26 September 2008

Jodhaa Akbar: A Spectacle-and-a-HALF

I'm not generally a fan of Hrithik Roshan; he's usually oddly over-muscled, and his acting style is just not for me (Main Prem ki Diwani Hoon--wtf?).

And while I have seen a lot of Aishwarya Rai films, I can't say she's one of my favorite-favorite actresses. I think it's the little-girl voice she usually does in her films. I've heard her in interviews and was surprised to find that the voice she used for the interviews was much lower and more serious.

But in Jodhaa Akbar, I was impressed with both of them. I actually forgot they were Hrithik and Aish. That takes some doing, with those two. I was surprised how much I liked Hrithik in this especially. Fellow blogger Anarchivist and I have discussed before how much better he seems to be in the action-type roles than the straight romantic-type roles. This wasn't the same kind of action role as Dhoom 2, but there was enough action so that it worked for him, and the romantic parts were, well, surprisingly romantic. Also plotwise, even the government-type bits were interesting. I didn't think the movie dragged at all despite the three hour and forty-five minute running time, but then, I did watch it in two different sittings.

Other than Hrithik and Aishwarya, there didn't seem to be many big-name actors, or at least, I didn't recognize many. Kulbhushan Kharbanda was one I knew, but mainly by name, rather than by what he looked like. I recognized Rajesh Vivek, who usually has a bit of the Amrish-Puri-evil-eye going on, but I never knew his name till now. Apparently I've seen him in Bunty aur Babli, Lagaan, and Swades, too, but only remembered him from Nanhe Jaisalmer before this (sorry, Rajesh।) Also, I had never heard of Sonu Sood, who played Jodhaa's brother Sujamal, but I was quite taken with him. If anyone knows of a good movie to watch Sonu in, let me know.

Update: I totally forgot to mention the guy who played the mute drummer Bagha in Lagaan, Amin Hajee. In Jodhaa Akbar's qawwali song (I think it's called Kwaja Mere Kwaja) I noticed what looked like two of Amin, one on either side of the main singer. Amin does not have a credit on the imdb for Jodhaa Akbar, but according to the imdb's trivia section, he does have a twin brother named Karim, and I'm pretty sure they are the ones shown in the picturization.

Now, enough about the actors, I should mention the other beautiful parts of the movie: those incredible, jewelry-laden costumes and that incredible, enormous, and lushly designed set. (I don't have any screen caps, sorry, but I'm sure you can find some all over the internet.) I looooved the color scheme of the saris (and of the entire movie): dark ruby red, deep emerald green, and gold. Oh, the clothes porn*! I think this is the best I have ever seen. You must watch this movie on a widescreen hdtv if at all possible. I saw the first half on a 60-million inch widescreen (not mine), and it was extremely beautiful to look at. Sigh.

*credit goes to Anarchivist for this phrase.


  • Other notes/footnotes: I have heard the movie is not particularly historically accurate, but I think anything that illuminates a previously dark (for me) corner of history is worth watching. It's just a starting point, really. I had no concept of this time and place at all, but, hey, so it's not a history lesson; at least now I have some idea of it that I can use to pin other informational tidbits onto.

07 September 2008

"Worth renting": so indefinable, yet so easily decided

I went home last weekend (home home--where my mother lives, where I grew up) and when I got there I thought, as I always do, "Ah, nice relaxing weekend with nowhere to go and nothing to do but watch movies and read a couple of books," and then as always, spent the entire three days in endless rounds of gadding about (her doing, not mine).

So my mom and my aunt and uncle and my other uncle and I were at the pizzeria/gas station/coffee hang out/convenience store/machinery parts store/movie rental place, having coffee (well, they were having coffee; I had tea) and I had a look at the movies on the wall while they talked.  I idly thought about renting a movie for my mom and me to watch later, but I dismissed almost all of them as being not worth renting. And then I suddenly realized how different my standards are when I want to actually plop down money to pay for a rental dvd versus when I have free access to the same titles at the library. I don't really know what makes a movie worth renting or not, but it was quite clear to me as I looked at them which ones were and which ones weren't.

I don't think the money was the only issue, though. The other hurdles included, but were not limited to, "Is it worth the hassle of bringing the empty case up to the counter and having the clerk find the movie behind the desk, and also having to dig out the money to pay for it?" as well as "Is it worth making an event of it?" (Meaning: "We only have a couple of days to watch it. Do we have enough time to set aside for both of us to watch it together and return it before it's due? Because if we don't, and we have to return it without watching it, then that's wasting money as well as time.") Also, most of the movies I get from the library, I watch by myself. Having another person watch a movie with you ups the stakes--you want to make sure that they will like it too, and that they haven't seen it already.

