06 January 2009

I thought horoscopes were supposed to predict the FUTURE.

My TVGuide horoscope prediction for this week of Jan. 5, 2009--almost exactly one year too late:

Gemini: A new interest or hobby will seize your imagination and refuse to let go--and may become a central part of your life over the next year. Don't worry about colleagues and loved ones who think you're wasting your time. What do they know? Not much!

(I am not kidding; this is really what it said.)

Ever since I first saw Om Shanti Om on December 9, 2007, it's been all-India, all-Hindi films, all the time*.  What more could I possibly be obsessed with?



*Well, except for the latest dvd seasons of Doctor Who, and Battlestar Galactica, and Smallville, and Chuck, and Dexter, and The Big Bang Theory, and Torchwood, and Heroes, and House, and Lost, and Ugly Betty and. . . .

Hindi Word of the Day Archives for December 2008

kaun? (who? which?)

jo (who, the one who, which [relative, not interrogative form])

jo koii (whoever; whichever, whatever)

jo kuch (whatever; whichever)

koii (some, any; someone)

koii nahiin (nobody, no one, not any)

koii na koii (someone or other)

har koii (everyone)

kuch (something, anything; some, any; a little, a few)

kuch kuch (somewhat, rather)

kuch aur (some more, something further; something different)

bahut kuch (a large amount)

kuch nahiin (nothing)

kuch na kuch (something or other; somewhat, a little)

sab kuch (everything)

kuch bhii (whatever; anything at all); kuch bhii nahiin (nothing at all)

manzil (stage of journey; story, floor; destination)

rasta (way, road)

mushkil (difficult, difficulty)

aaj (today)

aajkal (these days, nowadays)

har (each, every)

havaa (air, breeze)

faislaa (decision, judgement)

ruubaruu (face to face)

rishtaa (relationship, connection)

havaaii jahaaz (airplane)

baar (time, occasion); pahli baar (first time); ek baar (one time, on one occasion)

sadaa (ever, always, constantly)

samay (time)

saal, varsh, baras (year); san (year of calendar)



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.

02 January 2009

Kyun? Ho Gaya Na

I knew this movie was a romance, and that's about it. The Netflix summary describes the two leads, Aishwarya Rai and Vivek Oberoi, as "cinematic lovebirds," which somehow struck me as funny. But there seem to be very few reviews of it out on the internet (admittedly, I didn't look very hard). Because of this, I'm actually going to include a plot synopsis this time.

Arjun (Vivek), wants his parents to arrange his marriage for him because he thinks that love is full of deceit and creates nothing but problems, and that promises are made to be broken, and so on. He thinks if it's arranged, he doesn't have to worry about all that. And besides, an arranged marriage was good enough for his parents and grandparents! He lays this all out in the first song, which takes place at a two-story, log cabin-type sports bar that reminds me of the bar in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Meanwhile, Aishwarya, during the same song, is hanging out with two friends at home, singing about how she only wants to marry for love. (I've returned the movie already, and am writing most of this review from memory, so I'm not entirely sure, but I think those two friends appear only in this song and then are never seen again. Strange.)

*****Music review interjection: I didn't like this first song at all. I think they tried to make it into some sort of Russian folk song, with a lot of stringed instruments, but it just ended up sounding too . . . Christmassy. And bad. It made me want to hand back my imaginary unofficial Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy fan club badge.

The actual Russian-style dancing was all right (yes, there was that), but the music was not good. Watch at your own risk:

Pyar Mein Sau Uljhanne Hai

Ugh. But this song was a hit, apparently.

Anyways, back to the plot. Arjun is shown to be impetuous, impulsive, and irresponsible:

  • He has just participated in a car race against his mother's wishes and without her knowledge.
  • He lost the race by trying to overtake his friend and competitor, but he spun out instead. After the race, his friend told him, "You lost because you were trying too hard to beat me, while I won because I focused on finishing first."
  • When Arjun first meets Diya (Aishwarya), she is a passenger on the train, and he is serving drinks to the passengers as a "pantry-car boy" to earn his train ticket home (he had his bag stolen after he left it with an "Uncle" he didn't know on a bench at the train station).

