Archive for the ‘India’ Category

PK – **

Posted: February 12, 2017 in 2014, Comedy, India, XX
Tags: ,

A good remedy against feeling a bit down is watching a Bollywood production. Sure, just like Hollywood the Indian movie industry is making more bad movies than good ones, but sometimes you have a production that you cannot not like.

PK  was a blockbuster in India a few years ago. It made the headlines in Flanders as well as the first fifteen minutes take place in Bruges. Yes, PK is that Indian movie that inspired Indians to visit Bruges. Ka-Ching! Not that the movie got a wide release here. It was screened a few times  in Antwerp for its Indian community and that’s it.

PK is the name of an alien that lands in the desert of Rajasthan. Minutes after his arrival, his remote amulet (that can get him back to his spaceship) is stolen. So, next to learning about life on earth he also needs to find this amulet back. None of the earthlings can help and they all tell him he should ask God for help. So in his search for the amulet, he’s also searching for God. But who is God and which God in specific should he look for?

The trailer doesn’t promise anything good. The trailer makes the movie look like an incoherent comedy with a Mr Bean-like character and lame jokes. And that’s correct. But only partly. The most interesting thing about the movie is the discussion about God and religion in general. That’s actually really brave and refreshing. Bollywood movies are considered to be naive and conservative and afraid of shocking or pointing out the harsh realities. But that’s not entirely true. The charming thing about them is that they don’t need to shock to make a point.

India has – of course – many more religions to deal with than any average country in Europe or the West in general and seems to be able to do so with (politically incorrect) humor. There’s also that eternal feud with Pakistan, which seems to be mentioned in every single movie they produce. So, it kind of makes sense that this movie was a big hit. But the general idea of the movie can resound to anyone in the world. It’s a bit strange to say this about a Bollywood comedy, but its philosophy is quite intriguing.

At one time the alien concludes that “there are two gods. one who created us and one we created ourselves” It’s lines like that which makes this a different kind of comedy. Even the slapstick scenes are clever. When the alien is so confused about the different rituals for each religion, it leads to comical situations. Like the one where he first learns from a christian that people wear black because they are mourning the death of a husband and he then later walks up to three muslim women in niqab to offer them his condolences, not realizing their husband is just walking behind them…

Anyways. Despite its intriguing theme it’s a typical Indian movie. It’s overlong. It has several dance scenes. A lot goes missing in the translation (in fact the title is funny in Hindi but needs explanation in English). There’s a lot of overacting. But that’s also the charm of the style. It seems that all these movies have such positive vibes. Which again, is a good remedy against feeling a bit down.

The opening scene in Bruges is really just for marketing purposes. It’s the reason why this movie made it to the blog. It’s not that important to the story. Bruges looks lovely though. Just look at the video clip below the trailer!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2338151

 

Kapoor & Sons – *

Posted: September 24, 2016 in 2016, Family Feud, India, TV series, X

Daily soap melodrama Bollywood-style!

It sounded like something that was worth watching: an Indian dramedy about a dysfunctional family. Unfortunately, this is just a boring drama about a dysfunctional family in India. Yes, there are two scenes where the cast is dancing (after all it is made in Bollywood), but they are doing it on a dance floor during a party, so that doesn’t really count. And yes, some of the topics are groundbreaking for Indian cinema (someone is coming out of the closet!). But all in all, this is plain boring.

Crazy grandfather gets a heart attack. His two grandsons fly back from London/New York to see him ‘one last time’ and find that their parents are basically living a separate life and constantly fight. Everyone in the family has some kind of secret, which are all revealed by the end. Oh and there’s a girl of course, getting cosy with both brothers without knowing it.

This movie just tries too hard to please a western audience. And feels kind of lame in doing so. Maybe that’s the way to do it for an Indian audience. It’s a cultural thing. Don’t shock anybody! And a lot of Europeans and Americans will appreciate this gentle take on family issues. But for those who are used to seeing more realistic and confrontational scenes, this won’t be a thrilling experience.

One example: girl meets hot guy who is interested in renting her house. She gets drunk and gives him a kiss on the lips. Later she dates a guy who turns out to be his brother. She feels all guilty for having kissed his brother. Big deal. She kissed him on the lips. Not even with tongues. Girl all guilty. Brother all upset. It’s a simple kiss on the lips!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4900716

Indians can make great feel good movies. They are overlong and overdramatic, but they are able to charm in an old fashioned kind of way.

At the centre of this movie is a 6-year old adventurous girl from Pakistan who gets separated from her mother after a hospital visit in Dehli. Since she is mute, she cannot communicate well in the ’foreign’ land and needs the help of others to return to her homeland.

A sincere, but naive and somewhat dumb Hindu muscleman, takes care of the girl and wants to get her back to her parents. He has the support of his love interest, but not of the latter’s father who is furious when he learns the girl is Muslim and Pakistani.

The first part of the movie isn’t all that special, but once our hero gets into Pakistan illegally, the story and journey become a great modern fairytale. He is considered a spy by the authorities and needs to run from them, but he does get help from the locals and from a news reporter.

