Sunday, March 26, 2006

the ugliest shirt ever: Ishq Vishk

Note to the person who recommend this to me: I'm really sorry, but I didn't like this at all. But I'm glad you did, and I'm even more glad you kept watching Bollywood. My own first film, Mujhse Dosti Karoge!, seems not to be terribly popular either, so I write this to you with empathy.

Not to start out with a snarky note or anything, but this to me was the most noteworthy thing about this movie. Not only is the shirt really bad, it also has a vest over it, the wearer's sunglasses match it, and it's worn while swinging on a rope over the cheering crowd. Not a good set-up, but look:

You can guess what sank it. It's the arms. I have never seen even Hrithik or Salman in something so ridiculously muscle-flaunting. I mean, I guess I'm glad for equal opportunity, since cut-out clothing with tiny strings holding bits of fabric together is usually swathed on women. But this is so tacky. I know, I know, many of you may argue that there are gaudier, meshier, more poorly color-coordinated shirts out there, and I would not disagree. But this is just so tasteless that I am giving it top prize. For now - I'm sure I will find worse later. And just to prove my point, take another look:


Okay. I didn't like this movie. At all. But I will happily admit that maybe I didn't watch it on its own terms - I know how to go into a Hollywood teen comedy, for example, and maybe that's what I should have done here. From the "Generation Next" flashed on the screen at the beginning - odd in a movie clearly in cahoots with Coke, since the Spice Girls had a whole song called that, tied with a Pepsi campaign almost ten years ago - to a disappointingly sign-free college dance competition, this whole thing struck me as incredibly immature. Not in a silly, romping way, but in a poorly thought-out and often self-contradictory way. Which maybe is how teenagers are - although I work with college students almost every day and, even at the hopelessly uncool age of 31, I can happily report that none of them behave anything like these people. And of course they don't generally behave like college students in an Hollywood movie, either, so I know that holding a movie up to real life isn't really a useful thing to do. But I kept thinking this was set in a high school. A boy sneaking peeks at a skin magazine in the bathroom and at a blue film when he thinks his dad is asleep, popular boys teasing the geeky girl for not having a boyfriend, covering for an absent friend in attendance roll-call (do they really take attendance like that in college classes in India?) - none of these seem like 20-year-olds' behavior. The only explanation I can come up with for the plot is that it started out as a teen sex romp and then had to be reigned way in but no one ever bothered to go fix some of the major plot elements, such as the driving event of an overnight beach trip.

The dominant problem for me was that I didn't like any of these people; the characters were charmless, shallow, and uninteresting, and I don't think any of the actors made anything out of the little they were given. You can tell this was the first movie for Shahid Kapoor, who tried far too hard, I think to be Shahrukhy but I'm not sure, and for me he failed to be anything other than grating. His character did nothing to demonstrate that he knows how to care for another person. Amrita's character should never have gone back to him, scrapbook or no. I was also completely confused by "the gang," whom at first seemed to be the bane of Rajiv and Mambo's existence, but then they spend the whole movie hanging out together.

The movie seems to have a problem with commitment - it needed to come up with some characters and some ideas for a story and stick to them. Be a sexcapade but fill it with compelling characters. Be a college film in which young people learn a bit more about who they are and what they value (as in MHN, for example). Be a romance with some bumps along the road that show us the leads have figured out how to love each other. Within any of these structures, there can be plenty of room for nuance and layers; while this movie never claimed to be nuanced or layered, it just giggled and shimmied around and wound up doing nothing.

Except one of its songs rhymed "alert" with "flirt," which I liked very much.

15 comments:

Accidental Fame Junkie said...

I didn't go anywhere near this movie! So I can't help you there. But you are right. Shahid's costume is awful! And nothing can excuse that fact. Shernaz Treasurywala (a former VJ) played the sophisticated girl.

Btw, 31 is not an uncool age. Preity Zinta is 31. So chill!

