crisp newly mastered print with new subtitles by rekhs. It was glorious! I loved seeing Rajinikanth the master actor, without all the gestures and schtick. Some of these old films are on Youtube, but frequently the songs are not subbed. I could fully appreciate the beauty of the poetry of the lyrics with rekhs’s new subtitles.
Do check out this classic on Simply South.
Melanie on Splitscreen Podcast with Shah!
Shah Shahid invited me as his guest on his Splitscreen Podcast where we talked about Bollywood news and upcoming films. It was a wonderful conversation! We talked about the Sanju trailer, and Veere Di Wedding. I also introduced a few Regional film trailers to Shah, including Ranam Detroit Crossing, Mahanati and Naa Peru Surya.
Sanju Trailer Reaction – It’s Amazing!
I just watched the teaser trailer for Sanju, and my mouth is hanging open in amazement.
Rajkumar Hirani is the same director who made Munna Bhai MBBS and also blockbusters like PK and 3 Idiots. This trailer is simply genius, and I love how Ranbir breaks the fourth wall and talks right to the audience.
I am blown away by the makeup and how Ranbir carries himself just like Sanjay. We have 2 months to wait, until June 29th.
Here’s the trailer so you can see for yourself just how well Ranbir Kapoor pulls it off:
Pardesi in The Hindu newspaper!
Suchin Mehrotra contacted me as he was writing an article about Non-Desi promoters of Bollywood who live outside of India. It was published in The Hindu!
Chicago-based Melanie Greenberg looks to do just that through her YouTube channel, Pardesi, where she reviews the latest releases in Hindi, Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam cinema.
Her love was sparked three years ago when she chanced upon Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge on Netflix. She was smitten by Shah Rukh Khan and never looked back.
Her more formal induction into the world of Indian cinema was aided by bloggers Kathy Gibson of accessbollywood.net and Margaret Redlich, who runs dontcallitbollywood.com. Apart from reviewing films, accessbollywood. net maintains an up-to-date list of the Bollywood films available on Netflix and Amazon in the U.S. while dontcallitbollywood.com devotes a page to ‘Starter Kits for Indian Film’ with posts on everything from regional films to top stars and a history of the industry.
Redlich has also written a book Don’t Call It Bollywood – An Introduction to the Hindi Film Universe to tell the uninitiated that Bollywood is about more than “flashy dance sequences and unbelievable plots.”
Glad my pals Margaret of DontCallItBollywood.com and Kathy of AccessBollywood.net get shoutouts — and even pictures!
Check out the full article here.
Padmaavat – Movie Review – It finally released!
The day finally arrived! Padmaavat finally was released, despite rioting, threats against the stars and physical assault of the director. I saw it in 3D which wasn’t really needed, but was my only option. It’s not the best Bhansali film ever, but it’s Bhansali so you have to see it on the big screen at least once. And I feel compelled to probably see it again, because I’m so worked up about that school bus being attacked by rioters in India over this film.
The controversy over the film even reached national news here in the US. I heard a five minute segment on the movie’s release, and the violence surrounding it on NPR this afternoon.
The above is an over 16 minute video review of the film, but I try not to give any spoilers (but we all know how it ends anyway.)
As Bhansali films go — it is average. It’s not my favorite, and besides the Ghoomar song, the music is not as memorable as Bajirao Mastani. But I’m there for the costumes, the colors and the sets, and they are GORGEOUS on the big screen. My local theater only has the film in 3D so you get to see those saris swirl out at you, gold threads shining. Shahid’s abs I could write an entire sonnet about — he has never looked better on screen!
The costumes were just even more stunning on a big screen. The attention to detail in the jewelry, the saris, and the outfits that Shahid wore (and Ranveer) is just stunning.
Here’s a video about the design of the jewelry!
It was worth the cost of the ticket just to see the whole spectacle of the film, but it’s slow paced. The run time is 2 hours 45 minutes, and believe me, at least a half hour could be easily cut. The film feels flat and staid. Anupama Chopra said the film lacked heart in her video review. I also didn’t feel tension in the final moments. We know what’s going to happen, but I’ve seen other films (like Neerja) where even though I know what’s going to happen I’m on the edge of my seat. I just didn’t feel that.
