Laaga Chunari Mein Daag – There’s nothing like a good cry

screen-shot-2012-02-02-at-10-53-07-pm-1Laaga Chunari Mein Daag [My Veil is Stained] is an old fashioned type of melodrama, and I ate it up with a spoon.  I hadn’t had a good cry watching a movie in quite awhile, and there’s nothing I love more than Ranishek.  There’s something about their jodi that I just adore.  I don’t know if it’s how tiny she is, and how tall he is, and how he looms over her protectively.  Abhishek Bachchan is just swoony paired with Rani Mukerji, and especially so in this film.

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This film also passes the Bechdel test spectacularly.  Rani plays the older of two sisters who grow up in Benares on the banks of the Ganges.  They live in a big ramshackle old house with a father who is too ill to work (Anupam Kher) and a mother who’s struggling to keep the family afloat financially (Jaya Bachchan).  Konkona Sen Sharma is Chutki and is still in school, whil Rani Mukerji as Badki realizes she needs to find work to take the pressure off her mother.

screen-shot-2012-02-02-at-3-56-49-pm Rani goes to Mumbai, and since she had not finished school and cannot speak English, she has trouble finding, and keeping any job.  When her father is hospitalized and she calls home, Jaya in exasperation quarrels with her on the phone and tells her she can’t come home.  In desperate straits, she becomes a high class escort with the name Natasha.

Okay, this part was a bit far-fetched as while she is duped into losing her virginity, she somehow easily becomes a high-fashion wearing high class escort with the help of a friend.  She sends money home to her family to pay for her father’s medicine as well as to put her sister through college.

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She is the mistress of an executive who makes her an “event planner” or some made up position and travels to Zurich with him on a conference.  That’s where she meets Rohan, an attorney, and they have a magical day together.

Away from her normal life as a courtesan, she can imagine that she’s just a girl on a date, but reality calls her back.

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Her sister surprises her by just showing up at her apartment as she has a new job in Mumbai after completing her MBA.  Konkona has her own romantic storyline with the creative director at her office played by Kunal Kapoor.  (I do love Kunal and Konkona together.  They were great in Aaja Nachle, too.)  Rani has done everything she can to hide her true profession, but her sister’s wedding brings everything to a head.  Jaya, her mother doesn’t want her to come home as people will talk.

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What I loved was that when Rani’s sister learns the truth, she realizes the sacrifices she made on the family’s behalf.  She doesn’t judge Rani at all, and insists she come home for the wedding.  And that’s when Rani finally gets her happy ending with Abhishek.  It’s so wonderful, because she’s so afraid what he would think if he knew, but he knew all along and loved her anyway.  The tears started when Rani’s sister accepted her, and just poured down my cheeks in the final scenes.

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There’s also a fantastic cameo in the film by Hema Malini who plays a famous courtesan in Benares.

Yes, it’s a big melodrama, but it’s a Yash Raj Aditya Chopra produced melodrama so I loved it.  And Ranishek.  You just can’t beat swoony Ranishek.

Four stars out of five.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna – 10 Year anniversary appreciation

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I actually like Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, although I know it is not most people’s favorite Karan Johar movie.  It’s certainly not my favorite Shahrukh Khan film, but it does have some great moments for me.  Today is the 10 year anniversary of KANK’s release date.

While it is about mature adults, and not young lovers,  the subject of adultery is not one that everyone wants to watch in a film.  I do love the music, too.  I really like seeing how Karan played homage to Silsila especially in this song sequence.  He copies the exact poses of Rekha and Amitabh.

But what I really take from KANK, is the gay subtext.  It may have also been about Rani Mukherjee’s real life relationship with Aditya Chopra.  But I think when Karan explores the sexual incompatibility of Rani and Abishek’s character’s marriage, and how Rani feels things with Shahrukh that she has never felt before — ding, ding, ding — we’re supposed to read into that a gay subtext.

Here’s an example when Shahrukh and Rani play act how he should greet his  wife while they are in a department store.  The first few times I watched this scene, I was focused on Shahrukh’s reaction, but look at Rani’s face at about the 1:17 minute mark.  She realizes she’s feeling desire for Shahrukh that her character has never felt with Abishek.  She wasn’t expecting to feel it, and she stops immediately, but she can’t stop thinking about it from this moment on.

I don’t believe that adultery is right, but I also don’t think people should stay in marriages where they are miserable.  And that’s the real message that Karan is trying to tell us, whether the couples are gay or straight.

The whole soundtrack of this movie is fantastic.  Margaret at Don’t Call It Bollywood posted today about how the song Mitwa  deconstructs the typical fantasy song.