Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoda Pyaar, Thoda Magic

Aaaaargh! I'm conflicted! This frickin' movie made me cry, but it also demanded I accept its rindonkulous setup and wait a zillion years before the characters even really dig into its consequences. For once, a movie got better as it went along, and it is to Saif Ali Khan (aloof industrialist Ranbeer)'s credit alone that I was still watching when people finally had good conversations and tried to understand one another. His Ranbeer is damaged and distant rather than an actual baddie; once he realizes that the right thing to do is to engage, he's very capable. That's a nice life lesson, isn't it? - "Try. You'll be amazed."

Audiences have brains. Did the filmmakers forget?

Having criminals do real service for their victims is a fine concept. Legally tying children to adults who have no known desire or ability to be a guardian is thoughtless and potentially very dangerous - and not of real service. Poor Ranbeer has no guidance whatsoever, so what kind of caretaker is he possibly supposed to become? Sending a first-time earth visitor (angel Geeta, played by Rani Mukherji) to watch over things doesn't seem very useful, does it? But of course it is useful, because she's wacky and unconventional and therefore knows how to get past people's defenses to their true selves and encourage their looooove. Blurgh.

If there's going to be a Mary Poppins-ish Bollywood movie, why, for the love of all that is good in the world, was there no chimneysweep song? Think of all the guest stars who could have lent their hoofing skills. Wasted opportunity for truly charming greatness.

A question for whoever was responsible for the look of "Bulbula" (possibly Vaibhavi Merchant?): do you remember "Kaisi Hai Ye Rut," the worst song in Dil Chahta Hai? I do, and I think you just reshuffled its corniest visuals to make poor Rani's entrance song.



I think Sid had dolphins too, didn't he?

Why would a person subject audiences to this a second time in a decade? Against my better judgment, I liked the Traveling Wilburys feel of this song - any time I get to clap along, I'm happy - but looking at it was hard to stomach. I kind of hated the lyrics too - Geeta sounds so annoying!

I watched this three times, and the subtitles are not what white guy says (he speaks in English, so I'm sure).

He does not say "third world." He's clearly no gem at this moment, but why did the subtitles add something so icky when it isn't actually there? It's a tricky scene (played for purposes other than what I'm discussing, but I got tripped up by this): Ranbeer's kids were being obnoxious bullies and some adult should have said something to them. Not "go back to your country," obviously, but something along the lines of "Here's why you don't get to act like that." Why are kids at a golf-course business deal anyway?

Urgh! The incredibly thoughtless segment of Geeta driving Ranbeer's car without looking at the crowded road! Loved the fun old film songs in the background (anyone know what they were?); hated Geeta cruelly making Ranbeer relive his fatal mistake without even talking about it and with no recognition of what she's doing.

Clearly no fashion designers throughout history have ever made it to heaven, or Geeta would have known not to dress herself like this.


But we also have hearts and are therefore not unmoved.

When Ranbeer starts paying attention and the kids stop lying, their bonds are cute, especially when Ranbeer shows his empathetic weaknesses

and converses with them like they're grown-ups and doesn't do any talking-down nonsense.

And yes, the resulting family made my dil go squish.

I love that the movie sticks to its argument that families are made by love, not by birth alone. (The end credits sequence may or may not undo all this hard work; because the movie improved as it went along, I was in a charitable mood by the time it showed up, so I'll let it slide.)

Mmmm. Saif under water in "Lazy Lamhe."

Great song, full of mmmm and ooooh; you can hear the swiveling hips and drowsy sunshine. It's also really clever to have Geeta freeze time during it, so that the moments are in fact so lazy that the action pauses for all the adults and the kids can run around setting up trouble. Related point: Saif in brainy specs.


Dancing with the scarves!

"Nihaal Ho Gayi" made me realize how much I like songs choreographed with scarves. I asked Memsaab, current queen of the list, to make one of scarf songs, and she has promised to think it over. Though the scarves are for but a brief time, this song also features a studio lot zombie!

I loved this. Geeta's outfits are so bad that Ranbeer mistakes a zombie for his lady-love. Hee! I don't recall having seen a passer-by zombie join in a song before. Saif also gets to pretend he can't dance as the kids try to get Ranbeer to join in their fun; the principles of song science* then take effect, and by the end of the number he's workin' full-on hero moves.

