Archive for March, 2008

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)

Name: Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (Straight from the heart)

Starring: Aishwarya Rai, Salman Khan, Ajay Devgan, Zohra Seghal & Helen

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Language: Hindi

Did I watch this recently? Yes

Review:

Please be mindful of spoilers. So if you really don’t want to be spoiled about the film, just skip to the end overall score

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (straight from the heart) is a movie which resembles Bollywood closest to its purest form. I say purest form in the way that Bollywood is known for, in terms of colour, dancing, songs, heightened emotions, extravagant costumes and jewellery, 3 hour long films, parent drama, love triangles, manly heroes and pretty heroines. It is Sanjay Leela Bhansali at his best and it was this movie that set the standard for his future magnum opus Devdas.

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is the story of Nandini (played by Aishwarya Rai). Nadini is a fiercely independent and beloved only daughter of a famous folk singer. One day a half-indian boy called Sameer (Salman Khan) comes from Italy to their house in Rajasthan to learn singing off her father. Sameer is joyful, fun, romantic, good looking and soon Nandini and Sameer fall in love. But little do they know while they keep their love secret, Nadini’s parents have already arranged her marriage to a quiet and dark man named Vanraj (Ajay Devgan) who falls for Nadini during one of her dancing performances. Sameer is soon banished from the house and leaves for Europe where he hopes one day Nadini will follow him. Vanraj and Nadini marry but she is so depressed during their marriage that Vanraj takes Nadini to Italy to reunite her with her past lover Sameer. Soon Nadini must choose between her youthful lover and her dutiful husband.

I’m writing this review after seeing Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam for the third time. Twice, a couple of years ago, and now this time. I am STILL conflicted who i think she should have chosen in the end or which long guy i like best. The two relationships are very different. In fact they probably juxtapose each other as they both are almost opposite. Sameer (Salman) is joyful, fun, the life of the party, good looking, great singer – everything one could want in a lover. But Nandini (Aishwarya) and Sameer (Salman) relationship is filled with immaturity. After she accidently slaps him she apologises and apoligises but he stamps off to his room and locks himself in it like a little boy. But their relationship is full of energy, chemistrty and fun. While Vanraj (Ajay) and Nandini has a more mature relationship. Vanraj is dark coloured (and not the best looking), a bad singer, quiet but something he has in common with Sameer is he is a very nice man. When Vanraj finds out that Nandini has another lover he doesn’t get in a huff and lock himself in a room, he deals with the problem head on and makes a decision. Their relationship is alot less joyful and eventful but they still appreciate each other on a more mature and developed level then the gayity and fun of Sameer. She would probably find joy and love in conversations with Vanraj, seeing how he acts rather then how much fun she can have with him.

Either way because they are both so nice (no clear bad guy) it makes me conflicted. I like how Sameer seems like alot of fun and Vanraj seems boring. In fact first time i saw it i cried my eyes out cause of the ending. But this is probably my youthful outlook on it. I originally didn’t like Vanraj at all but the couple of years since i last saw this film i’ve been swaying more toward Vanraj and finding Sameer’s youthfulness more exhausting and annoying.

But now looking back at the two relationships i think Vanraj gets it right when he tells Nandini “you don’t know what love is”. Was what Nadini and Sameer had infatuation or love? I still don’t know. I think that both relationships are love, but are different types of love. Which is the right love – the arranged and mature or the joyful and youthful? I’m sure there is cases in the world where both have worked very well for couples. I guess its up to the individual viewer which they prefer.

Nadini’s end choice between Vanraj and Sameer some see as a message of choosing between between youthful infatuated love or her duty as wife. In some ways the film supports the duty vs love theory when Nandini says to Sameer that she must go back to her husband to fulfil her duty. In this way she is giving her reasoning of choosing Vanraj as a sense of duty rather then love for her husband. But i believe her choice is more then a sense of duty and i don’t believe it when people simply say that it was just duty vs love. I think its more then just a choice between society obligations vs writing her own destiny. I believe its more a choice between her 1st love vs 2nd love then duty vs love. She loves both Sameer and Vanraj in very different ways and is conflicted who to chose. But it can be easily seen by the end she definitely has love for Vanraj that moves beyond purely dutiful love. Its like choosing between your first love and second love – which was real love? Its impossible to be able to say which one was real, but it can be clearly seen by the end that Nandini has made the decision of Vanraj based on her duties as a wife and falling in love for a second time. But people are more then free to disagree with me.

Even though Sameer and Nandini had a more immature love, it certainly shared a lot better chemistry then Nadini and Vanraj. You cannot escape how good the chemistry is between Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan. Is it a result of their real life love life? The 1st half you get through because their chemistry is so believable you can’t help but cry in the end of the first half and second half for Sameer and Nandini. Although when Nandini and Vanraj are on the train together and have to snuggle to get past the ticket collector – that too is pretty steamy.