Of course the acting is more comical than dramatic and yes there are several musical scenes (it’s Bollywood after all), but in the end it’s a great family movie that shows that love should conquer hatred. Not sure why these movies don’t get a wide release in the west.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3863552

Bahubali: The Beginning -*(*)

Posted: February 12, 2016 in 2015, Adventure, Drama, India, War, X1/2
Tags:

A nice thing about travelling with companies like Qatar Airways is that they have Bollywood movies! Sure, you can rent them online (iTunes), buy an illegal copy in a Pakistani run night shop or drive to the nearest Bollywood cinema (there aren’t many in ’The West’), but somehow it’s a must to watch one on a plane flying East.

Bahubali is an epic production about an (imaginary) kingdom, which has been run by a tyrant for many years and whose rightful heir to the throne grew up as an orphan in a far away land unaware of his royal blood. The kid (rescued from a river down a majestic waterfall) grows up to be a strong and adventurous man who is keen on climbing the waterfall rock and discover the land above. Of course he manages to do so (guided by a stunning female spirit) and when he is there he joins a rebel group trying to rescue the captivated queen (the boy’s real mother). But just when you think the end credits will roll, another story is told as a flashback, which takes almost as long as the first tale. It is supposed to help you understand why the boy was taken away, but it only confuses more.

It’s all very corny, but it’s fun. It’s filled with clichés (hero wears a moustache of course, strong female character succumbs for the macho man of course), but there are some surprises. Some special effects are great (the battle scenes could come from the Lord Of The Ring-trilogy), others are ridiculous (the hero making it to the top of the waterfall). There is little singing and dancing (in case you find this a turn off), and the romance isn’t all that dramatic.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2631186

 

Dabba (The Lunchbox) – **

Posted: September 29, 2014 in 2013, Drama, India, Romance, XX

A young Indian woman prepares a lunchbox for her husband and puts a lot of effort into it, hoping that her cooking will rekindle their love. It’s soon clear that the lunchbox gets delivered to another man: a grumpy accountant, who’s reluctantly in charge of training the guy that will replace him once he retires. However, the lunchbox becomes the highlight of his day and when the woman puts a little letter in it to check if it really gets delivered wrongly, he replies and they start a letter correspondence.

The idea is great. For a book. The fact that they write letters to each other, doesn’t really translate well on the screen. The back and forward reading of the letters is filmed with added visual drama, but it doesn’t help. The preparation of the lunchbox on the other hand is filmed like cooking shows should be made. Eat before you watch this movie or you’ll be really hungry for the entire two hours. Irrfan Khan transformation from being an unpleasant prick to a gentle smiler is predictable, but well done. Too bad there’s almost no humor, unless you find the annoying assistant’s dumb behavior funny.

And in case you are worried: no, there are no Bollywood dance routines.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2350496

Rock On – *

Posted: September 18, 2014 in 2008, Drama, India, Musical, X

Okay, not all modern Bollywood movies are good.

This is pretty bad.

The story itself is very basic: A decade ago, four friends were ready to hit it big as a rock band, but split even before the first album was recorded. Now, all of them lead a different life and by change they get together again. To make it into a 2,5 hour movie the story is told with flashbacks, several side stories and a lot of long sequences of the rock music the band was supposed to be successful with. The flashbacks and side stories work, but the music is horrible.

It’s a low budget movie that scored well, in India. The story is told in a simple, but efficient and truthful way. The acting is amateur, but not annoying. But the editing is terrible. Horrible really. And there is no humor at all. Zero laughs in 2,5 hours, which is too long anyhow.

Just skip this one.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1230165

Three (rich) Indian friends go on a road trip in Spain after one of them got engaged. It’s not a true bachelor trip however. Two of them haven’t really been on speaking terms for a while, but this trip may get them back together and each of them have their own demons to deal with. One is a busy stock broker who misses out on happiness as he puts his career first. The other just learned his natural father is an artist living in Spain. And the engaged one has unexpressed doubts about his upcoming marriage.

It’s a shame that this movie did not get a widespread release. It’s a great tale of three friends coming of adult age with the right balance of adventure, humor, drama and dance. After all, it is made in Bollywood. However, the only dance routine is a welcome surprise as it mixes the typical Bollywood dance routines with flamenco! The movie is filled with pleasant surprises. The acting is great. India’s superhero star Hrithik Roshan shows he does have talent (apart from flexing his muscles), Farhan Aktar has that Gene Kelly-charm that just makes him loved by everyone and Abhay Deol makes this perfectly cast trio complete. There are also great parts for independent women! Katrina Kaif plays a diving instructor who knows exactly how to deal with the three boys. Two of the most famous Spanish festivals play an important part: the tomato throwing festival and the bull running event. And the whole movie is one big commercial for Indians to visit Spain: Barcelona, Ronda, Seville, Pamplona, the Costa Brava… It’s a perfect promo movie for the country. The humor is simple, but clever. The story just makes sense. It feels real.

Too bad it’s so long and the Hindi poetry and play of words get lost in translation.

Great surprise!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1562872