Speaking of Neerja, the great Jim Sarbh has a much bigger role as Ranveer’s slave in the film than I had imagined. He actually has an entire song he sings to Ranveer! I don’t like that his whole role is to prove that Alueddin is obviously evil because he’s bisexual, but Sarbh gives his role his all. It was just a pleasant surprise how much screen time he had.
Aditi Rao Hyari who I last saw in Mani Ratnam’s Kaatru Velliyidai, was very good as Ranveer’s wife in the film.
Ranveer is the stand out performance of the film. He really chews the scenery as the Muslim conquerer villain. I hated though, that Bhansali had him almost always with a dirty face, and black clothing.
In contrast, Shahid was shown in white and pale colors, often in a pure linen shirt ( that did blessedly still show his abs through the loose weave — I love you costume designer!!)
Shahid did well as the proud arrogant Rajput king. Deepika was absolutely luminous as Padmavati. I absolutely loved her introduction scene, hunting with a bow and arrow like Katniss Everdeen in the forest. How she meets Shahid the king was awesome. She is shown to be smarter than Shahid’s king, like a chess player that can see three moves ahead, so kudos to Bhansali for that.
The film just didn’t live up to my very heightened expectations. I just have greater expectations for the over the top films that Bhansali makes. The music wasn’t as notable as other films, besides the Ghoomar number which is amazing! – and I can’t help but wonder if he held back on story elements or cut certain things from the script that would have made a livelier film, but restrained himself due to the controversy. Even though there was a disclaimer before the film saying they don’t endorse sati — the way Bhansali filmed the last moments rather did do just that, and I don’t like that message.
I’m so worked up about the school bus being attacked in a riot about this film, that even though it’s average, I will see it multiple times just as my own personal protest. It’s overlong and slow, but it’s Bhansali. You have to see it on the big screen at least once.
Tiger Zinda Hai – Trailer reaction and first song!
I’m so looking forward to Salman Khan’s big Christmas release where he reteams with Katrina Kaif in the sequel Tiger Zinda Hai. This uses the same real life story as the Malayalam film Take Off (which i still need to see.)
This first song from the film is perfect for Salman, and Katrina gets to show off her moves. The video was filmed on a Greek Island that is just stunningly gorgeous! I’ve ben to Santorini, and the islands are really that jaw droppingly beautiful in person.
Pardesi AMA – Ask Me Anything!
This is long, but I had many, many questions on my Pardesi Youtube channel and on Twitter. In the video description, there is an index so you can skip ahead to questions that interest you. I expand on my introduction video, and tell more about the story of how I fell in love with Indian cinema. I discuss my favorite directors in the Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil cinema industries.
Padmavati Trailer Released!
At first I was just unabashedly excited about this trailer. A new Bhansali film is an event. I didn’t know the historical back story in full. I didn’t know the tragic ending — should have guessed Bhansali would pick a story with a tragic ending.
Then I read Margaret’s reaction to the trailer, and I saw just how demonic and crazed they are making the Muslim king played by Ranveer. This film could have been told in a very different way than what this trailer shows us. I’m very conflicted now. I can’t miss the problems now that she’s pointed out the issues. I said Ranveer looks like Rasputin. And that’s on purpose.
Judwaa 2 – A few things should have updated in 20 years
I really wanted to like Judwaa 2. I had a blast watching the first Judwaa earlier in the week, starring Salman Khan and Karishma Kapoor. While Varun Dhawan gave 1000 percent to the double role, I just didn’t find it as funny. Jackie Fernandez wasn’t given as much to do as Karishma. Both she and Taapsee were treated like bimbos.
It was depressing to watch a scene of Varun smacking Jackie’s behind in a store. Really? You’re going for that same joke 20 years later? And Taapsee gets kissed to the point she cries. Again. NOT FUNNY.
So much could have been done with this twin story. It needed a better script. One set in the 21st century.