In terms of acting Aishwarya manages to have moments of acting talent in many of the scenes most of them include her post marriage scenes where her character shows maturity and depth. The ones that springs to mind is her first married night, the Tadap Tadap song, some of the later scenes when they are trying to find Sameer etc. In fact its mostly only the really emotional scenes where she screams her head off (when Sameer is leaving and just after flying the kites) that she really hurt my ears and where i cringe at the loudness of the acting. But i think she shows greater maturity in her acting (then her previous movies of that time being Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya & Jeans) when she has to demonstrate a subtle emotional scene. I think its when she has to go big with her acting is when she gets in trouble.

I think out of Ajay Devgan, Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai, that Ajay had the best performance amongst them. He could be venerable and lovable to his wife, he could play hurt and angry. The character of Vanraj could have easily looked like a simple fool but Ajay manages to combine the venerability of Vanraj but also insert strength and dignity in the character where he doesn’t look like a total idiot for what he does. I must admit i have to give Vanraj respect for resisting the urge to slap Nadini during the beginning stages of their marriage and search for Sameer. She never showed any appreciation for what Vanraj was doing for her and really was only acting like a spoilt little girl. But luckily as they start to spend more and more time together her character really matures and becomes much nicer to Vanraj. I’m glad they did that so as to redeem her character for the audience.

Very special mention has to be made towards the music and choreography of this film. From the sultryAnkhon Ki Gustakhiyan‘, to the devastating ‘Tadap Tadap‘ (i encourage non-hindi speakers to get the song with subtitles), to the flamboyant dance number that showcases Aishwarya’s dancing talents ‘Nimbooda‘, the romantic duet ‘Chand Chupa Badal Mein‘ and lastly the other great dance number with Salman and Aishwarya which just makes you want to get up and dance ‘Dholi Taro Dhol Baaje‘. The music is literally up there in my top 10 favourite albums of all time and the choreography, costumes and picturisation does not let it down. All the songs, sets, costumes etc are done to grand opulence in a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film and it was Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam that set this future standard.

Editing could be much tighter. The first 1 hour is extremely drawn out with not alot happening in them other then showing the family fun moments. The one song i would cut would be the kite song, it added nothing to the movies but an extra 6 minutes.

Amongst all the drama though there were some light comedy moments. Zohra Seghal provided alot of the humour for me as the loveable grandmother. Other funny bits included when Nandini thought she could get pregnant by a kiss, Sameer always annoying her and Vanraj trying to do uncoordinated hungarian dancing (sorry italian dancing).

This is not a perfect movie – by a long shot. The theme is not anything new and the movie has many imperfections and problems with it. But in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali presentation i get so caught up in the drama and beauty of this film that I forget a large amount of things that might annoy me as the movie progresses.

Overall Score: 4/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Overall Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is classic purest Bollywood. It has the drama, heightened emotions, grand costumes, dancing and one of the best musical albums. It even has a love triangle where three watches later i’m still trying to figure who i want her with. But of course with this type of movie the over the top experience may give many a headache, especially at times the characters of Sameer and Nandini. Another big boo boo for the movie is the fact their ‘Italy’ looks nothing like Italy but was in fact shot in Hungary. But hopefully despite its many flaws, you will walk away from this film with a couple of used tissues and a sense of grandeur and emotion about the film.

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March 23, 2008 at 6:42 pm 8 comments

Hum Dono (1961)

Name: Hum Dono (Both of Us)

Starring: Dev Anand, Sadhana Shivdasani & Nanda

Director: Amarjeet

Language: Hindi

Did I watch this recently? Yes

Synopsis:Mahesh Anand is in love with a rich girl named Mita. After asking Mita’s father for her hand in marriage, Mita’s father reminds Mahesh how poor he is and unable to support his daughter with no job or ambition. So without informing Mita and leaving his ailing mother, Anand joins up in the fighting in WWII. There he meets Major Verma who is from a well-off family and both look-alike. When Major Verma is missing, believed dead during a war, Mahesh is asked to convey this news to his family. Upon arrival, he is mistaken for Major Verma. He meets with Verma’s mom, Mrs. Verma, as well as his ailing wife, Ruma. Unable to break the news of Verma’s death and shatter their fragile world, Mahesh gets mistaken as Verma and is welcomed home. This creates complications in Mahesh’s life as his sweetheart, Mita, thinks that Mahesh no longer loves her. Mahesh has trouble deciding what he shoud do.

