Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Dev Patel: (Older) Jamal Malik
Anil Kapoor: Prem Kumar
Madhur Mittal: (Older) Salim

Freida Pinto: (Older) Latika

Ayush Mahesh Khedekar: Young Jamal

Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail: Young Salim
And a longer list of great cast members.

I had the pleasure of seeing Slumdog Millionaire in the movie theater the other night. It is most unusual because the movie theaters here where I live rarely show independent or artsy films, so I ran to see it before they took it out of the theater.

Slumdog Millionaire is the story of a young man who goes on the Indian version of Who Want's to be a Millionaire? and makes it to the second to last question all in one night. After the show wraps he is whisked away by Indian authorities under suspicion for cheating., how could a young man from the streets of Mumbai know all the questions so easily? Through Jamal's answers to the detectives' questions we learn of his hard life and his connection to the woman of his dreams - Latika, a fellow "slumdog" whom he has lost in the chaos of the Mumbai underground. The main question of the movie is can Jamal convince everone that he isn't cheating and reunite himself with his lost love?

I loved this movie. I laughed and cried and probably annoyed people by my silly giggles at times that I noticed things they probably didn't because of my new-found familiarity to some of Indian pop-culture. The scene in which young Jamal runs to get Amitab Bachchan's autograph had me rolling in a fit of giggles. The story brings to light the darker side of Mumbai, the side that most Bollywood movies ignore. I am glad that they decided to use such a great ensemble cast and as Dev said on the Today show a few weeks ago "they couldn't get a Bollywood actor that looked as Geeky as me" (I'm para-phrasing beause I don't remember the exact words.) I tried to imagine this movie with Salman Khan, Shahrukh or anyone else, even John Abraham, would have seemed to not really fit this role. Dev Patel was wonderful, I feel that he deserves all the fan-fare and awards that he has been getting already. I hope that they do well at the Golden Globes - the movie is nominated for four of them. I know this isn't a Bollywood movie, but it is about India and i tseems to tell the story of real India, instead of the fanciful one portrayed so much more often. It's like our movies here, they usually show the bright side of things, and it takes quiet, independent films to show the real parts of our society that everyday citizens face. It's a great movie, and if you get a chance to see it I recommend going to see it in theaters.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

India Movie Review: Koi...Mil Gaya (I Found Someone)

Hrithik Roshan: Rohit Mehra

Preity Zinta: Nisha

Rekha: Sonia Mehra

The basic story of Koi...Mil Gaya is the tale of Rohit Mehra, a young man who was born with a mind that would never progress past the age of a young boy. While in the process of trying to grow and overcome his disability he meets Nisha, who sees his naiive mischivetey as bad manners and ill-natured jokes. After correcting the mis-understanding Nisha and Rohit become friends and she agrees to teach him how to use a computer. Rohit digs out an old computer belonging to his late father and un-knowingly contacts extra-terrestrials. They land in the small town, but leave a one of their own behind. Eventually Rohit finds and befriends this strange creature and names him "Jadoo." Along with his 6 friends and Nisha, Rohit changes with the magic of Jadoo and becomes an adult, but can the magic last?

I originally rented this movie in order to see Preity Zinta in it. And thr
ough my viewing of it became enamored with Hrithik Roshan. He is a delightful actor and when he smiles, it's a genuine smile that makes me happier for simply having seen it. Don't even get me started about his eyes! They are stunning! Back to my impression of the movie. :) I thought at first that it was going to be awkward to watch someone act as a developmnetally disabled person and then switch to a "normal" person and then fall in love. I also was concerned with how well it would be handled in a Bollywood movie. I obviously have nothing against them, I just think that they are traditionally melodramatic and that this particular role is a hard one to act. (On a side note the best role of a mentally disabled person was played by Kang Hye-Jeong in Herb - her acting was superb and emotionally touching.) I was worrying over nothing though, Hrithik was believable and charming as Rohit, either way that he played him as an adult-minded or under-developed version. Preity was also lovely, and it was believable that her love for him was genuine as a friend and then again as a lover later on in the film. It was fresh change for a Bollywood film too, since it had a science fiction feel to it versus the simple love, love lost, love found combination that most of them tend to have. (I love them either way!) Sadly, during three of the picturizations the disc I rented was scratched so I missed out on a lot of the songs. (I had shoes just like Preity that were black back in my high school days!)
That's all right though, since I will probably buy this one as it is a full five star rating. It's one of the movies that right after I see it I'm not sure how much I liked it, then after a few days or even weeks I find myself thinking about it more and more. The longer I think about a movie, the more I enjoy it. In all, a lovely movie and I will gladly watch it again.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Adventures of a Bollywood Newbie.

I'm going to take some time and pay tribute to my new and current obsession: Bollywood film. I've been inhaling them as quickly as possible, even increasing my Netflix to three a month again because I finally have enough to fill it. So, I've been barreling through as much as I can. I've seen some ho-hum ones and some that have pushed their way into the top 10 of my all-time favorite movies (Om Shanti Om) (regardless of genre or country of origin.) In the last few months I managed to watch over 30 Bollywood films. (A select few are not made in Mumbai, and are actually British or American films, but they are related to the genre.) Here's the full list of my initial foray into Bollywood: (with my star rating, out of five) Asoka (4), Baabul (4), Bombay to Bangkok (4), Chak De! India (5), Chalte Chalte (4), Chori Chori (3), Dhaai Akshar Prem Ke (4), Dhoom (3.5), Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (4), Jab We Met (3), Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (5), Jodhaa Akbar (4), Kal Ho Naa Ho (4.5), Koi...Mil Gaya(4.5), Krrish (4), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (4.5), Lakshya (4.5), Lucky: No Time for Love (4), Maine Hoon Na (5), Maine Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (4.5), Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya (4), Maine Pyar Kiya (3.5), Monsoon Wedding (3), Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (4), Om Shanti Om (5), Paheli (4), Phir Milenge (4), Provoked (3.5), Rangeela (4), Salaam-E-Ishq (4), Swades (4), The Hero (3), Veer-Zaara (4.5), Baadshah (2.5), Ladies Taylor (2), Boothnath (4), Namastey London (4), The Namesake (4). I want to eventually review and type synopses for many of these, but at the moment I don't have the time! I've watched some in the presence of my mom, who tries to watch, but gets a headache from watching the sub-titles. I love that she has already started referring to Shahrukh as "our guy." So, it's spreading. Not that I really needed another language and culture to overtake my life. I already have my head stuffed full of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish and obviously English. Now I'm squishing little bits of hindi in there. Matlab? Hehe.

Here is one to start:
Lucky: No Time for Love. I wasn't sure what to think about this movie and tried to keep an open mind while watching it. I know that a lot of people took issue with the age difference between Salman Khan and Sneha Ullal. It was a little strange for the main love interests to have a 22 year age difference (in real life), but I was able to move past it. She was charming, if a little over-dramatic (even for Bollywood) at times. I think she did well for her first movie. Salman Khan is starting to grow on me; I wasn't instantly drawn to him like Shahrukh. He was actually heart warming in certain scenes of this movie. I know that the style of Bollywood is to over-act or be over-dramatic is wrong, but they tend to play their roles with excess emotion a lot of the time, or heightened emotion I suppose is a better way of saying it, so I keep that in mind when judging the acting.
There will be lots more to come, but I'm out of time for the moment. Stay tuned!