Episode 27 of the Khandaan podcast brings to you the one, the only Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)! As soon as it showed up on our list, we knew this was going to be everyone’s pick because this movie is integral to our understanding of Bollywood today. Everyone has seen Karan Johar’s directorial debut starring Shahrukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukherjee with a special appearance by Salman Khan. And boy, does everyone have an opinion!
As a way to include all our friends with all their opinions, we started a Curious Cat to accept anonymous comments and questions from those who wanted to chime in and we want to thank all of you who participated. In fact, we had so many questions and comments to address, we chose to focus solely on the movie this episode. To trim things down further, we grouped your contributions into several themes:
Our awesome theme song was created by mash up king Dj Shai Guy!
Follow him on Bombay Funkadelic Facebook page or twitter so you can attend his unforgettable Bollywood parties all around the UK as well as his awesome mash up mixes that are regularly featured on BBC Asia.
After the Fan Teaser which was released last week, we now have the first look and teaser trailer of Raees. Shahrukh Khan’s collaboration with Rahul Dholakia whose not worked with any big canvas movies until now.Although the next movie SRK will be releasing is Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale, but like any Rohit Shetty starrer, it’s pretty much money in the bank, both Fan and Raees seem to be riskier propositions. (even if you wonder if having a movie star SRK is ever a risky proposition box office wise anymore)
I do wonder how great of an idea it is to release a trailer of an blackmarket alchohol selling muslim gangster on the most holiest days for Muslims especially when the portrayal of that community is so very skewed already.
But at least SRK makes a Shalwar Kameez and uncle glasses look good!
Raees Teaser | Shah Rukh Khan I Nawazuddin Siddiqui I Mahira Khan
Release: EID 2016
Directed by: Rahul Dholakia
Produced by: Ritesh Sidhwani, Gauri Khan and Farhan Akhtar
Written by: Rahul Dholakia, Harit Mehta, Ashish Vashi and Niraj Shukla
Director Of Photography: K.U. Mohanan
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Music: Ram Sampath
Bajirao Singham is an honest cop and darling of a small town, Shivgad, where his daddy is a rich merchant and crime seems to be very low as he keeps paying off every crime anyone does, maybe not the best of crime fighting techniques. Singham also helps out villagers with road side assistance when their carts get stuck in the mud and helps crippled kids win school races (what type of school would put a crippled kid in a race, is a question best not asked), while all the time wearing Aviators and having the cleanest police uniform in the history of Ariel. Before spending the first half of the movie romancing Kaavya (Kaajal Aggarwal known from the bonkers Magadheera making her Hindi Film Debut), he comes face to face with Jaikant Shikre(Prakash Raj), the usual thug/politician villain and part time comedian in a pretty awesomely shot pre-intermission scene in his local village. Not able to take the insult to his ego, Shikre pulls some strings to get Singham transferred to Goa, a city under his thumb. He “tortures” Singham by prank calls and having his henchmen play “doorbell ditch” which forces our eponymous hero to take his shirt off and unleash the lion within him. The Indian Police uniform has lions on it, so there are metaphors on kung fu wires in this movie as much as there are cars and goons flying around.
Although I have laid down the plot in quite a few details, it’s a story we know and can’t be spoilt. This movie in my mind is truly critic proof. You can point out problems with it but at the end of the day it does win you over. You rejoice when the hero thrashes the bad guy and clap when he roars his punchy dialogues against the villain. Taking box office out of the equation, a movie is effective when it succeeds in its intention and Singham truly does that. The best comparison I can make is actually the Transformers ( of which we reviewed part 3 on episode 30 of our podcast) series. Like Michael Bay, Rohit Shetty has an unbelievable eye for action and quite the visual flair but his comedic sensibilities and handling of the romantic track is low brow and juvenile. (And sometimes you do wonder if it’s written by this guy)
Director and longtime collaborator, Rohit Shetty (who also designed most of the action) uses a hell of a lot of wire work in his set pieces and most of it is truly heart pounding but he tends to go overboard quite a few times where cars and people are just flying around with no weight or consequence. There are moments where you just stop caring the third time Bajirao takes off his belt to whip villains. I admit, the first 2 times were awesome, the third even the villain seems bored and just talks through it.
I have never found wire work to be effectively done in Hindi Films ( I hold my heart for RA.One), it works when used as a punch line to action but not when the entirety of the action is built upon it. Unfortnately Rohit Shetty has a propensity for overusing it as demonstrated in pretty much every movie he has ever done as a director (Sunday, All The Best, Golmaal series) there are moments that it feels like a 5 year old bashing action figures against each other. Some scenes are bizarre choices that take you out of the movie especially the night sequences which are shot with green screen and a filter, and everything just seems brightly pastel colored which give the movie a fresh look but for tires my eyes after a while. I do see Rohit turning to 3D, I think he would be very effective. There are some underlying religious and nationalistic themes to the movie too which felt a bit heavy handed. (There’s that Michael Bay comparison again was…). I did really enjoy how hands on Rohit is in designing the action sequences as we see in the post credit sequence and he genuinely seems like a cool guy to hang out with unlike Bay who just seems like an twat.