I saw many, many titles at the convenience store that I would never have paid money to see, but which I had been totally keen to watch when I had had the opportunity to check them out from the library. I can't even remember what most of the titles were at the convenience store, but I know one of them was Stick It, the gymnastics ("It's not gym-nice-tics") version of the cheerleading movie Bring It On. I got Stick It from the library once, and I liked it; especially the first half, which had attitude with a capital A and which got off some pretty funny lines. The second half was more of a conventional sports movie but still not bad. Would I have ever rented this movie? No. Was it worth checking out from the library? Hell, yes.

Hindi Word of the Day Archives for August 2008

paanii (water)

pyaasa (thirsty)

duudh (milk)

billii (cat); billaa (tomcat)

kuttaa (dog)

makaan (house)

ghar (home)

pakaanaa (to cook); khaana (food); khaana banaanaa (to make food)

roti (bread)

makkhan (butter)

gaay (cow)

makkhii (fly); makkhiyaa maarnaa (to kill flies--i.e. to laze about)

paisaa (money)

saaikil (bicycle)

bhai (brother); bahin (sister)

maa-baap (mum and dad, parents)

betaa, betii (son, daughter)

parivaar (family)

gaarii, kar (car) relgaarii, tren (train)

maamaa, mausaa, taduu, chaachaa, phuuphaa (uncle); maamii, mausii, buaa, chaachii, phuuphii (aunt)

bhaarat, (India); hind, hindustan (India, especially north India)

log (people)

desh (place, region; country, nation; native land); svadesh (one's own country, native land); desh-prem, svadesh-prem (patriotism, love of country)

mausam (weather; season of the year)

saknaa (can, to be able)

jaanna (to know); main jaanti huun! (I know!)

jaanaa (to go); jao! (go!)

mat (don't); e.g. mat jao (don't go)

karnaa (to do)

vaqt (time, period of time)




I am not a native Hindi speaker. The words I list are either ones I have picked up by watching Bollywood movies or from perusing my Hindi reference books, including Teach Yourself Beginner's Hindi Script, Teach Yourself Hindi Dictionary, Teach Yourself Hindi Complete Course, Living Language Hindi Complete Course, and best of all, the enormous Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary. Despite all these reference sources, it is still totally possible that I read something wrong or misunderstood it--so keep in mind that this list is made by someone who's only been watching Hindi movies on a regular basis since November 2007 and has no previous experience with the language.

03 September 2008


I have no profound statements about this movie, sorry. I just have two things to say about it.

1. The first thing I ever heard about Guide was that Waheeda Rehman had recreated one of her dances from it years later in a different movie (I can't remember which movie; whatever it was, I haven't seen it), so I figured the dance must be good as well as extremely famous. When I finally sought out Guide, it wasn't particularly because of the dancing--I just wanted to see a classic movie starring two actors whom I wanted to learn more about. It should have been because of the dancing, though. I didn't know what I was missing before this movie. So far in my Bollywatching career I haven't seen a lot of movies with classical-type dancing in them like I saw in Guide, but I'm really hoping I can find some more. The songs don't have to have any singing; just dancing will do.

2. Recently Beth Loves Bollywood did a review of Guide, which I didn't read past the first paragraph at the time, because she posted a "vague spoiler warning" that stopped me from reading further. (Why a spoiler warning should suddenly stop me from reading a movie review, when I've been all over the internet reading reviews of movies I haven't seen yet and which give away all sorts of plot points, is beyond me.) While the main part of Beth's review was full of deep and meaningful discussions, the very first thing she said she had to get out of the way about the movie was how much Dev Anand's hair distracted her from watching properly. I mention this because of what happened when I saw the movie this weekend. 

My mom watched part of it with me, not because she wanted to, but because it was there and she was there. (The only other Bollywood movies my mother has seen are Kal Ho Naa Ho, which she liked; Om Shanti Om, which she saw under duress [I think she liked it, really. She was just being stubborn because I made her watch it; like, all-day-hounded-her-about-it-made-her-watch-it]; and Chak De! India, which she didn't see from the very beginning but which she was into by the end.) She was mostly napping while I watched Guide but every once in a while she would wake up and try to make sense out of a random scene before going back to sleep.

But her one comment during the few parts of the movie she did see was,  "What's with his hair?"