God-approved reference to Hum Tum.


Best use yet of Razak Khan.

So understated and...butlery!

This is more of a brain-related plus, but: Ranbeer's sweet girlfriend, Malaika (Amisha Patel), was surprisingly well-written and sparingly used. There's a lot she doesn't understand, but she too is not malicious. She's as childish as any of the kids, and he doesn't know what do with her either. She is no flakier than he is uninterested, and the ultimate declaration of mismatch is so sensible.

I don't know why, but I've never really warmed to Amisha Patel, but I liked her here.

Krrish and "Tu Mera Superman"!


God is Santa Claus, then?

We knew it!

Kids went to a museum and learned to love it! Thank yooooooo! This is exactly what the tours I give are like.


The more fog and glitter you fling around the galleries, the better. I can't believe how jingoistic and mushy this was and how much I liked it anyway. I also can't believe no one had told me this movie had a whole song in a museum! Rani! Museum! Song! Gah! [Faint.]

Who am I to resist its charms?

Reduced to "awwwww," apparently.

[Rolling eyes at self.]

* The Principles of Song Science will be enumerated in a future post.

27 comments:

Filmi Girl said...

This was a cute time-pass film - and YAY for more Saif/Rani goodness!! :D

I agree 100% on the golf course thing, which the subtitles (and plot) totally played as a racist thing when, in fact, the kids were just being obnoxious...

Anarchivist said...

I have previously heard nothing good about this movie, but now I really want to see it! I think all things in life could be improved by fog and glitter, and Saif in brainy specs ... (lol reference, btw).

Beth said...

FG - Ooh yes, sufficiently pleasant time-pass.

I was also curious why the big business deal was in LA in the first place instead of New York or something. Then I thought for sure they would do something with it being the city of angels, but they didn't!

Anarchavist - There's a bit of glitter here and there throughout the movie - how would we know what was thoda magic without it! I forgot to comment that I also enjoyed Rishi as god, though he isn't in it much.

I have always, always, always loved brainy specs and was waiting for the right term! Thanks Russell Davies!

memsaab said...

I know I told you already that I am still too gun-shy after Ta Ra Rum Pum to have watched it, but you almost make me want to :-)

Re: Amisha---she is surprisingly good given the right type of role (she was good in Honeymoon Travels too) but she's not the most versatile of actresses. Which is fine! as long as she sticks to what she's good at :-)

Harsh said...

I enjoyed TPTM quite a lot when i saw it first.
But after a re-watch and reading Baradwaj rangan's review, I realised it was too plastic and non-real to have made any impact on me emotionally.
Saif and the Kids were the best thing about the film. And i felt Rani, who by the way is my favourite actress, could've been much better.
:)

bollyviewer said...

You give museum tours like the one in this movie? Where do I sign up? And remember, I'm first in line...

For all its faults (and there were many, as you've enumerated) this was a cute time-pass and much needed after the Saif+Rani disaster that was Ta Ra Rum Pum!

And I am glad to note that you're planning to write-up the Principles of Song Science - quality research in the the topic has so far been woefully lacking.

Darshit said...

Oh oh...
to me.. 'Kaisi hai yeh rut' was The Best song of DCH. Don't go by those weird visuals. They are just have been put to show 'filmy' feelings of love. Not to be connected with quality of special effects.

TPTM, was a disappointment. I expected more cause of good music. And Saif. But it turned out to be only kiddies movie. Still, 'Lazy Lamhe' was superb. :-)

a ppcc representative said...

Sending a first-time earth visitor (angel Geeta, played by Rani Mukherji) to watch over things doesn't seem very useful, does it?

Beth! Are you really trying to make an intentionally fantastical children's fable conform to logic?! You may as well complain that chocolate doesn't taste like steak!

Re: the weird subtitles. Wasn't there also a moment there where no one was talking except the subtitles? I've seen this in a number of recent releases. I think they're translating the subs from the shooting script, and so any last-minute deviations don't get incorporated.