Performance wise Ajay “Jazz hands” Devgan(I haven’t kept up with the latest version of the spelling of his name using numerology) in the titular role is amazing! One of the most consistent actors in the Hindi film industry (even more so than the Khans) he is back in an action packed role sans 90’s hair but mixed in with the comedic flair he has developed lately mostly by working with Rohit Shetty. The first half of the movie is full of comedy which is completely subjective if it works for you or not. Comedic sidekicks or villagers running away scared by a plastic mask are just not my thing but Ajay even performs well in those scenes. But he really comes into his own facing off with Prakash Raj or bashing goons and even in our screening the audience was close to clapping and whistling.
Kaajal Agarwal has a very perky appearance but unfortunately her character of Kaavya is the most vanilla of Hindi film love interests. She’s the annoying prankster in the first half and the motivator in the second. Even though Kaajal does well, I was groaning every time she would appear in the second half as I just did not want to get back to the corniness of the first. Someone does need to fire the wardrobe department as she’s wearing the same suit in a multitude of colors throughout the movie.
Prakash Raj has been playing the same bad guy in Wanted and Bbhuddah Hoga Tera Baap ( check out our special podcast) but he’s just so good at it, that I just love seeing him on screen. This time he gets a lot more screen time and amazing lines. And the balance he strikes between comedy and straight up menace even overshadows Ajay in some scenes. The Shikre vs Singham dialogue showdowns are truly the best part of the picture and are so well paced from the pre-intermission on wards that you are fully on board with the pace of the movie. Both actors get the chance to get the upper hand in sequences and especially Ajay Devgan is really great in underplaying when he needs to let Prakash’s charisma as a villain shine on screen.
The songs in Singham on the other hand are unforgiveably bad and even are shot uninspiringly.
Although I find the drums in the title song very rhythmic, the song works better as a background score then a fully-fledged play back song . However cool the Jazz hands are, the belt buckle shake from Dabanng trumps it. The other songs are completely forgettable and honestly I have forgotten them already… I just know they had Kaajal Agarwal and Ajay Devgan in them and they were dancing or riding a bike or something else romantic…
All in all Singham is straight up masala flick, nothing meta about it, no subversion of the genre like Dabanng was to certain extent. You need to watch this movie with your heart and whenever your brain starts thinking again, just wrestle it back to the ground or look at the pretty colors and carflipping or munch on some popcorn. Singham succeeds in what it sets out to do and if you want to have a good family friendly time (the action is completely bloodless) and some old school hero-giri, then it’s a total recommend.
Some Further thoughts:
I know Ganesh Acharya is not the most svelte of choreographers, but does he ever invent any dance steps that move more than 1 body part simultaneously?
The whole officer Kadam suicide track which serves as a catalyst just pops up and out when needed and his kid that’s supposed to play “the conscience” of the police force has the most morose face ever. Who in the production team is he related to?
Sonali Kulkarni is a joy to watch on screen and I’m glad to see her again, I can’t believe she is already relegated to aunty roles.
I had some real issues with the climax of the movie. I just don’t agree with police brutality and I feel it felt out of character for a straight laced, honest cop to out and out assassinate the villains. And you could totally flip around the roles and make the cop the villain and the hero the goon taking on a corrupt police force.
This movie is the bizarro version of Ajay Devgan’s “Gangaajal” directed by Prakash Jha, there is even a villain whipping scene which I felt was much more effective than the ones in Singham.
A line spoken many times in this movie by Indian Superstar Shahrukh Khan, playing a good hearted Muslim man suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, resonated with me in a very strong way. It’s a feeling that I have tried to utter many times but this movie manages to do so very simply.
I have been racking my brains on how to approach this review.
I could talk about it from a Muslim point of view, living in a country that is not my own and the struggles many of my similarly skin-toned brothers and sisters have to battle. Unfortunately Iâ€™m not that good of a Muslim so my arguments could be completely invalid and I donâ€™t want to proclaim to be a victim when my own parents went through a lot worse in their days. I’m sureÂ Chris Rock has enough clips on Youtube to illustrate my point.
I could approach it from the angle of a Bollywood aficionada that can finally recommend a movie that is in general release thanks to Fox (apparently even the evil empire can do good sometimesâ€¦) and that the general audience can watch as maybe their first Masala experience (which Slum dog Millionaire wasnâ€™t although it had brown hewed people in it dancing)
I could write as a critic of Hindi Cinema tearing down any inconsistency I was able to pick up on, be it the slowing of pace post-intermission, the horrible broad strokes that every non-Indian character is painted with or the lack of a riveting climax.
