Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Disappointing.

In November 2008, Mumbai experienced a series of terrorist attacks, amongst which one at the famous Taj hotel. This Australian production tells that story.

Somehow it just doesn’t work. If this were fictitious it would be a lousy action thriller. But it’s based on true events, so it’s even worse. It’s really bizarre, because it feels like an action thriller. The kind with Sylvester Stallone or JC Van Damme. Not the kind with Bruce Willis.

There’s a lot of shooting and – spoiler alert – almost everyone dies. So, knowing this, it’s kind of sad to realize that you don’t have time to care about any of these victims. Either the victims are nameless extras. Or they are stereotypical characters like the nasty Russian or the ignorant American. The director decided to create more empathy for the terrorists than for the people stuck in the hotel! How bizarre is that? There’s this one scene where one of the terrorists calls home, hurt because he is shot in the leg and crying. He asks his dad if the leaders of his organization have already donated the money. So, wait a minute, you want us, audience, to feel like money was the reason for the kid to do these horrific killings and we should feel his regret and doubt because he is crying? Ehm. No.

This movie didn’t do well at the box office and wasn’t released in India (yet). Let’s keep it that way.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5461944

Advertisements

Umrika – *(*)

Posted: March 24, 2019 in 2015, Drama, India, X1/2

A young Indian country boy sees his big brother leave for America. Later, as a teenager, he becomes the man of the house when his father passes away. His mother still adores the son that left and started a new life in a new country. But he’s not around. With much pride she shares the letters she receives to the other villagers. The letters are very impersonal though and filled with pictures of American life, taken out of a magazine. Something is not right. The young man decides to find his brother, but gets stuck in the next big city where he needs to start working for of a dodgy person. How was his brother ever able to leave ? And is his brother even alive?

Umrika is one of those festival films from India. It’s not a Bollywood blockbuster. It doesn’t have singing and dance sequences. It’s serious stuff. But it doesn’t work. It starts off great and the teenager is played by that guy from Life Of Pi, so the acting is pretty solid. But the story is predictable, boring and not intriguing at all. Not as heart-warming or moving as you’d expect. The director didn’t really do a good job convincing everyone that this is a story worth telling. By the time you learn what happened to the older brother and what effect that will have on the younger one, you may have lost total interest or care. Too bad.

It’s set in the early eighties, so there are some nostalgic references. One particular scene is funny: when a whole Indian crowd watches Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2614722/

 

 

 

When a successful Indian wrestler retires, he vows to one day make his son a world champion, as he himself was never given the chance to fight internationally. Unfortunately, his wife can’t seem to give birth to a baby boy and he’s ‘stuck’ with four daughters. He’s left disappointed, until one day his two oldest daughters come home from school, having beating up two boys…  Suddenly he sees potential in them becoming wrestling champions, regardless of their gender.

Based on a true story, this movie is quite the joyful family fare (Disney produced it) with a clear message of Girl Power! At first, the girls are reluctant to follow the strict training schedule of their father, but along the way they start loving the game (especially after winning a lot of competitions and after realizing their father is trying to give them a better future excelling in something they are talented in, rather than sending them away in arranged marriages). They will finally give India medals in the Commonwealth Games of 2010.

It’s a great movie that shouldn’t be missed. Sure, it’s a Bollywood movie, and a lot of cinema lovers from the West aren’t really excited about the cinema coming from Mumbai, BUT this is such an accessible movie and is has a lot of funny moments. Yes, it’s overlong and yes there are musical intermezzo’s, but that’s part of the charm. Yes, there are cultural differences, but girls playing a sports for men, are looked strange at wherever you go. Just think about the status of female football players or female cyclists for a minute. It’s well filmed, well acted, and though simple and formulaic, the story fascinates.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5074352/

Loev – *

Posted: January 21, 2018 in 2015, Drama, India, LGBT themed, X

Hm.

It’s a bit bizarre to watch a movie where a rape scene is considered an act of love. Especially in these #metoo times… The scene happens in the final act of the movie. The victim clearly says ‘no’ and is clearly not able to physically stop the abuse. Yet, somehow he’s okay with it all and acts like it was nothing. Moreover, throughout the entire movie the abuser is represented as a descent, honest bloke and the victim acts like a whimsical diva, both luring his abuser into romance and pushing him back.

It’s a story about a three gay men in Mumbai. Sahil (a musician) and Alex (an actor) are in a relationship, but clearly have their issues. The other, Jai, is a mutual friend and a successful businessman who’s in town for a couple of days. Sahil has planned a surprise trip for Jai and Alex is fine with them heading off together. However, Jai is open and honest about his feelings for Sahil and it’s clear that Sahil loves Jai as well….

Loev is very slow. Until the actual rape scene, nothing really happens. Sahil and Jai drive for hours and talk about all kinds of things. When they arrive at their destination the everyday conversations and situations continue, but nothing exciting happens. Every time a scene seems to turn into something intriguing, it’s cut short. And the rape scene isn’t even a turning point in the story. So it’s pretty redundant.

The movie gets a lot of positive buzz. Probably because it’s an Indian movie. And the characters aren’t one-dimensional (true). It’s definitely not a commercial Hollywood movie. But if you want to see a really good movie about an ‘exotic’ gay love triangle than watch the excellent Wound. 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5050788

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