GENIUS comments on Lazy Lamhe! I LOVED that song - I thought it was so well-filmed and clever and tongue-in-cheek.

Is there ever a good way to use Razak Khan? Discuss.

veracious said...

There's a lot to pick apart and be all "no, not like this, fix it" about TPTM - I totally agree about the car speeding sequence and random "this would not work, stupid movie logic" type things but I think the sincerity and the cuteness of the film wins me over every time anyway. Rainy day/sick day movie ..I want to say perfection but I'll say fluff instead.

Beth said...

memsaab - I am sooooo> avoid-yaaring TRRP. For this one, I do recommend at least "Nihaal Ho Gayi" and "Lazy Lamhe" (and if you're a sap about the power of museums - not that I know anyone like that - you might sit through "Beetey Kal Se," but don't say I didn't warn you). Or you could just watch from interval on. The Curse in Reverse!

Until I read your comment I had completely forgotten I liked her in HTPLtd too!

Harsh - Plastic is a good word for it, though if it made a pleasant impact on you at least once, then all is not lost :) I agree that Rani could have been better, but I can't put my finger on what I would have changed in her performance (rather than in the role and her lines).

bollyviewer - Come to a conference on my campus and we'll have such fun!

The Song Science will surely benefit from collaborative research. Everyone's help will be needed!

Darshit - That's the one song in DCH that I like better without its picturization, which is by far its biggest detriment. I'm also biased, because I like Akshaye so much and was disappointed to see him have to be so corny.

I've been wondering if kids were the primary target audience of TPTM - though not the only, I'm sure, 'cause "Lazy Lamhe" sure isn't for kids.

I hope to hear more of singer Anusha Mani!

PPCC - It's not the angel thing that bugs me - it's that she's a doofy first-timer when this case clearly calls for someone who knows what she's doing. If the mere two troublesome Banks children need a seasoned pro like Mary Poppins, how on earth is touchy, dreamy Geeta supposed to make progress with four poor little ones who have to live with the man who manslaughtered their parents? With a wee adjustment to the introduction of Geeta, I'd have been much happier.

But Geeta, at least as she is described by the subtitles in "Bulbula," is a character type that always pisses me off. I call the occurrence of such characters "Tyranny of the Wacky," meaning it that in such a work it is the impish, child-like, unstable, unconventional, button-pushing characters who are held up as having real insight and wisdom and capable of doing the most good. The worst example of this that pops to mind is Charlize Theron in Sweet November, but they're everywhere - and now called Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I HATE MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRLS. Now that I think about it, Bollywood seems to be pretty free of this trope, and I hope it stays that way. The idea of Rani as MPDG was so painful. Fortunately, Geeta turns out to be much less annoying than her song suggested.

Re: subtitles: oooh I hope so! I didn't notice that one.

My love for "Lazy Lamhe" is increasing at a fever pitch - I think I'm on my 13th listen of it today. And the underwater stuff was so cool! Not quite as cool as in Asoka, but then, what is?

Yes! In very limited, non-wackadoo roles. He was physically funny here but so restrained-ly.

veracious - Definitely having of some major cuteness. If it hadn't had Saif in it, though, I'm not sure I would have made it to the much-improved second part. (And to be fair, if it hadn't had Rani in it, I would have started it at all.)

desipolitan said...

Song Science, huh? I think I may be familiar with this area of study. Does it include how 100 similarly dressed dancers who all know the not-at-all pre-choreographed dance moves, burst out of no where like say in the middle of a desert?

Si said...

Ohhhh....I thought this was a children's movie! Was it really for adults?

Funny, I just re-watched DCH the other day, and it dropped off my list of favored films because of the two hyper-filmi picturizations, and the filmi events at the Sangeet. A good movie, otherwise spoiled. If you want a filmi movie, fine, but don't just throw filmi-ness into a movie that doesn't have it anywhere else. Stay true to your style.

ajnabi said...

Oh, noooo, those side-by-side screen caps are too awful/funny! I'm still gonna watch it, though.

Bhargav Saikia said...

The Harry Met Sally poster in the background was damn funny! Kunal Kohli trying to be innovative ;)

Pessimisissimo said...

