Alisa Rivera, @BollywoodNewbie on Twitter, asked me to suggest a South Indian film we could both watch and discuss. She’s been watching Hindi films for the last couple of years, and has just started to watch Malayalam films. She had not seen any other Telugu films other than Baahubali, and did not know Mahesh Babu. 1: Nenokkadine was my first Mahesh film, and I’d been meaning to watch it again. I’m not sure it was the best one to recommend as Alisa’s first Mahesh film, but she left wanting to see more of his films. We also talk about the deaths of Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor as we recorded this right after their deaths.
Hindi Trailer Roundup
I am really looking forward to Varun Dhawan in Judwaa 2. This seems like the perfect kind of comedy for him.
Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi seems like a good fit for Rishi Kapoor, but I’m not familiar with the actor playing his son.
Newton, starring Rajkummar Roa, will be the opening night film for the Chicago South Asian Film Festival. I’m not going to be able to attend that screening, but Rajkummar will be staying through the weekend and doing a Q&A for his film Trapped.
Saif Ali Khan is remaking Jon Favreau’s Chef. This is a good fit for him. I’m going to enjoy seeing Saif as a father onscreen.
Student of the Year – A look back ahead of the Dream Team concert
I woke up to this @KaranJohar tweet this morning:
And my reaction was just like this one I saw on Tumblr:
“student of the year 2!!!”
“…starring tiger shroff”
I have yet to see a Tiger Shroff movie (and I hear I’m not missing much). But he is a good dancer:
I looked back at my original Student of the Year review, and it’s quite the time capsule. I wasn’t into Indian cinema when it came out in 2012. I saw it in November of 2014, and it was my first introduction to Alia Bhatt, Siddarth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan. (Whatever happened to that Fault In Our Stars remake?)
It was curiosity about Varun Dhawan, who has been cast as a lead in the Bollywood remake of Fault in Our Stars (with Deepika), that led me to check out this Karan Johar film. SOTY is set at a junior college where the gay dean (Rishi Kapoor) has an annual contest for, you guessed it, the Student of the Year to win a scholarship to an international college. And this contest is not just academic, there is a triathlon, a scavenger hunt AND a dance contest. The film begins with the group of former students gathering at the hospital bedside of the dying dean, and then flashes back 10 years in the past.
Evidently, it was quite notable that Karan Johar debuted several young actors and actresses in this film, rather than matching one unknown with an established actor/actress. Of the students, only the college vamp is played by a familiar face, Sana Saeed albeit when she was a child actress in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai as little Anjuli.
This film reminds me of John Hughes films of the 80’s with the rich kids pitted against the scholarship kids from the Indian equivalent to the wrong side of the tracks. Or Gossip Girl or The O.C., etc. Karan Johar is just SO good at setting up melodramatic love triangles. Varun is the rich kid and Sidharth Molhotra the scholarship kid, and Alia Bhatt plays the rich girl that they both love. I had not seen any films with these three young new actors, and while all are good, Sidharth Molhotra’s performance is the standout. (Seems like all the Indian awards agreed, nominating him for best male debut.) Very Ben MacKenzie (a la O.C.) silently pining over the rich girl while trying to act all tough.
Also notable was a supporting role by Kayoze Irani who gets a big “Go to Hell Dean” speech near the end, who it turns out is Boman Irani’s son. Huh, fancy that, a child of a Bollywood star getting a role in a KJo film. 😉 Boman, Kajol and Farah Khan all have cameo appearances.
Fairly predicable plot with the Bollywood emphasis more on the bromance of the two male leads than on the romance of Sidharth and Alia’s characters. Karan Johar is masterful at taking you on that emotional journey, and I tip my hat to him. Very entertaining and enjoyable.
I gave the film three and a half stars back then, out of five.
What’s fascinating to me is how I wasn’t that impressed with Varun and Alia, and they have gone on to mature so much more over the subsequent years in film. Alia blew me away in Highway and in Udta Punjab. Varun just was off the chain in Badlapur and fantastic in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Main Tera Hero. We got a hint of Varun’s great dancing in SOTY, but he was so good in ABCD2, and worth watching even if the plot wasn’t. Siddarth tried to do more dramatic work, in Brothers, and Kapoor and Sons, but he just doesn’t seem to have the chops of the other two. But that’s okay – he’s carved out a niche as the strong silent type in romantic movies like Hasee Toh Phasee and the upcoming Baar Baar Dekho.
Thank you Karan, for giving us all three young new stars. And for this. Always for this:
AND for SOTY’s fantastic soundtrack! Can’t wait to see these three stars and the rest of the Dream Team this Friday perform live in Chicago!
Kapoor and Sons (since 1921) Film Review
Sometimes there are movies you have been anticipating for months and you do a little prayer before it starts that it lives up to your hopes for it. This is a movie that not only exceeded my every expectation – it blew me away it was so excellent. I’ve seen the movie twice now.
I don’t want to spoiler this movie, because I really enjoyed going into it guessing what might happen in this intense family drama, but not knowing. I laughed, I cried, I gasped in shock at more than one point. This film puts you through the emotional wringer. I really cried at more than one moment in the film.
This is an incredible ensemble of actors. Rishi Kapoor was a hoot as a fun loving 90 year old grandfather whose sudden heart attack brings home the two brothers, played by Siddarth Malhotra and Fawad Khan. There are tensions and secrets that burst out over the family coming together again. The trailer plays up the romantic angle with Alia Bhatt’s character, but that’s just a small part of the drama.
I do love Siddarth, but he is the lesser actor of this stellar cast. The stand out, by far, is Fawad Khan. This Pakistani actor had his Bollywood debut in Khoobsurat in 2014, and I’ll admit it, I caught Fawad Fever. I watched his entire Pakistani soap Humsafar (on Watch Bollywood Movies Online – Eros Now), and this guy can ACT. He’s also incredibly generous with the actors sharing the screen with him. What a choice of a sophomore Bollywood role. It has felt like it’s been forever since Khoobsurat came out, but this film was so worth the wait. When the movie was over I wanted to watch it all over again!