Of course those qualities must be balanced out by some positive qualities, but we're getting to that. At this point, Diya shows up on Arjun's family's doorstep. Lo and behold, she has come to stay with them while she studies for an exam for her Master's degree.  She and Arjun don't really know each other except from the train, but her father and his parents do, and the parents have arranged all this. (Actually, they have tried to arrange much more; but their children, especially Diya, just haven't gone along with it.)

When Arjun's mother (Rati Agnihotri) finds out (thanks to Diya) that he had not, in fact, stayed home like a good boy while she was gone, but that he was at the car rally instead, he charms his mother back into forgiving both him and his father (Om Puri), who knew all along what his son was doing and didn't tell his wife. 

Diya settles in to studying for her exam, but Arjun, who is a bit ADD, thinks she is studying too hard and tries to get her to loosen up and take a day off. Here we have a library song. Yay for library songs! And this is a good one.

Main Hoon 

Aishwarya is particularly appealing in this film because we get to see her acting like a regular girl, instead of the reserved, sophisticated princess she usually plays--which is ironic, because her character is meant to be on the reserved, prim, studious side as a counterpoint to Arjun's roguish impetuousness. But she manages to be vulnerable, and relaxed, and sporty. Here she goes bowling! She plays soccer in shorts and kneesocks! And she is the one who falls for Arjun, while he, on the other hand, goes and plays an incredibly insensitive and idiotic practical joke on her.  But not until after the end of this song:

(Youtube lists this song as Aao Na Aao Na but the dvd lists it as Gunji Si Hai.)

Wouldn't you be mad if he went and did something really stupid right after that song? And she is justifiably mad about the practical joke, even if the song was all in her head.   She confesses her love in a frustrated shriek to a clueless Arjun (stupid boy!), but gets nothing in return, so she decides to leave.

At this point, as Diya is packing to leave Arjun's house, her father's friend, whom she calls Uncle, shows up. (Uncle, hereafter renamed Crazy Uncle, is played by Amitabh Bachchan. I had totally forgotten about Amitabh--despite the fact that he got first billing at the beginning of the movie--because he's not in the first half at all.) With a "Come on Charlie!"  and a "Sab thik ho jayegi! [Everything's going to be all right!]" he cheers her up and whisks her off home. (Why Charlie? I don't know; he's Crazy Uncle.)

Crazy Uncle has an orphanage, apparently, with about fifteen kids in it, and Diya has come to help him out with the orphans and to forget about Arjun. Time passes, Crazy Uncle and the kids play several practical jokes on each other (they give him a candy that turns his mouth and teeth bright blue, he puts blue paint in the water while they are washing, etc.) and then Arjun shows up.

Arjun is still a practical joker, like Crazy Uncle, but he has begun to realize his feelings for Diya yet doesn't know what to do about it. He wants an arranged marriage, remember? He's not supposed to fall in love! That's not the plan!

To make matters worse, Diya's much-extolled-yet-previously-unseen (male) friend Ishaan comes to visit the orphanage and to see Diya and Crazy Uncle and all the kids, and Arjun finds out that he has much to be jealous over. I won't spoil the special appearance for those who haven't seen it, but you can click here to find out who plays Ishaan.

A lot of armchair reviewers on the imdb don't seem to like Arjun's character and don't see how Diya could fall for him.  I don't fall for him personally, but I can see how Diya does; he's lively and charming and he likes to tease her (in a good way). She's on the serious side and appreciates his spontaneous and impulsive personality.

And chemistry! Whoever said these two don't have chemistry? I didn't realize until after the movie was over and I was looking (in vain, mostly) for reviews or commentary about this film online, that Vivek and Aishwarya used to be a couple around the time of this filming. I wonder if the buzz about their offscreen relationship affected moviegoers' reactions to their onscreen portrayal?

I liked the film when I saw it (although I bored myself when I was writing the plot summary; but really, it's a decent romantic timepass). The romance was good, and as I mentioned before, this is one of Aishwarya's most appealing performances. She's warm, endearing, and natural, not overly mannered (a trait I can tolerate in Shah Rukh Khan much more than I can in her). See the movie for Aishwarya, for the romance, and for all the songs except that first one [shudder].