But whenever in doubt, I take a scattershot approach, try everything at once and fail horribly in the public eye. Yes, that is how I (Jelly-)rollz.
The route I choose to take is the one this movie tries to takeâ€¦ the human route, taking away all other details to bring things back to a core message, one that our protagonist is taught by his mother played wonderfully by yesteryear ( I do hate that word) actress Zareena Wahab.
There are good people in the world that do good deeds, and evil people that do evil ones. There is no further difference, be it religion, race, creed or culture.
I loved My Name is Khan for its message and intentions. Itâ€™s so good hearted it can be forgiven for its overt sentimentality, dramatic music and dialogue cueâ€™s. This story of Rizwan Khan who has trouble connecting with the subtleties of day to day life (some may argue that this movie has trouble with cinematic subtleties but you did sign up to watch an Indian movie). Although he suffers from Aspergers he is a very bright and ingenious thinker, comparisons with Rain Man donâ€™t hold up as he isnâ€™t playing an idiot savant (plus his brother never kissed Mia Farrow). Forrest Gump would be a more apt comparison but only for the second half of the movie.
He takes his simple message to San Francisco moving in with his brother and Sister in Law. Where he meets and falls in love with Hairstylist/Single mother Mandira (played by the always delightful Kajol). The repercussions of 9/11 create a rift in their love story causing him to undertake the mission of going on a road trip to meet the president of the United States to tell him that one simple messageâ€¦ My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist. On his road his good heartedness affects a wave of people along the way leaving the audience a blubbering mess.
Shahrukh Khan is always entertaining; his charm (as recently seen on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross) carries this picture to an emotional but underwhelming conclusion. It’s the little moment of charm that make you fall in love with Rizwan Khan and you end up completely buying into his quest. You feel for his character, the frustration he feels of not being to express his emotions and the love he feels for Mandira.
Overall the performances are great by most Indian actors. I could watch Kajol read the news and I would be glued to my screen, both Jimmy Shergill (playing the role of Rizwanâ€™s frustrated younger brother, this would be a character you would have in any other movie but Jimmy carries it off because he is that damn good) and Sonia Jehan (almost makes me want to see Taj Mahal, her first big screen appearanceâ€¦ almost) are great in their small roles and I would have loved to see more of their struggles. Mostly the focus lies on Shahrukh character and his wonderfully understated approach on a subject matter that might not be appealing from the get go.
Cinematography by Ravi Chandran is beautiful, costumes, art direction and music are of vey high quality but I wonâ€™t be putting this album on repeat, itâ€™s just not that kind of album.(special mention to Sajda by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, hear me rave about him in episode 5 of UPODCAST)
The few points that work less for me are:
All performances by non Indian actors, or they ran out of budget and got actors that arenâ€™t of a much higher caliber than an average porn actor or Karan Johar was unable to direct them in the proper manner.
Listening to Kjoâ€™s interviews it does seem he is hands on with most actors except Shahrukh Khan( as Khan doesnâ€™t want to listen to Karan) so I think the failure does lie with his character design. Another example of this is Kajolâ€™s motivation in the second half of sending Rizwan off on his quest, which seems too abrupt and contradictory to me even if the tragedy she goes through is very real.
The stand out scenes for me where the entire romantic track between Rizwan and Mandira from their meeting until the interval point. There chemistry is still the strongest romantic pairing in current Indian cinema.Â The segments of Rizwan growing up in India and the confrontation he has with some of the more violent Muslims in the US mosque are riveting.
Itâ€™s great to see a moderate voice take on some of the people that are usually the more vocal (and maybe â€œinsaneâ€) part of the Muslim community. And the words he says are onspoken by many of us have had but have not been shown this way on screen.
What works less is the CGI both in the Georgia flood scenes as in the key moment Mandira and Rizwan fall in love. It made me think of a discussion going on about Titanic and how after AVATAR James Cameron claimed he would do the entire movie in CGI.Even the sunset on that famous kiss scene between Leo and Kate would be CGI. I think if he was able to do so we would have lost out a lot of the power and exactly this power is what’s missing in the scene where Mandira decides to marry Rizwan and bring him into her and her teenage son’s life.
The ending doesn’t work for me because of the casting. The portrait of the president is very jarring. And altough the president of the US is never named specifically, the movie just looses steam.
But I would urge you to seek out this movie as since it’s been distibuted by Fox it does have a wide release and it’ s an unbelievably fresh approach to issues that really do affect all of is.
The message of hope it carries, needs to be heard, needs to be listened to…
My Name is Burney, and I freakin’ loved this movie!