Beth, I felt that Rani wasn't better in part because the role was so limited (and you brilliantly dissect how annoying the character type is). Despite the role and the wardrobe, Rani still managed to give an enjoyable performance. Saif and the kids did the emotional heavy lifting, and I thought they were excellent.

But despite the performances, the film struck me as ultimately beyond redemption--the situations just rang false again and again.

As for the jingoistic lyrics in the museum song, I thought they were more of the "uplift the nation" than the "We're number one" variety. The lyrics talk about the importance of the sun shining on everyone, for example. And when Rani sings "The world will dance to our tune," I don't think it's a metaphor. After all, many of us already dance to India's tunes (if only in the privacy of our living rooms--believe me, you don't want to see my tipsy rendition of "Chaiya Chaiya"!).

a ppcc representative said...

Pessimissimo - I do!! I thought I was the only one that did that too. I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to generate enthusiasm for a Bollywood dance party here.

Beth - Good point re: the manic cutesie Rani. I guess I'm not completely averse to that character type, so I could deal with it in small to medium-sized doses.

red42 said...

The first time I have ever walked out of a Bollywood movie - OK, so maybe it wsn't that bad, but I was tired, and just had no patience with annoying whiney Rani and muscle-flexing Saif! The kids were OK, but my favourite character was the dog..... so I left at the interval. My friends who stayed described the rest of the movie in enough detail, that I was very glad I left when I did.
On the other hand, the museum song was good - and if your tours are really like that, then I too am signing up!
And looking forward to a discussion of song science!

Amrita said...

I too cried at the end of this movie - over the time I'd wasted over it.

-- Am "Mean, Miserable and Proud of it" rita.

desipolitan said...

Since this movie had a Mary Poppins vibe to it, I thought I'd make a costume comment. Poppins was - by my estimation anyway - stylin' for her time period. Remember those cool boots and that unfillable bag of hers?? Rani, on the other, is by no stretch of the imagination costumed in a stylish manner. Which is unfortunate b/c she is so cute and would look lovely in any number of outfits.

Beth said...

We don't all dance around in our living rooms? I certainly do.

red42 - WOW. That's bad indeed! I say, more power to you - life is too short to watch movies (or read books) you don't like if you don't have to.

Amrita - Ha! I have mostly forgotten much of it (except the museum part, and "Lazy Lamhe" is still stuck in my head), making way for brain space for something with more grab.

desipolitan - Very good point. Rani's outfits in this are horrendous - and, what's worse, for no apparent reason, not even interestingness.

tito said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
arahman92 said...

Amisha Patel can be a good actress. It's quite sad watching an actress like her settling for side roles, given that she can do much more if she's given the right offer like Gadar, Humraaz, and Ankahee. She looked quite hot in "Lazy Lamhe" nevertheless, but what I didn't like about the film is why the kids hated her, it wasn't justified because there was nothing negative about her character. I guess it was done to make Rani's character look good.

The film is okay, it could've been better in many ways; the ending was cliché. I felt like leaving the cinema halls right after the breakup scene.

Carol said...

This was a cute time-pass film [2] I saw it on Monday afternoon and just loved it!

Hey, I liked Rani's clothes.They made me remember of The Sound Of Music and Mary Poppins(her character also remembers me of them).So sweet and magical! :)The kids were great, I laughed of Rishi and Saif was just sooooo adorable!Ranbeer, Ranbeer and Ranbeer! <3

The story was strange, true.But we're talking about Bollywood, what can we do? :D

Yep, the sky-song was strange...thought I was the only one who didn't like it.And the museum number was SO well done, I was impressed!

Carol said...

And I must say that I was sad to about the way they treated Amisha's character.She was a good girl, couldn't an ANGEL see it?

Beth said...

Carol - Yeah, Amisha got the short end of the stick there. No mortal could compete with an angel anyway, but did they have to make her quite so ewwww?

Dish Shah said...

Hey Beth! Can I please ask you to rview Jab We Met? I know you've watched it, and the unique treatment you give your reviews has made me ask you to review my favourite.

Beth Watkins said...

Hi Dish - I have never written about JWM because every time I try I just want to clap my hands and squeak with delight, but maybe now that some time has passed I can be more coherent. :)