Review

Hum Dono is the 1961 attempt by Dev Anand at a dual role. Although there will be many more golden oldie experts who can adequetely compare Dev Anand’s dual role performance, i have not seen alot of the great dual role movies to compare. But in isolation without comparison i think this is one of Dev Anands better films. I found the movie moving and engaging due to the screenplay and most of all the performances. I very rarely felt the actors over did the acting which is rare for the golden oldies. The movie had a more relaxed pacing and tone then a lot of the more dramatic films (more 70s era) where everyone screams their lines and every dramatic scene has the thunderbolts and drawn out close ups. It was nice to see this more nostalgic and relaxing movie where not every drama was played out so grandly.

Despite the fact i got caught up with the characters and liked the movie, the story itself was the biggest downfall in that it was utterly predictable. If it wasn’t for the scenes and characters being so engaging, then i probably would have been very bored by the predictable story. Even the occasional comedy of the lookalikes was so cliched that it didn’t bring any laughs. One thing that i was glad of was they didn’t draw out the drama involving the mistaken husband identity. I almost expected that to be played out for 3/4 of the film but luckily was only reduced to 45 minutes so then the ‘will he, won’t he tell the truth’ scenes were a bare minimum. So something i must commend about the film was the pacing in the second half was good, only the first half was dragging but i’ve almost come to expect that off all bollywood movies. If anything important actually happens in the first 45 minutes of the early bollywood films i almost die of shock.

Something that extremely adds to the relaxed yet emotionally moving tone of the film was the music. Never did i feel like the songs were just there for the sake of having more songs. Each song spoke about the characters feelings and interactions. Not just the normal comparing the girl to a flower, season or moon but something with a little more depth. “Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar” is my personal favourite. It is a duet with Mohammad Rafi & Asha Bhosle. Its light and melodic, but sad once you know whats about to happen. Also “Allah Tero Naam, Ishwar Tero Naam”, a devotional song that is aided emotionally by the concurrent scenes in the movie. Its beautifully moving when you watch it in the film and is supposedly still quite often sung by Lata in her concerts and one she herself is very proud of to this day after the thousands of songs she has sung. Prabhu Tero Naam is another song that adds the emotions of the character through song.

Now for the acting – I’m not much of a fan of Dev Anand. He seems a bit of a sleeze nowadays, but watching his B&W films House No.44 and now Hum Dono i must say he is absoutely fine in his 50s-60s film. While for Hum Dono despite the predictable storyline, i really think he did a good job as both characters in his dual role. I’m not in a position yet to judge him based on other dual performances (such as Hema Malini in Sita aur Gita or Amitabh Bachchan in Don) but from what i saw i think he was able to distinguish his acting between both and you can fall for both characters predicaments.

But despite the fact Dev Anand was definitely the star of this film, i have found a new favourite actress of sorts. After watching Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam there was something alluring about Waheeda Rehman that made me want to rush out and get all her other good films. The same thing i have felt about Sadhana Shivdasani after seeing Hum Dono. She plays ‘Mita’, the rich girlfriend of Mahesh who gives up all her riches to look after his mother while Mahesh is at war. Sadhana has beauty, charisma and presence on the film reminds me of Waheeda (although i must say Waheeda still beats her if there was a competition). She reminds me of Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, well of course the indian version. But in terms of the looks, class and elegance i would call Sadhana and Audrey very similar. I didn’t expect to be so taken back by Sadhana, considering her character doesn’t get a whole lot to do. Its my own opinion that Dev Anand’s character Mahesh does not treat her all that well in the film. She always seems to always come second on his priority list, despite the fact he says he loves her. But this love is rarely shown, which is a bit of a disappointment to me. But anyway i’m looking forward to seeing Sadhana eventually in ‘Woh Kaun Thi’ (1964) where she has a much bigger role and gets to sing ‘Lag Jaa Gale’ one of my favourite classic songs.

Although i prefer the love story between the husband and wife, Major Verma (Dev Anand) & Ruma (Nanda) there were some especially cute scenes. But i think Nanda performance has the personality of a wet mop in this film. Although i like the husband and wife scenes i feel she did very little to add to them. I know she is supposed to be the ailing devotional wife. I love how Major Verma is quite devotional to his wife (and of course vice versa) but i think in the emotional scenes or just the normal husband-wife discussion scenes she is missing something. be really emotional scenes but Nanda does not give back enough in the scenes. Its hard to explain what i found lacking in her performance, but she just does not give back enough in the scenes. Maybe i’m just badly comparing her to Sadhana, but even in the crying and whimpering scenes Sadhana wasn’t as boring as Nanda. I don’t know i just wasn’t feeling Nanda’s performance overall.

Overall Score: 3.5/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Overall it might not be an all time favourite because the movie is far too cliched and predictable to be special, but it was beautiful to watch it once thanks to the relaxing drama tone of the film, performance of the actors and music that only helps to add to the emotions of the scenes and characters.

Side note:

I love the cheap budget scenes for the WWII shots of Dev Anand. They took stock footage of WWII and inserted a face over with Dev Anand – a very funny cheap budget trick!