Obi Wan said...

Same here. I once tried watching it on one of the television channels (I think it is with Star), and gave up after a few minutes. Shahid does suffer from the gross mismatch of bulging overgrown biceps (flaunted gracelessly) and a boyish face!
Btw, i'll be 31 in a couple of years, and would sincerely like to believe that I'll remain as cool as I am, if not cooler :-)

Beth said...

I'm always so relieved when my impressions are similar to both of yours. Phew!

I was just being silly about the age thing. I have never been particularly cool, but age has had nothing to do with it. But I certainly worry less and feel a lot better about a lot of big life questions as I get older.

Akshay said...

They rename it "Bollywood sucide"

Keith said...

Is the vest separate from the shirt, or are they some unholy connected abomination, like sweatshirts with fake dress shirt tails connected to them, or baseball hats with connected fake ponytails?

Whatever the case, this is definitely going in when I finally launch my "Hits of Bollywood and Hong Kong pop stars" fashion line. Aaron Kwok's outfits alone will account for 60% of the inaugural items.

azuregoddess said...

The director's brains are addled cause of doing too many white lines...I'm sorry, what? I know, I know, I shouldn't be gossiping. :(

Anonymous said...

How can u say dat?I no ur rite bout da ugly top bt how can u say dat about da film.I thought it was realy cool n e
entertaining.Especially da jodi.Sum1 bac me up here!

Anonymous said...

I understand dat da film makes no sense bt ur an audience nt a bludi jury. There job is 2 entertain u.Mayb u shuldnt watch b-wood films den.Plus Ishq Vishk was a hit!

Beth said...

Hey anonymous(es), I'm allowed my opinions, especially on my own blog, as are you. As for disliking a movie that was popular, you'll see from the comments above that I'm not alone - but even if I were, vive le difference, right? Life would be dull if we all liked the same things in the same way.

Anonymous said...

I gess ur rite evry1 shud hav der own opinions.Soz,coz sum of da stuff i sed b4 did sound quite out of orda.Its jus dat i'm used 2 readin gud comments bout it.

Anonymous said...

Plus,sum of da stuff bout dis film was rite bt still thought it was a fairly realistic film!Sorta

havocke said...

Try Govinda sometime for the dressing :)

Beth said...

havocke - I have no doubt :) So far I've seen only a few Govinda films, but as my experience grows, I'm sure he'll appear more often. I did write about his outfits in Love 86 over at Bollywood Fugly.

Aparna said...

Well, I loved this movie, and I guess the only reason I did not post a comment at that time was that I did not have a solid reason to say why I loved the movie. Now, after a few years being detached from my own experience with the movie, I can see why I liked it - it was so like college days.
Yes, they do take attendance like that, and yes, 'proxy' or giving attendance for someone else, is rampant, sometimes it used to be taken on as a challenge (ok I know, but we were only 18 or 19, remember?). I am not sure how much college experience has changed now, now that I have been away for more than 10 years from college, and no doubt there are grittier movies which depict 'reality', but this was college in India as I remember, only more colorful and more adventure (like overnight picnics). And so are the characters in 'character', I mean, yeah, they are shallow, but this is not a 'i want to change the world dream' movie, but just a college romance, and I think it did it well, complete with good songs and great dance moves.

Aparna said...

And sorry, missed this out:
About the movie being a potential 'sexcapade'...I don't think it intended to be that. I mean, yeah, college-goers are interested about sex I am sure, but this movie was more about relationships and the general mentality of college-goers towards the opposite sex, so it has sexual feelings, it has romance, it has the 'i want to be a stud' theme, everything together, which again mirrors a lot of reality.
I am not talking about you Beth, because I udnerstand that you would not know 'life as In India' too much, but for others who grew up in India, and think that this is silly, well, think again, college life, esp at undergrad level, was silly. Definitely, the movie was not meant to be 'intellectual' or for those people who were into 'art movies' when they were 19.