March 6, 2008 at 7:04 pm 7 comments

Zohra Sehgal – Family, Fame & Facts

Name: Zohra Sehgal (Birth name: Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtaz-ullah Khan)

Birthday: 27th April 1912

Sibling(s): 7 brothers & sisters

Spouse: Kameshwar Sehgal (1942-death)

Parents: Land-owning family of Rohilla Pathans

Claim to Fame: Her english roles like Doctor Who, Bend it like Beckham, The Bill & Partition. Famous for her Bollywood Grandmother roles in ‘Dil Se’ (1998) & Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)

First Movie Success: Dil Se (1998)

Movies to Transform the Career: Dil Se, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Kabhi Khushi Khabhie Gham, Bend it like Beckham, Chalo Ishq Ladaaye, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Veer Zaara, Chicken Tikka Masala, Mistress of Spices, Cheeni Kum & Saawariya.

Family Connections: None.

March 5, 2008 at 11:14 am 2 comments

Rekha – Family, Fame & Facts

Name: Rekha (Birth name: Bhanurekha Ganesan)

Birthday: 10th October 1954

Height: 5′7″

Sibling(s): 7 Sisters – 1 is Dr Kamala Selvaraj & 1 is Radha and 1 Brother

Ex-Husbands: Mukesh Aggarwal (1990-1991: Death)

Past Boyfriends: Amitabh Bachchan (Alleged long term affair) & Bollywood Actor Vinod Mehra

Parents: Father – Gemini Ganesan & Mother – Pushpavalli (Parents never married)

Claim to Fame: “Umrao Jaan”

First Movie Success: Sawan Bhadon (1970)

Movies to Transform the Career: Sawan Bhadon, Elaan, Khoon Khoon, Keemat, Namak Haraam, Do Anjaane, Ghar, Kabeela, Alaap, Khoon Pasina, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Silsila, Khubsoorat, Judaai, Umrao Jaan, Kalyug, Baseraa, Suhaag, Mr Natwarlal, Ek Hi Bhool, Utsav, Ijaazat, Karma Sutra, Khiladiyon Ki Khiladi, Lajja, Zubeidaa, Koi Mil Gaya, Parineeta & Krrish.

Family Connections: Father was popular Tamil actor, Gemini, while her mom was a popular Telugu actress, Pushpavalli. She is the maternal aunt of aspiring Bollywood actor Naveed, son of her sister Radha, who she has taken under her wing as he prepares for his debut in Hindi Films.

March 5, 2008 at 10:27 am 9 comments

Mallika Sherawat – Family, Fame & Facts

Name: Mallika Sherawat (Birth name: Reema Lambha)

Birthday: 24th October 1981

Height: 5′6″

Status: Divorced (Karan Singh Gill – Pilot) & Single

Claim to Fame: Murder (2004) & Bollywood’s Kissing Queen

First Movie Success: Murder (2004)

Movies to Transform the Career: Jeena Sirf Merre Liye, Khwahish, Murder, Bachke Rehna Re Baba, Darna Zaroori Hai, Pyaar Ke Side Effects, Guru, Aap Ka Suroor & Welcome

Family Connections: None.

March 3, 2008 at 4:30 pm 8 comments

Bindu – Family, Fame & Facts

Name: Bindu Desai

Height: 5′6″

Spouse: Businessman – Champaklal Zaveri

Parents: Father – Film producer Nanubhai Desai, Mother – Stage Actress Jyotsna

Claim to Fame: “Mera Naam Shabo” – Kati Patang (1970)

First Movie Success: Do Raaste (1969)

Movies to Transform the Career: Do Raaste, Kati Patang, Ittefaaq, Amar Prem, Zanjeer, Chhupa Rustam, Hero, Imtihaan, Hawas, Abhimaan, Chaitali, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Aankhen, Judwaa, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai, Main Hoon Na & Om Shanti Om

Family Connections: Married to Gujrathi Businessman Champaklal Zaveri (movie offers came after the marriage)

March 3, 2008 at 4:01 pm 6 comments

Ritesh Deshmukh – Family, Fame & Facts

Name: Ritesh Deshmukh

Birthday: 17th December 1978

Parents: Father: Vilasrao Deshmukh

Claim to Fame: Masti (2004)

First Movie Success: Tujhe Meri Kasam (2003)

Movies to Transform the Career: Tujhe Meri Kasam, Masti, Naach, Kyaa Kool Hai Hum, Mr Ya Miss, Home Delivery, Bluffmaster, Apna Sapna Money Money, Malmaal Weekly, Darna Zaroori Hai, Namastey London & Heyy Babyy

Family Connections: Father is Chief Minister of Maharashtra (State of Mumbai)

March 3, 2008 at 3:41 pm 33 comments

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